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Old 17th February 2016, 15:03   #46
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

Wonderful Travelogue !! Great to see an MH car going all the way upto the China border. You did East & North Sikkim in one trip ! We usually plan one part of Sikkim in one trip but I understand you had shortage of time & long journey back.
Regarding the Bhagalpur stretch, there are ways to byepass those crater filled roads. the are mentioned in a separate thread in details.

All the Best for your next trip !!

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 17th February 2016, 15:39   #47
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Originally Posted by vikram31 View Post
Hi Joel

You need total 3 permits

1. Entry to Nathula
2. Return via Rangpo (specifically written on the Nathula permit)
3. Another permit for Yumthang/Gurudongmar/Lachen (If you want to do North Sikkim)

If you want to cover Zuluk and the Old silk route you need the 2nd permit for sure.

coming to your planned itinerary here are my thoughts:

Hyd-Bhubaneshwar - 1100 kms is just too much in a day. Even if these are 4 laners, you wont be able to average very high speeds. I would strongly recommend a pitstop at Vizag and then proceed to Bhubaneswar the next day

Bhubaneswar - shantiniketan - Perfectly doable

Shantiniketan - Darjeeling - Very tough. I think Shantiniketan - Siliguri itself will take you 14-16 hours. Not sure if you are ready for 4-5 more hours of hill driving that too at night. I think you should halt at Siliguri

Darjeeling - Zuluk - This is essentially the NAthula climb. Any particular reason to stay in Darjeeling? The reason I ask is that permits etc need to be taken by mid-day. And permits can be taken from Gangtok and not Darjeeling.

My suggestion would be to start early morning from siliguri and try to reach Gangtok by 10-30 or so. Head straightaway for your permits and stay the night in Gangtok.

The next day leave for NAthula. If you leave by 6.30-7, you will be in NAthula by 10-11. Stay for an hour and start your descent via Old Silk Route to terminate at Gangtok again. If you want to save a day, you can drive straight to Siliguri after covering Nathula and reach late night

Gangtok-Kolkata - Cannot be done in a day. Hence my recommendation to come to Siliguri the night before

Again - Kolkata Vizag is a tough ask in a day

Vizag - Hyderabad is child's play after you have covered the above

Here is my proposal on your route plan

Day 1 - Hyderabad - Vizag
Day 2 - Vizag - Bhubaneswar
Day 3 - Bhubaneswar - shantiniketan
Day 4 - Shantiniketan - Siliguri
Day 5 - Siliguri - Gangtok - (Permits - etc)
Day 6 - Gangtok - Nathula - Zuluk - Siliguri
Day 7 - Siliguri - Kolkata
Day 8 - Kolkata - Puri (incase you want to visit the temples)
Day 9 - Puri - vizag
Day 10 - Vizag - Hyderabad

A couple of suggestions from me on this trip

* If you are going all the way to Sikkim, try to cover North Sikkim for its pristine beauty unless time doesnt permit (I secretly feel bad about not covering Yumthang and West Sikkim due to paucity of time)
* Dont expect Hyderabad like speeds on the 4 laners. You will get fast stretches but will have to slow down for construction work/tolls/city exits that will bring your average speed down
* My proposed itinerary presumes you are not looking to drive through the night
* Please keep in mind that the sun will set earlier than Hyderabad as you keep driving to the east. Expect you headlights to be on by 5-5.30 pm at most

PM me for specific hotel options so that you dont have to go much off the highway.
Thanks a Vikram for your inputs. While i was confident of doing Hyd - Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata - Vizag by starting really early(3AM) from HYD and on return from Kolkata, the reason was to save that one day which can be spent at leisure in the location which is more scenic. Also considering that my wife drives well too and i have two other backup drivers who can drive, i thought of pushing it a bit. Though, It is only me who has extensive experience of driving on the highways(Both plains and Hills).

While i say all this, but your plan looks good too. I will rework on this once again considering your inputs about the extra time i would need. I will work the above plan and see if it works with the others.

You have instigated a new bug in me (Read North Sikkim). So, I for sure want to do the Zuluk & Nathula Pass. If i have to now go to North Sikkim, i suppose, i have to reach Siliguri before i proceed further to north sikkim. Is that right.

