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Old 15th November 2012, 16:46   #1
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Default Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

For enthused and charged up drivers going to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan - there are several challenges - Bad Roads, Perpetual Construction, Traffic around Kaliachak, Farakka (daytime) and what not... But the most consistent bottleneck in this route (NH34) is Dalkhola rail crossing where we can sometimes spend more than an hour waiting for the trains to pass and the traffic to open.

For the last couple of times, I have taken this route that bypasses the Dalkhola rail crossing. Its a village road that goes beside the Bangladesh border and the surface is very good except for the last 7-8 kms, when you are travelling from Kolkata.

This road is not shown in Google Maps or Yahoo Maps or Bing Maps or MapmyIndia.
Here goes the details...

Travelling from Kolkata through NH34:
After you cross Raiganj, you will cross a place called Karandighi. After Karandighi, be cautious - there will be a place called "Domohoni". From this place there is a narrow road that goes slanting into the right. Take this road. You will find there are lots of shops near the road entrance and 'vano' sitting for passengers. This is a bus route as well although number of buses are minimal.

From here onwards keep following the road. Do not turn in any direction and keep following the road. In some places if you get confused, just follow the road that has the better surface. If you travel during the daytime, you will get many villages along the way where you can ask if you are not sure. But it is a pretty straight forward road and you can just follow the road and stick to the road that has the better road surface. There are paddy fields all along the road and the ride is beautiful.
This road is approximately 60kms in length and will put you on NH31 at a place called "Dhantola" just before Islampur.

The travel time will be approximately 75 mins to 90 mins and you can drive at speeds of 80-100 kmph. Its advisable to keep the speed in check because of cattle and livestock that might come on to this road. Trucks are not allowed on this route except for local panchayat work. So expect an empty road all along the way.
The last 7-8 kms before you reach "Dhantola", the road has a balding effect from both sides towards the centre. Good surface is there towards the middle of the road but if you will need to pass then you will kind of need to get off the road.

There are two good gas stations (petrol pumps) along the way and one just before the dhantola more.
You can get food and tea at the local tea shops when you cross various villages. At night the road is of course deserted and it will be difficult to get food / tea.
As of safety - I have been through this road 4 times and it seemed pretty safe to me unless you take a turn and cross the Bangladesh border.

Happy Driving !!!

The map attachments

Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan-dalkhola-bypass1.jpg

Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan-dalkhola-bypass2.jpg

Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan-dalkhola-bypass3.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2012 at 12:55. Reason: Adding your pics to the opening post itself
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Old 15th November 2012, 19:06   #2
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

Quote:
Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
Travelling from Kolkata through NH34:
After you cross Raiganj, you will cross a place called Karandighi. After Karandighi, be cautious - there will be a place called "Domohoni"....

Happy Driving !!!

Attachment 1014847
Debarshi, its good to see you here. Remember, we met a year back in a Team-Bhp meet at NH2 Azad Hind. I came with my white Manza and we were all glued to the mechanics of your new Pajero.

Dalkhola is a bottleneck which will never cease to exist as i am sure the bypass is not going to happen anytime soon owing to the stupid politicians. Lucky me that couple of times i have crossed Dalkhola mine was the last car to cross in a hurry and the rail gates almost banged the rear of my car but did not get stuck in the jam. Your route could be a good alternative.

Your attachment images are not showing up. Could you please re upload them.

-Anish
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Old 15th November 2012, 20:44   #3
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

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Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
As of safety - I have been through this road 4 times and it seemed pretty safe to me unless you take a turn and cross the Bangladesh border.
Given your prolonged absence and silence I seriously thought you took that turn and crossed the Bangladesh border . So welcome back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.G.The Rambler View Post
Debarshi, its good to see you here.
Let me rephrase that. Debarshi, its good to see you here once in a while . Hope you can write the travelogue to Leh since Sumitro and his Bolero is probably almost always away undergoing North Bengal therapy.

