Tuesday, March 19, 2013

To Bangalore in Kallada's Ernakulam-Hyderabad B9R (Second service)



After booking tickets to go home for the vacation, it was time to search for the return tickets. The night buses from my place either did not have tickets or had seats only in the last row. I found tickets in the newly extended Hindusthan bus as well as Kallada’s Hyderabad buses. I decided to take the Hyderabad bus so that I’d reach home by midnight and have a somewhat peaceful sleep. But did I get peaceful sleep? Read on...

March 10, 2013:
Like every time, I was reluctant to leave home as the time came closer. But I had no choice. I had some baggage to carry this time, and hence called an Auto home, to drop me at Kodungallur bus station. There was a KSRTC bus waiting when I reached the bus station – that was RNA164 of Thrissur. The bus looked tired, dirty and poorly kept. The bus was repainted over a year ago, but the shabby work left the bus really bad looking. The bus got crawling out of the bus station just past 1330hrs. The bus crawled out and they stopped the bus outside the temple for some time – while a private limited stop bus went ahead of us. We crawled out of the place – and kept crawling all the time. We reached Irinjalakuda at around 1410hrs – the crew of the private LS bus which overtook us at Kodungallur came and shouted at our crew – they were upset with the KSRTC bus being so close to them. Our crawl continued after that – for the first time, I was really upset sitting in a KSRTC bus. After the entire crawl, the bus finally reached Thrissur at 1450hrs – a good 1h20m for the 38km ride.

Just as my bus was getting into the bus station, I got a call from Kallada enquiring about my whereabouts. I still had 15 minutes to go for the reporting time. I got off the bus and hurried to their office near the bus station (Sakthan Nagar private bus station). I was boarding from that office for the first office. It was a small place – around 5-6 chairs for passengers to sit. Some three passengers were already waiting there for my bus. The guys at the office did not even want to see my ticket. They were not interested in answering phone calls – I seriously did not like the way they worked. After some time of waiting, a tired but well kept Tempo Traveller came in for pickup. The vehicle was about 20 years old. I got into the van – we got moving at around 1510hrs. The interiors were in good shape – I was surprised at the level of maintenance. The engine was at ease even while the driver picked pace overtaking vehicles continuously. We were dropped at the Mannuthy bypass office of Kallada, at around 1519hrs. Just as I went into the office, the guy at the office checked my ticket and wrote “3942” on my ticket. “3942” is the registration number of the bus. The scheduled pick-up time for the bus was 1535hrs – we still had quite some time to go. The office had a fairly good washroom – I was surprised at that.

Time went past quite quickly. While waiting there, the KPN B9R and the Kesineni B11R to Hyderabad went past. KPN did not have a pick-up there. I spent some time talking to the guys at the office – while talking to them, I heard the ever familiar multi-tone horn, and saw the white beast of Kallada rushing in. The clock read 1543hrs – a delay of 7 minutes, quite understandable for a bus coming in from Ernakulam.  Boarding started immediately – about 6 passengers got in from here. My co-passenger was already there. A bollywood slapstick comedy movie was being played. It took some effort to find a place to keep my baggage – for some reason, I did not keep it in the baggage hold – I still don’t know why I did so. I had to keep one bag below my seat. The bus started off at 1548 – about 13 minutes late.
The bus - KL-45-H-3942.
Soon after starting off, the driver meant business – he was quite fast, but had a fairly safe style of driving. The bus did not rattle even when going through those horrible roads near Kuthiran. The interiors were very clean and looked fresh. Traffic was on the higher side – even on a Sunday! The movie was too loud and boring – I decided to concentrate on the road instead – four-laning works had commenced in the Vadakkenchery-Walayar section – journeys would get faster once the four-laning is complete. They’ve cleared trees and started levelling the land around the existing road. We reached Palakkad bypass at 1657hrs. The Kesineni B11R was standing there for pickup. It took some time for the passengers to get on board – the Kallada office was on the other side of the road. We started after pick-up at 1705hrs. By now the Kesineni had left.

