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Old 18th November 2012, 00:38   #76
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

arindam_xeta , it seems that we both took the Dumka - Bhagalpur alternate route within a span of 15 days, driving Hatchbacks , and had entirely different experiences. It seems to boil down to timing and when you leave Kolkata or Siliguri. You will need to plan and cross the cities / towns along the route in the non-peak hours to gain maximum benefit.

I had used my GPS extensively , but used down loaded maps for the whole journey to compensate for occassional loss in signal at crucial moments. Here is the kml file of the entire route in case anyone needs it , I had it loaded before I started my journey.

KolkatatoSiliguriviaBolpurSiuriDumkaBhagalpur.kml

After reading your post , I was going through my notes again and here are my observations :

From Airport 1 No gate till Purandarpur , which is about 180 Kms , the road is good all the way , no cause for complaints except for 1-2 kms on the bridge near Kopai Resort (just after Bolpur), which is in disrepair. You will also need to take the detour near Bhedia to escape the damaged railway underpass in the main GT Road.

12 Kms from Purandarpur till you cross Siuri, it is sometimes narrow and passes through heavy town traffic , but the road is good.

7 Kms - as you leave Siuri till Seorakhuli More is moderately bad., like any other "normal" SH

8 Kms - from Sheorakhuli More till Jharkhand border was pothole ridden , but is patch repaired , hence moderate speeds

7 Kms - about 7 kms after Massajore dam (going towards Siliguri) and upto the T junction near Patabari is bad with Potholes

11 Kms - from Patabari till Kuruwa / Sristi Park Gate is Nothingness - no surface and full of craters, the worst section on this route.I took the left turn at the Kuruwa Gate to completely by pass Dumka Town.

3 Kms - from this turn to Dumka Airport gate, it is very narrow and in shambles , then the road gets excellent upto the Clock tower at Dumka

48 Kms - from Dumka clock tower till the Bihar border at Valjore is moderate with frequent potholes and in-frequent craters (about 20Km of this 48Km is really in bad shape). Next 63 kms from Valjore to Bhagalpur is great tarmac.

24 Kms - as you enter Bhagalpur till you meet NH31, is very slow city roads in bad condtion and a bumpy ride over Vikramshila Setu , not great , just very slow.

Next 75kms Kms on NH 31 through Purnea and upto the point where it becomes 4 laned is also in excellent condition.

There is no 4 laning for about 32 kms between Kishanganj and Islampur , road is in good condition , but traffic through these congested towns is slow moving during peak hours.

5 kms - Near Bagdogra it is again in it's usual devastated state with huge gaping craters.

On an average it took me 14 and a half hours on both ocassions with breaks totalling about 120 - 180 mins for each leg. I had made an early start on both days , 4 AM from Kolkata and 3 AM from Siliguri.

Personally I will prefer it over NH34 (in it's present condition) any day , and there are thankfully no traffic bottlenecks in this route save the few congested towns. It is longer by about 100 Kms compared to the normal route , but only about 50 Kms of the total 600 + odd kms will really tax you.
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Old 18th November 2012, 13:14   #77
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Many thanks for this. It will be indeed helpful for future travelers on this route. A generic question first. How many railway crossings did you encounter on this route and what was the wait like at these crossings? Also 2-3 hours of break seem to be on the higher side. If the breaks can be reduced a bit, this route always tops using NH34 any day.

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3 Kms - from this turn to Dumka Airport gate, it is very narrow and in shambles , then the road gets excellent upto the Clock tower at Dumka
I was going through your KML file minutely and saw that before reaching Dumka you took a left to go through a fairly broken road going next to the airstrip. However if you had continued straight you could have still reached the point where you take the Dumka bypass. Any reason you didn't continue straight?

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24 Kms - as you enter Bhagalpur till you meet NH31, is very slow city roads in bad condtion and a bumpy ride over Vikramshila Setu , not great , just very slow.
Sheel Priye had mentioned that the Bhagalpur Bypass has been recently opened though I may be horrible wrong on this. I wonder how can one take that bypass if it is of any use at all for this route. Maybe if Sheel can chime in here.
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Old 18th November 2012, 15:08   #78
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Sheel Priye had mentioned that the Bhagalpur Bypass has been recently opened though I may be horrible wrong on this. I wonder how can one take that bypass if it is of any use at all for this route. Maybe if Sheel can chime in here.
No, it hasn't been operational yet. You may bank upon me to get the first hand report if the Bhagalpur bye-pass gets functional. (expect before '13 monsoon though)

Cross Bhagalpur before 8am or after 8pm or somewhere around 12 - 3 pm. Make adjustments as per weather.
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Old 18th November 2012, 20:40   #79
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
A generic question first. How many railway crossings did you encounter on this route and what was the wait like at these crossings? Also 2-3 hours of break seem to be on the higher side. If the breaks can be reduced a bit, this route always tops using NH34 any day.
I really did not count , possibly 3 or 4 , maximum 5. While going towards Siliguri I found each of those gates open , in my return leg all were closed save 1. However the maximum time lost on a single crossing was not more than 10 mins.