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Originally Posted by A.G.The Rambler View Post
Lucky me that couple of times i have crossed Dalkhola mine was the last car to cross in a hurry and the rail gates almost banged the rear of my car but did not get stuck in the jam. Your route could be a good alternative.
But what about the rest of the route? Jams can be anywhere for any rhyme or reason on NH34. Pretty soon there will be detours through Bangladesh.

PS: Mods, it might a good idea to move this thread under "Route/Travel Queries"
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:24   #4
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Originally Posted by A.G.The Rambler View Post
Your attachment images are not showing up. Could you please re upload them.
-Anish
Yes, I will upload them once again once I am in office. They are not in my home laptop. When I submitted the thread they were showing up, but now they are being shown as links only.

Yes, I do remember you very well . And after that I have made so many trips with the pajero - for statistics - Covered 33000 kms in 10.5 months.

The domohoni - dhantola route is a good alternative. I have done that 2 weeks back and the road condition is pretty good. But of course Bengal roads keep changing for the worse over time it seems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Given your prolonged absence and silence I seriously thought you took that turn and crossed the Bangladesh border . So welcome back.

Let me rephrase that. Debarshi, its good to see you here once in a while . Hope you can write the travelogue to Leh since Sumitro and his Bolero is probably almost always away undergoing North Bengal therapy.

But what about the rest of the route? Jams can be anywhere for any rhyme or reason on NH34. Pretty soon there will be detours through Bangladesh.

PS: Mods, it might a good idea to move this thread under "Route/Travel Queries"
Yes I do tend to disappear for a while. Was busy with office work and then drove down to East Sikkim (Zukuk, Kupup - all the way till baba mandir). It was a hassle getting permit for the car from Rongli and then you enter the border area from Lingtam. No hotels after Lingtam since this is border and Forest area. I will try and give an update of this trip. But without police / government connections permit for the car looks impossible. The place is awesome with abundant wildlife from the Pangolakha range - which btw is getting affected because of huge army movement along this road all the time. Nov beginning - the place was very cold (0 degrees at night)... and basic homestays did not have geyser etc...

Sorry about the Zanskar & Ladakh trip travelogue. Its still lying in the assembly section and I have not completed the same. I will try and get out of my lathergy and complete it soon. Sumitro had driven down to Gangtok around the pujas.

I have found a few detours for NB travel... Here it goes.

1. Route through Bihar: Please read Anirban's route (1100 D) in the link
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ding-nh34.html (Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34)

2. The Panagarh - Moregram route is completely broken now. I had taken it from Siuri last time and there is no road. So from Burdwan you can take the Katwa road and then after 10-12 kms in that road you can find SH-7. This stretch is about 110 kms where you will find mixed roads. SH-7 joins 5kms before moregram.

3. Then from moregram you will somehow have to manage on NH34 till Domohoni - then you take the domohono - dhantola route.

There probably are better detours through Bangladesh. This time I almost reached there... Took a wrong turn - the road narrowed down into a paddy field and then I drove for about 3 kms inside the paddy field (of course with direction from locals) before I decided to give up and returned back

Last edited by Zappo : 22nd November 2012 at 11:53. Reason: Consecutive posts merged
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Old 16th November 2012, 12:57   #5
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

Thanks for sharing! Your images have been added to the opening post. Moving thread back out to the Routes section.
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Old 16th November 2012, 19:40   #6
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

Hi,
This road is called the 'Bengal to Bengal' road. Meant for buses which do not have permits to ply in Bihar. (When travelling from Islampur to Dalkhola, part of NH31 goes through Bihar).

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 18th November 2012, 13:28   #7
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

Quote:
Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
Yes I do tend to disappear for a while. Was busy with office work and then drove down to East Sikkim (Zukuk, Kupup - all the way till baba mandir). It was a hassle getting permit for the car from Rongli and then you enter the border area from Lingtam. No hotels after Lingtam since this is border and Forest area. I will try and give an update of this trip. But without police / government connections permit for the car looks impossible. The place is awesome with abundant wildlife from the Pangolakha range - which btw is getting affected because of huge army movement along this road all the time. Nov beginning - the place was very cold (0 degrees at night)... and basic homestays did not have geyser etc...
Wow sounds very exciting and must do in the future. Is it difficult to get permits for East Sikkim or only parts of East Sikkim pose problems? Also how are the roads out there? How much is doable in a sedan?

