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Old 5th May 2008, 18:57   #1
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Arrow Chennai to Tirunelveli Trip

The overall distance between Chennai and Tirunelveli (Nellai) is 600 kms. This can be logically divided into Four quarters.
1) Chennai to Villupuram (160 kms)
2)Villupuram to Trichy (160 kms)
3)Trichy to Madurai (140 kms)
4)Madurai to Tirunelveli(140 kms)

Four laning is underway in this full stretch; infact till Kanyakumari (80 Kms from Tirunelveli). Work is taken up in parallel from all directions; so except some bad stretches (I would say 150 kms out of 600 kms), roads are in good shape (even after the recent rains)

Our car is an Indica Turbo. I planned to use this travel as a hard test on my car. In my observation these are the findings,

Mileage: With AC on an average for the whole 600 kms we got around 18 kms/PL. As the tank capacity is 37 litres, it exactly got into red when nearing my home.
Handling & Pickup: Indica is not good in handling bad roads. On good roads while cruising itís stable and does well. Pickup works well when turbo starts working (2000 RPM) but I found itís not adequate while overtaking in bad roads. I found other cars simply zooming ahead of my Indica in bad roads.
AC: We traveled by April 30th. That is itís the start of a grueling summer in Tamil Nadu. So AC is very important and that too when its day travel you canít go with out it. Indica AC worked very well.
Space & Comfort: This is the high point of Indica. On such long journeys one would realise the importance of space and Indica has no match in its class. Both in the front and back there are lot of space.

Now coming to the route, we covered Chennai to Villupuram in 3 hours. In this quarter, till Tindivanam the road is very good. It was laid long back and maintained by GMR. Currently work is in progress between Tindivanam and Villupuram(60) kms. So you have to slow down at this stretch.

We rested for 30 mts in Villupuram and already it was getting dark.

Next quarter is the bad one among the 4 quarters. Work is unfinished at many places between Villupuram to Trichy. We covered it in 3.5 hrs. As it was twilight when we traveled, we slowed further.

We stayed in Trichy that night. I suggest any one taking such long travel to have a halt in-between (if time is not a problem). It was really refreshing and I felt no pain while starting afresh the next day for covering the remaining half of the journey.

On another aspect, I found hotel room rents are relatively high in Trichy. We stayed at a hotel called Gajapriya near Central Bus stand, where a non-A/C double cot room costs 750Rs per day. They donít give it for less than 24 hrs. But the hotel was spacious and decent. They would give morning tiffin as compliment.

The next day, we planned to start at 6:00AM; but (as usual, we got it late) we started only at 8:00 AM. Reached Madurai at 11:00 AM with a tea break of 15mts. We took the Viralimalai road. Except a few kms of bad stretches the road was good. Itís also under expansion for four laning. There is an alternate route via Dindugal which would take some 25 kms more than the Viralimalai route and the stretch is in the same condition. So itís better to take Viralimalai route.

In Madurai, there are a good number of decent restaurants to have break fast/lunch. We stopped at Tirumangalam for lunch at 11:30. Had a good lunch at Meenakshi Bhavan, there and started for the last quarter of the journey at 12:30 PM. Surprisingly, the stretch between Madurai and Tirunelveli is good and except a few places where bridges are under construction, rest are neat and this is the stretch where I found least traffic.

So finally reached home at 3:30 PM.
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Old 6th May 2008, 10:20   #2
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Great travelogue!

Quote:
Indica is not good in handling bad roads. On good roads while cruising itís stable and does well. Pickup works well when turbo starts working (2000 RPM) but I found itís not adequate while overtaking in bad roads. I found other cars simply zooming ahead of my Indica in bad roads.
This is quite strange. The Indica handles bad roads very well. If you had slowed down for a bad stretch, then its possible that the turbo lag prevents you from reaching good speeds quickly again.

From experience I have found that there is no need to slow down drastically for bad stretches in an Indica. While the suspension may be noisy, it does the job very well.

When did you start from Chennai? Late afternoon? NH45 is best covered with an early start from Chennai.
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Old 6th May 2008, 12:38   #3
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Hi Hrag,

Nice to see your comment.

