Mumbai to Bangalore: A road trip after a real long time

I have this thing about travelling and long drives. Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to drive… not the sprints…but the marathon! I have been fortunate enough to do this a bit in different places across the world, but never managed a real long one in India. No, Mumbai to Pune does not count as a long drive in my book, not even Mumbai to Murud.

Driving from Mumbai to Bangalore has been on cards for some time now.  We just relocated to Bangalore, and as luck would have it my driver gave me a parting present….. an accident, which meant the car was in the garage for a few weeks just when the packers had descended on us! In essence, I had to go back to Mumbai and get the car! Remember what Shahrukh said in Om Shanti Om, if you want something bad the entire universe conspires to get it to you… well you were bang on SRK.

I drew much of the base data on the route from Sudhirs post on this site and a little bit from what I could gather from a sprinkling of observations by people who had done bit and parts of this journey.  The plan was simple, just drive!  Since I was going to do this by myself, the plan was to ideally split the journey in two halves. To make matters more interesting, I was against a deadline, my wife was to leave for overseas early Tuesday morning and in keeping with our long time tradition, one of us (i.e. yours truly) had to be in the same city as the kids. The terror attacks in Mumbai, meant office meetings stretched to Saturday and most of Sunday. And at about 4 pm on Sunday (Nov 30th), I had the option of leaving the same day or attempt it all in one day on Monday.  I chose prudence and left from home (Powai) at about 6:45 pm on Sunday.

The modified plan was to try and get to Kolhapur preferably by midnight, and then drive the rest of the way on Monday. My companions were a bunch of CD’s, 6 bottles of water, 3 packets of Happydent white (20’s) and two candy bars. And of course a page with target times for each of the locations ( In most of the long drives, I tend to set myself targets to go by).  Here is what it looked like at the start:

From

To

Distance (Km)

Target Time (Minutes)

Mumbai

Pune

220

155

Pune

Satara

94

75

Satara

Kolhapur

123

87

Kolhapur

Belgaum

119

89

Belgaum

Dharwar

70

65

Dharwar

Hubli

20

22

Hubli

Chitradurga

197

182

Chitradurga

Tumkur

160

148

Tumkur

Bangalore

74

89

Bangalore

If the target times look wierd, that is because I was working with some form of average speed :)

The first hour was excrutiatingly slow. I covered about 30 km and barely managed to hit the Pune Expressway. But once I did then it was rather smooth. And I had made it to the bypass in exactly 2 hours. The stretch from Pune to Satara was a little slow as I found a lot of trucks on the way. But by 10:30 I was in Satara, almost 30 minutes later than I thought I would make it. I did stop for a bio break and had some tea with one of the road side vendor. And briefly chatted with another driver, who promised me the trip to Kolhapur could be made in about two hours and that the traffic would be mild and roads would be good.

As promised the road to Kolhapur was smooth and two laned! The quality of most of the road was excellent and I rarely if ever was below 100 km/hr. I did stop by a gas station as soon as the fuel hit the midway mark and another pit stop for a bio break and tea somewhere in the midde of no where. The dhaba owner was watching the news media come down heavily on CM Deshmukh for taking a movie director inside the Oberoi. He and I had an interesting conversation on the issue, and it is amazing how media influences the hinterland! I surprised myself by getting to Kolhapur at about 11:55. I had originally contemplated to drive to Belgaum in case I felt fresh enough. But thankfully decided against doing so. Not knowing the way around town, I merely followed a state road transport bus. Sudhir had mentioned in his post that the hotel regency was near the bus stand (he mentioned he took a walk to the bus stand for dinner), so i figured this was a rational way.  No surprises, managed to make it to the hotel and they had a room to spare (No, prior reservation ;) my planning usually is limited to timelines only!!!).

Slept well, and overruled the immediate desire to leave by 6:30. Since by now I was almost on par with my schedule. The hotel staff sent me a complimentary bread toast and tea in the room as I was going to miss their breakfast (like to be light while driving) and I was out of there at 7:45 am. Made a small mistake (never been good with directions, when I have had to guess) and was driving towards Satara for about 5 minutes. Luckily realized the mistake real soon and turned around.

The drive to Belgaum was great. It was still misty and the flowers in the divider were amazing. I did encounter two things which became a part of my drive the rest of the day. First, there were amazing number of people that were oblivious of the speeds that the cars were managing on the stretch. I saw an old man, pretty close to the median wiste fully contemplating something. His chappals were next to him… and he was not even fazed when I passed him at about 120 km/hr. Also, this stretch was my first encounter with people driving all kinds of vehicles (tractors, light commercial vehicles (PIAGGIO)) at you in the wrong lane!!! This on a divided freeway! Luckily the traffic load was light so there was room to move. But often times the suddeness of it amazes you! So all you young Hamiltons and Alonsos take it easy!