The run after Palakkad too was eventless. The movie got over now and the rear LCD was closed. Road works are progressing at an above average speed in the section – I am excited! We pulled up at Walayar RTO Check Post at 1733hrs. The attendant got off the bus and headed to the checkpost office, while the driver got off for a tea. Many passengers too used the break to stretch themselves and get some refreshment. No break was announced though. The driver was busy on the phone talking to the second driver and co-ordinating his pick-up location. It seems the second driver was not updated that he had to get in on the day. The driver also called up the Coimbatore office and updated them about our location. We started off from Walayar at 1745hrs – a 12 minute break. We stopped at Ettimadai (near Amrita campus) to drop a couple of passengers (1759hrs) and continued the run. The second driver was picked up from Coimbatore bypass (just past the Pollachi “exit”).

We reached the Neelambur office of Kallada at 1832hrs (Neelambur is the place where Coimbatore bypass ends). The scheduled time here was 1820 – we were 12 minutes late. I was surprised to see Kallada having their office at such a remote place. The pick-up van was already waiting for the bus there – no wasting time waiting for the pick-up to arrive (KPN should learn from this). Quite a lot of passengers got off, and a similar number got in. We started moving from there at 1836hrs – that was just a 4 minute halt! Once past Coimbatore, the attendant came around distributing water bottles. He also gave a paper and asked all passengers to enter their name, age and contact number – requirements of an All-India Permit bus. Another movie was played now – this was a not-so-recent Tamil Movie. This was the first time I saw non-Malayalam movies in a Kallada bus. The driver was speeding very quickly, and kept proving that he means business.

We had a pick-up from Karumathampatty (1848hrs). It got dark outside, and I focused on the movie now. I had seen this movie a couple of times earlier, but did not get bored. The driver kept hitting three digit speeds once on the four-lane section past Chengampalli. We turned right under the flyover at Perundurai bypass, and headed straight towards the fuel station. We reached the fuel station at 1942hrs – the crew did not even switch on the lights since they did not want passengers to realise its a break. I had to use the washroom – and hence rushed out. The Kallada Trivandrum B9R, which leaves Madiwala at 1400hrs was already there at the pump – that is just 5:40hrs for the distance during the day! The refuelling was fairly quick – a quick headcount was also taken. We started off from the pump at 1952hrs. The crew had told passengers that we’d be stopping for dinner shortly. It was a bit of a circus to get back to the highway – the town roads were all crowded despite being a Sunday evening. We stopped at Hotel Aryas, on the highway, at 1958hrs, for dinner. The attendant announced that all passengers should get off since they would lock the bus. The engine was shut down by the time I got off the bus.

The service at the hotel was very lousy and slow. For the first time, I utilised the entire dinner break just to have food – I normally finish my food in 10 minutes and use the rest of the time to roam around the bus a bit. By the time I finished my food and walked towards the bus, the driver was already blowing the horn. We started off from the hotel at 2027hrs. We entered Chithode for a pick-up – it was quick. We got moving from there at 2038hrs. The movie got over shortly afterwards. The screen was closed and night lamps were switched on. I tried catching up some sleep. In the meantime, we passed by the Saravana Bhavan hotel, past the “Vaigundam” toll gate (near Sankari bypass). The Kesineni B11R and the KPN B9R from Ernakulam were standing there. Our driver (the same guy who drove from Ernakulam) kept maintaining three digit speeds all the time.

There was a bit of traffic at Salem – mainly slow moving trucks. The bus just stopped and started at the Kallada office on Salem bypass – at 2127hrs. I caught up some sleep now – the ride was very sleep friendly – he was driving fast, but not rash – minimal use of horn as well. I slept for some time – I remember passing Krishnagiri (recognised by the recently re-directed flyover). I got a call from home asking my whereabouts, and I fixed up my pick-up as well. I was asked to call as we pass Hosur. I had another nice sleep (not really long) and woke up as we were passing by McDonalds at Shoolagiri. I did not sleep after that. There were no drops anywhere in the route. Even as the clock ticked past mid-night, traffic at the Attibelle toll gate was high! In the opposite direction, there was steady flow of KPN buses – mostly B9Rs and AC Sleepers. There was a minor scuffle between our driver and the guy at the toll gate – the guy did not accept our toll ticket (it was a multiple journey ticket) saying that it had expired. After the fight, the bus was allowed to go through without having to pay for another journey.

