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Old 14th March 2012, 13:58   #1
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Default An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

Lets just start by saying that I simply love the mountains. I have been to Kalimpong, Lava-Lolegaon, Bhutan, North Sikkim since my childhood and most obviously, these were all arranged trips done by taking a train to the nearest point and then renting a car and so on and so forth.
Since I started owning a car my desire to drive to a hill station started culminating but could never really materialse the dream since I could not muscle up the courage to do the trip on my Indica Xeta which I owned earlier.

I bought the Storm - my panther black Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi in March 2011. This time the old desire started burning brighter. I seriously thought that it might all be possible now since I have a mean machine.

Come August 2011, one of my friends and co-bhpian Sayantan suddenly came up with this idea - "Lets do a drive to the Kumaon"!!!! AND I WAS GAME FROM THE NEXT SENTENCE. I said "Yes! lets do it"!

Immediately, there were interested parties and we started nights of planning. The final decided route was Kolkata - Allahabad - Nainital - Kausani - Binsar - Lucknow - Varanasi - Kolkata. We decided to take two cars. There were 7 final co passengers. Since this was a first long trip for all of us we decided to book the accomodations upfront.

We booked the following hotels
Allahabad - Rahi Ilawart Tourist Bungalow
Nainital - KMVN Resort
Kausani - KMVN Resort
Binsar - KMVN Resort
Lucknow - Hotel Gomti
Varanasi - Rahi Tourist Bungalow.

Our Final Itinerary was

25th Feb - Allahabad
26th Feb - Nainital
27th Feb - Kausani
28th Feb - Binsar
29th Feb - Binsar
1st Mar - Lucknow
2nd Mar - Lucknow
3rd Mar - Varanasi
4th Mar - Kolkata


Winter was subsiding and we started our journey on February 25th 3.30AM from Kolkata. Other than my car, the other car was a Hyundai Accent, owned by co-bhpian Dip27in.

Our primary concern was to cross Panagarh on NH-2 as thats only one place where NH-2 has a major bottleneck and is known to cause major time damage to travellers.

Thankfully, Panagarh did not pose any major challenge to us and we crossed Panagarh and reached Darjeeling more at 6.15 AM.
Time for the first break for tea!
Everyone wanted a hot sip of morning tea and obviously a break for toilet. So thats the gang. I'm not in the scene - I was snapping the picture). From the left - Anirban, Debdeep(Dip27in),Nibedita(My better half), Ritwik, Sarmistha(Sayantan's better half) and Sayantan. Let me post this thread at this juncture, and I will continue the travelogue from the next post.
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Old 14th March 2012, 14:07   #2
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

After enjoying the first morning tea, we started of again. It was a pleasure to drive on the NH-2, there were trucks but they were always courteous enough to give way, when we approached. Apart from refuelling, our next stop was at Shan-E-Punjab dhaba, Topchanchee, for breakfast. This was important as we were informed that there will not be any more decent food stops in Jharkhand and Bihar before Mohania on the border of UP and Bihar.
For future travellers, Shan-E-Punjab is a decent dhaba offering good food and clean toilets.

We reached Topchanchee at 10.00 AM and let our rides take some rest, as we refuelled ourselves.
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Old 14th March 2012, 14:20   #3
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

After having a fantastic breakfast with Aloo Paratha, Dahi and omlettes coupled with Tea, we started off on our sojourn. Our next stop was the Reliance dhaba close to Mohania.

All along the journey, it was mesmerizing to see how the terrains changed as we moved from one state to another. I was enjoying the NH-2 drive to the fullest extent. We drove all the way to Allahabad and checked in at the Rahi Ilawart Tourist lodge in Civil Lines. On the way, we had stopped at the Reliance dhaba for lunch and made 2 tea stops enroute to Allahabad. We reached Allahabad by 6.40pm. However, let me mention that the roads inside Allahabad were in a mess, the entire city is dug up, so it took us around 1 and a half hours to reach the hotel.
Everyone was tired, and since we had to start early for Nainital next morning, we had a quick dinner and went to sleep straightaway.
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An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi-dpp-35.jpg  

