17th april 2008 (HYD TO VIZAG):
8.30am we started with myself(as the Driver) my wife(the Navigator) & my kids (the Motivators) for our tour to Gangtok, Sikkim. We filled diesel immediately (8.39am) @ Ramanthapur, Hyderabad, took to highway to Vizag. At 10.17am, we came across a restaurant Vivera at Narkatpalli, ( Had a good parking place safe for children to get down, good free place) overall reasonably a good hotel, service was slightly slow, but worth a stop for breakfast. 10.42 back on our way, 12.16 first toll plaza, 12.50 crossed Khammam. 3.45pm we had our lunch (i.e., 45min after Ashweropet) at local mess, the food was good. 4.15pm back on highway. Road was good here one can drive @100+ speed, beware of speed breakers, at 5.40pm we reached Rajmundry, the roads still continued to be good after 30min we came across second toll plaza, again after 30min drive 3rd toll plaza at 8.13am i.e., after1hr10min 4th toll plaza, and here we were in Vizag. 30min later 5th toll plaza which was way towards R.K. beach/ rather into the city.
We logged in to hotel Dwarka inn, took a room had our dinner (food was good but a bit spicy) and
got ready to go to RK beach @10.30pm. 11.00pm we were back into our room, (good room, clean toilets ). 18April 2008 (VIZAG TO CHANDIPUR, ORISSA) :
9.56am started for our journey, topped up diesel @10.20am. Highway continued to be good except for the pedestrians @11.00am crossed 6th toll plaza, 11.34a, 7th toll plaza and at 11.51am reached Srikakulam. The roads continued to be good, roads after Vizag were four lane. 12.00pm crossed 8th toll plaza. 12.30pm, 9th toll plaza. @1.10pm we came across a rough patch (i.e., 887kms from Hyderabad / 240 Kms from Vizag). The road till now were excellent, one can easily touch 125kmph. The work done by N.H.A.I. is worth appreciating. Unfortunately pedestrians, bikers are major minus for the beautiful roads, At one time we came across a villager walking across the highway who was deeply engrossed in his thoughts(seemed like) cause all the honking from quite a long distance didn’t move him fast except that we had to almost stop for him to cross. The bikers and cyclist come from the opposite side of the road sticking to the divider.(i.e., center of the road).
We were in our SCORPIO TURBO2.6 which is a
BAD ROADS IN WEST BENGAL
AFTER BEAUTIFUL FOUR LANE ROADS THROUGHOUT,
CONDITION OF ROADS AFTER KOLKATTA ARE VERY BAD
great vehicle no problems through out. We used its rear AC duct placed near the legs for cooling water bottles by placing in front of it, we always had chilled water when ever we got down for food. 1.20pm we got into Orissa, 1.30pm we stopped to eat at Reliance A1 plaza. Food was good. (its 995.5kms from Hyderabad), again back to 4lane highway. 6.21pm reached Bhubaneshwar. @ 7.06pm, 10th toll plaza. 8pm we stopped at another A1 plaza to have our dinner at Chandikhole. The food was very good (all the A1 plazas had an AC section which was very comfortable and relaxing. Food was good, place was nicely maintained thanks to Reliance, even the toilets are neat and clean. The interesting aspect is that all A1 plazas are alike so you don’t have problem in locating toilets, AC section and even the parking place. Its 9.00pm and we were back on the highway, the roads continued to be 4-lane. We were about 50kms from Cuttack. The roads here were under construction. We reached @11.30pm at Balsore, Chandipur checked into Panthanivas (Orissa tourist guest house) at 12.00am charged Rs1000 for an AC deluxe room ( they were clean and
BAD ROADS IN WEST BENGAL
AFTER BEAUTIFUL FOUR LANE ROADS THROUGHOUT,
CONDITION OF ROADS AFTER KOLKATTA ARE VERY BAD
nice they have 8.00am as there check out time irrespective of when you check in). The specialty of Chandipur is its beach which is one of its kinds in India and two of its kind in the world (the other one is said to be in California). The specialty is, in low tide the water goes as back as 5kms.(you cant see the sea except for the sound of its waves) and in high tide the water comes till the shore which is almost waist deep, its really worth watching and enjoying. We then headed towards Krishnanagar, west Bengal after Kolkatta. 19april 2008 (CHANDIPUR TO KRISHNANAGAR) :
The roads after 50kms from Chandipur started into proper 4-lane and were good to cruise at 120kmph, crossed Kharagpur had our lunch at Medinapur at a small restaurant Quality inn which was good. We did come across A1 plaza but was still not operational. We started for Kolkatta, we were directed into the city by the localities (so while traveling ask for bally bridge- can avoid the city traffic) people were good but the traffic was as bad as Hyderabad, with seven seaters, taxis entering squeezing their way the way they want.
