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Old 23rd July 2020, 23:53   #1
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Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Hello T-Bhp'ian's,
Just reached Kolkata from Chennai today, that is 23rd July 2020 and thought of putting up a short update in case it helps anybody contemplating to do a similar trip.

1. How many E-Pass's do you need?
Ans: Two. Exit Pass from state of origin and Entry pass of Destination state. For T.N. Exit pass when one is applying to exit Chennai, you have to choose nearest border crossing points as Tiruvallur=>Elavoor Integrated Checkpost option. (Note: In Google Maps "Elavoor" is spelt as "Elavur" - small tip to help your GMap search!)

2. Which category of E-Pass do you choose when applying on respective states' website?
Ans: Depending on your exigency. In my case it was a medical emergency as my mum is not keeping well and i was urgently needed in Kolkata.

3. What documents need to be uploaded apart from filling out the mandatory E-Pass fields?
Ans: Appropriate relevant document as per the category that you have chosen. As mine was a medical emergency, I uploaded a copy of a doctor's authorisation letter stating the nature of the emergency and the fact that I needed to travel to Kolkata.

4. How long does it take to get E-Pass approved by the state government authorities?
Ans: My guess is this depends on the respective State Government. However if your paperwork is in order and it is an Emergency situation, approvals are granted quite fast. My Tamil Nadu Exit Pass was approved within 1-hour after I had applied. West Bengal Entry pass got approved in 3 hours after I applied. Both passes that you get will have a date range printed within which you can use the E-Pass to travel. In my case, T.N. Exit date range was between 21st-24th July, 2020 and W.B. Entry date range between 23rd to 27th July 2020.

5. What other documets need to be carried?
Ans: Copies of AADHAR Card and vehicle papers. 2 sets will do. Usually border checks do not ask as such. This is purely a backup.

6. Also paste the Exit Pass and Entry Pass on the windscreen.

Now a short description of the journey: (the reality that is)
Date: 21/July/2020:
Left Chennai at 5:30am. Hit T.N. border at Elavur Integrated Check post at 6:30am. Hardly any one was present. Upon honking, a sleepy, bleary eyed cop asked me whether I was exiting T.N. When I replied in the affirmative, he gave a broad smile, waved me through and went back to sleep!

TADA-SriCity/Sullurpet: A.P. Border Checkpost:
Here you need to park your vehicle by the side of the road, show your pass and share your details with the cop on duty. Name, Cellphone number, Vehicle Registration number, AADHAR card number. They'll give you a small chit which you drop in a jar as you cross the barricade! You are good to go.
No more checks in A.P.
Ichhapuram: at the A.P. - Orissa border at Ichhapuram there may be a cop to take down the same details as you had shared while entering.

ORISSA:
Before Balugaon: Proper checks. They will verify your E-Pass's date range and take down your details before letting you through. They work very fast. Many cops sitting at individual desks. No further checks did i face in Orissa.

WEST BENGAL:
At Jaleswar which is the Orissa - West Bengal border:
Again personal and vehicle details and you are through. In fact W.B. checking is the fastest as they use a laptop, to punch in your personal details fast and shoo you off. The other check points were all manual method with old fashioned huge ledger books in which the cops were making an entry.
KOLKATA Entry:
Santragachhi: W.B. Entry Pass date range will be checked.
Entry to 2nd Hooghly Bridge (Vidyasagar Setu): Same. W.B. Entry date will be checked.

ACCOMODATION en route:
Most hotels offer a night's accomodation.
This is treated as transit stay and thus does not entail any quarantine.
Some states, like Orissa spell it out very clearly saying that if you are exiting Orissa within 72 hours of your entry, you will be treated as a transit visitor and need not quarantine yourself.
Not all states are clear. Andhra Pradesh doesn't have a clear cut route as such.
I took a night halt at Vishakhapatnam and chose to stay at a hotel near the highway, that is NH-16. Please remember Vishakhpatnam is terribly congested and it will be to your benefit if you take a hotel near the highway entry-exit points as it will save you a lot of time.
I chose to stay at Best Western Ramachandra located at Gajuwaka Junction. The hotel was just 200 metres off the Chennai-Kolkata highway.
My 2nd night halt was at Balasore, in Orissa. There is a very good hotel called NOCCI (N-orth O-rissa C-hamber of C-ommerce and I-ndustry). Safe, very clean and decent food.

