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Old 30th January 2010, 14:15   #106
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Great travelogue with very contrasty writing styles of btirthankar and hvkumar.

HVK,

Looks like MP roads seem to be improving. I have been to MP in a long long time but from your description of roads, feels like a totally different place now
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Old 30th January 2010, 16:42   #107
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Looks like MP roads seem to be improving. I have been to MP in a long long time but from your description of roads, feels like a totally different place now
Yes, MP roads have improved a lot.

However, at the entry point from MH on NH3, roads are dismal since road widening work is on.

From Damnod, the 4-laner is a baeauty all the way past Indore till Dewas.

Dewas bypass is not in great shape.

From Dewas towards Shahjahanpur, road is currently good, but too narrow and I suppose can get jammed up fast. Besides, the white lines are invisible and create problems driving in fog.

From Dewas onwards, I can see that the road has taken a beating during the monsooons and it is all patched up roughly although there are no potholes now. I dread to think of the condition of the Dewas-Gwalior stretch during rains. But currently, it is in good condition and you can maintain steady 100 kmph + speeds.

Faciloities continue to remian poor, both in terms of fuel stations, eateries and hotels.

Although towns like Shahjahanpur and Saranpur need bypasses badly, the towns Guna and Shivpuri have lovely bypasses.

Gwalior town itself has no bypass and the passage through the town (for those going onto Delhi) is terrible.

The pleasant surprises were in the rest of MP. The Gwalior-Jhansi road is being widened and we should soon see a wonderful 4-laner.

The road to Kajuraho from Jhansi is lovely now, it is widened most of the way except for some sections near Nowgaon where the road is still the old 1-lane road. Can do with better signages though.

From Nowgaon to Chhatarpur and Bamita, road is decent - barely wide enough but no bad sections.

The last few kms into Kajuraho from Bamita is a 4-laner.

From Bamita to Panna, the road is great, and it becomes spectacular on the Panna-Amanganj-Katni road which looks newly-laid and in great shape.

NH7 from Katni onwards is good except on Seoni bypass. 4-laning work is on from Laknadon onwards. It is complete in almost all sections except the forest sections after crossing Seoni where I believe denial of permissions has stalled road widening.
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Old 30th January 2010, 20:37   #108
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@ HVK speaks like always!!!! Hats off to you sir
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Old 31st January 2010, 09:58   #109
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NH7 from Katni onwards is good except on Seoni bypass. 4-laning work is on from Laknadon onwards. It is complete in almost all sections except the forest sections after crossing Seoni where I believe denial of permissions has stalled road widening.
Thanks HVK for detailed update on MP roads.

So if one wants to drive from Bangalore to Delhi, would you still recommend Bangalore - Bombay - Delhi now considering the improvements in NH7 ?
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Old 31st January 2010, 10:12   #110
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There are multiple options for the Bangalore-Delhi driver, apart from the Bombay route which I continue to think is the fastest and the route with best facilities and potential for interesting stopovers.

Since NH7 and NH3 are good currently, options are:

- Bangalore-Hyderabad-Nagpur, leave NH7 and go via Betul to Bhopal and join NH3 at Biaora, proceed on NH3 via Gwalior and Agra

- Bangalore-Hyderabad-Nagpur-Seoni-Laknadon-Sagar-Jhansi-Gwalior-Agra route is totally avoidable, since road widening work is still on, but once that is complete that will be the best

- Bangalore-Varanasi on NH7 all the way, but that will be an extremely long route, after you connect with NH2

- Bangalore-Chitradurga (NH4)-Solapur (NH13)-Tembhurni (NH9)-Karmala-Ahmednagar-Shirdi-Dhulia (NH3)-Indore-Gwalior-Agra, this route is OK now but bad during the rains.

All the routes take a beating during the rains, and for at least 6 months in a year in a bad shape. Best time to take these roads is during winter. Be prepared for poor facilities and travelling through small towns without bypasses.

The NH7 4-laning is in advanced stage of completion all the way from Bangalore to Laknadon.
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Old 31st January 2010, 10:17   #111
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@ HVK sir, tweeted (twitter-@ashwinsid) your post on the SUV seize attempt thing.
I have seen your tweet among many others. Its been a while now but no media action resulted out of this.

Also wish if a Social Taskforce could be constituted for such kind of harassment with office bearers in every Indian city. Need'nt look far, how about a sub-forum here?
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Old 31st January 2010, 11:24   #112
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You must bear in mind that seizing vehicles is legal under Section 160 of the Representation of People of India Act. So we are treading on thin ground here.