TSANGU LAKE ,SIKKIM, WHILE GOING TO NATHULA PASS FROM GANGTOK
I felt like I was in crowded roads of Hyderabad, because squeezing through the traffic wasn’t new for us Hyderabadies anyway. The police in Kolkatta were also surprisingly good, as we were mislead / misunderstood and entered a wrong side into a one-way where a policeman stopped us, but when we told we didn’t know and we have come from AP, he lead us the right way, that was really a nice gesture. Finally we managed to come out of the heavy traffic and reached through the all time bad roads after Kolkatta to Krishnanagar by 12.00 at midnight. The roads after Kolkatta were unimaginably bad, you will come across trucks with broken axels due to the bad road. Looked out for few hotels found one lousy place, checked in for the night, had to bargain for Rs500/- ( they didn’t have a tariff card- seemed like tariff was customer based). Krishnanagar is famous for mud dolls which is few kilometers from the highway / or from the city known as putlibhoti where you have a dozen of shops each one has there own variety so go about into each shop check bargain and then start buying, they are indeed
SNOW MOUNTAINS, INDIA
WONDER WHY PEOPLE TRAVEL ABROAD WHEN WE HAVE IT RIGHT IN OUR COUNTRY
cheap and nice they have fruits made out of mud which really resemble a actual one. One can manage to shop without a stay. 20th april 2008 (KRISHNANAGAR TO MALDHA ):
morning we started for Siliguri as per plan but could not cover more than 270kms as the roads were like may be on moon (it was a moon walk for my Scorpio. ). We dinned at another A1 plaza which was good as usual. And then by night 10pm halted at Maldha in hotel Royal Park which was really good, in terms of room quality, service, rent and the people. Charged us Rs650/- for an AC room. We had to stay back till evening on 21st April 2008 (MALDHA TO BAGDOGRA)
as there was political bandh in west Bengal. We started in the evening by 5.00pm for Gangtok, and as the roads were under construction only a patch of 70kms of road for Bagdogra was 4-lane with many diversions (sometimes without any indications for diversion) during my return journey I climbed an incomplete bridge, which had no diversion indicated but was alert as there was no traffic behind me but I finally stopped only after jumping an incomplete joint
of the bridge which removed grease cap of front wheel which I fixed it on my own after which I drove back through the same cut over the sand bags already placed. So managed to reach Bagdogra by 11.00pm and as advised by a petrol pump guy we stayed back in a hotel marina at Bagdogra which was good and neat AC room costed us Rs 800/- 22nd April 2008 (BAGDOGRA TO GANGTOK) :
We finally started for Gangtok in the morning by 9.00am with many halts for scenic snaps and views we reached Gangtok by 1.25pm parked our vehicle in a parking lot as the traffic was quite a bit and strict. So stopping here and there or turning was slightly difficult. We started looking for a hotel, checked in the first externally good looking hotel Central which turned out to be a good one, the reception staff was good, rooms were nice parking lot was slightly small but could manage to squeeze in my Scorpio in it. So no problem we then planned for the next day’s trip consulting the hotel authority. 23rd April 2008 (GANGTOK TO NATHULA) :
we visited Nathula pass (India china border) really a
AT PELLING, SIKKIM, INDIA
WATER STREAM FROM KANCHENJUNGA RANGE