Road Conditions:
TAMIL NADU: No issues. Good roads through out till TADA-SriCity border with A.P.
ANDHRA PRADESH:Overall road conditions are good but beware of potholes and broken tarmac around Tadepalligudem in Andhra Pradesh. Some of the potholes are right on the apex of corners and are downright dangerous and if you are at decent speeds, and fall into one, chances are you will end up with a busted tyre, a bent rim, a damaged front suspension lower control arm or all three! So, please be careful.
Tip:The left flank has lesser potholes than the right flank.

ORISSA:
Lot of roadworks and diversions are on in the Bhubaneswar - Balasore section. Be careful. The crossover point from one flank to the other at the diversion points have quite deep potholes - which at this time of year are filled with rain water. Tread carefully please.

WEST BENGAL:
Good roads throughout. Watch out for crazily placed movable crash barriers, sometimes on curves with barely enough space to squeeze through. These crash barriers must be from the Mughal era judging by the amount of rust they exhibit and with no semblance of retro-reflective paint / stickering etc.

OTHER TIPS:
1. Prepare your car well. It should be in top shape. Please remember in lockdown time, on the highway, if your car breaks down then you will be hard pressed to get any help.

2. Take enough dry food and water to keep yourself nourished and hydrated.

3. Carry essential car resuscitating stuff: like a small bottle of coolant, a quart of engine oil, brake fluid, AT fluid, some insulation tape, fuses, M-Seal, basic toolkit, main fuses etc

4. During lockdown time, seeing the empty roads in front of you, the tendency will be floor the right pedal to the metal. Please do not. Because, people in our country are also aware that there is a lockdown and you will often find people of all shapes, sizes and age, generally lolling around, using the highway as a summer resort specially in the morning and evening(stroll) hours.

SUMMARY:
Overall travelling in a lockdown, if you have the proper paperwork, is not an issue at all. Drive safe, be careful, don't lose your cool with the cops on lockown duty at the borders and you'll be fine.

Lockdown Collage:

Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)-nano-var-collage.jpg

Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)-nano-side-hghway.jpeg

Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)-nano-odo-collage.jpg

Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)-kolkata-entry.jpeg

Last edited by aah78 : 28th July 2020 at 04:13. Reason: Pictures inserted in-line.
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Old 24th July 2020, 11:04   #2
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Purely from the infection perspective I am curious to know why you chose road travel over air travel. Factoring in the number of stops and stays, I think you would have come in contact with more people on the road, than on the flight, thus increasing the chances of infection.
Here of course, I am presuming flight tickets were available.
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Old 24th July 2020, 12:56   #3
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
Purely from the infection perspective I am curious to know why you chose road travel over air travel. Factoring in the number of stops and stays, I think you would have come in contact with more people on the road, than on the flight, thus increasing the chances of infection.
Here of course, I am presuming flight tickets were available.
If the distance is doable in a day without any stopovers I'd rather drive down. I feel driving your own car is much safer than using public transport but that's me, others may find valid and convincing reasons to just take a flight. Having to stay a night or two somewhere en-route adds a different dimension to it, something I wouldn't be very comfortable doing. Even staying with friends/relatives (even if it is for a night) would be asking for too much under these circumstances.

Last edited by ike : 24th July 2020 at 12:58.
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Old 24th July 2020, 13:05   #4
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
Purely from the infection perspective I am curious to know why you chose road travel over air travel. Factoring in the number of stops and stays, I think you would have come in contact with more people on the road, than on the flight, thus increasing the chances of infection.
Here of course, I am presuming flight tickets were available.
W.B. has stopped all incoming flights from Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi and other hotspot areas. Trains are not running as well. The medical emergency and timelines meant a road travel. Also, I was solo. No person to share the Nano with. The vehicle was fully sanitised the day before the travel from MRF Tyredome, Chennai. They did an excellent job.

