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Old 23rd January 2015, 16:20   #1
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Default Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha

My office had declared a year end break from Christmas to New Year and so I was wondering what to do and where to go. I was not very sure initially if a plan would work out since my wife had to manage leaves but as soon as she confirmed that she could, we started exploring various options. It just happened that Arun, a friend, family and also a fellow BHPian(lovecars21) shared his plan of a Rajasthan Road Trip. It immediately triggered the guns of excitement but somehow I was not being able to match the dates with him. I had earlier embarked on two mega road trips to Kumaon and MP with a group of friends including Sabyasachi(xetaGLGRocks), Rahul (redeye10) and Sayantan(GhostRider28). We had shared the drive in such trips but this time it was not happening in a group and I was a little doubtful about driving around 3.5K kms as the lone driver and that too, in our I10. It was Arun who gave me the initial confidence and I started my research on locations and road conditions. Sayantan contributed more towards realizing the possibility of doing this with a single hand on the wheels. He also helped me work out the basic itinerary.
As always HVK sir played the amazing role of providing detailed route logs and suggested the best of roads. Me and my wife started working out the detailed itinerary and this is what came out...

Day 1 - 26/12/2014 - Kolkata to Allahabad - 800 kms - 13 hrs - NH2
Day 2 - 27/12/2014 - Allahabad to Agra - 490 kms - 8 hrs - NH2
Day 3 - 28/12/2014 - Stay at Agra
Day 4 - 29/12/2014 - Agra to Jaipur - 250 kms - 5 hrs - NH11, Fateh. Sik. Dausa
Day 5 - 30/12/2014 - Jaipur to Ranthambhore - 175 kms - 4 hrs - NH11, Dausa Lalsot
Day 6 - 31/12/2014 - Stay at Ranthambhore
Day 7 - 01/01/2015 - Ranthambhore to Orccha - 470 kms - 9 hrs - NH76, Lakheri, Kota
Day 8 - 02/01/2015 - Stay at Orchha
Day 9 - 03/01/2015 - Orccha to Varanasi - 570 kms - 10 hrs - NH 25 and NH2
Day10 - 04/01/2015 - Varanasi to Kolkata - 700 kms - 12 hrs - NH2


I took special care to get the car thoroughly inspected and serviced at the workshop. Considering the north Indian fog situation in winter, I also got auxiliary Hella Comet 500 lamps installed. Was little concerned with the stock tyres, but took a conscious decision not to upgrade the wheels and tyres by keeping faith on my stock Bridgestone tyres which had just run for 24K Kms and of-course my sense of handling this car
Got the backseat loaded with enough supply of cakes, biscuits, water, juice, soft drinks and red bull (an SOS anti-sleep agent). I consider it to be extremely important to keep oneself well hydrated during long road trips, simple things like water, lemon juice and orange candies do a great job to keep you fresh and alert all day. Another very important stimulant for me on roads is good music. My wife Anwesha, happily took up the responsibility of compiling some amazing road music and we were good to go...
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Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-wp_20141226_016.jpg  


Last edited by anirbanz : 29th January 2015 at 00:58.
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Old 23rd January 2015, 22:40   #2
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Default re: Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha

Quote:
Originally Posted by anirbanz View Post
The last day’s drive while returning home usually doesn’t excite me much and the distances somehow seem longer than usual.
I just finished reading your travelogue and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed your writing. By any means, having a road trip spanning ten days is an achievement and congratulation to you for successfully completing it. I guess, the last day of a journey also marks the beginning of your next trip in the back of your mind

Finally, welcome to Team-BHP!

Cheers,
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Old 23rd January 2015, 23:47   #3
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Hello gmhossain, thank you so much for your comment. This is my first travelogue written in
Teambhp and I realized after seeing this published that some of the pictures have got messed up in size and the over all layout is not looking good.Is there any means of editing this post?
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Old 28th January 2015, 23:58   #4
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Day 1 : Kolkata to Allahabad (NH2) - 800kms

Finally it was the 26th of December 2014, 4.30 am when we started from our home in Kolkata towards Allahabad. I have always preferred setting multiple short term goals in life than a single big one. So I did something similar for this as well. For the first day drive, I had set targets like Darjeeling more by 7 am, Topchanchi in Jharkhand around 9 am, Mohania, Bihar by 2 pm and Allahabad by 7 pm. My strategy worked magic for us, and we could be almost on schedule with our targets.

