Bangalore to Pune in Kallada National
Date of Journey- 24/03/2013
Service- Kallada National
This travel plan was decided during my previous visit to Mumbai however, I was trying to avoid this journey due to various reasons. Yet on the day of journey my friend called up and insisted to visit him. I finally decided to pay him a visit and was all set to head out to Pune. Since I work a little late into evening, I decided not to board the bus at KBS. However, the operator to travel with was yet to be decided. Checked on Redbus and immediately one operator grabbed my attention, Kallada-National.
Kallada is a renowned name in South India. Their service to Kerala from the southern states is well known. Operating Volvo B9R, B11R (India’s first operator) seater and sleeper services, they are one of the niche operators in South India. They started their services to Mumbai along with National as a joint venture. Since I had never tried their service, this was a perfect opportunity to try this niche operator from South India.
I finished my work and headed straight to Madiwala. I'd checked the website before leaving work and found most of the seats were empty, since it was in the mid of the week. Madiwala as usual was buzzing with activity and at a distance the B9R was parked. Went to their office and booked a window seat and rest assured I was all set to board the much acclaimed operator.
The bus was their Chennai-Mumbai 9pm service. There were already few passengers on board the bus and the bus was running late by 10mins as they were waiting for a passenger to show up. Finally at 9:15pm the bus departed. The bus had around 3lac kms on the odo. Leather seats, better leg space but what caught my attention was the gangway. Traffic was thin as the bus passed Forum Mall however intensified near Lalbagh. The bus entered JC road and the traffic however thinned out again and the driver showed a sneak peak of what was in store for the journey. The bus topped an 80kmph on the speedo before reaching the Town Hall junction. We picked up few passengers infront of the bus stand (Amar Hotel) and made our way towards Anand Rao circle. The stop here was brief and after 10mins we began to move. The cleaner was very polite to passengers as he came out to distribute water bottles.
The bus slowly made it to Yeswanthpur and stopped infront of Govardan theatre to pick up few passengers. The bus moved on and reach Jalahalli signal to pick up few more passengers. The bus slowly began to fill and with all passengers on board the bus finally took the elevated toll way and began to unleash the power. The bus constantly kept doing speeds on 108-110kmph on the odo. We reached Nelmangala toll booth in no time. The bus crossed the toll booth and entered fuel bunk to take in Diesel. The pit stop was brief and we moved along, when the bus crossed Inchara, the regular stop for all Mumbai bound buses i thought the bus would be doing a 'No-dinner break' service. How I wish I was true.
A few kilometers from Inchara was Hotel 'Anand Bihar'. The place looked very filthy and the moment i got down from the bus, the stench was enough to kill my appetite. Spotted 3 VRL sleepers however they all left in a short span leaving behind the lone standing B9R. I walked towards the highway to escape the stench as it was getting very difficult to stay near the bus. The action on the highway was just amazing, Club class, VRL, Konduskar, Neeta all running in a hurry to reach their destinations.
After an unbearable 30mins stop, we finally moved. The moment we came back on the highway, the driver pushed the pedal to the metal and quickly we overtook most of the vehicles which I saw on the highway during the break. We did a top speed of 121kmph as the bus just flew on the highway. For a person who is used to some sedate driving, this was something very different yet equally enjoyable. I finally decided to get some shut eyes. The lights in the bus came on the cleaner came in shouting 'Belgaum' at 5am. I hardly remember getting up and finally when I woke up we were cruising near Satara. Checked my clock and the time said 7:30am...!!!
The bus had just flown on the highway. With sleepy eyes, i moved the curtains over to see the 6:30pm Sharma's Luxura Sleeper being overtaken. The bus looked like it was standing still when our bus overtook the same. We crossed Hotel Natraj, a regular place for Mumbai and Bangalore bound buses. We finally pulled over at an under construction motel, a few kilometers from Natraj. The place looked better when compared with our dinner break stop but nothing when compared with hotel Natraj.
Since my destination was just an hour away, I did not try anything here. We were the lone B9R and the bus was being washed by the cleaner. After 30mins we began to move.
Again from the word go, we began to speed up and was finally dropped at Katraj at exactly 9am. My friend who came to pick me up was surprised to see me come this early. The bus took a whopping 11.5hrs to reach from Madiwala to Katraj.
Will I try this service again?
While alighting, I asked the crew what time they reach Pune and they said they take exactly 11hrs and was running late today. I am not sure what time the bus reached Mumbai but going by the speed they should have reached by 2pm to Borivali, making them one of the fastest operators on this route. The bus is not for people who like sedate riding. The only suggestion is their breaks. I am not aware of their Dinner and breakfast halts when they depart from Mumbai but if it is equally bad, then they should up the service in this department.