The bus stopped at Electronic city for a drop at 0013hrs – interestingly, we were going below the flyover! My brother called me at the very same moment to ask where I was – I updated my position and told him that I’ll get off at Bommanahalli and asked him to wait there instead of going to Silk Board. Both of us were elated. There was another drop (near Singasandra) – did not notice time. A lot of passengers were now standing on the aisle to get off – I was surprised seeing the number of passengers getting off at Bangalore at such an odd hour. I was finally dropped at Bommanahalli, at 0024hrs.

End remarks: The bus, KL-45-H-3942, was delivered sometime in August 2012. It had about 2.02lakh kms on the odo. This was my first journey in a KL registered B9R of Kallada – interestingly, all my journeys in KL regd B9Rs were in white buses!! The bus was kept really well – it did not rattle or make unusual noises. The exteriors had some dents – they were patched up though. The crew were very co-operative and well behaved. Pillows were provided to all passengers - It was comfortable to lay down watching the movie with a pillow under my head. The end-to-end ride took 8h41m – good timings for a bus that ran through Kerala during the day. The section-to-section timings too are impressive – 2h49m for Thrissur (Mannuthy)-Coimbatore, 5h48m for Coimbatore-Bangalore (Bommanahalli) and 2h57m for Salem-Bangalore. I loved the service – unsure if I’d repeat it though – since I reached home well past 0030hrs, and had to get up the next morning at 0530hrs to go to office – I was completely deprived of sleep. I had a nasty headache the next day and had a horrific time in office. So maybe I’d take the service when I don’t have the deadline the next morning.

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: Yes
Snacks: No

Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 5/5
Punctuality: 4.5/5
Staff Behaviour: 5/5
Overall: 4.75/5

Will I take this service again? I am unsure. It is a good option when I have the liberty to go a bit late to office the next day. I’d surely suggest this service for anyone okay with reaching late in the night.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kallada B9R: Bangalore to Kodungallur



It was a dull Monday evening in office – stinging headache and an all time high level of irritability. I walk into my boss’ office – to find out if I could get a “vacation”. Being a probationer, I did not have eligibility to demand one. My boss was kind enough to allow a short vacation – I was excited as I drove home that day. Spent quite some time searching on the internet to find a bus for my trip – I had some interesting offers on line, but decided to take my loved operator – Kallada Tours & Travels, that too the bus to Kodungallur. Booking was done through their website, and I chose a seat towards the back. I was very excited about this journey – since that route gets the oldest buses of Kallada – and I was very interested to find how their maintenance was.

March 05, 2013:
The day was somewhat relaxed – at one point, my vacation itself was at risk, but I pulled through without trouble. In the evening, my friend in Kallada was online, and I chatted for some time – came to know from him that it was KA-01-D-4186 that was coming that night – I was excited – had never been so excited. But, why was I excited? Read on...

I left home around 2115hrs – my ticket said that my boarding point was the new “Check post” office – so headed there first. On reaching there, I saw that the shutters were partially down – so went in to enquire while my brother waited for me. I was told that the bus would depart from the “other” office. My brother dropped me there and he left. The time was only 2155hrs – my bus was only at 2230hrs. I decided to stay at their office itself. The 10pm Ernakulam B9R was waiting outside the office for departure – boarding was on. The bus was the regular EKM-Bangalore day bus (KA-01-AA-7638) – the red one. The load looked fairly good. The bus was bruised and looked tired running continuously day and night. The bus left late from there.

