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Old 10th June 2012, 16:03   #1
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Default Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Introduction

After 5 years in one organization, I took up a new job in April of 2012. It entailed a transfer from Kolkata to Delhi. The new company gave me 3 weeks' accommodation in Delhi, by which time I finalized a house and made necessary preparations to move in. It was time now to shift home, wifey and car.

The new company came up with a strange rule at the time of shifting. While they'd happily pay for transport of personal effects, they'd not pay for shifting your car unless it was bought under their company car scheme.. In short, if I had to transport Predator, I'd have to pay for it. From the very beginning the idea of putting my beloved car on a truck was stinging me. Not only were the rates exorbitant, the car also ran the risk of getting damaged en route. The so called policy was an added dampener.

SS-Traveller had been asking me for the last 3 years to do a Kolkata - Delhi trip by road, and I'd been promising him I'll do it soon! He's done the route some 29 times in his life, and a great account of the route can be found in his pet thread here. Maybe this was the chance to come good on my promise?

I approached wifey with a great deal of apprehension. "Err, honey, my new company is saying they won't pay for the shifting. You know how expensive car transport is these days. Plus the chance of damage, err, the hassle, err, err."

Before I could complete, she says "So why're you worried? Lets drive over to Delhi na! In fact, lets also stop over at Benaras. Lets take the blessings of Kashi-Vishwanath before embarking on life in a new city."

Eh? She'd actually read my mind, and added an icing to the cake I was planning to bake! Yipee, was all I could say.
__________________________________________________ _____________

So that was it. We'd start the trip on 1st June, stay at Benaras on 2nd, and complete the drive to Delhi on 3rd.

2 more friends joined me on this drive. One was Arnab Dutta Chaudhuri, a childhood friend who works in the advertising industry and an excellent photographer. The other was Sandeep Prakash, another friend from the ad industry, a good driver himself. Being from Bihar, he came with an added knowledge of much of the route himself. Both travel addicts, they flew down from Delhi (where they stay and work) just to take part in this epic drive. Thank you, guys!

It is worthwhile to mention that due to a twist of fate, my wife almost couldn't make it to her own suggested trip, till the evening before the trip. But all's well that ends well.

The car required minimal preparation before the trip. It had undergone the 50K kms service a month back, and was all topped up. The only repair was fixing the left ORVM glass (which broke in a small accident) and we were done. I bought a MapmyIndia VX140s Navigator days before the trip. It proved to be of immense help during and after the trip.

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Friday, 1st June 2012

There was a huge amount of stuff loaded onto the car. The boot was full, and a lot of luggage had to be accommodated between the rear seat occupants. With the added weight of 4 well sized adults, the car springs (especially the rear ones) were almost half-way to their bump-stops. I'd never done a long drive with so much weight on the car. Was worried how Predator would cope with this weight on a 1500 km journey.

We had planned a start at 5.30AM, which got postponed by 2 hours due to a lot of unfortunate delays. At 7.30 AM we were on Belghoria Expressway, en route to NH2. The excellent torque of the CRDI engine allowed the car to accelerate easily despite so much weight. In no time we were on NH2, cruising towards Burdwan. I kept up 100 plus speeds.

Shaktigarh, our first stop, was reached at 8.40. We stopped to partake a breakfast of Kachoris and Lyangchas at our favourite joint here.

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A moment of light banter, joking that we've just covered 1/15th of the total trip. "100 kms aa gaye boss, abhi to bas 1400 aur karna hai!"

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We left Shaktigarh at 9. Arnab and Sandeep, devoid of sleep due to a delayed night flight and an early morning start, slept soundly in the rear seat. Sanchayata (my wife) sat on the front seat, armed with Arnab's faithful Nikon D5000 that she'd taken a liking to.

We expected Panagarh to slow us down but thankfully there wasn't much traffic. This pic was taken while exiting Panagarh at Darjeeling More.

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Post Panagarh you pass through Durgapur and Asansol, where city traffic piles on to NH2 (especially at office times) and makes life miserable for the highway traveler. We had suffered this during our Garpanchkot trip in 2009. This time too the traffic slowed us down to a good extent. We ultimately crossed Asansol and reached the border just before 11AM.

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Jharkhand proved to be pleasant surprise. The road surface was very good, there wasn't much traffic on the roads, and the scenery was good too. One will very much enjoy driving on this road.

