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Old 18th May 2008, 13:59   #1
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Thumbs up Road trip from Pune to Mangalore & back - A travelogue

Hi all,

This is the travelogue/ travel report of the thread that I had started regarding my road trip from Pune to Mangalore & back. I started from Pune on 7th May(Wed) & started the return journey from Mangalore on Wed, 14th May.

My ride – Palio Stile 1.6 Sports.
My company for this trip – My wife & my 7 month old son.

Concerns that I had for this trip:

1) This was the first time I was attempting this route & hence was not sure if I would be able to take the correct route to reach my destination.[Now I realize that there are just 3 roads that I need to know NH4, NH 63 & NH 17. I have repeated the names of these 3 highways so many times by now that even my wife has started complaining about it.

2) The distance involved was about 750 kms & I wanted to make it before dark to Mangalore since I was traveling with my wife & 7 month old kid[I started at 4.30 am from Pune & reached at 6.30 pm in Mangalore, 30 mins before my target]

3) I had a new car. It is just 2.5 months old & I was not sure if I should put my car through such a long drive in the initial period [My 1.6 surprised me all the way through, more on that a bit later

4) I was supposed to be the lone driver for all the 750 kms hence was not sure if I was mentally & physically prepared to take this up[As it turned out, I was game for it]


5) I am not a techie guy with cars at all & hence was worried with all the suggestions that were thrown at me ranging from filling nitrogen in my tubeless tyres to carrying additional coolant & other car fluids. Fact is, I did not even know how to change a spare tyre using the jack (in hindsight I think I was living with great risk without even knowing how to change tyres, I hope to learn it at the earliest possible time). I just got my car checked for fluids/coolants & other checks(???) that need to be done before a long drive at the Pandit Auto workshop in Pune 2 days before my trip. Those guys charged me 350 bucks for this check including a wash. I was very happy with the wash quality but was somehow disappointed that they ripped me 350 bucks for this. I was however sure that all the checks had to be done there & then since I was no way leaving the car overnight with them to cause me surprises later on (a point well brought up by several PUG members

The actual travel - Though my plan was to start at 4:00 am from Pune, I eventually managed to start at 4.30 am on the 7th May morning. It was dark & I straight away took the Mumbai-Bangalore highway (NH 4) that’s close to my place in Pune. This was also the first time that I had put on my fog-lights & they sure looked pretty when combined with the main head-lights.I filled up my tank at a HP petrol pump on the highway. I filled up on normal petrol which cost 48 bucks for a litre. I had asked my wife to take the back seat since we also had the baby with us. She had unwillingly agreed since she was used to being seated next to me when we drove in the city. I was pretty happy with the roads. In fact, the quality of road was awesome. I was going at about 80 kmph since I wanted to take it easy while it was dark. As it dawned, I just shifted to the 5th gear & took my horse to 100 kmph. The only time I had to slow down was for the toll booths (I ended up paying approx. 300 bucks for toll for the journey upto Mangalore). I reached Belgaum at around 9 am which was pretty good time. I had pushed the car to a maximum of 120 kmph but was on 100 for most part. Even at 120 kmph, the car looked ready for more & was hardly stressed. We had breakfast at Kittur at around 10.15 am. Then we started off again.

After about 7-8 kms of passing the toll booth of Dharwad, we took a left-hand U-turn to connect to NH 63. I started appreciating the build of NH 17 even more after I made this turn since the first 20 kms of this road were almost like a country road with a smoothly tarred surface appearing as a luxury once in a while. After this first 20 kms we connected to NH 63 which passes through Yellapur & through several ghat sections. I had heard about manganese laden trucks using this highway & was prepared for a difficult road ahead. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the roads were broad & the tar was very smooth resulting in a good drive. The only scary part was the trucks, some of which were racing at very high speeds & were overtaking at blind turns. One very important lesson that I learnt here was that you should avoid following a truck which is already over-taking some other vehicle. Twice I had a close shave trying to follow a truck which was overtaking another truck & was shocked to see the overtaking truck making a sharp left turn & seeing another truck racing towards me from the opposite direction. Luckily my 1.6 handled very well on both these occasions & I was able to use some last-minute bursts of speed & deft steering to come to the safety of the left lane. Fortunately for me, better sense prevailed & I avoided any such stunts further down the road. I also saw these trucks overtaking at blind turns & just missing the oncoming traffic by inches. However, whenever I got a straight stretch, my Palio could easily overtake any vehicle in front of me almost as if I was in a drag-race (though I had made up my mind not to get into any kind of racing). The 3rd gear of the Palio was very effective in tackling the ghat section of NH 63. Finally we reached Ankola junction where we could see a right turn for Karwar & left turn for Mangalore.


