Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sagara to Bangalore in Namma NWKRTC/KSRTC

Sagara to Bangalore in Namma NWKRTC/KSRTC

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien

Date of Journey: 29/12/2014
Service: NWKRTC Express (Pancharangi)/KSRTC Airavat.
Distance:  380kms(appox)
Fare: 462/-

It was not up until Thursday that I decided to book my return tickets to Bangalore. Since, I was returning from Sagara, I had decided to try a sleeper service from a famous private operator. However tickets were costing upwards of Rs 700+ for the 380kms ride back home. Finally, I checked with Namma KSRTC and found the sleeper buses were booked with last row seats available leaving Shimoga as the optimal choice to board a direct ride to Bangalore.

With lot of confusion, I booked the 22:00hrs Airavat ride to Bangalore. Only after the booking went through, I noticed the glitch in the website and the departure time was mentioned as 23:00hrs. Since I had nothing important to do once I reach home, I did not bother for the delay in the departure timings. While I booked a front row seat no 1 ride on a relatively empty bus, my family had already had their tickets booked on the Talaguppa express departing from 20:30hrs from Sagara.

The NWKRTC beauty..!!!

Kumta-Bangalore-Tirupati Pancharangi at Shimoga Bus Stand
Kumta-Bangalore-Tirupati Pancharangi at Shimoga bus Stand
After a power packed meal, I headed towards Sagara bus stand. A relatively empty bus stand greeted me with few buses heading towards Sirsi. I waited patiently for 20minutes and with patience thinning out; I decided to try the numerous private operators who were calling out for passengers across the street to Shimoga. I headed out of the bus stand was about to cross the street when the beauty from Kumta depot operating Kumta-Bangalore-Tirupati honked her way towards the bus stand. I immediately made my way back into the bus stand. I boarded the bus and grabbed a seat next to the conductor and settled down as the bus began to move out of Sagara. The roads leading out of sagara was empty and within no time, the bus crossed into Anandapura. I decided to get some sleep and the last thing I remember was the bus overtaking slow moving vehicles ruthlessly on the highway.

When I woke up, I had reached Shimoga and the bus made its towards Shimoga Bus stand. I bid goodbye to the gleaming beauty and now the never ending wait for my B7R began. While my friend kept me accompanied on the phone line, I spotted the Humcha-Bangalore non a/c slepper pull into the platform. After a few minutes, a battered Airavat pulled into the platform. Then, it was time for the big guy, Club Class to make an entry followed by 2 more sleepers. The relatively empty platform was now buzzing with passengers and finally running late by over 45mins, the Mysore-Mumbai Club Class made an entrance.

Humcha-Bangalore Non A/C sleeper
Shimoga-Bangalore Airavat Club Class

Time to head home..!!!

Finally at around 10:30pm, I spotted my bus ready for boarding. The bus was operated by a DnC (Driver/Conductor). I stashed my luggage and found the bus was almost full. I checked with the driver and found the bus was running full with just 3 seats in the last row empty. At around 10:50pm all the passengers had boarded the buses including 2 more passengers who dashed in for the remaining seats. However, there was a slight hitch. The guy who is responsible for making an entry for these buses at the bus stand was missing and every other crew were searching for the same. After a good 15minutes delay, he showed up and with all set and done, we pulled away from the platform by 11:15pm, a good 15minutes delay. During this time, my family called up to say that they had just departed from Bhadravati station. 

Alco v/s Volvo..!!!

Shimoga-Bangalore Airavat

The empty roads leading out of shimoga was inviting enough for our man to make up for the lost time. The delay in the departure ensured passengers boarding the bus in Bhadravati call up the driver for the whereabouts of the bus. We reached Bhadravati in no time and took the remaining 14 passengers who had reserved their tickets. The last seat was also taken and we departed with a full load towards Bangalore. I had no intentions of missing up on my sleep and without delay, settled in for a comfortable nap. The suspension of a Volvo can only be enjoyed if you are sitting in the front or at the rear. I woke up once near Arsikere to find a battered ‘Volvo’ from Depot-4 which was overtaken in a flash. I vaguely remember the bus stopping a couple of time and noticed the driver wipe the glass as fog had made the driving a little less comforatable.