Quote:
Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
Sorry about the Zanskar & Ladakh trip travelogue. Its still lying in the assembly section and I have not completed the same. I will try and get out of my lathergy and complete it soon. Sumitro had driven down to Gangtok around the pujas.
At this rate you guys will probably need a travelogue secretary .

Quote:
Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
There probably are better detours through Bangladesh. This time I almost reached there... Took a wrong turn - the road narrowed down into a paddy field and then I drove for about 3 kms inside the paddy field (of course with direction from locals) before I decided to give up and returned back
Imagine had you reached the border, the BSF guys would have been stupefied to find a family in Pajero trying to infiltrate Bangladesh while all they were trying to do was get off NH34 and reach NH31 . You definitely would have made national news.
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Old 18th November 2012, 14:35   #8
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

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Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
This road is not shown in Google Maps or Yahoo Maps or Bing Maps or MapmyIndia.
I've started adding this road on Google Maps using MapMaker. I've finished about half - If anyone feels like, they can add to it - just sign up on mapmaker.

The road will not be visible on your Google maps immediately. So be patient. Happy Navigating!
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Old 18th November 2012, 15:25   #9
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

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Originally Posted by ricky_speed View Post
I've started adding this road on Google Maps using MapMaker. I've finished about half - If anyone feels like, they can add to it - just sign up on mapmaker.

The road will not be visible on your Google maps immediately. So be patient. Happy Navigating!
Done! Check out google maps!
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Old 18th November 2012, 16:59   #10
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

Hi Debarshim

I drove to Darjeeling last month from Kolkata. I avoided Panagarh by diverting towards Bolpur, just after Burdwan, but eventually had to go to Dalkhola, and then to Kaliachowk.... UGH !

I am planning a North-est trip next year, and would welcome guidance.

I would like to get in touch with you, and will welcome a private message from you.

Regards
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Old 19th November 2012, 14:57   #11
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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Wow sounds very exciting and must do in the future. Is it difficult to get permits for East Sikkim or only parts of East Sikkim pose problems? Also how are the roads out there? How much is doable in a sedan?
The place is no doubt very good. It is not only difficult but "VERY DIFFICULT" to get a permit. The permit is issued from Rongli Police Station. You need to apply with the followin documents:- Passport Photo, Recognized Govt ID, Car Papers (all 5). If they wish to give the permit, the OC will sign the paper with a rubber stamp and a photocopy set will be deposited at police station. Carry 3-4 sets of photocopies of the same. Roughly 9kms ahead of Rongli is Lingtam. The permits are checked here at the checkpost. Without a permit - this is the farthest that you can come. There are a couple of basic hotels here which are before the checkpost. Zuluk is around 23 kms from Lingtam. When you come back the original permit is supposed to be deposited at this checkpost.

We were at first kicked out of Rongli PS. Then we brought out certain connections from Lingtam and came back with the son of Lingtam Police OC's son. They helped us to get the permit. All of this happened late at night after 8PM after we had driven for 24 hrs from Kolkata

Roads are good out here as per hill standards. This is maintained by the BRO and comes under "Project Swastik". Army is the main user of this road. There are slides that keep on happening at various points - except those areas, the road is good. It is absolutely doable in a sedan - no issues at all. In my opinion the tough part with a sedan is the plain land now on NH34.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
At this rate you guys will probably need a travelogue secretary .
Ya, Looks like I am bad at completing travelogues...

