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Old 13th June 2008, 16:34   #1
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Default Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms

PART 1 - Kerala

Most of you must have read my initial impressions on my new Verna. This attempt at a travelogue would also be an extension of a review of the new car with a few driving impressions on long distances.

It has been a ritual every summer holiday for me to take my family that comprises of my wife and 2 sons on long drives. The normal choice being a drive to Kerala, from Hyderabad while including destinations such as Ooty, Munnar etc or any other place where we could chill out. When these trips were done, it was my duty to drive the family, drop them of at Pune and return back to Hyderabad, only to go fetch them back a fortnight later or so. All these travels where done on my trusty old Santro, which had never let me down, even with a puncture, all these years.

Then came this yearís Holidays and with a gleaming new Verna in the stable, what else to do except hit the road. Waited for, what seemed to be eons, to get my Registration Certificate (card) of the Verna, without which I was advised not to venture into other States.

At exactly 17:30 hrs, on the 9th of May, I received my RC and hastily got copies made of it and rushed to fit the number plates (which were lying ready at a friendís garage). I had just got the first service done at 1075 kms a few days prior to that day. However after a quick check up of the fluid levels and other essentials went on to fill her up to the brim. After doing the packing up called fellow member kutlee to inform that we were all set to leave in the morning. Kutlee and family had also proposed to leave on the 10th, by road to Kerala and it struck us that we could leave together.

Time that we had set to leave Hyderabad was around 04:30 hrs on the 10th but that wasnít meant to be due to a late night party, the previous night, and kids just refusing to wake up from their deep slumber. Received frantic calls from kutlee, he had already left his home and was waiting at the outskirts of the city. It was then that we agreed that he should carry on and I shall try to catch up with him somewhere further down on the highway.

By the time we could get ourselves moving the city had woken up from its slumber and there was the nagging traffic all along till the new airport at Shamshabad, outside the city.

The roads were pretty good and driving the Verna was a breeze. It wasnít much of a cool morning and the A/c was on. The family who were in hibernate mode took this opportunity to resume their slumber and me listening to some soft instrumental numbers just concentrated on the drive out of the city. At this point I should appreciate the care taken by Hyundai to reduce the NVH levels on the Verna. At this price point it did what I did not expect of it, i.e., remain silent and let me enjoy the music, while my family was happy dozing away. Knowing that the family had buckled up their seat belts too gave me the confidence to do good speeds on open stretches.

The roads were well tarred but there were a lot of diversions due to the four laning work happening on this highway. One has to be wary of these sudden diversions while traveling at night, however due to the glorious (or should I call it harsh summer) sunlight during the day, none of these posed problems. One has to also be careful of the sudden dips (wonder what the opposites of speed breakers are called) that dot the road and this is when I thanked God that I was in a Verna and not the Santro.

The cruising speed on the Verna was a cool 130kmph which it reaches in no time at all and getting to 160 ~ 170kmph needed no effort at all. Much has been spoken of the handling of the Verna, many have flogged it to extents. My take on it is that it handles excellently well. It could be the ABS version, with better suspension, that makes me feel so. It could be the Wider 205/55/15 Michelin Energy MXV8 that makes me feel so or it could just be the fact that most of my previous cars, in which I have done good distances, have been the M800, the OMNI and the Santro. The OMNI being the most used by me on highways and we all know how the OMNIís stability is, or for that matter the Santro is not a great handler too. I have had my moments with these cars which I vividly remember (and would never forget).

Stopped, somewhere on the highway, at Bharat Petroleumís outlet to binge on Idlis and Dosas and some nice coffee for breakfast. Must say that the outletís restaurant was clean and the taste was good. A good alternative for Relianceís A1 Plaza, which used to be our haunt on the numerous drives. Called up Kutlee they had just finished breakfast and had hit the road again. After a break for a smoke (I never smoke in the car when the family is around) we moved on towards Bangalore and sometime before Lunch we could catch up with Kutlee and his OHC. The first thing my Children did, as his OHC moved on the highway, was to roll down the windows to listen to the roar of the FFE on the OHC. Must say it was a treat to the ears.

