Koraput is a town in southern Odisha surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and forests. We travelled to Koraput from Bhubaneswar on my Tata Nexon EV Max (2022), which has a 40.5 kWh battery that can do around 300-330 km on a single charge. The passengers included my wife, our pet dog and me. We also had a bunch of luggage, a tent and a portable 5kg gas stove for camping.
Doing long trips on an EV in India can be challenging, depending on where you start and your destination. I share this trip report with the hope that it helps others planning to visit this scenic town. The report will focus on our drive to Koraput and some well-known places rather than the places themselves. If you are interested in a summary, you can scroll down to the overall trip summary section.
We made this trip in Oct, 2023. The blog talks about the state of charging at that period of time. Please check the charging infrastructure on Plugshare or other apps when planning your trip.
When doing long trips on an electric vehicle in India prior planning is a must. We used Plugshare to plan our trip from Tamando, Bhubaneswar, to Semiliguda in Koraput district, and then Koraput town. Plugshare displays the location of charging stations and the status of recent charging sessions. It also allows us to plan our trips by deciding which chargers we want to stop at, on the way.
Table of Contents
Koraput trip plan
Plugshare does not allow you to share a trip, so here’s an image of our initial trip plan on Plugshare:
Some important notes about our plan (numbers in image, map to notes below):
- Start early from Tamando, Bhubaneswar, with a 100% charge.
- Reach TML Dion Automotives, Berhampur, Odisha and charge there.
- Although not entirely necessary, charge again at TML Siva Shanker Motors, Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh, since this is a reliable charger.
- Top-up at IOCL, Tarapuram, Salur. This would allow us to reach Jeypore, Odisha, where there is a reliable fast charger, even if we drove to Deomali Hill. There are no public chargers at Semiliguda.
- Reach Semiliguda with a good percentage of charge at around 4 – 4:30 PM in the afternoon.
Were I driving an internal combustion engine car, I’d take a completely different route that would take us to Koraput via Rayagada. It leads you through state highways and becomes picturesque much sooner.
The actual journey to Koraput
At 4:30 AM, we started from Tamando, Odisha and reached Berhampur at 7 AM with 53% state of charge (SoC). Our drive to Berhampur was smooth, and we were making good time.
When initiating charge at Dion Automotives, Berhampur, the charger displayed the error code:
00C312 (Description: Stop charging at pre-charge) a few times. Disconnecting and reconnecting the charger to the vehicle a few times fixed the error. We used the toilet facilities at the service centre and took our dog for a walk. We started towards Srikakulam at 8:10 AM after the car had charged 90%.
The big mistake
We stopped for breakfast on our way to Srikakulam and expected to reach Semiliguda before 4 PM. The breakfast was delicious, the roads were empty, the air was clean, and driving was fun. Everything was going great, and we felt lucky. This is when we made the big mistake.
We had enough charge to comfortably reach IOCL Tarapuram charger at Salur without charging at Srikakulam. Given all our good luck, we were leaning towards this choice. But we wanted to be sensible, so we called the IOCL, Tarapuram petrol pump, and they confirmed that the charger was working. The last review on Plugshare also stated that the charger is in working condition. This gave us the confidence to skip Srikakulam and move on to Salur directly. We wanted to charge at Salur to ensure we had enough SoC to reach Jeypore after driving to Deomali. We arrived at the Salur petrol pump at 1:00 PM with 18% SOC.
Unfortunately, we had trouble connecting the charger plug to the vehicle. It simply would not lock. It continued to throw an error: “failed to connect to your ev vehicle“. I cleaned the charging socket on the plug and my car but continued to receive the same error. While figuring out what to do next, we decided it would be best to request the petrol station and start slow charging from a 16 amp plug next to the water cooler.
We called Subikash, a prominent member of our EV vehicle community, to get help with the charger. He recommended that we restart the charger via the MCB. After doing that, we could start charging, but the charging session kept getting terminated after 2 minutes. We repeated this process a handful of times: restarting the charger and starting our charging session. Eventually, the charger showed us a permanent error flag every time.
