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|5th June 2008, 23:34||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Ahmedabad To Calicut - Part One
01-06-08": When the wander lust hits, it finds reasons to well... wander. This time the plausible reasons to drive down from Ahmedabad to Calicut was the upcoming wedding there, reservations being tight even with the flights and of course the Scorp's daunt, Do you dare? There the trap was sprung, I am only mortla to fall plump into it. The nagging questions rumbled deep in some corners of the mind, what if the rains start early, what if the Surat traffic trap sucks you in, what if you fall sick; the list of what if's were scary enough, the decision to tally-ho was cast
Having done 18K on the beast, the list of things to do was routine, the relatives and friends sighed the usual, "not again!!!", some of them said audibly "bats in the bell fry, when will he learn" and made faces at me. All these fell like rain drops on lamination; the expectation of the drive was building day by day, by 31st evening I was on edge, the sympathetic system clearly on overdrive, had to force myself to close all thoughts out and go to sleep @ 9 pm. I wonder if this happens to people who do long drives, or is it just me?
The beast is ship shape, the ASC checked out all liquids, nuts and bolts and the TD was OK, was asked to just check out all liquid levels every day. I'd do it anyway, standard practice. This time the only addition to the tool kit was an electrical air pump, my friend Joy gave for the drive, otherwise the standard check-list was ticked off between by Navigator / trip log custodian son, Nidish, 12 years.
The plan is cast, after lots of inputs from TBHP gang and HVK, we're on daily touch to see the road conditions. General plan was to start @ 4 am, hit Surat by 8, clear Goadbandar by 1, Pune by 4, Satara 6 and Hubli around 10 PM and halt. The best laid plans of man and mice...........[/
The alarm goes off on 1st morning @ 0400 am, by the time the truck is loaded its already late, we hit the road @ 510 am. We roll nice and easy for 10 kms, all sounds are ok and I goad the right pedal the Scorp surges ahead. We hit the Express way entry @ 537 and settle down to the turbo whistle @ 120 kmph. We're 10 mts slower than earlier run when we hit the exit @ 622am, but thought we could make this up on the NH, providence had other plans.
When I saw the slowing traffic on the Baroda BP, it looked like a routine small time jam which will clear itself. The sun was up, nipping through the glasses, the ac doing duty all the time. The realization slowly dawned, we're up jam creek, this is the Mother of some we have seen. There was the usual frenzy of people driving left, right and wherever.. ultimately closing whatever hope there is of orderly progress and thaw of the grid-lock that was tightening. We also took the left lane, jumped couple of mammoth dividers at the risk of ripping the differentials, but scraped through and got tighter into the vortex!!!!!!! Took me 2 hours to do 4 kms, the local population sprang into action, the din of diesels and raising dust storm was ramming their Sunday peace, may the Lord be praised. I counted about 50 of them marshalling traffic and slowly we grinded through. The ongoing 6 laning, switch-backs, bad stretches and about 10000 trucks did not help any. This was the densest traffic I've ever seen, practically bumper to bumper from Baroda to Goadbander. The silver lining was, most of them tried to stick to left lane, but the cars, bikes and local transport were maniacs. It was like driving through treacle, my left wrist soon was aching (time like these you curse the notchy Scorp shifts, a generation behind the Fusion I used to drive) with the shifting and my left knees were begging for a break. We have lost so much time, behind schedule and the need cover distance looming large. We decided to have break-fast and lunch on the run and not to break anywhere till Mumbai if we can help.
Usually, after Manor the road widens up, one can make up time. This time it was the reverse, the density increased, truck, trucks and trucks, Lord-love-a-duck!!! It was like hell was let loose and all the bats have come down to haunt me as trucks!!!!!!!!!
We hit Goadbander toll @ 345 pm and call HVK, he's aghast at our timings. We realized how wicked fate has handed us a mean one only when he assessed the reason for the traffic, the Gajjar stir must have blocked the trucks and they all must have started around same time on the North-South route, looks logical. He met us @ Vijay Sales, we quickly discuss the possible need to reduce the days target and piloted us through some route (much grateful to him, we saved almost 1 hour and the roads were pretty fast till the expressway entry). Only trouble was to keep up with his speed, had to use all of my skills to duck, dart and zip through bumps, rumble strips and fast traffic. Soon we wave good bye to this kindred soul and hit the entry gate of expressway @ 520 pm, odo @ 608kms. We need food gas and some basic food fast and pull off into the food plaza. Tank up proper and after 45 minutes start off again @ 610 pm.
