Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drive to Palakkad and back to Bangalore

There was a long weekend coming up and hubby and I decided to hit the road. Since it had been some time since we'd visited his parents, we decided that Palakkad should be the way to go. We took down every possible route that we could take from Bangalore to Palakkad. We had finalized on going via NH-7 and then onto NH-47 all the way. We both took the previous day also off. Hubby dear was the first to wake up out of excitement on that one Thursday. We were off by 5:15 am. Hubby took the wheel and we had some initial hiccups on ORR getting onto Sarjapur Road and unfortunately we took the Harluru Road to E-city which was a nightmare. There are so many speed breakers. It is almost like each and every house now has to have a speed breaker right before the gate. Once we crossed that, it was all smooth. It was a nice cool day and Pras was enjoying the drive, looking very comfortable at the wheel. NH-7 is awesome. However, as per our plan, we were to go all the way to Salem on NH-7. Unfortunately, we diverted onto State Highway 20 following a sign board. This road is not that bad but the initial part has a lot of pot holes and passes through all the villages. One really good thing about this route, was Mettur Dam. It is so beautiful. We stopped to take pictures but read in tamil that photography was prohibited. There are no proper restaurants on this route until you reach Bhavani. We reached Bhavani around 10:00 am and had breakfast. A cute grasshopper, whose tail resembled a leaf, was happily resting on our windshield. I took the wheel and Pras found a pet for a while. He was so cute, happily hopping around Pras. We finally got onto NH-47. Once we got onto NH-47, to confirm the route, we asked a lorry driver the way to Coimbatore and his response was "Go straight. The speedometer should not come below 100" :) NH-47 has a lot of ongoing work to widen the roads. Well, the wide roads and 4 lane highways are awesome to drive on, but it's pathetic and disheartening to see that they've cut down all the trees, never to plant another one to replace the cut tree. Since we were off on a weekday, the traffic was negligible. We touched 120+ on this route where the stretch was very good. Pras was getting a stiff shoulder and hence, we kept taking turns to drive. The stretch post Avinashi towards Palakkad is horrible. There are many pot holes and huge lorries parked on either side. Fortunately, we did not have to spend any time at Walayar check post. We reached Palakkad at 2pm.

We started back on Sunday. We started at 6am and got to Bangalore by 1:30pm. The road from Palakad till Walayar was depressing with so many dogs/cats lying pools of blood. There was quite a bit of traffic, it being the end of the long weekend. Most of the cars on the road were Karnataka registrations vehicles, all raring to go, without a single thought. The funny thing about the National Highway is that there is these "Kurk Chalai"/cross roads for villagers with zebra crossings.Each of these had many sign boards one of which was a "Don't Sound Horn" sign meaning that the pedestrians have right of way. Further, the villagers cross the road with cows/goats without looking to neither left nor right. And the drivers knowing that the pedestrians have right of way, don't stop for them. Accidents are eminent. There was a swift and a wagon R behind me. I used to brake or take my leg off the accelerator when we neared these crossings. These guys waited for a chance, when I was behind a bus and overtook me. At the next immediate crossing, the swift driver rammed into a bike. The whole village surrounded his car. Fortunately, no one was hurt. There was a blockade on the Dharmapuri road due to a truck that had run off the road and was being pulled up. This took upto 45 minutes of our time. Another irritating thing were these TOLL PLAZAS. Oh god, we spend almost 200 rupees or so on toll charges, each way. At one toll plaza, the road was bad just before the plaza. Hence, I asked the man sitting at the counter "You are collecting such hefty tolls and the road is not good in front of the toll plaza itself". He shouted something.. not sure what. At one toll plaza, I went to the toilet and guess what I found when I opened the Ladies toilet door? Another man doing I-don't-know-what in the toilet. I was dead scared as to how he would respond as Pras had stayed back in the car. Anyways, I acted very innocent and shouted "Sorry" :P
We took the elevated highway from E-city to give it a try and it is not really a highway.. it made me feel sorta claustrophobic - the walls are high giving you a closed feeling. We had lunch at 'The Dhaba" and ate the scrumptuous food that Pras's mom had packed for dinner.
Overall, it was a great experience. I am sure Pras is now very confident about driving which is a worry as well as a relief for me. Worry - he may not let me drive at all. Relief - I don't always have to drive through traffic.