Showing posts from 2018

A Houseboat ride along the canals of Alappuzha

Houseboats are an inevitable component of the tourism sector in southern Kerala, especially in the districts of Alappuzha and Kottayam. Unofficial counts say there are over 100 houseboats in Alappuzha alone. Houseboats came to the scene over a decade ago, as goods transportation along the inland canals declined.

Houseboats came to fore as a modification of Kettuvallams - country boats built of wood, and mainly used for goods transportation in the olden days. I remember seeing goods being transported using such vessels during my childhood, while visiting my maternal hometown in rural Alappuzha. In the olden days, some such vessels were also used for long distance travel through the inland canals - such boats had basic protection from rain and sun. Some of these vessels were also used as ferries to take people across rivers, in places where bridges didn't exist. As road transport became popular, and more bridges were built in these rural areas, goods transport moved from the effici…

RedKnight 1130: Cochin to Bengaluru

The search for a ticket to return from Kerala to Bengaluru was vague. I, TW and my parents were travelling - buses weren't an option - I was looking at trains at that point. I hadn't considered flights as an option since we were traveling during peak season (Diwali holidays). As I looked at all the options, I thought of checking flights too - the Indian LCC market leader offered tickets in the 1.2k range, while the world's leading LCC offered even cheaper tickets. Their app offered heavier discounts, and I managed to get four tickets, at what could be called a "steal" - working out to a little over Rs. 800 per pax!

November 08, 2018:
I had checked in through the app earlier that day - the app doesn't let you select seats during check-in. Seats need to be added through the modify booking page - and they charge for seat selection. I had to be content with the seats allotted by the system - our seats were spread over two adjacent rows. I decided to try changing …

TN-SETC AC Sleeper: Bangalore to Coimbatore

Sometime in June 2018: Tamil Nadu State Express Transport Corporation, the state's long-distance services operator, introduced new Sleeper class coaches - their top-of-the line offering, to date. As luck would have it, one was operated on the Bangalore-Coimbatore route, perhaps the only route where I had even a remote chance of trying them!

Fast Forward to October 2018: I and TW were planning to head to Kerala during diwali - TW is new to her job, and she was unsure of being able to get leaves on the days we wanted. We kept procrastinating our decision to book. Towards the end of October, I decided to bite the bullet and book a ticket. TW made it clear that she wanted a Sleeper coach. Just what the patient wanted - I quickly glanced at the other options I had, and came to the conclusion that the TN-SETC Sleeper coach to Coimbatore was the best option we had. Wasting no time, I headed to their website ( and grabbed two lower berths towards the front of the bus. Although…

First on the Celeste! Thrissur to Bengaluru - Kerala Lines

Prakash Bus Corporation launched their new premium sleeper model - 'Celeste' sometime in October 2017. The new model was built from scratch on the new Volvo B11R Euro-4 chassis. The coach was offered on both, the 13.8m & 14.5m, variants of the new Volvo B11R. Fully built as a Sleeper coach, the coach offered better ride quality and comfort to passengers.

Almost a year since the coach was launched, I was yet to get a chance to travel by the Celeste. My good friends at Kerala Lines had launched their own Celeste coach some time in mid August 2018. The coach was built on the 14.5m variant of the B11R, and had 42 premium berths. This coach was among the first choices as I looked for my return ticket from Thrissur to Bengaluru, after Puja holidays. Fares was low, at the normal weekday rates - I decided to grab this opportunity and booked two berths - I & TW were traveling.

October 20, 2018:
We had planned to leave home around 2000hrs - it was raining through this time, and …

Airavat Club Class: Bangalore to Thrissur

There were no plans to go home for Dussehra initially. My parents were to join us in Bangalore for Pooja, but the plans went for a twist as the pooja came closer. As it got confirmed that we had to go home for Pooja, and in fact reach there for Durgashtami itself - tickets were being sold at a premium - and I decided to stick to Karnataka SRTC - for two reasons - one, their fares were the lowest, two, they offered a late departure, which suited us the most. The return was booked with a private operator - we were returning on Saturday night, and options were aplenty.

October 16, 2018:
Quite unusually, I managed to leave office on time, and got home well in time to get ready before TW returns from office. TW ended up a little late, and we had to hurry - hurrying out of home is constant, irrespective of how well we plan! We left home a while after 1930hrs, hurried out to the nearest metro station. We missed a train just as we entered the platform - the next one came 8 minutes later. We h…

Changanassery to Bengaluru: Kerala Lines Scania!

Booking on Kerala Lines was a no-brainer. We had taken Kerala Lines to Kerala on our trip to distribute deluge rehabilitation material. It was a precluded decision to book our return also on Kerala Lines. The tickets were booked when we reached their office for the outbound journey (read here) - the requirement was that we wanted a bus that reached Bangalore first - we were given tickets on the Adoor-Bangalore Scania.

October 11, 2018:
It was a very tiring, but a very content day. We wrapped up the day distributing 'return to school' kits to needy students in the Kuttanad area, and then returned to Changanassery. After confirming our pick-up point, we headed to a restaurant nearby for some good dinner and also to get fresh. We took our time to finish dinner and then headed to our pick-up point by around 1915hrs. I had already received an SMS that the bus had some technical issues with its GPS tracker, and hence it was un-trackable. The guy at the office called up the crew for …

Bangalore to Nedumudy, Alappuzha: Kerala Lines AC Sleeper

It all began in August - right after the massive deluge hit my home state, Kerala. My students were among the first people to respond with flood relief material - they focused a lot on medicines, and ensured supply of basic medication to the badly affected parts of the state. After the initial response, the students got accumulating funds for the post-deluge rehabilitation work. They contacted a lot of NGOs to identify the needy, and finally a list of beneficiaries was prepared, and based on the funds available, we shortlisted two groups who were the most needy. A lot of relief material was collected as well. We had to find a safe and reliable way to getting the things to Kerala - first up on the priority list was my friend at Kerala Lines - he agreed to transport the material without any cost at the first talk itself - there was no hesitation on his side, and he agreed to make all arrangements.