I managed the Belgaum and Dharwar stretch well. The speeds were still high and the traffic mild. There were a few spots of bother but most times the heavy vehicles would not stand in your way. So far so good! And before I knew it, I was on my way to Hubli. Watch out for directions, since I could not see good ones. But if the roads suddenly worsen… you know you are on the right track! By about 10:15 in the morning I had passed Hubli (actually there is an offshoot to the right that leads to Hubli, so I passed that).

What followed was back to the reality stuff! Hubli to Chitradurga is a 197 km stretch and I would say that only about half of it or less is a seperated highway.  There are a few things to watch out for on this stretch. The easiest one is the moon craters on the road… they are big and they are ugly! The other thing is there is a couple of railroad crossing, where animal instincts take over and the traffic on both sides of the road covers all the space, leaving little for the oncoming traffic to make its way through. And finally, the re-definition of “Diversion”. Diversion on this stretch mean that you are now going to move from a two lane divided highway to a shared road, i.e. one stretch of the road is still under construction. And to test your motor skills and response to crisis these diversion sometimes come upon you without a universally acceptable visual warning. My best one was when a row of small mid sized rocks were laid out on the road ahead which means you better do from 100 to 0 in a fraction of a second! So, take it easy folks. It helps to have easy music on at this time (lucky i had some John Coltrane on hand). But to say that the “bad” road represents most of this stretch is also not true there are more than adequate stretches that would allow you to do well on speed and the scenary.  There is also a stretch that takes you through the town of Ranibennur, and the crowded bazaars.

I had made my way to Chitradurga by 1:30 and decided it was a good time to stop and cool my heels for short while. So I stopped for tea and a bio break. There were hills nearby that had the giant wind power turbines. Kind of surreal!

The next stretch from Chitradurga to Tumkur was a good one. I had factored an average speed of 65 in my plans, and I think I managed to do a shade over 100. A great high before you hit the Tumkur to Bangalore section. Which is where reality of traffic hits you. Being new to Bangalore, I was not aware of options apart from NH4. I believe that you can take an alternate…will let you know when I check it out. I managed to reach home well in time by 5; about an hour less than I had planned.

All in all, an amazing experience. Definately worth it especially if you can take your time to savour it. Also, if you have two drivers, it is something that can be done in about 14-15 hours.

Now for a bit caveat for people that will see this and start planning to beat these times and take upon themselves the role of Schumacher. Kindly take into account the car, the age of your tyres and of course your ability to deal with speed. Be safe… that is what it is about. If I did not have a deadline, I would have spent a lot more time enjoying the ride!

Be safe and keeping Ghoooming!

26 Comments

  • Aditya Sapru says:

    Nandan,

    I was driving a 2007 Honda CRV. An amazing blend of offroad and passenger car. It had done 23,000 km at the begining of the journey so the tyres were well within the safe limit.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    You did it all alone. Amazing!

    • ADITYA RAVI says:

      Planning to do a road trip Mumbai or Bengaluru first week of November. I know it’s been a year since your trip, but any safety pointers for travel in terms of places and road safety?

      • Aditya Sapru says:

        Aditya, it has actually been 12 years since that trip. I have managed a couple on the same route, since but not in recent past. The roads have improved dramatically, as you would expect and concequently has the traffic.

        Like I said, it has been a few years since my last drive on this road but I do recollect there were some gigantic speed breakers enroute. So keep an eye out.

        My general advice is…. decide the speed at which you are comfortable, take into account the car, weather and the age of tyres. Once you decide you are comfortable with a particular cruising speed, say ‘X’ km/h you will find yourself doing 15-20% higher on stretches. This is where you have to be careful. Everytime you drive at and higher than your comfort cruising speed for a stretch of say 1-1.5 hours, take a 5 minute break. It helps me to avoid going too far higher than my comfort speeds.

        Have a safe trip, and let us know how it went for you.

  • nandanjha says:

    Wow.

    Welcome to Ghumakkar.

    Someone would have to read Sudhir’s post really well to actually remember that he actually walked to dine. Splendid.

    I can imagine that we are going to read more.

    By the way, what car ? , though I am usually found saying that in India, its not the car horse-power rather its the driver horse-power which decides things here.

  • Sudhir says:

    This is amazing, Aditya…..driving all alone. I too am a lone driver, but have had company at least. The target chart was a thoughtful one. Glad an earlier Ghumakkar post could help you plan.

