Thursday, September 8, 2016

Chennai Bangalore Link . . .

Few months back, this article was submitted for publication in Madras Musings though it is not published yet. On a recent trip to Avani with college buddies, our conversation leaned towards the road connectivity between the two metros. In this context, am reproducing that article in it's entirety. Hopefully, it turns out to be interesting read !!!

With multiple trains plying between Chennai and Bangalore, offering both day and night services, the route has hit a saturation point in terms of travel options because of the exploding population. Presently road services provide the alternate option. State carriers of the Governments of TamilNadu [T(amil)N(adu) S(tate) T(ransport) C(orporation)] and  Karnataka [K(arnataka) S(tate) R(oad) T(ransport) C(orporation)], and private-bus operators provide buses from the basic to  luxurious amenities, thus catering to different  levels of affordability.

Tracing the origins:

With so many choices in different modes of transport presently available, it is interesting to trace the origins of road link between Madras and Bangalore. In the FIRST APPENDIX TO THE THIRD REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, in the section titled, PUBLIC WORKS carried out at Madras, in 1828, mention of ‘Formation of a road from Madras to Bangalore occurs. This report says:  “ … the work has been completed to Poonamallee, but beyond that place the work has been restricted to the object of making it possible for carts and ordinance carriages”.

The Madras Road Book (1839) compiled by Captain William John Butterworth, Assistant Quarter-Master General of the Army ( printed by George Calder at the Asyum Press, Madras and,  published by Edmund Marsden)  lists seven routes to travel from Madras to Bangalore by road. This lists comprehensively the ‘TABLES OF THE ROADS THROUGHOUT THE PRESIDENCY OF FORT ST.GEORGE’, first written in 1833, revised and enlarged in 1836‒1839.

The Madras Road Book, 1839



The famous Bradshaw’s Illustrated Hand-Book to the Madras Presidency and the Central Provinces of India, published in 1864, provides a complete thorough route and descriptive guide by road, river and railway, throughout the presidency of Madras.  Initiated by George Bradshaw (1801-1853), an English cartographer, in 1839, Bradshaw’s series served as road and railway guides for Great Britain and Ireland, France, Germany and Austria, India, Italy, Syria, Turkey. This series was published by W. J. Adams of London ; the titles continued until 1961.

This guide is not limited just to the routes but provides details on social and political status on the various stations located on the various routes. Covering a distance of 207 miles and a quarter furlong, the first route shown is between Madras to Bangalore via Arcot, Waniembaddy (Vaniambadi), Nullapaddy (Nallapadi), Coorumberupatty Pass, and Ossoor (Hosur). This is followed by four different route options with most of them passing through either Arkat (Arcot), Chittur (Chittoor), Colar (Kolar), Ooscotah (Hoskote) or Poonamallee, Chittoor, and Colar.

BRADSHAW's Illustrated Handbook of the Madras Presidency


         Having travelled often between these two cities, using  buses and trains, I can ascertain that the modern day bus journey follows almost the same route — but the choice reduced to two of them: one via Poonmallee, Vellore, Vaniambadi, Hosur, and the other via Poonamallee, Chittoor, Kolar, Hoskote . A small town, Hosakote is located at the intersection of NH-4 ad NH-207; part of the stretch from Hoskote towards Bangalore is called as Old Madras Road.