Saturday, we set out from Bangalore to Skandagiri, one of the mountains in the same hill range as Nandi Durg; the place where we first encountered both temples and the toutish monkeys that frequent tourist traps. Skanadagiri, being near Nandi Durg is just past the new Airport. Our normal route out this way involves zigging far to the west, through north central Bangalore, before zagging back to the east and North. It also involves slogging though Bangalore’s infamous traffic.
I had long been eyeing an alternate route in Google Earth. The theory was simple. Drive up Whitefield road, continue past Sai Baba’s ashram, turn east onto Old Madras road, which true to its name runs towards Chennai (formerly Madras) and has been replaced as the main route to Chennai by a superhighway. We’d be on Old Madras road for only a few minutes before turning north at Hoskote and hooking back to the west to come out onto the main highway at Devanhalli, just north of the new airport. We’d bypass all the traffic and the distance looked to be about 25-30km.
But we had to prepare. I’d even made printouts of satellite photos of the critical junctures. Maps here are useless. They are invariably of low resolution and of only passing resemblance to how the road network might actually look. For that matter, nobody seems to use maps. Professional drivers usually don’t even know how to read maps. Our driver once confidently pointed at Rajasthan on a map of India and told us that this is where they go to the beach in Tamil Nadu. The usual alternative to maps is stopping to ask for directions. The problem with this approach is that nobody in India every admits to not knowing the way and they all seem to have the kind of directions sense that would send you off towards Rajasthan thinking that they were sending you to Cape Comorin. We’ve been sent on detours that take us to the other side of town by way of Sweden too many times in India to trust asking directions.
So we had the plan and we had the printouts. We were set.
Naturally, it went horribly awry.