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Old 1st July 2015, 16:34   #16
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post

This sector requires total revision, assuming you start from Jakhar this day.
I think you should be able to reach Samdrup Jonkhar this day, not much beyond.

Another alternative being explored is to cover Bhutan on our way back from Tezpur. In this case we will frive from Kolkata to Tezpur and on return leg we wish to enter Bhutan through Samdrup Jonkhar check post and drive to Thimphu via Mongar-Jakar-Trongsa.

- Is this option possible?
- Will we get permits to visit eastern Bhutan from Samdrup Jonkhar and Exit Bhutan through Phuentsholing?

If this is possible, it will cut our trip short by a day or two.
Please advice


Last edited by Renjith_Mani : 1st July 2015 at 16:38.
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Old 3rd July 2015, 21:34   #17
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Originally Posted by Renjith_Mani View Post
Another alternative being explored is to cover Bhutan on our way back from Tezpur. In this case we will frive from Kolkata to Tezpur and on return leg we wish to enter Bhutan through Samdrup Jonkhar check post and drive to Thimphu via Mongar-Jakar-Trongsa.

- Is this option possible?
- Will we get permits to visit eastern Bhutan from Samdrup Jonkhar and Exit Bhutan through Phuentsholing?

If this is possible, it will cut our trip short by a day or two.
Please advice

It is more difficult to get permits at Samdrup Jhonkar than at Phuentsoling.

No, you cannot enter Bhutan from Tawang side, the border is open only at Samdrup Jhonkar, Gelephu & Phuentsoling

Last edited by hvkumar : 3rd July 2015 at 21:35.
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Old 13th July 2015, 00:30   #18
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Hi All

After taking into various guidances given by the team members, we have revised our schedule as below. Please advice what are the impossibilities in the below plan. One obvious challenge we are also aware is the challenge to keep driving for 33 days on these tough routes.

Day 00 25/09/2015 Friday Meet at Muvattupuzha
Day 01 26/09/2015 Saturday Muvatupuzha - Mangalore Drive 448 Km.
Day 02 27/09/2015 Sunday Mangalore - Panjim Drive 374 Km.
Day 03 28/09/2015 Monday Panjim-Mumbai Drive 583 Km.
Day 04 29/09/2015 Tuesday Mumbai - Ahmedabad Drive 791 Km.
Day 05 30/09/2015 Wednesday Ahmedabad - Jodhpur - Bikaner - Suratgarh Drive 703 Km.

Day 06 01/10/2015 Thursday Suratgarh -Wagah (Atari) - Amritsar Drive 402 Km.
Day 07 02/10/2015 Friday Amritsar- Pathankhot - Dalhousie - Chamba Drive 225 Km.
Day 08 03/10/2015 Saturday Chamba - Sach Pass - Killar - Keylong Drive 284 Km.
Day 09 04/10/2015 Sunday Keylong - Leh Drive 298 Km.
Day 10 05/10/2015 Monday Leh - Nubra Drive 358 Km.

Day 11 06/10/2015 Tuesday Nubra - Pangong via Agham shyok or Wari La Drive 225 Km.
Day 12 07/10/2015 Wednesday Pangong - Lamayuru Drive 333 Km.
Day 13 08/10/2015 Thursday Lamayuru - Srinagar/Dras Drive 169 Km.
Day 14 09/10/2015 Friday Dras - Srinagar and then to Jammu (Mughal Road) Drive 465 Km.
Day 15 10/10/2015 Saturday Jammu - Jalandhar - Delhi Drive 602 Km.

Day 16 11/10/2015 Sunday Delhi - Agra (Taj Mahal)- Lucknow Drive 580 Km.
Day 17 12/10/2015 Monday Lucknow - Siliguri Drive 930 Km.
Day 18 13/10/2015 Tuesday Siliguri - Darjeeling (Toy Train Ride)- Zuluk Drive 205 Km.
Day 19 14/10/2015 Wednesday Zuluk - Gangtok - Phuentsholing (couple of very short breaks) Drive 313 Km.
Day 20 15/10/2015 Thursday Phuentsholing - Paro Drive 295 Km.

Day 21 16/10/2015 Friday Paro - Thimphu (permit works) - Jakar Drive 477 Km.
Day 22 17/10/2015 Saturday Jakar - Sandrup Jongkar exit to India Drive 460 Km.
Day 23 18/10/2015 Sunday Samdrup Jonkhar - Tezpur - Bomdila Drive 434 Km.
Day 24 19/10/2015 Monday Bomdila - Tawang Drive 173 Km.
Day 25 20/10/2015 Tuesday Tawang - Tezpur Drive 320 Km.

Day 26 21/10/2015 Wednesday Tezpur - Goalpara- Siliguri Drive 623 Km.
Day 27 22/10/2015 Thursday Siliguri - Kolkata Drive 668 Km.
Day 28 23/10/2015 Friday Kolkata - Sundarbans Drive 120 Km.
Day 29 24/10/2015 Saturday Sundarbans - Bhubaneswar Drive 528 Km.
Day 30 25/10/2015 Sunday Bhubaneswar - Konark - Puri - Visakhapatanam Drive 542 Km.

Day 31 26/10/2015 Monday Visakhapattanam - Chennai Drive 806 Km.
Day 32 27/10/2015 Tuesday Chennai - Pollachi Drive 765 Km.
Day 33 28/10/2015 Wednesday Pollochi - Muvattupuzha Drive 181 Km.
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Old 27th July 2015, 15:47   #19
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Hi Renjith, you my friend are living the dream!

Small input from my end.

Day 20 : At Phuentsholing you better be prepared with your documents and have 3-4 copies of each.

There will be 2 separate offices you will have to visit.

1. For yourself
2. For road transport since you are taking your vehicle.

I was there in May 2015 with 3 other bikers riding through Siliguri, Nepal, & Bhutan and on the day of check post clearance at Phuentsholing we arrived the immigration office at 9 AM and left for Thimpu at 2.30 PM.

I think the timeline should give you an idea of the ordeal you may have to go through!

