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Old 16th January 2014, 15:51   #31
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Default Post lunch run to YEW

We hit the road again at around 2:50 PM, and all the photographers sans the driver, dozed off!
And the driver, had too many things to deal with , so photography was the last thing on his mind!
That is why dear reader- this post is all about timings , distances and experiences , and no photographs exist to distract your eyes!

The run from Sengar's to the YEW is roughly 240 km, and by my experience of this trip, this segment can be roughly divided into two segments - a 140 km run upto Etawah, and a 100 km run from there onto YEW.

The stretch upto Etawah is a slow run, where average speeds decline to about 70 kmph , so we could only reach this milestone at around 4:50 PM, when the sun had begun to sink into the horizon. The reason is that this stretch is being expanded to six lanes from it's current four lane width, and in populated areas, flyovers are under construction.

Ordinarily the six-laning itself presents minimal difficulty to the motorist, one just needs to be alert enough to dodge sundry dumpers and other slow moving construction equipment. The problem areas are the flyover construction zones, due to which diversions on dilapidated service roads can stretch for hundreds of meters. In order to keep speeds low, the administration has constructed many unmarked speed breakers, which can surprise the unmindful motorist.

The stretch of 100 km from Etawah to YEW, passes through very congested areas, the most congested being two stretches in the towns of Shikhohabad (57 km mark) and Firozabad (79 km mark) from Etawah.
Average speeds reduce to around 50 kmph due to frequent speed breakers, which are difficult to negotiate due to their steepness.

The remainder 20 km to the YEW itself is quite good, and one can easily maintain normal cruising speeds.

We managed to reach the YEW at about 6:50 PM.

On finally reaching the penultimate stage of our journey we paused. We had to make a decision, either we could continue , and reach home tonight, or, we could play it safe, and check-in to one of the numerous motels at Agra.

Visibility was decent upto the YEW, and so I overruled the family's wishes to stay at Agra, and decided to move on. It was to prove to be the worst decision of the entire trip!

Last edited by joybhowmik : 16th January 2014 at 15:56.
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Old 16th January 2014, 19:14   #32
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Default Yamuna Expressway and then home!

The visibility was passably good as we approached the second toll-check point near Vrindavan. This was my last option to take the exit and find a place to stay the night. I decided to push on. (My first mistake!)
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0122.jpg
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0123.jpg
At 7:40 PM, we stopped at the service area just after the toll plaza... after all it was getting late, and we probably would not find too many options for dinner once inside Delhi.
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0124.jpg
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0127.jpg

At 8:30, we started again... the fog kept getting dense in patches. I decided to follow two other cars, and kept my hazard lights on. The going got slow, speed dropped to 50 kmph.

I did not have lots of experience driving in fog, so when the cars ahead of me sped up, I did not reciprocate (my second mistake!), thinking I may lose control and crash in the poor visibility. Little did I realize that, I was a link in a chain of vehicles, and that one needs to implicitly trust the car ahead.
Well, the chain had been broken, and I had nothing to follow. Worse still, the windscreen had turned white. Thinking that it had misted over, I immediately stopped (my third mistake!) and turned on the demister. But nothing seemed to happen. Somehow my mind was not ready to accept that such a condition as zero visibility could be encountered. I had no idea where the road was - I was completely disoriented. The car behind me stopped too, I could not see past that, so I don't have any idea how many other people behind me were inconvenienced or at risk due to me. I tried looking for the left shoulder, but as I could not discern the edge, I gave up. Innova was probably precariously parked at the time.

Luckily for me, a tractor trundled along with a few cars in tow. The guy shouted out at me, to move the vehicle or risk getting rear-ended. I thanked my stars, that I had come across at least someone, who was gutsy enough to drive in these conditions - however slow he may be.

So I started following him at speeds of about 20 kmph, with the navigator still showing approximately 60 km to home. Soon enough another convoy of cars led by a Porsche Carrera , passed our convoy, and I tagged along with them till the Greater Noida Expressway.

Just after Jewar toll plaza, we passed by an accident vehicle. A tata light truck had been smashed beyond recognition, possibly caused due to the conditions

In retrospect, I had been extremely lucky, a number of things could have gone wrong, and I had put my family in harm's way. But on the positive side, I remained calm and patient throughout the ordeal.

We reached Greater Noida expressway at 10:10 PM, visibility was good - mainly due to the excellent street lighting. We came across a traffic-jam for close to 20 minutes.
An overturned truck, blocked two lanes.
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dscn3912.jpg

Once past this final hurdle it was smooth sailing, and we finally reached home at 11:15 PM - a full 15 hours, 15 minutes since we left the hotel at Varanasi.