    What’s next now ?

  • Aditya Sapru says:

    What is next? A friend of mine wants to drive to Imphal on his bike (Honda X4), I guess it would take a lot of family convincing to allow me to take my Bullet out for the spin! So in the immediate future, I intend to stick to Bangalore and the vicinity (within 300 km)!

  • Karthik says:

    Good one!! I had been contemplating on driving alone from BLR-Chennai. Never got around to doing that though its a relatively smaller drive. Got some inspiration after reading this

    Cheers

  • JATINDER SETHI says:

    Great drive alone?Or with John Coltrane?you couldnt be alone but it makes dangerous driving.My trip ,as usual for South, is nostalgic like an old-timer. My wife,two yound boys and myself in our Standard Herald did this trip long-long time back–1968! With complete Route=Map worked out by WIAA,saw us leave Bombay early at 3.3o am, on way to Banglore.Afer some CHAI etc at Satara, we stopped at Kohlapur to buy some Kohlapuri chappels, and the night was at Belgaum ,I think around 6.30 pm-late October evening.But the drive was very comfortable as the roads were in good condition. We, later on ,went around Hassan Jog Falls and all over before settling in Banglore for 10 days.Since we moved to Gurgaon from Mumbai, South has been out of reach. Nice to read ur account.My one impression the, of travelling South to Tanjore,Mahabalipuram Tirupati etc, by road was that most of roads were in excellent condition.safe and very shady with trees all around. We had John Coltrane ,Billy Holiday and Dave Brubeck!/ Old Times.Keep driving,Aditya.Dont mind my rambling,Ghumakkars.

  • Aditya Sapru says:

    Mr Sethi,

    It must have been an amazing ride. The modern era and its gadgetary has taken a bit of the old time charm away! Not too long ago (about 15 years ago), I was driving all over the Northeastern parts of United States with just the AAA maps to fall back on. In order to remind myself of exists and routes, I used to have a series of Post It notes stuck on the car dash board. I can only imagine what it must have been 40 years ago! Strange coincidence, I was a new born infant when you did this trip!

    The closest I came to a situation like this was about 5 years ago when I was driving to Harihareshwar to immerse my grandfathers ashes. We got on to the Pune expressway (I was not kidding when I mentioned my track record with directions!) and had to take the first exit out. Drove through the inroads, depending on locals for guidance (had no clue what way/towns etc etc) but made it none the less.

    Be good if you can share some of your old time travel tales, if for nothing but an appreciation of how inspite of a lot having changed not much has!!! Or to quote Nandan, the car horse powers have changed but the ghummakar’s horse power is still the same!!!

  • amit says:

    Quite a detailed report. Look forward to more accounts that have the same detail

  • Anand says:

    Amazing illumination of a drab road drive. But I guess you are a great story teller. Are you the same Aditya who was earlier with Frost ? If yes, guess who this person is………Welcome to South India!!

    Anand

  • Manish khamesra says:

    Beautifully written Aditya.

    Though I have no plans to go for such a long drive, but still I will like to tell you that it was enjoyable to take this journey with you. I also like your target time chart.

    Very well written and I am sure it will be helpful to many :)

    Looking forward to read more from you.

  • Rajeev says:

    Hi Guys, Has anyone done Delhi Bangalore by road? If yes, please share the experience and what goes into it. We ( a few friends) are planning it shortly and all the advice and exprerience will be most welcome.

  • Manish Rastogi says:

    If you driver banged your car, he must be returning you all the kind favours you would have extended to him. Call it a parting gift.

  • Amrut says:

    hi Aditya

    Good info..

    I am planning to drive Bangalore Pune in July and have to do it alone. I have some some long drives in US (Arkansas to Denver, where you dont see cars at all :-)).

    Just a question, I am planning to start early morning from Bangalore and reach to Pune by evening/night. do you think its doable? or break will be required?

    also which car you were driving?

    Amrut

  • Pinaki says:

    Honda X4! Honda CRV!!

    What about your other blandishments like your rolex watch, drakkar noir cologne and mont blanc writing instrument.

    Yuppy can’t dance sala.

  • Rajesh R says:

    Hey Aditya,

    Many thanks for the info. I was intending to drive down to Bangalore from Mumbai in my Santro and was wondering whether its doable when I chanced on your post. Finally wifey and I decided to go for the drive. Started 8am 6th November 2010, reached Belgaum at around 7:30pm, stopped for the night and then did the rest of the journey the next day. It was a fabulous experience, and I would recommend the drive to anyone remotely interested or thinking about driving down.