However, the draconian provision also commits the cops to the following compliance:

- A written notice must be served on the owner before car is seized for election duty

- There is a suitable notice period (I do not know how many days before seizure the notice should be served on the owner)

- The car can be used only for election purposes by police or election officials and not by any candidate

- The owner of the car has to be paid compensation - to be agreed upon on seizure - at prevailing market rates

Not surprisingly, such provisions remain only on paper and the cops simply do not bother about such legal niceties, so please take note and take up your fight on these lines in case you are the unfortunate recipient of their hospitality!
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Old 31st January 2010, 12:00   #113
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I have relatively new to the concept of long drives (last 2-3 years). But this story of vehicle seize is really news to me; a really shocker !

Most of my long journeys I have done on trains and hence oblivious to such problems!

Sad as HVK puts it, rules are only on paper !

Meanwhile on a totally different note, I read a book titled: "One life to Ride" where the author run to Ladakh on an Enfield.

I really feel HVK should write a book "India on the Road: The Scorpio Diaries"

What say you sir !
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Old 31st January 2010, 12:41   #114
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Originally Posted by ampere View Post

I really feel HVK should write a book "India on the Road: The Scorpio Diaries"

What say you sir !
That would be a big injustice to the Matiz /Commander and the Ind Suzuki which have also served him really well.

Last edited by MileCruncher : 31st January 2010 at 12:42.
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Old 31st January 2010, 13:32   #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MileCruncher View Post
That would be a big injustice to the Matiz /Commander and the Ind Suzuki which have also served him really well.
OK Title Changed: "India On The Road : HVK Diaries" !!!!
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Old 31st January 2010, 15:04   #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ampere View Post
OK Title Changed: "India On The Road : HVK Diaries" !!!!
Extremely flattered!
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Old 31st January 2010, 17:43   #117
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Continuing the account of the drive:

Rookad/Pench WLS-Hyderabad

If you recall, we had reached Rookad on the fringes of the Pench WLS the previous night (Jan 18), and stayed at the Bison Retreat jungle camp, It was shivering cold that night, but we were off early next morning at 510 am.

Nagpur was 100 kms away, and we were cruising into Nagpur city exactly 1.30 hrs later, despite that the NH7 is not yet widened until the last few kms entering Nagpur city, but being early in the morning the drive was smooth although I guess there will be heavy miscellaneous traffic later during the day.

I did not take any bypass (did not see any clear signages), I preferred to drive through the city - it is one straight road without any turnoffs - all the way past the commercial/business district (Dantoli) though a beautiful elevated road to the Airport (in case you get lost, ask for guidance to the Airport, which is on NH7).

58 kms after the airport, watch out for the right turn - there are confusing signages here (straight goes to Chandrapur), and the road descends into a 2-laner with lots of widening work going on.

After Pandarkawada, the last MH town, the road deteriorates badly and can be quite a task driving this stretch (till AP border) at night. Once in AP, the 4-laner starts again.

Adilabad town (310 kms, 920 am, 4.10 hrs) has no bypass and you have to vend your way through miscellaneous traffic. Double road resumes some 20 kms after Adilabad and is incomplete in many stretches, but the conventional 2-laner is good, and you can maintain steady high speeds. It is only after crossing Nizamabad bypass (454 kms, 1140 am, 6.30 hrs) that the road construction is complete and the rest of NH7 is a beauty, almost expressway material the rest of the way to Hyderabad.

We reached Jedimetla (suburb of Hyderabad) exactly at 100 pm, as scheduled (596 kms, 100 pm, 7.50 hrs), to meet MileCruncher, who had arranged an appointment with the M&M ASC Automotives for some repairs to my Scorpio (and kept us company throughout, commandeered the mechanics, bullied the supervisors and General Manager to get my work done). Thanks, MileCruncher.

Repairs - I had changed the wheel discs in my Scorpio in Bombay, and the ASC there had broken 2 of the wheel disc bolts (and did not have a replacement in stock), so I was running on just 4 wheel disc bolts per wheel. Automotives promised that they have the relevant part, turned out to be false and in typical M&M fashion, they messed around with the car for the next 6.30 hrs! Imagine, I had driven 600 kms from MP in 7.50 hrs, now I am cooling my heels in a workshop for 6.30 hrs. A 19" ordinary bolt was not available in the "best" MM ASC in Bombay, and is not available in the "best" M&M ASC in Hyderabad - I do not want to imagine how bad the situation is elsewhere in the country. Not only did they not have the part, the ASC tried to put some other bolts and pass off the car (but for my presence, they would have delivered the car ready!), and also damaged the delicate threading in the wheel discs. Ultimately, the bolts had to fished out from the used/accident cars stockyard and fitted onto the car. I was able to leave the workshop only at 800 pm! Such a tragedy - a great car that Scorpio is, ruined by poor after-sales service, manned by monkeys and donkeys. I have learnt this the hard way over the last 2,25,000 kms of running my Scorpio on Indian roads.