By around 2220hrs, more passengers trickled into the office – the only departure at that time was the Kodungallur B9R – their last departure for the day. The office staffs there were busy preparing accounts. Sometime later, they started the process of calling up passengers booked in the Kozhikode-Hyderabad service – the bus was being cancelled there, and merged with the Ernakulam-Hyderabad service – only two passengers were booked. The passengers were informed of the change, and their seats were adjusted. The clock ticked past 2230hrs, and there was no sign of my bus turning up. The Madiwala area slowly started shutting down – with most buses gone. Hindusthan buses were coming in now – two AC Sleepers (one to Coimbatore and another to Pollachi) and one B9R (to Ernakulam) came in. There were some SPS buses also around.
The bus: KA-01-D-4186. Taken after reaching Thrissur.
My bus – KA-01-D-4186 – turned up at 2249hrs – a whole 19 minutes late. Boarding commenced immediately. The attendant was busy loading parcels and helping passengers with their baggage. I boarded the bus and kept all my baggage on the overhead rack itself. The interiors did show age – the seats were in amazing shape, though. The seat number stickers had faded out – they had written numbers on it using a marker pen – that too had faded off in many places. I actually had to go counting the rows to get to my seat – I was in H4. Checking of tickets started at 2255hrs – 25 minutes past departure time. There were 12 passengers on board. The bus started off at 2301hrs, took a U-turn at St.Johns, and then stopped on the opposite side of the road. We finally started off from Madiwala at 2304hrs.

Why was I so excited to travel in this bus? This bus was the very same in which I made my first ever multi-axle bus journey – way back in June 2009. I was in K1 for that journey – this time in H4. I was travelling in the same bus after almost four years now – it was a nostalgic moment for me.

As the bus got moving, I was enjoying the old lady handling the roads – there was a bit of noise coming in from the rear suspension – but that wasn’t very annoying. The driver picked pace as we entered BETL – the bus was riding confidently. We stopped just past Narayana Hrudayalaya for a pickup (2318hrs). Now we had 13 passengers, two off-duty crew and two working crew in the bus! I was just about hoping to sleep comfortably, when the LCD came alive, and they played a movie on it! OMG! It was almost midnight! But, that was a recent movie (a legitimate copy) – one I hadn’t seen. I decided to watch the movie. Traffic was light at Attibelle as well as Zuzuwadi. We took the Hosur flyover (no pickup). Past the flyover, the driver took a right and entered the road towards Rayakkottai. The first few kms was bad – the road got better after that.

I was glued to the TV screen – the movie was engrossing – the second half was overly predictable though. Sify had rated this movie to the below average – but that was just another nail on their coffin of biased reviews. I liked the movie – so much that I overcame sleep and remained glued to the movie. I was seeing the Rayakkottai-Dharmapuri route for the first time – I’d normally be fast asleep when we pass this section. The route has a railway crossing as well – it was closed when we reached there. A freight train went past. I saw the place where the bus gets back on the highway as well – for the first time. Once on the highway, the driver meant business – he kept hitting three digit speeds and constantly maintaining pace. The max speed was 103kmph. We passed Thoppur toll at 0113hrs, and Salem somewhere around 0145hrs. By now the movie was over, and the screens were closed.
The seats..
I slept past Salem – woke up when the bus had stopped at Bhavani – did not notice the time. We did not enter the Perundurai fuel station that day. I woke up again as the bus entered the two-lane road at Chengampalli. I had a nice sleep then, and woke up when the attendant came around shouting “Coimbatore... Gandhipuram...” I rubbed my eyes as I looked at my watch – it read 0411hrs. I searched my pockets only to find my phone missing – oh! The last time I took this bus, I lost my spectacles – got it back as I searched for it though. But this time, my phone? It quickly rushed through my mind, and I put in my hand into the gap between the seat and the side wall – the phone was safely lying there. Some passengers got off at Gandhipuram. The bus moved a bit ahead after passengers got off, and remained parked on the road side. We started off at 0424hrs. The driver took just over 5 hours to do Bangalore (Madiwala) to Coimbatore (Gandhipuram)!! I slept off by the time the bus reached Ukkadam.