At around 4:00am, I woke up to find the bus in Dabaspet toll. Traffic coming from Bangalore was heavy with vehicles lining up from the opposite end. Around 4:15am, I received a call from my family stating that their train had reached Bangalore and is about to enter the platform. At this juncture, we were doing some good speeds and were nearing T.Begur. Luckily, traffic at the Nelamangala toll was thin. As always we took the Yeswanthpur expressway and the driver floored the bus towards the first drop off point at Gorguntepalya. The next stop was at Yeswanthpur followed by Navrang. At this juncture, I called up my family who had just come outside the railway station and were waiting for the Radio cab they booked. I was dropped off at Rajajinagar Entrance at 4:40am.

Good bye 2014..!!!

With that my last bus ride for the year 2014 was complete. This was one of the fastest ride I had ever traveled covering a distance of 305kms (appox) with little less under 5hours. With the above journey, I completed a total of 23000kms of Bus journeys across Southern India which also included numerous rides to Mumbai. Though I have shared most of the reviews here, I will not be able to forget even a single journey and those innumerable moments I have enjoyed all along. Hoping to see an equally excited, fun filled 2015.

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”― Anatole France

Monday, 22 December 2014

Hitching a ride in Namma Airavat Club Class

 Hitching a ride in Namma Airavat Club Class

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  ― Lao Tzu

Date of Journey: 22/12/2014
KSRTC Airavat Club Class

This trip was decided almost 2 weeks ago and the tickets were booked a week prior to the journey however, I was still in two minds to visit Mumbai. It was not until the last moment that I made up my mind and headed to Mumbai.

Booking a ticket for my ride back home always remains a dilemma and will continue to remain the same.  As always bus connectivity between Mumbai and Bangalore is immense and choosing a best operator is difficult. However, I had a different kind of confusion this time. Since once of my very well know crew was plying the 15:30 schedule in KSRTC, without further delays I booked a ticket and eagerly awaited to meet them.


Choosing KSRTC was a brave call as many who have traveled know the time it takes to cover the journey. While some criticize for the speed at which these buses are driven, few others criticize for the time taken for such a long journey. 

I headed straight to Nancy colony after calling up the crew. I was greeted with my bus fresh out from bath. After stashing the luggage, I headed straight into the belly for a brief nap. After a couple of minutes it was lunch time post which we began our preparation for our journey. While the crew prepared for the journey, I went ahead for some quick snaps of our beauties resting under the sun.

Off we go….!!!

The bus headed out of the Nancy bidding adieu to a resting Mysore-Mum Club class and a Belagavi-Mumbai Club class (Goldie). While we headed towards Gokul hotel, the sensuous SRS Scania passed by on the opposite side. We pulled over at Gokul hotel and we  were joined by a SRS and CPT (new bus) B9r heading towards Mangalore. They both left as soon as they came and after a couple of minutes we headed towards Dahisar. We were joined by our pickup man here. The bus was running almost full with last row seats being empty. Most of the passengers were boarding from Vashi however a couple of them were from Andheri and Chembur. We reached Chembur and waited for a passenger who was waiting at a different location. After a long wait he showed up with a ‘Sorry sir’ message. The crew was left fuming at this point however held back the frustration and drove on. 

 Luckily traffic was thin as we headed towards Chembur. We were joined by CPT 9r and a VRL B9R sleeper. Our pickup man bid adieu here as made our way quickly toward Vashi. Most of the passengers boarded our bus here. Finally, we exited Mumbai heading towards Panvel.
The ride was typical KSRTC standards, slow and smooth cruising at 90kmph. While a recent Bollywood flick kept the passengers entertained, I joined the crew up ahead to enjoy the scenic expressway. We pulled over at the Food mall for a quick tea break.

Snooozzze time

The break was very brief and we rejoined the highway. While the crew did what best they always did, I decided to do the best thing I am good at, Sleep.  The comfort and ride quality ensure I slept away to glory while the bus covered the expressway entering Pune. I rarely remember waking up in wakad and then again in Swargate, Pune at around 9pm. I slept back into sleep again only to be woken up at Hotel Natraj for our Dinner break.

