Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway disrupts local businesses, from Channapatna toys to ‘thatte’ idli and Maddur vada

There are no exits from the partially opened Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway to towns like Channapatna, Ramanagaram and Bidadi, and this is bad news for local craftsmen and iconic eateries

October 06, 2022 11:00 pm | Updated October 07, 2022 08:45 am IST - Bengaluru

Wooden rocking horses being made in a workshop at Channapatna on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway.

Wooden rocking horses being made in a workshop at Channapatna on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

For those who travel from Bengaluru to Mysuru, a few pit stops along the way has been a tradition. From a breakfast halt at Bidadi for piping hot ‘thatte’ idlis to buying wooden toys or cutlery for home décor at Ramanagaram — regular travellers never miss them and a whole economy thrives on these patrons.

The opening up of a 58 kilometre stretch of Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) from Hejjala to Nidaghatta of Maddur taluk has changed all that. The local businesses in Bidadi, Ramanagaram, Channapatna, and Maddur have been hit, with commuters mostly preferring to take the expressway. Hotels, petrol pumps, toys and handicrafts, and other roadside trade along the old Bengaluru-Mysuru highway have been affected.

Channapatna toys 

With their Geographical Indication (GI) tag, Channapatna wooden toys and handcrafts are very famous across the globe. There are around 3,000 toy makers and many toy industries in Channapatna taluk. There are also around 40 toy and handicraft emporiums located between Ramanagaram and Maddur towns. The commuters on the old highway were their regular customers. The expressway has diverted these toy buyers away.

“The new highway is far away from the city and there are no exits from the highway into towns like Channapatna, Ramanagaram, and Bidadi. Around 90% of toy businesses have been affected over the last month. The traditional wooden toys and handicraft businesses are already facing many threats from the Chinese toys, besides shortage of ivory wood. Now the demand has also declined due to the new expressway,” said Venkatesh, who runs a toy business in Channapatna.

In addition to these, small traders like tender coconut vendors, fruit and vegetable vendors, sugarcane juice stalls and other small commercial businesses have reported losses since the opening of the expressway.

The Ramanagaram bypass road which is a part of the newly built 119 km Bengaluru – Mysuru expressway.

The Ramanagaram bypass road which is a part of the newly built 119 km Bengaluru – Mysuru expressway. | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

Thatte idlis and Maddur vadas

The thatte idli of Bidadi is famous for its smoothness and taste across the State and there are more than 50 thatte idli joints located between Kumbalgodu and Bidadi.

While Kannada matinee idols like Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, and Ambarish were frequent patrons to these stalls back in their heyday, today, former Chief Ministers B.S. Yediyurappa and H.D. Kumaraswamy also visit the iconic eateries for breakfast. For travelers from Bengaluru to Mysuru on road, Bidadi was the designated breakfast spot. However, with the opening of the new expressway, these eateries are facing losses.

Shashi, the owner of Shashi Thatte Idli Hotel in Bidadi, said, “Over the last month, our business has been completely disrupted. The hotel used to be packed with customers from morning till noon,” he said, adding that four to five places have already closed, and this is sad for what has come to a “brand” in Karnataka.

“In my hotel, around 15 employees are working, and I pay ₹70,000 a month as rent. So, how can I run the hotel?” he asked. 

The crispy and flavourful vadas — a trademark of Maddur and the favourite snack of commuters — will also see fewer buyers now because of the expressway, eatery owners along the road said.

A thatte idli hotel on the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway.

A thatte idli hotel on the Bengaluru-Mysuru expressway. | Photo Credit: Jayanth R.

Access issues

While owners of businesses have their share of woes, commuters complain about connectivity issues to their favourite hotels and emporiums. If they are on the expressway, then the commuters have to take a U-turn and connect to a service road which will add five to 10 kilometres to their travel to reach restaurants or shopping areas.

Manoj Kumar, a commuter said, “Even though the expressway is good to drive on, it is difficult to reach restaurants as it is disconnected from the service road for a long stretch. We had to take a U-turn and drive another five kilometres to reach a hotel.”

A few commuters also complained about the non-availability of restrooms along the expressway. “On the old highway, we would either find toilets within hotels. Now, there is nothing on either side, and that will be a huge inconvenience, especially for women small children,” said Vanditha A.R., another commuter.

Restrooms will come up later

The NHAI officials said at least two restrooms will come up near the expressway once the work is fully completed. “We have opened it only on an interim basis to ease the Dasara commute. When the project is completed, there will be restrooms even near the toll booths,” the official said.

While there are no first aid care centres along the expressway either, commuters said they were comforted by the fact that there were several NHAI patrolling vehicles which could help in case of emergencies.

Traffic snarls

Even though the expressway was opened with an intention to decongest traffic on Mysuru road during the Dasara season, there was still bumper-to-bumper traffic. Commuters are of the opinion that incomplete work is the reason for these traffic jams.

“Last week, when I travelled two times to Mysuru from Bengaluru, I was stuck for over two hours in traffic starting from Kengeri to Ramanagaram. What is the use of opening this incomplete stretch then?” asked S. Shankar, a motorist from Vidyaranyapura in Bengaluru.

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