On the outward leg I took two major breaks , 40 mins for breakfast at Massanjore and the next was about 70 mins for a mini meetup with Sheel at Purnea.

On my inbound leg I actually spent nearly 2 hours at Azad Hind Dhaba for a late lunch and used the extra time to get my car washed thoroughly. Ms. Getsy was not cleaned well for the entire week and this was the chance to make her shine before she got home. You might know that you can get this additional service at the Dhaba!. Come to think of it , there was also a brief Langcha stop at Shaktigarh where we stocked up on the way home!. Leaving Siliguri at 3 AM , we had reached Azad Hind Dhaba by 2:45 PM.

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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
I was going through your KML file minutely and saw that before reaching Dumka you took a left to go through a fairly broken road going next to the airstrip. However if you had continued straight you could have still reached the point where you take the Dumka bypass. Any reason you didn't continue straight?
This was for two reasons , while creating my route, Google always plotted it this way ! , I had to create a manual waypoint to make it go straight. I did intend to go straight, however when I reached the spot , I found that the left turn leads into Sristi Park and hence decided to take it and see it up close. It was another matter that the angle of the Sun made it nearly impossible to photograph it properly. Except for the 3 Kms narrow broken stretch , the road is surprisingly good and wide from Dumka Airport Gate and has very scant traffic. The absence of traffic made me take it on my return leg as well.

The "kml" I shared was my original route plan , I actually recorded the whole drive as a track but goofed up while saving and lost the information. I was using "Locus Pro" and did not know that unless I have a category created and saved first , track information is not saved , even when it outputs a message that it is saved.
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Old 19th November 2012, 00:07   #80
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by arindam_xeta View Post
Pattabari to Dumka no roads at all, I think I missed the bypass and lost a lot of time (at least 2 hours or may be more)... so be careful... since the roads are almost undrivable on small hatch backs. As far as I remember Bhagalpur to Purnia road conditions were nothing to write home about average speed will be really low, in all very tough condition to endure with family.
Bhagalpur is difficult to drive through I crossed it around 5:30 PM and was a bit tired by that time since last cruising road ended some 5 hours ago at Pattabari! Its difficult due to no traffic control, no signals and huge crowd with all sorts of vehicle and live animals.
Dear Arindam,
Sorry to see that the road was not good. Of course, the Pattabari-Dumka section was bad even when I took this road in summer. But I found that Dumka-Hansdiha stretch could be managed by a small car too, if driven cautiously. It was just the last 4-5 KM just before the Bihar border that the road became awful. And once in Bihar, I found good road all the way, even on and after Vikramshila Bridge, although in Bhagalpur the traffic was chaotic.
Regards,
Rahulda
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Old 19th November 2012, 09:04   #81
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Drivetrain, your suggestion is still on and thanks for all the help you provided. I'll try to explain my observation vis a vis your's to make it a better effort and experience for others heading Siliguri recently.

I started from Kolkata at 5:00AM for the onward journey and around the same time for the return journey.

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Originally Posted by DriveTrain View Post
arindam_xeta , it seems that we both took the Dumka - Bhagalpur alternate route within a span of 15 days, driving Hatchbacks , and had entirely different experiences. It seems to boil down to timing and when you leave Kolkata or Siliguri. You will need to plan and cross the cities / towns along the route in the non-peak hours to gain maximum benefit.
Indeed, you are correct, but my plan was messed up by missing the Dumka bypass, else I could have reached Bhagalpur latest by 3 PM it would have eased the stress a lot and stopped the other rippling effects explained below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveTrain View Post
I had used my GPS extensively , but used down loaded maps for the whole journey to compensate for occassional loss in signal at crucial moments. Here is the kml file of the entire route in case anyone needs it , I had it loaded before I started my journey.
Thanks a lot for the KML file thats useful!
I did not have the maps preloaded, but the map got downloaded automatically while being online, so map was not my problem really, what I missed was GPS signal so no positioning. With no network AGPS was also not working. I was carrying prints for this situation. Worst hit for me was missing the diversion from Kurwa.

