Just returned from a Bombay-Bangalore-Ernakulam-Idukki-Thekkady-Madurai-Kanyakumari-Trivandrum-Bombay trip, so here are some comments on the road to Kerala.
I left Bangalore HSR Layout at 515 am on Nov 14, 2009.
Bangalore-Salem, 194 kms, 2.28 hrs
Despite a slow drive till Hosur and a 5 m refuelling halt after Hosur, the drive was fast and smooth. Truck traffic was high all the way and city traffic slowed me down as I approached Salem at 745 am.
The humps in the Toppur Ghat section are terrible.
I decided to try out the 4-laned Salem instead of the shorter Toppur-Mettur-Bhavani route.
Signages are excellent on Salem bypass.
Salem-Coimbatore bypass (beginning), 153 kms, 2.10 hrs
Leaving NH7 for NH47 at Salem meant 2-laned roads till Sankari, and the 48 km took me 41 kms, but the initial 10 kms out of Salem were very slow and one has to be careful with the miscellanous traffic and buses which spill all over the road. Some 5 kms from Salem, 4-lane roads are under construction. Sankari town also slows you down.
The next 69 kms till you cross Perunthurai when the 4-lane road ends took me 49 m, since it is a lovely 4-lane stretch.
After the fast drive so far, it is a hellish drive from hereon for the next 43 kms, which took me 43 m, and some breakneck driving to overtake the umpteen buses and other slower-moving vehicles, crossing the messy small towns like Avinashi in between and beating peak morning traffic. It was almost 10 am when I reached the beginning of Coimbatore bypass.
Coimbatore Bypass, 27 kms, 27 m
Very frustrating 2-lane road with 2 many toll gates, one before every intersection (Trichy, Pollachi), means 5 toll gates, could L&T not figure out a better way to regulate entry/exit. Although you take one through ticket, the toll gates stop you to check every time and are terribly inefficient. I had to pick up a fight with one of the toll gate guys, that was the level of frustration with the state of affairs. The intersections can also do without signals (why not a roundabout instead) - the sparse traffic means that for most part, traffic ignores the signals and moves on increasing risks of collisions.
Coimbatore-Trissur (bypass beginning), 95 kms, 1.47 hrs
You can see how slow the drive was on the 2-lane roads through Palghat to Trissur. Traffic was quite high, overtaking difficult, but happily the roads were good throughout including the notorious Palghat-Trissur section.
The TN-KL border checkposts looks the most inefficient in India, judging from the trucks piled up for over a km on both sides - but luckily well-regulated and parked in an orderly fashion, but I can imagine the jam that will erupt if anyone goes out of line in the narrow road.
Trissur-Ernakulam Vytilla Jn, 75 kms, 1.40 m
That was really slow, my best time on this stretch being 60 minutes.
4-laning work is on from Trissur onwards, and there are some major deviations (e.g. go into Chalakudy town), and one has to be slow and patient in the busy KL roads. High tIme to build a couple of flyovers off Aluva town instead of the clumsy signal points.
Signages are good.
The Bangalore-Ernakulam drive of 545 kms took me 7.47 m.
First 200 kms from Bangalore to Salem took me 2.30 hrs
Second 215 kms from Salem to Palghat took me 3.15 hrs
Last 135 kms took me 2.45 m, best time has been 2 hrs
Left Trivandrum at 9 pm, on Nov 16, 2009
212 kms, 3.18 hrs, slower than my fastest time of 2.25 hrs, had refuelling halt for 5 m, but quite OK considering my previous run time of 3.05 hrs. Despite the late hour (after 9 on this highway is late), there was traffic and progress was quite slow till I crossed Kollam.
Ernakulam-Calicut, 202 kms, 3.15 hrs
Slower than my 2.53 hrs, since I took the much-better Kodungallur-Irinjalakuda-Trissur-Kunnamkulam route instead of NH17, same distance, but slower inside Trissur town
Calicut-Mangalore, 254 kms, 4.31 hrs
Best time 3.55 hrs, this is where I have lost lots of time, which included a refuelling halt of 5 m, lots of bad roads near Mangalore, peak hour traffic and rains. In Calicut, the bypass is not marked properly. The route through city has no signages. Despite that I know the city well, I veered off into the Wayanad road before getting back on track. Happily, since it was late at night (330 am), I did not have any traffic.
Last edited by hvkumar : 19th November 2009 at 10:57.