En route I never stopped for food anywhere. Carried all eatables with me. The Vishakhapatnam hotel seemed to observe SOP's quite well. No valet parking, no valet for luggage, sanitisation tunnel for man and luggage. Even the car was washed/hosed down prior to hotel entry. The hotel reception had a single person. Food placed on disposable cutlery outside the room on a table etc. All bills and receipts were electronically generated.

At border check posts, only at A.P. - T.N. border that I had to get out and convey my details to the cops on duty. They had the usual circles marked on the highway where one had to stand. All the while under the eyes of the cops.

Yes, definitely it was a risk, a calculated one. I believe, had air travel would have been possible, the probability of risk would have been equal. Right from taking a cab to the airport to the numerous interactive points before boarding and finally the seating in the aircraft, then at disembarkation point, again availing of public transport etc.

There is no "COVID-proof" way to travel. Each has its plus'es or minus'es. It's just that circumstances dictated that for the need of the hour, this was the most suited option for me.
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Old 24th July 2020, 13:07   #5
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
Here of course, I am presuming flight tickets were available.
No flights to/ from CCU - 6 cities identified as Covid hotspots. Chennai one of these.

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Old 26th July 2020, 09:11   #6
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Congrats @arjab, for completing this long solo drive in the (nimble mountain goat) my 2016 Nano XTA pet name.

Just curious, your garage has a swift and Vista, why you chose Nano?

Regards
Vinod
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Old 27th July 2020, 10:10   #7
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Great to hear that you reached home safely. I traveled from Delhi to my home town in UP in my Tiago last Saturday which is around 750 km. I did not take any entry or exit pass. No one stopped me anywhere en-route though there were few police check points. is travel pass a state specific requirement or did I miss on this and I should have taken it before travelling?
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Old 27th July 2020, 12:12   #8
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjab View Post
Just reached Kolkata from Chennai today, that is 23rd July 2020 and thought of putting up a short update in case it helps anybody contemplating to do a similar trip.
Dear arjab, thanks a lot for sharing this trip details. I first saw your post on Facebook a few days back and both me and my son were keenly reading the same. It was very interesting about taking a Nano for such a long ride home. A lot of times our brains will tell us that this is not possible but hats off to you that you were able to do this on your own.

Would you please share some more details on how was your experience with Nano on such a long trip ? driving dynamics ? handling ? Any problems you faced with he car for long running hours etc ? I have a Nano in my extended family however mostly used within the city. Your experience will also give other owners some perspective.
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Old 27th July 2020, 14:08   #9
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by khanmaj View Post
Great to hear that you reached home safely. I traveled from Delhi to my home town in UP in my Tiago last Saturday which is around 750 km. I did not take any entry or exit pass. No one stopped me anywhere en-route though there were few police check points. is travel pass a state specific requirement or did I miss on this and I should have taken it before travelling?
It seems so. As you correctly mention, with respect to the Union Home Minstry circular dated 29th June, 2020: the concept of E-Pass'es were supposed to have been done away with. It seems that most of the northern Indian states are not insisting on E-pass'es but the Southern and Eastern states are very strict about it.
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Old 27th July 2020, 14:40   #10
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Hi arjab, thanks for such an informative write up. I am also in a similar dilemma. I need to travel to Chennai from Durgapur to clear my wife's PG as her company has offered WFH till March 2021.
Given the current scenario- no flights are operating to Chennai from Kolkata/Andal, taking my car is the only option left.
Just one question- As I only have 1 day work at Chennai and shall be leaving Chennai within 48 hours of my arrival.
Upon my arrival in Chennai, will I be quarantined?

Last edited by SamitMukherjee : 27th July 2020 at 14:44.
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Old 27th July 2020, 15:36   #11
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by swarnava.ch View Post
Dear arjab, thanks a lot for sharing this trip details. I first saw your post on Facebook a few days back and both me and my son were keenly reading the same. It was very interesting about taking a Nano for such a long ride home. A lot of times our brains will tell us that this is not possible but hats off to you that you were able to do this on your own.