The day started with some early morning foggy patches near Burdwan and the comets were put to use before expectation. We took a short 15 mins break at Baba Restaurant, Darjeeling more for some nice hot tea and butter toast.
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-img_20141226_071635.jpg
The next break was at Shan-e-Punjab dhaba at Topchanchi, Jharkhand where we had a heavy brunch with yummy aloo parathas . We had earlier planned for another break at Reliance A1 hotel near Mohania but finally decided to keep going as the supply of on board munchies were good enough.
NH2 road condition was not as great as I had seen last year but it was good enough to keep the speedo around 80-100.
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-wp_20141227_022.jpg
The roads had developed some ridges and tram lines, especially after Dehri-on-sone and near Sasaram, due to heavy truck movement and you got to be really careful while driving through such patches.
We exited from Allahabad By Pass road on NH2 and headed towards the city at around 6 pm, but the horrible roads of around 35 kms from NH2 to Allahabad city took around an hour to drive and we reached Hotel Rahi Illawart around 7pm.

Last edited by anirbanz : 29th January 2015 at 01:15.
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Old 29th January 2015, 00:03   #5
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Day 2 : Allahabad to Agra 490 kms (NH2)

We woke up around 7.30 and were quite pleased to see that Allahabad was not too foggy, compared to fog conditions reported by some fellow BHPians a couple of days back. We started around 9 am from the hotel after a sumptuous breakfast and headed towards Agra. It took some time to cross the city limits of Allahabad and touch NH2.

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-wp_20141227_015.jpg

Roads till Kanpur bypass were pretty good and helped me maintain my standard speed of 90-100 kmph.

The elevated Kanpur bypass road was a pleasure to drive. It is a pretty long elevated 4 lane road which takes you through the outskirts of the city traffic and puts you back on NH2. The stretch between Kanpur and Etawah was going through some major six-laning work, for which we encountered around 15 road diversions. These diversions certainly took a toll on time. We were near Sikandra and a little before Auraiya at around 1.30 pm, when we found this nice veg Family Restaurant called Swagath Dhaba beside an Indian oil pump. We took a break for lunch and again headed towards Agra. It took us around 4 hours from there to enter Agra city and we realized that Agra was freezing cold. Due to the busy winter tourist season, most of the Agra hotels were hugely expensive at that time and we did not get booking in the state tourism hotels. So we had booked a homestay around 2 kms from Taj. It was indeed a different experience to put up in a homestay and we were quite touched by the warmth of the lovely host. After a quick freshening up we went to check the Agra Sadar bazaar and wife indulged in some shopping. You get nice Leather and marble goods in Agra and if you can bargain well, you get really nice deals.

Do not forget to check out the "chaat gaali" in Sadar Bazaar... a small lane with a bunch of roadside shops offering lip smacking variety of chaats and sweets. Sweet toothed people like me should also try out the famous "Petha" of Agra.

Last edited by anirbanz : 3rd February 2015 at 16:29.
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Old 29th January 2015, 00:09   #6
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Day 3 : Stay At Agra

This was a rest day at Agra and it was time to visit the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. No matter how many times you visit the Taj, you are bound to get astonished and spellbound by its' beauty. When you stand in front of this lofty monument, you realize that it has some magic. One of the finest masterpieces of craft and geometrical symmetry, it truly is a wonder of the world!!

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9046.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9000.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-img_20141228_122232.jpg

Walking through the different corners of Agra fort and listening to the interesting ancient stories from the guide might momentarily take you back to the era of the rich and royal history of our country. It gives you a weird feeling to stand amidst such historical monuments where once upon a time the “Baadshaahs” had lived and ruled.

