My route would be Vellore – Krishnagiri – Dharmapuri – Salem – Namakkal – Karur – Dindigul. I doubted I could push myself further before an overnight halt. If it went really well, we could go all the way to Theni. I picked 4 possible overnight hotels which were decent.
If we left too late we would only manage to get to Salem. Park Plaza was on the highway and although a bit pricey would be a good overnight halt. If not it was a good place for coffee or dinner depending on the time we passed by. Since it was on the highway it would mean not venturing into Salem and thus save us time (and fuel).
Karur was a potential overnight halt – I looked at Hotel Hemala. They had a basic room available as they were sold out and told me they would block it for me.
If we made it to Dindigul I had looked at PVK Grand which was only a short detour from the highway. They had plenty of rooms. Parsons Court was the other option although it meant going all the way into Dindigul
Being on call on thursday and friday night meant that I was too tired to leave at lunch on Friday. So I decided to have a nice nap after an early lunch and leave whenever I felt well rested. So instead of 1 PM we prayed and carried the baggage to the car after 4 PM. We tentatively planned a coffee break at Salem if needed and a stop at Karur or Dindigul .
We hit the highway within a couple of kilometres from home and were soon zooming away westwards. We pulled in to the closest gas station to check tire pressures – I forgot to check the tire pressure in the spare tire! The highway was a comfortable six lane smooth road and the traffic was very much manageable. I loved the smooth ride which was a stark contrast to the rough and lousy roads in Vellore. We decided to depend on Google Maps for navigation.
The Hyundai Xcent Automatic is a 4-speed automatic with a somewhat light steering. There is no overdrive and hence highway rides are smooth, but not exciting. For most of todays drive there was no need to accelerate to overtake as I could just choose which lane I wanted to be in. The light steering felt a little nervous once I crossed 100 KMPH nd I largely kept the speed below this. This stretch of the highway which goes to Bangalore was lightyears better than the same highway which we used to drive to Chennai.
The scenery included some majestic mountain views and a fabulous sunset. We almost missed the turnoff to Salem but noticed it in the last second. We were closing in on Park Plaza, Salem but felt too energetic and happy to stop for a break. The drive through Salem outskirts was slow with traffic and traffic lights but not stressful. We enjoyed watching a biker group zoom and stop in full gear.
The next stretch of the highway was almost as good but we had to make some confusing turns. Thankfully we didn’t get lost. Soon it was dark and traffic was not light. We would reach Karur before 9 PM definitely. Dindigul was at least an hour away from Karur. We decided to play it safe and chose to enter Karur for a stay at Hotel Hemala. I called them up again and they said they had two options for rooms to stay. It turned out to be a good decision.