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Old 27th July 2015, 16:38   #20
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Originally Posted by siki1010 View Post
I was there in May 2015 with 3 other bikers riding through Siliguri, Nepal, & Bhutan and on the day of check post clearance at Phuentsholing we arrived the immigration office at 9 AM and left for Thimpu at 2.30 PM.

Hi Sikandar
Thanks for the update. We were hoping to get these papers much faster though. Was there any particular reason you were delayed or it was just routine slow pace in Bhutan government offices?

Hope you enjoyed the trip. Please add the details of your trip to one of the Bhutan travelogues in the forum.

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Old 27th July 2015, 16:48   #21
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

It is a routine. Limited resources and age old process makes it even slower to cater to a neighbouring country of 1.25 billion.

I shall definitely post a travelogue on my trip to Bhutan and Nepal as this was during the earthquakes.

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Old 27th July 2015, 17:44   #22
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Hi Renjith,

Admire your team's passion. No advise from me beyond the ones given by experts. But just one thing - Have you thought of carrying a pair of walkie-talkies considering there will be two cars and these would help in short range communication between two groups rather that rely on mobile phone networks. Just a small drop of idea into this ocean.
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Old 28th July 2015, 20:02   #23
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Originally Posted by Accent Martin View Post
Have you thought of carrying a pair of walkie-talkies
Would strongly advise against it. Even though fully legal, can cause major problems with security forces in the N.E.

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Old 2nd August 2015, 12:51   #24
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Originally Posted by Accent Martin View Post
Hi Renjith,
Have you thought of carrying a pair of walkie-talkies .
Hi Martin
After the suggestion was given by you and below comment from Sutripta I did some research and it seems its very difficult to have it with us. The best option is to buy two satellite phones.

Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Would strongly advise against it. Even though fully legal, can cause major problems with security forces in the N.E.
Thanks Sutripta, you are right. Not only in N.E even in other places also we will need to have license to use kind of communication devices.
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Old 2nd August 2015, 15:09   #25
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Hi All
With a lot of interaction with many of the team BHP members we have almost finalised on our trip plan. It is a long plan and even now with only about 50 days to go, we are not sure how realistic it is. If you have some spare time please go through this and help us improve it further. All your opinions/suggestions/ advices matter a lot to us. We would be greatly thankful for suggestions on hotels to stay, restaurant to have food and any other activities en-route.

Day 00 25/09/15 Friday Get-together

17:00 Meet at Muvattupuzha - Pre-start meeting

We will just meet at a hotel and stay there so that the next day start can be done without any delay. Little bit of general interaction and discussion about the trip.
Importantly, we will check
- Condition of the cars
- List of items to be carried, such as medicines, spares for the car etc. Separate check lists to be made and ticked.
- Get a general idea of everyone’s personal baggage, Cameras and other gadgets so that nothing will be left behind at destinations on route.
- Legal documents such as Passport, car RC books, Insurance, Inner Line permits etc. Make sure enough copies are taken.
- Copies of all advance reservations made. Darjeeling Joy ride, Zuluk Hotel, Tawang Hotel, and Kolkata Hotel etc.
- Printouts of route maps, emergency contacts, hotels database
- Ensure GPS is installed properly and all are familiar with how to operate it.

Day 01 26/09/15 Saturday Muvattupuzha -Bangalore - Davengere Distance 814 Km

05:00 Start From Muvattupuzha
09:00 Coimbatore
15:00 Bangalore
19:00 Davangere

We plan to start drive early morning with a target to pass Trissur bypass by 7 Am and Coimbatore by 9 AM. Roads widening work on this stretch is expected to be over. Trissur to Palakkad route may get busy with traffic after 8 am. Soon after Coimbatore we will hit the Bangalore super highway. Drive from here till Bangalore is expected to be smooth. The 360 Km drive from Coimbatore to Bangalore should take a maximum of 6 hours. We shall bypass Bangalore. Bangalore to Davangere is again stress free smooth drive. Toll booths are the only speed breakers on this day. We have two state border crossings also.
Close to 820 Km drive but should not be tiresome.
(An ambitious plan would be to take a detour from Chithradurga and drive to Hampi. But it would take a half day if we are to visit the ruins of Vijayanagara Empire. Reaching there in the night and starting early morning from there is pointless).

Day 02 27/09/15 Sunday Davengere - Pune - Mumbai (Kalyan) Distance 730 Km

05:00 Start from Davengere
08:30 Hubli
10:30 Belgaum
13:30 Satara
16:30 Pune (by-pass)
20:30 Mumbai

Very good roads. Minimal delays expected
The second day morning spirits shall depend a lot on how first day ended. The plan for the day is to reach outskirts of the biggest city in India.
Expected drive 730 Kms. Stress-free till we reach Mumbai city limits
We expect to reach Mumbai by between 6.30 and 8.30 evening. After checking into a hotel we will get fresh and take a small night time city tour. Expected to return by Mid-night so that we may start the next morning as planned.
Planned route is Davengere – Hubli – Belgaum – Satara - Pune (bypass) – Thane/Kalyan. Once again we will drive as if we are in Europe. Minimal delays expected due to road repair works which is seemingly never ending on this route. Mumbai to Pune route is express way and all the way till we enter the city traffic of Mumbai we should not face major delays.
After reaching Mumbai, stay near Kalyan/Thane area. This may be ideal for us to proceed further to Ahmedabad route. Another option is to take a deviation at Sanpada (after DY Patel Stadium) and drive through Sion – Panvel highway and stay around Kurla area. From here next day entry to Eastern Highway is very comfortable. Eastern highway is free of signals, junctions etc. The challenge of staying at Thane or Kalyan is that, if we have to do a night out in Mumbai it will cost us 3 hours on back and forth travel. Since we are reaching Mumbai late in the evening the night trip plans around Mumbai will become tough if we stay at Thane.

