I was told yesterday that the journey to Hyderabad would take between 10 and 12 hours. As I try to avoid driving after 4 pm, as much as possible, I decided on an early morning start. A strong glass of coffee from Hare Krishna helped to kick start the day. I started off at 0630 hours on the NH7, which is reportedly the longest National Highway in India, running from Pathankot in J&K to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.
The Bangalore–Hyderabad stretch of the NH7 is a beauty to drive. I was in the vicinity of Hyderabad by 1400 hours, after stopping thrice for 15 minutes each for tea and refreshments and a nap of 30 minutes. I had mentioned in a previous post about the Chennai-Bangalore road. The surfacing and finish of the NH4 section is definitely superior to the NH7 stretch. But what makes the difference is that there aren’t ‘village towns’ to slow you down and the traffic is less and more disciplined. The 580 kms was covered at an average speed of about 80 kmph, with the stoppages! The distance can be covered faster and in more comfort once the highway construction work is fully completed. Since there are many stretches yet to be completed along the route the toll that I had to pay for the Bangalore-Hyderabad NH road (Rs. 198) was less than the Chennai-Bangalore NH road.
Despite the excellent run on the NH7 I came across many instances of two and three wheelers driving on the wrong side of the road, particularly on the Ananthapur-Gooty section. If one is not careful, it is a recipe for disaster. At many places, due to incomplete construction, the NHAI has diverted traffic. Even such diversions are not properly indicated resulting in traffic converging headlong! At Anathapur I found a couple of signages which said ‘Crime Prone Area – Drive Slow’ – probably a warning for drivers in the night. I am glad that I did not make the trip at night.
During one of my stoppage I decided to have breakfast - Anita had handed me a package saying that it contained breakfast. What was in there was surely not only for breakfast – Muesli Rusk (yummy), Blueberry Muffins (gorgeous) and Butter Salt Cookies (surely my calorie counts can wait). Now you know why I took so many breaks on the way; what Anita had packed was too tempting to be kept till I reached Hyderabad. Many thanks, Anita. I had to skip lunch (to balance all the calories already input) and stretched out in the decent Railway Officers’ RH in Hyderabad for a few hours.
Dinner had to be at Paradise – I had heard so much about the place and it did not disappoint. The now flourishing Hotel started out in 1953 as a small café. I dined at the ‘Persis Gold’ in Paradise. The ambience was perfect for a sumptuous Hyderabadi Mutton Biriyani followed by a delightful Falooda.
The enthusiasm for the ensuing Dusshera festival is there for all to see – the streets are full of happy people decked in colorful fineries and the shops are full of customers trying to buy what they want at the best bargain. I will be in Hyderabad for the next two days, calling on friends and relatives.