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Old 12th May 2008, 17:49   #1
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Default The Pondi Chukker !

Hi Guys,
And so on a fine day in March I decided that Pondicherry it would be, for the next long drive. And why Pondi ? Possibly because we'd already gone in for a Portuguese chutti at Goa and so why not a French one ?!
Still beats me why but I am glad we did it !Though after the visit one kept wondering as to what the devil did the French get out of their sleepy ol' itsy bitsy colonies here,except trying to get a one up on the other European neighbours !
Anyway so it was 18th April that saw us stirring up early and leaving Thane at about 4.15 am for a real long road journey !
1. Thane - Bangalore - Took off by about 4.15 am and hit the expressway via the Mankhurd route,what with the Thane-Belapur Road still in tatters .Reached Pune by about 6.30 am onwards to Satara,Kolhapur,Belgaum and finally Hubli which we hit by about 11.45 am. The route till here was simply superb with dual carriageway and most of the users displaying great road discipline etc. For extended periods of time I was regularly at 130-140 KMPH - though it played havoc on my mileage ! On a check I found it gave me a measly 10.5 - 11.25 KMPL. And in one stretch where I did 80-100 KMPH just to check I got a lordly 14.5 KMPL,reassured I hit back 130 KMPH in a jiffy ! After Hubli things got bad...real bad...the dual carriageway, or whatever was there of it, disappeared and wherever there was dual carriage was around you had a variety of folks coming at you the wrong way - cyclists,ST buses, bullock carts and what not -and near Rannebennur the GQ completely vanishes and becomes a village road with entry into the one horse town,right in the heart of the place one's totally puzzled as to which road lead to a wealthy Gowda's house and which remained as the GQ anyway a friendly cop, who laughed his guts out hearing my Kannada, pointed the way forward and he was right - the road leading to Gowda's house was much better ! So it went on and on,good stretches and bad,but all the same a nice change from the better roads of Mumbai till Chitradurga. Lunch was a packed affair sponsored by the better half - gobbled up under a shady tree at around 3.00 pm somewhere much after Rannebennur.Chitradurga - Sira-Tumkur was a good run barring a few patches. Chai break was at Kamat Sira(around 5.00pm)-some local delicacy there of Gur,coconut and rice flour was tongue tickling and out of the world !And we touched Yashwantpur by about 6.00 pm. And from Yashwantpur to Koramangala took us forever reaching our digs only by about 7.30 pm. Did a total of about 1100 KMs that day and spent about 583 bucks on toll-the toll booths are a real pain sprining at you suddenly out of the blue-and they try take down every detail of the vehicle before collecting the money and so it's real irritating. Keep plenty of change with you. How is the GQ from the last year's trip ? Gone bad comparitively - though some of the sections have actually improved and some sections-no progress at all from especially two railway crossings after Rannebennur and plenty of diversions post Hubli.
2. Bangalore - Pondicherry - 19th April - After a leisurely and rather gut busting breakfast set off from Bangalore for Pondicherry or Puducherry as it is now known. Drove on from Koramangala onto Silk Board flyover and then on to Hosur and Krishnagiri all the way on NH 7.Upto Hosur it was a pain,though it was a Saturday morning,many choke points and for quite some distance running under the aerial traffic-way under construction.But after Hosur it was a dream! A rather delightful run upto Pondicherry.One of the best drives I've ever had - though the road at some points was very narrow and pitted - but very scenic and green and with lots of attention diverters ! Cute lil' villages,ponds,mountains and hillocks and what not all along the NH 66.OK the route - go all the way to Krishnagiri on NH 7 and turn left for Madras when the sign board tells you (very good signages as well I thought)go about a KM or so and turn right for Tiruvannamalai - NH66. Single carriageway but fairly good road most of the way.The total distance is about 270 KMs and one can easily do it in about 5 hours. The only irritant was entering towns of Tiruvanamalai and Tindivanam where one has to pick one's way out of the town ! Anyway Pondicherry arrived at 2.00 pm after a very relaxed speed and drive.
3. Spent about 5 days in Pondi. Stayed at the Hotel Promenade on the sea front, part of the Sarovar/Hidesign group.
Pondicherry - very delightful little place - that's right the word is little - the entire place can be done on foot really and no jokes here. One day drove upto Cuddalore and beyond,one day to Auroville,one day explored all the streets of the place on foot and one day poked about the many antique (?) shops. And the '?' mark ? As one of the shop owners mentioned in his inimitable English -'Saaar all our antiques are orginal - they are made by us saaar so they are not duplicate, we have our workshop right behind...' and sure enough most of the 'antique' shops, especially the ones on the East Coastal Road have workshops behind their shops where most of the antiques are made !
And by the way - after arriving in Pondicherry I felt the need to get my wheel alignment and balancing done - as I had gone at a great speed into an uneven culvert after Hubli on the GQ on my way to Bangalore. And on the way to Cuddalore popped up an M&M ASC - Manoranjan Ganguly and Sons,so I get in and the kindly old Works Manager goes all over my beast and keeps repeatedly asking me whether I had really driven all the way from Baambae, and finally tells me that the wheel alignmentwallah's second wife's third cousin's first son was in the hospital and that chap was attending to him and aligning his joints after an accident ('very serious saar').Anyway next day he was there and I spent a couple of hours there and they did a thorough job and I also, as a precuation, had a vacuum modulator tube changed - this tube wasn't available at NBS Mumbai (an M&M owned service station)when I went there last - and here in a back of the beyond ASC in the boondocks you have the blessed tube !Anyway the guys did a real thorough job on the wheels and waved me off - a la Paris-Dakar rally participant,though in the rear view mirror I did catch a glimpse of the old Works Manager looking at the beast and shaking his head !
