It was yet another weekend in the month of March 2021. Unlike my previous journeys to Belagavi and Mangaluru, this time I decided to travel to Hubballi as a short trip and return to Bengaluru the same day. The journey was onboard Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation or KSRTC’s Airawata Club class multi-axle air-conditioned bus. Airawata is an air-conditioned multi-axle Volvo passenger bus operated by KSRTC in Karnataka as its flagship carrier. Airawata bus service comes with superior comfort and facilities offered to the bus passengers.
I decided to travel to Hubballi in North Karnataka on a weekend. I looked up the list of buses on www.ksrtc.in the portal to book an advanced e-ticket through AWATAR reservation system. (AWATAR refers to Anywhere Anytime Advanced Reservation) AWATAR is a full-fledged computerized advanced e-ticket booking system deployed for all the bus services offered by KSRTC. AWATAR tickets can be booked at least 15 to 30 days in advance on the web portal. I was searching for buses to Hubballi and could find only one bus departing from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Bus Station at 3 pm with trip code 1500BNGHBL. The other option to travel in the daytime to Hubballi was by Airawata Gold Class (headed to Belagavi via Hubballi) bus service departing from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Bus Station only at 09.30 am. As I had already traveled to Belagavi on Gold Class air-conditioned bus, this time I choose to travel by the non-stop service to Hubballi from Bengaluru departing at 3 pm.
Journey From Bengaluru
I successfully booked my e-ticket on KSRTC’s AWATAR portal much in advance. As usual, I chose seat number 01, in the front row of the bus. The front row provided the passengers with a beautiful view of the outside world especially the moving traffic on the national highway. It also provided the much-needed comfort and luxury of traveling in an air-conditioned bus otherwise. As my scheduled departure time was at 3 pm from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Bus Station, I got up late in the morning on the weekend of Saturday. I finished my breakfast along with a hot cup of coffee and headed to a nearby More store to purchase some cookies and refreshments required during the bus journey. I had plenty of time till 1 pm at home and decided to take some rest after packing my baggage. At 12.30 pm I grabbed the sumptuous lunch at home prepared by my mother. After lunch, I decided to leave home at around 1 pm on my TVS Jupitor.
The traffic in the afternoon was moderate and my ride to the Majestic area of Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Bus Station took up to 30 minutes on a hot sunny day. I parked my vehicle at the designated parking lot for two-wheelers. I then headed to terminal 1 from where all buses heading towards North and Central Karnataka usually depart and the buses are parked accordingly in the designated platforms. The starting row of the bus terminal at the Kempegowda Bus Station had a couple of buses heading to Davanagere. One bus was a fully reserved Rajahamsa i.e. non-airconditioned superfast bus service and the other was an air-conditioned Airawata bus. The crowd was less as spotted in the bus stand as it was a hot sunny afternoon and also it was a weekend holiday. Normally the bus terminals do not witness much crowd in the afternoons, as peak time usually starts from evening onwards.
Since I had plenty of time, I took this opportunity to spot some more buses parked on the designated platforms in the bus terminal. Hyderabad bus terminal had a couple of Express buses departing to Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The ticket booking office of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation or APSRTC was abuzz with passengers looking to book bus tickets. One could spot air-conditioned buses of APSRTC which have been branded as ‘Garuda Plus’ service and were ready to depart from the bus stand at 2 pm. One could also spot the Tirupati bus platform with KSRTC’s Express services and Airawata Club Class service to Tirupati ready for departure at 2 pm and 2.15 pm respectively.
As I was spotting the buses, a brand new multi-axled air-conditioned Airawata bus made an entry from the SC Road entry gate of the bus stand and parked itself on the platform. The bus had the nameplate as ‘Bengaluru-Hubballi’ and I was excited as this was my bus towards Hubballi. I quickly rushed to the platform and inquired with the crew about my bus. The crew replied on a positive note and I boarded the bus. The bus was completely empty at around 2.20 pm. I was the first person to board the bus. The air-conditioning was not functional at that time and as soon as I boarded, I requested the crew to switch on the air-conditioning in the bus. My request was promptly complied within few minutes. I settled down in my designated seat number 1 as per my e-ticket booking.
