Updated with road conditions
It’s been 4 months since I bought my Grande Punto, and was waiting for a break to go on a road trip. Favored by a long weekend, made a hasty plan to go somewhere. But where? Where ever I could get an accommodation during that crowd-infested long weekend. I tried Coorg, Wayanad, Masinagudi and Ooty, and unfortunately, I was able to get only in Hassan. A not-so-value-for-money hotel – a hotel named Candy Southern Star. I wouldn’t recommend this hotel.
Anyways, coming back to the road trip, it was a mix of good roads, bad roads and no roads, but had to pay toll for all of them, in excess!
The road between Bangalore and Chennai is semi-decent. Nothing to write home about. In some stretches you’d wonder why the heck you’re asked to pay that toll fee.
The road between Bangalore and Hassan was good. Again exorbitant toll fees. And these toll roads come with a superb value add. Gives you heart-in-mouth thrills by having unmarked speed breakers in the form of ‘scientifically designed’ rumblers. Five humps in a row and a distant voice that says “this is how we design toll roads in Karnataka, and you better watch your shpeed in every damned intersection, all along! We’ve got your money, and your car’s axle. Mind it!”. It takes the besshht of drivers to navigate without an extra ounce of adrenalin in their blood stream.
The road to Sakleshpur, from Hassan was very good (the pic says it all!), with an awesome combination of cool breeze (at 7:30 am), Punto + curves and the constant chirping of birds. I think this is the only road where I was able to see a lot of greenery – sure, made the drive enjoyable. Well, at least until the last 8 km before you enter Sakleshpur. Absolutely no roads – it’s a horrible feeling taking an almost new car and abusing it on these never-ending pot hole stretch. Well, I had to turn back!
The car handled all roads with ease, with very good stability, but then, I didn’t want to spoil the road-trip experience by venturing further into the over-hyped hill station, Sakleshpur. It was 36 deg Celsius (at 10 am) and very dry that day. Had to turn back!
On the way back, had lunch at Kamat. Another over-hype scenario. Absolutely tasteless (soulless) for Rs. 135 per meal. Despite crossing so many restaurants, I stopped at Kamat because of popular recommendation.
Anyways, following are the observations at the end of this road trip:
- Never look at pics on the internet and venture out to places like Sakleshpur (and Tranquebar)
- Though it’s a part of Bangalore-Mangalore highway, never assume you’d see ‘roads’ all along
- Never enjoy the ride quality, handling and speed of your Fiat machines to the fullest on these speed-breaker infested expressways. Yes, expressway, damn it!
- Never under-estimate the rumblers, even if they appear smallish
- Always carry change – some tolls charge Rs. 31, Rs. 32, etc, and you better have change. Else, be prepared to listen to some mumble-grumble in a language that you may not know
- End up loving Punto’s driving characteristics, and start planning for a better destination
Going by this rating: Very bad | Just motorable | Good | Very good | Excellent
Chennai–Walajah: Just motorable
Walajah–Hosur: Very good
Hosur–NICE road to Tumkur: Good
Toll roads until Hassan: Good
Hassan–Sakleshpur: Good, until the last 8kms into Sakeleshpur
Sakleshpur: Very bad
End of Chennai–Bangalore–Hassan–Sakleshpur – road Trip.
Coming up: Chennai–Trichy–Valparai – road trip.
Related to Grande Punto:
[Pics from an old iPhone 4s]