Driving toll-free between Bengaluru & Polur: A tribute to a friend, RIP

It was not about skipping toll fee, I wanted to know the latest status of this interior road, since I hadn't been on this route for more than 4 years.

BHPian srvm recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

The passing of BHPian suresh_gs felt like a personal loss to me. Back then I had said that would do a drive on one of his suggested routes just before he passed away. I couldn't do the drive back then due to Covid restrictions. Today, after nearly 3-and-half years later, I was able to fulfill the promise I made myself. As a tribute to Suresh, I did the Bangalore-Alangayam-Kavalur-Jamunamarathur-Polur route.

Suresh's penultimate post in TBHP (made in the Bangalore - Thiruvannamalai : Route Queries thread, in Jan-2020). He passed away on 6th Feb 2020 due to blood cancer . This was my motivation to do this circuit:


Had been on a short trip to Polur just to enjoy the drive through the forest. The route is shown below.

The route is simply AMAZING and the roads are BRILLIANT. This is an alternate route to Puducherry.

Route options would be via Hosur, Krishnagiri, Vaniyambadi, Alangayam, Kavalur, Jamunamarathur, Polur, T V Malai and Villupuram or via Hosur, Krishnagiri, Vaniyambadi, Alangayam, Kavalur, Jamunamarathur, Polur, Chetpet, Vandavasi and Tindivanam.

The forest route from Alangayam is via KAVALUR AND JAMUNAMARATHUR. I will not say anything rather the roads will speak for themselves.

I did this solo trip today, 28th May 2023. Started from C V Raman Nagar at 5.55am. In true, Toll-free-Suresh legacy, I wanted to bypass some tolls on the way. So, I took HAL Airport Road - Marathahalli - Varthur Kodi - Varthur - Gunjur - Sarjapur - Bagalur - Hosur. This way I bypassed ECity elevated toll and Attibele toll plazas. Since it was early Sunday morning, sparse traffic helped. It was not about skipping toll fee, I wanted to know the latest status of this interior road, since I hadn't been on this route for more than 4 years.

I reached Shri Krishna Inn, Shoolagiri for breakfast at 7.25am. Started after filling up my Zest in the nearby COCO bunk at 8.10am. Crossed Vaniyambadi Toll plaza at 9.10am and got off NH and reached Alangayam at 9.45am.

Vaniyambadi-Alangayam section:

Typical TN State highway with big tress on both sides & smooth tarmac:

My Zest (petrol) surprised me with amazing fuel efficiency (taken near Alangayam):

Road narrow down a bit after Alangayam, towards Kavalur. But sparse traffic (but not desolate) makes up for it:

Amazing Mayflower trees (Gulmohar) along this route, 1km before Kavalur Observatory (Vainu Bappu observatory)

Reached Vainu Bappu Observatory at 10.10am. This is the entrance. Visitors allowed only on Saturdays. Related details are available online.

Road between Kavalur-Jamunamarathur

Awesome tarmac. 2-lanes at some places. 1.5 lanes at some others.

Mostly 2-wheeler traffic but sparse. Rare to find cars, buses or mini-trucks. Same observations made by suresh_gs in his post well.

I planted a sapling (Neem) just off the road in memory of BHPian suresh_gs.

I had carried necessary tools with me.

suresh_gs was here:

Parked my steed while I got to work with my spade:

Road from Jamunamarathur to Polur goes via the Jawadhu Reserve Forest.

Roads are again smooth. Narrow (1.5 lanes at some places) but wide in some others. It is not desolate thanks to the occasional 2-wheeler riders.

The beautiful Jawadhu RF. It has 5 hairpin bends. Nothing bothersome. Mostly good tarmacs. Only animals I saw were monkeys.

I was pleasantly surprised that even in this hot summer, the forest and hills were green in TN. I was expecting it to be mostly brown. Probably some showers in the recent days/weeks led to this.

Roads as I near Polur:

After crossing Polur, I took the Polur-Chengam road as I had never been on this road before.

Polur to Chengam:

After Chengam, I took the usual Chengam - Singarapettai - Uthangarai - Mathur - Krishnagiri - NH - Silk Board route.

This road (NH77) is nearly 99% ready and should be the default route to Thiruvannamalai from Bangalore. Bad sections < 100m long only at 2 places between Chengam and Krishnagiri (one is near Samalpatti railway underpass).

Chengam bypass and Singarapettai bypass are not ready/open yet. Bypasses are ready and opened for Sonarapalli and Mathur.

Few things to note:

  • Suresh suggested this route as an alternative to Thiruvannamalai and Pondicherry. But given the latest status of NH77, this alternative does not make sense. Unless you want to take the road less travelled.
  • It was very hot even inside the forest area. If you go via this route, take enough water and snacks with you. No restaurants or cafe after Vaniyambadi until Polur.
  • I had downloaded offline maps before the trip. And this helped massively. Otherwise no mobile connection in many places along the route.
  • I can speak and read Tamil. Hence, signboards weren't a problem. Only some boards carry English. Else its mostly Tamil. Folks, who don't read Tamil should have offline maps handy.

Massive THANKS and gratitude to suresh_gs for attempting this route and posting about it. Since it was a solo trip, I was frequently wondering how I feel so many emotions about a person I've never met or spoke to. I have just read his posts which had a unique flavour and perspective. He was taken too soon from all of us.

I hope the sapling I planted grows into a tree someday. Something to remember Suresh and his off-beat routes.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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