I woke up just as the bus stopped at Palakkad (0525hrs) – a couple of passengers got off, and we started moving again. We were on the bypass itself – did not go into the town. I dozed off again – woke up just as the bus hit a rough patch near Kuthiran. The suspension was doing a great job in this bus – the ride was better than the newer B9Rs. We reached Mannuthy (Thrissur bypass) at 0651hrs. A couple of passengers got off – parcels were unloaded, and a whole lot of blankets (for washing) were loaded. The stop was quite long – we started off at 0656hrs. The roads were getting crowded as we neared the town. The bus directly headed to Sakthan nagar – did not go towards the round. We reached the Kallada office at Sakthan nagar at 0705hrs. Now started parcel unloading again – lots of blankets were loaded here as well.

Kallada has a fully equipped blanket washing unit at their Head office – and this bus collects blankets from all over and brings it to their HQ for washing. We started from Thrissur at 0721hrs. The bus got on to the narrow winding state highway from there – on the last leg of its run. I loved the way the bus took the curves and sharp turns. The bus directly headed to their head office in Irinjalakuda – we reached there at 0749hrs. All the blankets loaded till now were dumped out here. Some parcels were also unloaded. The driver went in to settle accounts. All these took quite some time – we started off only at 0800hrs. One passenger was dropped at Tana (the main junction of Irinjalakuda on the state highway) – at 0802hrs. Now 4 passengers remained in the bus. I finally got off near my house, at 0818hrs – that was about 3kms before the end point of the service.
The interiors..
End remarks:  The bus, KA-01-D-4186, had 8.08lakh kms on the odo. It was close to 4 years old. The maintenance was above average – not the usual Kallada standards though. The interiors did look a bit tired – especially the roof panels. The seats were in brilliant shape – the reclining angle was very comfortable as well. The interior lights were very dim – the standard problem with older Volvos. The night lamps were replaced with LEDs – it gave a nice look at night. The engine was silent – the only sound I was getting was thud-thud sound from the rear axle – the suspension gets some adjustment. End-to-end timings – at 9:14hrs – was excellent. The sectional speed too was great – 5:06hrs for Bangalore-Coimbatore and 8:01hrs for Bangalore-Thrissur. The crew were great – the attendant was very jovial and answered passenger queries in a polite manner. I liked the service a lot – will surely love to try it again.

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: No
Snacks: No

Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 4/5
Punctuality: 4.5/5
Staff Behaviour: 5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

Will I take this service again: Sure... why not? It drops me right outside my house, and the running time is excellent.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Kallada B9R to Kodungallur via Mysore



I make a trip home every month – January was an exception, where I went home every weekend. After my last trip home, I was immediately searching for tickets for my next trip. A couple of services were up on my list of “to be tried” services. One of them was Kallada Tours & Travels’ Volvo service to Ernakulam via Kozhikode. I don’t want to reveal the others – but looks like some of them would remain on the list forever. I zeroed in on the Kallada bus via Kozhikode and checked their website – but only the last row seats remained open for booking online! I was sure that the other seats were blocked – not really sold out. Headed to their office on a Sunday, and got the ticket booking through the office – interestingly, the bus was completely empty at that time – mine was the first ticket to be booked! About a week before the journey, the bus was opened for online reservation – the bus filled up in no time!

