The road trip to Kerala....

It was all set to be a peaceful train journey till the time my dad managed to connect the truck driver who was transporting our house hold goods to Kerala. He informed us that he would be reaching our place the next morning itself! We had to rush to Kerala, and the same time informed my uncle to make arrangements for head-load workers to unload all those goods!

My sis-in-law called up a pretty major private operator to check ticket availability - I personally do not like traveling by them, and decided to check out government operators! We checked Karnataka SRTC first, but no tickets available. Later checked out Kerala SRTC, and got tickets on their bus to Thrissur at 10 in the night! The bus surely was a too late departure for us! We had no other option!

Myself and my dad reached Kempegowda Bus Terminus - the hub of inter & intra state bus operations from Bangalore - at around 2130. We searched out for the platform from where our bus would depart, and found that the bus was already there! The bus was KL15-6411, Fleet #RR213 of Thrissur depot



The conductor was standing at the door to check tickets of passengers, and was letting in only reserved passengers at the beginning! The bus started its roll at 2203 (scheduled time 2200). We had a slow run or rather crawled upto Electronic city. The bus lost most of her time here. WE reached Hosur well past 0010. The bus made a 15 minute halt here for those who needed to answer nature's call, and for some refreshments. The driver started playing Tamil film songs as he pulled out of the halt at Hosur! The idea behind playing songs in the middle of the night still isn't clear to me! We left the hotel at 0025. It was a good run thereon. We averaged 60kmph in most sectors! We made another halt at around 0530 in the morning at a small road side cafe for tea. The place was somewhere around Avinashi.

The bus pulled into Coimbatore SETC bus station at around 0700 in the morning - that was a 9 hour journey (pretty longer than actually required!). The bus dropped about 6-7 passengers here and picked up a similar number from there. The bus is a 45 seater, in a 2X2 arrangement. The bus is powered by a 160hp Cummins front mount engine, which powers the Air conditioners as well. The engine lacks power to tide over ghats with the AC on, and affects the timing severly!



We reached Palakkad at around 0820~0825. The bus filled up around 50 liters of diesel from here. About 30% of the passengers traveling in the bus got down here, and a few few got in. The Airconditioners were doing a good job, and kept us rather cool! The run from Palakkad to Thrissur took a long 1.5 hours, and bus really suffered a lot while tiding across the ghats en route! We finally reached Thrissur at 1000, bringing to an end a long 12 hour trip! The fare was Rs. 420 + Rs. 5 for reservation! The ride was comfortable - though not as much as a volvo. The seat was beautiful, and had good leg room. The bus scores about 3.5 on 5!

:: :: THE RETURN JOURNEY :: ::

My return journey was on 09 May 2008 by a Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Volvo. Volvo services are named "Airavat" by KSRTC. Airavat is a historical character, and is a white colored elephant. Interestingly, KSRTC's Airavat Volvos too have a white color! My bus for the day was KA 01-F-8461. The bus was a pretty new Mark III variant of Volvo's B7R!

The bus was working a "1900EKMBNG" schedule, and was supposed to reach Thrissur at 2030. Accordingly, myself and my dad reached the bus station at around 2020. (We had a mad run to reach there atleast at that time!). The bus station was pretty busy at that time. There were about 3 Karnataka SRTC "Rajahamsa" buses at that time to Bangalore. Kerala SRTC had two AC buses departing at 2100 to Bangalore! My bus did not turn up upto 2125! I was too tense on not seeing the bus even at 2120, and made enquiries at the ticket booking agency who confirmed that the bus is yet to arrive - the bus reached while we were talking!



The bus appeared pretty crowded as we boarded the bus. I was among the last to enter the bus since the vehicle started moving out even before I reached my seat (Seat #30). A Hindi movie starring Amir Khan, Anil Kapoor and Manisha Koirala was being played. Water in 500ml bottles were distributed to passengers by the conductor after he checked out tickets. He issued tickets to a few unreserved passengers in the meantime. Blankets were kept on our seats. The bus made a halt for dinner at Pattikad at around 2200. We overtook a Kerala SRTC AC bus here. The run from here onwards was awesome. We made a brief halt at Coimbatore, but no one boarded the bus here! The run was then non-stop upto Salem. The bus stopped at Salem at around 0330.

It was another non-stop run here onwards. The bus crossed Hosur at around 0555. The bus conductor switched on an FM radio station at around 0615, and played some kannada devotional songs on it. He came around wishing good morning to every one and distributing wet tissues for a fresh up! I requested him to alert me when the bus reaches Bommanahalli, the place where I would alight. The bus reached Bommanahalli at around 0650. We got down here and took a rickshaw home!

Overall: The Volvo is clearly a winner! Fare wise, Volvo is surely expensive that normal AC buses. The service by Karnataka SRTC lived up to my expectations, and is surely an example for other Government organisations!

There is a small collection of trip photos here.... please do have a look at them!

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