Thanks for a detailed scan you made, I agree with for the most parts of it, but a bit confused on the parts I mentioned in bold below

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveTrain View Post
After reading your post , I was going through my notes again and here are my observations :

From Airport 1 No gate till Purandarpur , which is about 180 Kms , the road is good all the way , no cause for complaints except for 1-2 kms on the bridge near Kopai Resort (just after Bolpur), which is in disrepair. You will also need to take the detour near Bhedia to escape the damaged railway underpass in the main GT Road.

With you on this, had no problems with the underpass, as alerted I was able to take this diversion pretty well.

12 Kms from Purandarpur till you cross Siuri, it is sometimes narrow and passes through heavy town traffic , but the road is good.

7 Kms - as you leave Siuri till Seorakhuli More is moderately bad., like any other "normal" SH

8 Kms - from Sheorakhuli More till Jharkhand border was pothole ridden , but is patch repaired , hence moderate speeds

7 Kms - about 7 kms after Massajore dam (going towards Siliguri) and upto the T junction near Patabari is bad with Potholes

With you till now, no issues as I mentioned in my post too I think 99% until here is excellent and one can maintain good speed.

11 Kms - from Patabari till Kuruwa / Sristi Park Gate is Nothingness - no surface and full of craters, the worst section on this route.I took the left turn at the Kuruwa Gate to completely by pass Dumka Town.

I missed that completely and was in deep trouble, I lost a lot of time here.

3 Kms - from this turn to Dumka Airport gate, it is very narrow and in shambles , then the road gets excellent upto the Clock tower at Dumka

This was not my route, since I missed the turn at Kurwa.


48 Kms - from Dumka clock tower till the Bihar border at Valjore is moderate with frequent potholes and in-frequent craters (about 20Km of this 48Km is really in bad shape). Next 63 kms from Valjore to Bhagalpur is great tarmac.

I'm confused here since I never really got any smooth tarmac near here. The road was really potholed and without skin. I could not cruise at all. Further I think this section had a lot of diversions. These were to avoid worn out bridges over nalas, streams or low lands. The diversions were steep descent and ascents where one had to drive with utmost care else you will bottom out. I found at least 5, 6 such diversions.

24 Kms - as you enter Bhagalpur till you meet NH31, is very slow city roads in bad condtion and a bumpy ride over Vikramshila Setu , not great , just very slow.

Agreed! with you I had similar experience

Next 75kms Kms on NH 31 through Purnea and upto the point where it becomes 4 laned is also in excellent condition.

Confused here, again since what I remember the road had no skin in this part too with occasional pot holes. Parts of it was newly laid and elevated but mostly on the other flank so one has to be on the wrong side during onward journey to be on those parts.

There is no 4 laning for about 32 kms between Kishanganj and Islampur , road is in good condition , but traffic through these congested towns is slow moving during peak hours.

Agreed, I had no problems here it was smooth.

5 kms - Near Bagdogra it is again in it's usual devastated state with huge gaping craters.

Agreed, this part has been like this for ages it seems.

On an average it took me 14 and a half hours on both ocassions with breaks totalling about 120 - 180 mins for each leg. I had made an early start on both days , 4 AM from Kolkata and 3 AM from Siliguri.

Personally I will prefer it over NH34 (in it's present condition) any day , and there are thankfully no traffic bottlenecks in this route save the few congested towns. It is longer by about 100 Kms compared to the normal route , but only about 50 Kms of the total 600 + odd kms will really tax you.
Drivetrain the factors that did me in were
  1. Missing the turn at Kurwa
  2. Bhagalpur traffic, ofcourse this was a ripple of point 1
  3. By the time I crossed Bhagalpur It was almost dark, hence I could not utilize the surface to the extent it could have been

Now, just a few points on the reason I'll choose NH34 although both routes took almost the same time.
  • Fourlaning is on in full swing - around Malda till Krishnanagar you will find that around 40 % of the road is currently in one side completed state with well completed diversions, which will not slow you down. Around 5-10 % of that 40% is fully four laned.
  • The existing surface, where it remains is still driveable and one can manage around 30-40 KMPH avoiding potholes
  • Truck lines are the ones which did me in. I think I was a bit unlucky on that day! More often people will have a better time to make

I think with passing time this route will improve timing and reduce stress. I did this route in APR 2010 and there was no four-laning at all, compared to that what I see now is huge work done in last 2.5 years with all the land issues that are being faced. Also, keeping in mind that the route is physically shorter some how inclines me onto NH34.

