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Old 20th August 2012, 01:12   #31
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Himavanth
Hi
Hooked to your thread.Loved every word,sentence,paragraph,picture.
One thing I didnt understand that Tawang to Bomdila took you 9 hours.Did you stop at a lot of places as I was under the impression that it takes less than 7 hours.
Could you please reconfirm.
Thanks and regards
HVK saar.I am scared need you to bolster my courage when we meet next.
Regards
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Old 20th August 2012, 11:48   #32
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Quote:
Originally Posted by himavanth_m View Post
As far as the driving is concerned, I have done the bulk of the driving( more than 6800KMs of the total 7500).
Again I would like to believe that I did all this on my own, but without their company , this trip would not be possible.
Hello Himavanth,

That is serious achievement. Driving 6800 kms single handedly on bad to worst roads & driving conditions is really great. Hats off to your persistance.

But yes, I accept, all this would not have been possible without your friends i.e. companions & navigators. Specially it is very important to have a good navigator sitting besides you who can give best of directions when Car driver is busy negotiating rough terrian. This reminds me of H V Kumar & his navigator friend Laluks (who is also great photographer). They both enjoy each others company very much & Laluks has already booked his seat as navigator in H V Kumar's next road trip to Ladakh.

Thanks,
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Old 20th August 2012, 23:31   #33
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Quote:
Originally Posted by PGA View Post
Great effort Himavanth, some endurance driving by you guys. I wish you had spent a little more time around in Tawang valley and done it before or after the monsoons. It is breathtakingly beautiful, so very different from western himalayas, green beyond imagination. I did this trip in Apr May 2002 in my M800 and the car won't climb to Bum La, so me and my kids got down at couple of places to push it while my wife sat on the wheel. It was a great journey we all remember that. Roads were good all the way from Tezpur to Tawang except that climb of Se La.

By the way the lake is also known as Madhuri lake, I understand the climax shots of film Koyla were shot in that area.
Tawang is indeed very very beautiful. However, we got the leaves only during the first two weeks of July. Hence the timing of the trip. We would have loved to spend more time at Tawang, but we also wanted to see Chirrapunjee and Mawsynram (Which could not be done due to Assam Bandh).

Thanks for the information. id id not know that it is called Madhuri Lake.


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Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Sensible decision! The norm in Assam is to burn the vehicle! Bandhs in Assam are serious business.
Your words just confirm that we have taken a wise decision. Till now, we were just could not get over the fact that we could not make it Chirrapunjee and Mawsynram.

Quote:
Originally Posted by faustus77 View Post
Himavanth
Hi
Hooked to your thread.Loved every word,sentence,paragraph,picture.
One thing I didnt understand that Tawang to Bomdila took you 9 hours.Did you stop at a lot of places as I was under the impression that it takes less than 7 hours.
Could you please reconfirm.
Thanks and regards
HVK saar.I am scared need you to bolster my courage when we meet next.
Regards
Thanks for your complements

Bomdila to Tawang 9 hours was on our return journey. Our onward journey took about 11 hours which was even worse. I think if we had not stopped anywhere, we could have made it in 7 hours. But with the current road condition, it is very difficult to do it in 7 hours. As I have mentioned, there is just slush filled road for 60 km stretch between Dirang and Sela Pass. Even though it dried out on our return, there were deep ruts made by heavy lorry and army truck tyres. Safari's track is not as wide as those trucks, so we cant use those ruts. and the mud piled up in the middle of the road and if both the safari tyres are on the track made by lorrys, the underbody will definitely get scrapped. So we had to go over these very very slowly so as to not hit the underbelly of the car. This slowed us down terribly.

Between SeLa pass and Tawang, there was again no road closer to SeLa pass. There was just a river of water flowing across the roads at every 10 to 15 meter intervals. It is not wise to over this at higher speed. Plus closer to seLa pass, the road was just pothole filled and anything greater than 15 kmph on these potholes, made a loud thud noise. So we slowed down and were extremely careful.

In addition to the bad road conditions, we stopped for about 30 minutes for breakfast and another 1 hour for photo sessions.

The bright side of this really really slow driving was that, the Tie rods which I expected would take a major hit were in fine condition. Those tie rods were already 20,000KMs old. After the trip, there are now 30,000 KMs old and as per service engineer, they are good to go for another 7000 to 8000 Kms.

Hope this answers your query.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jignesh View Post
That is serious achievement. Driving 6800 kms single handedly on bad to worst roads & driving conditions is really great. Hats off to your persistance.