beautiful place, one needs to carry two photographs of the person interested in visiting the place, an address proof as it is military controlled with police help, no big hassle but just some small formalities. (local taxis charge around Rs750/-per person for the visit) Nathula pass is worth all that formalities, looking at this I wonder why people have to travel abroad, there were all snow Mountains Lake and yaks. we were wearing three jackets over each other (that’s supposed to be the best way to block the cold) we were at 14000ft above sea level, you can’t run the way you do on normal levels cause you start feeling dizzy, so got to move slow and comfortably, need a while to get adjusted to the surrounding atmosphere, one should carry all your warm clothing, gloves, monkey caps else you always have an option to buy there. Which would be slightly costly (demand factor). We returned to Gangtok hotel Central by 4.30pm. took rest got fresh, walked to M.G. road which was just a Km away from our hotel., had our dinner at Agarwal Pariwar a nice Veg. restaurant quite reasonable and nice food, was slightly crowded but service was
NOTHING ELSE WILL DO
fast. M.G. road was a nice place for a good stroll. Gangtok was a nice clean and beautiful place; in short it’s an example for all the other states in India to follow. Then next day 24th april 2008 (GANGTOK TO PELLING, SIKKIM) :
we headed for Pelling, Sikkim on the way we visited a Buddhist monastery at Rumtang . Pelling is around 5hrs drive from Gangtok, good road except for a small patch which was under construction it’s a place where you get a close view of Kachenjunga range( second highest peak of Himalayan range) but unfortunately the climate was not favorable and lot of fog through out the day so no view, (one should plan up during Jan / Feb.). the hotel we checked in was good externally but they had water problem (hotel Alphine) , food wasn’t good overall not worth the cost, but the hotel was well placed, the balcony was right opposite to the view of Kachenjunga. Pelling was cool and quite comfortable with normal warm clothing. 25th April 2008 (PELLING, SIKKIM TO DARJEELING) :
we started for Darjeeling on the way we saw Kachenjunga water fall, worth a visit, then kachuperi lake which supposed to be blessed lake, was nice and a very quite place in spite of many tourists around. we then started for Darjeeling.
After getting used to roads in Sikkim coming back to roads in west Bengal was a really bad dish. The road from Pelling, Sikkim to Darjeeling was so bad; one would be scared to death traveling by it. It was very steep and narrow, and at time we had vehicle coming from opposite direction, during which we had to stop, look out for a bulge on the Ghat road and halt there for the other vehicle to cross, it was damn scary and I wish the government does something about it. It was like what took 60kms to get down a mountain from Pelling was covered in 30kms to Darjeeling. Finally we were at Darjeeling by 6.00pm. checked into a hotel Apsara nice place gave us suite for Rs 1300/- with little bargain, but no parking, had to park my vehicle outside (heard that one has to be careful parking vehicles outside in Darjeeling) with quite a bit of shopping the next day and little sight seeing we headed back for Hyderabad. We were advised to do shopping at Siliguri Honkong market, which we did during our return journey. The costs were really very low and worth it, Compared to Gangtok, or Darjeeling. You get everything electronics, toys, belts...etc., 29th April 2008 (DARJEELING TO HYDERABAD) :
5.00pm we were back home in Hyderabad after driving 4970kms, with no problem with our SCORPIO, in spite of rough roads, and jumping over a small cut on a bridge. Thanks to Mahindra.
I would be glad to receive mails from long distance travelers from India so that we can exchange our experiences and be safe in our journeys.
gangtok route 14feb2013
Friends i have seen many responses, thanks to all of you for the appreciations, feels good, however i see my blog once in a while to respond back to the comments or queries, so please mail me to my email address as well. Others who have followed the similar route can update me so that i implement in my blog and it gets useful to others, JUN 2013
HOW ABOUT GOING TO LEH, MAY BE END OF THIS YEAR.
Hemant Vilas Mulay
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