Would you please share some more details on how was your experience with Nano on such a long trip ? driving dynamics ? handling ? Any problems you faced with he car for long running hours etc ? I have a Nano in my extended family however mostly used within the city. Your experience will also give other owners some perspective.
Actually, this is the 3rd time, the Nano has done a Chennai-Kolkata run. My work demands that I divide my time between Chennai and Kolkata and the Nano, (because it is TN registered as me and my wife had purchased it there in 2016), often gets preference when I need to go to Chennai on extended stays.

I will try to give you an overall summary of the vehicle performance on highways: (with respect to my model which is an AMT)

Performance:
Always use SPORT mode. This will ensure that you can harness the power of the 40 tiny ponies to keep you crusing down the highway nice and smoothly. I have observed that a speed between 85-95kmph is the most suited "cruise band" for the Nano. You cover ground at a decent clip, yet not in a frenetic way. Also with the AC on, these speeds do not produce any adverse effect.

The key to driving a NANO "fast" , and "fast" is a relative term here, is to keep the momentum!
No rapid acceleration or deceleration is required. Build up speed gradually - reach that magical 90kmph - and you can sit on it whole day, with the two pot, tiny engine thumping away merrily behind you. When you need to slow down, anticipate, don't brake, jut take your foot off the throttle and she'll start slowing down - you go past the obstacle or pothole or whatever - and re-apply throttle to wind-up to 90kmph again!
You'll be surpised that 90% of the time this works! While the other high powered cars goes down hard on their brakes, churns through the gears, drops speed, then again rows through the ratios to whatever supersonic velocities they may be wanting to do!
Till date, I have not faced a single issue of overheating even when travelling in peak summer at the above mentioned speeds with continuous AC.

Visibility:
Another strong point. The overall small size of the vehicle coupled with the large glass area gives you a very good field of vision.

Seating:
The upright seating position - almost auto rickshaw like - means you actually sit straight without slouching. The seats may look flat without any support, but even after long stints at the wheel I have not felt low back pain. The under-thigh support is sufficient.

Brakes
Weakest point of a Nano and be very careful with this. The fact is with the kind of highway speeds which are now sustainable, drum brakes, are simply inadequate. Now, some of the virtues of being a middle aged man is that in my early driving years I have been brought up driving vehicles which had atrocious brakes or worse practically no brakes! So, "cadence braking" is second nature to me And that's what you have to do in a NANO. Rather than stomp on the brake pedal with all your might "pump" the brake pedal - view it as a "human version of ABS" to brake effectively and in a straight line without any brake fade.

Stability, Ride & Handling
Contrary to popular belief the Nano is quite stable at speeds. No doubt the assymetric tyre layout and the rear drive configuration helps in this. Be careful of crosswinds though - as the light Nano does gets shoved around when winds hit it broadside. Same goes when high sided lorries or buses pass you at speed, you can get buffeted around.

A short wheelbase, dinner - plate sized wheels and stiff damping does not do favours in bump absorpotion. Try to steer around as much bumps as possible to avoid getting jiggled around. The upside is that at high speeds, on long amplitude dips & crests, the Nano doesn't bottom out at all.

"Slow in - fast out" is the theorem to follow when piloting a Nano through a set of bends. Do not try to get over adventurous and barge into corners as if you are driving a Porsche 911 - which you are not - you will only understeer off the road. Slacken off as you approach a bend, feed the snub nose in, you'll feel the pencil-thin front tyres squeal a bit, then dig in, squeeze the throttle at the apex and off you go, easy-peasy.
The steering in fact is quite decent. The Electric power assist gives the helm a decent amount of heft and feel and is one of the better tuned systems around.

AC
It's a chiller! With no engine in the front, thus no adverse heat transfer between condenser and engine, the Nano's HVAC performance will put many other cars to shame.