Both the cars headed on towards Bangalore at good speeds. Traffic was pretty light and we arrived at Chikballapur and decided to stop for Lunch. After a hearty meal Kutlee and I had to part ways since Kutlee was proceeding to Kannur via a different route and I was heading towards Palghat through Bangalore.

I have always dreaded Bangaloreís traffic and was half expecting a snarl, but to my pleasant surprise driving on the ORR to Hosur proved to be a breeze, owing to the fact that 10th was the day the elections were held, and traffic was sparse on the roads. From Hosur on the roads which most of us know are just beautiful until Thopur from wherein I took the right to get into the Mettur Bhavani route to Dharmapuri.

Ever since we crossed Hosur it started raining. It was more of a steady drizzle which proves to be nagging especially when the daylight starts to fade. It was turning dark early in the evening owing to the fact that there were thick dark grey clouds hovering upon us. It was close to 6:30 pm when we touched the town of Dharmapuri and started looking out for a hotel to stay in for the night. The total distance traversed was around 750kms and I needed my evening quota of a couple of pegs every evening.

A quick call to my cousin in Palghat turned out to be a good call for he made a mention of a Hotel called Adhiyaman Palace bang on the Highway to CBE, in the heart of Dharmapuri. There were no diversions to take etc. I have to say that the rooms at Adhiyaman Palace, a relatively new hotel, were large and airy and very well maintained. The price tag was absolutely down to earth, but the icing on the cake was the excellent food. I must say that I have stayed in small hotels in small towns before, during my previous drives, and this has to be the best hotel I have stayed in and the best food enroute ever. I give 5 stars to this hotel for itís quality and service.

Talking about the service there was a small anecdote which I would like to relate here. For all who know the difference between Dum Biryani (of Hyderabad) and Briyani cooked in the Chettinad Style, they would understand that there is a vast difference in Taste between the both. Me being overexposed to the Hyderabadi variety was looking to gorge on the TN version of it but sadly the room service menu depicted that as a Lunch only option. Not loosing heart I call up the Restaurant and request the person who answers the call for a plate of Biryani at the least. Initially the gentleman on the other end of the line politely says heís sorry but it cannot be done. On hearing this I tell him that Iím from Hyderabad, enroute to Kerala and this is my only chance to relive the experience of a Chettinad Biryani so could he do something about that. The gentleman pauses for a moment only to tell me if I could wait for some time say about 45 minutes or so, I gladly accept (my kids like it you see and anything for the kids as long as they eat well). In about 50 minutes time (alongwith my other orders) comes in a real large serving of piping hot and the tastiest Biryani we ever had. The room boy casually asked me whether I was a friend of the owner of the Hotel and when I asked why he was asking he just told me that it was the owner who had answered my call in the first place and had instructed his cook to make some Biryani specially for this guest, which was almost a first I guess. This says it all I guess about the hospitality and the service that this small hotel renders its guests.

Had a nice nights sleep at Dharmapuri and after a wholesome breakfast we left the hotel at around 9:30 AM towards Coimbatore. The roads from hereon was traffic infested and there was plenty of four laning work happening with sudden deviations which one really has to be wary of. Good speeds can be done but much damage could be done because of the deviations. Imagine this, you have just overtaken the stubborn transport corporation bus who thinks he owns the road and revving away from him for the road seems empty and suddenly you have a dip in the road, which is actually not visible owing to the height of the new road, after which you have a so called road on which you have to steer to the right side to get onto the wrong side of the road. So essentially what happens is you are very slightly airborne for a micro second, land with a slight thud with the task of steering to the right on a patched mud road to get onto the wrong side of the road. Wonder if I was able to explain it properly however to sum it up, just be slower and safer than usual when on these roads until the road works are complete.

Reached the CBE byepass and zoomed through it. Nice stretch of road that eh. Walayar was like, what to say, as usual, the worst stretch. Crossed Walayar and it was time for lunch. Stopped at a wayside hotel, which was pretty recently inaugurated, for the traditional NV Mallu meal of fish curry, Rice and fish fry, do not recollect the name of the restaurant though. Man, must say that Kerala is a Non vegetarians delight. Not too sure of the Vegetarian food for I did not bother to try any. The best part is that in a smaller town like Palghat one ends up spending so much lesser than you spend in a bigger town. There have been quite a few changes though in the recent times with the influx of other cuisines from the rest of India and some from other parts of the world. It does not harm though to have options as long as the traditions do not die a natural death as far as I go.