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9064.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9100.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9101.jpg

Last edited by anirbanz : 29th January 2015 at 01:34.
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Old 29th January 2015, 00:23   #7
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Day 4 : Agra to Jaipur 250kms (NH11 Fatehpur sikri, Bhartapur,Dausa)

After witnessing the wonders of the Mughal era, it was time to visit the maternal home of Akbar’s Hindu wife, Jodha Bai and have a glimpse of the grandeur of Rajputana. Yes, it was time for us to drive down to Jaipur. We started a little late from Agra, around 10 am, due to heavy fog and headed towards Fatehpur Sikri, which is around 35 kms from Agra, on the way to Jaipur. The road from Agra to Jaipur, which is NH11 is another amazing high speed 4 laner and you would certainly enjoy the drive. Fatehpur Sikri is like a town on its own and there are a huge lot of things to see. We spent around 3 hours there and also had lunch there.

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9114.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9123.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9126.jpg

This place supposedly reverberated with renditions of Raag Deepak by Tansen, the great court singer of Emperor Akbar.
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9181.jpg

We started around 4pm from Fatehpur sikri and headed towards Jaipur. The entire road is excellent, especially after entering into Rajasthan. We entered Jaipur city around 6.30 pm and headed straight for Amber fort for the 7:30 pm light and sound show (hindi), before we checked into RTDC Gangaur hotel. One really cannot afford to miss this one. It is indeed one of the best light and sound shows you can see in the heritage sites of India.
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9279.jpg

Last edited by anirbanz : 29th January 2015 at 01:47.
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Old 29th January 2015, 10:55   #8
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Day 5: Jaipur sight seeing and drive to Ranthambhore 175 kms (NH11 Dausa Lalsot Road)

We had not opted for the RTDC city bus tour, rather we preferred going around the city in our own vehicle. We visited the City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Nahargarh Fort and Jaigarh Fort. Nahargarh and Jaigarh forts are located up on the Aravalli hills and driving up the meandering hilly roads to the Forts was fun indeed. You get one of the best aerial views of the entire Pink City from Nahargarh Fort. We had our lunch at an open air restaurant named Padao in Nahargarh Fort, while overlooking the fascinating backdrop of Jaipur city.

Some pics at Jaipur City Palace..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9294.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9306.jpg

Breathtaking view of Pink city from Nahargarh Fort
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9347.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9361.jpg

Our red riding hood standing proudly after conquering Nahargarh!!
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-img_20141230_130513.jpg

We finished the local sight seeing at Jaipur in the first half of the day and then headed towards Sawai Madhopur, i. e. Ranthambhore National Park. There are a number of route options you can take for going to Ranthambhore from Jaipur but based on various inputs from fellow travellers and HVK sir we took the Dausa Lalsot route. Jaipur to Dausa is the same lovely road which we had taken while entering Jaipur. From Dausa you take a turn towards Lalsot and head towards Sawai Madhopur. The Dausa – Lalsot- Sawai Madhopur Road is part of the Lalsot – Kota Mega Highway project. It is not a divided 4 laner, but a nice 2 laner. Not one of the best roads but you can drive peacefully at an average of 80-90 kmph. We checked in at RTDC Hotel Vinayak, Ranthambhore at around 7:30 pm.

Last edited by anirbanz : 31st January 2015 at 23:31.
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Old 29th January 2015, 11:06   #9
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Day 6: Stay at Ranthambhore

After having spent time with the Mughal and Rajput Kings, now it was time to meet the majestic king of the jungles. We did two safaris (Zone 4 and Zone 5) but were not lucky enough to do any Tiger sighting. However the Bears, Crocodiles, Sambars, Cheetals and a variety of birds including our National bird, was indeed a treat. Having visited many National Parks in India, we quite liked the Ranthambhore forest for its variety in Flora and Fauna. Every zone in this jungle has something different to offer in terms of its terrain.

Entering Ranthambhore National Park...
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9406.jpg


The beautiful Sambar dear..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9464.jpg


The Indian Tree Pie..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9493.jpg


The deer Family...
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9549.jpg


The lazy croc...
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9572.jpg

The riot of colors..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9499.jpg

If you are a forest lover like us, it is possibly not recommended to visit a National Park during the winter holidays as this time it is hugely crowded by tourists who should have ideally gone for a picnic at a Zoo, but unfortunately chose to come to a forest. Around 40 forest vehicles are allowed to enter the forest at this time, which is good enough to kill the tranquility of a forest and scare the Tigers into their den!

A few words about the Ranthambhore safari booking...