Day 03 28/09/15 Monday Mumbai - Mount Abu Distance 720 Km

Remember to put a yellow tape on RHS headlamp
05:00 Start from Mumbai
07:00 Silvassa (Capital of Union territory Dadra Nagar Haweli)
09:00 Daman (Union territory Daman and Diu )
13:30 Vadodara
15:00 Reach Ahmedabad
20:00 Reach Mount Abu

Early start required to avoid Mumbai traffic
Reach Dadra Nagar Haveli - break (Union Territory)
Reach Daman and Diu - break (Union Territory)
Bypass Surat keeping NH8
Reach Ankleshwar – Use Golden Bridge to cross Narmada to avoid jams on by-pass. Golden bridge is after crossing Ankleshwar and we will be through in 15 minutes, otherwise crossing Narmada could take few hours. Once we cross Narmada we shall reach Bharuch, then Vadodara and Ahmedabad.
Mumbai - Ahmedabad can be covered in about 8 hours but we are taking couple of de-tours to Dadra and Daman so we will take about 10 hours
The roads are expected to be good throughout, particularly Vadodara – Ahmedabad.
Excellent tolled L&T Highway connecting SP Ring Road (Ahmedabad to Mehsana)
An alternate route from Vadodara – The Vadodara- Halol - Godhra- Lunawada route is also said to be in great condition.
8 PM is a pessimistic time line assumed to reach Mount Abu. We could reach earlier. We plan a small night party with friends from Gujarat. The next day drive is not very taxing so no reason why we shouldn’t have a bit of fun.
The border crossing to Gujarat can cause a bit of delay. Once we branch off from NH 14 and enter Mount Road the roads shall become narrow and then there is an uphill drive for about 30Km.

Day 04 29/09/15 Tuesday Mount Abu - Kishangarh- Hanumangarh. Distance 731 Km

08:00 Start from Mount Abu
Palanpur-Sirohi - Sojat- Kishangarh
4 Lane road almost all the way
13:00 Kishangarh
Kishangarh - Hanumangarh expressway
19:00 Hanumangarh

There are many route options for this day. We would finalise the route after considering all options and updates.
The roads are lonely and devoid of any great facilities.
The 410 Km between Kishangarh to Hanumangarh can be done in less than 5 hours. This is one day we are going to regret about the top speeds of our cars. Generally this route is done at 140Kmph.
Start of the drive for the day can be even after 9 AM as the route to be covered on the day is smooth drive without much traffic. All the way 4 lane roads after joining NH14. Plan is to avoid all three major cities (Udaipur, Jaipur and Jodhpur). Passing through any of these cities would cost 3 to 4 hours. With a very early start we can cover either Udaipur or Jodhpur but it may not be possible with previous night being a party night. Major concern on the day would be lack of facilities on the route. 10 Hours shall be enough to cover the distance planned for the day. Consistent 100Km/Hr speeds possible on this route. Another four hours of drive shall take us to Amritsar. If that be the case we may rest a whole day (the next day) before we start mountain drives. For this to happen also an early start required.
Alternatively if everyone are too tired we may take a break for this day and next day about 5 AM we can start driving to Amritsar. In that case we will not see the Wagah border ceremony.
Another option is to drive to Udaipur which is only 160 Km and drive next day to Amritsar. On this option also we will miss Wagah border.

Day 05 30/09/15 Wednesday Hanumangarh -Wagah (Atari) – Amritsar Distance 335 Km

10:00 Start from Hanumangarh
15:00 Reach Wagah Border
19:00 Amritsar

Ideal time to visit golden Temple is 8 pm

The days of long drives are over for time being. We can start a bit late and drive to Wagah border by-passing Amritsar. The border closing function got mixed reviews. We may spend time there and return to Amritsar. This city has so much to offer to the visitors. We may focus on the Golden Temple and then a small city tour.
The timing of Wagah border closing is very confusing. But from all posts it seems its better we reach there before 3 PM. Bad thing is that if we reach there too early we have nothing else to do at the border. If we can skip this altogether we will save another day and could reach Dalhousie the same day. Hanumangarh to Dalhousie is 460 Km approximately 9 hours’ drive.

Day 06 01/10/15 Thursday Amritsar- Pathankot - Dalhousie - Chamba Distance 225 Km.

06:00 Start from Amritsar
08:00 Gurdaspur
09:00 Pathankot
13:00 Delay for car service and quick check on both cars
16:30 Dalhousie
17:30 Chamba

Early start is chosen to avoid heavy traffic between Amritsar and Gurdaspur otherwise this day's drive don’t warrant an early start. This will also help us to check conditions of Sach Pass early enough so that we could switch to Plan B and drive to Jammu.
Till Dalhousie roads are good
This day we are planning a quick check-up of the cars before the challenging drive around Leh begin. We have driven only 3,500 Km so far on the trip through very good highways and cars should not need a service. Still a quick check on air filters, oil levels, coolant etc may be good.
Stay around the area and find out condition of Sach Pass
Sach pass is expected to be open till Mid October. The drive on Sach Pass will have a lot of challenges owing to its narrow width, rocky surface, frequent landslides, unexpected snow falls and to top it all many drive though water crossings.
It’s better to check on Sach pass condition from Pathankot, so that if it’s closed we could proceed to Jammu.
As per Dalai Lama's travel calendar he is supposed to be at Dharma Sala from 1st to 4th October at the main Temple. We could visit his holiness if car services can be done quickly.

Day 07 02/10/15 Friday Chamba - Sach Pass – Keylong Distance 284 Km

Check if Sach Pass is Open >> If yes - Chamba to Keylong
05:00 Chamba
08:00 Start Sach Pass
12:00 Pass Sach Pass
13:00 Killar
18:00 Keylong

For Google's over optimistic estimate this is only 6 hour drive!!!
Chamba to beginning of Sach pass is about 3 hours. Sach Pass would take 4 hours to cross and we will reach Killar. Even after passing Killar, the road is still bad until almost near Keylong. From Killar to Keylong it should take 6 hours. Total drive duration shall be about 12 hours or more.
This is the most critical day of Ladakh drive-If Chamba to Keylong is not possible, the whole plan need be changed. Sach pass is one lof the least used routes to Ladakh because of the dangerous drive and early snow fall. The most common route preferred by those visiting Leh is our plan B. The drive from Killar to Keylong also is bit of an adventure. Empty roads with nobody to be seen for hours. -

If sach Pass not open then Plan B - Drive via Mughal Road to Srinagar then Leh- Pangong - Manali exit.
"Summary of Plan B:
Day 7: Chamba to Srinagar Via Mughal Road
Day 8 : Srinagar - Leh
Day 9 : Leh - Nubra (Khardung La)
Day 10: Nubra - Pangong (Agham shyok or Wari La)
Day 11 : Pangong - Pang
Day 12: Pang - Manali/Kullu (Rohthang La)
This plan will offer lesser challenging drives till we reach Leh. From thereon its the same. As per plan B we will be driving through the infamous Rohtang Pass which will be free of traffic." The biggest flip side of this plan is that we have to pass through Manali a very unfriendly place for outside cars.