Illumination & Controls
This is a very strong point which is seldom pointed out in a Nano. The headlights have a very good throw and reach. Combine that with the high mounted fog lamps you certainly will not face the paucity of illumination.
The indicators are high mounted and visible from afar. In my 2016 AMT model, all the interior controls are brilliantly backlit, including the front power window buttons! (a feature being increasingly deleted in cars costing twice or even thrice that of the Nano)

NVH
Weakest point. Buzz, Wheeze, Cough, Sputter, Clicking, Whining : you can hear all !
Right from the "w-h-i-i-r-r-r-r" of the fuel pump priming up when you turn on the ignition to the "clank" of the AMT selecting reverse, you are aware of everything that's going around you!
The bad thing is over a long run, this tires you out. The constant cacophony and the general lack of refinement causes irritation which may tire you out. Tip: stop for 10mins every 3 hours to soothen your auditory nerves!

Fuel Efficiency
Thing to Mention:
The Distance to Empty gauge in the Nano is surprisingly accurate. The variation with tankfull - to - tankfull measurement is around 0.8%
My tankfull - to - tankfull figure are:
Highway/SPORT mode/Full AC/85-90kmph/Single occupant/60kgs of luggage: 24kmpl
Highway/SPort mode/NO AC/75-80kmph/Single Occupant/60 kgs luggage: 26.4kmpl
Kolkata City/SPORT mode/Full AC/Single Occupant: 14.4kmpl
Chennai City/SPORT mode/Full AC/Single Occupant: 16.5kmpl

Hope this answers your queries. Let me know if you have an questions.

Take care and drive safe,

Last edited by arjab : 27th July 2020 at 15:44.
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Old 27th July 2020, 15:38   #12
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamitMukherjee View Post
Hi arjab, thanks for such an informative write up. I am also in a similar dilemma. I need to travel to Chennai from Durgapur to clear my wife's PG as her company has offered WFH till March 2021.
Given the current scenario- no flights are operating to Chennai from Kolkata/Andal, taking my car is the only option left.
Just one question- As I only have 1 day work at Chennai and shall be leaving Chennai within 48 hours of my arrival.
Upon my arrival in Chennai, will I be quarantined?
The T.N. government website has a transit pass option. Use that.
Because as far as i know anyone coming into T.N. from outside needs to undergo a mandatory 7 day (minm) quarantine.
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Old 27th July 2020, 20:46   #13
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Great write up buddy.
I still wonder how it is even possible to drive 1600 odd Kms on a Nano.
I remember a quote now,
Quote:
Its not what car you have, Its how you drive
Your thread gives confidence that even with small cars, with proper planning, can reach this milestone.
Cheers,
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Old 27th July 2020, 23:55   #14
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

That's a really nice compilation. Travelogues on cars like Nano/ Eon and the likes definitely brings out excitement and curiosity to know more about such capable cars.

I think in corona times, even if a travel involves two days, personal car is the best option. But I guess you should have slept inside the car itself rather than staying at the hotel. Yes car is small and might not have been comfortable for sure, still it was a lot safer, infection wise. And a 4-5 hours of sleep is good enough for 8-10 hours of driving. Just my opinion.

Just curious, how does Nano feel while driving considering it has rear engine? I mean does it make any difference noise wise/weight distribution/ stability wise etc, compared to front-engined cars?
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Old 28th July 2020, 12:07   #15
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Re: Lockdown Travel: Chennai to Kolkata (in a Nano)

Quote:
Originally Posted by arjab View Post
I will try to give you an overall summary of the vehicle performance on highways: (with respect to my model which is an AMT)
Thanks a lot for adding these details. I think this is a very crucial info of your trip and should be merged in to the main thread under the Car and Performance section.
If you agree you can request the Mods to edit.

But more importantly your reply here goes on to show a misconception that i had built up in my mind in my initial days with cars (back when I was young). I was always under the impression that we will need expensive or big SUVs and foreign cars to do long road travels.
Sometimes we donít realize the Indicas and Dezires rule the roads or like in you present case the Mighty Nano. All one needs is an open mind and some skills and love for the open roads and we can cover any amount of distances in any given car.
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