The expressway is a milk run compared to what we went thro and hit Pune exit @ 640 pm. 51 kms in 30 mts was like whipping the horse a bit on the straights to make up some time.
At the exit we call Sudhir, an good Scorpio friend and fix up a meet on the Pune BP. We spend 15 mts chit chatting and discuss the our plan ahead. Sadly we have to reduce the target for the day, it looked difficult to hit Belgaum on planned time, I discussed the HVK on the phone and we decided to push till Belgam for the day.
Off Pune the truck traffic was still heavy, soon as I clear Kambakti ghats @ 0820 PM, my mind was made up. My left wrist and knee joints were on fire, my eyes were pooping, it would be stupid to carry on. I suddenly realize the toll the Baroda-Goadbandar stretch has taken, even last time @ Satara, a planned stop, I was still fresh and raring to go, not this time. Fortunately, Mahendra Hotel, Satara had a room left, had a quick shower and a dinner and I went out like a light @ 10 PM.
One line is mandated about Hotel Manendra Palace, Satara, it may not be the best in room amenities but they know the needs of NH travelers. The watchman cleans the car @ night, the wake up calls work, there's somebody to look after all creature comforts &running hot water, all for Rs.1250/- A/C. I think its a great deal.
02-06-2008:The morning alarm goes off @ 430 am, piping coffee is ready & the truck gets loaded up, we're off @ 450 am. Last year around November when we did this stretch, we ran into a wall of fog, slowed us down plenty. No such problems, this time, the beast was in ship shape, begging to be driven and the road clear and relatively empty. We made excellent time, in 130 mts ate up 210 kms before we stopped for fuel. In retrospect, all the way through Yellapur till Ankola we were lucky, good roads, no mining trucks, no jams and the beast barreled through pretty well, we hit NH 17 @ Ankola in 6 hrs10 mts after 478 kms, probably one of the best times in this stretch.
Most fuel stations were closed; in one place I had to be pushy to get 20 ltrs, that would be OK till Dharward. I had to fuel in Hubli, we were good for only 200 more kms. Fortunately, 1 km towards town, the first bunk guy was very co-operative and agreed for a full tank, though there was rationing. I struck up a conversation and learned a lot through about the notorious mining trucks of route. Some facts would be useful.
These truck carry some ore, come up to NH 63, run through the full length, hit Akola and go up to Mangalore to dump it into the ships. There are about 1000 licensed ones and more without license, they are allowed to ply from 10 pm to 6 am, after which the police stop them. They try to finish as many trips as they can to maximize earnings, between 10-6 and drive like bats out of hell. In one stretch of NH 17, I saw a truck line for 5 kms and a huge open ground where at least 300 of them were parked!!!! Imagining them beingunleashed on the singe-track road and getting sandwiched behind them would be like "Dante's Hell". Bottom line: Do not dr ive on stretch between 10 PM and 6 AM.
We hit Kamat Upchar @ 11 am, 2 kms into NH17. Lots of space to park, OK food and great cut mangos. Spend 40 mts to relax and stretch; a boy offers to clean up the truck for 10/-, a great bargain to wash tons of dirt. A full belly, a shiny truck and hardly 150 kms away; we pull out into the narrow NH with trucks, local buses and passenger autos chocking traffic. Rains which have co-operated, start in full blast and last for the next 45 minutes. The road-presence of the beast is impressive, most small vehicles coming head on at you veer off and give you space to overtake, demon buses / trucks treat you with respect, the zippy engine takes you off the block quickly and going off the road on the left or right not a worry. Past Kumta @ 1240 pm, Honavar @ 1 and suddenly my son shouts, “look, there’s a big statue on the right”. I slow down and find the towering statue of the famous lord Murdeshwar peeking through the tree-line. Its only 1 pm, we have lots of time and its reported to be an awesome sight. We turn right, ride in for 1 kms and park.
The sight of Lord Shiva sitting tall and majestic on the hill was riveting, the features so beautifully etched in paint and dominating everything around. The temple Gopura itself is another beauty and the whole setting on the seaside was really awesome. We spend about 15/20 minutes walking around and shooting some pictures. To explore the place thoroughly will need one whole day, may be another day.
We cross Batkal Junction at 2 and turn right to turtle bay resort @ 245. I walk in search of the reception and find the man Suresh Shetty who confirmed my reservation. After the usual confusion of “rooms not available, will make it ready etc.” soon we check into a strange contraption of a room with A/C working. All we wanted was to hit the sack right away, sleep off for 2/3 hours and sit on the beach for sunset. Did not take much effort to light out after setting the alarm.
