Bangalore to Raichur: KSRTC Airavat Diamond Class

This year's examination duty was taking me to two new places - Bellary and Raichur. I had traveled to Bellary and back by train (the journey was eventless, and may be I'd write about them later). I was a little excited about my journey to Raichur - I had heard a lot about the college I'd be visiting. While the easiest option to reach Raichur was taking a train, I badly wanted to try the bus. Private operators offered only non-ac options, which I generally avoid. The only AC service on the route happened to be from KSRTC, which operated an Airavat Diamond Class service. I booked a ticket without much thought. I opted to take the train for my return (more on that, maybe, later).

June 15, 2017:
I had returned late from office, and had not much time to get ready. I had to hurry about packing my bag and get going. Like it always happens, I ended up getting a cab very late - not that the cab got delayed, there was a lot of traffic en route, and I reached Shantinagar only a couple of minutes after 2040hrs. My bus was to depart at 2052hrs. I had received a message from KSRTC with details of my bus well before I reached Shantinagar. Neither my ticket, nor the reminder message had information about which platform the bus would depart from.

I rushed into the bus station searching for my bus - #1631. I searched the first two platform, and there was no trace of my bus. Just as I entered the third platform, I spotted my bus parked a little away, and also received a call from the crew at the same time. I rushed to the bus, and it seemed I was the last passenger to board. I got in and the crew started the bus from Shantinagar (2052hrs). It was a struggle getting out of the bus station - all thanks to the traffic on the road outside, and the oddly parked buses inside.
The bus! KA-57-F-1631 of Bangalore-4 depot.

The bus showed its age - it was close to two years old, and had clocked over three lakh kilometres. The driver crawled all the way from Shantinagar to Majestic (Kempegowda Bus Station) - there wasn't too much traffic, and we would have had to wait for a very long time if the driver went faster. The departure from Majestic was only at 2152hrs! We made it to Majestic by 2108 hrs - meaning a 44 minute long wait there! The bus was parked at Platform 19 (platform used by Hyderabad bound buses) and the crew waited outside the bus. I got off the bus, since the AC was switched off, and it got stuffy inside. I walked around for a while, and returned to the bus by around 2145hrs. By this time, I realised that we would have a delayed departure - they had cancelled a later departure (to Mantralaya) and merged that bus with mine - that bus was to depart only at 2230hrs. The conductor of my bus was busy calling up each passenger reserved for the later bus, and requesting them to come earlier.

After a lot of hunting around, they managed to get all the passengers on board, and we managed to depart at 2221hrs - 29 minutes behind schedule. There was a lot of confusion inside the bus, with a lot of seats being alloted to two passengers - infact, the second passenger was of the later bus. The conductor had a lot of work to reallot seats to the passengers of the later bus. Meanwhile, the driver was busy lugging the bus through the roads of Bangalore city. There wasn't much traffic en route, and we managed to keep moving. All the reserved passengers were already on board, and we skipped the remaining pick-up points, and directly headed towards the state border. The bus took the elevated highway towards Devanahalli. Traffic weaned off after the trumpet junction (where the road branches off to the airport). By now all lights (including the bright 'night' lamps) were turned off.

I was quite tired, and prepared to sleep now. As I struggled to find that sweet spot to sleep, the bus pulled into Kamat Hotel, near Bagepalli for a dinner break - at 2340hrs! I hate these dinner break stops - its hardly a few hours since the bus started - may be a break after about 4-5hrs of running will be helpful, but not so early into the run. Hardly anybody got off the bus, and all those getting off headed straight to the restroom. The crew were back by 2355hrs, and we started off by 2357hrs. Lights were turned off, and by the time we left, majority of the passengers were fast asleep. I had a nice long sleep as well. I woke up hearing the conductor calling out for passengers getting off at Adoni (0414hrs) - after the passengers got off, the driver had a tough time getting out of the bus station, though.

I slept again, and woke up again as the bus pulled into Mantralayam bus station. We left from there at 0502hrs, and the bus was more or less empty by now. I slept for some time more, and woke up just before 0600hrs. I understood that we were close to Raichur by now - there was some road work forcing the driver to go very slow. Roads were in existent at places. We finally pulled into Raichur Bus station by 0611hrs - just 4 minutes behind schedule! I expected Raichur to be a dry and hot place - but it had rained that morning, and the bus station was all slushy.

Closing notes: The bus, KA-57-F-1631, homed at Bangalore Central Division, Depot-4, had clocked a little over 3 Lakh kms. The bus was not in the best shape - the body had a lot of scratches and dents. The crew were quite good - not the softest spoken though. The driving style was the typical BCD style of shifting to the top gear as soon as possible, and lug the engine till it says not anymore. They managed to get close to the announced time at the destination - but they were quite late at waypoints. Maybe since it was a working day, the bus was quite empty. Overall a good journey. 

Amenities:
Blanket: Yes
Water: Yes
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, Worked.
Entertainment: Available, Not used.

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 4.75/5
Punctuality: 5/5 (We were before time!)

Overall: 4.95/5

Pros: Punctual, Great driving, Sole AC seater bus on the route
Cons: That dinner break at midnight!

Will I take this service again? There aren't other choices except an AC Sleeper!

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