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Old 14th March 2012, 15:35   #4
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

27th February, 2012
The next morning, we started early from Allahabad for Nainital. As per my earlier discussions with Mr. HV Kumar, we took NH96 to Faizabad, and then NH28 to Barabanki near Lucknow. The road was awesome! Just awesome! I was doing 160+ kmph at places. When we reached the NH28, we rotated drivers and Anirban took the wheel. NH28 specially was incredible. A four lane concrete highway all the way to Barabanki. The road, the grunt of the engine, the sweet exhaust note and chartbusters on my ICE played a perfect mix of elements for the drive. We stopped at Barabanki, and had lunch at a restaurant called "Zaika" by the NH28. We took the NH24 after driving into Lucknow. NH 24 was a pleasure till Shahjahanpur, after which there were some real bad patches.

When we were around 55 km away from Bareilly, the UNFORSEEN HAPPENED!! Debdeep's accent had developed a clicking noise from the engine, and he immediately stopped by the road. We immediately stopped behind and went ahead to see what had happened.

The engine was refusing to crank and there was smell of burnt lubricant. Debdeep suspected a problem with the crankshaft bearing. He had 2 litres of spare engine oil. After cooling down the engine he poured that in. In the meanwhile I looked up on GPS that there was a Indian Oil petrol pump around 4 km away at a place called Katra. I drove upto Katra and got a 4 litre jerrican of Engine oil. A friendly Sardarji at the petrol pump said that his cousin had a motor garage about another km away. I came back to the breakdown location, and another 1.5 litre of Engine oil was poured in after which the engine started but was maiking the same clicking noise after 2000 rpm. But the car was driveable at that point. We took the car to the mechanic shop and he confirmed that it was indeed a crankshaft problem and suggested that we should give the car to the Hyundai dealership at Bareilly.

Now we knew that the elections were on and we had no reservations at Bareilly. The only name which canme to my mind was Mr. HV Kumar. I called him up and explained the situation. He gave me a call in 15 minutes and told me that he had a friend Mr. Sharad Shrivastav in Delhi, to whom he had explained everything, and that he would be able to help us.

I called up Mr. Shrivastav, and he told me that he had already arranged for a Suite at a hotel in Bareilly, which was owned by one of his friends. Debdeep's car was still driveable and we drove up to Bareilly. The Hotel was an excellent one and the hotel guys had provided 4-5 mattresses in addition to the two rooms in the suite. We spent the night at Bareilly.

Next morning, Debdeep and me went to Sachin Hyundai at Bareilly with his car. I left the car at the hotel and asked the other guys to arrange for a car, which would take us through the rest of the journey, along with mine.

After an initial inspection of the car at Sachin Hyundai, it was found that one of thebearings of the connecting rod of the thrid cylinder had been badly damaged, and under such condition obviously continuing with this car was beyond comprehension.

A Tavera had been arranged in the meanwhile, and we started from Bareilly at 12.30pm and took the Nainital bypass. A km ahead, we stopped for refuelling and to my horror I saw that the front and rear right wheel tyres had developed huge bulges on them. This must have come from one of the horrible potholes on the way to Bareilly.

I could not risk a ride to hills with those tyres, and hence asked the rest to have lunch and went to change the tyres at Bareilly. I could not find a Yokohama dealer at Bareilly. We were badly low on time and I decided to buy two Bridgestone Potenza GIII tyres. I put the intact ES100s in the rear and fitted the two new potenzas in the front wheel. When going for the payment, the dealer said that he did not accept cards. I had to walk a km to get hold of an ATM which could dispense cash, as unfortunately that day there was some satellite link failure for most of the ATMS on that road.

Finally we stepped out of Bareilly at 3.30pm. I was too damn tired and passed the wheel to Anirban, and went off to sleep on the rear seat. When I woke up, we had reached the Mahalaxmi Mandir at Haldwani and it was 7 PM. After a small prayer at the temple, I took the wheel. BTW, we were heading for Kausani. We had called up the Kausani KMVN, and they informed us that the normal route to Kausani via Almora was closed that day, so we would have to take a route via Ranikhet.
"Fine!" We said and started the ascent into the hills from Haldwani.
We had finally started up the hill.