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Sanchayata found this little, highway travelling teddy bear very cute. Had to have a pic.

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En route to Dhanbad one finds a place called Topchanchi. You will find swords, spears and lathis openly being sold beside the highway. Scary, and intriguing. (My own pic got corrupt, so had to borrow the following pic from SS-Traveller's thread to show you):

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We reached Dhanbad at about 12 noon. 272kms had been covered in 4.5 hrs. I suggested we stop over for an early lunch, but everyone else said they were not hungry. "Raaste mein koi achha dhaba mil jayga, wahan kha lenge". Big, BIG mistake, as we were about to find out.

Post Dhanbad the roads continued to be excellent. The temperature outside, ever so steadily rising, reached 47 degrees C. The heat of the sun was forming mirages on the highway surface, and its glare seemed to scorch everything in sight. Predator, meanwhile was a little air-conditioned heaven, zooming down the now-empty highway at 100 plus speeds.

Leave alone hotels, we found no decent Dhabas for the next 2 hours. Even the truckers were avoiding the run-down shanties parading as Dhabas by the road. It was clear we were travelling through Maoist territory. We reached Barhi (about 125kms from Dhanbad) at 1.30. Everyone was hungry by now. Sanchayata pointed excitedly at the following roadside sign on the entrance to Barhi:

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"Look look, so many hotels. Lets go into the town and have food there. Sheetal Vihar must be AC".

We did so, only to realize Barhi was nothing more than a stinking roadside Kasba. The so called hotels were actually dirty dhabas with attached "marriage halls". The only AC Hotel in the town didn't have a restaurant. In desperation, I called up SS-Traveller, who reaffirmed my mistake of not taking lunch at Dhanbad. He suggested we continue till Dehri on Sone (another 140 kms) where we could find some Dhabas. We left Bahri and continued back on NH2.

Another 80 kms had been covered, and we were nearing Jharkhand-Bihar border. The sun was blazing down at 49 degrees C (yes, you read that right) and we were hungry like hell. As with all of Jharkhand, we were not being able to sight a single decent Dhaba en route to stop for lunch. Suddenly Sandeep yelled "Look look, we just passed an AC restaurant!". We all started admonishing him, saying this was not the time for jokes. But Sandeep was insistent. So I took a u-turn, declaring aloud that if this was a joke, we'd dump Sandeep right there on the road and continue our journey.

Thankfully it was not. In that no-man's land, almost invisible from the highway, was a Dhaba with a separate section that read "AC restaurant". A white Tata Safari (the unquestionable sign of a powerful man in these parts) was parked in front. I could have kissed Sandeep, so happy was I.

The dhaba people (and the truckers in the non-AC section) were pretty shocked and excited to find city-slickers entering their "AC restaurant". A big 2 tonne AC started up with a groan, channeled Bhojpuri music was played at full volume to entertain us, and 2 waiters (in vests and lungis) fell over each other to take our order. We ordered Roti, Dal Tadka, Anda bhurji and Paneer Subzi. The food was strictly Dhaba standard - which, if you're a highway traveller, will know tastes much better than 5 star hotel trash. The hearty meal filled our groaning bellies.

A couple of Bhaiyajis (in shirt, jeans and a gamcha wrapped around the neck - think Kesu Firangi's attire in Omkara) came in another Safari and entered to check us out. They had their own small meal, and thankfully no trouble ensued. Half an hour (and just Rs 515) later, we were on our way.

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Very soon we crossed over the border into Bihar.

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The moment we entered Bihar, the road started to deteriorate. The surface had disintegrated at places, and some places had small potholes. Some images along the way:

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1/3rd of the Journey covered. Delhi is still a 1000 kms away.

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Railway axles transported by trucks. Very soon they'll be rolling on tracks.

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We had considerably slowed down on average speeds after entering Bihar. 200kms are done in about 3 hour. It is 6.00PM, dusk has set in. At last Varanasi looms near.

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The GPS has given sterling service throughout the day.

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Taking SS-Traveller's advice, we turn off from the main highway right in time to avoid the toll plaza. The initial entry is into Mughal Sarai, where a bridge over the railway station takes us to a single lane road towards Varanasi. Here again there's construction going on, so there's tonnes of dust flying around. Progress is painfully slow, with Vikram autos and 2 wheelers covering most of the available road real estate.