After wasting 3 hours at the charger, we had had enough and decided to stay back at Trupthi Resorts at Rajam. We confirmed with them that we could slow charge there. We started from IOCL, Tarapuram petrol pump at 4:15 PM with 32% of SoC. The resort was 43 km away, and we reached there at 5:30 PM with 19% SoC remaining. We went around Rajam town, had dinner, and started slow charging at the resort at 9:00 PM.
Going over the Sunki ghat
The SoC reached 100% at 9:00 AM the next day, and we started from the resort at 9:30 AM. We’d be covering the Sunki Ghat, my first ghat ride in a car. Without the concern of running out of battery, I did the ghat section in sports mode and boy, was it fun! There was a lot of truck traffic on the ghat, but the acceleration made overtaking a breeze. I felt confident in making overtakes, as I knew that once I made up my mind, the car would respond. On the way, we stopped a few times to have lunch and enjoy the ghats. We reached the Semiliguda farm stay at 3:20 PM with 59% SoC.
The distance between Trupthi resort, Rajam and our farm stay was around 116 km. We covered this distance with 41% battery charge, which equates to about 2.83 km per % of charge. I was happy with this efficiency, given we climbed close to 1000 meters on the way.
Driving to Deomali Hill
We started to Deomali at 6:45 AM the next day, with 59% SoC. The drive to Deomali was smooth overall, with bad patches in the last 5 km near the hill. We stopped about 2 km from the foot of the hill and hiked the rest of the way.
The trip from the farm-stay to Deomali Hill was 38 km with an elevation of 550 meters. We were back at the farm-stay with 39% SoC around 3 PM. There was no need for AC, and I drove sedately to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Calculating the numbers, we covered 76 km with 20% SoC, about 3.8 km per % of charge. Quite impressive!
The hunt for a charger
When we booked the farm stay, we confirmed with the owner that we could slowly charge the car there. We had informed them that we needed a 16 AMP plug with a minimum meter load of 4 kilowatts. After returning from Deomali, we wanted to check the charging situation before driving to Koraput. I’ll skip over the finer details, but essentially, we quickly realized that we would not be able to charge at the farm stay.
We had 39% SoC, enough to get us to Jeypore (45 km away, with 300m of decent), but if the charger there did not work, we would be stuck. Our past experiences at the Salur charger weighed heavily on our minds, and we decided that trying to find a slow charger in town at Semiliguda would be the safest option.
So began the hunt to find a charger. About 3 km from the farm stay, I found Ritik Automotives. I spoke to a mechanic there who asked me to return at 6 PM in the evening when they close so I could leave the car and charge it overnight. I was happy to have an option in the bank but wanted to check elsewhere in case things didn’t work out. We checked the TVS showroom in town, but it did not have a conveniently placed socket from where I could draw power.
After surveying a couple of more places, our best bet appeared to be Ritik Automotives. I returned to the workshop, waited for them to finish work, parked the car in one of the service bays and started the slow charging process. I connected the meter box to pay them based on the electricity consumed. The mechanics at the garage were very curious about the EV, and I enjoyed answering all their questions.
Once I was sure everything was working, I walked back to the farm stay at around 7:20 PM.
Onto Goudagouda via Koraput
I got an alert the next day at around 7:00 AM that the car had fully charged. We were travelling to Chandoori Sai guest house in Goudagouda with a stop at Koraput Coffee in Koraput town. Here’s the route we took. On the way, we also stopped for some delicious roasted corn and a walk for our dog. The roads were smooth, and the views were scenic.
The trip from our farm stay at Semiliguda to Chandoori Sai guest house is 68 km, both at similar altitudes. We reached the guest house with 81% SoC which equates to about 3.57 km per % of charge.
Setting up charging at Chandoori Sai was a bit cumbersome due to my faulty meter box warning about the lack of earthing. Once we connected the car directly to the extension box, charging started. It took around 3.5 hours to charge the car to 100% again.
Goudagouda to Deomali Hill
Our next stop was Deomali Hills. We planned to camp the night and then hike to the top of the hill early in the morning. We started from the guest house around 10 AM and took the route via Damanjodi. I probably sound like a broken record by this point, but this is another route that has stunning views. Lots of hills, flowers, and trees dot the landscape. Along the way, we stopped for some groceries and reached Deomali Hills at around 2:30 PM.
