The road from Coimbatore to Kochi is simply fabulous. Leafy avenues, wide roads and sparse traffic make this drive a breeze.
The roads are also pretty good and since there aren’t many villages on the way, pedestrians are not much of a bother.
From Kochi, however, you’ll definitely get ensnared in traffic and even though you don’t go off NH47, the city’s traffic invariably spills over onto the highway. So be prepared to do automotive battle. Otherwise, leave very early from Kochi or drive on a Sunday. The traffic eases as you put distance between yourself and Kochi. NH47 is wide, smooth and double-laned, but do watch out for the inevitable rogue driver barreling along with his lights on and in the wrong direction. The road turns narrow once you turn off NH47 at Shertallai — buses by the dozen ply this road so watch out for them, especially around blind corners. After Taneermukkam, it is a beautiful drive along the backwaters and you’ll see signs advertising various hotels.
From Kumarakom to Kottayam, the road has plenty of sharp rises with huge blind spots that can hide an oncoming bus. Don’t try to overtake over these rises. Remember in Kerala, bus drivers know only one kind of driving and that is flat-out! Also the buses have huge frontal overhangs which occupy almost the entire width of the road; so when a bus negotiates a corner, it pays to give it a wide berth.
The drive from Kottayam to Thekkady is fantastic and from Mundakayam onwards the road snakes into the Western Ghats.
Kumily, the gateway to Thekkady and the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, is on the border with Tamil Nadu. Our return journey was through that state. The roads are ribbon-like but the towns you have to drive through are a mess, especially Palani and Udumpettai. Be warned that after Kerala's cooling backwaters and forests, Tamil Nadu's plains are searing hot.
Issue: 166 | June 2013
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