  • Jagdish says:

    The bus and truck drivers will smile at our kids story about driving highway like the above one with time and km calculation, as these long highway rides are daily part of their life.
    I did many long drives from mumbai almost all destinations in south. Every time i felt proud above my acheivement it looked very small when i see these bus and trucks drivers doing these stretch daily and feel nothing about it. They are the real drivers, hats off to them.

  • Aadil Amin says:

    Folks,

    good to read the posts. I did bangalore-Mumbai-Delhi-Simla-Manali-Leh/Laddakh and back same route in Aug 2010 (9,000 Kms) in 16 days (Single driver) with a group of friends and family.

    It was a life time experience on driving with Innova.

    cheers to all you out there driving for pleasure.

  • Dapoon says:

    Wow!! This was such an exhilarating read! I could feel the adrenaline pumping just going through the article. More so, because I’m planning to drive from Mumbai all the way to Pondicherry in my i10 Sportz Automatic this summer. I of course plan to break up the journey into 2 days. Mumbai to Belgaum and then Belgaum to Pondicherry. I’ll also probably have another driver friend with me, but I think I can manage it all alone too. Thanks for the target time chart! I can hardly wait to do it now.

  • johnson Kurian says:

    From Kottayam I left 0500 Hrs and reached Uduppi at 1900 Hrs.Again morning from Uduppi I left 0500Hrs and reached Pune at 17oo Hrs.I was alone in my maruti zen estilo in 2010 August. On 19th May2014 with the same vehicle we started our journey from Bombay at 0500 Hrs and reached Bangaloore at 2230Hrs.The road is so nice from Satara to Bangaloore.Eighteen hours of continuous journey was so good for me .And I am 63 year old young man.Now I am planning to travell from Bombay to Kottayam by my 2000 modell Chethak scooter.

  • sunny says:

    Mumbai to Bangalore road trip by car takes about 15 hrs one way

    ——————————————————————————————–

    Departure Mumbai : 0500 hrs / 22nd July 2014

    Arrived Bangalore : 1930 hrs / 22nd July 2014 ( reached Nice road toll plaza)

    With about 2 hrs stoppages for food, petrol & nature’s call

    Return Journey

    Departure Bangalore : 0700 hrs / 26th July 2014

    Arrived Mumbai : 2300 hrs / 26nd July 2014 ( Malad -w)

    With about 2 hrs stoppages for food, petrol & nature’s call

    Food is awesome in Tumkur town (halt for breakfast)

    Encountered moderate to heavy traffic on Pune bypass road

    With about 2 hrs stoppages for food, petrol & nature’s call

    Toll expense : Rupees 1191 / – with below breakup

    —————————————————–

    Vashi: 30

    Mumbai -Pune express : 195

    Khedshivapur : 80

    Anewadi : 55

    Near Tasawade at KM 694 : 70

    Near Kini KM 634 : 70

    KM 537 to 592 : 35

    Hattargi : 15

    Ashoka Belgaum Dharwad : 80

    Huble-Dharwad bypass : 45 (keep copy as required on exit)

    Bankapur : 65

    Chalageri : 95

    Hebbalu : 70

    Karjeevanhally : 55

    Guilalu (Tumkur road KM 172) : 55 (keep copy as required on exit)

    Tumkur road KM 65.5 : 18

    Tumkur road Nelamangla KM 29 : 18

    Tumkur road KM 26 : 20

    Nice raod ( upto Bannerghatta road exit) : 120

    Roads

    ———

    Maharastra roads are in poor state with an exception of mumbai-pune expressway.

    Pune bypass road is the worst.

    Karnataka roads are 100 times better than Maharastra roads

    Hope above information assists fellow travellers

    Safe trip

  • Dalla says:

    thanks sunny… can’t seem to find too many peole who have done this trip in one day… i plan to do it in Oct n was looking for some encouragement :) I did a trip to Sirsi last year.. hoping to extend the journey into bangalore… will be traveling alone…

  • Hello Friends, my self abhay sanghani male 39 gujju from mumbai, i have visited tirumala (tirupati) twice by road, i am a driver for long trip holding tourist license totally non addicted, trustworthy, responsible, sincere & puntual i drived from mumbai to dahisar to thane to navi mumbai to panvel to pune to kolhapur to banglore to tumkur to kolar to chitoor, to tirumala, we are into travel business operating from mumbai, we provide car’s on rent from mumbai to all over india, for our clients, so whenever you need a driver for long trip than please call me on my cell number +91 9819480011 / rctravels@gmail.com.

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