This further stretch ahead was part of NH 17. After hearing nightmares about NH 17 & experiencing the same myself during my past visits to Mangalore in the KSRTC Volvo buses I was prepared for the worst. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of the surface was re-laid & it was nowhere near the same condition as it was up until December last year. We had lunch at Kumta at around 2:15 pm. I filled up the tank at a HP petrol station near Kumta since I did not want to take any further halts until I reached my destination. The regular HP petrol there cost 52 bucks which was unexpected, a good 4 rupees over the price that I got it in Pune. I was also able to calculate that the FE for my drive so far. It was a little over 16 kms without A/C. This was pretty good & over my expectation. After this I drove non-stop to Udupi. My final destination was actually Kaup, near Udupi. I had mentioned Mangalore since most people know Mangalore more than Udupi. The only unpleasant experience in this stretch was the private service buses that I started encountering after Kundapura. The drivers of these service buses have absolutely no regard for other vehicles on the road & they will honk endlessly or pull up very close to your vehicle until you finally give them the way. They are also adept at overtaking on blind turns. I finally reached Kaup at around 6.30 pm at my wife’s ancestral home. My in-laws were pleasantly surprised at seeing us since we had never informed them about this trip & they were finding it quite unbelievable that I had driven all the way. I checked the trip meter & it read 780 kms. 780 kms in 14 hours, not bad for the first time….right

The next few days were spent in enjoying the temple festival or “Utsava”of Kaup. From the 11th we toured different places of religious significance like Sringeri, Horanadu, Dharmastala, Subramanya & Kateel. However I was happy to use the Tempo Traveller that we had planned for this religious family tour since the roads in some stretches were very horrid. I could not imagine taking my Palio through these streches knowing very well that I had to drive down 780 kms back to Pune in the same car. The stretch from Sringeri to Horandu was very scenic with the road winding down from National park areas to tea/coffee plantations. I plan to go down this stretch in my Palio someday since it is only then can you fully feel that atmosphere. There were literally sign-boards put up in this stretch which said “Animal crossing area”, “Animals right of the road is supreme”, “Drive slowly, hitting an animal on the road will land you in jail”. This was for the first time that I was experiencing so much respect for animals in a national park area.

The return journey - We started back for Pune on the 14th of May. However, I was sure that we could not start early in the morning like we did from Pune since the roads from Mangalore did not have dividers & the recklessness of the private service buses was too much of a risk. Hence, we started at 8.30 am in broad daylight. I could manage to meet up with Ganesh Baliga from PUG at Kumta. He suggested me a shortcut from the Gokarna cross to connect to Yellapur. This would totally bypass the Ankola stretch. I had also heard of this road from one of my friends in Mangalore. I decided to go for this shortcut. At the Gokarna cross area of the NH 17, I saw this right turn a bit further ahead on the road. I took this right turn. The road was small with negligible traffic. It was bad in some sections but was drivable overall. After about 40 mins on this road we touched NH 63. It was only later that I realized that this short-cut was just great for it actually had negligible traffic, skipped one portion of the ghat section of NH 63 & had cut down the overall distance by a minimum of 20 kms. Going ahead, I plan to take this short-cut for my travels to Mangalore from Pune.

We had planned to stay over-night in Hubli so as to avoid tackling the NH 4 highway in the dark. Also I did not want to take any chances with the baby onboard & wanted to ensure that he gets adequate rest before we started off for Pune on NH 4. We reached Hubli at around 4 pm & stayed at Hotel Ambesh. In hindsight I feel we should have stayed at some hotel in Belgaum instead. This was because it was just 4 pm when we reached Hubli & could have easily extended a bit more to reach Belgaum & the next day we would have had that much less to travel. I did not want to drive on NH 4 in the dark since almost all the vehicles on the stretch drive at 80+ kms due to the excellent road. Maybe as I gain experience, I may take to driving in the night but that was definitely not going to happen this time.


The next day we started from Hubli at 7.30 am & reached Belgaum in about an hour’s time. Had breakfast at a hotel on the highway near Belgaum & bought some fresh ‘kunda’ that Belgaum is famous for. Since the Palio Stile is not a volume selling car, most people do not identify it easily on the highway & keep trying to figure out the car while admiring it’s finish. Whenever other drivers saw my ride in their rear-view mirror they thought that it was some sedan approaching them due to the “big car” profile of the Palio from the front. The double-barreled headlights added to this image. I wish I could get to see the look on the faces of the drivers when I overtook them & they eventually might have realized that mine was a hatch-back. My Formula Red always got the glances of passersby’s whenever I pulled up on the highway for a break. This feeling is difficult to describe & I am sure PUGians know what I am talking about. During the entire journey, the engine coolant temperature gauge was comfortably below the half-way mark & never did it go beyond that even point when I was driving several hours non-stop at 100+ speeds.

