Alhind Scania: Thrissur to Bangalore

As my travel to Kerala came closer, there was more pressure to book a ticket. Airfares were quite high, and bus fares seemed to compete with airlines. Given the change in my working hours, I had to be in Bangalore very early in the morning. Buses leaving later in the night was not an option at all. I had to take a bus leaving in the afternoon, or early evening. Alhind fit my requirements to the T, and without much thoughts I went ahead and booked a ticket on Alhind. I got a sweet deal on the Alhind website. The bus was mostly sold, I got a seat in the last-but-one row - a window seat on the right (#J1).

January 17, 2016:
I started preparing for the journey once the tracking message arrived - a link to track the bus, along with details of the bus was present in the message. I used the link to find where my bus was. This was really useful since it kept me updated where the bus exactly was. I left home sometime around 1630hrs. Unusually, I did not wait for a KSRTC bus from my place - I had a bad experience the last time, and I just took a private bus from there to Thrissur. The honk-happy driver kept honking for no reason and the ride was very unsettled. The bus bounced all the time and the ride was very uncomfortable. While in the bus, I received a call from Alhind, who confirmed my location, and also asked me to be a particular travel agency. I reached Thrissur sometime past 1745hrs. The reporting time at the pick-up point was 1800hrs. I just roamed around the bus station for a couple of minutes and walked to the pick-up point, which was located right outside the bus station. I reached there exactly at 1800hrs - one more passenger had to come, and I was asked to wait for some time.

Sometime around 1815hrs, the other passenger came down. After confirming that there were no more passengers to come, the guy at the travel agency hired an autorickshaw, paid him the fare and gave him the dropping point. While we were travelling by the auto, the crew from the bus called up and informed that they were already waiting for us. We reached Mannuthy pick-up point at 1824hrs - the bus was already waiting on the road side. We started off from Mannuthy at 1830hrs. The bus was mostly full - my co-passenger seat was empty though. A classic Bollywood movie was being played on the entertainment system. A blanket was already kept on my seat, while the attendant came with a bottle of water as soon as we started.
The bus that I traveled in: KA-01-AE-8800. Taken right before boarding.
We made a brief halt outside a hotel just past Vadakkencherry (near Mangalam palam) - I thought we were having a very early dinner break - but the bus got moving almost immediately (1916hrs). Driving was really good. After entering the four-lane route, the bus maintained constant pace throughout the time. The driver did not honk at all - it was the dipper all the time. We reached Palakkad at 1940hrs. A few passengers got in from here. We had Parveen Travels' Scania (heading to Chennai) for company. We left at 1941hrs and rushed towards Coimbatore. I was wondering where the dinner break would be. We pulled off the main road at Kanjikode and stopped at Hotel Saravana bhavan for dinner (1955hrs). I had brought my dinner from home, and planned to remain in the bus itself. But the airconditioner was turned off, and the attendant asked all passengers to get off the bus so that he could lock the bus. A nice move to ensure safety.

I didn't have anything to do - so just waited outside the bus all the time. The Parveen Scania joined us at the dinner break a little later. We started off after dinner at 2037hrs. I had my dinner soon after we started. The movie was still on. The ride was very comfortable till we passed Walayar (an Irony! Earlier, the roads on the other side used to be great. Its now the opposite). We had a brief halt at Chavadi Checkpost (incoming) for verification of papers (2105hrs). We reached the Coimbatore pick-up point (Neelambur toll gate, on the bypass) at 2140hrs. A few passengers got off, and an equal number of passengers got it. Except a couple of seats (including the one next to me), all the other seats were full now. We started off again at 2146hrs.
Interiors - Photo from archives.
I tried to sleep for some time - but I was having a very bad cough, which kept waking me up time and again. Sipping some water did not help - drinking a lot of water could have its own implications. The AC was set in a very comfortable temperature - it wasn't very cold, not warm either. Toll gates on the highway were badly crowded - queues were long, and there surely were those unruly lane breakers. Vijayamangalam toll gate was particularly a mess - the queue was almost a kilometre long, and crawled at a very slow pace. We painfully waited and cleared the toll gate at 2234hrs, only to be pulled up by an checking squad of the Motor Vehicles Department. I am not sure what fault did they find with the bus, but they did raise a challan and we started off again only at 2238hrs. While there, I saw an unruly inspector pulling out some additional LED strips that was fixed on the bus. While he was doing his duty, the way he did it did not appear correct to me.

I tried sleeping for some more time. I woke up just as I felt the bus went off the highway - we were going for a pick-up somewhere. The bus stopped under a flyover at around 2301hrs. I couldn't identify the place - so resorted to the trust GMaps. The map blurted out that we were in Bhavani. The wait was quite long - I understood later that we were waiting for a passenger. We left from there at 2230hrs - a 29 minutes wait!! I slept for a little more while and woke up just as we were nearing Salem. A quick pick-up was done at Salem (2359hrs) filling the last empty seat in the bus - the seat next to me. I slept off again. Every single toll gate was crowded, and we kept losing time at every single toll gate. My GPS was recording very stable speeds - always a couple of numbers short of three digits.

Driving was very stable, without hard cutting or hard braking. I slept on and off - I did wake up everytime the bus came to a halt. Krishnagiri toll gate had a very bad queue - it looked like everyone south was heading towards Bangalore going by the crowd. I pulled up my back rest as we passed Attibele. We reached Electronic City at 0237hrs. A couple of passengers got off, and the same number got in as well. The bus took the elevated tollway from there. In the meantime, I booked a cab to ferry me from the end of the flyover, to my home - some 6kms away. I headed towards the cabin as the bus neared the end of the elevated road. The bus reached Silkboard at 0245hrs. Quite interestingly, the attendant did not switch on the lights and shout out for passengers - he took the reservation chart and went seat by seat to alert passengers getting off in Bangalore! Quite professional, and impressive - I must say!

End notes: The bus, KA-01-AE-8800, had clocked about 78000 kms since it was introduced in November 2015. Alhind is a very old travel operator - they are more into flight ticketing and related services, than operating buses. They quit operations a couple of year back, and this service marks their re-entry to the scene. The bus was in great shape, given the distance it runs daily. The crew were really well behaved - they did not force passengers to rush at any point of time. The breaks were fairly - but that did not affect the running time. The dinner break was 42 minutes long. We then had a 29 minute wait for a passenger. Despite all the breaks the bus took 8h15m to travel from Thrissur bypass to Silkboard. Considering all the breaks, the timing is just awesome. The bus never hit three digit speeds. The driver did not play an F1 race on the road. No honking at night. No hard brakes, no sharp cuts! Amazing show by the crew. I really liked their service. And, we were actually much before time in Bangalore!! The live tracking was just the icing!

Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, ON throughout
Entertainment: Available, One movie played.

Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 5/5 (Perfectly on time)

Overall: 5/5

Will I take this service again? Absolutely!


rahulvijayev said…
Binaieta, I am sure that you must have also seen LED strips in almost every TNSTC 3.33 Bangalore-Salem Express Non-Stop and also in some SETC Ultra Deluxe buses. Then, why was the LED from your bus stripped off?
Unknown said…
Binai sir, which part of the bus were the LEDs stripped off from? Thats pretty sad. Howcome the cops found only this Scania in particular for LEDs? I wonder how much of a challan they wouldve issued for a National Travels Bus.......
Unknown said…
Please tell in which site u upload bus photos these days. All ur usual sites are dormant more than a year.