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Imagine had you reached the border, the BSF guys would have been stupefied to find a family in Pajero trying to infiltrate Bangladesh while all they were trying to do was get off NH34 and reach NH31 . You definitely would have made national news.
Luckily I did not pursue the route through the paddy fields beyond a few kms.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricky_speed View Post
Done! Check out google maps!
Thanks! This will help. Actually I do remember the names of the villages along the route. I should have done a GPS track of the same but, anyways. The villages are available in Yahoo maps. I will try and connect the dots out there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by benu9714 View Post
Hi Debarshim

I drove to Darjeeling last month from Kolkata. I avoided Panagarh by diverting towards Bolpur, just after Burdwan, but eventually had to go to Dalkhola, and then to Kaliachowk.... UGH !

I am planning a North-est trip next year, and would welcome guidance.

I would like to get in touch with you, and will welcome a private message from you.

Regards
Dear Benu9714,

I will not be able to send you a PM out here because of my Team-BHP status (newbie). Newbies do not have the access to Private messages. You can drop me a mail at debarshi.mandal@gmail.com and I will send you my phone nos.

Regards

Last edited by Technocrat : 14th June 2013 at 20:19. Reason: only 2 smileys per post allowed, please read our board rules carefully. Thanks
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Old 20th November 2012, 12:46   #12
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Default Re: Avoiding Dalkhola - Driving to North Bengal / Sikkim / Bhutan

Quote:
Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
The place is no doubt very good. It is not only difficult but "VERY DIFFICULT" to get a permit. The permit is issued from Rongli Police Station. You need to apply with the followin documents:- Passport Photo, Recognized Govt ID, Car Papers (all 5). If they wish to give the permit, the OC will sign the paper with a rubber stamp and a photocopy set will be deposited at police station. Carry 3-4 sets of photocopies of the same. Roughly 9kms ahead of Rongli is Lingtam. The permits are checked here at the checkpost. Without a permit - this is the farthest that you can come. There are a couple of basic hotels here which are before the checkpost. Zuluk is around 23 kms from Lingtam. When you come back the original permit is supposed to be deposited at this checkpost.

We were at first kicked out of Rongli PS. Then we brought out certain connections from Lingtam and came back with the son of Lingtam Police OC's son. They helped us to get the permit. All of this happened late at night after 8PM after we had driven for 24 hrs from Kolkata
Why is there so much resistance in giving permits if one can establish valid identities? These are not terrorist prone areas like some parts in J&K. Anyway there is enough security and cops around to prevent anybody from straying into China. Are these officially no-go areas for Indian citizens?

Quote:
Originally Posted by debarshim View Post
It is absolutely doable in a sedan - no issues at all. In my opinion the tough part with a sedan is the plain land now on NH34.
As of now, thanks to the other thread by Anirban, we have now a sedanable route from Kolkata to North Bengal albeit we do go through 2 different states to reach a place in our own state .

Last edited by samarjitdhar : 20th November 2012 at 12:53.
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Old 20th November 2012, 13:11   #13
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Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Why is there so much resistance in giving permits if one can establish valid identities? These are not terrorist prone areas like some parts in J&K. Anyway there is enough security and cops around to prevent anybody from straying into China. Are these officially no-go areas for Indian citizens?
The resistance to permits come from 3 places:
1) East Sikkim drivers union
2) Its a forest range. So resistance from forest officials to build roads and hotels. There is no hotel after Lingtam for this reason. There is no permission to build hotels in this region so there are only home stays.
3) Border area with China - So it is a high security zone. Civilian permits are handled by police and they do not want to take chances permitting outside cars in the region. On your way to Kupup, you can just walk into the Indian army bunkers just beside the road and pin-point the bunker locations. So there is reason for the army to be worried.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
As of now, thanks to the other thread by Anirban, we have now a sedanable route from Kolkata to North Bengal albeit we do go through 2 different states to reach a place in our own state .
My photographer friend has done this route last week. There is a 15km stretch from 'Pattabari' to 'Dumka' which is VERY VERY BAD. This comes after Messenjore. Road surface is not superb but decently motorable. This takes less time because there are fewer trucks and cars on this route - so you can at least predict when you will reach Siliguri.
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