Mumbai to Bangalore & back by road.

I have always wanted to drive long distances rather than be driven, flown or put on a train. On the two occasions that I visited the  USA I drove cross country to my heart’s content. But here in India the condition of the  Highways was a big problem. Then came the Mumbai-Pune expressway and I felt reassured that some day we will have highways comparable to the USA. Then came the Golden Quadrilateral and the promise that some day my dream would be fulfilled.

In February 2009, as usual we started planning the summer vacation. It was decided to go to Bangalore and then to Hampi and then back to Bangalore and then to Yercaud. Trian tickets to and fro Mumbai- Bangalore were booked. We also booked train tickets to other destinations and Hotels.    

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Then, in February we went on  a long weekend trip to Lonavala. While driving around Lonavala we briefly hit the old NH4.    The road impressed us and my wife, who never liked to travel long distances by car because she felt car sick on our roads, but never had the problem on the smooth roads in the USA where cars cruised at a uniform speed, surprisingly suggested that we should travel to Bangalore by car this summer. I, naturally, thought she was joking, but we did keep the option open. After some discussions, gathering of information from friends and reading the experiences posted on this website by Sudhir Raina and Aditya Sapru, finally we  decided to take the car and on the 12th May 2009 we started off in our Mahindra Scorpio at 5 am.

On the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as we started climbing up the steep Ghat, the Engine malfunction light of the Scorpio started glowing. I ignored it for a while but in a few minutes the engine stalled. I pulled over to the shoulder in neutral gear and wondered why should such a thing happen to a car that had been serviced and thoroughly checked just 15 days back and which had never before in the last 4 years  given me any problems at all. Fortunately, the engine restarted at the first attempt and we were on our way again.  After we crossed Lonavala and while we drove upto Pune the engine stalled at least 4 more times. I called a friend in Pune who gave me directions to a Mahindra Dealer in Pune.

At 8.30 am we were at the doorstep of Silver Jubilee Motors Pvt. Ltd. The workshop opened only at 9.30am, but once it did and they learnt of my predicament they literally swung into action and quickly found out that the cause was a clogged fuel filter thanks to dirt particles in the diesel which I had filled to the brim  in Mumbai the previous day. They drained all the diesel, removed and cleaned the tank, the fuel line and changed the fuel filter. In 3 hours the car was ready for a refill and was raring to go as indeed was I. I must mention here that the staff and technicians at Silver Jubilee Motors were very helpful and without their co-operation we would, in all probability have been stranded in Pune for a long time.

We had finished Lunch while the car was being attended to. At 1 pm we were back on NH4. As we moved away from Pune the traffic on the Highway thinned and we started enjoying the drive. We reached Kolhapur at about 4 pm. The vast stretches of sugarcane plantations left little doubt that we were in Kolhapur.  By now I had noticed that another warning light had started glowing in the Scorpio’s instrument panel. This time it was the   “water in fuel”  indicator light. The vehicle was running very smoothly and without any hicups or jerks. We saw the big M (MacDonald’s) sign and took a tea/coffee break. I called the service advisor who had attended to my vehicle in Pune and after hearing me he felt that it could be a false alarm since the vehicle was showing no signs of there being water in the fuel. He advised me to drive on without worrying too much about the indicator.  We drove on towards Belgaum which we crossed  just after 6 pm.

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Our original plan was to stay overnight at Dharwad. Despite losing 4 hours in Pune we still managed to reach Dharwad before sunset. We had checked the internet for Hotels in Dharwad and had identified Travel Inn next to SDM Dental College on Poona Bangalore Road. We thought it would be on the National Highway. So we let the Dharwad exit pass and drove on towards Hubli. When we found nothing around the Highway we stopped to ask a constable posted on the Highway to stop traffic to make way for a VIP motorcade. We learnt from him that “Poona Bangalore Highway” meant the old highway that passed through Dharwad and that we were driving on the by pass road on which we would not find any Hotels. So we took the next exit and drove backwards about 14 kms into Dharwad and reached the Travel Inn at about 7-30 pm. The Hotel turned out to be a very comfortable Hotel. They offer well equipped air-conditioned rooms even for 12 hours. Over a light dinner in the open air restaurant we enjoyed watching an IPL game on a giant TV screen.