Before the nap, I make a call to Smurai / Sharat, TBHP and fix up to call early next day morning enroute to Mangalore. Reliance signals are a problem here, have to walk to a corner of the resort to communicate out; finish up all official pending calls too while the signal is good.
The mobile alarm blares, wake up @ 6 pm, day light is still on and we walk off to the beach. Almost empty, a brisk wind blowing and we settle down on a rock facing the sea to one of the most relaxed days in years watching sunset. None of us spoke, listened to the rustle of wind, the breaking surf and the antics of hoards of crabs on the sand. This priceless 90 minutes will stay permanently etched in the brain, the sun setting through the now looming clouds was a serene panorama washing off all pain, soothing calm descends down, all enveloping. We are 3 Buddhas on the rock, all kinds of emotions flash through my mind and my eyes mist up with a deep sense of relief, one of the strangest evenings in my life. We did not speak for 60 minutes, as if some unwritten pack written just through body language. My son suddenly says, we have to take some pictures and takes out the tripod, Sony H1 and the Video cam. We shoot for 30 minutes, the sun is down through a red haze and we walk back to the resort. Order dinner and chat up with Suresh Shetty and dump all camera datas into the laptop. By 8 piping dinner is ready, tasty, basic and wholesome. We hit the sack @ 9 pm and call it a day.
It was raining heavy throughout the night, lots of lightning and thunder, we could hear the rough sea right into our room, the wind was roaring load, the gale was up. That’s a good sign, if it rains throughout the night, the morning would be clear.
03-06-2008: The alarm does duty @ 0530 am, the packing is already over, I just dump the battery chargers and multi-plugs into the duffle bags, pick up my torch and walk off towards the reception, not a soul in sight. No rains, clear sky, the while world looks like its has been washed clean the previous night. I walk to the truck to do the customary check-list of tyres, bonnet up and fluids, bonnet down, everything looks up.
Something slithers about 7 feet behind me, my heart skips a beat. There glaring at me was one the meanest looking Doberman growling its displeasure. 500 ml of adrenalin pour into my systems, my heart redline; before I realize what I was doing, I was up on the bonnet of the truck in a flash !!!!! I shout at the watchman and he comes like zombie and cuffs the beast. Man, that was one of the scariest moments of my life and I don’t scare easy. Turtle bay perhaps is saying loudly that there are 2 sides of the coin; I had one of the most peaceful sunsets yesterday evening and also one of the most scariest moments of my life, something to remember Turte Bay by.
We start off @ 6 am, light traffic, cover 32 kms in 40 mts and pull up for a full tank of gas. In the meantime Sharat’s call comes in and he guides us thro to the meeting point @ Manipal and his place on top of the hill. It was nice meeting up with Grand Vitera’s man; we have a guided tour of the hillock where the GV got stuck and all that followed. Saw some of the most knock-out posters shot by him and Rudra inside his office walls; true knockers, those. Sharat’s new horse on the stable the 4WD jeep was another story, took some shapes, chewed some TBHP stories and bid good-bye to him and his two beauties, we’d spent 35 mts there.
8 am, we take a LT towards Mangalore, the road is bad, 4 laning work going on and gutted in many places for about 60 kms, the truckers and buses make driving difficult. There was a maniac bus chasing me for 5 kms, I soon turned the tables; gave him way and followed him for the next 35 kms, he practically bulldozed his way through left, right and wherever there was space. We hit the Kerala border and the traffic becomes thicker, typical Kerala, bikes, school buses, people, cattle and what have you. We stop for a quick b’kfast at Uppala @ 930 am, cross Kasargoad and Payannor, took be 2 hours of aggressive driving to do 100 kms, was tired and had to take a 15 minute break where I had 2 black coffees and was ready for the road by 1135. We follow the serpentine slow moving traffic past Taliparamba, Kannur, Tellicherry and hit outskirts of Calicut by 3 pm. By 330 we are at our sister’s house and have a hot lunch.
04-06-08 : Spent at home with all relatives gathered for a wedding. Rains in the evening and night.
05-06-08[/FONT]: Forced halt due to a Hartal, everything at a halt, so used up the day writing the travelogue, collating the camera data and finishing the trip log, don’t know when I’d get time to write up the next one. A Hartal does have its use…..
Evening spent on the beach with about 25 family members, it drizzled, not much rain for the day. But the clouds are gathering, you can smell the clouds gathering waiting to hit full blast within the next 7 days. Thankfully, we would be out of this state by then.
