At a time, when Bengaluru and Mumbai are under lockdown and inter-state travel closed, we bring to you the tale of the first motortrip from Bangalore-to-Bombay on less-than motorable roads; and hoping a good dose of nostalgia will cure those bitten by the travel bug.
The trip was made in 1914 by motor-car enthusiast H.E.Ormerod and his friend on a 10-h.p. "Calthorpe" Minor Light Car. They two staggered the trip over four days; first Bangalore to Harihar, 174 miles (294 km); Harihar to Kolhapur, 207 miles (339 km); Kolhapur to Poona, 145 miles (230 km); and Poona to Bombay, 112 miles (150 km). [Miles - distance taken over old roads existing in the past; kilomteres - distance over current roads]
The two also did a bit of sight-seeing on reaching Poona and Bombay, which added another 130 miles. Including the return journey of 638 miles, a total of 1,406 miles was travelled, a record in that time.
In the book Southern India, Its History, People, Commerce and Industrial Resourced by Somerset Playne, the author says, "Rivers had to be crossed and some of the roads in the Mysore state were execrably bad, but no mechanical troubles of any kind were experienced during the trip and only one puncture occured." But before this trip, Ormerod also had another first to his name - he set up Bangalore's very first motor showroom on South Parade in the year 1911 (apparently at the Kannan buildings - needs verification*). His shop also had the honour of supplying many cars to the young Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, who was then in his late 20s.
And apparently when the young Maharaja wanted to cut a dash in front of Lord Hardinge, then Viceroy of India, who was going to visit the Mysore Kingdom -- he sent good business Ormerod's way, by buying cars a plenty. While its not known what was the king's preferred sports model, Ormerod kept his showroom stocked with Calthorpes, Empires, Studebakers and Fords.
Pic 1: The 10 H.P model released by Calthorpe in 1913, which Ormerod used for his trip
Pic 2: Ormerod's motor showroom on South Parade, Bangalore
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