Soon I got an SMS confirmation related to my journey and crew details and this is a new feature introduced for all the bus passengers. Under this system, all the bus passengers will get an SMS confirmation with crew and bus details immediately upon printing the trip sheet ahead of the scheduled departure. The system is helpful in tracking the bus passengers at enroute pick-up points, determine the number of booked and vacant seats, and also aids in follow-up with the passengers from the pick-up points enroute. Soon the bus was occupied with almost fifteen passengers- all heading to Hubballi. The bus was an express and non-stop service which meant no stops enroute with the exception of a fifteen-minute halt for the rest stop.
The bus started off from Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Bus Station at sharp 3 pm. The bus driver had to change the usual route to join National Highway number 4. The bus took a detour and operated via SC Road, Mantri Mall, Malleswaram Circle, Malleswaram 18th Cross, IISc Circle, Yeswantpur Flyover instead of the usual route via Okalipuram, Rajajinagar, Navarang, Orion Mall, Soap Factory signal, and Yeswantpur. Yeswantpur is the major junction in West Bengaluru which marks the beginning of the National Highway to Poona via Tumakuru, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Harihara, Haveri, Hubballi, Dharwad, Belagavi, and then reach Poona. My bus route to Hubballi was via Tumakuru, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Hirahara, and Haveri to reach the final destination. As per the trip sheets, the next passenger to board the bus enroute was only at Yeswantpur and Nelamangala Toll. It was 3.30 pm as we reached Yeswantpur and a couple of passengers also bound towards Hubballi boarded the bus. Our next stop was at Nelamangala toll booth to pick up the last passenger enroute to Hubballi and we departed from this stop at 3.55 pm.
By 4 pm we had reached the outskirts of Bengaluru city and had joined the National Highway route to Hubballi. The traffic was moderate to high as it was a weekend holiday. One could spot multi-axle and single axle trucks, KSRTC buses, cars, and other vehicles plying on the National Highway. I enjoyed the view while sitting in the front seat as it gave a wide glimpse of the outside world.
Arrival at Hubballi
The bus made its first and only rest-stop at around 5.30 pm at Hiriyur. The crew informed all the passengers to utilize the time for a short coffee break. I got down from the bus quickly and had a cup of hot filter coffee at the Hiriyur rest stop. Soon we left for Hubballi from Hiriyur after the designated fifteen-minute halt. The road to Hubballi was smooth until Chitradurga. As we reached Chitradurga we witnessed road construction in progress to convert the existing four-lane National Highway into the proposed six-lane National Highway. Our schedule was affected due to several deviations on the main road onto the service road and back. It was soon time for sunset at 7 pm as we crossed Harihara and it was just a three-hour journey remaining to Hubballi.
Soon the bus crew enabled the headlamps of the Airawata bus as it was dark outside and we made our way through the National Highway. We crossed Haveri city (by-pass road) at around 8.30 pm and still had an hour and a half’s time to reach Hubballi. I enquired with the crew regarding the estimated arrival time at Hubballi. I was informed that the actual arrival time was at 9.30 pm as per the KSRTC AWATAR booking portal, but due to the road construction work enroute, designated rest-stops, and traffic jams resulted in a half an hour delay. We soon reached the outskirts of the Hubballi City and took a deviation from the National Highway.
Some of the passengers alighted enroute at Bankapur circle, the old Hubballi city bus stand, and the Gokul road entrance. As we reached Gokul road it was just a ten-minute ride to the new Hubballi NWKRTC bus stand. Gokul Road is a very popular, busy, and commercial area of Hubballi city that houses the Hubballi Airport, NWKRTC’s headquarters, hotels, etc amongst other popular commercial buildings. The bus halted at the entrance of the NWKRTC bus stand and the crew promptly instructed the bus passengers to disembark from the bus. I was the first person to get off the bus and was happy that my trip was a smooth and hassle-free ride to Hubballi.
Return Trip To Bengaluru
I had made an advanced booking to return to Bengaluru on the same day. As per the KSRTC/AWATAR website, my bus had a scheduled departure at 9.30 pm. Thus I searched for buses bound to Bengaluru usually departing after 10.30 pm from Hubballi. I could find two Airawata air-conditioned multi-axle buses to Bengaluru. One was Hubballi to Chennai Airawata service departing from Hubballi at 10.30 pm and the other bus was Airawata service operating from Belagavi to Tirupati via Hubballi and Bengaluru departing Hubballi at 10.45 pm. These two buses had just a fifteen-minute gap between the arrival and departure from the Hubballi KSRTC bus stand. I opted to travel by Belagavi to Tirupati Airawata multi-axle air-conditioned service to Bengaluru leaving Hubballi at 10.45 pm, immediately after the departure of Hubballi Chennai via Bengaluru Airawata service at 10.30 pm from Hubballi KSRTC bus stand.