Yes, Turbo Lag is one of the reason. But the suspension makes a lot of noise if speed is not reduced in bad roads, my family got scared of the noise and shake during such rides. So i eventually slowed down every time i cross such roads. It made overtaking difficult as i have to press the accelerater hard at lower speeds.

I also heard that older indica models handle bad roads better than the Turbo models, as TATA placed 14 inch wheels in the Turbo models but have not adjusted the suspension accordingly. I am not sure about this hearsay comment.

We started only by 3 PM from Chennai as i could not leave office before that..
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Old 6th May 2008, 12:51   #4
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Hi Raja, you did not mention why you made this trip! Any particular reason? To visit Madurai Meenakshi temple? You drove back to Chennai without an overnight halt? What did you do in Madurai?

Regards,
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Old 6th May 2008, 13:05   #5
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Hi Chevy_Lover,

The no reason post would have made u wonder why this guy drove all the way to south?

Well, my native is Tirunelveli and my parents are living there...I was there for a vacation.

BTW, read your post (Pune to Kerala and Velankanni)....Interesting....
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Old 9th May 2008, 14:24   #6
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Well written. Any pics?

You took a double room at Trichy. Is there a companion with you on the car or single room is not availble at Gajapriya?
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:41   #7
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Hi HV Kumar or any of the other route gurus:

I need to drive my car (Safari) from Tirunelveli to Chennai on Saturday. I am taking the Kanyakumari express which will reach there by 5 AM. I plan to leave by 10 AM at the latest.

I know this is the route, albeit reversed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smrsraja View Post
1) Chennai to Villupuram (160 kms)
2)Villupuram to Trichy (160 kms)
3)Trichy to Madurai (140 kms)
4)Madurai to Tirunelveli(140 kms)
I need inputs on the following:
  1. How good are the roads?
  2. How long will it take with moderate driving because I will have to bring my grandmom along.
  3. What are the ideal stopping points for lunch and dinner (if required)?
  4. Any thing I must watch out for?
  5. I hope to reach late Saturday. Is that too much of an ask with moderate driving? I will have my cousin with me who will share the driving so fatigue is not a real problem.

Last edited by Proxima : 16th July 2008 at 15:43.
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:51   #8
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Road between Tirunelveli and Madurai is being widened, but apparently in good condition.

For sake of comparison, I have done Trivandrum-Madras in 10 hours (Trivandrum is 140 kms further from Tirunelveli). Even with an easy-paced drive, you can make it the same day assuming you start early. Once you cross Tindivanam, even if it is late, the last 100 kms to Madras is easy, being 4-laned road.

All major towns are bypassed - Virudhunagar, Madurai, Trichy, etc.
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Old 16th July 2008, 15:54   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Road between Tirunelveli and Madurai is being widened, but apparently in good condition.

For sake of comparison, I have done Trivandrum-Madras in 10 hours (Trivandrum is 140 kms further from Tirunelveli). Even with an easy-paced drive, you can make it the same day assuming you start early. Once you cross Tindivanam, even if it is late, the last 100 kms to Madras is easy, being 4-laned road.

All major towns are bypassed - Virudhunagar, Madurai, Trichy, etc.
Thank you Kumar.

Will update you once I am back home.
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Old 16th July 2008, 19:54   #10
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Very thin traffic between Tirunelveli and Madurai. As Kumar sir said roads are in good condition. Account it for 12 hrs
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Old 16th July 2008, 20:44   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hrag View Post
This is quite strange. The Indica handles bad roads very well. If you had slowed down for a bad stretch, then its possible that the turbo lag prevents you from reaching good speeds quickly again.

From experience I have found that there is no need to slow down drastically for bad stretches in an Indica. While the suspension may be noisy, it does the job very well.
Yeah, i agree to that view. Indica handles bad roads very well even if caught off the gaurd.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smrsraja View Post
But the suspension makes a lot of noise if speed is not reduced in bad roads, my family got scared of the noise and shake during such rides. So i eventually slowed down every time i cross such roads. It made overtaking difficult as i have to press the accelerater hard at lower speeds.