So can the plan now be this
1)Is it a mandate to reach Gangtok for the permit? Can it not be that once i reach Siliguri(as per your plan above), I proceed ahead to Rangpo where i can take the permit to reach Nathula?
2) Will i have to exit from the same place where i have entered i.e. Rangpo or can i go to Gangtok from Nathula Pass.
3) Gangtok seems the best option. We can take a night halt there and then proceed further towards north sikkim.
4) The maximum days we have in our hand is 15 days and we need to be up and running once we reach Hyd. Do you think, we will have sufficient time?
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Old 18th February 2016, 12:39   #48
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Originally Posted by joelchandra View Post
Thanks a Vikram for your inputs. While i was confident of doing Hyd - Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata - Vizag by starting really early(3AM) from HYD and on return from Kolkata, the reason was to save that one day which can be spent at leisure in the location which is more scenic. Also considering that my wife drives well too and i have two other backup drivers who can drive, i thought of pushing it a bit. Though, It is only me who has extensive experience of driving on the highways(Both plains and Hills).

While i say all this, but your plan looks good too. I will rework on this once again considering your inputs about the extra time i would need. I will work the above plan and see if it works with the others.

You have instigated a new bug in me (Read North Sikkim). So, I for sure want to do the Zuluk & Nathula Pass. If i have to now go to North Sikkim, i suppose, i have to reach Siliguri before i proceed further to north sikkim. Is that right.

So can the plan now be this
1)Is it a mandate to reach Gangtok for the permit? Can it not be that once i reach Siliguri(as per your plan above), I proceed ahead to Rangpo where i can take the permit to reach Nathula?
2) Will i have to exit from the same place where i have entered i.e. Rangpo or can i go to Gangtok from Nathula Pass.
3) Gangtok seems the best option. We can take a night halt there and then proceed further towards north sikkim.
4) The maximum days we have in our hand is 15 days and we need to be up and running once we reach Hyd. Do you think, we will have sufficient time?
Hi joelchandra, North and East (Nathula) Sikkim are separate trips from Gangtok. You should keep Gangtok as your pitstop for the night after Nathula. Check out the next day and check in to Lachen. After night stop you should visit Gurudongmar and drive down to Lachung. At Lachung you should take a night stop, visit Yumthang the next day and drive back to Siliguri.

1. I am not aware of the exact procedures at Rangpo but Rangpo should be closer to Gangtok and not Siliguri.
2. Rangpo will need to be crossed to go back to Gangtok
3. Yes
4. 15 days is more than sufficient

Curious to know..which car will you be driving there ?
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Old 18th February 2016, 15:22   #49
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Originally Posted by vikram31 View Post

Day 2 – Nagpur – Sambalpur

It made me really sad to see that the road between Nagpur to Sampalpur was generations better than the previous day. As a prosperous state, Maharashtra roads are really really bad compared to the roads of MP, Chhatisgarh and Odisha (states we traversed on Day 2). Most of the journey was four laned and we needed our first Mahindra Service Center visit.
Could you please share some more details regarding the road stretch between Aarang and Saraipali in Chhatisgarh? Details regarding the progress of 4 laning/diversions and approximate travel time would help.
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Old 26th February 2016, 11:01   #50
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Could you please share some more details regarding the road stretch between Aarang and Saraipali in Chhatisgarh? Details regarding the progress of 4 laning/diversions and approximate travel time would help.
Hi blackpanther. Sorry my memory is not perfect for that day but I can say that we did not encounter any major bottlenecks that day. To my mind it was a smooth drive with no diversions. Yes there was some construction but traffic was not much and we could sail through.

Cheers
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Old 2nd March 2016, 16:32   #51
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Originally Posted by vikram31 View Post
Day 5 – Siliguri – Gangtok

Woke up to a chilly morning and enjoyed fresh eggs and ginger tea at the hotel itself. For our entire journey, we stuck to breakfast in the hotel itself as it would help us avoid an additional stopover. An added benefit was a better assurance of cleanliness in good hotels as some of the highway joints were indeed patchy. We reached Gangtok around 11 and checked into The Summit Ttakshang. We chose this hotel as it was just a flight of stairs from MG Road and we wanted to stay in a central place from where travelling around would be easy. We didn’t waste any time and rushed to gather permits for East and North Sikkim. This is where Himadri provided his valuable insight. We went to a small photocopy/news stand called City Link and the guy gave us forms for North and East Sikkim. He is located right next to the Tourist Information Centre on MG Road. We were extremely disappointed with the tourist office as they bluntly told us only Sikkim registered vehicles were allowed to travel to the restricted areas of NathuLa and Gurudongmar (North Sikkim). My heart sank when I heard this as I thought I had driven 3000 kms only to find out I cant drive to my destination. We had a local contact in Sikkim (A senior govt official who came to our rescue). So here is the deal. Technically all vehicles can ply to the restricted areas but the Sikkim police and local government body needs a guarantor as well as disclaimer that we have good intentions and are responsible for our actions. Himadri told me to visit the Nathu La office just below the Tourist Centre but they also refused to give me the permit. However our friend agreed to be our guarantor. He took us to the SPs office at 3rd mile where an officer issues permits for both North and East Sikkim. He chatted up with him in local language and I could see he was assuring him that we were good intentioned tourist who “lived to drive” ;-). He smiled at us and nodded. Yay! We had our permits! Once they issued the documents, we had to go down to the payment counter near the MG Road crossing (INR 200 per person). Payment and permits done, we were now relaxed that we were indeed going to drive upto the Chinese Border! Little did we realize that it was now 4 pm and we were about to faint from malnutrition. We instantly followed the “when in rome” approach and went to a local restaurant and pub to try local food. Ordered bbq ribs, momos and local curries made out of egg, cheese and butter. Stomachs full we strolled around MG Road to digest and slept early excited about our Nathula Drive the next morning
...
Its lucky you knew the senior government official to facilitate the NathuLa permit. Otherwise only 70 tourist vehicles are allowed each day and private vehicles are strictly not permitted. Only exception for extra quota would be order from Sikkim government or Army. In my case, when I was driving to NathuLa, I didn't have a government contact, but luckily a friend's friend was in the Army posted in J&K - a Colonel, no less, who facilitated our permit to NathuLa in my own WB registered Scorpio.

