Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thiruvananthapuram - Bangalore : The Fastest Route

Trivandrum - Bangalore: Fastest Route

The cellphone alarm was ringing aloud, disturbing a sound sleep, but I was happy and excited to get up even though it was only 3.30 in the morning. A totally unexpected road trip is in the offing. By 4am, I found myself behind the wheels, enjoying the feel good fragrance of a new machine. The owner of this machine, my brother, was sitting beside me, discussing the route to take.

The 1500c petrol mill was pulling us ahead and the smooth power delivery and brilliant engineering of Honda ensuring that passengers are having a dream time inside.

The destination was Bangalore, a good 750 Kms away from where we cranked the machine in the morning. Last time when I did this road trip, it took more than 12 hours for this journey. The route taken then was the NH 47 route.

Thiruvananthapuram - Quilon - Alappuzha - Ernakulam - Thrissur - Palghat - Coimbatore - Salem - Hosur  - Bangalore (total distance: 730 km)

We had chosen a different route this time which was some distance more than the above route, just to experiment and also to experience the newly built NH7. The route was

Thiruvananthapuram - Nagercoil - Thirunelveli - Madurai - Salem - Hosur - Bangalore.

The roads were empty, but the recent rains had ensured that there are enough reservoirs on the road itself to store them. Empty roads means a smooth and relaxed drive. We were now travelling the southward direction. Soon we zoomed past Neyyatinkara, a normally busy junction.

Time and Distance Stat
04:00 am Ulloor at Thiruvananthapuram 04:45am Neyyantinkara 35km 46.67Km/hr

Total distance: 35Km, Average Speed: 46.67Km/hr

The Thiruvananthapuram Nagercoil sretch of road is one of the busiest roads. Even at this hour, there was so much traffic that overtaking slow moving vehicles was a pain as every other moment a vehicle was coming in the opposite direction through the narrow two way lane. Wonder why successive governments are not taking any concrete steps to widen this stretch of road which is the main corridor to the state of Kerala.

Passed the check post at Amaravila without any major traffic block and soon all the sign boards and road side hoardings switched to another language - Tamil, signifying that we crossed over to another state of India - the TamilNadu. By the time we reached Nagercoil, traffic had picked up too.

Time and Distance Stat
04:45 am Neyyantinkara 5:30 am Nagercoil 35km 46.67Km/hr

Total distance from source: 70 Km, AverageSpeed: 46.67Km/hr

The twisty curvy roads were being negotiated with considerable ease. Till Nagercoil we were South bound. From Nagercoil lot of signboards were there which correctly guided us. The huge windmills began to appear and to watch them in abundance close to the roads make us feel as if they are aliens.
It is still early in the morning, but there was enough light to click the first pic of the day's sojourn

Roads became more and more straighter and well maintained. Trucks formed majority of traffic, but most of them were well behaved, and we just need to follow what the truck driver's signal. The kind of maturity which truck drivers show on road in Tamil Nadu is something which Keralites also need to master. In such a sceneario horn is barely a necessity. The moment they saw a speeding car on there rear view mirror, they will give space for the speeding vehicle to pass when the conditions are conducive and we just need to wait for their signal. With such well mannered traffic and good roads average speeds increased and we soon touched the much awaited NH7.

Time and Distance Stat
05:30 am Nagercoil6:00 am NH7 entry 30km 60Km/hr

Total distance from source: 100 Km, AverageSpeed: 50 Km/hr

One of the basic needs for sustained development is presence of quality infrastructure. Roads are indeed one of the major infrastructure and India seems to be catching up in this area much later. High quality highways were a rarity here. Once into NH7, the complete feel of the journey changed. It was like moving from a bed of thorns to a bed of roses. It is a 6 lane road.

Ambient light levels increased, the rising sun was painting the sky with lively colors and with each passing moment the attraction quotient of the sky was increasing and this quotient finally reached a level when we stopped the vehicle and got out to catch the action from outside the confines of the moving car.

Speed in this small drive session of 10 minutes was a steady 60, eventhough we could have travelled much faster, we were not able to, thanks to the superb roads which made us sit in awe and the beautiful sky.

Time and Distance Stat
06:00 am NH7 entry 6:10 am Photo Stop 10km 60Km/hr

Total distance from source: 110 Km, AverageSpeed: 50.77 Km/hr

The place where we stopped was not bad at all, because towards the western side we could see someone being trapped.

On the eastern side, we could see the red ball of fire between those trees lined up in these plain lands.

Our steed also got in one of the frames in this exemplary environmental settings.

Sure, she deserves a more professional portfolio shoot. Made up my mind for a one more portfolio shoot of this mean machine later in the day, if time permits.

The red ball of fire was rising up really fast and within no time, it came up in full glory making everything around it red.