Day 08 03/10/15 Saturday Keylong- Leh Distance 298 Km

10:00 Keylong
16:00 Leh

The roads are exceptionally good. By afternoon we would start seeing the beautiful Ladakh. This day is planned as a day to relax after tiresome drive through Sach pass and before we do 3 consecutive days of tough mountain drives in Ladakh.
We will leave Leh the next day and come back after 3 days. We can make use of Laundry services here to wash the cloths used for first week of travel.
Little bit of afternoon sightseeing can be done in Leh. If we wish to give cars a rest we may hire bikes from Leh and use the bikes to do the next three days of Ladakh drives. The altitude sickness is more severe with bikes and it’s a tougher task to ride bikes in cold weather. For the sake of everyone’s good health for another 24 more days it’s better we stick to cars.  

Day 09 04/10/15 Sunday Leh to Diskit (Nubra) Distance 116 Km

05:00 Leh
07:00 South Pullu
09:00 Khardung La Souvenir shop
11: 00 North Pullu
14:00 Diskit

Via Khardung La, second highest pass in Leh. The elevation of Khardung La is 5,359 m (17,582 ft). We are starting early to avoid trouble from the taxi guys.

Key challenge we may face in early October is that it will be the beginning of snow fall and roads can get unexpectedly closed. After reaching Leh we may have to re-plan the whole trip.
From the videos it look like Khardung La is full of pot holes and pieces of rocks all over the road. There are few areas with 3 Mtr wide roads and deep valley on the other side. Very low oxygen levels adds to our troubles. About 3 Km close to the La there is an avalanche zone and it’s the most dangerous part. If the driver gets dizzy due to altitude stop immediately and someone else should take over. We may check our health situation at South Pullu before proceeding to Khardung La. Once we reach North Pullu the roads will improve.
This day is a tough drive but not a long one. We could actually drive to Pangong the same day if we dare. Taking it slow will offer us some rest and it would feel like we are on a holiday than a rat race.

Day 10 05/10/15 Monday Nubra - Pangong via Agham shyok/ Wari La Distance 163 Km

07:00 Diskit
09:00 Agham
11:00 Durbuk
12:00 Tangste
14:00 Spangmik (Pangong Tso)

Agham Shyok is first choice but if it’s closed due to snow we use Wari La. Challenge with Wari La is that after Wari La we will have to cross Chang La also to reach Spangmik (Pangong Lake). Chang La is already part of our next day drive. We will have to cross Chang La twice in that case. Both these routes are going to offer challenging drives. On Agham route we would drive beside the Shyok River for about 100Km – very scenic route. Road conditions from Tangste can be bad – no much data available.
The videos available are all shot in July-August, even then there is lot of snow. October drive on this route might remain a dream. Huge piles of loosely held rocks on one side and river bed on the other side. Route is sometimes like a semi-tunnel carved through the rocks. It’s a scary drive through no man’s land. Two spares tyres each per car is a must.
Pangong is said to be one of the coldest places on Leh. Cars need to be idled and covered should they start the next morning. Some of the BHPians advised not to stay at Pangong due to extreme weather conditions. We might find Pangong Ice not lake, but as for every day of this trip the journey is more important not destination.
If we complete the drive in the timelines planned, the afternoon can be used to do sightseeing around Pangong Tso- the “Three idiots’” lake.

Day 11 06/10/15 Tuesday Pangong- Leh – Lamayuru Distance 270 Km

06:00 Spangmik
09:00 Chang La
11:00 Karu
12:00 Leh (Arrive)
16:00 Leh (Depart)
18:00 Lamayuru

Need not start this early, but lot of delays can happen on route so earlier the better.
This route is much better than the previous two days. We have Chang La to pass but no way near notorious as Sach La, Khardung La or Agham- Shyok. Changa la got a lot of pot holes and ice but once we pass that the drive is on excellent highways. Steep altitude might cause of bit of trouble. 125Km from Spangmik to Karu is the tough part of the day’s drive. Still the climb requires a careful drive. The approch to Chang La from Tangtse is very steep. After Chang La the roads down to Karu Village is again steep.
Wikipedia- “Chang La (el. 5,360 m or 17,590 ft) is a high mountain pass in Ladakh, India. It is the second highest motorable road in the world” - (may not be true)
After reaching Leh we could collect the Laundry back, have lunch etc and start our return journey. Leh to Lamayuru is an easy drive of 110Km.

Day 12 07/10/15 Wednesday Lamayuru - Srinagar/Sonamarg/Drass Distance 307 Km

06:00 Lamayuru
08:00 Kargil (Arrive)
10:00 Kargil (Depart)
11:00 Dras (Arrive)
12:00 Dras (Depart)
17:30 Sonamarg
19:00 Srinagar

Between Dras to Sonamarg we have our last pass on Ladakh trip, the Zoji La. The trouble with this pass is traffic controls. Lot of Army truck movements hence its not open freely. Zojila seems very dusty and rough to drive. From Lamayuru to Dras the road conditions are good.
Quick breaks at Kargil and Dras for war memorial visits. The food at Dras is said to great so we will have lunch from there.
Sankaracharya Temple, Mughal Darbar Hotel for dinner and a night stay at Dal Lake with a late night Shikara ride are plans for Srinagar.
Car Service, Change engine oil, wheel alignment, Filters, break pads etc.

