Monday, July 9, 2012

Mumbai to Belgaum by Road

Hi All, I had an occasion to travel by road (one of my most favorite thing which I love to do) from Mumbai to Belgaum and back between 26 n 28 Jun to attend a marriage. This is a small travelogue about this travel.

For start, it was a straight forward journey on combination of Mumbai – Pune Super Express Highway (expressway as it is known) and NH 4 from Mumbai all the way up to Belgaum.

We set out in my Indigo LS (2007) car at 0715 from Colaba in Mumbai and after picking up my mom from Prabhadevi, we set our car to Mumbai Pune road through Tilak bridge. As expected, the traffic on the roads was thin due to early hours from Mumbai crowd standards.

After crossing Vashi, I choose to take the Palm Beach road to avoid bottlenecks at Market yard signal and Uran Phata signal as well as the Belapur pass. It was longish but very smooth. At Kamothe, we entered expressway. Continued driving smoothly. Small bottleneck awaited us at Amrutanjan point (highest point on Expressway / NH 4). On the other side it was worst because of an apparent pile up of some vehicles including trucks.

Once we cleared Amrutanjan point, we reached at a rapid speed to BP Expressway (Company Owned, Company Operated or COCO petrol pump) after Second Toll Booth on Eway, by about 0955 ( In two hours from Prabhadevi. This kind of time is not possible once traffic picks up in Mumbai).

After taking fuel (I generally stick to High Speed or like wise diesel though many argue that only normal diesel should be used) we headed for Kailash Parbat outlet at this Fuel Pump. One reason I like this place to eat is that it is thinly crowded, may be because it is just 20 to 30 min from Pune. After quick bite we were at our task (of driving to Belgaum) at 1020 and entered Pune part of the Bangalore Bypass of NH 4.

We crossed Shirval at 1141 hrs ( 210 km from prabhadevi), in about four hours drive. My son took over from me (he is 20 and a budding long distance driver, may be following footsteps of his dad) at 1150 (218 km ex Prabhadevi) as the Shirval ghat started. This was a one ways (thankfully) hence there was no worry about incoming traffic. This 11 km ghat was left behind in a jiffy. Crossed Satara (bypass) (263 km / 1241 hrs) and Karad (bypass)  (323 km/ 1327 Hrs).

There were many hotels before Karad but we thought of having Lunch post crossing Karad. We realized that there were hardly any good places (as they looked at a glance) to eat post Karad. We finally found Sai International at 360 km (1415 hrs). A good place with non AC and AC dinning halls and a restaurant. Had lunch there which was served quickly and it was testy and good.

By now, my son had finished driving 142 Km in normal and rainy conditions. It was his first long distance drive. I took over from Sai International at about 1500 hrs, crossed Kagal and entered Karnataka. The road became better and well laid out. There were Truck Lay bys and Bus Lay bys. The Bus lay bys also had, very thoughtful of planners, toilets for Ladies and Gents with Ladies toilets (again very thoughtfully) placed away from incoming traffic (as noticed by my son, a student of architecture). This complex also had drinking water taps. Both the lay bys for trucks and buses were woefully missing on NH 4 stretch of Maharashtra, something MSRDC can and should implement ASAP.

Bus Lay By

Truck Lay By

Karnataka road was very good, all concrete and very well laid out. Even when I wanted to limit my speed to 100 km, involuntarily the speed very easily used to reach 120 km, something Indigo reaches without sweat.

Karnataka Road

Balance 140 km from Sai International was covered in just one hr and 30 mins and we checked-in in a hotel by 1645 hrs. This leg of 500 km was thus done in 7 hrs and 35 mins of total time or about 6 hrs and 15 min of driving time with a average speed of  79.78 km / hr.

Return leg started on 28 Jun at 0710 from Belgaum. This time my son was driving from the beginning. Reached Kolhapur Mahalaxmi Temple at 0920 (120 km). We were lucky to get darshans of Devi Mahalaxmi (fondly called Amba Bai in Maharashtra) quickly. I also got the chance of doing a Pradakshina round the deity (courtesy a security staff), an unlikely event in present set up where having mere darshans is becoming difficult. After darshans we had breakfast at Kolhapur at old Rajwada (where the temple also is located). It was a very small place but the breakfast of Kurma Poori was good.

Old Rajwada, Kolhapur

 Left Kolhapur town at 1015 hrs and stopped for tea break (I have electric tea maker which runs on Cigarette lighter point from Cars supply) at 1200 hrs after 90 km from Kolhapur on the roadside. Had self made tea and some snacks and started off at 1225 hrs. My son drove for 320 km and I took over from him at about 1400 hrs after taking diesel (regular as high speed diesel was not available in last four pumps). Crossed Pune by 1455 hrs (376 km) and hit Eway. After a halt of 20 min at Shri Dutta Snacks post last toll on Eway, we completed expressway stretch by 1620 hrs. By this time we had covered 472 km in 8 hrs and five min of total time (with a stoppage of one hr and 40 mins enroute).

The nightmare started after crossing Eway. We finished expressway at 1620 hrs and reached Prabhadevi, a 41 km stretch at 1735 hrs a full one hr and 15 mins in heavy Mumbai Traffic. Inevitable but irritating.

After dropping my mom, we reached Colaba by 1815 hrs.

Now few quick facts. Total distance covered 1050 kms.

 Average we got (between BP Expressway filling on the way to Belgaum and refill post Karad on return leg) – 16.45 km/ Ltr with AC on + 4 Pax.

Total Toll one way to Belgaum was 476 Rs. No of toll booths – 8. Distribution of toll booths – Vashi, Expressway, Khed Shivpur, Anewadi, Taswad (Karad), Kini, Mah / Karnatak Border and Hataragi.

Overall, I rate this drive as good and safe. A journey recommended for families also. The drive is scenic in Maharashtra and even better in Karnataka. Road quality also is good in Maharashtra and very good in Karnataka.

 If one gets a chance, this drive is a recommended.