Finally, a torturous hour of first-gear driving later, we cross the Ganges bridge and enter into Varanasi.

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I was relieved at the thought that the day's drive is almost over. But here again, a bit of solid confusion occurs.

SS-Traveller had told me that the govt tourist lodge (and other mid-range hotels) are all near Varanasi station. What he didn't tell me was that the modern Varanasi station is actually referred to as the "cantt station". The locals refer to an old, dysfunctional station in the older parts of town as "Varanasi station". Like idiots, we abandoned the main road and drove to the older part of town. Once we realized our folly, there was no turning back. Ahead of us was 10 kms of road populated only by rickshaws, 2 wheelers, cows and a teeming mass of pedestrians. We were the only car as far as eyes could see.

It took us an hour to travel those 10 kms, to trudge through what is by far the worst traffic situation I've ever encountered. My clutch foot felt like lead, and I was dying to get to the hotel.

To give you an idea of what Varanasi old town traffic is like, here's a pic from SS-Traveller's thread.

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Finally at 8PM we find the actual Varanasi station. Even now there's enough sunlight to take a pic.

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We try the UP Govt Tourist Lodge, but its full. We try Hotel Plaza Inn next, but they tell us they've installed a central air conditioning system which generators won't be able to run at the time of power cuts. So finally we check into a hotel called Varanasi Plaza, which offers us beautiful AC rooms at 1600 a night. More on the hotel later.

A quick dinner follows. The bunch (most of all the driver himself) is thoroughly exhausted after 700 kms and 12 hours on the road. By 10 PM, the lights go off.

(To be continued)

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 10th June 2012 at 16:07. Reason: Typo errors
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Old 10th June 2012, 16:52   #2
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Very interesting, very interesting. Nice crisp travelogue with some good pictures. Waiting for more to hear the latest from my hometown - Benaras. Station in Varanasi generally refers to the Cantt station. Varanasi is a town unchanged and remains the same as when the city was born. Although Malls etc. have come up, the roads are the same and cannot be expanded.

Carry on...
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Old 10th June 2012, 17:47   #3
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Very nicely written, waiting for more to come, please also add all as many pictures of the journey as you can, love these high way and small town snaps for some reason. By the way congrats on your new Job and enjoy Delhi, it’s a better city to drive than Kolkata for sure.
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Old 17th June 2012, 12:23   #4
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Saturday, 2nd June 2012 - Sarnath

I Woke up first at 7.30 AM, to find the sun already up and blazing. Roamed around aimlessly around the hotel corridor, thinking of the best excuse to NOT go out the whole day!

Arnab and Sandeep woke up next, came out of their room into the balcony, and seeing the temperature, almost immediately withdrew into their room, turned on the AC and went back to sleep .

Sanchayata was the last to wake up, but she ensured the rest of us got nowhere close to the beds after that. A hearty veg breakfast and bath later, we were on our way to Sarnath. A couple of Bhaiyajis trying to protect themselves from the sun, spotted on the way.

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For the uninitiated, Sarnath is one of the 4 places identified by Buddhists as prime pilgrimages.

1. Lumbini (Nepal) where Gautam Buddha was born.
2. Bodh Gaya where Buddha attained enlightenment.
3. Sarnath, where he delivered his first sermon.
4. Kushinagar (erstwhile Kusinara) where he died.

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The erstwhile name of Sarnath is Isipitana, which in Pali means "The place where holy men landed". Legend is when Buddha was to be born, Devas came down from the heavens and announced his arrival to 500 sages, who ascended from the ground into the skies and their relics fell to the ground. It was Isipitana that their relics fell.

Now why would the sages do something like that? Imagine a scenario where 500 lalajis run 500 small kirana stores in a town. One day a man in a shiny tie- suit comes down and tells them Walmart is coming to set up a huge store in their town. Threatened at the prospect of competition, all 500 lalajis wrap up their stores and take a flight to another place. En route, the flight crashes. Would the place where the aircraft crash lands be called Isi-Kirana?

Horrible joke done, lets get back to the narrative. After attaining enlightenment, Buddha came down to Isipitana to deliver his first sermon. He had 5 former companions whom he delivered the sermon. The spot was a deer park. Very soon his following grew to 60, all of whom he sent out to travel and preach Buddhism. These 60 men are called Arihants. It is said that the the King and many wealthy merchants in Varanasi supported Buddha, and even Yasa, the 6th arihant of Buddhism, hailed from a rich family in Varanasi.