Day 13 08/10/15 Thursday Srinagar –Jammu Distance 465 Km

10:00 Srinagar
11:00 Shopian
14:00 Bafliaz
15:00 Rajouri
19:00 Jammu

Car Service, Change engine oil, wheel alignment, Filters, brake pads etc before we start. We have been to a lot of dusty roads and cars must have taken a toll.
That will be our end of the second major phase in the trip and we are back to proper highways and populated parts of India. By now we could have had enough of narrow passes and mountain driving
Srinagar to Shopian is goods roads (seen from google earth). Till Nowgam it could be even 4 lane. From Nowgam to Shopian also tarmarked roads.
From Shopian the Mughal road begin. Mughal road conditions may not be great throughout. We may have to drive through bit of water and slush. As seen in a video of 2013 Mughal road rally, the surface of the road is good in most areas but there were some real bad patches also. Recent videos of the route not seen. The 100Km from Sophian to Bafliaz should take 3 hours plus. This is the part where Kashmir Valley is most beautiful.
After Bafliaz the roads are a mix of good and bad. Once we near Jammu the roads are very good.
After reaching Jammu cross Tawi bridge and stay near the airport. This will help speedy exit from Jammu the next day. We have completed about one third of the trip.

Day 14 09/10/15 Friday Jammu - Jalandhar – Delhi Distance 610 Km

07:00 Jammu
09:00 Pathankhot
11:00 Jalandhar
12:00 Ludhiana
14:00 Ambala
15:00 Kurukshetra
16:00 Panipat
19:00 Noida

Roughly 10 to 12 hours of drive on smooth roads, that is if we go very slow. All the way NH1 and NH1A are dual carriage 2 lane roads. If we take few breaks we might reach Delhi past 6 PM. Chandigarh will be slightly off the route, if we plan to drive through Chandigarh, it might add couple more hours to the trip. Chandigarh was not included due to the confusing traffic rules in the city. Jalandhar and Ludhiana are two major beautiful Panjab cities on the route. Both cities got bypasses and may not trouble us with traffic jams. Rajpura can be by-passed using highway 64 and Ambala is on one side of highway, no drive-through required. Suburbs and villages of Panjab will be treat to our eyes. Kurukshetra and Panipat are other familiar names appearing on the route. Once approaching Delhi take ring road to avoid old Delhi and find a place to stay near Akshardham. From here Greater Noida Expressway will take us straight to Yamuna Expressway to Agra. We may use Delhi Metro or other transport means to travel within city for a brief night out.


Day 15 10/10/15 Saturday Delhi – Agra- Kanpur – Lucknow Distance 580 Km

05:00 Delhi (Noida)
08:00 Agra (Arrive)
13:00 Agra (Depart)
19:00 Kanpur
22:00 Lucknow

Delhi to Agra via Yamuna expressway is expected to be very smooth. Drive through Agra city might take an hour. If we can get a safe parking it’s better to park the cars at Shilp Gram Parking as Parking around Taj Mahal is confusing. From Shilp Gram take a Rickshaw to Southern Gate (the least busy gate). The day we reach there is about the new moon day so otherwise advisable night viewing of Taj Mahal if out of options for us. The queue at times is 1 Km long. From Dec 2014 they had a plan to issue tickets online but the web page was non-responsive. Other alternative is to go take the foreigner's tickets which would cost Rs 500/750 per person. The rush could be high as previous day was a Friday (Taj Mahal not open on Fridays). On Foreigner tickets the long walk from gate to Taj Mahal can be avoided as they transport us on Golf carts. If we reach Taj before 7 AM a lot of concerns will be addressed. Leave the Shoes in the car or else we will have to carry it with us in a plastic bag after we enter.
Smoking items, tobacco products, liquor, eatables (Toffees), head phones, knives, wire, mobile charger, electric goods (except camera), and tripods are all prohibited inside the monument. Both times I visited Taj, I saw that they were very strict about this. Best way is to walk in with only cameras. Sun glasses are a must to have when visiting this place. The light reflected from the marble is very bright.
From Agra, with an afternoon start we will reach Lucknow by late night. Roads are good till Kanpur. Kanpur to Lucknow is a bit of pain ride. Bypassing Kanpur through a busy bridge would cost us some time. With long walks around Taj Mahal we could feel exhausted by end of day.

Day 16 11/10/15 Sunday Lucknow – Siliguri Distance 930 Km

06:00 Lucknow
08:00 Faizabad
10:00 Gorakhpur (Outer)
16:00 Muzaffarpur
21:00 Siliguri

This is another pain part of drive. We have to wake up early on back to back days and stay in the car for long hours. This day is the longest drive in terms of distance. The roads are excellent throughout except for a small distance of 30Km near UP-Bihar border (near Gopalganj after Gorakhpur). The Police guys on the road is known to harass out of state registration cars.
There is nothing much to enjoy on the route, barren lands of UP and Bihar. Facilities such as Hotels and Petrol Stations are also limited.
After exiting East-West Corridor roads are not very good. Dalkhola to Islampur route got lot of potholes and we will be reaching here past sunset.
By the end of this day we would have done half the trip both in terms of drive distance and number of days.
If there are any late night laundries open we could drop the dirty dress and pick back 9 days later when we return from north-east India. Alternatively we can make prior arrangements with some laundry guys to come and pick the cloths from the hotel we stay. After 6 days we have another option to do laundry at Tezpur.

Day 17 12/10/15 Monday Siliguri – Darjeeling – Zuluk Distance 205 Km

07:00 Siliguri
09:00 Darjeeling (Arrive)
10:00 Darjeeling Toy Train Rid
13:00 Darjeeling (Depart)
15:30 Rongli (Arrive)
17:00 Rongli (Depart)
19:15 Zuluk

An earlier start from Siliguri will make sure that we will not miss the toy train. Toy train departs from Darjeeling at 10.40 AM and Reach Ghum by 11 .30. We can come back to Darjeeling by taxi or the same train. Train return back at Darjeeling by 12.40. We are not saving more than 30 minutes by taking taxi. If we return by train, we may have lunch sitting in the train. The other major attraction at Darjeeling, the Cable car, can be done is the queues are short. Cable car ride would take only 40 minutes but the queues may take 2 hours. In that case we will be reaching Rongli very late. We may not get permits to go to Zuluk. Ropeway opens only at 10 AM so we cannot do it before the train ride. The rope way is only 3 km from railway station so we can go check the rush and decide. We will have to leave Darjeeling before 2 Pm.
Darjelling to Rongli road conditions are good. It’s a 110 Km drive mostly downhill. We could cover this in two and half hours.
Permits: We may have a major challenge here. One of the update is that permits shall not be issued to non-Sikkim registered cars. This is not a confirmed information. If this is the case we will drive direct to Gangtok and skip Zuluk. Team BHP member’s update on this was that they would insist on taxi + ILP or a guide +ILP. It is better use the services of an approved travel agent to get the permits. They got contacts and could manage it without much fuss.
Zuluk accommodations should be pre-booked. We will get in touch with local home stay people. They could assist us getting permits also. The drive from Rongli to Zuluk is only 30Km but due to the sharp turns of the loop roads it might take close to 2 hours.