A day of catching up with the family at Palghat had us planning a trip to Athirampally and Vachachal. Both of these places are situated near a town called Chalakudy and are basically waterfalls set in a scenic background. They are said to have been the settings for many a movie that have been shot there. Sadly I am no good at photography (my prime pastime being driving) and I was unable to capture the natural beauty of the falls. Most of the Photos taken had the family in the foreground, if you know what I mean. One word of caution though, to whomever wishes to visit this place is that Accommodations are sort of sparse and sometimes not up to the mark, if available, in these places. We set camp at a Hotel in Chalakudy. The drive unto the falls from Chalakudy is heavenly with the twisty roads which are really well marked with white lines throughout and well carpeted. There is a lake above the Vazhachal falls which we visited and took a boat ride on. There were plenty of places were one could take a dip in the cool clear water near the water falls so make sure you carry your swim wear along with towels to dry yourself.

Yet another day saw us on a drive to Nelliyampathy approx. 50 kms from Palghat. Nelliyampathy essentially is a tiny hill station with many tea estates in and around the place. There is not much to offer in the town as such but it is beyond the town that matters. It is said to be a haven for 4x4 enthusiasts. There are many points around Nelliyampathy which only the 4x4 jeeps could access. For those unfortunate enough like me not to have a 4x4 there are many jeeps available for hire. However I just could not come to terms with the fact that I was to hire a jeep, driven by someone else to take me around on a holiday so I decided against that. The drive up to Nelliyampathy was real nice with beautiful roads with about a dozen hairpin bends along the way. Nelliyampathy reminds one of Coonoor with its plantations. Had carried lunch along with us and had a traditional picnic style lunch on some lush greens somewhere along the road before we drove back into town.

With a few more places to visit, like the Palasena temple and other temples, a visit to a relatives place at Vattoli (near Tellichery and Mahe), which were mandatory on a Kerala visit by me lest I evoke the ire of the elders our trip to Kerala drew to a close.

Hotels stayed in during this trip:

Hotel Adhiyamaan Palace: On Highway to CBE from Dharmapuri
Tariff: Approx: Rs.1,200/- + Taxes IIRC for A/c Deluxe room with King size bed and a large room.
Review: Excellent food and service, will definitely recommend as a low budget stopover option.

Kallelyís Park Inn: Main road South, Chalakudy

Tariff: Rs. 1,800 + taxes for A/c. Executive Deluxe room
Review: Couldnít help us with dinner when we arrived there at 10:30 pm. Breakfast supposed to be part of plan and just sucks. Could be used as a base while on a visit to Athirampally and Vazhachal falls. Rooms are clean and neat. Go outside for good food. Link to Hotelís website: :::KALLELY'S PARK INN:::

A few snaps taken along the route are attached for your reference.

On the route from Mettur to Bhavani
Attached Thumbnails
Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-mettur-bhavani-route.jpg  

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-mettur-bhavani-route-1.jpg  

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-mettur-bhavani-route-3.jpg  

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-mettur-bhavani-route-2.jpg  

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Old 13th June 2008, 16:59   #2
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Athirampally Falls

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-athirampally-falls.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-athirampally-falls-1.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-athirampally-falls-2.jpg

Vazhazchal Falls

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-vazhachal-falls.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-vazhachal-falls-1.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-vazhachal-falls-2.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-vazhachal-falls-3.jpg

Lake above Vazhachal falls

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-lake-above-vazhachal.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-lake-above-vazhachal-1.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-lake-above-vazhachal-2.jpg

Nelliyampathy and route

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-1.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-2.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-1.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-2.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-3.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-4.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-5.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-6.jpg
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Old 13th June 2008, 17:05   #3
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Nelliyampathy and route contd...