In 249BC, Emperor Asoka built the Dharmek Stupa to mark the spot where the erstwhile deer park stood. A magnificent structure, it is 128 feet high and 93 feet in diameter.

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Sarnath is heavily funded by Buddhist foundations from different South East Asian countries. The main tourist attraction here is the Mulagandhakuti Vihar temple, built in the 1920s. The ambience of the temple is quiet and nice, as expected from a Buddhist place of worship. The interior walls of the temple are covered with murals depicting significant events in Gautam Buddha's life. No one bothers you to pay for the darshan. The only charge you have to pay is if you use a camera inside the temple premises, and that too is Rs 20, to be deposited in the temple donation box. Our guide warned us not to pay any money to any person directly, and no one asked for it. Even the person entrusted with keeping custody of shoes outside the temple works on a donation basis. Doesn't demand money, you pay him whatever you want, if you want.

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The temple grounds.

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Close to the temple is a peeple tree, planted as a duplicate of the holy tree where Buddha preached his first Sermon. Almost all South Asian countries have planted a metal plaque here, depicting Buddhist sermons, signed by ambassadors/presidents from those countries. I spotted Vietnam, Laos, Tibet, China, Japan, Sri Lanka and Burma plaques.

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This stall served free herbal water. Dunno what was herbal in it, but the fresh cool water certainly tasted nice in the searing heat.

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The Japanese have built a modern Buddhist temple close to the main grounds. Typical Japanese architecture with the mandatory Japanese garden to suit. The 2 idols inside represent the original Buddha, and his 21st century reincarnation (who, it is believed, will appear and absolve the world of sin). I wonder why the 2 idols look alike .

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Incidentally, Shreyansanath, the eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in a village called Singhpur, 1 km away from Sarnath. Right in the middle of Sarnath there is a huge, if slightly gaudy, Jain temple.

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We were mighty pleased with Sarnath, and if anything, it was the blazing sun playing spoilsport. The only place we didn't visit was the Sarnath museum, where the original Lion Capital of Ashok (India's national emblem) is kept. Instead, our guide took us to a roadside stall serving delicious lassi. 2 large glasses of Lassi each absolved us of both thirst and hunger, and kept us cool enough not to collapse in the heat.

Before we left, we went to the local handloom cooperative close to Sarnath. This is a must visit if you're looking to pick up excellent Saris at a fraction of the cost you pay to retailers in the city. The handloom is right next to the shop. Naturally, Sanchayata quite loved this place.

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It was 2 in the afternoon, and the tired lot headed back to the hotel. In the evening we had scheduled a visit to the Kashi-Vishwanath temple. Jai Vishwanath Baba ki!
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Old 23rd June 2012, 18:38   #5
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Saturday, 2nd June 2012 - Benaras

They say you should never try to meet your heroes, or they'll disappoint you in real life.

I had expected too much from Benaras. Watching Deepa Mehta's "Water" and Ray's "Joy Baba Phelunath" had thrown up pictorial portraits of a pilgrimage city with mystical ghats, narrow lanes serving the best Rabri, Pans and Sweets in the world, and the evening air rendered with sounds of bells from the temples. My father was born in UP, visited Benaras many times (as recently as 6 years back) and continues to wax eloquent about the city. Many others (including a family friend who hails from Benaras) have given favourable accounts of why its a must-visit.

Sadly, I found Benaras to be a complete disappointment. A crowded city overflowing with waste, with possibly the worst traffic situation in the whole world. Like any other Hindu Pilgrimage (believe me, I've had my share of Hindu pilgrimages) every man on the street is out to cheat you.

Having suitably dampened your enthusiasm, lets get back to the narrative. After suitable rest at the hotel, we started at about 6 to do the Darshan of Kashi Vishwanath temple and looked for a rickshaw. A friendly auto-rickshaw wallah came over and asked for what seemed like a reasonable amount to take us to KVM. We piled on. Half an hour of traffic-crawling later, he brought us to a place where the road was closed and walked us to a nearby ghat. From here we could see KVM as a speck, about 2 kms away.

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I asked the auto-wallah: "What happened? Weren't you supposed to take us to KVM? Where have you brought us?"

