A quick trip to Kerala...by road (Part-I)

August 22, 2008: One fine Friday morning... I was busy at office trying to finish my work when I got a call from home. I was working from 0530-1430 that week. I was feeling too sleepy and attended the call without paying much attention! That was my sis-in-law, and an unexpected and exciting news came in... we were going to kerala that evening!

My bro had decided the trip in a very short notice. He outlined the route and decided to make it. I had to finish my jobs quickly and rush home. I had a hard time reaching home, since the number of buses seemed too low. I made it home well past 1415. We left home at 1445 after a quick round of freshening up. My brother took to the wheels and we rushed towards Mysore. A left turn from Bannerghatta Road, and we then pulled into a fuel station to tank up. After tanking up, we headed off towards JP Nagar 6th phase, and then took a left turn at JP Nagar signal to enter Kanakapura Road. After driving down for some distance, we pulled into the new NICE road.

We entered the 'original' Mysore road (SH17) after about 5 minutes on the NICE road. The ride on the Mysore road was absolutely superb. We crossed quite a few KSRTC Super Fast buses enroute. We pulled into a resort near Mysore Byepass for a tea, and then headed off on the Byepass road. We then pulled into Nanjangud road (NH212). We took a left turn from Nanjangud (just after Sujatapuram Halt station on the MYS-NTW Branch line) to enter the Byepass road. At the end of the Byepass road is SH17B (Nanjangud-Chamrajnagar). The road is decent, two laned and interlaced with potholes. We keep criss-crossing the Nanjangud-Chamrajnagar Railway Line often. The Gauge Conversion works is in progress at a decent speed. Track laying is almost over, and I saw welding in progress at many places.

The station look cool, and the level of platforms is raised. It appears that the line could be commissioned probably by the end of this year. After a long ride (it was dark now), we pulled in for a break at a hotel near Chamrajnagar for a tea and some snacks. (There is one hotel before Chamrajnagar town, where we stop every time!). A decent hotel, with pretty good food. The rates are cheap, and after some light snack, we were off towards Chamrajnagar town. A small but busy town, and has a traffic signal too! We finally enter NH209 (Bangalore-Sathyamangalam-Coimbatore). The Bangalore-Chamrajnagar section of NH209 is best avoided due to road conditions.

The ride from Chamarajnagar to Hassanur (border between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu) was dotted with potholes and stretches were "roads" were nonexistent. The speed was low due to road conditions. The government check posts had kept their "gates" down to make vehicles halt for checking. The point where the state changes was marked. The karnataka portion was filled with potholes and road markers were absent, while on the Tamil nadu part had well laid roads with adequate road markers and reflectors!

We picked up speed as we entered TN. After Hassanur, Dhimbam ghats begin and the climb down begins. The ghat is dotted with 27 hair pin bends, and truck traffic on the road was moderate. There were frequent TNSTC buses all the way. We crossed Bannari Amman temple at around 2000. The temple is very famous in this part of the state. The roads were pretty empty. We reached Satyamangalam town a while later and then rushed off towards Bangalore.

Satyamangalam (And the route till here) is pretty (in)famous due to the now slain forest brigand Veerappan. The roads are a bit confusing around Sathyamangalam town, but my brother has now turned into an expert in this route! We entered the last leg of the NH. The bus frequency in this section was heavy. We directly pulled into Ganapathy, then travelled through the heart of the city to reach Gandhipuram. We headed off to Avinashi road to have our dinner (at Annapoorna People's park near Cheran Towers).

After dinner, it was time to head to NH47. A while later, we were on the Valankulam ROB, and headed straight to Ukkadam. The ride from here on was normal, and i started dozing off intermittently. I went into deep sleep after Palakkad bye-pass. I remember seeing a traffic block somewhere near Kuthiran Ghats (between Wadakkanchery and Mannuthy).

I woke up when the car stopped at a level crossing... While driving from Coimbatore to Kodungallur, we usually go straight towards Ernakulam through Mannuthy byepass. A few kilometres later, we take a right turn at Nandikkara. There is a small road from Nandikkara to Mapranam, which reduces the distance pretty much. One the way, you need to cross one Level cross.

We were at that level cross. We stopped there and I got out of the car. Two trains were to cross according to the gate keeper. The first one to go was 6630 Malabar Express towards Trivandrum, and the second one was 6629 Malabar Express heading to Mangalore. (Thanks to the gate keeper for the info on the trains that simple rushed past under the cover of darkness). Both the trains had WAP4s in charge.

We left soon after the trains left. The roads were absolutely empty and my brother enjoyed the ride, while I was still half-asleep sitting in the rear seat. We reached home at around 01:45. It was then straight to the bed for a good sleep...

The return journey (Part-II) would come soon.... stay tuned