Upon my arrival at Hubballi from Bengaluru at 10 pm, I was hungry and wanted to eat some food. I headed to the famous ‘Gokul Restaurant’ opposite the Hubballi KSRTC bus stand on Gokul Road. I munched the delicious idly vada along with a hot cup of coffee. I also bought the famous Dharwad Pedha from the Big Mishra Pedha store which located next to Gokul Road. I had to rush back to the Hubballi KSRTC bus stand immediately as it was already 10.15 pm and my bus was scheduled to arrive at the bus stand at around 10.30 pm.
The bus stand was crowded and as expected there were many passengers waiting for Bengaluru and Mysuru buses on the respective platforms. The rest of the platforms wore a deserted look as it was already late in the evening. I could spot Hubballi-Chennai via Bengaluru Airawata multi-axled air-conditioned bus parked and ready for departure at the Bengaluru platform in the bus stand. The bus had almost all the passengers with the exception of few vacant seats in the front row. The other bus that I could spot at that time was Belagavi-Bengaluru NWKRTC air-conditioned sleeper bus that had just arrived at Hubballi KSRTC bus stand. The other bus which was ready for departure was Mysuru bound NWKRTC air-conditioned sleeper bus from Belagavi via Dharwad-Hubballi. Both the buses departed from the Hubballi KSRTC bus stand at 10.30 pm and 10.35 pm respectively.
As soon as Chennai-Hubballi Airawata air-conditioned multi-axle bus service departed from the platform at 10.30 pm, my bus arrived from Belagavi crawling through the dusty road. The bus parked at the designated parking lot at the Bengaluru platform at the Hubballi KSRTC bus stand. The bus had a booking of up to five passengers including myself from Hubballi. We had just fifteen minutes to complete the boarding formalities including stacking the luggage and e-ticket and identity card verification by the crew.
As usual, I opted for the front row seat number 1 on the bus for my return journey. The bus had many passengers heading to Bengaluru and only five to six seats were vacant at Hubballi. As soon as the boarding formalities were completed, the crew got the mandatory sign-off from the traffic inspector and we were ready to depart from Hubballi bang on time at 10.45 pm. Soon the bus made its way to Gokul Road and headed to the old Hubballi city bus stand. A passenger bound to Tirupati had opted to board from the old Hubballi city bus stand and our crew duly picked the passenger at the designated pick-up point. We crawled through the busy Chennamma Circle and joined the National Highway-4 to reach Bengaluru.
The road and journey were smooth with the exception of road repair work undertaken till Chitradurga, as explained earlier. The crew took turns at the wheel and shared the driving responsibility as this bus had multiple crew owing to long-distance travel beyond 500 kilometers. I could not sleep on the bus but tried to enjoy the night view of the highway. I tried to doze off and woke up at a couple of intervals when the bus slowed down enroute to pass through the highway tolls.
Early Morning Arrival at Bengaluru
Soon it was 4 am as I woke up and we were near Tumakuru, just an hour’s drive to reach Bengaluru. The bus journey was very smooth and the crew took to take care of the passengers very well. We reached the Nelamangala toll on the outskirts of Bengaluru city at 5 am, then made a brief stop at Gorguntepalya Metro station-as a couple of passengers headed to Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport alighted here.
The next stop was at Yeswanthpur Railway Station, followed by Orion Mall, Navarnag Circle, and Rajajinagar before arriving at the final destination at Kempegowda Bus Station at 5.30 am. The bus had to enter the Tirupati bound bus platform at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda Bus Station. Hence the bus had to travel via Bengaluru City Railway station, Shantala silk junction, and SC Road to finally terminate at Kempegowda Bus Station’s Tirupati platform.
The bus had an onward departure to Tirupati departing from Tirupati bus platform at 6.30 am. Thus my weekend trip to Hubballi and back to Bengaluru ended on a high note as I enjoyed the journey immensely; as traveling by KSRTC is now one of my passions during my free time.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.