Start: The Oberoi Mumbai | Saturday, Sep 12 | 2:30PM
Destination: The Oberoi Bangalore | Sunday 13 | 4:30PM
Total Distance: 1,030KMS | Total driving time: 13hrs 46minutes
Overnight Stay: Raysons Regency, Kolhapur
I was relocating from Mumbai to Bangalore and decided to drive down instead of sending my car with the packers and movers. I had originally planned to leave early in the morning but over slept and hence ended up leaving only after lunch.
I highly recommend this route with certain precautions and you will understand more from the narration below.
The Mumbai – Pune expressway was great as most of us know but the road after Pune, and up to Kolhapur, could have been better. The rains that afternoon had spoilt the show and a lot of muck on the road was making it difficult to go beyond a speed of 60KMPH. It was dark by the time I crossed Pune and so I missed the beauty of the scenic ghats.
I took more than an hour to cross the ghats as one side of the road was plagued with heavy-duty road construction vehicles. The ghat road was already narrow and the ongoing construction work had further shrunk the width.
It was a great drive after the ghats and I was in Kolhapur by 830PM. A friend of mine had recommended me this hotel for an over night stay, but, soon after checking in, I found there was nothing great about the hotel. Not of much relevance though, because one only had to sleep in the room before starting the next morning.
I tried the famous Kolhapuri mutton and parathas and went off to sleep after this simple, yet sumptuous, meal for my ever-starving cravings.
I started driving next morning around 930AM and very soon, I realized this was going to be one of the best road trips for me in India. The highway after Belgaum was nothing less than a paradise for anyone who loves to ride/drive. 6 lanes highway, flowers laden dividers, neatly planted trees and far ahead, a cloudy yet blue sky – what else could one have asked for. I covered the next 550KMS in less than 6hrs with two breaks – one lunch and one refueling/tea break
I do not remember name of the fuel pump station where I stopped for refueling but the experience there is worth mentioning. It was very well managed – courteous staff, functional dustbin to throw garbage, cleanest toilets of the highway and a free ginger tea. Loved the hospitality in Karnataka.
I stopped at Kamat for lunch, and they impressed, yet again. Each item in the South Indian thali was mouth watering and the offering was more than sufficient to fill the tummy of this long distance runner (people who run long distance can relate to this and will find the thali extremely attractive).
You may consider any/many of the following points while planning/driving this route:
1: Drive through the ghat area before 6pm to enjoy the sunset and avoid the never ending traffic
2: If you can tolerate spicy food, Kolhapuri mutton is a must while in Kolhapur
3: Do not get your tyres pressure checked on the highway/at fuel pumps as you will always get the reading a lot lesser than optimum due to high speed
4: If you are driving solo, like how I drove, carry sufficient music playlists with you – or simply, turn on the Apple music how I did. Believe me, you will need all of these.
5: Carry sufficient money (preferably denominations of Rs 10 for umpteen number of toll collection centers who prefer exact change). I do not think it was less than Rs 1,500 in total
6: Be aware of a few road barriers, after ghats and before Kolhapur, which may not be marked correctly. Drive very carefully after dark or else you may miss them. They are quite impactful (I experienced one such barrier).
7: Try to drive in the middle lane/extreme right lane, specifically after Belgaum as a number of cars/bikes might be coming in the wrong direction from the nearby villages – a common scene after you enter Karnataka
Final point: try to cover this route over two days (one and a half day rather) if you are not in a hurry. Starting between 11-1130AM from Mumbai is ideal to get to Kolhapur before sunset. Enjoy the evening and drive to Bangalore the next morning – the sunrise on the highway is an unmatched experience
Drive safe and drive long!