The next morning we checked out and left at 6.45 am. A quick stop to refill diesel and we drove on to the old Poona-Bangalore Highway through Dharwad and Hubli. The road joined  NH4 five Km after Hubli and we were on our way again.

The Highway so far had been smooth and  excellent. I must say that it was a breeze driving upto Dharwad. There was no fatigue at all. The Scorpio’s performance was like a true Highway car. It cruised effortlessly on the pothole free and virtually scratch-less Highway at speeds of 100 and more for hours on end and was always eager for more. It gobbled up the distance without any hesitation. The road was fantastic to say the least and we were most comfortable inside with the powerful air-conditioning keeping the heat and dust outside. The  trees and flowering plants and shrubs grown on the median and the greenery surrounding the Highway made for a very interesting and scenic drive. The growth of the trees and bushes is quite thick at places. Despite this villagers sneaked out of no where to cross  the Highway. Even bullock carts pulled by 2 bullocks jumped over the broad road dividers from the openings in between the thick  growth.  Some vehicles drove towards us on the wrong side of the road, sometimes on the extreme left and some times even on the right by the median.  One had to look out for such hidden dangers. I preferred to cruise in the second lane and use the first lane only for overtaking. 

This good road continued upto Haveri. Thereafter, upto Chitradurga the NH4 (Golden Quad) is still being constructed. There are numerous diversions which hinder your progress and the drive becomes tedious. Speed breakers are like mountains and are unmarked. However carefully you drive you are bound to hit a couple of them at speeds higher than you would be comfortable crossing them at. Your vehicle and luggage will be thrown all over the place. If and when you sight them at the last moment you will feel a knot in your stomach and you struggle to control the hard braking vehicle leaping  over them.     

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The road from Chitradurga to Tumkur is again fantastic. At places the road is a six lane concrete road. We were much relieved to see such a smooth road once again. We reached Tumkur and continued on NH4 upto Yeshwantpur in Bangalore. Before the Yeshwantpur circle we turned left onto the outer Ring Road and headed towards Hebal. We then turned left onto NH7 (Bangalore-Hyderabad) and reached our destination in Yelahanka at 2-15 pm. We thus drove 8 hours on day 1 and 7 hours on day 2.  We had covered 1086 Kms. We had enough energy to go for a refreshing swim in  the evening. 

The next morning I decided to make a trip to the Mahindra dealer’s workshop on Hassergatha Road in Bangalore to get the “water in fuel” indicator light checked. A quick check confirmed that it was a false alarm. There was no water in the fuel but the sensor itself  was not functioning. The sensor was not readily in stock and I was advised not to bother about it till I reached Mumbai. The technician disconnected the wiring leading to the sensor, the light indicator in the dashboard panel thus disappeared.

We left the car in Bangalore. Hampi via Hospet and Yercaud via Salem were done by train from Bangalore as originally planned. We reached Bangalore on the night of the  25th of  May and left for Mumbai at 10.30 am on 26th. We saw the windmills, and rice fields being harvested and chaffed and dried along the Highway under construction. We checked into the same Travel Inn, Dharwad, at about 6.30pm. On 27th we left Dharwad at 7.30 am and reached Lonavala at 2.30pm. We stopped in Lonavala for an hour and a half and reached Mumbai at 6 pm, satisfied that driving long distances in India without undue fatigue and hassles is no longer a dream but a reality. We look forward for much more…  

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We covered 2211 kms to and fro. We paid a total toll of Rs. 1142/-. The Scorpio returned a fuel average of about 12-13 Kms/ltr of diesel. We used about 175 ltrs of diesel and spent about Rs. 7100/- on diesel.

I may add that we really need rest areas and clean toilets at regular intervals on the National Highways. It is simply unbelievable that a Government which can build such beautiful highways running into thousands of kilometers at an expense of thousands of crores cannot provide and maintain such a basic amenity on the Highways. 

30 Comments

  • Carlie says:

    Everyone can benefit from this info. Thanks for posting this. Will subscribe to your site.

  • Javed says:

    I would like to specially mention that there is one more hotel in Hubli called “Hotel Naveen” though a little expensive but all the worth.

