Mangaluru: With the closure of Shiradi Ghat for repairs for nearly six months, travel between Mangaluru and Bengaluru has become tedious and is a nightmare with buses taking other alternative routes, which may take about 10 to 12 hours, instead of the earlier 7-8 hrs travel through Shiradi Ghat- Presently it seems like a never ending journey, while you sit on the bus for long hours beyond your expectations, and asking yourselves, “Are we there yet?” . I had to make a quick dash to Bengaluru the other day, and with the sky-rocketing fares of airlines, and also with no seats available on the train, my only option was to travel by KSRTC Airavat Multi-axle bus, which took the Mysore route and reached Bangaluru only after ten and a half hours.
Boarding the KSRTC-Airavat Club Class Coach, where you can ” sleep like a baby”, I tried to “sleep like an adult” during the long and tiresome journey, but the hectic and bumpy ride kept me awake throughout the travel. The bus departing from Mangaluru at 10am, reached Bengaluru only at 8.15pm via Sampage Ghat, Madikeri, Mysore, and Mandya. With the bus driver/conductor deciding to pick passengers traveling to Mysuru, it again took some extra time of the journey, where the bus stopped to alight Mysuru passengers at quite a few locations.
Sources reveal that KSRTC and private bus owners operated nearly 500 buses between Mangaluru and Bengaluru and undivided DK via Shiradi Ghat before its closure. These bus services have been diverted via Balebare Ghat and Karkala Mala Ghat (those from Kundapur and Udupi), Charnadi Ghat (except heavy goods and long chassis buses) and Sampage Ghat(except multi-axle goods vehicles). With these route changes the distance has also increased, with the journey lasting up to 10-11 hours depending on the road conditions/traffic jams- and also these alternative roads being not wide as NH 48. Some buses from Kundapur and Udupi had also been diverted via Shivamogga, and those from Mangaluru via Sampage Ghat.
I could notice widening work being carried on Charmadi Ghat for easy flow of vehicles – but why did the authorities waited til now to carry on this widening work when they knew that Shiradi Ghat would be closed- they should have finished this widening work long before Shiradi Ghat closed. That’s how our department works, I guess!. Even the diversion road from Sakleshpur via Mudigere (towards Mangaluru) is so dilapidated and narrow, that when two large vehicles come from each side results in traffic blocks- it’s just a mess.
According to the bus conductor of Airavat who told me that while ordinary KSRTC (red color) buses were diverted via Charmadi Ghat, other buses like Airavat/Rajahamsa services were diverted via Sampage Ghat. ( going through Madikeri/Mysuru-Bengaluru). The worst part being stuck in this long bus journey is that the lack of facilities like toilet or other wayside amenities. The Airavat bus that I traveled to Bengaluru via Mysuru stopped at three places, each place for 10 minutes, and within the 10 minutes you will have to use the toilet or sit down for a cup of coffee or snacks. And also the worst part is that even when there are good restaurants along the route, KSRTC bus drivers only stop at some filthy/unhygienic restaurants for their benefit – they get free food. At the three places that I used the toilet facilities, they were so stinky/filthy I thought I would throw up after I just had a plate of bisi-bele bath at the restaurant adjacent to the toilet.
But if you are traveling by car or any other light vehicles, the travel through Charmadi Ghat is not bad, only when you travel by bus and there are traffic jams you travel becomes hectic and uncomfortable. Even though the highway department has posted signs about vehicle restrictions, many drivers operating heavy trucks ignore these signs, which later result in traffic jams on the ghat section- these drivers should be fined heavily. But no one cares, and the traffic jams keep on occurring everyday.
This Shiradi Ghat situation should have been dealt with long long ago- but the authorities kept on neglecting by doing only minor road repair works every time the road gets bad. The road used to last at least three years before repairs were needed. But once mining trucks/oil hauling tankers/LPG trucks started plying on these roads, carrying tonnage more than what was allowed by the Registered Laden Weight (RLW) of the vehicle, the situation changed. But now, even without the mining trucks, the roads had gone bad twice in a year for which finally the authorities have decided to rectify the situation with the help of Japanese technology. Until the work is completed we will have to keep our fingers crossed, before we once again start traveling via Shiradi Ghat. Unless and until you really have to make a trip to Bengaluru, you go ahead with your plans, otherwise postpone your travel to Bengaluru for the next six months or so, in order to avoid all these road delays and hassles- or best thing- take a flight or train.