But yes, I accept, all this would not have been possible without your friends i.e. companions & navigators. Specially it is very important to have a good navigator sitting besides you who can give best of directions when Car driver is busy negotiating rough terrian. This reminds me of H V Kumar & his navigator friend Laluks (who is also great photographer). They both enjoy each others company very much & Laluks has already booked his seat as navigator in H V Kumar's next road trip to Ladakh.
Thanks for your complements. I have not traveled in as difficult terrains as HV Kumar did, but a good navigator is important especially in hilly terrains. From their travelogues, Laluks and HV Kumar indeed form a great team. It is great reading through those travelogues. I just hope that I can follow my dream of travelling all across India by road. And in doing so, atleast try to emmulate HV Kumar to some extent.

I just wonder how HV Kumar manages to travel so much. I always think of quitting job for a year and just travel, but could never get the courage to do so. Great guts are required.
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Old 21st August 2012, 00:42   #34
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Himavanth
Hi
Thanks for your clarification.
After seeing your videos am sure that a Beat would not be able to handle that slushy road.So will have to wait for better conditions.You did notice altos in Tawang so obviously they go throught the Sela pass.
When I was driving to Leh in a beat last year the general manager of Chevy at Srinagar warned me about the ruts created by trucks.His advice was to have one set of wheels on the mound and one on the trough so you are driving at an angle.Except for some underbelly hits before Sonamarg(the road had been totally washed away and was closed for 2 days) I didnt have any problem.
On a different note mr Mathur(a member here) mentioned the fact that the taxi drivers when driving on those roads always keep a slight pressure on the accelarator for better driving control.
Regards
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Old 21st August 2012, 14:38   #35
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Excellent travelogue - neatly written and well supplemented with pics and videos. Thanks for sharing!
Quote:
Originally Posted by himavanth_m View Post
For your information, Safari has a 70 litre tank.
I believe that is incorrect - the tank capacity, as per the user manual, is 65 lit.

Last edited by cool_dube : 21st August 2012 at 14:43.
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Old 22nd August 2012, 23:11   #36
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Quote:
Originally Posted by faustus77 View Post
When I was driving to Leh in a beat last year the general manager of Chevy at Srinagar warned me about the ruts created by trucks.His advice was to have one set of wheels on the mound and one on the trough so you are driving at an angle.Except for some underbelly hits before Sonamarg(the road had been totally washed away and was closed for 2 days) I didnt have any problem.
On a different note mr Mathur(a member here) mentioned the fact that the taxi drivers when driving on those roads always keep a slight pressure on the accelarator for better driving control.
The beat is definitely capable of going to Tawang. It is just that the day before we attempted the drive to Tawang, there was a heavy lash of rains. Due to this all the slush came on the road. Otherwise, after monsoons, the beat will be able to go all the way to Tawang. Not just beat, any vehicle will be able to climb up. A 4x4 is not required during that time.

And yes, we followed all the techniques mentioned by you. Like keeping one tyre on the trough and other on the crest and driving at an incline.But sometimes the mud on would give a away. Yes, we also pressed accelerator half pressed and ensured that we do not break suddenly. Alos used a lot of engine breaking while coming downhill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cool_dube View Post
Excellent travelogue - neatly written and well supplemented with pics and videos. Thanks for sharing!

I believe that is incorrect - the tank capacity, as per the user manual, is 65 lit.
Thanks for your complements. I am not sure about the tank capacity because I filled 65 litres at Jung petrol pump. At that time, the needle was almost empty. I think the petrol pump guys there had incorrect settings. Ways to make more money I guess.


Continuing with My travelogue

Nostalgic at IIT Kharagpur


After freshening up at Siliguri, we continued with our journey. The next 24 hours would be the most torturous part of the drive. NH34 from Siliguri to Kolkata was in a horrible condition. There were two major accidents on this highway on our way back.

The first accident was after the 2 lane started. Dont remember the exact place but the pic of the accident on the bridge enroute.
Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_3101.jpg

Here we were stuck for 1 hour. On proceeding further, there was a hit and run case. We were dead halt for 3 hours. To make matters worse, towards the end of the day at 4 PM, a truck slipped and fell on the side of the road blocking the road completely. We had to wait for a crane to lift up the vehicle and put it on one side of the road. Even then only one way of road was usable. So police were leaving one lane for some time and then the other. This was a further stoppage for 3 hours and slow movement behind traffic for another 1 hour.

