The Chennai – Bangalore highway

Finally I got to travel on the new Chennai-Bangalore highway in the past couple of days. I have been hearing so much about it ever since it was completed and this time when a Bangalore visit was required we decided that a drive it had to be. Now if a person inclined to finding faults were to go on such a road trip you bet the smallest of complaints will be blown out of proportion and transformed into a post. Dear reader, I am sorely tempted to do the same because I did have minor comments, petty bits of sarcasm that I bored my fellow travellers with. Nevertheless, it was a comfortable journey on a very well-maintained highway, something that can be done without worrying about bad roads near Vellore or wondering if the Chitoor route is better and so on.

We took the route via Vellore and easily covered the 290 odd kilometres in 4 hours. It can be done faster, it can even be done slower because there are no badly behaved drivers honking their way past you. The traffic flows smoothly and there is plenty of space for each vehicle to pace itself.

There are three toll booths each of which collect a minimum of Rs.25 for a single trip four-wheeler. We had doled out a 25 – 35 – 25 before we steered clear of tolls. Not all the booths were computerized either. Reliance has a few petrol bunks near Hosur, not all of them operational, with a refreshment counter (maybe you can call it a fast food place) and pretty decent restrooms and shower rooms. The good thing is that such decent restareas were unheard of a few years earlier when a road trip meant bumpy roads through small towns and it is a relief to be able to see such progress in road travel.

Now that I have managed to narrate the merits of the highway without letting too much of sarcasm get in the way, let me tell you what I found really dangerous – our beloved fellow countrymen, who without a care for their precious lives, would ride on the wrong side of the road in order to cut across to the town lanes without having to travel an extra kilometre or two and take a U turn. First it was the cyclists then it was the Ape autos and then I saw huge lorries doing the same. Imagine doing that without headlights at dusk. And who, for God’s sake, thought of pedestrian crossing (zebra lines) on highways?

I’d love to do the road trip to Bangalore more often but I would never want to do it in the dark. Not with freedom loving Indians on the loose.

8 Comments so far

  1. Peter (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 6:09 am

    Hai! I love this post. It took me two days to summon the courage just to cross the street in Chennai; three days to get used to the auto-rickshaws (being small, open, and accessable to beggars who blessed me + the smog…). And no headlights after dusk, my heart was in my throat!
    My head has never been so close to the back of a truck or a bus in all of my life.

    Driving in India is either an art or an act of
    idiocy. We even hit a youngster trying to race across the two-lane road outside of Mysore(he survived; I was traumatised for the rest of the day). I will NEVER complain about Long Island drivers again!

  2. Chandler64 (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 8:21 am

    They drive and use the road because
    they are true believers of ‘reincarnation’.
    You are not re-born once but again and again
    until you have no more new roads to survey!

    Better than beliving in

    ” Ther is but ONE GOD”
    ” Good Lord I am BORN AGAIN”

    You want to travel the roads of INDIA
    become a ‘true believer’ of HINDUISM

    I bet Billy Graham has no antidote..

  3. Hyde (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

    I was amazed to see this post today, for I reached Madras an hour ago from Bangalore using the same highway.

    About the “sharing of lanes”, there were so many instances today, I kept grumbling about it all the way. And I was on a bike!

    I suppose you did not travel all the way to Madras on that road. I am sure you would have written about the traffic between Sriperumbudur and Madras, and the time it takes to cross that distance! Spoilt my average, it did.

  4. Mehak (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

    hey the road is fab..have used the highway twice and ya the traffic is pretty smooth n no useless honkers to disturb the nice drive :)

    but felt that the toll collection shud have be automated……

  5. vinod (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

    good one…

    infact if u knock someone off on a highway you actually get away with a fine, thats right only a fine, provided your vehicle is in working condition and the driver aint drunk..

    so you can drive on the wrong side, knock-off a car and still go scot-free…

  6. avnash (unregistered) on July 15th, 2006 @ 4:00 pm

    This peice of info is so true.
    i recall a trip to bangalore about 2 months back, when i came across this saving petrol campaign, even at the cost of your life.
    me, my wife and son were driving through or near vellore, and i was actually clipping because it was such an exhilarating experience having the road challenge the machine. i banked along a curve, and see a goat reincarnated as a man (trying to de-incarnate), coming the opposite side, and this is the best part:- he is looking back over his shoulder and talking to another of his bretheren standing in the middle of the road.

    i almost had to do a “Mad Max” routine of slamming all kinds of brakes on the car, accompanied by all those expeltives, which in course of mundane existance would have no application.
    the chap too did a kind of a woddle on the bike, closest simulation of which would be a tightrope performer on a cylcle losing balance and regaining it just as he is about to fall, and gave a sheepish grin and continued down the wrong side of the road.

    Never a dull moment, if it aint the roads its the morons on them.

  7. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 16th, 2006 @ 3:50 pm

    Thanks Peter, Vinod and Avnash.

    Hyde – I forgot about the Sriperumbudur-Madras traffic :( It was bad and we were driving past around 8:30pm.

    Mehak – I agree with you about the toll collection. Forget automation, did you notice how the collectors gossip as they collect the money and spend an inordinate amount of time in filling out the coupon, tearing it off and handing it to us? It was circa 1980s.

  8. T-bone (unregistered) on July 19th, 2006 @ 1:45 am


    Too bad those “true believers” of Hinduism are now wishing they had been more careful on the roads since they are still waiting for their reincarnation…

    When I was in Chennai, in the city, the driving is chaos, but controlled chaos, almost art. Outside the city when speeds pick-up, the crazy people come out. I guess the only explanation for the reckless disregard for their lives and the lives of others is their belief in reincarnation.

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