    Thank you

  • Jason says:

    Thanks for posting…

  • hitesh says:

    Travel inn Dharwad charges Rs. 1050/- plus tax for double occupancy room for 12 hours.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Hitesh. Glad that the stories here were of use to you. I also have a Scorpio and its been doing very well for last 5+ years. Recently I did Delhi-Simla-Kaza-Manali-Delhi road and Scorpio did tremendously well in the high-altitude bad-terrain setup.

    Looking fwd to read from you

  • Ranjit Kambil says:

    I intend to drive down to Bangalore from Mumbai and back sometime next month. You say the road from Haveri to Chittradurga is not good. How many kms is this stretch and how long did you take to cover this.

  • hitesh buch says:

    Haveri to Chitradurga is about 170 kms. We took about 3 & 1/2 hrs.

  • Rajesh Gehani says:

    The Last Picture of the Farmer is excellent. You have not mentioned which camera did you use? Next time you need company during your trip please do call me. We may join you.
    Regards,
    Rajesh

    • hitesh buch says:

      Thanks, my wife took that photograph. We used the Canon S5IS Digital Camera. Sure we will call you the next time. Bye Rajesh.
      Regards Hitesh

  • Vivek says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m planning to drive from Bangalore to Hampi via Chitradurga at the end of this week. Glad to know the highway between Bangalore and Chitradurga is in excellent shape.

    Could you tell me if there are Cafe Coffee Days or McDonalds on this stretch at regular intervals? Thanks!

    • hitesh buch says:

      Thanks, nice to know that my post has been useful to you. NO CAFE Coffee day or Big Mac on that stretch. BYe Have great and safe journey and drive carefully.

      Bye.
      Hitesh.

  • Raj Rajaram says:

    Hi Hitesh,

    I am plannning to take a trip from Mumbai to Chennai by GQ in the first week of Oct-09. I give you a very hearty thanks for this excellent piece of info. I will also plan to take a break at Travel Inn.

    I promise to add all my experiences as well after my return.

    Just need some info: This Travel-Inn in dharwad – is it really adjacent to SDM dental college or is it more inside Hubli near Kamaripet Police Station. Google maps are a bit confusing in the exact whereabouts of this inn.

    If the latter is true, then I think it is better to avoid the Dharwad exit and proceed till Hubli exit i.e. drop of NH-4 and enter NH-63 near Subhash nagar and head towards MTS colony and then towards Kamaripet Police stn. Please advice.

    Also can you suggest some good restaurants and petrol stations if any on the way from Poona to Dharwad and then again between Dharwad and Hosur.

    • hitesh buch says:

      Hi! Nice to know my post was of help to you too. Yes this Hotel is just next to the SDM Dental College. While on the way back we entered from Hubli and drove through Hubli and then to Dharwad past several new car showrooms also the lake in Dharwad. I think (not very exact) but the distance is about 14 kms from Hubli exit to the Hotel.
      Re: Fuel stations I filled up in Pune and then in Dharwad which has many pumps and then in an Essar Pump (More to use the loo than for the need of fuel) on the Highway before Tumkur while going from Mumbai to Bangalore. On way back I filled up in Bangalore, Dharwad and Lonavala. I have no experience of the pumps on the High way but I did think it better and safer to fill up in big towns or cities after my experience of getting dirty diesel as you must have read. We found only one Mac Donald’s in Kolhapur right on the Highway. For good restaurants you may have to let go the by pass at some places and enter the cities on the way.
      Happy Motoring. Drive carefully and enjoy the scenic beauty. Looking forward to reading your post soon. Bye.
      Regards Hitesh Buch

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    The picture of the farmer (indeed very beautiful) prompted me to read it in detail and I enjoyed reading the flowing driving experience. Very well written.

  • hitesh buch says:

    Thanks, my wife took that photograph. We used the Canon S5IS Digital Camera.
    Regards Hitesh

  • Farah says:

    Hi,

    It was nice to know that you trip was a successful one.. We are planning to travel by car to Banglore from Mumbai too. Reading your article gave a very clear idea of the distance to be travelled and since time constraints are there we might keep a good buffer.