February 15, 2013:
It was one very busy day at office – thankfully, traffic on Bannerghatta road was light and that helped me reach home by around 1800hrs. I spent some time browsing the internet, and later packed my dinner for that night, and got ready to head out. I left home around 1900hrs, and hired a rick to head straight to the Kallada office at Madiwala Checkpost – their new office. The rick driver took a very crude road – I almost broke my back by the time the rick got on to good roads. I was dropped outside the Kallada office at around 1940hrs. I headed to the office and got my boarding pass. Chatted with the people there for some time – they were proudly showing the brochure of Scania, which was shot outside the very same office.
My bus: KA-01-AB-1361 (Photo from Archives)
My bus for the journey – KA-01-AB-1361 was already parked outside the office, but boarding hadn’t started. The engine was switched on around 1950hrs. The pick-up van from the old office came shortly after that – once the pick-up came, they started boarding. There were lots of people for this bus in that pick-up van. Boarding was over by around 2000hrs itself. They came around to check tickets at around 2005hrs – quite early by Kallada standards. But a few more passengers were yet to turn up – we continued our wait for them. We finally got moving at 2018hrs – three minutes late. We had about 20 passengers on board from here. Interestingly, traffic was light till we reached Minerva circle – the opposite side was jammed almost throughout, though. Beyond Minerva circle, traffic slowed down to a crawl – especially as we neared the intersection of TSP Road. It was jammed beyond that – after a lot of crawl, we finally reached Kalasipalayam Market bus station (2049hrs). The cop standing at the beginning of Albert Victor Road would not permit the bus to enter the road – the Kallada office is on AV Road.

The driver kept pleading to the cop to let us pass – but he wouldn’t accept the pleas. Finally the bus driver had no option but to take another round. The traffic along the road had increased exponentially by now. After the long round, we reached back at AV Road, in front of the Kallada office, at 2108hrs – about 23 minutes late. The bus filled up here – we had 48/48 seats as we were signalled to start from Kalasipalya. The office guy signed off the trip chart, and informed the crew that there were no pick-ups from Mysore or elsewhere. We started off at 2117hrs. It was then a painful crawl through TSP Road, to reach Sirsi Circle. Mysore road had a lot of traffic – but the traffic was moving. I remember seeing Kengeri TTMC – but dozed off even before we passed NICE road. I woke up when the cleaner announced a 10 minute break for dinner – the time was 2242hrs. I got off the bus and had a short stroll. Switched on the GPS to find the location – we were past Channapatna now. We were joined by a couple of Kannur bound private buses and a KeSRTC Super Express to Kannur.

We started off after dinner at 2300hrs. I slept off soon after the bus started. I had a fairly nice sleep – woke up when the bus stopped at Hunsur for some checking – did not notice the time. I remember the bus hitting a bad patch past Hunsur, on the Gonikoppa route. I dozed off as the bus rocked hard passing through the inexistent roads. The bus did make some rattling sound at this point. I woke up when the bus stopped again – in fact, the bus was stationary when I woke up. The time was past 0247hrs then – rubbed by eyes straining to read a board a little away – the board read “Forest Check Post – Kutta”. OMG! We were already at the Kerala border!! We were still in Karnataka though. There was so issue between the crew and the people sitting in the check-post – the standoff continued for quite some time. In the meantime, the Bangalore-Kalpetta Super fast of KeSRTC overtook us and went. We started off at 0314hrs.

I pulled out by spectacles now and remained alert to see how the bus handles the forest route. The roads were narrow and winding – the bus was handling all the curves brilliantly. There was narrow bridge on the way – the bridge had a perfect 90-deg approach, and the bridge was just wide enough for the bus. The driver managed to get the bus past without hitting anywhere – guess the guy was a regular on the route. The bus was stopped by the forest guys again at the exit gate – the crew had a tough time convincing the people to open the gates – the crew kept saying that the bus was full, and requested him to let the bus through so that he could drop the passengers on time. From the conversation, I understood that it was related to some money the crew had to pay to let the bus through. The conversations continued for about ten minutes.

The roads were in excellent shape post Kutta – it was winding and somewhat narrow as well. We stopped at the Kerala incoming check post – but no issues, the bus was allowed through. The roads got wider as we proceeded towards Kattikulam. I remembered my drive through the route in 2011 – it’s a beautiful route all way through. We reached Kattikulam at 0340hrs – a short stop – about 5 minutes – to get the papers cleared by the RTO, and we were through. I slept soon after we passed Kattikulam. I had an undisturbed sleep all the time till the cleaner called out passengers alighting at Kalpetta. We stopped outside Kalpetta new Bus station at 0424hrs – about 5-6 passengers got off, and we got moving at 0426hrs. I dozed off again – did not even realise when we ran past Wayanad pass (Thamarassery ghat).