We finally reached Pune at about 1.30 pm & could not believe that we had our first successful drive down to Mangalore in the several years that we have been to this place. All in all it was a highly enjoyable trip for me & my family. At the end of both the to & fro journeys I hardly had any physical strain except for some minor pain in the neck. I am sure I would not have come out in this same manner had I owned some other hatch back in the same price range. Everyday that I use my Palio my decision to buy this car gets vindicated even more. I had faced strict opposition from family/friends when I made my mind to buy this car. I am sure I am the one laughing now

Some learnings from this trip:

1) Always respect other drivers on the road; they have as much of a right as you have. This good faith does pay back in some way or the other during your journey. Being bitter on the highway will only cut down your own happiness quotient of a long drive

2) Respect the truck-drivers. Most truck drivers are good guys & they just expect you to be a bit patient on the highways, they will eventually give you the way to overtake them. I hardly had to blow my horn to overtake the trucks in my journey. Sooner or later they gave me the way to overtake. For this same courteous attitude our truck drivers have “Horn OK Please” instead of just “Horn” on the back of their trucks.

3) Like the animals have the right of the way when you travel through a National park, so do private service buses which ply in the Mangalore/Udupi region. Racing with them is not an option.

4) Always have your seat-belts on.

Scariest moment – On our way to Mangalore on NH 63 near Yellapur, we took a 10 min break. After this break we started off again & at this point I had forgotten to put my seat-belt on. I tried to juggle with one hand on the steering & putting on the seat-belt with the other while the car was in motion. Suddenly, I saw a small curve ahead & somehow maneuvered the steering incorrectly to take the car off the road on the left hand side. It was only due to some smart steering that I was able to get the car on the road again & halted it at some distance ahead. I then put on the seat-belt while the car was stationary & then tried to figure out how stupid I had acted. My wife (who was sleeping in the rear seat with my son) got up scared & asked what had made the noise. I just told her that we had hit a bump on the road. I did not tell her the truth since I did not want her to be anxious for the remainder of the road-trip. The noise was actually due to the left side tyres going of the road kerb & hitting the dirt on the sides. After this incident, I always made it a point to put on the seatbelt before I turned the ignition.


Only regret – I had carried about 2 gb of my favorite song tracks in a pen drive to listen during this trip. I could not listen to a single song completely because was son started acting irritable whenever I put the music on. Hence, my JBL speakers were hardly used during the entire 1500+ km journey

Last but not the least – This road trip would not have been possible without Yahoo & Google maps. These maps helped me identify all the place & possible routes on this journey. Thanks to Ranjith, Mahesh Natarajan & Ganesh Baliga from PUG. Ganesh – Your inputs were really helpful & let’s hope we can have a meeting of the Pune based PUGians soon. Thanks also to Samurai from Team BHP & the KSRTC driver who confirmed that the route that I had in mind was the best one

Those of you who want to check the snaps from this trip can visit this link:
Flickr: shettysid's Photostream



Take care until next time.

Regards,
Siddharth

Palio Stile 1.6, Formula Red, now 3400 kms

NOTE FROM SUPPORT - READ THE RULES. MORE THAN 2 SMILIES PER POST NOT ALLOWED

Last edited by normally_crazy : 18th May 2008 at 15:26. Reason: Excessive Smilies
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Old 18th May 2008, 17:50   #2
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Nice loong travelogue but pictures inbetween could have made it more enjoyable to read.

Thats BAD driving, you have to look at your clearing before overtaking and not just blindly follow the truck while he is already overtaking.

Tip: Look in the gap on the right between the overtaken and overtaking vehicle for any oncoming vehicle and then only decide if there is enough time to overtake or wait.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidz View Post
The only scary part was the trucks, some of which were racing at very high speeds & were overtaking at blind turns. One very important lesson that I learnt here was that you should avoid following a truck which is already over-taking some other vehicle. Twice I had a close shave trying to follow a truck which was overtaking another truck & was shocked to see the overtaking truck making a sharp left turn & seeing another truck racing towards me from the opposite direction. Luckily my 1.6 handled very well on both these occasions & I was able to use some last-minute bursts of speed & deft steering to come to the safety of the left lane. Fortunately for me, better sense prevailed & I avoided any such stunts further down the road. I also saw these trucks overtaking at blind turns & just missing the oncoming traffic by inches.
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Old 18th May 2008, 18:04   #3
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I have one basic question.

Was you wife strapped up in the rear seat ?
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Old 18th May 2008, 18:48   #4
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Does Fiat offer ABS equipped Palio in India?

I feel the truck drivers here with absolutely no regards for lane rules, make our highways very unsafe.
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Old 18th May 2008, 19:04   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadu View Post
Nice loong travelogue but pictures inbetween could have made it more enjoyable to read.