This is as far as Ahmedabd to Calicut. There’s a long way to go and lots more of this story coming
1st photo: Off Manor
Last edited by ramkya1 : 5th June 2008 at 23:44. Reason: To remove tags
|6th June 2008, 00:00||#2|
Senior - BHPian
Some More Photos
Some more photos:
2. Scorp off Yellapur, nice ghat stretch
3. Accident on NH 63, maniac trucks head on.
4. Kamat Upchar, nice eating joing on NH 17
5. Murdeshwar, awesome statue.
6. Murdeshwar, awesome elephant.
7. Murdeshwar, awesome Scorpio.
8. Sunset @ turtle bay resort.
9. At peace @ turtle bay resort.
10.Sun is almost gone, turtle bay resort.Till here was shot on 1st, the camera clock need to be reset.
11.Awesome jeep, a mean machine. Shot from here on on 2nd morning.
12.Jeep with two awesome drivers.
13.The scorp @ Sharat's hillock, Manipal.
Last edited by ramkya1 : 6th June 2008 at 00:08.
|6th June 2008, 09:02||#3|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Mostly Mumbai
Thanked: 1,159 Times
Hi, nice writeup! and good pics too! The scorpio looks good in that color.
The traffic through surat is a pathetic nightmare always!
|6th June 2008, 13:54||#6|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Sep 2007
Thanked: 256 Times
Wonderful account of the trip so far. Look forward to the rest of it.
I dont know how much of the monsoon and rains you're encountering. It may be a good idea to get a bottle of Rainx or something similar from any accessory shop for the windshield. This gives you a coating that acts like 'wax polish on paint'. Helps 'beading' water and prevents fogging. Info: Rain-X Original Glass Treatmentâ€”The Invisible Windshield Wiper
Last edited by smsrini : 6th June 2008 at 14:02.
|6th June 2008, 14:36||#9|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Thanked: 3,478 Times
Ramkya, nice writeup.
My parents get the jitters when i embark on a Bangalore-Kerala trip and hence Ahmedabad-Kerala becomes quite unimaginable for them!
HvKumar is quite well-informed about routes and directions and i have also had the privilege to be a consumer of his services.
|6th June 2008, 15:06||#10|
Senior - BHPian
Thanks for the nice comments.
Just reached Palakkad from Calicut, took all of 4 hours to do 140 kms and then 1 more hr to reach Nemmarah thanks to the BJP road block from 12 to 1 pm. It was raining heavily from Malappuram till Palakkad, the road butter smooth from calicut all the way to Mannarkad and from there bumpy. Anyone coming this way, please take this route only, reportedly other roads to PGT are not as good as this.
Pouring cats and dogs still.
smsrini, my wiper is pretty good, it cleans up pretty good even on heavy rain, will check out what you recommended tomorrow, that would be a help in this torrential rain.
I got lots Chi-Chi noise from my front left wheel, comes on and off, when I apply the brake pedal, it disappears. It disappeared altogether when I drove for 40 Kms, has not appeared till now. Guess it has to do with the pads rubbing againt the discs. the front I think are the disk brakes. Will get it checked out today evening with some mechanics.
Anything else I should do?
Will update on conditions.
Last edited by ramkya1 : 6th June 2008 at 15:08.
|6th June 2008, 16:31||#11|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Sep 2007
Thanked: 256 Times
Just found that Windshield experts Windshield Repair, Auto Glass and Auto Safety Glass Replacement Services Center India also have a product similar to RainX. Its called WEClear. Approx Rs. 150/- a bottle.
They have a outlets in Cochin and Coimbatore.
|23rd June 2008, 10:33||#12|
Join Date: Jan 2005
Thanked: 14,302 Times
Hey, I didn't realize this travelogue was already out for weeks. I was thinking you will wait until you get back.
Very detailed travelogue, probably because you guys continuously keep log. You missed the rains only by few days. A few days later a Delhi BHPian wonderernomad drove by my town, by then the whole district was rain drenched.
|23rd June 2008, 11:06||#13|
Senior - BHPian
Got Caught Finally........
Got caught in it in Calicut and Palakkad, I am used to the Kerala rains.
What caught me by sprprise was on the NH7 on my way from Bangy to Hyderabad, that was one of the heaviest I've seen, news papers reported 11 inches in 5-6 hours, I was right in the middle. Turned out to be quiet an adventure, though scary.
It was nice visiting your hillock and the beasts in your stable.
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