Day 18 13/10/15 Tuesday Zuluk – Tsongmo Gangtok – Pheuntsholing Distance 313 Km

04: 00 Sunrise at Lungthung
06:30 Thambi View Point
07:30 Dzuluk (Depart)
09:30 Tsongmo (Arrive)
10:30 Tsongmo (Depart)
12:30 Gangtok (Arrive)
15:00 Gangtok (Depart)
20:00 Phuentsholing

Sunrise at Lungthung - This is better reviewed than Tiger hills sunrise so we should try to wake up at 4 AM and see this. Those who cant manage may come direct to Thambi view point. The drive from Zuluk to Tsongmo lake is through beautiful loop roads. Tsongmo Lake is slightly off this route, we could visit if time permits . If we reach Tsongmo before planned time we could have Yak ride there. Roads to Gangtok from Tsongmo are in bad shape and therefore this 40Km would take 2 hours. Zuluk – Tsongmo – Gangtok (Jawaharlal Road) is closed most times plus we will need an additional permit from Army also which can be difficult to get.
Key attractions at Gangtok are Gangtok ropeway, Rumtek Monastery, MG Market and Ganesh. Ropeway should take less than an hour as its only 7 minute ride . This can be skipped if we managed a cable car ride at Darjeeling.
Another very promising prospect is that we can have a helicopter ride at Gongtok. It will cover north Sikkim areas with a quick 40 minutes round trip. It’s not very expensive also. If we do the helicopter ride then rest of the plans at Gangtok should be dropped.
Best part of Sikkim tour is drive around the mountain roads. Alternative plan is to just keep driving through Gangtok and reach Phuentsholing before 3.30 PM. In that case we could get the permits for us and the cars the same day and proceed early morning to Paro the next day.

Day 19 14/10/15 Wednesday Phuentsholing – Paro Distance 161 Km

08:00 Phuentsholing (Arrive)
11:00 Phuentsholing (Depart)
14:00 Paro (Arrive)

The Offices of the immigration open at 9 am. Take Permit for us to visit Thimbu and Paro. Get some Bhutan SIM cards as we wait for the permits. Then take Permit for cars (RC book and pollution Certificate needed). If we are lucky we will get permit (for cars) all the way to Samdrup Jonkhar from here itself. If not we will have to apply for permit extension at Thimphu as we wait for other permits at Thimphu. Apply and take permits to visit Monasteries also. The whole plan for this day can get messed up if permits take too long. It can take up to 3 PM get the permits issued. A separate document is prepared on Bhutan travel covering dress code, expected manners, laws that concern us etc.
After reaching Paro go for the afternoon hiking to Tiger's nest, the most popular attraction in Bhutan. This is completely optional and shall depend on energy levels. The climb to the nest on pony back and hiking combined could take more than 4 hours. After hike to 10,000 feet height and back further drive will be challenging, so we may Stay at paro. Hiking may not be possible if we reach Paro after 2 PM.
Visiting one of the Archery grounds is popular on Bhutan trips. Spend a relaxed evening seeing other attractions around Paro. Some of the houses in Bhutan got some weird way of decoration, we could try to see those also. This is expected to be a less hectic day for driving but involve long waits and walking.

Day 20 15/10/15 Thursday Paro- Thimbu – Jakar Distance 310 Km

07:00 Paro
08:30 Thimphu (Arrive)
14:00 Thimphu (Depart)
14:30 Dochula (Arrive)
15:00 Dochula (Depart)
16:30 Sospokha
18:00 Manikyangsa
20:30 Trongsa
22:30 Jakar

Thimphu is just an hour away from Paro on very good roads. Immediately after reaching Thimphu take permits to Eastern Bhutan- this cannot be obtained from Phuentsholing. Apply for extension of Car Permits and Permits to visit Dzong (Monasteries). There is nothing much to see in Thimphu, we could spend time getting to know the local culture. Target is to leave Thimphu as fast as possible but permits could take very long to get processed. If there is a long wait at Thimphu, consider visiting some old Monasteries (Changangkha Lhakhang or Thimphu Chorten). There is a huge Buddha statue 7 km outside town. After we leave Thimphu in about half an hour drive we will reach Dochula Stupas. Then we would drive through various small towns in rural Bhutan. There are lot of places to cover but we can't stop for too long or at too many places. Thimphu to Jakar is only 250 Km but it can take close to 10 hours. With some luck, if there are no landslides we will reach Jakar past 10 PM. This is one of those days we have to keep pushing ourselves. We can stay at any of the in-between towns also if we are ready to start earlier the next day.
The real rural Bhutan and the country's beauty can be a treat to the eyes.
If lost a day for permit works or would want to save a day we could drive to Tsirang from Thimphu and exit through Galepu border - 9 hour drive till border and from there another 6 hours to Tezpur.

Day 21 16/10/15 Friday Jakar - Sandrup Jongkar Distance 410 Km.

05:00 Jakar
11:00 Mongar
14:00 Trashigang
20:00 Samdrup Jonkhar

Such an early start is needed as this route conditions are very bad (in other words exciting). A long part of the day’s roads are not even in Google maps. These are narrow roads with sharp turns, scenic beauty is expected to be great. Form Trashigang it is 180 km to Indian border. The route is through Khaling wildlife sanctuary. This will be another long day of difficult driving. By the time we reach India border at Samdrup Jongkar, it can be past 7 PM. Only limited info is available about the day’s route and nothing extra ordinary is to be expected on these village/forest drive.
Samdrup Jonkhar is a small town. The check post timings can be checked and decide if we have to stay at Bhutan side or Indian side. If we reach here much earlier than expected then we may drive on to Tamulpur or Rangia.

