We were in ‘God’s own country’ – the scenic state of Kerala. We were tempted to linger, but the drive must go on...
The morning in Kochi started early as we wanted to get some shots of the Chinese fishing nets the city is famous for. And the fisher folk get to work at the crack of dawn. The majestic structures also operate in an interesting way, and it involves a whole gaggle of people. They tossed up fresh catch, which, on seeing our camera equipment, were offered to us at ‘discounted’ rates. We were tempted, but given our schedule, we declined politely. The other attractions of the place included the beautiful Dutch bungalows from the days of yore. Most of them have been converted into hotels these days, but the good thing about that is that their conservation is in good hands.
The roads leading out of the city were cluttered with construction as the Kochi metro railway corridor is along that stretch. Yet again, we had to deal with diversions and bumpy patches. Conditions remained pretty much the same as we made our way towards the border town of Pallakkad. What was most frustrating was the fact that the highway was broken in sections, so one minute you could be cruising on perfectly smooth surfaces and the next, you’d be thumping across a gigantic crater. Manoeuvring the Mini around potholes and over ugly rocks was quite the task. We were very worried about the car bottoming out, but it was a needless concern; the Mini did just fine.
Once again, the landscape around offered some fantastic scenes. ‘God’s own country’ is indeed a truly fitting name for Kerala. Our patience over the horrible roads finally paid off as we entered Tamil Nadu and neared Coimbatore. There were less and less signs of ugliness on the tarmac and soon, the road had evolved into an untarnished, four-laner stretching beyond the horizon. We picked up speed and wrung the full 114bhp of the diesel motor. It’s a nice-sounding unit for a diesel, mind you, and sounds very refined, almost like a petrol.
We blasted past other traffic and the way to Bangalore seemed finally trouble-free. One thing we noticed was that there weren’t many places to stop for a snack on the way, so we carried on without a break, determined to make it to Bangalore before midnight. I know that sounds like a lot of time spent on the road, but we did have nearly 600km to cover.
So we drove on past Salem, Erode and onwards towards Krishnagiri. It got dark but well-marked and broad roads made it a pleasure to drive. Finally Bangalore started appearing on all the mile markers and road signs on the way, and we knew we’d made it in pretty decent time.
Getting to the city late also worked in our favour as we managed to skip the infamous traffic. We were all tucked into our beds by the time the clock struck midnight, and we couldn’t be happier as the next day would be the first break on the Epic drive.