Auto: "There is no road to go to KVM sir. This is as much as auto can come. You have to take a boat from here"

I: "Don't lie. I'm very well aware that there's a road to KVM. Either you take us there or we don't pay you"

Auto: "No sir. You can only go by boat. If you don't believe me, ask them" (points to a group of boat-wallahs sitting nearby and watching the show. They quickly nod their heads in affirmation. Partners in crime).

Sanchayata reminds me that maybe it isn't a bad thing after all. We had anyway planned to rent a boat and watch the ghats from the river. Would achieve that objective. So I pay the auto guy and start haggling with the boatwallas. They ask Rs 1200 for a row boat and Rs 1500 for a motor boat. After half an hour of tiring argument, we settle on Rs 700 for a motor-boat.

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The ghats were spectacular in the evening time, and Arnab's Nikon was bang on target. A few pics of the ghats and the famous Ganga Aarti.

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Our boatman takes us to a ghat close to the temple. We are led through one of Kashi's famous narrow lanes onto the gate of the temple. And here the second round of cheating begins.

We are first taken to a shop and asked to buy "Dalas" to offer to the gods. "Pick up 2 madam, one for Vishwanath, one for Annapurna". Sanchayata obliges. A man from the shop (obviously in exchange of a price) leads us into the temple complex."Yeh dekhie, Shani mandir, yahan matha tekie aur apke jo man mein aaye dijie". "Very good, where's the Kashi Vishwanath temple", I ask. We are led onto another temple. "Yeh dekhie, Annapurna mandir, yahan matha..blah blah". Sanchayata hands over the Dala she bought for Annapurna. A feeling of disgust comes up my stomach when the priest makes a sign using his thumb and forefinger denoting "Paisa do".

Next stop is Bajrangbali temple. A priest (with a Rs 500 note sticking out of his hand) asks us to sit and chant a Mantra. After 5 mins of gibberish, he says "Now you've committed to hold a Puja for Rs 500 to Bhagwan Bajrangbali. Please arrange for the Puja and pay me the money". I have started losing it at this point. I say "Please, we are here to pay respect to the gods, I don't believe in paying money to do that". He says "ok, then fold your hands and apologize to Bajrangbali. Tell him "hum log to aise hi aa gaye ghumte ghumte, sirf matha tekna hai aapke charno mein" If it wasn't for Sanchayata, I would have physically assaulted the ba*****.

I almost jump out of the Bajrangbali temple and catch hold of our original guide. "Dude, just show us the Kashi Vishwanath idol and get it over with". He says "Right this way sir". Takes us inside the KV temple, shows us a giant LCD screen. EH? This is the idol? "Actually sir, 7.30 to 8 is Bhagwan's time to change dress. No one is allowed inside the main temple except the Head pujari. You can only see the idol through this screen".

So I fold my hands and offer respect to a 42" LG LCD TV, and huff out of the temple as fast as I can. Religion, rather the fraud that goes on in the name of religion, is coming out of my ears. The hotel bed beckons.

We fight endless traffic for another hour as we get back to the hotel. The overpowering feeling of being cheated dampens all enthusiasm. We end the night with roti and some awesome Tawa chicken from Hotel Pratap. Enough is enough. An 800 km drive awaits us the next day.

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 23rd June 2012 at 18:42.
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Old 24th June 2012, 14:27   #6
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Sunday, 3rd June 2012

We had planned to wake up early and leave Benaras by 6. But salaried slaves like us are genetically engineered to sleep late on Sundays. We ultimately woke up at 8, and the decision to leave after breakfast meant it was nearly 9 by the time we left the hotel.

I look ready to take another long nap. Forget ready to drive another 800 kms.

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Sandeep looks ready to play a football match, jersey and all.

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Predator looks ready to hit the road. In the background is the hotel we stayed in.

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A word about Varanasi Palace. Its part of the cluster of hotels and guest houses which you find near Varanasi Station. The exterior doesn't promise much, but it turned out quite good. The rooms and bathrooms, though small-ish, are kitted out with some features you only find in business hotels. The ACs never go off, even during power cuts. Service is courteous and prompt. Though its a vegetarian hotel, pay the room service boy a tenner and he'll happily get you chicken/mutton from the nearby hotel Pratap. They don't have a full fledged restaurant set-up, so food is only served in the rooms.