The next 2 days, I was in Hyderabad attending a wedding in the family.

Last edited by Jaggu : 31st January 2010 at 22:59. Reason: Please restrict the smilie usage to two per post, it was really looking messy out there. Thanks.
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Old 31st January 2010, 17:57   #118
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
You must bear in mind that seizing vehicles is legal under Section 160 of the Representation of People of India Act. So we are treading on thin ground here.
Sir, silent reader of this as well as your other wonderful logs and really respect the amount of detail you put into such informative stuff.

I really dont understand this rule. So, if i am travelling from my home state to visit some other state on business, then how come compensation etc can serve the loss of time, travel hassle and inconvinience. I mean isnt it strange to be stranded in no mans land and wait for these cops to finish their election duty while we keep twiddling our thumbs. Like they cannot afford to buy vehicles for their own usage.

Really stupid rule like most of the rules of this country framed like 50+ yrs ago
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Old 31st January 2010, 21:14   #119
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Originally Posted by rrahul_2778 View Post
I really dont understand this rule. So, if i am travelling from my home state to visit some other state on business, then how come compensation etc can serve the loss of time, travel hassle and inconvinience. I mean isnt it strange to be stranded in no mans land and wait for these cops to finish their election duty while we keep twiddling our thumbs. Like they cannot afford to buy vehicles for their own usage.

Really stupid rule like most of the rules of this country framed like 50+ yrs ago
The cops had the cheek to tell me to take it easy for the next 8 days till elections are over! Everyone talks of dacoity and safety issues on highways, I worry only about corrupt men in uniform. As long as you are pliable, you are fair game.
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Old 1st February 2010, 22:12   #120
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Hyderabad-Trivandrum


1350 kms - that is just 100 kms short of the Bombay-Delhi distance. That was my day's target for Jan 22. After 2 dizzy days of conducting and celebrating my nephew's wedding in Hyderabad, I was fully loaded with miscellaneous wedding party stuff - personal belongings and sweets, etc, since the family was going back to Trivandrum by air, and everything they could not take with them was bundled into my car - and all set to do the drive morning to evening.

The previous evening, I had a taste of some Hyderabadi cops - on my way from Habsiguda to Panjagutta, I was stopped by cops who insisted that my car must have a NOC to ply in Hyderabad. I firmly told them that I was a visitor, here for a wedding for just 2 days and by no means require a NOC (normally required if an out-of-state vehicle plies in another state beyond a certain period - 6 months or 12 months?). An ugly spat followed, with the cop demanding a bribe of Rs 200, which I steadfastly refused to give. A waste of 15 minutes and I drove off triumphant, but wondering whether India is a unified republic or is made up of independent nations, but not surprised at the various tactics cops use all over India to harass motorists and visitors, be it in MP, AP or HP!

I set off at 300 am the morning of Jan 22 from Hyderabad's Panjagutta locality, and quickly connected with the new PVN Expressway - the new elevated road - leading to the Shamsabad Airport which is off NH7. Watch out, there were several cops on duty atop the expressway, watching out for speeding motorists, so maintain a sedate speed. Nonetheless, it took me just 20 minutes to cover the 27 kms to the airport. Immediately after the airport intersection, the double road narrows into a 2-laner for a few kms, but the 4-laner resumes thereafter.

It was a speed run to Kurnool, 222 kms later, reached at 518 am, averaging a speed of 100 kmph throughout. Traffic was mild, most of the buses and trucks heading towards Hyderabad in the opposite direction. Where the Kurnool bypass begins there is a overpass under construction - over a railway line - and the signages were no obscure that I missed my way and went off into Kurnool town, returning to NH7 12 kms and 15 minutes later! Kurnool bypass construction work is on but the double road resumes after 5 kms, but plays zig zag thereafter, with detours on and off, no bad road sections though. You have to be careful though of level differences in the road and there is inadequate signage.

I crossed Ananthapur pretty quickly (379 kms, 735 am, 4.35 hrs). I personally thought that, both in terms of food and fuel, facilities are very poor on this route, especially after Gooty. Running short on fuel, I had to refuel at a broken-down petrol pump after Penukonda. Happily, despite the rising sun, miscellaneous traffic remained light and there was not much wrong-side movements, quite characteristic of the new-fangled 4-laned roads.

Crossing into Karnataka, the roads became fantastic but the rumblers were treacherous, extremely dangerous if you do not watch out and brake in time.

I am uneasy about going into Bangalore city, and I had charted out a route that would bypass the city since I was continuing my journey to Trivancrum and I had no business in Bangalore.

