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Travelogue: Hyd -> Vagamon, Kerala

Discussion in 'Travelogues & Experiences' started by saroshmk, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. saroshmk


    Vagamon Calling...

    A few weeks ago, dad had some urgent business in Kerala. The need cropped up suddenly and we decided we'd do the trip by road. We set out from Hyderabad on the 11th of Oct, 2012 with an itinerary that would bring us back to the city on the 17th of Oct. The trip was a great break and the Linea did excellently well through the entire journey.

    I'll let the pictures do the talking with a few lines where necessary.

    Day 1: Hyd -> Bangalore -> Salem

    We drove south on the NH44 (ex NH7) via Bangalore -> Hosur -> Salem. Excellent 4-lane road with a median and vegetation. We setout at 5 AM and reached Salem at 8:30 pm. A distance of 750 KM that included a few breaks and a very long detour around Bangalore.

    20121011 - IMG_1602 - R5.jpg
    The Brunette catching her breath at a roadside dhaba

    Day 2: Salem -> Coimbatore -> Palakkad -> Thrissur -> Kottayam

    From Salem we got on to NH544 (unsure what it's new number is) to Thrissur. We had excellent roads most way with a few stretchs still under construction. The road condition deteriorated closer to the Kerala border and it wasn't very good from Walayar, the Kerala border, to Thrissur. We were restricted to about 30 kmph avg.

    Crossing Thrissur, we continued on the highway to Angamaly. This stretch had excellent, rubberised roads with many pedal happy drivers. We had to exercise caution and give way when impatience and bumper threating driving was noticed in the viscinity. At Angamaly, we then jumped off the highway and took the MC Road via Perumbavoor -> Muvattupuzha into Kottayam. The MC road had some superb curvy stretches along hills & rubber plantations. It was an experience doing this route at night with pitch darkness all around.

    One thing about Kerala is that the people are passionate about cars to the extent that you might call it a compulsive obsession! The number of car accessory shops i passed by as we drove through small towns and villages was amazing. Never seen such a sight in Hyderabad. Most people drive at very high speeds and exercise excellent vehicle control and lane discipline. However, with extensive curvy roads with blind corners, caution and care ought to be exercised.

    20121012 - IMG_1631 - R5.jpg
    Enroute Salem -> Coimbatore: The outside-in view!

    20121012 - IMG_1634 - R4.jpg
    Lunch Times
    We stopped for lunch outside Coimbatore. It wasn't any cheaper, but delicious & spicy!!

    Day 4: Kottayam -> Vagamon

    We had a day free and decided to do a day trip to Vagamon. We headed east out of Kottayam along NH183 and then took the ghat roads at Mundakkayam.

    20121013 - IMG_1656 - R4.jpg
    Juggad: Kerala State Electricity Board Cable Tensioning Innovation

    This is common sight in Kerala. Worth adopting as best practice - except for insurance claims from falling bricks

    20121014 - IMG_1709 - R5.jpg
    The Public Works Department's one-liner on high-beam usage

    20121014 - IMG_1712 - R5.jpg
    Through thick forests and tiny settlements, the sign that said we were getting there...

    20121014 - IMG_1733 - R5.jpg
    The Pine Forest at Vagamon.

    The 150 acre estate is Government property. The pine trees were planted for use in the manufacture of paper money. Harvesting has halted and this estate is now open to the public as a tourist attraction.

    20121014 - IMG_1746 - R5.jpg
    The Vagamon Meadows make a great foreground to the rugged mountains on the horizon

    Day 6: Peremede -> Krishnagiri

    On the return journey, we started off from Thiruvalla at 4:30 PM. The plan was to drive to Kumily and stop for the night, but as we drove through the ghat sections, we could make out mountain outlines and deep valleys in the darkness. We realised we were missing a lot of spectacular views, so impromptu, we decided a halt for the night was necessary. We found a KTDC hotel at Peremede, well signposted on the road. A short drive through a private road and we found a great place. The hotel was empty, except for another family and we got a great deal at 1100 rupees for the night.

    The next morning, after a warm cuppa, we made an early exit at 7:30 AM and continued down NH183 to Vandiperiyar -> Kumily, crossed over into Tamilnadu then onto Teni -> Dindigul -> Salem -> Krishnagiri. The stretch from Kumily to Dindigul was bad. We averaged about 25 kmph and it took most of the day. We stopped at Dindigul for lunch at 3 PM and tried out the famous Dindigul Biriyani. Very different to the Hyderabadi Biriyani but equally as exotic and flavourful. From Dindigul, we got back on to NH44 heading north. The day's journey fatigued my mom and she asked that we stop for the night. The initial plan was to drive on till we crossed Bangalore so we would miss the day's rush hour traffic. So Krishnagiri became our extempore stop. We found a newly opened hotel by the main bustand in Krishnagiri. Excellent rooms for 1400 Rupees a night.

    20121016 - IMG_1758 - R5.jpg
    Paranthupara - The Eagle Rock

    This spot was highly recommended by the KTDC Hotel staff at Peremede. We took an small 7 kilometer detour off the highway and discovered this great viewpoint

    20121016 - IMG_1759 - R5.jpg
    In full panorama!