We drove 66 km from Goudagouda to Deomali Hill with an elevation of 517 metres. The SoC at the end of the trip was 70%, about 2.2 km per % of charge.
Drive back from Deomali Hill to Bhubaneswar
The drive back to Bhubaneswar was a simple affair of covering the kilometres. Google Maps recommends taking a route via Kotiya but enquiring with several travellers, we learnt that the road is in poor condition. We decided to return via Kundili instead, a route we know is good.
After packing up and hiking the summit, we started to Bhubaneswar at 7:35AM from Deomali Hill with 70% SoC. On the way back, we checked the status of the Salur and Rajam chargers, and they were still not working. It was a lot of downhill, so we were getting excellent mileage from the car, and we didn’t need to charge the car until we reached Srikakulam.
We reached the Srikakulam charger at around 2:00 PM. We had to wait 45 minutes to start charging since another Nexon EV owner insisted on fast-charging their car till 100% SoC. While the car was on charge, we had lunch at the neighbouring restaurant and started again at around 3:35 PM with 69% SoC.
We reached the BPCL, Maa Adishakti charger, Chatrapur at 6:10 PM. Initiating charging was quick but a bit finicky. The charging stopped abruptly a couple of times, and we had to restart the charging. The charger also advertises as 30KW, but for me, the charging speed capped out at around 22KW. After a cup of tea and biscuits, we started from Chatrapur at 7:10 PM with 64% SoC.
We reached our final destination, near SUM hospital, Bhubaneswar, at 10 PM with 19% SoC remaining.
On the last day of the journey, we covered 499 km with 130% charge (1.3 x full battery charge). We descended over 1327m from our starting location. The mileage on the car comes to about 3.83 km per % of charge.
Overall trip summary
Here’s a Google spreadsheet that has all the numbers.
We spent ₹2471 on charging, including payment for slow charging and paid ₹1490 as the toll for the trip.
What went well?
- When slow charging did not work out at one of the places we were staying over, it was quick and easy to find another location to charge the car. People are generally willing to help if you tell them that you have the necessary equipment and are willing to pay them for the units of electricity consumed.
- I was happy with the car’s performance on ghat roads in sports mode. I had complete confidence that the car would deliver the performance I needed when I wanted to make an overtake.
- The car is smooth to drive and handles bad roads well. I don’t have much experience driving other cars, but I wasn’t exhausted after driving long distances.
- Slow charging works in a lot of unexpected places. For example, we used a 16 AMP socket that powered a water cooler.
- We spent ₹1.93 per km. I overpaid for slow charging at ₹15 per unit of electricity, so the amount should be around ₹1.80 per km. This is the same amount I’d have to pay if I drove around in a 150cc bike.
- My EV charging kit came in handy at multiple places. I have an extension box with 20 meters of 4mm 3-core Finolex cable that I used at Goudagouda. In addition, having a box with a digital electricity meter makes it easier to pay when slow charging.
What could have been better?
- Unreliable charging infrastructure. Although the route had ample charging stations, the ones in smaller towns did not work, despite the Tata Power EZ Charge app indicating they were active. This is worse than not having any chargers since then you would plan your trip keeping the lack of chargers in mind.
- Uncertainty with battery consumption. Our farm stay in Semiliguda did not have a slow charging facility. The lack of public chargers and the hilly terrain made us skip a few places we wanted to visit. Although I haven’t faced it yet (fingers crossed), there have been numerous reports of SoC dropping abruptly at lower charge levels. Such situations are manageable in a town, but getting a tow service in remote locations would be a big hassle.
This drive gave us confidence that extended trips to places lacking public charging infrastructure are possible with proper planning, mindset and patience. It demands a willingness to deal with unexpected situations and make necessary sacrifices. While the hope is for improvements over time, this is the current reality of driving an electric vehicle in major parts of Odisha.
Though I said that this is a blog about our drive to Koraput and not the place, it would be amiss of me not to share the beauty of this place. If you visit Koraput, please camp responsibly and leave no trace behind.