Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mission BZA - TCR

                       It was a fine afternoon when I started from Vijayawada to Thrissur by road along with my brother. It was my maiden long distance trip in our Wagon R and I felt a bit excited. As I was getting a transfer back to my home place, I was in high spirits and ready to explore a few new experiences. Few months earlier I had tactfully denied the trip up to Vijayawada in the same car when I was working there.
                  We started on the 6th of August 2010 @ 1300 hours. We took the Prakasham barrage road instead of entering the expressway directly from Vijayawada. It connected us to the same expressway a few kilometres to the south of Vijayawada. The sun was beating down very hard when we entered the highway. To be honest, I have witnessed such beautiful highways only in the Middle East countries where I had lived my childhood. The long and spacious highway with all its splendor was a pleasure to drive and  our Wagon R was touching the 100 kmph mark very soon.

                     One short stoppage of 5 minutes at Guntur for fuelling in and then it was a continuous drive upto Nellore.  In fact (without our knowledge) the acceleration of the car had gone up to 130 kmph mark in the Ongole Nellore stretch. But then it was just a Wagon R and not an Innova or a Skoda to experiment with the speeds, and I was forced to  slow down. By then we had covered a good 240 kms in 4 hours.  At Nellore we had food @ 1700 hours and did our prayers.

            We swapped our driving duties, and my brother, a veteran of such lengthy back breaking trips chose to drive  carefully. But the exceptional condition and the traffic less state of the highway lured even him to accelerate at 100 kmph for a greater extent of time and we were in Chennai @2000 hours. Again the average speeds worked out to be around 60kmph. In fact it was his passion that had stopped me from hiring a driver for the same voyage.  

          But then, trouble was in the offing for us as we had to beat the peak hour rush in the city since we missed out on the bypass route to negotiate the city. The mistake proved costly as we were able to touch the Chennai Villupuram highway only past 2200 hours.  By then a little bit of physical tiredness had crept in but mentally we both were still agile.

           We decided to continue our journey as it was again a peach of a highway. We had our dinner from Chengalpettu  and @ 2230 we started again (….destination TRICHY….) with my brother opting to navigate. I was again excited seeing the wide and long tracks. The traffic even during that period was very heavy that we could seldom achieve the speeds that we expected. Since we wanted to attempt a new route ie Chennai - Trichy - Pollachi - Vadakkanchery and hence we avoided the Villupuram - SalemCoimbatore route.  We were able to cover a good 300 kms in under 5 hours with out any stoppages.  We again swapped roles at Trichy @ 0300 hours.

                    Infact the number of tolls that we had to negotiate by the time we touched Trichy, was a whooping ten…..!  But one should admit that it was worth paying the amount of 600 odd rupees for these roads. These roads in fact are the Build-Operate-Transfer roads commonly called BOT roads. We both felt that it is high time to implement the same processes by the authorities in Kerala too.

                  But worse was yet to come as the 70 km drive from Trichy to Karur consumed more than 2 hours and made us mentally exhausted. It is the NH 67 but it looked nothing more than wrecked pieces of road all over the place as the construction was going on. It was 0515 hours at Karur with both of us going insane at the way things have turned out. Instead of another experimentation ie trying the Dharapuram - Pollachi route, we decided to continue to Coimbatore from Karur which is a good highway…..115 kms in 2 hours and it was almost  0740 hours at Coimbatore for our breakfast. 
             What else to say....we were just speechless as we entered the Kerala sector, as the national highways seemed nothing more than a village road.  That we could never speed past the 60 kmph mark between Palakkad and Thirssur tell the tale. And we were in thrissur @ 1015 hours, 15 minutes short of 22 hours since we kick started. 

           Looking back it was a memorable experience in our hatch back for almost a day. But the trip would have been more remarkable, had we tried the Chennai - Vellore - Krishanagiri route which indeed forms the southern most strip of the golden quadrilateral highway. That route might work out to be the best in terms of driving comfort if someone is planning a Chennai – Thrissur trip by road.  Even though we didn’t sleep the whole night, we were still fresh when we reached Thrissur.  
               And once again our Wagon R proved he is no push over as far as his performance was concerned. In all he consumed a little less than 70 litres of fuel for running 1100 odd kilometers. In fact through out our journey we were in the cool comfortable zone of the vehicle and the mileage worked to be around 15 kms which I felt was quite reasonable. So no regrets and worries…and we both were back to our routine works the next day.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

pavagadh......the beautiful hill station

              Hello frnds....just wanted to describe my experience about this small but beautiful hill station which is situated in   the Halol district of Gujarat. It might not be the best , but the ruins of Champaner at the base of the hill  and the Kalika matha temple at the top are simply mindblowing. Let me tell my frnds that if you are planning to visit this place,  please do it in the morning hours. That will give you ample time to explore the ruins of Champaner. This indeed has been recognised by the UNESCO as a heritage site.
             The most attractive of the lot was the ropeway that takes us upto the base of the temple. Infact the ropeway is really one of its kind. The steep uphill ride is gonna give butterflies in the stomach of most of the people. The downhill ride also presents an equally awesome view. Infact the ropeway has been revamped and made more safe, as there was an accident in 2003 which had raised serious queries about the safety of the ropeway. Also one can alternately try climbing the hill up and coming down via the ropeway or vice versa. But once u reach uphill u still have to climb another 250 odd steps to reach the temple proper for the Darshana. The flight of stairs are again not the usual steps and is quite difficult to climb. Its definitely gonna be a test of our effort tolerance and cardiac beware.....somebody who is a known cardiac patient, he may think twice before climbing.
          So frnds, enjoy this place.....u may have seen much better hill stations in India but for the sheer beauty of the ruins and the ropeway its worth visiting the place.

How to get there........? By road. GSRTC  Buses are there from Vadodara . Hardly 45 kms . Hiring a cab is not a bad idea.