Little did we know what was in store for us that night!
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An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi-dpp-117.jpg  

An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi-dpp-120.jpg  

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An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi-dpp-124.jpg  

An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi-dpp-183.jpg  

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Old 14th March 2012, 16:40   #5
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

27th February, 2012 - Evening
We started from Haldwani at 7.00pm. I was again on the wheels and started the ascent uphill. The driver of the Tavera was new to the hills he was not so well aquainted with these roads, hence our only guide was my Mapmyindia GPS device and the google Maps on the Android phones. It was my first hill driving and I felt I was not doing so bad, keeping up with the rear wheel drive Tavera. The Fiesta was faithfully pulling up on the 3rd gear!

On the way to Ranikhet, the driver cautioned us not to stop or get down from the car as the area was a leopard zone. At one place , when I was steadily tailing the Tavera, I saw a stone on the road, which the Tavera smoothly passed over. My lack of experience did not caution me, so i drove over it too and "THUD" came the sound. I was horrified when Debdeep, now in my car said "GEARBOX".

Immediately we got down from the car, the driver of the Tavera crawled below the Fiesta and said that there was not much damage, there was a small spec of oil near the oil release nut of the gear box. We decided to drive on, as that did not seem to be a huge threat at that moment.

We reached Ranikhet at around 12.30AM. Ranikhet was sleeping at that time and there was no one who could guide us about the route to Kausani.
Now we came to a marker which showed kausani to the left and there were two ways. We had no other way but to follow our instincts based on the Google map information and we took one of the routes.

Now let me tell you readers, from the time we took this road till we reached Someshwar road to Kausani, I simply have no sense of time or route. The guys on the Tavera were navigating and I was blindly following. It was a horrible hill road, with no bitumen anywhere, not a single road sign and strangely eerie. The driver of the Tavera , I heard was scared to his wits, and was continuously chanting Hanuman Chalisa and was saying "Bahaar kuch hai jo hamen gol gol ghuma raha hai" - "Something is outside which is taking us round and round'. Obviously none of us beleived his cock and bull, but not ashemed of saying there were cold waves down everyone's spine.

On one accasion when we came down one hill and was about to go up another, the Tavera went ahead and a Leopard leapt up from the side of the road, had my headlamps and auxilliary lamps straight on its face and immediately leapt back.

Slowly after we came to the Someshwar road and breathed again. We saw specs of civilisation again. We were relieved that we had taken a national highway now, and reached Kausani at 3.00AM in the morning. Unfortunately we do not have any snaps of that stretch as people were to scared to think of stopping and taking any photographs.

We were elated and did high fives.
Had a quick cup of coffee, and all of us went to catch a power nap. After all, we had to catch the Sunrise next day, thats what we came for!!!!!
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Old 14th March 2012, 17:33   #6
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

>>>

XetaGLGRocks,

Good story. Your drive is nice, across Jharkhand, Bihar, UP and UT.

Nice to know that the roads in UP are getting better. The drive from Kathgodam to Ranikhet is great fun; since you have not specified which route you took can't comment on the state of the roads. Typically UT roads are good: well tarred with reasonably good signage.

Your driving experience after Ranikhet, may be a little eerie for the uninitiated, but it does resonate with me as we got lost (our Innova driver was from another planet!) after passing Corbett enroute to Ranikhet and we took a wrong turning which would have taken us toward Rudraprayag on the SH 121. But as the late Shammi Kapoor said in Manoranjan "Woh kissa aur kabhi".

Do continue your riveting story. Driving up the Himalayas is like no other.
If you can list the places that you passed with the distances and time elapsed, it will help.

Regards
issigonis
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Old 14th March 2012, 17:53   #7
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

Great story. Glued to the thread.

Its nice to see my home in someone's travelogues. Keep going!
Having the leapord leap on your lights must have been a terrific experience.

Cheers,
Tapish

Last edited by Tapish : 14th March 2012 at 17:54.
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Old 14th March 2012, 21:32   #8
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

Great Writeup Sabyasachi da.

