Bengaluru to Kannur: Golden Travels Volvo B8R

One fine day - between some serious work in the office, I receive this call from an unknown number. The caller identified himself as a faculty member in a Pharmacy College in Kerala, and had called me to inform of an appointment as an external examiner in their university! My appointment was in a college near Kannur - this was a major surprise for me. The travel lover in me quickly got to checking tickets for this journey, and I finalised taking Golden Travels' new Volvo B8R that operates from Chennai to Kannur via Bengaluru. This was also the last bus from Bengaluru, and is a safer option for me - even if I get stuck in office for longer than usual.

As the day of my journey came closer, broke this terrible news that the road to Kannur was closed due to a landslide. A section of the road in the Maakootta pass (between Virajpet and Iritty) had collapsed and the road was closed. Buses were re-routed via Mananthavady - this means a longer journey and a delay in getting to Kannur. I had updated my counterpart at the college in Kannur that I would be delayed. Things got a little worse as the day came closer - Kannur was receiving very heavy rainfall and I left my return ticket open. I was prepared to head to TW's place in Palakkad if I had to stay back, and had packed my bags accordingly.

August 06, 2019:
I was quite tired by the journey the previous night, and actually dozed off for a while at home. I took my dinner quite later than usual. I had received a message from the bus operator that my bus would be delayed by 40 minutes due to traffic - and redbus had washed off their hands saying the gps tracking on my bus wouldn't be working due to 'technical issues'. The scheduled departure time was only 2330hrs, and the delay would mean a midnight departure. I decided to take a cab to the pick-up point this time - I was too tired to take the metro, which would also get me to the boarding point too early.

I hired an uber taxi by around 2200hrs - the driver was happy to get back to the heart of the city from the mostly remote area that I am put up in. The driver was very relaxed - the roads were fairly empty, and the shower in the evening had left the roads damp. I was at the pick-up point, Golden Travels in Kalasipalya by around 2310hrs. The entire area had almost slept - most offices were closed, and footpaths were taken over by small tea vendors. The bus station nearby was silent and almost dead! The office of Golden Travels was open - but there was no office staff around. A few passengers were waiting in the office - I joined them. The lack of GPS meant we couldn't find where the bus was. I took a stroll after sometime - and took a tea from the vendor outside to keep me awake till the bus came.
The bus: KA-01-AJ-3977 (Archives)

The bus turned up at 2352hrs - 22 minutes behind schedule. Boarding started quickly - they had to load some luggage as well. The bus was clean inside - and it seemed like they had quite some through passengers as well. The aisle seat next to me was empty - and I had two seats all for myself. We started from Kalasipalya at 2359hrs  - 29 minutes behind schedule now. The driver quickly headed to Mysore road, and pulled into a fuel station for refueling (0006hrs) - it took a while to refuel, and we got moving by 0011hrs. I was quite tired by now, and slowly dozed off. I woke up as the bus pulled over at Rajarajeshwari Nagar to pick a passenger - who also had a lot of luggage. We started from here at 0023hrs. I slept quite well after this. I am sure if the bus stopped on the way or took any breaks.

The bus was passing Mananthavady town as I woke up - 0605hrs. The roads were wet, the window glass had water - signs that it had rained quite well. From the crew, I also understood that the bus lost some time at forest checkpost. I doze for a while more - but the tracherous and winding route meant I couldn't sleep further. The route meant that a lot of people were throwing up as well (bags were provided). I kept tracking the progress on GMaps to have an estimate of my arrival time at Kannur. I was afraid if the bus would go all the way to Iritty to drop passengers - but the crew made announcements that passengers to Iritty should get off at Nedumpoyil. The bus reached Nedumpoyil bus station by 0718hrs. The bus turned towards Koothuparamba, and the driver kept speeding.

They were quite behind schedule, and the bus had to return after noon. The crew had to rush, so that they'd get some rest as well. I was afraid if the bus would go to Thalassery now - the attendant came around asking out how many passengers were heading to Thalassery. He found that there were a few - the crew discussed among themselves and decided to connect the passengers to another bus (which was right behind us, at that time). The bus reached Koothuparamba at 0750hrs - they connected the Thalassery passengers to a bus behind us, and quickly turned towards Kannur. There were some drops on the way - at Mambaram (0803hrs), Chala (0816hrs), Thaaze Chowwa (0822hrs) and Caltex (0831hrs). We finally got to the Golden Travels' office in Fort Road, Kannur by 0836hrs - about an hour and 6 minutes behind schedule.

Remarks: The bus, KA-01-AJ-3977, had about 2.4 Lakh kilometres on the odo. The bus was maintained in fairly good shape - did not have any rattles or squeaks. This was my second trip in a Volvo B8R - the engine seemed smoother than my previous ride. The body roll was on the higher side, and the journey was quite tiring in the ghat section. The AC vents were the old turnable design - the best ones IMO in premium buses. The crew were efficient - my interaction with them was limited, but they were soft spoken when I spoke. Overall a good ride. 

Blanket: Yes
Water: No
Snacks: No
Charging Point: Available, Did not work.
Entertainment: Available, not used.

Maintenance: 5/5
Cleanliness: 5/5
Driving: 5/5
Crew behaviour: 5/5
Punctuality: 4.5/5 (Delay due to reasons beyond their control - points reduced for the delay at origin)

Overall: 4.85/5

Pros: Good bus, efficient, comfortable
Cons: Not exactly VFM - on the pricier side compared to government buses

Will I take this service again?
Surely! A good option for the route


rahulvijayev said…
Exceptional run by Golden to take you to Kannur with a delay of 1.5hrs although diverted through Mananthavady. I have observed that their buses are new, but as you told- their ticket rates are higher than most other services.