4.Pondi - Bangalore - 24 April - Set off back to Bangalore. A very uneventful but delightful ride. Enjoyed it all the more as I knew the road this time around especially at the two small towns.
5.Bangalore - Mangalore - Udupi - Kundapur: 28 April - After about 3 days in Bangalore set off on the penultimate leg of the tour. Had two choices of routes one the normal NH 4-NH48-NH17 route or reaching Udupi via the Chikmagalur/Kudremukh route. The second rotue was touted as a much more scenic though longer and lonelier one,but after local checks and a chat with HV Kumar decided to take the previously travelled NH route via Mangalore. And what a drive it was -extremely scenic and yet at times totally gut wrenching as in the ghats at some points there were no roads at all after the recent rains in March and early April. Absolute off roading in the ghats. About 40 KMs of the 400 KMs route was done in this manner, with my heart in the mouth. Set off at about 4.10 am from Bangalore and reached Kundapur about 420 KMs later at about 2.30 pm.Breakfast at Hassan at about 7.30 am.The road (NH48) is great upto Sakleshpur and after that starts the fun-post the ghats the roads and traffic is OK uptill the outskirts of Mangalore - Bantwal(?) I guess where due to huge earth work (for flyover construction) there were traffic jams,and then on (NH17) from Mangalore to Udupi is another horrendous stretch - lot of roadwork - couple or so flyovers, road widening, earth work etc etc leading to multiple diversions,dust,dust and dust - heavy trucks bringing in iron ore into Mangalore port, gas takers taking away 'maal' from the refineries and so on -you get the drift - mayhem and chaos.Reserve about 1 hr delay on account of this. But after some 50 odd KMs things settle down and its back to the normal run. Road surface on the Ududpi - Kundapur section was fairly good and holding out depite the rains. not sure what the condition is now - was told there were heavy rains again.Took a one and a half day break at Kundapura - primarily to visit the Kollur Mookambika temple.Stayed at Hotel Sharon - a failry decent large joint on the NH 17 at K'pura.
6.29 April - Did the Kundapura - Kollur run. Amamzingly good road into the mountains and the reserve forest,saw a few wild peacocks etc. and plenty of scenic views.65 KMs in all.
7.Kundapura - Ankola (NH 17) - Hubli (NH63)- Mumbai (NH4 GQ):
30 April- And so finally it was time to get back ! Started off at about 4.25 am from Kundapura and reached Ankola by 7.00 am.B'fast at Kamat Upchar (delightful breakfast with lotsa hidden items - you need to check out with them or ask them for local stuff !) and hit the road at 7.50 am. After about a KM or so from Ankola you need to take a right turn onto the NH 63 - Ankola - Bellary route upto Hubli. Its a 136 KMs stretch which is good as you go towards Hubli (ie the left side of the road) but the other side is pretty uneven and the tar surface resembles a choppy sea. Reason being heavily laden trucks with iron ore traverse this path coming down from Bellary to Mangalore and the tar gets squeeshed in hot weather and settles unevenly in waves.Reminded me of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea...anyway 'my' side of the road was fine and zoomed through, though initially there were lot of slow moving trucks to be overtaken one after the other but after about 50 KMs or so it becoma rather lonely till Hubli.Reached Hubli by about 9.45 am and soon hit the NH 4 and GQ. Thereafter it was pure bliss !Belgaum,Kolhapur,Satara etc just flew by...was at 120/130 KMPH most of the time and hit 140 KMPH in some parts. Pune came at 3.15 pm. As we had a heavy breakfast and had plenty of on board nourishments we decided skip lunch.Outskirts of Mumbai - 5.15,Thane-home and dry by 6.00 pm.
General:
- Did in all 3468.7 KMs.
- The beast behaved magnificiently - worked its heart out.Even in the mountains with no roads and sliding surfaces etc it held its poise and delivered like a true professional.
- I had carried my full battle gear - tool box,air pump etc etc and checked the beast thoroughly before every major run between overnight halts.
- Despite all the speeds mentioned in the narrative above, I was rather cautious in my driving style. The key here being knowing when to ride hard and when to lay off the accelerator and take it easy.Never took any chance overtaking unless it was absolutely safe - especially on the NH 63 from Ankola to Hubli.What also kept one very careful was the visual impact of number of smash ups on the highways !
- Always filled up Hi-Speed(premium)diesel from only 'Pure for Sure' outlets of BPCL. Only once Xtramile (or whatever) from IOC and onceTurbojet from HPCL. Almost all the Reliance outlets were seen to be shut/unattended. Last year Reliance was the staple diet on the coastal chukker.
- Always as a rule filled up the moment the fuel tank indicator touched the halfway mark.
- Amazing trip !
Should any of you want greater details on any of the sections/sectors please feel free to ask !
Rgds,
HG
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Old 12th May 2008, 18:24   #2
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Good pics and nice explanation of the tour.
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Old 12th May 2008, 18:58   #3
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Nice travelogue there, But try inserting the photos in between the text so makes for easier and better reading, rather than inserting all photos together in the end.