The trip meter since leaving Chinsurah the day before read:
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0131.jpg
In covering this distance, we had consumed 112.2 litres, giving a fuel efficiency of 12.8 kmpl
and the total distance we had covered since leaving home, on December 25th was:
A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0130.jpg

In terms of tolls we had spent Rs 1355/-, the same as our onward trip.
Stay at Varanasi cost us Rs 1900/- and cost of Diesel was Rs 6427/- , with food and other incidentals, we had spent a little over Rs 11,000/- for our return trip, which is just about comparable with Rajdhani fare for the 5 passengers.

From my perspective, the trip had been a success , as I had the chance to live at least one of my dreams!

I wish you - the patient reader - a very Happy New Year!

Last edited by n_aditya : 17th January 2014 at 11:33.
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Old 17th January 2014, 16:53   #33
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

Fantastic travelogue Joybhowmik!
You have a very adventurous family and I particularly admire your octogenarian dad. You have had a very interesting trip. I did not know that arms are sold openly in parts of India. Now that you have done such a long haul effortlessly, I am sure you will plan more such rides to other places in the future. I look forward to reading your travelogues on those trips too.
Regards,
Ashok
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Old 17th January 2014, 18:16   #34
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

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Originally Posted by Sommos View Post
Hope to read more such stories from your side in the future.
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Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Glad to read out your experience in detail. Glued!
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Originally Posted by ashphil View Post
Fantastic travelogue Joybhowmik!
You have a very adventurous family and I particularly admire your octogenarian dad. ...I look forward to reading your travelogues on those trips too.
Regards,
Ashok
Thanks All for your wishes. I am truly overjoyed, that you liked to read through 30+ posts on the subject
Yes, the day when we reached Chinsurah, my Dad, was a bit apprehensive of being able to return by car, on account of body-ache. In fact, I had bought him an air-ticket for his return. But, I guess it was the call of the road, the bug called wanderlust that got to him, and in the end I had to cancel that ticket as he insisted to accompany us on the way back.

I surely look forward to posting future travels on our forum.

My travelog would be incomplete without mention of my mentor who has guided me time and again for several months prior to the trip.
There had never been an occasion when he has been too busy to answer my every 'little' question.
Exhortations from him encouraged me to bite the bullet - finally. He is the "mai-baap" of trips on NH-2 , and his two travelogs on the subject are a veritable bible of information on this quarter of the GQ.
As the following quote shows - his experience of this route is encyclopaedic.
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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
This was the old bridge, which carried traffic both ways. The eastbound bridge was built around 2004-05.
...
Sone behaves more as a seasonal river than a perennial one. In peak summer, you wouldn't even see the amount of water you see now. Many years ago, I've crossed the Sone over a fair weather causeway while driving from Robertsganj to Daltonganj and Ranchi.
Shamindra -da in case you are listening I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for the immense courage I derived from our many conversations!
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Old 17th January 2014, 18:58   #35
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

Excellent recounting and very detailed. Very unlike the overly cautious nature that your excel file reflected. Seems you have enjoyed every bit of the trip. Me too covered this distance the second time, I think 2 days before you hit the roads for Kolkata and 2 days after you while returning. Thank you.
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Old 15th February 2014, 11:47   #36
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

Joy,

This is fabulous stuff, man!!! Kudos to your attention to minute detail. I also commend you for sticking to the rules in the entire drive and not indulging in any shortcuts even though it meant you were wrongly inconvenienced. A lesson for everybody.

On a lighter note, its not only us picking you on Excel, others are also joining in.
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Old 15th February 2014, 12:28   #37
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

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Joy,

This is fabulous stuff, man!!! Kudos to your attention to minute detail. I also commend you for sticking to the rules in the entire drive and not indulging in any shortcuts even though it meant you were wrongly inconvenienced.

On a lighter note, its not only us picking you on Excel, others are also joining in.
Inquisitive, many thanks...
On the excel- yes you know my penchant for putting everything down as lines in a list. I guess I will never outgrow this habit....or too look at this another way - I am too old to change.

As an aside, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover your handle here on TBHP, after having known you for so many wonderful years....usually happens the other way around.

Here's a picture of innova standing in your garage at Kolkata. Keeping it company are yourself and the leading ladies of our lives. As I said even then, outside T-BHP, few of my friends would appreciate the reasons why such a journey was undertaken. Little did I know at the time, you were a T-BHPian too!

A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata-dsc_0080.jpg
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Old 15th February 2014, 12:56   #38
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

That's a wonderful snap so beautifully reflecting our relationship!!

On hindsight, I think the days of motoring in mountainous roads in Uttarakhand made you confident about taking this drive from a motoring point of view. Rest just fell in line. Of course, the kids and especially meshomasai are the real champs on this tour who by their mere presence made sure everything were done right.

You know what, at times I do miss the Skyline Drive in Blueridge Parkway or that Christmas Drive on frosted roads through the mountains of West Virginia.
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Old 15th February 2014, 13:18   #39
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

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On hindsight, I think the days of motoring in mountainous roads in Uttarakhand made you confident about taking this drive from a motoring point of view. Rest just fell in line. Of course, the kids and especially meshomasai are the real champs on this tour who by their mere presence made sure everything were done right.
Well yes to be honest. The one thing I have learnt from taxis and buses that ply on the mountain trails, is one can never have too much patience.

