Having followed the thread everyday, I decided to return via Nilambur route instead of risking NH7/47. This has been discussed numerous times but I'll try to make a wee bit more interesting with my experience yesterday.
During the last week of December, I did EKM-TCR-PGT via the NH.
The roads are actually pretty good.
There is widening going on all the way between Angamaly and TCR - during peak hours, better to avoid this road due to bottlenecking at CHalakudy.
Road is overall not a smooth blacktop but nothing to complain about.
TCR-PGT is very good now except for a stretch at Kudiran - when i drove by they were working on the holes so I expect that is taken care of as well.
On 1st Jan, we drove EKM-TCR and stayed overnight.
2nd Jan, we started off at 7am and did TCR-Pattambi in 45 min via Shoranur. Excellent roads throughout.
After a halt there with relatives we visited the Mele Pattambi Shiva temple - this is under protection of the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) due to its uniqueness - the entire SreeKovil (Sanctum Sanctorum) is made of a single piece of granite. Only the top is missing. When one drives from Pattambi to TCR via Kunnamkulam route, about 2km from Pattambi on the left, you find a granite carving that looks like it should be the missing top to this temple. Apparently, legends have it that Lord Shiva's assistants were taking it to the temple. However, it became dawn and unable to work in daylight, they dropped it there and disappeared
Little things like this make off-highway travel so much more interesting.
Anyways, after a good breakfast, we left Pattambi at 10am and drove to Nilambur via Perinthalmanna-Pandikkad-Wandoor. Good roads, especially as one nears Nilambur. The climb from Nilambur into the ghat section is wonderful. The roads were empty and it was a relaxing drive surrounded by walls of green on all sides.
However, once you pay toll to enter Tamil Nadu, the quality of the road (Surprisingly) degrades. Eventually when you hit Gudalur, it is atrocious. Nearly 15km or so of bad roads. However, the roads via Bandipur are great again. We had the opportunity to see peacocks, deer and most interestingly, a tiny little elephant calf and his mother grazing by the road. Lovely lovely drive.
Entering Karnataka, the road quality is pretty ok. We hit Mysore around 3:30pm. Then stayed there till about 6 and then headed to Bangalore.
Compared to earlier part of the drive, this seemed more stressful. Night driving, crazy drivers, etc. We finally hit Bangalore ORR around 8pm and were home at Indiranagar around 9:15pm.
One thing to note: Driving to Kerala is good. But in a city like Ernakulam AVOID TAKING YOUR CAR OUT. We had to visit someone and against my better senses, i took my car. On a weekday afternoon, I covered 3km in one hour. Suddenly, Bangalore traffic felt a lot better.
Take care and safe driving everyone.