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Old 16th May 2010, 22:27   #1
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Arrow Mumbai to Kodaikanal and back - with kids

Well, I am one of these lazy persons not really interested in doing anything, heck I dont even drive in Mumbai (use a driver).
So after thinking about it for a long time, I decided to go on a road trip. Not sure where to go, I reached out to Mr. HV Kumar (in short HV - Indian GPS). On his recommendation and net checking up, I decided to go south, more specifically Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu (have never been there before).

Next step was to convince the wife about the trip and be mentally prepared to take my 3.5 year and 5 year old kids on the trip. She acquiesced and off we prepared our Chevy Aveo for the trip.

Now I must declare, I work with MapmyIndia ( a gps navigation company) and had the added advantage of having a GPS tracking system embedded in my car, in addition, I had a GPS navigator and bunch of other equipments.

So the journey begins -
Mumbai to Kholapur (left on friday 14th May 2010 @ 6 PM)
Before leaving I decided to have a final look at the coolant after the car had come back from service. Saw that GM - National Garage had taken out the coolant and filled it with water!!!!! Luckily saw the same, drained the water and put in coolant (I ll deal with the same when I come back to Mumbai). Took forever to get to Panvel (evening traffic) and then got stuck at Hinjewadi (Pune). Its was bad traffic on the pune outer ring (lots of bikes and folks going home). Kept driving with halt at McDonalds post Katraj Tunnel, kids had a blast at the place (they were sick of being in the car for so long).

The little boy asked me "papa why are we driving and why cant we take a flight", so I went into a whole philosophical about driving and cars. Anyways, kept driving and reached Kholapur around 1 AM. Had booked at the Ayodhya Hotel (Have stayed here before), clean bed-breakfast place, and quite close off the highway.

Kholapur to Bangalore (Marathahalli) (left on Sat15th May 2010 @ 9:45 AM)
Finally was able to get some speed going on the car. Also since I am not the greatest of drivers (not used to driving on highways), the sun light was an added relief. Kids were more relaxed and the idea was to reach BLR as soon as possible before late evening.

Kumar and lots of other folks were tracking me with the GPS tracking. The link is available here
MapmyIndia - Vehicle Tracking
account id - mmi2051
user name - mmi2051
password - mmi2051


Family was very happy back in Delhi that they can track me and were aware of where i was. I never realized that parts of the golden quad has not been completed, it is a complete myth that the roads are rocking between BLR and Mumbai. Plan to reach out to the Union Minister and NHAI director and find out when the same will be completed. RTI here I come.

Got some lunch at the Genesys resort (again thanks to Kumar) who was tracking me and guiding me on the route. I kept pushing towards BLR with a break at a Kamats for coffee. I was recommended that I use the Yelahanka route to get into BLR, but I was too lazy to figure the same out and followed my GPS navigator, which took me into Tumkur road and here is when my nightmare started!!

I had reached Tumkur toll plaza by around 7 PM and thought I ll be at my friends place in marathahalli by 8ish PM, but I did not know that a road called Tumkur road was under construction and traffic cops were clueless about how to manage traffic (Mumbai/Bombay I love your traffic cops, atleast they know how to clear jams). We were stuck in traffic and the last 25 KM took around 3 hours!!!!!! Bangalore traffic sucks, not sure how people commute here, God help them (and I thought Mumbai and Delhi-Gurgoan was bad).

So Sunday was a rest day and generally chilling out at BLR and next day, I move onto Kodaikanal. Have never been south of BLR and Tamil is definately not my 1st language. Plan on visiting Meenakshi Temple on tuesday. Will post more and put up pictures.

Adios,
Shiva
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Old 16th May 2010, 23:53   #2
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Beautiful. This is amazing. Geotracking as well as a live travelogue. It's now like reality travelogue!
let me check on that tracking link as well.

How are you being tracked? Is it some MMI tracking device, or you have installed any s/w on a gps enabled phone (satguide has this - once you install their s/w it keeps sending the co-ordinated to satguide and you can track the mobile for a nominal subscription fee), or is your pnd having some special geo tracking stuff?

Last edited by MX6 : 17th May 2010 at 00:10.
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Old 17th May 2010, 06:38   #3
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Nice live travelogue both on the net and on the land !
Tumkur to Bangalore stretches can be real nightmare. Need to plan that section correctly else you end loosing too much time.