Last edited by arindam_xeta : 19th November 2012 at 09:07. Reason: typo
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Old 19th November 2012, 17:59   #82
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Hi all,

The friend of mine who went home to Alipurduar from Kolkata on Panchami day returned to Kolkata on Sunday (18th Nov 2012).

His return journey started at 5AM from Alipurduar and ended at 10PM at Kolkata. A journey time of 17hrs (very close to our estimates). No time was lost in the horrendous traffic jams. (Maybe b'cause it was a Sunday/Chatt puja/etc./etc)

He took the conventional route this time (No experimentation!! - his experience with experiments was pretty bitter!!).

His route this time was:
Alipurduar-Falakata-Dhupguri-Jalpaiguri-Siliguri-Dalkhola-Malda-Moregram-Baharampur-Krishnanagar-Kolkata(Dumdum)

His experience: Road conditions are good (not excellent) and 100 kms (approx) shorter. Fuel efficiency he got was close to 18kmpl (Vista - diesel) with AC on 50% of the time.

Comparison: Route while going was either excellent or worst. While coming an average of good roads.

His final verdict: Stick to the conventional route of NH34.

My Brother-in-law is scheduled to drive from Kolkata to Siliguri on the 22nd Nov and back around 28th Nov, following the conventional route in his Safari DiCOR.

I will also post his experience.

Cheers!
Saurav
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Old 20th November 2012, 22:08   #83
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

^^^
What is the current status of the Alipore Duar - Falakata - Dhupguri and the Jalpaiguri - Siliguri sectors.

Would like full description of 'bitter experience'.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 21st November 2012, 21:47   #84
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Smile Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahul4640 View Post
But I found that Dumka-Hansdiha stretch could be managed by a small car too, if driven cautiously. It was just the last 4-5 KM just before the Bihar border that the road became awful. And once in Bihar, I found good road all the way, even on and after Vikramshila Bridge, although in Bhagalpur the traffic was chaotic.
Regards,
Rahulda
Agreed Rahul da, from Hansdiha the road surface did improve but not for long, it did have a few diversions and broken stretches to follow pretty soon.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 14:55   #85
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Remember the dhaba I spoke about? Sharing a picture from there. And yes, their other specialty (& my favorite) Chicken Liver is absent. They delayed to bring it & I simply couldn't wait Shall bring in the pics next time around.

Till then...

Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34-img_0003.jpg

Another good news. That horrible abrupt end when you are about to reach Islampur (from Siliguri) is paved now. Thank heavens. It was much needed.

Maybe next time shall post full size pic. This is what it looks like from inside.

Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34-img_0004.jpg
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Old 30th November 2012, 18:56   #86
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Hi all

My Brother-in-Law finally made his maiden Kol-Siliguri drive on the 23rd Nov.
He started from Tollygunge @ 9:15PM. Dropped HIS wife & in-Laws at Sealdah for Darjeeling Mail 10:05PM. His wife forgot some important medicines, so he returned back to Tollygunge and finally started off at 10:40PM.

Occupants he and his driver.
Around 12:45 he had crossed Ranaghat, said roads are fine.
He went off to sleep, and his driver drove all the way (practically non-stop).

Report from his driver next evening: (Accuracy of time to the nearest hour - thats best his driver delivers in terms of accuracy)
Crossed Krishnanagar around 1:00AM
Malda at 6:00AM
Siliguri at 10:00AM

Overall, my B-i-L said roads are "Makhon" (Bengali for roads are butter smooth).

Seems the Govt has heard us and we do not need to dig up the roads any more.

Some day we may not be discussing this thread anymore. Let us all wait for those good days to come when we ill talk of the pleasures of driving ON NH34 and not avoiding it!!

Regards,
Saurav
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Old 4th December 2012, 11:33   #87
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Some day we may not be discussing this thread anymore. Let us all wait for those good days to come when we ill talk of the pleasures of driving ON NH34 and not avoiding it!!
I guess its the high congestion and propensity to get stuck in jams and bottlenecks for hours which is more of a problem for NH34. Night driving might be easier but during the day the high volume of traffic can upset many a plan. The road condition was not totally terrible ever though broken in some parts. Its just that because of these jams and bottlenecks folks had to go offroading to avail village roads and get around them.


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The tiny stretch under the railway lines near Bhedia on the main route is not meant for small cars or sedans , please beware and take the diversion through Bhedia proper.
I recently did this route and I was wondering why small cars and sedans shouldn't continue on NH2B bypassing Bhedia town. I saw sedans and small cars continuing to go that way while I took the route through Bhedia town as advised. I found that the sedans and small cars which continued on the main route had already crossed me by the time I joined NH2B going through Bhedia town so there might not have been major issues. Can you elaborate a bit what is the main challenge going by the main route?