So overall we got stuck due to traffic and other mishaps for 8 hours. To make matters worse, the road is being widened after crossing Malda. Here the road was in terrible shape. At night, I was not able to see the road due to heavy oncoming traffic. The road surface was horrible. To add to this, the rude bus drivers caused lot of head ache driving on this road. We finally reached Kolkata at 10 AM. A full 10 hours behind schedule and we were in car for almost 2 days. So we decided to drive down to Kharagpur and while rest of the gang takes some rest there, I would go around the campus where I spent 4 valuable years of my life.

Some pics of IIT KGP. Felt very nostalgic after seeing all these places.

My car in front of the main building

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_3125.jpg

The old building

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_3128.jpg

A World War 2 Aircraft

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_3129.jpg

Old Steam engine.

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_3132.jpg

We finally left the place in the evening and headed towards Gopalpur. In the evening, the horn of my vehicle conked off. This is when I faced the worst Tata experience.

I will write about my experience in the next post.
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Old 25th August 2012, 23:57   #37
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Amazing! - your team's perseverance, the views and your narration. Truly enjoyed reading it.

And quite good to know about the reliability of the truck that you are experiencing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by himavanth_m View Post
Yes, the Safari gives a lot of freedom to travel. But a Safari comes with its own set of niggles. It is highly reliable car (or truck), but constant rattles from interiors and other QC issues need constant monitoring. Hopefully they fix all this in the Safari Storme.
PS: I tried sending a PM to you but couldn't. Would like to know from you about the QC issues that need monitoring as you mentioned - could you PM me please? I have unfortunately had some issues with my initial ownership that has left serious reliability issues in mind.
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Old 26th August 2012, 04:11   #38
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

@himavanth_m
Brilliantly executed, captured and reproduced (on this forum).
Currently viewing on cellphone with photos off but this will be among the first things I go through once I am back on land.

@faustus77
You can do it sir, wish you the very best.
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Old 26th August 2012, 15:24   #39
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Excellent travelogue. Heart warming views about our armed forces. Tata's QC and dealers need to put in a lot more, to match their robust vehicles, which are excellent value for money.
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Old 28th August 2012, 12:21   #40
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Quote:
Originally Posted by himavanth_m View Post
There is no road; No problem. The road is narrow and slippery; No problem. There is a huge land slide and rocks are falling from the cliff; No problem. We have to go back; well that is not an option. So what to do? Just drive ahead. This travelogue is about our 16 days, 7500KM self drive expedition to Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh that has taken us through some of the most treacherous terrains, highest passes and majestic North eastern Himalayan ranges. All these adventures were done in wrong season when Rain Gods decided to unleash their fury in this part of the world.

About us: Freedom to explore our own trail is the main reason we prefer road journeys. Our strong belief that bad road leads to great destinations motivates us to choose the un-trodden path. This belief has taken us to some of the remote and beautiful places across south India. After gaining 5 years’ experience, it was now high time to up the ante and do something that very few people have done, a drive from Hyderabad to the Northeast during Monsoons. We also had the perfect car to take the challenge head on, my faithful Tata Safari 4x4. We have crossed rivers, drove on beaches, climbed hills, and went into forest trails. There is nothing stopping us.


Planning: None of our trips are planned and the trips that we plan, nothing goes according to plan. However, we ensure that the vehicle is in top condition and do meticulous research on the routes, their condition and the places around that are worth seeing. In addition to this, we also plan for the worst. To give you an example, we were expecting landslides and to take us through such eventualities, we carried fire wood, lighter fluid and utensils to cook en-route.

Members of team-bhp have been very helpful while planning for this trip. A special thanks to hvkumar and Sutripa for their patient answers to my questions, that were often bordering on stupidity.

Before I start my travelogue, I want to mention about my heart-felt appreciation for the Indian Army. The fighting qualities of the Indian jawan and the young officers are second to none. They were very helpful even though they work in harsh conditions. They dedicate their lives to protect our homeland. We were lucky to interact with some of the jawans and listen to their fascinating stories. We are truly honored to be in their company for the small amount of time that we spent with them.

The Team(Left to Right): Ananya, Myself, Kalyan and Karthik
Attachment 968094

The most important member of the team, Tata Safari 4x4
Attachment 968095

And the motto we try to live by
Attachment 968096

The roads we encountered
Attachment 968097

And the views we witnessed
Attachment 968098
Superb travelogue Himavanth, very inspiring road trip.