The Ranthambhore Safaris can be pre-booked online through the website link http://www.rajasthanwildlife.rajasthan.gov.in. It offers a total of 10 zones, out which 1 to 5 are supposed to be the good ones. You can jolly well choose your zone type based on availability while making the online booking with a nominal payment. However the main Safari charges are to be paid in cash before you get on board. This is usually managed by the RTDC hotel managers themselves. The fun part is that the local forest office and agents also provide a facility for spot bookings of Safari for who have not booked online, and this has resulted into a chaotic situation. You could be a lucky one to get a spot booking without having booked online or you could be deprived of a safari or even get redirected to a different zone based on what equations are processed on the morning of the Safari at the Forest office. As a matter of fact, we were heavily troubled on one of our safaris as they had messed up our booking with a foreigner couple’s booking that led us lose about an hour in utter confusion.

Last edited by anirbanz : 31st January 2015 at 23:56.
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Old 29th January 2015, 11:19   #10
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Day 7: Ranthambhore to Orchha 470 kms (NH76 via Lakheri,Kota,Jhansi)

The jungle seemed so alluring that we could not resist doing one more Safari this morning to Zone 1 and needless to say that we enjoyed thoroughly!!

It was now time to start for Orchha (Madhya Pradesh). As advised by HVK sir, we took the Lakheri – Kota – Jhansi route for going to Orchha from Ranthambhore. The road till Kota via Lakheri is more like a good state highway and it took around couple of hours to hit Kota. It is to be noted that, the Lakheri road is not advisable to be driven after sunset due to safety issues. It was fine at daytime though. After crossing Kota and turning towards Jhansi you hit NH76 which is another fantastic high speed 4 laner. This is one of the most interesting highways to drive through as you would find it to be completely deserted and barren on both sides with hardly any trace of civilization, and to my utter surprise there were probably a maximum of 2-3 petrol pumps only in the entire 400 KM stretch. So if you are taking this road, make sure to have a full tank before getting started.

A pic captured on the Kota - Jhansi Highway..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9622.jpg


We acted like good citizens throughout the trip and kept respect for the Swachh Bharat Mission.. our mobile garbage dump in the car..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dsc04988.jpg


We reached our hotel in Orchha around 7 pm. There are a couple of good options to stay in Orchha, like hotel Sheesh Mahal inside the Orccha Fort complex which is run by MPTDC. However we chose to stay in a beautiful palatial property called Hotel Bundelkhand Riverside, which is infact owned and managed by the current descendant of Orchha’s Maharaja. We were hugely impressed by the decor and grandeur of this property. You would find a touch of ethnicity in almost every nook and corner of this hotel. The staff was also pretty helpful and cordial.

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Old 3rd February 2015, 15:58   #11
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Day 8 : Stay at Orccha

Orchha is now a small town on the banks of Betwa river, which was once a majorly significant destination of the Bundela Dynasty. It is not a very well-known tourist destination but certainly has the potential of becoming one. Orchha is only 15 kms away from the famous town of Jhansi and quite close to the UP-MP border. The town proudly hosts a bunch of beautiful historical monuments built by the Bundela kings, which includes Orchha fort, Jahangir Mahal, Ram Raja Temple and ofcourse the beautiful Cenotaphs (Chhatris) on the river bank. It is believed that Lord Rama is still the “Raja” king of this place who as per the traditional story had been brought from Ayodhya by the queen of Orccha. We spent this entire day at Orchha taking a tour through some "not so famous" pages of history but at the end of the day we were completely enticed by the place!!

Some pics at Orchha Fort area..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-img_20150102_135442.jpg

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9759.jpg

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9808.jpg

The cenotaphs..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9827.jpg

Last edited by anirbanz : 3rd February 2015 at 16:04.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 16:13   #12
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Day 9 : Orchha to Varanasi 570kms (NH25 and NH2)

We had eventually reached the end of our trip and it was time to head home. As per plan we had selected Varanasi as the en-route destination for night halt while going back to Kolkata. However we still had one more fort to conquer!!

We had to anyway go via Jhansi for going to Varanasi and had the option of entering Jhansi town to visit the Jhansi Fort. Having come so far, we could not have missed it so we headed for Jhansi fort from Orchha. We spent about an hour there and it was indeed worth taking another trip down the history lane.