    M glad to know that the road is good and well built. You know you are in India when people cross at the wrong times and you are faced by a vehicle coming towards you in the opposite direction. But again, it poses a great risk to lives at both end, specially when you are at high speeds.

    Expect the unexpected…..

    Good post! keep posting

  • hitesh buch says:

    Thanks for the appreciation shown. Drive carefully and have a great time. Looking forward to reading your post on the road condition 1 year after I did the journey especially the stretch between Haveri and Chitradurg which was under construction last year.

    Enjoy.
    Hitesh

  • Raj says:

    Hi ,
    It was nice to read your trip .. . I am planning a similar trip . mumbai – blore – mysore – coorg and back .
    will return back and post my experiences soon .. .
    Cheers !!!
    Raj

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    road trip … wow…. my fav… well written

  • Biju says:

    Good informative write-up. Will return from blr-mum-blr and comment soon…

  • Zubin Alexander says:

    We plan to travel from Mumbai to Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram.

    Kindly advise/guide about the road condition on this route, how long will It take to complete the trip with stops in between. Please suggest safe place to Holt for the night as I will be travelling with my family.

    The distance between Mumbai to Bangalore —

    The distance between Bangalore to Thiruvananthapuram–

    With bests regards

    Zubin

  • hitesh buch says:

    Most of the info is already there in my write up. Bangalore to Thiru I have not done and cannot comment.

    Drive safely and have a great time.
    Regards
    Hitesh

  • harry says:

    I am Planning a trip with my belongings and household items from Bangalore in my honda city on April 9th 2011.
    Anyone interested can join?

    Harry
    9686571310

  • Pankaj sharma says:

    Me and My wife are planning to have a trip on road from mumbai to bangalore….It was a nice writeup and my wife was convinced for this journey only after reading this one…so thanks a lot for that. I just wanna ask if we are travelling on eae how much time will it take to complete the journey from mumbai to bangalore?

    Just tell me how much we will spent in the whole journey….

    Regards
    Pankaj

  • hitesh buch says:

    Good to know that my write up was helpful. We took 15 hours over two days. The cost will of course be more because of hike in fuel prices as compared to 2009. Toll may also have gone up– I have no info on that.
    Drive safely, good luck & enjoy……………

    Hitesh

  • uday says:

    Hi, I did a trip in Dec 2010, between Mumbai to Bangalore-No fears any one just do it if you enjoy driving- It took 14 hours. I drove singlehandedly, regards

  • Hitesh Buch says:

    Hi! Uday. I did it again in October 2011 during Diwali time. This time I did Mumbai to South Goa (Canacona) via NH 4 & 4A. Then from there to Bangalore via NH 63 & NH 4. Then back to Mumbai by NH 4. 2231 Kms all single handed driving. Great fun.

    Expecting to upload a write up soon. Keep looking!!

    Thanks & Bye
    Hitesh

  • kaushik says:

    02012012. I want to travel by road from Pune to Bangalore last week of Jan 2012. I have Zen Estilo to support me for the journey. Is there any improvment in road condition? Well I have been to hyderabad with this same car. But the road was horrible with too many divesions and potholes. Any feedback on current situation of the NH4 will be helpful.

    • Hitesh Buch says:

      Hi! Kaushik,
      I drove down again in Diwali 2011. See my new post on Ghumakkar “Mumbai-Canacona (South Goa)-Bangalore-Mumbai”. This will give you the idea of the current situation. The Road is superb, more so after you cross into Karnataka. The portion which was under construction in 2009 is also complete. You should have a smooth ride BUT take care of people, bullock carts etc crossing the highway and of trucks, cars, two wheelers driving on the wrong side of the road in the first lane and heading straight towards you!!!

      Drive carefully and enjoy a safe journey.

      Hitesh.

  • Arvind Sen says:

    Nice & detailed travelogue. Travel Inn is really good. As for Hotel Naveen goes locals gave us negative feedback.
    I have driven from Delhi to Bangalore alone in April, 2011. To-and-fro Shirdi with family in November, 2011.
    I am again ready to drive from Bangalore to Delhi very soon. “Ekla Chalo Re”

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