What are the cellphone networks avaliable in north east, and which network had the best signals ? What about cellphone network in Bhutan? Should we get a new local sim card or Indian sim cards work with roaming. Did you face any security issues during whole of your road trip ? Did you carry extra fuel or just filled up at every nearest fuel station ?
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Old 28th August 2012, 12:48   #41
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Sorry about the late replies. I have been out on another outing to Hamsaladeevi in Andhra Pradesh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by VM1 View Post
And quite good to know about the reliability of the truck that you are experiencing.
PS: I tried sending a PM to you but couldn't. Would like to know from you about the QC issues that need monitoring as you mentioned - could you PM me please? I have unfortunately had some issues with my initial ownership that has left serious reliability issues in mind.
I have sent you a message via email. Please reply to that and we can take it offline.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Off Roadie View Post
@himavanth_m
Brilliantly executed, captured and reproduced (on this forum).
Currently viewing on cellphone with photos off but this will be among the first things I go through once I am back on land.
Your words inspire me to take up more such drives and click better photographs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
Excellent travelogue. Heart warming views about our armed forces. Tata's QC and dealers need to put in a lot more, to match their robust vehicles, which are excellent value for money.
Some of the dealers of Tata are very competent. However there are equal number of dealers who provide pathetic service.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drbones View Post
Superb travelogue Himavanth, very inspiring road

What are the cellphone networks avaliable in north east, and which network had the best signals ? What about cellphone network in Bhutan? Should we get a new local sim card or Indian sim cards work with roaming. Did you face any security issues during whole of your road trip ? Did you carry extra fuel or just filled up at every nearest fuel station ?
Glad that you found this travelogue inspiring.
We had BSNL and Vodafone with us. BSNL has the best coverage. Vodafone was having signal only in Major towns. So BSNL is the sim card to carry during such trips

In Bhutan, you can take a prepaid card with the help of the local shop people providing their addresses to you. However, we carried recharge coupons and request the hotel owners to lend their cell phone. We used to recharge with our coupons and use their phones to make calls to India. For 50 minutes, we got about 14 to 15 minutes of talk time that way.

There were no security issues what so ever, but it is best to keep track of what is happening locally. In Butan we felt the safest. There are some concerns in Assam. We stuck to only highways with major traffic during night travel. Any unknown areas, it is best to do those drives during the day. We felt very safe on the road to Tawang because of the army presence and Army convous continuously driving through out. However, the drive to Tawang should not be attempted during night just because of the pathetic road conditions.

During the entire trip, we never carried fuel. There are fuel stations at every 200 to 300 Kms, through out Bhutan. There are atleast 4 fuel stations between Tezpur and Tawang which is 330 KMs. So we kept refueling at every fuel station and never required to carry extra fuel. However, I would always recommend to carry atleast 15 litres of extra fuel for those dicey situations.


Horror Show with Tata Service center and 24x7 Translines Odissa

Our Horn stopped working and we reached Shree Bharath Motors, Tata Service center at 6 20 PM in Balasore, Odissa. To our surprise, the Service center did not allow our vehicle for inspection. They did not give us the Managers name. The manager was not available. They did not provide any contact numbers. The did not even allow us to go into service center. This was absolutely horrible for us.
I want this service center to be shut down. I am very very angry with them. They did not even allow us inside their premises. None of their service advisers or mechanics were available at 6 20 PM on a weekday. What an alarming service these guys provided. Even while typing this post, I am just very very angry and want to do something about it. The security person was outright rude.

Then we called up the 24x7 translines to provide support. This came as a second shock. The 24x7 translines is absolutely useless in Odissa. There is no mechanic that they would send us. To my horror again, these people had the audacity to tell me that horn not functioning is not an emergency and that I should not be bothered even when I mentioned that I would need to travel another 1500 odd kms before my final destination.

I have a question to 24x7 TATA translines, when you people said that our horn not working is not an emergency, what do you mean? Should I have a horrible accident and then only you will consider the situation an emergency? .

That is why I got even more angry towards the end and I lost my cool. We waited there for 2 hours with this drama. Sometimes the service center guys hang up the phone, causing me to repeat the story atleast 10 times. By that time I lost cool after about 1.5 hours and started asking for a complaint number which they refused to give seeing me angry. They just kept transferring the call to different departments and I had to repeat the story again.

For any Tata people seing this, there are two complaint numbers
Complaint Number: 1-16545119410
This was given from the gates of Shree Bharat motors who refused to allow me into the showroom at 6 20 PM on a weekday

There was a second complaint in Tezpur to which I got another horrible reply. The mechanic is not lifting up the phone and they promised to call me back which never came. However this issue was small, so did not pursue further
This complaint number is 1-16528418497 for any reference.

Both are to 24x7 Translines.

