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Mumbai to Goa : Which route to take, NH17 or NH4 ?

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Those who plan to drive from Mumbai to Goa, this is probably an inevitable question. NH 4 or NH17?

It's a bit difficult to answer in one quick suggestion. There are many factors , that sway between these two highways.

Let's take a few key things that can help you to see things in the right perspective and make a choice.

Driving condition - NH17 Vs NH4: Both has been popular highways connecting Mumbai with southern cities. However the NH4 route is far superior over NH17, thanks to the massive road development work happened over the decades.

For example between Mumbai and Pune stretch, there is the Express way that lies almost parallel to the still existing old Mumbai-Pune highway. Similarly beyond Pune almost all the way till around Belgaum, where you'll leave HN4, it's a well made highway.

If you've driven on any of India's so called Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) or North-South–East-West Corridor (NS-EW) would find the driving conditions familiar on NH4.

For those who are not, it's a 4/6 lane highway with great deal of things done to make driving safe,fast and comfortable. Many places the NH4 takes bypasses, skipping the traditionally crowded town squares and  villages.

Now let's see what is going on at NH17. This highway still traces the traditional path, how it has been for very many decades. Nothing much changed. Means, NH17 sneaks, and zigzags through very many villages and towns in the Konkan region.

It's mostly a 2 lane highway without any grade separator, most part. Means, you have to be an overtly alert for the adventurous and sometimes mischievous co-drivers on the road. Thanks to the numerous sharp turns and speeding traffic has been causing many road accidents.

Leave alone the traffic, you need to be careful while driving on the narrow and curvy ghat sections in NH17. Watch out at the curvy sections of Mahad region, Nagothane - Sukeli stretch and other hilly stretches on the NH17 stretch. And for precisely these reasons, some may find this route exciting to drive compared to the mundane drive on NH4!

Others may find the opposite is true. Thanks to the relatively straight stretches , on NH4 you can cruise. Not so much on NH17.

If you drive one of those SUVs or other upscale models with Cruise Mode, you'll enjoy the use of in on NH4, no second thought about it.

The conclusion on the driving conditions: If you are staunch purist or road junky, you'll see NH17 matching your expectations. The rest will be happy that they skipped it!

Cost of Driving: Well we're talking about time as well as money.  The money thing first. What are the main cost overheads? Fuel cost and Tolls. NH4 route is a toll road, almost all the way till you exit NH4 for the last 150km or so diversion off NH4.

On NH4 you'll shell out about Rs500 for tolls (as back of the napkin calculation, Rs1/per kilometer approximately). There are quite a few toll booths on NH4, where you need to stop,wait in queue and pay. Again, roughly you'll find a toll booth in 50-100 km stretch.

Is it all that bad? Not really. What you pay as toll fee - at least part of it - you'll save as better fuel economy thanks to the better driving conditions. As mentioned above, if you've used the Cruise Mode know that it's not only convenient but also gives you the best possible mileage.

So don't be jumpy hearing the toll cost, you may be saving overall.

By the way contrast the smooth driving of NH4 with the alternating 'go fast-go slow' , and not so kind on fuel economy hilly and ghat sections of NH17.

Another factor many may overlook is the fuel price difference among the three states : Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa.

Traditionally Maharashtra fuel costs are a couple of rupees higher than the Karnataka cost. And both are significantly higher than of Goa fuel prices.

On NH17 route , of the 550km distance, you are almost 90% of the time driving through Maharashtra and cross to Goa directly.

On NH4 you'll be driving on Maharashtra for about 400km, Karnataka for about 150km and in Goa the rest (about 50km).

Take advantage of the Karnataka fuel prices on NH4, albit it may appear as a small saving. And before you return, whether on NH4 and NH17, fill to the brim at Goa!

A third cost factor to consider is the distances. The the NH4 route is about 50-60km longer than the NH17 route to Goa from Mumbai. Due to the difference in driving conditions, this not necessarily means longer driving duration on NH4.

If you are hiring private transport, be aware that they've to pay for permits both at Karnataka and Goa, if selected the NH4 route. On the the other hands , permit is to be paid only for Goa, is chosen the NH17 route. This difference will appear on the hiring charges you pay.

For this reason, most of the private buses operate between Goa and Mumbai go via NH17 instead of the better NH4, putting some additional stress on the already narrow NH17.

There are quite a few approaches to Goa from NH4. Select the one suits the best based on your destination in Goa. On NH17, you'll enter Goa at its northern fringes.

Conclusion on cost: NH17 is obviously a cheaper route, both in terms of distance and with no tolls. If you don't mind shelling out some 500 rupees, go for NH4.

Detours:  Are you heading to Goa like firemen heads to fire!? Or you you to add a couple of quick (and some not so quick) detours....

In this competition NH17 wins over NH4 hands down. NH17 traces its way down to Goa right through the Konkan heartland of Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. The region is sprinkled with immensely popular tourism hotspots.
Mountainous attractions (Mahabaleshwar) are about 40-50km detour towards your left; Seaside attractions (Tarkarli,Sindhudurg, Ganpati Pule etc) are about a 50km detour towards the coast side.

Of course NH4 passes along Lonavala - Kamshet stretches with many Nature and heritage attractions at a short detour away.

The conclusion on the Detour Options : NH17 has far more options compared to NH4. Drive through the naturally beautiful Konkan landscape is the  plus of NH17.

NH4 is a bit dry from a scenic environment standpoint.

So, if the above points added more confusion to your dilemma, don't worry. Select the NH4 route, which is a no nonsense, straightforward and safe choice.

If you still wants to experience both, take NH4 to Goa from Mumbai and NH17 to travel back to Mumbai from Goa. Enroute check out a few of Konkan's attraction.

Avoid driving on NH17 during the wee hours as matter of prudence. Anyways if you are an experienced long distance driver, follow your intuition, pick NH17 or NH4. You'll find you've made the right choice!

Mumbai to Goa by road distances.

The major route options and distances for Mumbai-Pune-Goa : Mumbai to Goa Route Option 1 (via Belgaum): Mumbai -80km->Lonavala -70km-> Pune -110km-> Satara -120km->Kolkapur -35km->Nipani-25km->Sankeshwar-50km->Belgaum-28km->Khanapur -100km->Ponda -32km->Panaji (Goa) Mumbai to Goa Route Option 2 (via Belgaum): Mumbai -80km->Lonavala -70km-> Pune -110km-> Satara -120km->Kolkapur -35km->Nipani-25km->Sankeshwar-50km->Belgaum-110km-> Panaji (Goa) Mumbai to Goa Route Option 3 (via Sawantwadi): Mumbai -80km->Lonavala -70km-> Pune -110km-> Satara -120km->Kolkapur -35km->Nipani-110km->Sawantwadi-60km->Panaji (Goa) Mumbai Pune Belgaum Goa Distances

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