Thats BAD driving, you have to look at your clearing before overtaking and not just blindly follow the truck while he is already overtaking.

Tip: Look in the gap on the right between the overtaken and overtaking vehicle for any oncoming vehicle and then only decide if there is enough time to overtake or wait.
Hai Sidz,

Thanks for the report and update on NH63. After the smooth NH 4, 63 wound be a rude shock. However, the surface seems to be far better than earlier reports.

One unversal rule is "NEVER overtake someone when he is overtaking someone", (exception being when you're on a 6 lane highway) specially on hilly terrain. These trucks are regulars on the route and would be knowing every turn on the road and can probably take a couple of risks. It's best to drive defensively on this stretch.

Happy Driving,

--Ramky
=======

Last edited by ramkya1 : 18th May 2008 at 19:05.
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Old 18th May 2008, 19:13   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy View Post
I have one basic question.

Was you wife strapped up in the rear seat ?
Yes. My wife was strapped in the rear seat. There were a few occassions though when she was sleeping with the baby without being strapped obviously.

I took extra care while driving at such times
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Old 18th May 2008, 19:44   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadu View Post
Nice loong travelogue but pictures inbetween could have made it more enjoyable to read.
Well, here are some pics:
1st pic is from Maravanthe beach on NH 17
2nd pic is from NH 4
3rd pic is again from NH 4
4th pic is from NH 17 with my ride in the frame
5th pic is again from NH 17 near Maravanthe beach. In this pic you can see the sea on the left hand side & fresh water is on the right side. This is a speciality of this stretch of NH 17.

More pics can be found at Flickr: shettysid's Photostream
Attached Thumbnails
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Road trip from Pune to Mangalore & back - A travelogue-72.jpg  

Road trip from Pune to Mangalore & back - A travelogue-68.jpg  

Road trip from Pune to Mangalore & back - A travelogue-58.jpg  

Road trip from Pune to Mangalore & back - A travelogue-63.jpg  

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Old 19th May 2008, 07:05   #8
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Shettre, nice travelouge and nice tip about the shortcut from Gokarna. Also, good to hear about improved condition of the Yellapura stretch.
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Old 19th May 2008, 08:20   #9
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Nice travelogue and pics.
I am happy to know that you learnt a very good lesson regarding following an overtaking vehicle. Majority of the accidents are caused due to this in a 2lane highway. The vehicle in front will overtake considering his angle not the vehicle behind, the vehicle behind cannot judge anything and can be very fatal.

Abhi
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Old 19th May 2008, 13:51   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Nice travelogue and pics.
I am happy to know that you learnt a very good lesson regarding following an overtaking vehicle. Majority of the accidents are caused due to this in a 2lane highway. The vehicle in front will overtake considering his angle not the vehicle behind, the vehicle behind cannot judge anything and can be very fatal.

Abhi
Yea, lesson learn't big time.
I thought of sharing this with everyone so that others do not repeat the same mistake.
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Old 19th May 2008, 14:34   #11
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Hi Siddharth,

Nice travelogue! I'm a regular traveller on this route.

I did Pune-Kundapura 4 days before your trip. I took the state roads while going from Belgaum. The roads were really bad for 15-20 kms in the forest area. While coming back, I took the NH 63. The Albair ghat roads is much, much better now. If you had taken these ghats a year or two back, there would haven't much roads then.

I had gone to Mookambika temple (near Kundapura) and I spent for a day at Turtle bay resort.

Regards,

Pradeep
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Old 19th May 2008, 14:49   #12
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That's a nice report, congrats on your first long trip. BTW, I passed by Kaup today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidz View Post
I had asked my wife to take the back seat since we also had the baby with us. She had unwillingly agreed since she was used to being seated next to me when we drove in the city.
You mean you don't use a child seat in the car? That's is a must buy, carrying babies in arms in long drives is very dangerous. Just like adults should wear seat belts, the infants should be in child seat. It is less taxing to them as well as the parents. My son sleeps off very fast once put into the child seat. In some countries it is the law, you can't carry babies in arms/lap in the car. I do it only for very short distance, say within 2-3 Kms.

Last edited by Samurai : 19th May 2008 at 14:51.
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Old 19th May 2008, 15:34   #13
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Sidz - Nice report. How much time did it take for you to reach Hubli from Pune? I am planning to go to Hampi sometime soon and will take the Pune-Belgaum-Hubi-Hospet route.
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Old 19th May 2008, 15:47   #14
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Nice report and pics. BTW, what was the FE you have got as the Palio's are great guzzlers?
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Old 19th May 2008, 16:19   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cediafan View Post
I am planning to go to Hampi sometime soon and will take the Pune-Belgaum-Hubi-Hospet route.
Lemme know how it goes.. I was deterred from making this trip because the Hubi-Hospet route is used by the aforementioned mining trucks !!
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