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-7.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-nelliyampathy-route-8.jpg

Somewhere near Malampuzha

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-malampuzha.jpg

Kerala, Mookambika, Goa and Pune in one shot 3800 odd kms-malampuzha-1.jpg
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Old 13th June 2008, 17:24   #4
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Suren bhai... amazing photo-blog. Keep writing and post more photos. I can see you had one hell of a time. Driving on such roads, particularly in a fast car is always a joy.
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Old 13th June 2008, 18:26   #5
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good stuff. so finally you took off from work today. My camera ditched me so that i couldn't post more photos in my blog.
waiting for the next part. So do you like the Bov or the FFE??
and you have missed to mention that you hit 200?

Last edited by kutlee : 13th June 2008 at 18:29.
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Old 13th June 2008, 18:43   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kutlee View Post
and you have missed to mention that you hit 200?
Whoa! Suren you hit 200kmph? Mann... Thats a scary thing to do even in the best of the cars.
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Old 13th June 2008, 19:00   #7
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Zappo, please check the 'your top speeds' thread (thread title might be different)
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Old 16th June 2008, 15:28   #8
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Wow, Suren thats a fantastic begining of your travelogue. I was kind of waiting for you to post the same. Good things come to those who wait

Really liked the pictures and look forward to more of them as you continue with this post. Btw, in last picture in your first post the color of your car looks maroon instead of passion red
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Old 16th June 2008, 15:49   #9
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Wonderful travelogue and pics Suren, nice update on the Dharmapuri Hotel as well.

How much time did you take from Bhavani to CBE? How is the road upgradation affecting this stretch?

Eager to hear the remaining travelogue as well.

Abhi

Last edited by akroy : 16th June 2008 at 15:51.
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Old 16th June 2008, 16:23   #10
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Thanks a ton Zappo, kutlee, mobike008 & akroy for your nice comments, this does encourage me to move on with the posting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kutlee View Post
So do you like the Bov or the FFE??
Must say it was a combination of both that I adored
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zappo View Post
Whoa! Suren you hit 200kmph? Mann... Thats a scary thing to do even in the best of the cars.
I know Zappo I know, but it was exhilarating even though done on a downward slope .

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Btw, in last picture in your first post the color of your car looks maroon instead of passion red
Yeah, you are right avi, it indeed does look so. Maybe I tinkered too much with the camera settings (damn I now have to learn how to restore the settings back to factory default settings). It happens in most of the pics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
How much time did you take from Bhavani to CBE? How is the road upgradation affecting this stretch?
Abhi
Roy, I left Dharmapuri after breakfast at around 9:30 and crossed Walayar checkpost to have lunch at around 3ish in the afternoon. Don't recollect the exact time that I crossed Bhavani though. Have to however say that the roads were good excepting for the four laning work.

Last edited by suren181 : 16th June 2008 at 16:25.
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Old 16th June 2008, 17:58   #11
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Wonderful, Simply Excellent travelogue. Beautiful Photos Suren !!

Now I am simply itching to go far away, maybe Delhi - Goa on my brand new Verna

Will plan real soon in a month or two.
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Old 16th June 2008, 19:37   #12
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Excellents travelogue, and great pics! Good that you are putting the rocket to good use.
More pics please??
BTW, what is FFE of an OHC? Is it Free Flow Exhaust? Is that an add-on? What does it do (pardon my ignorance)?
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Old 16th June 2008, 21:36   #13
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Great travelogue Suren.Wish i had enough patience to narrate my trips.Anyway, soon i will be telling you guys about my last week Kochi-bangalore-mysore-sathy-kochi trip on a Captive.Wow,man the Captiva's power and torque is just amazing.
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Old 17th June 2008, 04:21   #14
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Wow! Nice pics and travelogue Suren. The pics are bringing back memories of my Munnar-kodai trip last year (except for rains). Somehow, I have not sorted out the pics (clicked almost 1000 photos) and never came up with a travelogue. Hope to do it in future.
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Old 17th June 2008, 12:11   #15
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Amazing Pics Suren Bhai! You are enticing me to get on the road again! Not too many places to cover nearby from Hyd but i have managed to cover all the weekend breaks from Delhi while i was there! We'll chat up in detail when we meet again!
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