We were quickly joined by a VRL 9R while National’s ‘Mumtaz Mahal’ Scania raced passed us. While we prepared to resume our journey, Sharma B9R entered for her dinner break. Back on the highway, I made my way back to the Emergency exit row seats as both the seats were empty. I decided to continue my nap hoping to join the ride upfront in Hubli.

Time to wake up

I woke up to see Haveri welcoming us at around 4:30am. The crew change had just happened and I joined them up ahead. We were following a string of B9R’s headed by VRL B9r sleeper. We were playing cat and mouse games with a Sharma B9R sleeper who was cruising at almost the same speeds that we were doing. We quickly reached Davangere and pulled over to drop passengers. At this juncture, the Sharma B9r overtook us with the driver waving at us with a smile. We resumed our journey and as we neared Chitradurga, we spotted the same guy dropping his passengers on the highway. We entered Hotel Athithi , the designated stop for all KSRTC buses. I was pretty skeptical about this place as I had a very bad experience at this place the last time. However, I was surprised to see things had changes a lot. The restrooms were maintained very well and the food was also much better. We were joined by a B7R heading towards Davangere.

The Last leg

We finally resumed our journey and the feeling of the journey coming to an end hit me. I stay up ahead as we crossed Sira. We were again accompanied by the same VRL sleeper who cruised along with us. We dropped passengers at Tumkur bypass and headed towards Bangalore. Heavy truck traffic was slowing us down as we crawled our way towards Nelamangala. We took the Yeswanthpur expressway and cruised along. It was time for me to packup as the bus pulled over at Yeswanthpur. Within no time the bus reached Navrang marking my journey to an end

Will I try this service again?

I had mentioned the same earlier too, the only reason I opted for KSRTC is for the friendly crew. Indeed the journey time was long however a comfortable ride is always promised from KSRTC. This was the second time I opted for KSRTC and was certainly not disappointed. This ride is definitely not for the ones who prefer speed as the main criteria for a journey.

Random pics taken before departure- 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Bangalore to Mumbai in Anand A/C Sleeper

Bangalore to Mumbai in Anand A/C Sleeper

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.”― Robert Louis Stevenson.

Service: Anand Travels
Distance: 1020kms(appox)
Fare: 1694/-

Ever since Volvo launched their fleet of luxury buses in India, it has transformed the way we travel. Bus journeys are no longer tiresome and hectic. The comfort and safety levels of  these buses are no match and its competitors are now making inroads into this highly dominated market.

However for a change, I decided to try something different for my journey to Mumbai. The demand for sleeper buses rose substantially and almost all operators started to induct sleeper buses on this stretch. Having tried Volvo sleepers on multiple occasions, this time I decided to try something different. Did I make the right decision? Read on..

Few weeks before my journey to Mumbai was being finalized, my friends were making plans of driving to Mumbai. But I had decided not to be a part of the crazy venture and as usual decided to search for buses. Having heard many reviews about Anand and Sharma sleeper buses (Leyland), it was a very difficult choice to choose. After a lot of thinking, I decided to book the 17:00hrs Anand Sleeper from Bangalore. I booked the last row upper berth as it was the only single berth available.

D Day-

Knowing the Mangalore based operators, I decided to reach the pickup point way ahead of my scheduled time to avoid any last minutes hiccups. And as I anticipated, the bus arrived almost 25mins before its scheduled time. The pickup man called me up informing me the exact location to the bus.
Anand recently inducted new set of Surendra built buses and this one was from the newest lot. I was very excited to see the same and boarded the bus. The bus was very well maintained and the biggest advantages of these buses which I like the most are the berth which comes with back rest so that passengers can sit comfortably in their berths. Plastic covers on few of these berths were not yet removed. I made my way to the last row and climbed into my berth. The berth was spacious enough and with the a/c was already set to optimum. The bus began to move immediately and headed towards Madiwala. I settled down in the bus and hooked up my cellphone to plug point to check if the same works and to my surprise it did.
Pickup time-

Meanwhile we had finished picking up passengers in madiwala and headed towards BTM layout for our next pick up. The heavy traffic was making it difficult however the passengers boarding at the point was on time and we quickly made our way out. The boarding continued along making its way towards Jayanagar, the ever crowded Kalasipalya and then headed towards Railway station. Lot of time was being eaten up at these pickup points as couple of passengers were taking their sweet time bidding good bye to their loved ones while other were making a fuss while loading the luggage in the bay. We finally pulled over at Anand rao circle and the wait for the parcels and pick up continued. After wasting a good 25minutes, we finally moved on heading towards Hotel Amar. After picking up a lone passenger we moved ahead. 