October 10, 2018:
0930hrs: My phone rings, and its my friend at Kerala Lines. "10 Boxe…

Coimbatore to Bangalore: asianXpress Volvo B9R

There was only one condition - we had to return to Bangalore on a day service. The only convenient option we had was the Ernakulam-Bangalore service - which seemed to be priced quite high. I quickly looked at options from Coimbatore, and found a service from asianXpress listed with an afternoon departure. They didn't seem to list this service on other days - that made me curious, and i headed to their official site to see if such a service actually existed. It did, and I booked our tickets on that one. The bus departed from Coimbatore at 1400hrs, and reached Bangalore past 2100hrs - acceptable timings.

October 02, 2018:
Coimbatore was a little over 80kms from TW's place. We had decided to take a bus from Palakkad to Coimbatore, and our travel to Palakkad was to be by car. We were dropped at Palakkad bus station a little past 1015hrs. I was on the look out for any bus that would drop us at Gandhipuram bus station - the regular Palakkad-Coimbatore shuttle buses go only until Ukk…

Bangalore to Palakkad: Airavat Club Class Volvo B9R

A plan to visit TW's hometown was in the making ever since we got married in May. We did make a customary hurried visit, and had never been to head there all the time - some or the other thing happened every time we planned a journey. In the meantime, TW got employed and her office timings meant we couldn't plan a quick trip either. After going forth and back with the planning multiple times, we finally decide to travel during the extended weekend during Gandhi Jayanti. I wanted a bus that dropped us in Palakkad town for the outbound - this meant our options were limited to either KSRTCs. Karnataka SRTC was the call, since that was the only bus who's timings suited us.

September 29, 2018:
Like every time, I had a very busy day at office - reaching home well past 1800hrs. TW took a cab home, and she reached a little past 1830hrs. We quickly got fresh, and got moving by around 1930hrs or so - for a 2205hrs departure from Shantinagar. I briefly considered hiring a cab to the …

Kannur to Bengaluru: Golden Travels Volvo B8R

I hadn't considered other options when thinking of a bus journey from Kannur to Bengaluru - it had to be Golden! I had two reasons - one, they had brand new Volvo coaches, and two, they were the best on the route in terms of service and timings. Almost all the north kerala operators prefer bookings at their counters than online - they do not offer seats on online booking websites (not even their own website) during peak days. I was traveling right after the Onam weekend, and it was tough getting tickets. I briefly romanced the idea of taking a KSRTC bus for this single reason. A friend came to my rescue - he promised to get my seats blocked, and he did it for me. Since, it was during the peak season, the office staff suggested that I pay and confirm the seats - I just did that. A couple of days before I paid for my tickets, they replaced their buses with brand new Volvo B8Rs as well. So this was to be my first journey on a Volvo B8R.

As a matter of caution, I reconfirmed my reser…

Thrissur to Kannur by Intercity Express

The requirement was simple - we (I & TW) had to travel from Thrissur to Kannur to attend a wedding. I initially looked at buses - all of them were overnight journeys, but they had awful departure timings from Thrissur. Trains had even worse timings. I had to take the day train - like always. There were 5 trains with sitting accommodation - and I opted for the first train of the day, the 16305 Ernakulam Kannur Intercity Express. Our tickets were waitlisted at the time of booking. In the run-up to the journey, a lot of this happened - the deluge washed away a part of the permanent way. The railways worked on a war-foot basis to repair the damage. In the mean time, the ticket moved down from waitlist to confirmed. IRCTC sent me a message as soon as the ticket got confirmed. I received another message when the chart was prepared - this new message had the seat numbers as well.

August 26, 2018:
We started from home around 0620hrs - after a fairly heavy breakfast, with a very heavy hear…

Bangalore to Thrissur: Airavat Club Class 'Special'

There were a lot of uncertainties around the date of my journey back to Kerala to celebrate Onam. In the setting of the recent deluge in Kerala, celebrations were called off, and Onam was more of an "observance" than celebration this time. I had some office work that delayed my departure back to Kerala, and I finally managed to get two days off before the weekend. I initially planned to depart from Bengaluru on Friday (August 24) morning, getting home by evening. Some family reasons came in, and I had to be at home by Friday morning. Buses departing from Bengaluru on Thursday were more or less sold out, and the available ones were selling a jacked up prices. I decided to check with KSRTC once before I book a ticket to Coimbatore - bingo! KSRTC (Karnataka) had no less than 5 specials that evening - and all of them had a few seats. I picked one departing later in the night, and picked a window seat. The ticket was approximately 30% pricier than the regular services.

August 23,…

Thrissur to Bengaluru: Airavat Club Class Scania

This Onam trip home had a lot of twists. A lot of scheduling and rescheduling took place, and my trip was charted out with a solo return back to Bengaluru on August 19th. TW would stay back at my home, and join my parents in the festivities - while I'd return again for Onam a couple of days before Onam. I was to return on a Sunday - and all private operators were charging astronomical rates already. I had to decided between the two STUs - Kerala and Karnataka. The Kerala option was expensive, but would drop me at Peenya - the Karnataka option was cheaper (atleast two hundred rupees cheaper) but would drop me only at Majestic (the main bus station in Bengaluru) - I decided to choose the later - I still have no clue why did I select this option, though. The Karnataka STU gave me around 3 options - after looking at all of them, I chose my favorite service, the '2133TRCBNG' Airavat Club Class service. The bus was more or less filled already - seats were in the last few rows -…