Day 22 17/10/15 Saturday Samdrup Jonkhar- Tezpur – Bomdila Distance 434 Km

08:00 Samdrup Jonkhar
09:00 Tamulpur
11:00 Rangia
12:00 Sipajhar
14:00 Tezpur (Arrive)
15:00 Tezpur (Depart)
19:00 Bomdila

Exit formalities at the check post and immigration might take a bit of time. After entering India soon we would join the east-west corridor back again. On these parts road widening works are not going on smooth due to protests from environmentalists. So these are narrow roads with a lot of truck traffic. If we do not have online inner line permits to visit Tawang we will be in trouble. This is a Saturday and we will reach there late afternoon. We will not be able to go to Tawang if we don’t get permits at Tezpur without any delay. Alternative plan should be to visit Meghalaya which is equally beautiful. After Passing Tezpur we would drive through the out-skirts of Pakke Tiger reserve and reach Bomdila. Road conditions till Bomdila are not be so bad.
Laundry is possible at Tezpur as we would reach here again 2 days later.
The next day Tawang Trip and immediate return would be very tiresome, if anyone is not feeling up to the task they may take a two days off here at Tezpur and relax.

Day 23 18/10/15 Sunday Bomdila –Sela Pass – Tawang Distance 173 Km

07:00 Bomdila
10:30 Sela pass (begin)
12:30 Sela Pass (end)
13:30 Nuranang falls
15:30 Indo-China War memorials
17:00 Tawang

From Bomdila to Tawang through Sela pass is another challenging drive. Very poor road conditions added to the snow expected in October. After about half way drive we will enter famous Sela pass 14000 feet high. We would see some 1962 Indo-China war memorials on the way. We may have to pre-book accommodation at Tawang (only 4 or 5 places for accommodation, not all of them will be open in October). The Tawang Monastery is the only must see at Tawang other than the war memorials. If on the way we are getting late, we could leave some of the attractions for the next day as we shall be coming back on the same route.
We would have driven close to 10,000 Km. Two thirds of the trip is done and next day we would start the return journey.

Day 25 to 32 to be continued with another post as the total schedule exceeds the length limitation of forum posts.
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Old 2nd August 2015, 15:40   #26
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Hi Everybody

Here is the rest of our travel plan

Day 24 19/10/15 Monday Tawang – Tezpur Distance 320 Km

05:00 Tawang
10:00 Sela Pass (Begin)
11:30 Sela Pass (End)
15:30 Bomdila
20:00 Tezpur

Tough task to wake up so early after the previous day’s difficult drive. But such an early start is required to make sure that we can drive relaxed till Tezpur. The return drive being downhill could be done slightly faster - it’s only a hope. So long as we can cross Bomdila before nightfall no worries. From Bomdila roads are better. If by any chance we manage to reach Tezpur before 6 pm we should drive on to Guwahati (that's impossible we know). These roads are excellent.
End of this day our off-road drives are done. Now all the way till Kerala it shall be highways except some bad patches on Siliguri – Kolkata route.
If we gave any cloths for washing we may collect those back.

Day 25 20/10/15 Tuesday Tezpur - Goalpara- Siligur Distance 623 Km

07:00 Tezpur
10:00 Guwahati
13:00 Goalpara
15:00 Srirampur
19:00 Siliguri

Back on highways. The road conditions for the day is excellent throughout. Guwahati- Goalpara -Srirampur stretch can be narrow. But taking this route and driving about 100 Km extra is considered better than going back through the traffic congested NH. We would cross Brahmaputra River twice on this route.
After Srirampur the roads are 4 lane and should allow average speed of 70Kmph.
So that would be the end of North-East India drive. This would be an ideal time to have the cars checked for alignment and other minor fine tuning. We may have enough time at Kolkata but we may not find any places open there.
Collect cloths back from Siliguri if given for any laundry work.

Day 26 21/10/15 Wednesday Siliguri – Kolkata Distance 668 Km

05:00 Siliguri
09:00 Purnea
10:00 Tetari
13:00 Dumka
15:00 Asansol
15:30 Durgapur
16:30 Burdwan
18:00 Dankuni
20:00 Kolkata

The above route is a 100Km longer alternative for the straight forward NH 34. The reviews on NH 34 route complains a lot about the never ending road widening works, traffic jams, truck traffic etc. These works could be over by the time we drive. Google earth is also not giving any clear picture. We will take updates from Truck drivers or bus drivers on the condition of NH before start the drive. If NH 34 is in good condition only advantage for the other route is that we will cover one more state, Jharkand, but that would involve crossing check posts two more times.
Siliguri- Bhagabati -Kishangunj - Purnea – Tetari. Between Siliguri and Purnea there should be a Bihar border crossing which might take some time .From there on the road conditions are as nice as NH. Once we Asansol we will enter Durgapur expressway.
We will reach Kolkata on Durgashtami night, so plan for party night. Next day no drive no tension
Place to stay need be finalised and booked in advance. Big rush expected due to festive season. From the maps it seems it’s better to stay around Dum-Dum area and commute to other places using train/tram/taxi.
North Kolkata - Shovabazar Raj Bari, Mitra Bari, Chatu babu latu babu raj bari, Kumortulli, Sreebhumi Sporting Club, Ahiritola, Sikdar Bagan, Tarun Sangha (Dum Dum), Kumartuli Park, Bagbazar Sarbojonin.
South Kolkata - Modiali club, 66 palli, Badamtala, Shib Mandir, Lake Palli, - Maddox Square, Ekdalia Evergreen, Vivekananda Park, Singhi Park, Hindustan Park, Phalguni Sangha, Udayan Sangha, Suruchi Sangha, Deshapriya Park, Selimpur, Babu Bagan.
Central Kolkata - College Square (do not miss the fantastic interplay of lights and its reflection on the lake waters), Muhammad Ali Park, Santosh Mitra Square, Loha Patty (Maniktala), Shimla Byayam Samiti.
The above are also in the context of Durga Pooja – otherwise important Kolkata attractions such as Howra Bridge, Tagore House, Victoria etc also can be included in schedule.