We crawled through the Sampige Road and with bumper to bumper traffic which showed no respite. I remember passing by Malleshwaram Police station after which I dozed off. When I woke up we were at the Nelamangala Toll and after passing through the same we pulled over for our first fuel stop. The stop was brief and then the real action started.

No sooner we rejoined the highway; the driver decided to flex his muscle and pushed the pedal to the metal. The bus was easily doing 3 digit speeds overtaking anything that lay in its path. Even a B9R was no match as it overtook it from the right putting the Volvo to shame. While the action outside was overwhelming, the ride inside was slightly different. With every bump the bus ran on, the passengers at the rear suffered the brunt. This was when I missed the comfort of Volvos. The driver showed no mercy to any slow moving vehicles as he floored the bus towards Mumbai. After watching the action unfold for few minutes, I decided to get some sleep as I had a long and tiring day up ahead. The bus reached the regular Aroma hotel after Sira and pulled over for the Dinner break. I decided to continue my sleep, and after a brief halt we resumed our journey. While we began to head out the restaurant, a SRS B9R entered for its journey.

Snoozzzze time-
The bus was constantly doing good speeds and at around 1am I woke up to find the bus passing the VRL Logistics in Varur. We passed by the toll and pulled over for a quick bio break. The stop was short and we resumed our journey and so did me with my sleep. I was woken up again when the bus went on speed breaker at high speed only to find we had entered Belgaum. We pulled over for yet another fuel stop and passengers decided to take another bio break. This time the break was for long and just as we began to head out of the Fuel bunk, the pairing bus heading towards Bangalore pulled in. With all set, we rejoined the highway and I decided to get some shut eyes.

Time to wake up-

Yet again I woke up with a loud bang, thanks to the driver driving fast on a rough patch; I found the bus deviating from the highway near Karad. Here we dropped off a passenger and parcels and rejoined the highway. The a/c inside the bus ensured passengers cuddle in the thin blankets provided. We headed towards Satara and the bus was now driven at an optimal speed. We finally pulled over at the Hotel Neelkamal, marking our last break for the journey. 

As always, an ample amount of time was given for passengers to freshen up. We resumed our journey again and so did the speeds we were doing. We headed towards Wonder City, Katraj to drop off Pune bound passengers. Around 8-10 passengers alighted here and soon we headed back towards the highway heading towards the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The driver again flexed his muscle overtaking Shivneri buses which were also doing good speeds. The bus handled the Lonavala section so very well that it could easily put an F1 car to shame. I decided to take a quick nap while another comedy flick on the screens kept the passengers entertained. I decided to take a quick nap while another comedy flick on the screens kept the passengers entertained.

Traffic was relatively moderate when we reached Panvel, however intensified as we headed further. The Vashi toll was crowded and this was the first time I encountered such traffic as I entered Mumbai. Since my journey was coming to an end at Chembur, I packed up my stuff and headed to the front. I was dropped off at Chembur at 11:15am.

Will I try this service again..??

This was one of the fastest journeys I have undertaken till date. The bus took 18.5hrs to reach Chembur (Mumbai) from Kormangala (Bangalore). The bus is very comfortable however the last row ride is not. I would rather prefer a Volvo Sleeper if it is a last row ride.

Also, I feel they should arrange a pickup bus which is easier to pick up passengers across the city as maneuvering the big bus through the traffic filled streets of Bangalore is a daunting task. Full marks to the crew who were friendly and cooperative towards passengers all through the journey. I will certainly try this service again.

Some pics taken at Satara