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Back to the narrative then. Once you leave Benaras, you continue for about 15 kms on a single-lane road which connects you to NH2. The stretch from Benaras to Allahabad is not conducive to fast speeds. Firstly, the road seems to have been mowed by a tractor while the tar was still soft. So there's a prominent central hump with depressions on both sides (like tank tracks). Not a problem if you're driving a vehicle with high ground clearance, but definitely an issue with a fully loaded Verna. So I drove sedately by the left lane, dodging tractors, 2 wheelers and all sorts of slow moving traffic. Secondly, there's a good amount of oncoming traffic, carelessly driving down the wrong lane, barreling down the road at you.

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This particular trucker bhaisaab not only drove down the wrong lane, but had a breakdown while at it, hence causing an unnecessary traffic jam.

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We all know about ICE (in car entertainment), but what about some OCE (out of the car entertainment)? A full band-baaja, only baraat is missing.

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Buffalo crossing.

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Satya Vachan

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Mangoes, in peak summer! The car was full with stuff, or we'd have plucked some and carried them to Delhi.

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We drove sedately and reached Allahabad by 11. From here, the road takes a diversion onto the Allahabad-Kanpur expressway. Ah, what a road, the Allahabad-Kanpur expressway! The kind of road where you forget all worries and just floor the throttle. In any car, keeping up 100kmph average speeds is a no-brainer.

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One suggestion to the uber-rich of India. If you own a supercar, truck it to Allahabad, and let it rip on the AKE. 200 kms of perfectly levelled concrete road, with very few habitats on either side (consequently no irritating slow moving traffic), and gently sweeping wide turns. If I had so much fun with a loaded 110bhp diesel, imagine what your V10s and V12s will do here?

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It took us about 1h 45 mins to cover the 200kms. At 1 PM we pulled into Kanpur and refuelled.

Here again we ran into a slight confusion. There are 2 routes which connect Kanpur to Delhi. One is of course NH2, which runs Kanpur-Agra-Mathura-Delhi (approx 490 kms), and you enter Delhi through Faridabad. The other is NH91, which connects Kanpur-Etah-Bulandshehr-Sikandrabad-Dadri-Delhi (approx 435 kms) and you enter Delhi through Ghaziabad. Once we reached Kanpur, my GPS selected the latter, shorter route. It directed me off the NH2 flyover and into Kanpur city. We travelled nearly 6kms into the heart of the city before we realized we were on the other route. A call to SS-Traveller confirmed our mistake, and he warned us not to take NH91 as it was single laned in places and much more crowded than NH2.

We had no choice but to drive back 6 kms and rejoin NH2. However, every crowd comes with a silver lining. Since we were INSIDE Kanpur, we stopped for lunch at a 3 star hotel called Manoj International. Very very good food, and rates were cheap (a 4 course meal for 4 gluttons cost just Rs 1800) by metro standards. Avoided the hassle of taking lunch on a highway-side Dhaba on a hot summer day.

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Hearty meal done, we rejoined NH2. Had to show you this funny message, spotted on the rear bumper of a Kanpur city auto.

Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!-_dsc6878.jpg

The scenery turns greener on the Kanpur-Agra stage. There is plenty of habitat on both sides, but the road is good, so you can keep up 70-80kmph average speeds while enjoying the sights the highway has to offer. The heavy meal took a toll on my fellow passengers and all of them went to sleep, so I don't have many pics of this route to show you.

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(Maximum pic limit reached. To be continued).
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Old 24th June 2012, 18:08   #7
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About 60 kms before Agra we stopped for a break. Arnab came up with the idea that the driver and car should have a pic together, and we were happy to oblige.

Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!-_dsc6886.jpg

This particular pic brings a smile to me whenever I see it. A tractor carrying a giant..err..bum

Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!-_dsc6911.jpg

Some other pics of the road.

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We pulled into Agra at about 6. Stopped at a Dhaba to refresh, and this filmy looking Bhaiyaji came over to have some conversation. "Kalkatta se gadi chalaake aaye hain? Kya baat hai? Kyun truck walon ke pet pe laath mar rahein hain?" etc etc.

Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!-_dsc6915.jpg


Arnab wanted me to take the newly built Yamuna Expressway. But the dhaba people advised us against it. They said its not formally built as yet, and I stood a good chance of being harassed, by both the police and anti-social elements, along some desolate stretches.