There are some who take pride in doing Delhi - Varanasi in 9 hours @ 140 kmph - I on the other hand, was most content to having done it in 11 - and did not think that had anything to do with my motoring skills

This was a drive, in which I wanted to see and experience the Indian hinterland. To stop for a chai, and snack on a parantha - at the most non-descript of places. To stop to smell the wind washing over the Ganga and the Sone.
To observe people going about their lives in very different ways from what happens in the other state which I had crossed few hours before.
So the drive gave me an experience, which a flight or a train journey with all its attendant comforts , and sterile conditions can never hope to give.

That's why I was not in a hurry. And both my Dad and the kids also had no complaints about the driving style.






Quote:
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You know what, at times I do miss the Skyline Drive in Blueridge Parkway or that Christmas Drive on frosted roads through the mountains of West Virginia.
Of course , Indian and US drives offer tremendous variety in terms of places of scenic, historical & cultural interest.

But driving long distance in the US say from PA to Gatlinburg via the Blueridge Parkway, in W Va is quite different from long drives/mountain drives here in India.

For want of creature comforts en-route the Indian one can be an adventure for some, and for surfeit of amenities the US drives can get to be fairly monotonous.

Last edited by joybhowmik : 15th February 2014 at 13:21.
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Old 15th February 2014, 13:55   #40
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This was a drive, in which I wanted to see and experience the Indian hinterland. To stop for a chai, and snack on a parantha - at the most non-descript of places. To stop to smell the wind washing over the Ganga and the Sone.
To observe people going about their lives in very different ways from what happens in the other state which I had crossed few hours before.
So the drive gave me an experience, which a flight or a train journey with all its attendant comforts , and sterile conditions can never hope to give.

That's why I was not in a hurry. And both my Dad and the kids also had no complaints about the driving style.

Of course , Indian and US drives offer tremendous variety in terms of places of scenic, historical & cultural interest.

But driving long distance in the US say from PA to Gatlinburg via the Blueridge Parkway, in W Va is quite different from long drives/mountain drives here in India.

For want of creature comforts en-route the Indian one can be an adventure for some, and for surfeit of amenities the US drives can get to be fairly monotonous.
You enjoyed it so much because of your approach and as you said earlier, SS_traveller made these crucial points in the planning stage itself. That's absolutely how one should make a road trip.....enjoy your heart and senses like in a John Denver song.

Driving in US is very different in every possible way, I totally agree with you. As you do not have to delve into other driver's mind as you MUST do in India, you can enjoy your surroundings more. You do not worry about the roads, you do not worry about the quality of fuel bunk, you drive as long as you want and you know there will be a motel in 20 miles where you can easily spend the night.

I do not remember worrying about the car so much 20 years back in US. Just filled the gas and hit the road. Not here, not even now.
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Old 19th February 2014, 12:47   #41
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Default Re: A humble beginning: Driving from Delhi to Kolkata

Great read this Joy! Appreciate your minute attention to detail and the photographs. I also did this trip in October but never come around to overcome my laziness to write up a post on the same!

I am planning another trip this year by road. Lets see when and how I am able to pull it off :-)
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Old 2nd March 2014, 21:39   #42
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Great read this Joy! Appreciate your minute attention to detail and the photographs. I also did this trip in October but never come around to overcome my laziness to write up a post on the same!

I am planning another trip this year by road. Lets see when and how I am able to pull it off :-)
Thanks Baddychat.
You must have had far better timings in October. Primarily due to better weather than December/January.
When are you planning this year's trip? Do fill us in on the details...
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Old 5th March 2014, 16:55   #43
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Thanks Baddychat.
You must have had far better timings in October. Primarily due to better weather than December/January.
When are you planning this year's trip? Do fill us in on the details...
My timings were not too bad but I drove in a rather relaxed manner for most of the trip barring the final run on the YEW when coming back. Visibility was not an issue then as you had faced in December.
I have a couple of Kol trips planned one in June and one later. Still not decided whether I would drive in June or later during October. Will keep you posted!
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Old 2nd May 2014, 07:32   #44
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I have a couple of Kol trips planned one in June and one later. Still not decided whether I would drive in June or later during October. Will keep you posted!
Incidentally , my own Kolkata trip is going to be 10 June. Return to Delhi by 23 June. Not sure what your schedules are looking like at the moment. But is there any possibility that we would be doing this on the same days?
I am planning to stop over at Varanasi for an extra night. Need to really experience the city.
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Old 2nd May 2014, 08:29   #45
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Return to Delhi by 23 June.
...is there any possibility that we would be doing this on the same days?
I am planning to stop over at Varanasi for an extra night. Need to really experience the city.
Varanasi stopover planned on the way to Kolkata, or on the way back?

Your return journey might coincide with my schedule. We'll discuss this subsequently.
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