Hopefully once the elevated highway is completed, situation should improve.
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Old 17th May 2010, 12:07   #4
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Hi Shiva,
Excellent way to start your first post in TEAM BHP , Waiting for the PICS. How was Ranebennur stretch?

How much did the GPS (MapmyIndia) Cost? I am unable to login to GPS tracking not sure Why.

I am tied up to this thread for more pics and logs

Last edited by ranjith.rajaram : 17th May 2010 at 12:08. Reason: some corrections
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Old 17th May 2010, 13:03   #5
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Hi Shiva,
this is wonderful man,
Just tracked you guys.
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Have fun!!
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Old 17th May 2010, 17:37   #6
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Shiva, Great Stuff mate. Just tracked your car. I am glued to this travelogue. Keep the pics coming in
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Old 17th May 2010, 19:12   #7
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The vehicle tracking system is wonderful Shiva. Never knew such kind of things were there. Keep the log and the pictures coming.
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Old 17th May 2010, 19:49   #8
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Clean nice live GPS track. I just saw you are parked some where in Kodai!
Great. More snaps please.
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Old 17th May 2010, 20:28   #9
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So this gets more tech savvy. I am using the mobile posting of team bhp as my great reliance data card is not working, for a change vodafone works.

Started around 7ish from blr for kodai and immediately hit the electronic city elevated road. It was nice. Speed down the way on NH 7 and landed up meeting Mr M K Stalin on the way. His convoy was ahead of mine and at each village till salem he was stopping. It was interesting to see the folks come out and cheer for him. Cut through salem and reached dindugul in 5 odd hours. Loved the roads, wish there were more roads like this in India. Straight highways, no population. Amazing, feels nice and good. Compare this from driving within bombay.

Near dindigul got a bit lost and the navigator came in handy. Took for ever to clim to kodai around 2.5 hours. Not used to ghat driving but am improving. Kids held up fine. Reached kodai and was to go to mahindra resort. Did not use the navigator, as maps for kodai not that detailed, but used police inspector guidance who sent me 5Km wrong way. Finally after much cribbing and crying reached the right resort. My son was excited to see grass and the resort is like nature as his teacher had told him. So much for nature from a bombay kids perspective.

So getting some rest here. Going to pray to the Gods tomorrow at Meenakshi temple. Supposed to be one of a kind.

In a few days will start for the drive up along NH 17.

Pictures will post once wifey gives them to me.

Cheers,
Shiva
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Old 17th May 2010, 22:28   #10
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So this gets more tech savvy. I am using the mobile posting of team bhp as my great reliance data card is not working, for a change vodafone works.

Started around 7ish from blr for kodai and immediately hit the electronic city elevated road. It was nice. Speed down the way on NH 7 and landed up meeting Mr M K Stalin on the way. His convoy was ahead of mine and at each village till salem he was stopping. It was interesting to see the folks come out and cheer for him. Cut through salem and reached dindugul in 5 odd hours. Loved the roads, wish there were more roads like this in India. Straight highways, no population. Amazing, feels nice and good. Compare this from driving within bombay.

Near dindigul got a bit lost and the navigator came in handy. Took for ever to clim to kodai around 2.5 hours. Not used to ghat driving but am improving. Kids held up fine. Reached kodai and was to go to mahindra resort. Did not use the navigator, as maps for kodai not that detailed, but used police inspector guidance who sent me 5Km wrong way. Finally after much cribbing and crying reached the right resort. My son was excited to see grass and the resort is like nature as his teacher had told him. So much for nature from a bombay kids perspective.

So getting some rest here. Going to pray to the Gods tomorrow at Meenakshi temple. Supposed to be one of a kind.

In a few days will start for the drive up along NH 17.

Pictures will post once wifey gives them to me.

Cheers,
Shiva
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Old 17th May 2010, 23:20   #11
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Shiva, great to read your first travelogue in the forum.

Fun tracking you live and tormenting you with those SMS messages!

Your kiddos are an inspiration for many in the forum, who lament that they are unable to drive around because they have small kids - I think you have silenced them for ever!

The Pune Hinjewadi is a big headache except during early and late hours, always avoid driving via Pune during any other time.

