Kozhikode to Bengaluru: KSRTC Airavat Diamond Class

July 25, 2017: 
This was a journey that was booked at the last moment. I had to rush home for an emergency - I took a flight to go home (a ticket booked for a cheap price, at the last minute - I decided to enjoy that flight, and did not make note of the timeline at all). After my work at my home down was over, I headed out to Kodungallur town. A new bus service was being launched from my hometown to the temple town of Kollur (Mookambika) in Karnataka. I decided to attend the program - which went on till evening. I also decided to make a journey on the first trip - I was to travel to Kozhikode. Being the inaugural trip, the service was delayed, and I did not want to risk reserving my tickets to travel from Kozhikode to Bengaluru.

It was really hot out there, plus I was exhausted from the long hot day. I dozed off for a while, but the heat wasn't helping matters. I am not a fan of non-ac buses (especially for long rides) and the heat made things really bad for me. To add to my misery, I hadn't eaten anything since morning - I was dehydrated and famished. At about 2000hrs, I decided to book my ticket for the Kozhikode-Bengaluru journey. I directly headed to the website of KSRTC (Karnataka) - an AC Sleeper and an Airavat Diamond Class was listed - the sleeper was early, while the ADC seemed to perfectly fit into my requirements. I was a little shocked when I opened the seat chart - only 6 seats were available, and those were in the last two rows! I hurried about getting one seat in the last but one row - I reserved seat #42 (window). The booking process was simple and quick.

The bus I had taken from Kodungallur got to Kozhikode by around 2130hrs - a little behind schedule. I got off the bus, bid bye to the crew and my friends who were on board the bus. I was really tired, and rushed out to a hotel nearby for dinner. The restaurant was about to close, and the only item they had was dosa. I had one, and returned to the bus station. I had received the vehicle details message by now. The bus was already parked at the platform, as well. I headed to the conductor and marked my presence. I remained outside the bus until the AC was switched on. The AC was switched on a little before 2230hrs.
The bus, after dropping me at Majestic..

On getting in to the bus, I was a little surprised to see the seating layout didn't match, and I ended up with an Aisle seat. Fortunately, the window seat was empty and I occupied that seat. It appeared that KSRTC had modified the design of the AC Air vents - the stupid design used by Scania was replaced with outward opening flaps (the design most commonly used by third party body builders) - I really loved that customer friendly move. We started moving out from the platform at 2237hrs - four minutes behind schedule. I pushed back my seat and set the calf support in a comfortable position as soon as we got moving. I was already half asleep by the time the bus entered Wayanad road. We had a pick-up at Kunnamangalam (2304hrs). I dozed off after Kunnamangalam - woke up just as the bus stopped at Thamarassery (2327hrs) - continued sleeping as soon as the bus got moving.

I vaguely remember the bus stopping a couple of times enroute - but I was too tired to find where we were. I had a fairly long and continuous sleep - only to be woken up a little past 0600hrs, hearing the conductor/driver shout on the PA system announcing our arrival at Satellite bus station - we hadn't reached the bus station yet, though. The bus stopped outside the bus station - at 0617hrs - well over an hour and 15 minutes behind schedule! We crawled through mysore road, and got to Majestic (stopped outside the railway station) by 0625hrs (an hour and 14 minutes late). I got off at Majestic, and hired a taxi - that option appeared to be faster than crawling in the bus till Shantinagar, and then hunt for a taxi.

Closing notes: The bus, KA-57-F-1726, of Bangalore Central Division, Depot-4, had clocked a little over 89900kms at boarding. The bus had a crew of one driver and one driver-cum-conductor. The bus operates as a day service from Bangalore to Kozhikode, and then returns as a night service. The driving was the typical Crawler division style - the bus was lugged as much as they could with no regard to time. I couldn't see how they performed on the ghats - since I was fast asleep by then. The bus was over an hour late at the destination - the ride took a little less than 8 hours, which is the running time for non-ac buses operated by Kerala SRTC. Being a premium service, I had expected some savings in terms of running time. Overall a mixed bag. 

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

Ratings:
Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 3.5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 3/5 (74 minutes late at arrival)

Overall: 4/5

Pros: Government bus, Cheap, has a forest pass.
Cons: Driving could've been better, Delays!

Will I take this service again? It happens to the be the only 'reliable' option on the route. Kerala RTC doesn't like operating premium routes in Malabar, either!

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