However, I am surprised that you had trouble getting permit for Gurudongmar too. For Gurudongmar, our permit was done by our homestay host in Mangan from the Mangan district office, not from Sikkim. There was no trouble getting it.

Thanks for the excellent write-up, and good photos.
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Old 6th March 2016, 06:53   #52
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Thanks Vikram. I am trying to get hold of an Air Force officer who is in the family. I spoke to him and he mentioned that he can get me an express entry to Nathula Pass. During my discussion on phone, i missed asking him if he can get me a permit for entering Sikkim too.

He's a busy man and i dont want to disturb him now. I thought, i will call him in another couple of weeks when i have a much more solid plan so that i can ask him about the ILP(In-Line Permit). I am also attaching the below travel schedule. Do you think, this makes sense?
With fast driving, Hyderabad to Vijaywada takes about 3 hours. Vijaywada to Vizag takes about 6 hours. Vizag to Kolkata one day is possible. I have done it at least twice leaving Vizag around 8.30 a.m. and reaching kolkata around 11.30 p.m.

Kolkata to Siliguri will take around 16 hours, refer to the threads for route details.
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Old 20th March 2016, 21:10   #53
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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With fast driving, Hyderabad to Vijaywada takes about 3 hours. Vijaywada to Vizag takes about 6 hours. Vizag to Kolkata one day is possible. I have done it at least twice leaving Vizag around 8.30 a.m. and reaching kolkata around 11.30 p.m.

Kolkata to Siliguri will take around 16 hours, refer to the threads for route details.
Thanks Suman. How is the road condition between Vizag and Kolkata? Is it smooth all the way or does bad patches exist. Also, how much will it take to reach Bhubaneswar from Vizag. I was planning to start early from Hyderabad and reach Bhubaneswar directly without a halt at Vizag. I intend to start at 4AM from Hyd.
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Old 22nd March 2016, 07:12   #54
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

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Thanks Suman. How is the road condition between Vizag and Kolkata? Is it smooth all the way or does bad patches exist. Also, how much will it take to reach Bhubaneswar from Vizag. I was planning to start early from Hyderabad and reach Bhubaneswar directly without a halt at Vizag. I intend to start at 4AM from Hyd.
Vizag to Balasore route is good. Balasore to Kharagpur road work was going on. Kharagpur to Kolkata is good but will take time at night due to couple of diversions.

Crossing Vizag and Vijaywada will take time, but it is definitely possible. Usually it takes me 4.5 to 5 hours to reach Bhubaneswar from Vizag.
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Old 20th May 2016, 23:29   #55
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

Lovely write-up Vikram!Hope this signals the start of more drives.now with the family
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Old 24th May 2016, 16:50   #56
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

Descriptive and nice photologue, reminded me of my trip to Gangtok way back in Dec 2008, did you encounter any snowfall towards Nathula?
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Old 5th June 2016, 08:54   #57
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Hi ranjit.. no snowfall but found freshly falken snow. An amazing touch and feel experience and great photo op!
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Old 24th August 2016, 21:19   #58
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Default Re: Bucket List Item! Cross Country Drive - Mumbai to North & East Sikkim

Hi Vikram

I am planning on a Mumbai Sikkim end of November. Another BHPian @blackpearl raised my interest levels by calling it a beautiful time to visit Sikkim.
I am not very familiar with routes through Central India. But some initial level searches threw up the Mumbai-Nasik-Indore-Bhopal-Jhansi-Kanpur-Lucknow-Gorakhpur-Muzzafarpur-Bagdogra-Siliguri-Gangtok
The route on google says NH27 from Indore to Bagdogra.
What is your view about this route?
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