After all the drama, I started going at snails pace on the look out for a local garage to replace the horn (We have checked the relays and fuses and they were fine). And suddenly at one place a car just came towards me and I had to get off the road as I could not horn, causing me to go into a ditch in panic. This might have caused some impact on suspension and the horrible time I went through.
Finally we found a local mechanic and the issue was some wiring problem. So they cut the original horn wire, and gave a direct connection to the horn. I have mentioned this to my original service center in Hyderabad and they said warranty would not be void because of this.

So coming back to the point. For all the members of team-bhp, what should my next steps be?

My life was in danger because of these two people and how should I handle it. And how do I reclaim these damages? Due to lack of horn, I had to go slow, causing me to loose time and me going into the ditch.

I have already lodged a complaint against the 24x7 translines for which I have not heard a reply and I will follow up with them.
Also I want TATA motors to take action on Shree Bharat motors in Balasore, and I want to know the best way to do it.

Last edited by himavanth_m : 28th August 2012 at 13:08.
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Old 28th August 2012, 22:17   #42
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Port town of Gopalpur: Olive Ridley Turtles Nesting Ground

After resolving the issue with the horn from a local mechanic, we drove all night again. Our destination was Gopalpur. We reached Gopalpur the following day in the morning

Quote:
Gopalpur is a small fishing village on the coast of Orrisa. The place derived its name from an 18th century temple dedicated to lord Krishna. Gopalpur was once served as a prominent seaport during the British Raj. There are ruins of the old port from where, in medieval times, sailors set out to Indonesia.

History
Gopalpur also has an ancient, commercial port, now lying in ruins. From an obscure little fishing village, Gopalpur became a prominent trading port during the days of British East India Company. The East India Company built large warehouses and godowns because the trade with Burma had picked up and it had become a trading point for rice from Rangoon. The British and the wealthy Bengalis, who once made Gopalpur a vibrant, happening place, have left. Gopalpur has reverted to being a quiet, relaxed place but with one major difference — it is one of India's most sought after beaches, with a distinct charm of its own.
Gopalpur is one of the few nesting grounds of Olive Ridley Turtles. There was an oil spill on this beach in 2010 which caused huge environmental damage especially to these turtles. Article about the spill is in link below for those interested.
The Hindu : Sci-Tech / Energy & Environment : Oil spill threatens turtle nesting site

It was hot and we left the rains behind in West Bengal. We were also in car for the better part of 4 days. So we slept throughout the day, only to get up in the evening to enjoy the beach. There was no point of going on the beach during day time as it was really hot.

Some pics of our evening walk at the beach.

Ruins at Gopalpur.
Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-_dsc0124.jpg
Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_6311.jpg

Beautiful Bay of Bengal

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-_dsc0149.jpg

And untouched Gopalpur beach

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-_dsc0127.jpg

Fisherman Boats ready to sail into the sea.

Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang-img_6312.jpg

There was also a light house at Gopalpur that is open to visitors upto 5 30 PM in the evening. We were too lazy to reach there. We just strolled along the beach.

After spending some time at the beach, we came back to the room. We had a good night sleep, a well deserved rest. The next day our drive would take us through the rocky beach of Bheemili ( or Bheemunipatnam) and overcrowded beach of Vizag!
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Old 31st August 2012, 16:19   #43
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For all the members of team-bhp, what should my next steps be?
Sorry to hear about your plight in Orissa. Try mailing to support@tatamotors.com. I got a prompt response once, when my 2 weeks old car was having problems !!
Regards
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Old 26th October 2012, 15:12   #44
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Default Re: Northeast Himalayan Escape - Bhutan and Tawang

Hi,
I will be riding my motorcycle from Siliguri to Phuentsoling shortly. I wanted to know which route to take as there are two routes
1) Through Coronation Bridge/Sevoke etc and
2) Through Dhupguri

I am not in a hurry so the longer of the routes is also fine. Priority would be on scenery. A comparison of distances/road conditions/scenery would be much appreciated.
Cheers
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Old 26th October 2012, 20:06   #45
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Originally Posted by car love View Post
Hi,
I will be riding my motorcycle from Siliguri to Phuentsoling shortly. I wanted to know which route to take as there are two routes
1) Through Coronation Bridge/Sevoke etc and
2) Through Dhupguri

Go for route 1, NH 31C. Very scenic along the forest, you will enjoy the ride.
Sevoke-Coronation bridge-Oodlabari-Malbazar-Chalsa-Banarhat-Birpara-Madarihat-Hashimara-PS. Madarihat-Hashimara route was poor and some part after the coronation bridge was rough, otherwise its a good area to drive.
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