In September 2010, i went on the longest drive of my life so far. I drove from Bangalore to Delhi and back. Onward i drove through the country side visiting small towns and temples. While returning i came on the golden quadrilateral route touching major cities and well industrialized towns of Gujarat. (Read about the drive here)
Well, that drive was good all in all. But the most depressing part of the journey was the pathetic roads coupled with heavy rains in Madhya Pradesh. Ever since the drive, i have cursed Madhya pradesh roads. I deliberately bring the topic of bad roads during casual talks in the family or with friends or with colleagues, kind of enjoy cursing and criticizing it and take pride in saying that Karnataka is far superior than MP so far as roads are concerned.
But i was in for a shock few days back. Accompanied by three 60+ people, i drove to Kukke subramanya and from there to Horanadu in the beautiful shiradi and Charmudi in the western ghats of Karnataka (On 3 and 4 of February 2011). Both the temples are located in the middle of thick forests and the drive to these locations is a treat to anyone who enjoys nature. I would at least drive here for 100 times in my life (only 94 to go since this was my sixth drive to these places.)
Internet gyaan said that Shiradi ghat is in a bad state. But it was not to be. It was quite decent given the terrain and abnormally heavy rainfall last year. So the drive in the ghats was OK rather enjoyable.
But what was most depressing is the state of National Highway 234 (NH 234) in the plains inthe border of chikmanglur-hassan districts. This road connects from Mangalore to the borders of Andra pradesh (AP). The stretch of the road from the scenic Mudigere (Try neer dosa here on the roadside) to the historical town of Belur is pathetic. This is the worst road that i have seen in Karnataka so far. I can say that i have traveled at least 50% of Karnataka by road, but have never seen the roads in this state. The roads in the remote villages of kodagu district like kothnalli, kumaralli, hegdemane etc where even state power grid has failed to deliver power are far better than this stretch of NH.
It took about an hour and a half to drive this 30 kms stretch between Mudigere to Belur. The road was so bad that at one of the pot holes, sorry pot well, more than half the tyre went inside the ditch. I am kind of used to driving long distances and negotiating bad roads but the condition of my three 60+ companions (My mother, my uncle and aunt) was pitiable.
On the lighter note, this stretch of road was so bumpy that any pregnant lady would have delivered on her way on this 30 kms road.
(PS: I have sent a letter and a few photographs to the state roads department. Please note that though its a national highway, only funds are provided by the central government for maintenance and that state government is supposed to execute the work)