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Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!-_dsc6927.jpg

So we took NH2. And at possibly the worst time of the week to take NH2! Firstly it was evening, and truck traffic had started. Second was the weekend crowd of cars which was rushing back to Delhi from Agra. The third, and worst, were the Vikram autos that serve as intercity shuttles along this highway. They'll stop anywhere, without warning, to pick up (and drop) passengers.

The combined effect of these 3 layers was enough to depress any driver, let alone someone who's driven 600 kms already in the day. The trucks had taken up one lane, the cars jostled for space on another, and the Vikrams made sure driving on the leftmost lane was suicide. Every now and then we would encounter a traffic jam, either at town crossings, or the result of an ambitious truck chancing driving in the wrong lane.

The flame of the Mathura refinery.

Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!-_dsc6929.jpg

So while it had taken 8 hrs to drive 600 kms, it took us 5 hrs to drive the remaining 200. At 11PM in the night, a tired Predator and its passengers drove into Delhi. We dropped Sandeep to Safdarjung, Arnab to Janakpuri (where we also had dinner) and reached our house at Dwarka at 12.30. The ride was finally over. Predator had conquered NH2.

Some footnotes

1. The car did this trip without a hitch, despite being too loaded for comfort. The ability of the 1.5Ltr CRDI to maintain highway speeds despite such a heavy load surprised me. The Yoko A drives, which took all the punishment yet remained cool. reaffirmed my belief in them. The only dampener was the car gave FE of about 14-15kmpl (against its usual highway average of 18-20). But then again, we travelled with more than double its usual load, and drove consistently at 100kmph+ speeds. So no worries on that.

2. We were 4 people, and it took us 125 ltrs of fuel and about Rs 800 in toll. Doing the math, the cost comes to Rs 1543 per person, about the cost of a 3AC ticket on Rajdhani Express.

3. If you're planning a trip like this, but not too sure of yourself, step right out. The road is good all the way, there are no safety concerns (as long as you're driving in the day) and good food is available provided you stop at the right places. Get your car serviced, make sure your tyres are safe, and head out. To borrow a tyre company's marketing slogan - the road is calling, where are you?

Last edited by predatorwheelz : 25th June 2012 at 08:45.
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Old 26th June 2012, 09:48   #8
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 26th June 2012, 10:09   #9
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Wow! nice travelogue. You have covered it in good detail. Lets have some information on the vehicle performance, mileage etc. So, Sarnath is the only place you visited or we are going to have more feast for eyes? Tajmahal?... am I predicting it too early.

Bring on dude..
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Old 26th June 2012, 10:58   #10
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Very nicely written account of your trip. Wonder how you missed a lot of the details covered by SS-traveller and Poorna sir ji (Fauji) on the intricate ways to cover Varanasi . In fact I too have given some details in my travelogue as to how to avoid fighting the traffic war in Varanasi if you are driving your own car. Nobody can win that war. I more or less knew about the pitfalls so planned it to the T during my road trip to ensure that once I got off NH2 in Varanasi it took me just a few minutes and maneuvers to get into the hotel. Sad to hear about your experience with those guides and the fake babas. I guess Varanasi should be best explored on one's own unless one has a reliable guide.

So now we have lost you to Delhi we have one less TBHP member from Kolkata. Wish you all the very best with your new job and keep writing your experiences in and around Delhi. Some very nice places in UK and HP will be weekend outings for you so I will be envying you in a way.

PS: You might have to take care of sun film having moved to Delhi. This is still a luxury we Kolkata folks can still afford .
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Old 26th June 2012, 11:21   #11
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Read through all the travelogue at one go.
This one was a fantastic narrative. Though all this Cheating in name of religion is very disgusting and hopeless, but we still can't help it other than turning our eyes away from it.
Benaras, will always remain a distinct hindu pilgrimage destination, and there will always will "Panda's" who will keep fooling and cheating the gullible pilgrims for their "rozi-roti".
Kudo's to your car too!
Hope there are more photos to share.

Edit: Congratulations on the new assignment. All the best.

Last edited by Fordmanchau : 26th June 2012 at 11:23.
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Old 26th June 2012, 12:33   #12
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

A wonderfully narrated travelogue and gives a fair amount of idea as to what to look for on a trip to Delhi. Wish you all the success in Delhi and looking forward to the northwardly trips on your predator.
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Old 26th June 2012, 23:05   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gd1418 View Post
Very interesting, very interesting. Nice crisp travelogue with some good pictures. Waiting for more to hear the latest from my hometown - Benaras. Station in Varanasi generally refers to the Cantt station. Varanasi is a town unchanged and remains the same as when the city was born. Although Malls etc. have come up, the roads are the same and cannot be expanded.

