Tag Archives: maps

The Three Hour Tour – Part II

The three hour tour began well enough. We managed to get to Hoskote in short order.

1 – Our first waypoint was to turn left at the first intersection in Hoskote; just before a large open field (or so says the photo in Google Earth). It was to happen shortly after arriving in Town. As we drove through town, we wondered “are we in Hoskote yet”. Yep, we drove right past our turnoff.

2 – About a kilometer past our proper turnoff, we found one that fit the bill. We were now driving parallel to where we wanted to be.

3 – We come to a fork in the road. Hmmm… I did not see this on Google Earth. Is this the right way? Then again, one side of the fork might not be a numbered road and would not show up on the road overlay. Let’s take the left fork to be on the safe side. (good call)

4 – 10 km down the road, our little alternate way merged with the road we had initially wanted. Unfortunately, this was 5 km past where we would have turned off of that road towards Devanhalli.

5 – As we came to a small village with a crossroads, we grew puzzled. There was no photo of such a thing on our route in Google earth. Up until now, we had been responsible for our own errors. How could we now go from lost to completely thinking you are in Indonesia when you are actually in the Caribbean lost? Yup! Ask a local for directions to Devanhalli! Turning left at that crossroads would have taken us straight to Devanhalli. Instead, he sent us straight.

6 – A half hour later, we come to a town. It vaguely looked like the small town we had been planning to turn left at (which was now 30 km behind us and 30km is a LONG way on Indian back roads). Siva stepped out of the car and asked directions. The directions even vaguely sounded correct. Turn left just up ahead. So we turned left onto national highway 207.

7 – We came to another fork in the road. Wait! Another fork? After some indecision and a quick “ask for directions”, we took the left fork. The right fork would have taken us straight to Chikballapur, near Skandagiri, ten miles away. Instead, we went back south, parallel to the way we just came up.

8 – We come to a T in the road. YAY! He must have joined with the highway that runs past the airport and Nandi Hills. So we turn right. Well…the good news is that we are now actually heading towards said highway.

9 – Another fork in the road. Wait? We must not have found the big highway. We were far north of Devanhalli and that was now utterly the wrong direction. We should have been asking for the way to Chikballapur. Being utterly clueless about that fact, we ask for the way to Devanhalli. Being clueless about the landscape of his home district, the man sends us up the right fork (to Chikballapur) instead of the left (to Devanhalli). Talk about serendipity. The key to getting on the right road in India is to not know where you need to be going.

10 – Yay! The big 4 lane! There us Nandi Hills in front of us! Nandi Durg is directly in front and the big one next to is is Skandagiri! We now have a mountain to use as a navigation reference! We turn north towards Chikballapur. The destination is in sight.

11 – In Chikballapur, we trun left onto NH 207. Remember NH207?

12 – We actually reach our desitnation. We managed to turn a 1 ½ hour drive into a 3 ¼ hour drive.

Welcome to daytrips in India!


The Three Hour Tour – Part I

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.