Friday, April 9, 2010


From the year 1982 I have been associated with Calicut also called Kozhikode and is an important city in Kerala so to say. Since I did my graduation from this place and spent a very formative part of my life here, Calicut has a special place in my life though I might not say the years spent here have been the best.

The journey from Bangalore to Calicut needs explanation . During that time it used to take 09 hours to complete the journey which must have reduced by about an hour now due to better motoring conditions. Strictly speaking the journey fro Bangalore to Calicut can be split into three phases that take 03 hours each namely Bangalore - Mysore ; Mysore-Sultanbattery; SultanBattery - Calicut. Sultan Battery was known as Ganapattivattom in earlier times.

Something about Calicut. Calicut seems to have a priced past and is not a city to be tken in the passing. It was the head-quarters of the Malabar district under the Madras presidency. Vasco-Da - Gama landed here in 1498 thereby establishing a sea link between Europe and the Indian mainland and key claim to fame for Calicut in world history. It was an important trading post of medeival times and a centre for art and culture. The calicut port is mentioned in many manuscripts of the past. Many british officials were posted at Calicut during the Raj days and had their initial exoposure to Indian socio-polity here and many of them travelled to calicut from Britain as an entry point into India.

During the early 1980's the Bangalore -Mysore stretch of road was a narrow state highway. In the early 1970's vehicles plying on this road were sparse. The film Sholay was shot in the hilly terrains that skirt this road. The traffic began to increase indiscriminately in the 1980's through the 1990's making accidents an every day affair and at present there is a world class two lane road. It used to take 03 hours to cover this stretch of road and even today motwithstanding the new road the journey takes almost the same time. Ramanagaram ,Mandya and Srirangapattana are key towns that present itself on this highway. There were many ghasty accidents on this road even in the 70's. A bus overladen with people fell into the visweshwaraya canal near Mandya not to mention the many isolated incidents involving personal transport. Due to public fury the road was broadened and divided for to and fro traffic arresting the wanton occurrence of accidents. The Bangalore -Mysore road is a key stretch of highway with enoromous significance as it serves as one of the links to the two adjoining states of Kerala and Tamil nadu and almost jets straight into the vast expanse of the Western Ghats. Some kind of an overhead flyover must be built between the two cities to reduce the travelling time by atleast half.

The next leg of journey between Bangalore and Calicut is from Mysore to Sultanbattery and a promising and fascinating one. The most important hub on this stretch of road is Gundlupet. In the past it used to be a cemented road and a very narrow one at that with many trees swinging down dangerously over the highway. Things have changed now with the roads and bridges broadened and tarred. Mysore to Gundlupet takes around an hour and a half and Gundlupet to Sultanbattery also takes almost the same time. From the checkpost at Gundlupet you turn right to hit upon the Calicut route and you get to see many hills and mountains in the back-drop. (When you travel staight you reach bandipur , Gudalur and thereafter Ooty). Gundlupet to Sultanbattery is the most fascinating part of the journey because before-long one enters the Bandipur forests and on either stretch of the road is unending forests and once in a while you catch herds of elephants not far from the road. I was witness to many such scenarios during my vast experience travelling on these roads. Once in 1986 there was a tusker stationed aggressively on the sidewalks creating commotion in many a driver on the route warning the advancing vehicles of the menace. Almost around this time I saw a bull with her calf not to mention many sitiations where elephant herds were crossing these roads at various points. A day time travel on this road is soothing and is pure driving pleasure. The Karn ataka - Kerala border post is within this forest and before long you hit upon human civilization in Sultanbattery.

The most challenging part of the journey between these two cities is at the western ghats which one encounters almost an hours drive from Sultan-battery. (Ganapativattom is the original name of Sultan battery which was changed by Tippu Sultan as he stationed a battery of soldiers here for a considerable period.). The entire Ghat section is 12 kms in displacement and takes around 3/4 th of an hour to complete because of the various hair-pin bends ;nine of them to be precise. The ghats are a bottle neck and the kind of swirling of roads seen and the gradeints are rarely encountered except in very few situations and this being one. In the 80's the roads were ill-kempt, narrow with potholes and irregularities abound. The govt of Kerala has made a concerted effort in transforming this road over the past few decades using civil engineering skills to broaden them in an otherwise forsaken terrain and location. It must be pointed out with haste that these roads and their initial framework was laid by european traders who used them for their pepper trade. There are many such arteries so to say hidden in the this place called Wayanad and many of them put to use connecting the heights of Wayanad to the depths of the coast. Had these roads and their initial nurturing not been done motoring through them today may not have happenned at all. Thank god that some initial design has been bequeathed to posterity which only needs to be developed and fine tuned.

Once the ghats are crossed the road opens into a flat and even stretch at Adivaram. Adivaram to Calicut must be about 75 minutes drive and at some places the roads forming a sudden curvature.

IIMK and NITC come on this last stretch of road. Kunnamangalam is the nodal point for both these institutions. IIMK (Indian Institute of management Kozhikode) is in Kunnamangalam itself and NITC (National Institute of Technology Calicut) is at chathamangalam aroung 07 kms from this node.

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