Saturday, November 25, 2006

Return to the Alma mater

"My two tons of metal and rubber arrives next week' I messaged to my friends announcing the arrival of the Scorpio. We had planned to visit our Alma Mater at Suratkal a few weeks back and the new Scorpio was our transport. After some last minute dilly-dallying we (C, V and myself) started out on a Sat. morning from B'lore at 6:30 am.

Road out of Bangalore till Nelamangala is much more relaxed at these wee hours but still you need to snake around the trucks who don't stick to one lane and refuse to give way. Turn west on to NH48 close to 8 am.

This is not a divided highway but the visibility and road quality allows you to get to 100+ speeds very easily. As my friends started browsing through the Owners manual - C mentioned that we should be below 100 kph before the first servicing. The speedometer was reading 120. After a few min of watching the speedo - we decided something was wrong with it. It seemed to reach 90/100 very quickly when we did not feel we were at that speed. So we decided that we should overtake somebody and try reading his/her speedometer when we do that. After a couple of aborted attempts we decided it does not matter as long as we seem to be doing good time.

The road to Hassan is a good patch of road with good visibility. The only speed breakers are the towns of Kunigal and Channarayapatna where a good honk is the only way of wake up the autoriks and cyclists out of their sleep driving.

Kamat Upachar - now ubiquitous on all highways outside Bangalore - a few km before Hassan was our first halt. Time - 1030 am. Its a nice place with lots of parking place and great breakfast menu - dosa's galore and sugarcane juice !

The Hassan bypass is a good idea but badly implemented. It leaves one wondering if it really saved time given the amount of potholes one has to dodge. But most probably it does save time.

Hassan to Sakleshpur is a beautiful road but is winding. So speeds are limited to 80's. Reached Sakleshpur by 1140am.

Given my travel on this route a month before, I warned my friends of the pains to come- but what came was a nightmare. More rains and truck traffic have erased any remnants of a once superb highway across the Western Ghats. The road from Sakleshput to Uppinangadi which is 60 km has a 40 km stretch where there is absolutely no road. It takes 2 hrs across this stretch and a painful one at that. The bright spot is the full Netravati bubbling away along the road.

We took a 15 min break and got into the river. The calm and quite amidst the mountains is refreshing and so is the water.

Uppinangadi to BC Road and there on to Mangalore is a sad saga of bad maintenance and pathetic driving conditions. The traffic does nothing to alleviate the pain and the innumenrable taxi's/jeeps add to the misery.

Reached Mangalore at 3 pm - a full 8 hrs post our start.

We picked up B at Mangalore headed to the college immediately.

There was more shock to come. What used to be fast highway with buses zipping dangerously at 100kph and a wide road is now a potholed road with traffic crawling either due to the road or due to the narrow stretches. NH17 is dead (at least between Mangalore - Suratkal).

Reached Suratkal/KREC at 430 pm.

Spend the evening and the next morning at KREC reliving the times - 10 years back. Hostels, SAC, Playgrounds, Gate - Maggi and Sugarcane juice, Beach, Light house, SADs, Main building, class rooms, EC Block, SD. Mangalore - Ideals, Hampanakatta. Absolutely fantastic experience
C was very nostalgic and clicked away to glory.

We started at 230 pm from Mangalore on the way back - aiming to hit Hassan by 6pm. This time we checked and there is exactly 35 km of pathetic road in the ghat section which takes an hour and half to get through. Reached Hassan at 630 pm and then headed back to the Kamat Upachar.

Night drive to Bangalore on the Hassan - Nelamangala was slower (the constant dim/dip routines and tractors on the road slow down the journey) and we reached Nelamangala at 10 pm. Got an unusual smooth drive from Nelamanagala back into the city and back home by 11 pm.

Car – Mahindra Scorpio, DLX
Travel Date: Oct, 2006
Total Distance – 800Km, 2 Days
Fuel: 80 litres

Labels: , , , ,