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There is a caveat though , this by- pass road passes through a very narrow and low under pass through Bhedia station, only small cars can do this route. If you have a tall car or have a roof rack installed , stick to the main road only.
Yes this is true. The underpass that goes through Bhedia town is really narrow and my car barely made it. I was worried if my antenna will get damaged. Here are a set of videos captured using my car camera on this route.

Turning off from Burdwan bypass to go to NH2B


Going towards Guskhara on NH2B


Turning off NH2B going into Bhedia town


Going through Bhedia town. Note the narrow underpass


Getting back on NH2B from Bhedia
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Old 4th December 2012, 11:51   #88
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by sauravdc View Post
Some day we may not be discussing this thread anymore. Let us all wait for those good days to come when we ill talk of the pleasures of driving ON NH34 and not avoiding it!!
And what about traffic & congestion? A seasoned fellow BHP ian Tirthankar aka DRIVOBLOG drove on this alternate for the first time & he said he isn't going back to NH-24 because of just one reason, traffic.

I remember when I used to do Calcutta - Purnea & in between (pleasure rides on P-180 & later Karizma-R) in '04/'05/'06/'07 I always wanted to reach Dalkola prior to dawn. Just didn't want to take risk with oncoming traffic.
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Old 4th December 2012, 19:38   #89
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Dear all,

Yes, traffic & congestion may remain. But the four-laning is expected to ease it out somewhat. However that will not be effective till the entire stretch is four-laned. Definitely, driving by night automatically avoids a lot of traffic, otherwise present during the daytime.

However the friend of mine who drove from Alipurduar to Kolkata on 18th Nov, did a day-time travel and took 13hrs from Siliguri to Kolkata (9AM to 10PM).

I remember NH2 (GT Road) as a two laned highway and the dreaded traffic snarls. A 300 - 400 kms drive used to be a 10 - 16 hrs affair. Just for a comparison, DHN-KOL those days used to be a 10-12hrs affair (300kms) and DHN-Varanasi used to be a 14-16hrs affair (400kms). Today they are 4-5hrs and 6-8hrs respectively, whatsoever you drive in.

Going by these figures, it is my optimistic opinion that four-laning will reduce some time, even if the traffic remains same.

Of course, the nature & character of traffic on NH34 is very different from the ones on NH2.

===========

I have used the NH2B to & from Bolpur earlier. The Bhedia underpass on the Bhedia byepass is very much doable by small cars. There is no need to go through Bhedia town. Only one needs to be extremely careful in a stretch of about 200mts spanning either side of the underpass. This stretch is akin to a lunar crater surface. Rest is very much driveable. I have done it in my Maruti 800 (loaded) without scraping the bottom even once. Only during rainy season, one should avoid it as the stretch is invariably waterlogged.

Regards,
Saurav
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Old 5th December 2012, 11:23   #90
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Yes, traffic & congestion may remain. But the four-laning is expected to ease it out somewhat. However that will not be effective till the entire stretch is four-laned. Definitely, driving by night automatically avoids a lot of traffic, otherwise present during the daytime.
Actually it always will. 4 laning of the entire NH34 is a as good as a pipe dream for now. I read today that one of the Left Front leaders now demanding that land losers be paid 5 times the market price by NHAI for widening of NH34 . What interest will NHAI have if any in continuing work on NH34? Anyway they have a worse than dismal record in building and maintaining highways of late. Plus its being used by the central government to settle political scores at the state level. This game of politics by all political parties for petty gains is always going to be a problem out here. Additionally this belt is a very politically sensitive belt with 3 major political parties trying to gain/maintain clout in various parts. Even today in another news article I read traffic on NH34 was held up for hours because of clashes between two political parties. Unless this state is either brought under president's rule or the army I don't have any hope for improving the state of affairs including 4 laning of the entire length of NH34 . In such a case in the near and medium term our only hope is the state highways are maintained reasonably well and somehow if the Jharkhand government can repair their roads we will stop talking about NH34 totally.

I will try out the railway underbridge on Bhedia bypass next time. This road is really a timesaver. Though there are some camel hump sized speed breakers after one crosses Bhedia till reaching Bolpur. Thankfully my tire upgrade added 6 mm of GC which ensured I didn't scrape any of these scary bumps. Even a Linea which has a higher GC was struggling on these humps. I guess they have been built to discourage speeding by truckers in these heavily populated rural areas. Low GC cars like the Civic or the Cruze would definitely struggle.
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