Am not surprised that you lost your way in Dindigul area, the signages for turn off are very confusing, but for better guidance, the right turn to Kodai comes after the right turn to Palani. Unless you have an easier way to indicate the place where you have to turn (without referring to log books!!!).
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Old 18th May 2010, 11:26   #12
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Great going Shiva, I see you cruising to Madurai @ 110 Kmph

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Old 24th May 2010, 13:47   #13
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18th May 2010 - Kodaikanal to Madurai (Meenakshi Temple)

So early in the morning, left with wife and kids for Madurai. It was a drive all the way back to main expressway and driving up and down the ghats is not fun. Reached the base of Kodaikanal and then followed the route to get back to the expressway. Got bit a lost on the navigator routing and landed up using one of the village roads to reach back to the main BLR-Madurai highway.

As I was driving to Madurai, some cops near the entry of Madurai (getting off the expressway), tried to stop my car, i just kinda whizzed past them, out of state number plates must be something that must have excited them to stop me. Drove all the way to the temple blindly following the GPS (though many one-ways were missing on the GPS), but using some common sense and I landed up reaching the east entrance of the temple. And ohh my, what a temple it is. One of a kind (I highly recommend all to visit Meenakshi at least once in their life). I had a local contact who helped me get a quick darshan (lakshmi works well in all parts of the country even when you dont speak the local language).

On finishing my darshan, drove up back to Kodaikanal without any incidents. It was a drive up and down the hill and was kinda tiring. Next day was a break day at Kodai with nothing to do. At night went to dinner at the Tibetean restaurant in kodai (near 7 road junction - opp tourist info bunglow). Decent place, and quite in-expensive.



19 th May 2010 – Local Kodaikanal
This was a lazy day as I had been travelling and driving for the last 2 days, so today just went around town. Took the kids around the lake (realized how un fit I am) and then some biking. Got Kodai Chocolates (which were promptly consumed), and had a good lunch. Post lunch, went about town to get to visit all the touristy points of interest (water falls – closed no water), observatory (closed – open only in morning hours), drove around the lake, checked out Kodaikanal International School (quite hep), Carlton Hotel (only 5 star hotel in Kodai). Generally did not do anything useful and productive , but heck that is the point of a vacation.

20th May 2010, Kodaikanal to Calicut (Kozikhode – Kerala)
Now this was a good drive, cutting across from Tamil Nadu to Kerala via Palani, bypassing Coimbatore, going through Palghat (Palakkad), Majeri etc. Stayed at the ITC Fortune (Again good old Kumar came in handy by suggesting a place to stay and the route to take).

Drive from Kodai to Palani is a easy drive if you leave early enough (which is what we did), you avoid all the local bus traffic and tempos etc. Road conditions are good (MH state, please go and visit TN and learn how to make roads). The navigator was missing this road and did not reconcile till I reached Palani boundary. Interesting sign was “Watch out for Elephants crossing the road!!!”, never seen that in India. So after crossing 14 hair bend turns, reached the base of the mountains and turned left towards Coimbatore / KL border.

Udumalai was interesting (both ICICI and HDFC were in the same building on top of each other), never seen that. Good fuel in the city. Drove on to Palghat, Manjeri and then finally to Calicut. TATA motors has really deep presence in this northern part of Kerala. It was one hell of a drive even for folks who live in KL, not too much traffic and passing state borders on non-trunk routes is very good, not much traffic jams.

Reached Calicut in one piece (again thanks to navigator which took me to the hotel). Honestly I was very surprised that the navigator GPS worked the way it did. For someone who had no clue of the landscape it is always comforting to see the information on the maps in a car (a good selling point to tell the car companies). ITC Fortune was a very basic hotel, not the ITC I have seen in Mumbai (the parel one is next to my house), though the staff was kind and helpful.

That night I went to Paragon (restaurant in Calicut for dinner). The food was JUST AWESOME. Mango-Fish, I can still relish the taste. Again very very highly recommended restaurant. Next morning started my worst driving day.

21th May 2010, Calicut (Kozikhode – Kerala) to Turtle Bay Resort (KA)
Started the day late around, 10.30ish AM (I have realized on long distance travels, one should leave by 6ish), before all the world wakes up and lands up on the road. It was a bi**h of drive via KL on NH 17 as it was full of local buses that ply along the highway (and do they drive like crazy).