    Step to the edge of the mountain and experience into the valley with sheer drops, tea estates and the lush evergreen forests surrounding you. You really get an Eagle's perspective here. If you want to avoid the crowds and commercialisation of Munnar, this is an excellent alternative

    20121016 - IMG_1767 - R5.jpg
    Wild Flowers

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    A creeper thriving in a dry stone wall

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    Caught between a rock and a hard place!

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    The Plains of Tamilnadu

    Descending the ghats we found this great view and stopped to capture it. Absolutely breathtaking whilst we were there, seeing the sun and the clouds do their thing with the landscape. At such points you realise that as a photographer you are only fortunate to be at the right place, at the right time. Many critical aspects that affect your capture are not in your control.

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    A portrait shot of the same spot

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    Rice fields of Tamilnadu

    For most of the journey between Teni and Dindigul we passed through rice fields, vineyards, cocunut, vegetable and banana plantations.

    The rest of the journey up NH44 to Hyderabad was uneventful. Great roads and stable speeds got us back slap bang at midnight on the 18th of Oct. We were exhausted but had come back with memories of spectacular places we had been to. We were three drivers in the car so all of us were sufficiently rested. Most of the driving was done during the day so we didn't miss the scenery enroute!

    Trip Summaries

    And here's how the car did through the trip. I reset Trip Meter A in Hyderabad at the start of the journey and reset Trip Meter B to zero when i started the return journey from Thiruvalla.

    1 - Hyd to Kottayam Trip Computer Summary.jpg
    Hyderabad -> Kottayam - Including a long detour in Bangalore

    2 - Thiruvalla to Hyderabad Trip Computer Summary.jpg
    Thiruvalla -> Hyderabad - includes a painful 3.5 hour transit in the parking lot they call the "ring-road" in Bangalore

    3 - Overall Trip Computer Summary.jpg
    Hyderabad -> Hyderabad - The round trip summary

    Hope you have found the snaps as inspiring. The journey turned out as interesting as some of the unplanned destinations we took -- literally. This may have philosophical connotations too! :)

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
    10 people like this.
  2. vijays777

    vijays777 Regolare

    Linea T-Jet
    Nice pictures saroshmk , you car color looks awsome in the greens , first time hearing the place Vagamon , the place is looking ggod
  3. great picto-logue.. :)
  4. puntosat

    puntosat Superiore

    I re=iterate again..

    Linea in OB color is simply stunning...so grand & galamorous..

    Nice pics...I go to Vagamon/Permeede atleast once in year....they are spectacular places...
  5. N Kiran

    N Kiran Staff Member Janitor

    Excellent travelogue Sarosh with nice pics. Hope to meet you in person in Hyderabad.
  6. Cinju

    Cinju Esperto

    Excellent travelogue & snaps Sarosh & I was more astonished to see the mileage your car had given.
    @Vijays777 you may not have heard the name Vagamon, but you surely might have seen this place in several movies. Hope you remember the song "thulli thulli mazhayayi" from the movie Paiyaa. The grass land & pine trees are shot in & around Vagamon.
    1 person likes this.
  7. Hurricane

    Hurricane Amatore

    Superb travelogue Sarosh. Especially, the view point pic is super amazing.. :up
  8. saroshmk


    All - Thank you for the kind words. This forum inspired me and gave me the confidence to go with a Fiat. I'm just doing my bit to share the pleasure.

    Cinju - achieving 20+ KMPL mileage may not be a big deal... this is what i am speculating.

    Since I got the Linea with its instant consumption display, I have learnt to be very light on the pedal and take my time to get to cruising speed. As a practice, i have noticed that every once in a way, taking your foot off the pedal and then just gradually accelerating does miracles to the IC display. There is nothing else to it.

    The MJD engine is simply superb. At 1.3 litres, it not only has the power to climb mountains but is very frugal on the plains. The car was fully loaded with luggage for 80% of the journey. I rarely went above 100 KMPH. Most of the driving was around the 80-85 KMPH mark, where even the wind noise was bearable.

    The other thing may be that my engine is relatively new so may be a bit more efficient right now. However, i've spoken to quite a few owners who have had the car since 2010 and they've always said great things about the mileage they were still getting from the car.

    ---------- Post added at 06:29 AM ---------- Previous post was at 06:27 AM ----------

    I hope Vagamon stays relatively unknown. I was shocked at how much Munnar changed between my first and second visit. The second one was such a disappointment!

    Nevertheless, our country doesn't fail to amaze me every time i set out on a journey. God has blessed India immensely and I hope we learn to keep things that way. Everytime there is a scam in the papers, i just shudder and think that the people involved should really open their eyes and see how menial their priorities are!
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
    1 person likes this.

  9. Wll vagamon is turning out to be a hotspot among tourists and land grabbers. Many institutions, resorts etc are being built up and the vagamon u saw last week is not what it was a couple of years ago. I live just 60kms away from vagamon and I hav seen the way it is getting changed with years, more and more buildings coming up spoiling its serenity....
  10. teky

    teky Esperto

    Awesome pictures, As you're rightly observed there are still pockets within India which are equally exotic and this gives me another reason to drive.

    Your observation on Kerala drivers is exactly the same I had, Except the private buses which act as daemons. I saw lots of modified cars in Kerala than in any other state I've visited and also saw some great amount of Lane discipline. Fiat's also feel right at home there because of the twisty curvy road and the greenery only topping up the charm.
    1 person likes this.

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