It takes some courage to do a road trip.
Please post some more pictures.
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Old 14th March 2012, 21:45   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapish
Great story. Glued to the thread.

Its nice to see my home in someone's travelogues. Keep going!
Having the leapord leap on your lights must have been a terrific experience.

Cheers,
Tapish
Didn't actually lrap on my lights.I think wanted to cross tbe road. Faced 600 watts of glare.Must have been pretty irritated.
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Old 14th March 2012, 23:22   #10
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

Beautiful start. Did you log your route in your MMI GPS? Would be interesting to see the route you took. Sorry to hear about the vehicle malfunction challenges you had to face on the way. Waiting to hear the rest of it as a trip to those parts is also in my bucket list. Incidentally I was also traveling through the heart of incredible India around the same time. The TL is in progress and should be up by end of this week .
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Old 14th March 2012, 23:29   #11
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

I did this trip in December and still have not been able to write a travelogue. Good that you have been able to do it. Sad to hear about the problem with the accent. It seems that everybody gets lost in Binsar. We roamed in the hills for a good 4 hours before being able to reach the Club Mahindra resort at 4:30 am in the morning.
How did storm tackle the bad roads? Was it bumpy due to the sporty suspension of the fiesta? Did you go via Sitapur from Lucknow to Bareilly?
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Old 15th March 2012, 08:25   #12
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

Quote:
Originally Posted by XetaGLGRocks View Post
27th February, 2012


When we were around 55 km away from Bareilly, the UNFORSEEN HAPPENED!!

Wow!! this was an amazing experience albeit with small hiccup.

But thanks to Mr. Kumar who saved the day for you guys.

Congratulations to you and your team for completing this fabulous road trip.
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Old 15th March 2012, 09:47   #13
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

The leopard episode is really scary!

Great drive, but I guess the Accent was not prepared well enough for the trip. Maybe it already had low engine oil levels. I always check these before I drive out and also often during the drive itself (at every refuelling halt mandatorily).

Following a higher GC SUV can always be a risky affair, I hope you did not damage your gear box sump. Oil leaks are always dangerous.

Same thing goes for tyres - please keep checking for cuts & "bulges" - as you did - and take immediate action of changing over to stepney or replace them.

Another useful advice is that always carry enough cash with you, India is not yet up "there" to have ATMs & connectivity.

I guess the NH24 is now fully 4-laned till Shajahanpur? And was the Barabanki bypass good?

I think the road via Bageswar-Baijnath to Kausani is better than the Ranikhet route which you took. The lovely landscapes would have compensated for the bad roads, but unfortunately you did a night drive.

How were facilities in Ranikhet-Kausani sector? Are there petrol pumps at both the places?
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Old 15th March 2012, 10:41   #14
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

Lovely start to the travelogue.Looking forward to more.We are intending on driving to Kumaon from HYD and your tlogue would definitely come in handy.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 15th March 2012, 13:15   #15
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Default Re: An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi

28th February, 2012
We woke up at around 6.35 AM in the morning for the most coveted sunrise. And man! We were not disappointed. The golden glow on the Trishul range was in one word heavenly. The view from the open balcony of the KMVN cottage was just awesome. I am attaching a few photographs, but the photo will portray less than 10% of what we actually saw.

After the sunrise viewing, we went to the cafetaria for the breakfast. Breakfast was complementary with Aloo paratha, Omlettes, Toast, Coffee etc. Had a sumptuous breakfast and I decided to take a short nap as there was an ensuing drive to Binsar, our final target in Kumaon. The rest of the guys went for a walk in the woods.

In the meanwhile I took time to check the gearbox for any further leakage. Thankfully, there wasn't any. The driver brought some M-seal and covered the area, just to be doubly sure that there is no leakage.

We decided to start for Binsar at 12.00PM. Some more drive, so a short nap is essential. I was feeling very excited! Finally I was heading to Binsar!
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An incredible road trip from Kolkata to Kumaon on my Ford Fiesta 1.6 Sxi-dpp-252.jpg  

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