Just a suggestion Mate !!!
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Old 12th May 2008, 20:34   #4
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So many BHP'ians visiting Pondy. Nice. You guys should take a pitstop in Chennai and meet up with us.

Last edited by n_aditya : 12th May 2008 at 20:42.
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Old 12th May 2008, 22:39   #5
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Nice pics!
Pondy is one place I'd love to go over & over again. Something about the city,especially the parts close to the French quarters makes it feel so laid back & easy-going.
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Old 13th May 2008, 12:27   #6
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Nice Pics there and as vkochar suggested, pics tagged along with some text makes a lot easier to read. Nevertheless good detailed description and surely it seemed you had good fun there.
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Old 13th May 2008, 15:08   #7
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Arrow Nice Quick Read

Hai there Guderian,

Nice quicky with graphic pictures. Thanks for the account.... very helpful for those who will tred this path soon.

--Ramky

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Old 13th May 2008, 16:53   #8
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Good travelogue Guderian. Looks like you've had an awesome time in Pondy. Been there twice and I love the place. Did'nt know about the original antiques though.
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Old 13th May 2008, 17:17   #9
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I thought Muthaiah Muralitharan moved from Sri Lanka to Pondicherry when I saw the thread title . Nice travelogue, BTW.
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Old 14th May 2008, 09:25   #10
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Hi,
Thanks:
Snaronikar,
Vkochar -point taken on the photos to be pasted withing the text - next time !,
Aditya - next visit will see a visitor at your place Aditya - much to your chagrin !,
Nitin,Mavrick, Ramky,
Lalvaz - the so called antique shops sure dot the place - esp in the French Quarter and the East Coast Road,
Spadival - a Doosra perhaps !...
Hoping to go to Pondi sometime in the future as well...but not in a hurry !
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Old 15th May 2008, 06:52   #11
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Vielen Danke Herr Heinz
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Old 15th May 2008, 08:11   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NRKUMAR View Post
Vielen Danke Herr Heinz
Es ist des Vergnügens, mein lieber Freund !
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Old 15th May 2008, 09:23   #13
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Ninkalokke enthaa parayunne?
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Old 15th May 2008, 09:40   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Ninkalokke enthaa parayunne?
mein liebes kamaraden - was sprechen Sie?
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Old 15th May 2008, 12:01   #15
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Arrow This Comrade Speaks Malayalam....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guderian View Post
mein liebes kamaraden - was sprechen Sie?
Dieser Kamerad spricht Malayalam, eine schwierige Sprache vom Süden.

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