Jhansi fort..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9883.jpg

The board is self explanatory ..
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9861.jpg

The might canon...
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dscn9875.jpg



We left Jhansi fort at around 11.30 am and headed towards Varanasi via Kanpur. We took NH25 via Chiragaon, Orai and finally merged into NH2 near Akbarpur, few Kms before Kanpur. It was around 3 pm and I was feeling quite hungry and found this nice big restaurant cum Entertainment zone called Sengar’s Entertainment. We had a quick lunch with their nice veg Thalis, got little freshened up and hit the roads again. It is worth mentioning that while crossing Kanpur Bypass road, we were stopped by UP Police for regular checks. They checked all our papers like smart card, road tax, insurance and pollution too. The cops did not find any issue and had to let us go without any hassle. Similar checks had happened while crossing Kanpur on Day 2 as well. Hence a request to all road trippers, to always carry all your original car documents including pollution certificate while embarking on such road trips because you never know where and when a cop might feel like checking on you. The rest of the drive through NH2 to Varanasi was peaceful and we entered Hotel Vaibhav in Varanasi Cantonment area around 8 pm.
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Old 3rd February 2015, 16:19   #13
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Day 10 : Varanasi to Kolkata 700 kms(NH2)

We had recently visited the Varanasi temples and ghats and so were not much keen on doing this again as that would have taken a toll on our departure time from Varanasi. Thus we headed straight for Kolkata through MughalSarai after breakfast at around 9 am. The last day’s drive while returning home usually doesn’t excite me much as it doesnt feel good to see the trip end.... and the distances somehow begin to seem longer than usual :-(

It is always interesting to see the changing terrains as you drive across the Indian States and often the smallest of changes can surprise you. As for example we were completely unaware that a huge flock of clouds were waiting to surprise us, ahead of the sunny Bihar fields and right after entering Jharkhand. It was the beautiful Hazaribagh forest area where we steadily entered a zone of low visibility just to realize that we were driving through clouds. One might be thinking that I am fooling around and it must have been fog. Well, as a matter of fact, even we had the initial perception that it was fog but later got confirmed by locals at a petrol pump that this is a known phenomenon in this area when clouds come down to touch the roads. The Hella fog lamps came to be useful one more time and allowed us to cruise through this low visibility zone. We still did pretty decent with time and reached Topchanchi, Shan-e-Punjab Dhaba around 3.30 pm. We took a lunch break there but again with our favourite aloo paranthas.

Topchanchi has always been just a stopover for us, but this time we decided to spare a few minutes to take a small detour and visit the Topchanchi Lake. It is indeed a beautiful and sprawling lake beside Topchanchi Wildlife Sanctuary but unfortunately it has been abused quite a bit by local picnickers, who have dumped plastic waste around the lake.

We left Topchanchi around 4.30 pm and kept the speedo ticking around 90/100 and hit Asansol around 6.30 pm. I was quite impressed with the time management and was quite hopeful of covering the remaining 200 kms in another 3 hours. To our utter disgust, the traffic became completely crazy after crossing Asansol and as an icing on the cake we got stuck at the world famous Panagarh traffic. If you have not seen it you will not believe how one can get stuck amidst gigantic trucks which move about an inch in 30 mins. Its a skill to identify the upcoming area of congestion and take the wrong lane, which is more of an accepted practice for private vehicles including buses. If you miss to take the early diversion into the wrong lane, you get stuck such that it is better to turn off the ignition and take a power nap. Although the condition in this zone is not this bad always but it was indeed horrible for us and eventually we reached Kolkata around 12 in the night.

Some Random shots on the road...

Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-dsc05070.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-wp_20150104_080.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-wp_20150104_033.jpg
Epic Road-trip from Kolkata: Agra, Jaipur, Ranthambore & Orchha-wp_20150104_060.jpg

With one memorable road trip coming to an end... its time again to prepare and plan for the next one!!! Live to Drive !!!
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Old 4th February 2015, 22:25   #14
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Note from Mod : Thread moved from Assembly Line to Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing !!!
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Old 5th February 2015, 14:52   #15
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Excellent TL with beautiful pictures.
Waiting eagerly to embark on a road trip with you.
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