Time and Distance Stat
06:10 am Photo Stop 6:20 am Photo Stop ends 0km 0Km/hr

Total distance from source: 110 Km, AverageSpeed: 47.14 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 50.77)

We swapped positions and my brother was in the drivers seat. The time consuming part of the journey was over and from now on it is NH7 all the way to Bangalore. Only doubt in our minds were how crowdy it will be in the peak hours and in major towns.
The gliding continued, yes it was a gliding kind of an experience. At times you forget that the vehicle is moving. These are the kind of roads where you could easily mistake a speed of 120Km/hr to be half of that. I was enjoying the scenary on my left side (the western side). The first rays of the sun falling on these lovely rocky hills was giving it a fresh appearance.

Just see that this pic was taken when the car was moving at speed of about 100Km/hr and I could zoom the camera and still manage to take shot of this mountain without a shake.
More hills were to follow and the plains ensured that we get a very very wide angle of whole scheme of things

At certain places the roads were made by cutting hills, just to keep them going on straight.

Within no time we could see sign boards pointing to take the service roads to Tirunelvelli, which meant that we already reached Tirunelvelli. The roads still were deserted and we were doing really good speeds and were covering distances faster than expected.

Time and Distance Stat
Start TimePlaceEnd timePlaceDistanceSpeed
06:20 am Photo Stop 6:50 am Tirunelveli 45km 90Km/hr

Total distance from source: 155 Km, AverageSpeed: 54.71 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 58.13)

The lack of intermittent braking, which is a necessity in two lane roads, ensures that the ride is comfortable and a ensures a very high average speed. Traffic till now was miniscule and only thing to be ensured was that the driver does not dose off, coz he don't have much of an activity.

A rocket like structure soon captured our attention. It was situated so far away that it was in our field of vision for a pretty long time eventhough we were travelling in rocket like speeds on the road. Finally when we passed the structure we understood it to be a cement factory.

The concept of service roads and road crossings via underpass has been implemented in this highway which ensures that the town traffic congestion does not have its impact on the highway and to prevent road crossings. Whenever a service road appears, we knew that some town is fast approaching.
The next town in sight was the Duraiyur, but again zero traffic ensued. This sector travel ensured that our average speed crossed over to the 60Km/hr territory.

Time and Distance Stat
06:50 am Tirunelveli 7:00 am Duraiyur19km 116Km/hr

Total distance from source: 174 Km, AverageSpeed: 58 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 61.41)

The gliding is continuing. If one needs to sleep in the vehicle, this is the perfect road to do that. But I never feel sleepy while on a road trip in the day time even if I am not driving. A little after 20 minutes from Duraiyur, saw a board towards the western side pointing to Sankarankovil.

People driving down from Bangaloare to Kollam can take this route to Sankarankovil and then proceed ahead to Thenkasi, Thenmala, Punalur and Kollam.

Time and Distance Stat
07:00 am Duraiyur 7:21 am Sankarankovil Turning 35km Km/hr

Total distance from source: 209 Km, AverageSpeed: 62.39 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 65.65)

A distance of about 200 kilometers in 3 hours is pretty good considering the fact that the initial 70 kms took a whopping 1.5 hours. Roads continued to be superb and the travel was now completely through plain lands. We were getting more and more away from the Western ghats.

Time and Distance Stat
Start TimePlaceEnd timePlaceDistanceSpeed
07:21 am Sankarankovil Turning 7:37 am Sattur 27km 103 Km/hr
07:37 am Sattur 7:55 am Virudhnagar 25km 83Km/hr
Total distance from source: 261 Km, AverageSpeed: 66.64 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 69.60)

The constant speed driving ensured that the total average speed is going up. The next major town upcoming was Thirumangalam. This is another junction, where one can take a deviation to Thenkasi via Rajapalayam. 

While coming down from Bangalore if one wants to go to Thenkasi, then taking deviation from Thirumangalaam is shorter than taking deviation after Sattur.

Time and Distance Stat
07:55 am Virudhnagar 8:15 am Thirumangalam 31km 93 Km/hr
Total distance from source: 292 Km, AverageSpeed: 68.71 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 71.51)

The next major town is Madurai. Post NH7, I have not travelled in this route, so I have memories of a heavy blockade in Madurai. Was eagerly waiting for the town to arrive for I was curious to know the impact of this super highway on one of the major towns.

The signboards showing service roads to Madurai was on display and we were travelling through some fly overs with a sight of denser buildings far away.

The GPS receiver of phone showed that we were travelling a little away from the heart of the town. A nice thought out design for there was not a single blockade during our crusade through this city.

Time and Distance Stat
Start TimePlaceEnd timePlaceDistanceSpeed
08:15 am Thirumangalam 8:20 am Madurai 10km 120 Km/hr
Total distance from source: 302 Km, AverageSpeed: 69.69 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 72.48)

The journey upto Madurai now took 4 hours, 10 minutes, without really hard pressing the accelarator or frantically driven to reach destination faster. It was a really relaxed drive, with the driver feeling no more fatique than his co traveller.

Once we passed Madurai,we decided to take a break in the next available hotel and some our steed also had to be fed with some fuel along with our tummies. A geography change was apparent as there were some beautiful rock formations

We also encountered the first occurence of a "Diversion" board, since some work was being done on the track in which we were travelling.

We were soon back on our track and the landscape got better since we seemed to be heading towards some mountains.

Exactly 24kms after Madurai, in a place called Vadipatti, we spotted a Petrol Pump which also housed a Dhaba.