Day 27 22/10/15 Thursday Kolkata – Sundarbans-Kolkata Distance 200 Km

07:00 Kolkata (Depart)
10:00 Sundarbans (Arrive)
16:00 Sundarbans (Depart)
19:00 Kolkata (Arrive)

We would take a pre-booked shuttle operated by tour guides to Sundarbans. This is considering that we will have to go inside the forest for a Game ride or a boat ride. There is no point is taking our cars all the way there. This would give us a break for another service to the car and ourselves some rest. We may see one or two tigers during the six hours or so we spend at the forest. Most likely we may not see any.
We are back at the city for Navami celebrations. Once again we may enjoy the festive night at Kolkata. With the previous night’s experience we would know where to go and what to do. So no advance plans made.
This will be the first day we would not be driving after 26 days.

Day 28 23/10/15 Friday Kolkata – Bhubaneswar Distance 528 Km

07:00 Kolkata
09:00 Bagnan
10:00 Kharagpur
14:00 Bhadrak
16:00 Cuttack
19:00 Bhubaneshwar

Morning start from Kolkata, Take AH1 (NH 34) and branch off to AH45 (NH 6) and go towards Bagnan. Road conditions are excellent all the way. Speeds close to 100 Kmph possible. The above timelines are on the higher end we might most likely reach earlier than this. The 30Km between Cuttack to Bhubaneshwar is expected to have heavy traffic. Other than this it’s a stress free drive. We have option for a small city trip in the evening.

Day 29 24/10/15 Saturday Bhubaneswar - Konark - Puri - Visakhapatnam Distance 542 Km

05:00 Bhubaneswar
07:00 Konark (Arrive)
09:00 Konark (Depart)
10:00 Puri (Arrive)
13:00 Puri (Depart)
15:00 Chilika Dhaba
20:00 Visakhapatnam

Very early morning start will help as Konark Sun Temple is open from 6 AM and the rush is lesser in morning hours. We could spend about 2 hours at Konark and then proceed to Puri. The Puri Temple is not a touristy place, it’s a 3000 plus year old large temple visited mostly by religious people. We may focus on the beaches of Puri and do a bit of surfing. There is no rush in resuming the journey from Puri if we are okay with some night drive. The roads are very good and the drive will be smooth. Evening meals can be from Chilika Dhaba.

Day 30 25/10/15 Sunday Visakhapatnam – Chennai Distance 806 Km

06:00 Visakhapatnam
09:00 Rajahmundry
11:30 Vijayawada (Arrive)
13:00 Vijayawada (Depart)
14:00 Guntur
16:00 Ongole
17:00 Kavali
18:00 Nellore
19:00 Gudur
22:00 Chennai

We plan to cover a long way this day. The road conditions are very good. Only major pain point of the day is crossing the city of Vijayawada which cannot be bypassed. There is no scenic beauty on the route except few long bridges. Most boring drive of the trip but we could drive at good speeds. There are frequent towns on the route so some minor traffic may be expected on bypasses. Some coastal sectors can be interesting to drive through.
After reaching Chennai we can check into a hotel and do a small city trip. May be Marina/Anna square area or just the city itself. We are not very positive on the energy levels for this.

Day 31 26/10/15 Monday Chennai –Puducherry- Pollachi Distance 765 Km

06:00 Chennai
09:00 Puducherry (Arrive)
12:00 Puducherry (Depart)
13:00 Villupuram
16:00 Salem
18:00 Avinashi/Tiruppur
19:00 Palladam
20:00 Pollachi.

First part of the drive is through the famous ECR route. Early morning these roads could be less busy therefore if we start at 6 am we could reach Puducherry by 9 am. Its 150 Km. After spending couple of hours at Puducherry we would start another dull drive. After Salem we could decide if we want to go straight through Avinashi-Coimbatore- Palakadu – Trissur – Kochi or Palladam-Pollachi. With the first option we will be driving back through the same route as onward journey but could reach Kochi past midnight on the same day. Even for the second option also its better to drive to Avinashi first and then drive to Palladam than passing through Tiruppur traffic. At Pollachi we will have to stay as the check post would be closed by the time we arrive. If we do not stop at Puducherry also, it will be a tough ask to pass through the check post and drive through the forest in the night on narrow roads with sharp turns.

Day 32 27/10/15 Tuesday Pollachi - Valparai – Ernakulam Distance 181 Km

08:00 Pollachi
09:30 Valparai
10:30 Sholayar
11:00 Malakappara
13:00 Vazhachal
14:00 Muvattupuzha

Late start is okay for the day. No rush, only 180Km drive. The scenic beauty of Valparai route can be enjoyed to the full. We could even have a stop at Athirappilly water falls. Road conditions are good. The forest route is narrow. We could have a lunch then agree on what to do in the afternoon.

And that friends is one trip of a life time we are planning.
Please advice us, share your valuable knowledge and help us prepare better.

Renjith (on behalf of our team)
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Old 19th August 2015, 10:46   #27
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Hi Renjith, Nice to know you are planning a crazy trip like this! Infact, I am planning to do a trip from Trivandrum to Thimpu and back from 12-Nov-15. I have just begun the planning and it would be three of us on the trip on a Santro. Would it be possible for you to PM me? We can share notes/preparations etc.
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Old 24th August 2015, 16:55   #28
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Default Re: Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice?

Originally Posted by theroadrunner View Post
Hi Renjith, Nice to know you are planning a crazy trip like this! Infact, I am planning to do a trip from Trivandrum to Thimpu and back from 12-Nov-15. I have just begun the planning and it would be three of us on the trip on a Santro. Would it be possible for you to PM me? We can share notes/preparations etc.
Yes definitely I could do that. I will share all available info through PM.
The info is not very organised so if shared just as it is, it may not make any sense to you.

I hope you are planning a round trip. All the best for the up coming trip.
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