Went and visited Kappad Beach (the place where Vasco Da Gama) landed in India in the late 1480’s, around 500 years back. Not much there except for a resort, so much for history and culture (I was under the impression that Vasco landed up in Goa and not KL). So we slowly but surely drove up the NH17 at a rate of 30-40 KMPH which was very frustrating. Finally after much cribbing and crying, I was able to cross over into Karnataka, where the speed picked up (at least the houses are a bit further off from the highway), but the over-all quality of roads deteriorated in KA as compared to KL.

Crossed over into Mangalore and saw NIT, Suratkal on the way towards Udipi. The high point was seeing a Café Coffee day around 7ish (had been driving for non-stop 8.5 hours). Jumped at the sight and went and laid out on the couch. Today I was truly exhausted with bumper to bumper traffic and tiring ride.

Late that evening I reached Turtle Bay Resort. Kids were happy to see the beach and kind off totally forgot all about the hard drive.
22nd May 2010, Turtle Bay Resort (KA)
Next day was kids day as they had been in the car for around 2100 km and had not really troubled me for the same. So off we went to the beach and checked out the crabs, little fishes and hammocks and according to my son (lots of coconut trees – “why are there so many trees here and why aren’t there so many trees in Bombay”.). Did not want to explain to him about Municipality and all its issues. We drove to Maravanthe beach (which was very pretty – sea on one side and back water on one side). All you folks who are reading this blog, please check out this place, here it is actually very non-commercial as most folks don’t know about it. Enjoyed local Mangalore food and next morning started for the long drive back home. Ohh by the way the Padukone village is near Turtle bay resort (Deepika’s Padukone’s ancestral village – the local folks were very happy explaining this to a Bombay walla).

22nd May 2010, Turtle Bay Resort (KA) to Parel, Mumbai (850 KM drive).
Left early around 6.30 AM, having learnt from past experience and stopped by at the Murudeshwar temple (run by the Shetty family – it seems they own most of the Maruti showrooms on the west coast – RNS motors). Very pretty temple and well maintained (clean). Stopped by for very idilis at a Kamat Restarutant (Honavar) near the turning for Jog Falls (missed this place , but will come back later it was 62 KM inside from NH17).

Drove up to Ankola (Salil Ankola’s ancestral village – my guess), and turned off onto NH63 towards Hubli. Did the drive in around 2 hours, around 138 KM, which was not bad ( I am getting to be a better more controlled driver on Indian roads). From Hubli to Kholapur, we drove straight up and man these were the best roads with little traffic (at least in the afternoon on a Sunday). Reached Kholapur around 3ish. Kids wanted to have McDonalds (Dosas and Rice meals does not excite them), so off we stopped at Kholapur.

From Kholapur to Hinjewadi junction was a painful drive took around 5 hours (lots of motor bikes, very slow traffic), and the toll plazas were irritating (huge queues), what a waste of time, you save time on the road and then lose the same at the toll plaza (on an average of 15 mins per plaza).

Pune to Mumbai was a straight drive, only found it very irritating with folks continusouly blinking (don’t know what pleasure it gives them), almost got into a road rage with another car and if I did not have family then would have really given it to the chappie, but cooler heads prevailed and finally reached Mumbai around 10ish. Drove for around 15 hours with 1 hour break and lots of idiotic toll time wastes.

So really enjoyed the trip. Can wait to do one for RJ and GJ in the winter.

Cheers,
Shiva

PS: Pictures are pending as wife owns the camera [FONT=Wingdings]J[/FONT]
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Old 24th May 2010, 15:04   #14
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The late morning starts can always be disastrous, which is why my favourite start time is 3 am. And as far as driving through KL is concerned, I always go through it at night. Start from Trivandrum at 8 pm, and you can be in Mangalore having covered 670 kms, by 7 am.

Your last day's drive was great, NH63 is such a pleasure to drive through now, hope it stays that way through the monsoons. Looks like you have no compliant about the iron ore trucks on that route, they have been quite a crowd.
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Old 24th May 2010, 15:12   #15
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Shiva, very useful descriptions you have shared, but photos are inevitable in a travelogue. Please post the snaps .

+1 to what HVK said, its always better to start early morning. Even being a Sunday, I simply lost yesterday by deciding to travel back to Bangalore starting around 11AM taking almost 11 hours due to maddening traffic. Early morning trips usually takes just 9 hours for me.

Right turn from Dindigul is something which everyone miss out while cruising through the 4 lanes. Last time i realised it as soon as i entered the over bridge but no way i could take a reverse :(

Last edited by jacs : 24th May 2010 at 15:16.
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