There was no rethinking as to where we were heading to.

After 2 hours of cruising through NH7, the black beauty was again shut down to give some rest. We had a small breakfast, while our steed rested after gulping in loads fuel.

What a nice gesture to give credits to the workforce behind this beautiful Pump.

"The hands that built BP Vadipatti"

Time and Distance Stat
08:20 am Madurai 8:35 am Vadipatti(BP Pump) 24km 95 Km/hr
Total distance from source: 326 Km, AverageSpeed: 71.13 Km/hr (excluding breaks: 73.81)

There ends part 1 of this post " Thiruvananthapuram - Bangalore : The fastest route"

Click here to read part 2 with more superb landscape and descriptions of this wonderful express way to Bangalore !!

Please don't treat this as a benchmark time for travel between the destinations specified. The travel time depends solely on the time of travel, the trafic and road conditions.
Kindly avoid driving with an aim to reach the destination in a quicker time. Start early and do a relaxed drive. 
Practice defensive driving.
"Better late than never"


Shrinidhi Hande said...

Nice post

Honda city is 1.5L or 1500cc no? Howcome you mentioned 1600? said...

thanks Shrinidhi Hande.
Ofcourse it is 1.5L. Corrected it in the post. :)

Roshmi Sinha said...

Very well written and informative too. Awesome captures... must say your blog name is very apt! :)

P.S. I had no idea that a cement factory looks like a rocket launching centre... My GK just traveled northward.

chitra said...

That was a nice read with beautiful photos. This is the route i.e from Nagercoil to Dindigul, I travel often,I am very familiar with and each everything on this route,the food dhabha with BPCL petrol bunk is a new addition .One would enjoy the scenic beauty while travelling.The roads are beautiful and smooth and one doesn't feel the strain.

Anonymous said...

Hi subu

Wonderful trip with speed

good nature pictures

I also confused the distance between trivandrum and neyyattinkara ????

thanks said...

Hello Roshmi
Thanks a lot !!

Well itz the big furnace of the cement factory which resembles rocket. Infact it was the cement major RAMCO, if I remember correctly said...

Hi Chitra
These are the kind of roads which really makes travelling a pleasure. But as an enthusisatic driver I would like winding and more challenging roads though.
Now onwards I have decided that all my bangalore journeys will be through this route whenever I start from Thiruvananthapuram said...

Hey Krishna
Thanks for dropping in and your nice words.
I actually started from a place close to Kazhakkoottam in Trivandrum. Hence the additional 10km. The distance to Neyyatinkara from Trivandrum bus station is 25km. Hope this clears your confusion.

Nandhini said...

Beautiful pictures. I love this route too. The hand print was an awesome concept!

S.R.Ayyangar said...

Beautiful photos and travelogue.

umapoems said...

Very informative and the pictures are beautiful.Any traveller from Thiru-Bang will be helped by this post.Thanks for sharing!
Chk my blog too!

prasanna raghavan said...

hai subu,

Your travel description interspersed with the speed description and the photographs of the scenery along, gives a variety experience.

Roads are an essential infrastructure for national development though people still squabble over it in Kerala. Along most of the roads in kerala you cannot drive over 45 KM/Hr.

Here in South Africa, the minimum speed along highways is 120KM/Hr. Last week we (myself and my husband) took nine hours to travell to Capetown, 900 Km away from home that is including lunch time.

your post is inspiring me to write about my travel.

Lakshmi Rajan said...

Travelling by Kerala route is always soothing for the mind.

I have had 3-4 journeys so far and always enjoyed it. The pics you posted are brilliant.

P.s I have two entries for the Indiblogger share life contest, please read and promote it if you like it. Cheers.

The post links:

Benoj said...

This article was really a very nicely written article. It motivated me to take the trip this Christmas to Trivandrum and back. Thank you very much for the article - Great Stuff…

kks said...

wonderful description and guidance for the driving lovers. thanks for the effort taken and help me plan a trip to trivandrum.

Anonymous said...

I took this route to Trivandrum. My speeds varied from a sedate 80km/hr to a top speed of 170km/hr (a small stretch of about 4-5km :)). With breaks of about 2hrs, the total journey time from home in Bangalore to Trivandrum was about 11.5hrs.

Thanks for this. Earlier, I had tried Palaghat route and it was a nightmare. I told my friends in Trivandrum, you have gods own country and devils own roads!


Life4enjoying said...

Sir,still reading this blog give a nice traveling feelings.
A little mismatch in km traveled from the start of NH7 to photo stop.

Pradeep,SEG said...

Thanks for all the comments and inspirational words. really happy to know that my efforts are providing information :)
@ Pradeep, thanks for pointing the mistake. I corrected. You does have a sharp eyee :)

Rajesh Govind said...

It was a very nice reading your post.As you have told this route is the fastest between Bangalore and Trivandrum. Your post was inspirational for me to post my own. Thanks for the inputs.

Catherine Tramell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amit Shah said...

Great post indeed with good details, I did b'lr-kovalam-b'lr after reading your post. Thanks for great post.


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