I woke up when the bus stopped again to drop passengers – we were at Kozhikode bypass now – at Malaparamba junction (0605hrs) About 4 passengers got off and we continued our run. The bus went through Mavoor road, and stopped again outside Kozhikode mofussil bus station – 0611hrs. This was a fairly long halt – about 30 passengers got off. We started off at 0616hrs, and headed to the Kallada office on MM Ali road. We reached the office at 0618hrs – a couple more passengers got off. The crew went to get the chart signed, while some passengers took a stroll outside. I was still sleepy, and hence remained in my seat. We started off at 0625hrs. There were just 5 passengers now! One passenger each to Chelari, Kuttipuram, Triparayar, Kodungallur (yours truly) and Ernakulam (a poor passenger who mistook this bus for a direct bus) respectively were onboard now. I dozed for some more time, but woke up by the time we reached Feroke.

Roads started getting crowded by now – we couldn’t do great speeds anymore. Made a brief halt at Chelari to drop a passenger (0654hrs) and got moving immediately. I loved the way the bus passed the mini-ghat section past Valanchery. The driver in good control of the bus, and he maintained fairly good speeds as well. We stopped at Kuttipuram to drop a passenger (0749hrs). Beyond Kuttipuram, we entered one of the best roads in Kerala – the well maintained Kuttipuram-Perumbilavu State highway. The driver hit three digit speeds on a couple of occasions in this section. We passed Kunnamkulam at around 0810hrs, and Guruvayur around 0840hrs. I was enjoying the ride in a multi-axle bus on a route that I’ve frequent umpteen times in my car. I loved the way this bus passed through the narrow roads. We reached Thriprayar around 0905hrs – a passenger got off here. I called up home and arranged a pick-up from Kodungallur. The ever familiar places along the route – Valapad, Chentrapinni, Moonnupeedika, Perinjanam, Mathilakam, SN Puram, Kothaparambu... went past.

I moved to the first row seat now – all set to get off. The bus had two passenger, two drivers and an attendant on board now! As the bus neared Kodungallur, the attendant came to call me – I requested them to drop me a little away from the bus station – the politely accepted my request. I was dropped outside the old Mogul Theatre in Kodungallur at 0931hrs – and the red monster rushed ahead for its last 40kms to Ernakulam, with one passenger and three crews on board! I was really excited to travel through the route in a multi-axle bus.

End remarks:  The bus, KA-01-AB-1361, had about 2.25lakh kms on the odo. I had travelled in the same bus twice earlier – once when the bus was fairly new, and once after the bus clocked about a lakh kms. This bus was on the Bangalore-Kodungallur route earlier – the bus still continues to visit Kodungallur every other day now. Like almost every other Kallada bus, this one too was kept in really good shape. There were occasional rattles, but that can be forgiven for the kind of roads this bus runs through. The end-to-end ride took 13h13m – for about 560kms. It’s surely on the higher side, but acceptable since the bus runs through about 75% two-lane roads, with a good ghat section thrown in. The arrival at Kodungallur was an hour late compared to the announced arrival time – we lost quite some time in the forest, and this delayed our arrival at Kozhikode – by now traffic built up, and kept delaying us. I loved the service – the crew were well behaved – spoke very politely to passengers and were accommodating of passenger requests. In short, I loved the ride – I am unlikely to take this route again, since a shorter option is available. But, I may take this bus again if I am heading to Kozhikode, or when I have lots of time.

Facilities:
Blankets: Yes
Water Bottle: No
Snacks: No

Ratings:
Maintenance (including cleanliness): 5/5
Punctuality: 4/5
Staff Behaviour: 5/5
Overall: 4.25/5

Will I take this service again: Its an excellent option for people looking at a convenient overnight connection between Bangalore and Kozhikode. I’ll surely take them if I need to travel on the route again.