I also heard that older indica models handle bad roads better than the Turbo models, as TATA placed 14 inch wheels in the Turbo models but have not adjusted the suspension accordingly. I am not sure about this hearsay comment.
Oh yeah, the suspension does make a lot of noise. Have no experience with the Indica Turbo. But have an Indigo with 80K on the odo. Fairly decent handler and takes bad roads without much fuss.

But I do agree that the Indica Turbo / Indigo are hugely underpowered. One needs to stomp on the accelarator to gain good speeds. Sometimes I push it to 90 in 3rd before shifting to 4 as one tends to lose patience.

Also, anything over 120 is a big bonus. My indigo does 140 and after that takes eternity for a mm movement in the speedo. Maybe thats the end




Quote:
Originally Posted by Proxima View Post
Hi HV Kumar or any of the other route gurus:

I need to drive my car (Safari) from Tirunelveli to Chennai on Saturday. I am taking the Kanyakumari express which will reach there by 5 AM. I plan to leave by 10 AM at the latest.
Why not leave Tirunelveli early morning say 4, the next day. I say this as you will not have difficulty reaching Chennai by that evening.

Generally highway traffic increases around 9ish. Then again between 1 and 3pm, the traffic is thin,

The only other time highway traffic is thin is between 1AM and 4AM. 4Am to 9Am is managable.

Personally, I'd prefer night driving if its long distances as there are no hassles of cows / goats / cycles straying in your way. But one needs a good pair of Headlights and should also be comfortable to drive at night.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
For sake of comparison, I have done Trivandrum-Madras in 10 hours (Trivandrum is 140 kms further from Tirunelveli). Even with an easy-paced drive, you can make it the same day assuming you start early. Once you cross Tindivanam, even if it is late, the last 100 kms to Madras is easy, being 4-laned road.

All major towns are bypassed - Virudhunagar, Madurai, Trichy, etc.
Yeah, did Chennai - Kodai [club] in 8 hrs and 30 minutes in my Gypsy King 1.3 carb. Top speed then did not go over 110..or could not go over 110!!
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Old 17th July 2008, 12:21   #12
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Hi:
Two weeks back I travelled thru the Trichy to Villupuram stretch and itís in a real bad shape. One needs patience to drive through this route. The ď4 laneĒ work is going on in full swing. None of the flyovers and bridges is complete. In those places the traffic is diverted to the old road. You will encounter at least 25 "Take diversions" boards. In most of the sections, both directional traffics are let into one side of the median and in some sections they are let into their respective sides. This leads to a lot of confusion and prone to accidents. I saw a fatal accident (a state bus involved).

HVKumar:
The Kumbakonam route is a better alternate? Some of the omni buses are using this route.

Regards
Mahesh S
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Old 17th July 2008, 12:57   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadRash View Post
Hi:
The Kumbakonam route is a better alternate? Some of the omni buses are using this route.

Regards
Mahesh S
The Kumbakonam route would be too much of a detour, since you may have to go from Madurai to Pudukotai, (or from Trichy) Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and join NH45 via Vikravandi near Villupuram. Not worth the effort.
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Old 17th July 2008, 14:53   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
The Kumbakonam route would be too much of a detour, since you may have to go from Madurai to Pudukotai, (or from Trichy) Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and join NH45 via Vikravandi near Villupuram. Not worth the effort.
Thank you sir. I never travelled thru Kumbakonam. That's why asked.

Regards
Mahesh S
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Old 17th July 2008, 20:01   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MadRash View Post
Some of the omni buses are using this route.

Regards
Mahesh S
KPN night service buses take Chennai to Tirchy via ECR road. Driver says its easy to drive in this route given the heavy lorry traffic and diversion on GST road.



Quote:
Originally Posted by headers View Post
Yeah, did Chennai - Kodai [club] in 8 hrs and 30 minutes in my Gypsy King 1.3 carb. Top speed then did not go over 110..or could not go over 110!!
The last 40 kms will take atleast 2 hrs. Resulting the remaining 450 odd kms in 6.5 hrs at an average speed of 70kms/hr in a GYPSY.

Is that a non-stop drive? Did you start very early in the morning?
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