Carry on...
Thank you GD Saab. I haven't been able to do justice with your hometown, as you'll find out if you read my 3rd post. However, hope springs eternal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musicmanaman View Post
Very nicely written, waiting for more to come, please also add all as many pictures of the journey as you can, love these high way and small town snaps for some reason. By the way congrats on your new Job and enjoy Delhi, itís a better city to drive than Kolkata for sure.
Thanks. Delhi is a fantastic city to drive in, wide roads with almost no potholes. After enduring that hellhole called Eastern Byepass for 3 years, Predator deserves better roads!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaureanBull View Post
Wow! nice travelogue. You have covered it in good detail. Lets have some information on the vehicle performance, mileage etc. So, Sarnath is the only place you visited or we are going to have more feast for eyes? Tajmahal?... am I predicting it too early.

Bring on dude..
Thanks. I gave the lowdown on vehicle performance in my last post, including the mileage it offered.

Sadly, this time we could not visit more places. Had originally planned a day's stop-over at Agra to see the Tajmahal. But the heat, as well as the prospect of Monday office put an end to those plans.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
Very nicely written account of your trip. Wonder how you missed a lot of the details covered by SS-traveller and Poorna sir ji (Fauji) on the intricate ways to cover Varanasi . In fact I too have given some details in my travelogue as to how to avoid fighting the traffic war in Varanasi if you are driving your own car. Nobody can win that war. I more or less knew about the pitfalls so planned it to the T during my road trip to ensure that once I got off NH2 in Varanasi it took me just a few minutes and maneuvers to get into the hotel. Sad to hear about your experience with those guides and the fake babas. I guess Varanasi should be best explored on one's own unless one has a reliable guide.
Thanks. Yes, I should have planned Varanasi better. First time unlucky. I guess its better explored only with a localite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
So now we have lost you to Delhi we have one less TBHP member from Kolkata. Wish you all the very best with your new job and keep writing your experiences in and around Delhi. Some very nice places in UK and HP will be weekend outings for you so I will be envying you in a way.
Thanks. You wouldn't believe this, but within a week of moving here, my cousin (who stays in Delhi) gifted me the "Outlook Traveller guide to 52 weekend trips around Delhi"! I'm already planning a trip to Uttarakhand next weekend. Stay tuned!

Quote:
Originally Posted by samarjitdhar View Post
PS: You might have to take care of sun film having moved to Delhi. This is still a luxury we Kolkata folks can still afford .

Yeah, yeah, enjoy while you're at it. I got 3 challans within a week of coming to Delhi, and now they're off for good. Damn the stupid judiciary system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordmanchau View Post
Read through all the travelogue at one go.
This one was a fantastic narrative. Though all this Cheating in name of religion is very disgusting and hopeless, but we still can't help it other than turning our eyes away from it.
Benaras, will always remain a distinct hindu pilgrimage destination, and there will always will "Panda's" who will keep fooling and cheating the gullible pilgrims for their "rozi-roti".
Kudo's to your car too!
Hope there are more photos to share.

Edit: Congratulations on the new assignment. All the best.
Thanks a ton buddy. Sadly, there aren't anymore photos to share, as confirmed by Arnab. This travelogue has to end here. Look forward for more on another travelogue soon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1100D View Post
A wonderfully narrated travelogue and gives a fair amount of idea as to what to look for on a trip to Delhi. Wish you all the success in Delhi and looking forward to the northwardly trips on your predator.
Thank you Dada. I am planning something next weekend, stay tuned.
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Old 27th June 2012, 00:00   #14
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Brilliant Travelogue Aniket Da.
Had fun reading it.

Wish you all the best for your future venture's in Delhi and do keep meeting us whenever you drop into Calcutta.

Regards
Rohin
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Old 27th June 2012, 00:39   #15
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Default re: Predator conquers NH2 - Kolkata to Delhi EDIT: Now once again!

Very well written kind that made me read the full script at this late hour on my phone. Varanasi to Allahabad has been the same if not bad last 5 years. Best of luck for your new job and new city.
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