It was Durga Puja time and we, my husband and myself, wanted to visit our relatives in Bangalore. We tried booking train and bus tickets but no luck anywhere. We finally laid eyes on our four-month old car and decided to go ahead with our first highway drive!
Being novice to highway driving, we started doing our homework. Took advice from friends who have highway driving experience and of course, our most helpful site: www.team-bhp.com.
This site had all the Do's and Dont's listed in a systematic manner. We prepared our own checklist using all these inputs.
First thing was to prepare the car for highway drive. Thus, we did the following:
a) Took the car to Tata service station. Oh by the way! we own a Tata Indica Xeta GLG.
b) Got the wheel balancing and wheel alignment done.
c) Checked the levels of engine oil, coolant, battery water and wiper water.
d) Got the car washed in and out.
e) Filled up the fuel tank the night before the drive + System 3G Fuel Additive.
f) Checked air pressure.
g) Kept all emergency numbers.
Preparations for the journey:
a) Copied our favorite songs in our USB stick for the journey.
b) Purchased AP and Karnataka road maps from mymapsindia.com
c) Took printouts of the complete route from google maps.
d) Diary and a pen to make notes.
e) Food supplies - Chips, cup cakes, bread, jam.
The mix of salty and sweet items was a good balance. Classic Salt of Lays was the best choice
as the rest were either too spicy or too tangy.
f) Drinks - Orange/musambi juice, Red Bull energizers, 4 bottles of water.
g) Hand towel
h) sun glasses
i) Atleast 6-7 hours of quality sleep.
We started the journey on 2nd october at 6:00 a.m. We had decided to switch turns every 2 hours or so. It took us 40 minutes to reach shamshabad on NH-7 from our residence where we hit our first milestone board below. NH-7 being the straight road we had to follow till Bangalore.
So, we had to cover 547 kms to Bangalore. It did look like a lot of distance to cover in one stretch!!! Anyway, the road was more or less good. It was the time when most of the Interstate buses enter the city. Imagine I felt like a liliput in front of all the beasty buses and trucks speeding from the opposite side. After an hour's drive, I got confidence and felt like David fighting the Goliaths. The Volvo buses and the local trucks were the worst of all and the most unpredictable following Brownian Movement. Not to forget the other 4-wheelers, i.e. the cattle.
After 2 hours of driving and nearly covered 100 kms, we reached Jadcherla at 8:00 a.m., which was our first halt for coffee and breakfast. It was a decent dhaba with good refreshments and clean restrooms. The morning was still pleasant. Time to switch.
After Jadcherla, the road surface is horrible, resembling surface of Moon with craters. Poor my husband had to drive on that road for the next 120 kms till Kurnool. We reached Kurnool at 11:00 a.m. which was our next halt. Time to switch, now my turn.
At Kurnool we wanted to get refuelling done. We still had the tank half filled but just to avoid problems in the rest of the journey, we entered the BP filling station. Those guys thought that we need the refuelling desparately, hence refused having normal petrol. They said that they have only Speed. We saw the people exchanging funny looks, so we decided not to get the fuel from there.
We drove away and at Gooty, which is 90 kms from Kurnool, we got the refuelling done from company outlet of BP. We realised that company outlets are the best for refuelling on highway.
Road quality is good from here. 4-laning work is going on and the patches which are completed are really fun to drive on. An example of which is below. Of course, we have to be alert about diversions.
The other side of the divider was blocked for construction. The other completed patch was made two-way. There were fields, hills on the sides. It being a sunny day, the fields had a little dry look. We had the A/C switched on speed 2. We could beat the heat but gosh! the sun light was too bright. We realised the importance of glass film then. As a saver, we used our turkish towels to insulate the car from the light. It did make a lot of difference! Desi method!!
About food outlets on highway, there is one BP company outlet and Reliance A1 Plaza at Gooty. The menu is limited. Of course, driving on the highway, one should have an immune stomach so that one can digest the food consumed in the local dhabas!! I mean if you are one of those who are used to eating in fancy restaurants, carry your own food or travel by air!!!
Now a few word about the various specimens of drivers we encountered. The most well behaved of them all were the long distance ones who would maintain the left lane while driving and also help us in navigation while we were overtaking from the right. The worst kind, the remaining ones. Local truck drivers would overtake at high speed. Volvo buses, the drivers think that they are driving Swift car. That huge vehicle at 100 kmph overtaking a truck from the opposite side and literally would come on you!!! Then you have the reckless Scorpio drivers.
Oh another phenomena, as the heat is picking up, you observe mirage effect on the road. Science folks would understand, the total internal reflection. You need to have your calculations correct of the distance of an oncoming vehicle from the other side before overtaking. Of course, with experience you get the estimate.
Then overtaking rules, never ever overtake on blind turns and on slope.
Another thing that we observed all through the journey was that the diversion sign boards, speed breaker boards were visibly installed on the side of the road. The milestone boards were also very helpful. As we hit a new milestone board and found distance reduced, we felt elated.
The drive was smooth till we reached Karnataka. Thankfully, we had our maps in place, so we knew that the entry point is Bagepalli. But, if you do not know how to read kannada, that information is useless!! :( Thankfully, I know how to read kannada. The knowledge proved so helpful I cannot describe it.
So, we were entering Bagepalli and on one check post board, I read it written in Kannada and that is when we knew we entered Karnataka. Now, we kept driving looking for the similar milestone signboards. Guess what? We did not find any. At a stage, we were wondering whether we are still on NH-7 as even those boards were not there. We did enter many small villages and all boards on the shops were in kannada. And these small villages are not shown in the maps. Finally, we reach a big town. Now, we decided to stop and inquire and lo! that is when I read on one of the shops written in big letters(of course kannada!) Chikballapur written. Chikballapur is like just 50 kms from Bangalore. So we were sure we are on the right track! :)
And then we hit Devanahalli, where Bangalore new airport is situated and this is where we see a board written in english specifying the distance of bangalore as 30 kms. I cannot express our relief on reading this. Anyway, the 6-lane roads are fantastic. The speed limit for each lane is specified, of course, no one knows to stick to the correct lane, vexing you to the limits!!
A truck at 40 kmph in 80 kmph lane, gosh! There are so many of them that cannot list them. Besides taking care of these erratic drivers, then you have the localiites who suddenly run across the busy road. All your senses and driving skills are put to test, I tell you!
Having driven on the highway at 120 kmph, suddenly your speed is curbed to 50-60 kmph inside the city. I mean, you have to tune yourself to traffic signals again. To add to our misery, rain pouring making things more difficult. We had reached the airport at 4:45 pm and from there to indira nagar took us 2 hours! Thankfully, having stayed in bangalore we knew the routes so did not waste time searching for our way in the city.
Finally we reached our destination at 6:30 p.m. Since we both took turns in driving we did not feel dead by the end of driving. Despite all the nitwits that we encountered, the drive was adventurous and amazing experience for us. The view was very good. During this drive, we had a new found respect for Tata Motors for having designed such sturdy beast!
Oh I wanted to know what does these boards mean? Anyone who can tell me the meaning would be really helpful.