I reached Devanahalli (new Bangalore airport town) at 950 am, having covered 560 kms in 6.50 hrs, and now I turned off NH7 into the Devanahalli town, where I first travelled on NH207 before taking a peaceful route via Whitefield, Varthur and Sarjapura to Attibele which is on NH7 35 kms south of Bangalore, just short of the TN border. This route was 70 kms long and took me exactly 2 hours. Would have been shorter but for a minor traffic jam at Varthur Lake (some political rally) and the consequential detours that I had to take (road was closed), which cost me 15-20 minutes. The route is simple to follow, although there are soem flyovers under construction en route (at the NH4 intersection between K R Puram and Hoskote) and at Whitefield.

I will post the full details of this route in a separate mail, but now I will proceed further to Trivandrum. At Attibele, one of our friends K S Lalu awaited us, having driven 20 kms from Madivala just to say Hi to us. Thanks, Lalu, we enjoyed the meeting thoroughly.

At 12 noon, we entered Hosur in TN, a little messy but not much of a time-waster, and soon we were speeding on the spectacular NH7. Knowing Karnataka to have expensive fuel, I had pulled on till Hosur to tank up since TN sells diesel at much lower rates. The Scorpio crunched up the miles and in exactly 2 hours, I was in Salem, having covered 172 kms from Attibele. Barring the nasty rumbler strips on the ghat road between Dharmapuri and Toppur, the road was unbelmished. I had no time to stop over at the much-acclaimed Adyar Ananda Bhavans (A2Bs) before Krishnagiri and after Dharmapuri, and the cops waiting to waylay "outsider" vehicles on the Dharmapuri bypass did not notice me whizzing by. That was quite a relief, since my experiences with TN cops has been anything but pleasant.

If you though the NH7 was fast between Bangalore and Salem, sample the next stretch to Dindigul. The next 173 kms were covered in exactly 2 hours, if I rarely took my leg off the accelerator, it was only to slow down to pay the toll charges. The afternoon sun beat down on the bleak countryside - brightens up near Karur - keeping all the TVS Mopeds indoors. The competition with a Fiesta also bucked up our spirits, a balm for all the dry fruits and biscuits that we were eating as our meal that day. Not forgetting the electrals that we quaffed.

Madurai (1,050 kms, 445 pm, 13.45 hrs) - we hardly realised that we were bypassing Madurai, which flew by like the other large towns before that - Rasipuram, Namakkal, Karur, Dindigul. Unfortunately, facilities are poor after crossing Salem. If there was a A2B after Karur, I am sorry I missed it. The bus traffic in any part of TN is dense, but these guys keep very much to themselves in the LHS lane and rarely take up cudgels against motorists like us. Never saw a Volvo en route, explains the civlised behaviour of the buses. Happily, hardly any wrong-side traffic in these parts - even where there were, at least they stuck to the LHS lane/ shoulder instead of brazenly coming onto you in the extreme RHS lane like they do in MH!

After crossing Madurai, things slowed down a bit. Even in the old-fashioned 2-lane roads, I used to do the 300 kms to Trivandrum in 4 hours, but on this occasion I was to take 5 hours for the same distance. Past Virudhunagar till Tirunelveli, one can maintain steady 120+ kmph speeds. That was one reason why I did not want to drive the shorter route from Madurai/Tirumangalam via Rajapalayam, Srivilliputtur, Tenkasi and Tenmala to Trivandrum,. A couple of flyovers remain incomplete, and at Kayathar, the road condition is bad. Unfortunately, the new Tirunelveli bypass is still incomplete, and the old "bypass" was bursting at its seams as I ploughed into peak evening traffic at 630 pm, took some time crossing this city. There was heavy traffic all the way to Nagercoil, and the last 18 kms (after leaving NH7, which went away to Kanyakumari) beyond Panagudi was dreadfully slow. I reached Nagercoil at 755 pm, having taken over an hour & a quarter to cover the 80 kms from Tirunelveli. The NH47 from Nagerocil to Trivandrum is one of the most difficult roads to drive on by day and the countryside was not yet asleep yet - took me a record 1.45 hrs to drive the 66 kms, which is the only sector I lost pace big-time. As usual, the Kerala cops at the TN-KL check post whistled after me - lots of people smuggle things in these parts - but we blissfully kept going, thjat was the least of our troubles, we had lots of coconuts, rice and sweetmeats in our car which can make us easy prey for the inquisitive cops.

At least we reached Trivandrum at 945 pm, having covered exactly 1,350 kms in 18.45 hrs. Considering that I do the Bombay-Delhi route (100 kms more) at superfast speeds - in 17 hrs - I think this was not a bad day at all!

For me, Trivandrum is hometown and I was here to continue the celebrations of my nephew's marriage, and I was to spent the next 4 days there.
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