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Old 22nd April 2016, 16:50   #1
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Default Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Dear All,

Thanks for all the support and the guidance _ A BIG THANK YOU to Sambit Patra (from Orissa) for helping with the route, local contact for entry formalities, Meeting with us in Orissa and introducing us to great friends, A BIG THANK YOU TO Suki from Viaterra for helping with routes in AP. NAREN MURALI was riding with me – Naren it was brilliant riding with you – The Honor remains mine !!

The ride happened with a change though - Photos included - my colleague Naren and I took off on this ride with the intent of riding from Chennai to Bhutan and back _ what happened finally was that we reached Bhutan and decided to truck the bike back to Chennai - the trip was done as listed below. Both Riders were on separate CBR 250R.

Day 1 - Chennai to Rajamundry -
Day 2 - Rajamundry to Brahmapur
Day 3 - Bramapur to Kharagpur
Day 4 - Kharagpur to tarapith
Day 5 - Tarapith to siliguri
Day 6 - Siliguri to Phuentsholing
Day 7 - Pheuntsholing to thimpu
Day 8 - Thimpu Stay and ride to paro
Day 9 - Paro stay and visit to Taktsangh
Day 10 - Paro stay and ride to Phuentsholing
Day 11 - Phuentsholing to siliguri
Day 12 - Siliguro to chennai (by air - Bikes transported by road).

We started with an ambitious plan of riding out to Bhutan and estimated to reach there on day 4 (Phuentsholing). We were to spend 2 days in Bhutan and ride back for 5 days. Men proposed and god disposed!! The ride actually took us 6 days as listed above to reach Phuentsholing, The Heat onroute will Killing and there were days when we had to ride out of our skin to cover 400 odd kilometres which in winter we would do in the 1st half _ talk of bad timing and this was it – April is not the time to ride Just not the time.

Day 1 – (About 600 Km) Started about 30 minutes behind schedule – we thought we could cover it up, realised that my shoes were giving way mid way through the ride, had to stop at Ongole and find a local Mochi to fix it – the gentleman by the roadside pasted both the soles together and assured us that all was well and they would hold up for a long time to come _ these were caterpillars footwear. Lost about an hour and half and was dead to the bone by the time we reached just before we reached Rajahmundry _ the day plan of reaching Vizag was out pretty much and considering how tired we were we decided to stop at Rajahmundry. Booked a hotel from the phone and we got a great deal at a resort on the banks of the Godavari River and decided to crash there for the night. It was the Riverbay resort and very biker friendly, they had a separate parking arranged for the bikes, even upgraded the rooms to a higher room and served us good food. Crash for night !!

Day 2 – ( About 450 KM) The previous day had major impact and the heat got to us, we started only at about 8: 30 am and hit the road – The plan was out of the window and we had simply decided to go with the flow and ride as much as we could. The first doubts on if we can make it to Bhutan came into our minds around here – but we were not to give up, we had 2 buffer days and we said no matter what we get to Bhutan. Started to hit the road consistently, had fuel breaks at BP COCO stations, and then when all seemed well it had to happen, the shoes gave way again _ obviously the soles were not stuck well enough or maybe we did not let it dry as much as it was needed. In summary shoes packed up. Decided to go into brahmapur and but new foot wear, walked into a sree leather outlet and picked up a pair of boots like shoes. The heat was telling on us, heads splitting and already on paracetamol – Decided to park the night at Brahmapur. Called friends and were told that Nandan International was recommended _ Booked the rooms on the mobile app and checked in. Decent stay, decent food and most importantly they provided for basement safe parking for the bikes. Put the bikes in and headed to the room – 1st Major discussion on if we should actually ride on to Bhutan or if we should do a Puri – Jagannath sort of route and return _ we decided that we will push for another day and decide _ this is when riding with another person helps I guess, just that one line to say “One more day” - So riding the next day we were !

Day 3 – (About 500 odd KM) – Left Brahmapur towards Kharagpur – The heat was probably as hot as it could get !! Took frequent breaks – Drank upto six liters of water each – generally done and dusted _ called in friends and sambit and group were waiting for us just past Bhadrak _ decided to meet with them for lunch and rode through the blistering heat – It was a Virtual Sauna all along – This was it – We were done and there was no pushing further _ it was as bad as blurred vision etc _ Checked into a hotel called the Great Indian in Kharagpur. Nothing worthy of mention of the hotel but just that we were in West Bengal during election time and the usual squabbles were on in the hotel bar. The third state was in the kitty and we had traversed AP(minus Telengana) in the longest route possible. Turning point : Spoke to a good friend and asked him for his ideas – He simply said having gone all the way _ Go to Bhutan and ship the bikes back by truck !!! That was it – this was a revelation ( sounds simple now) but I guess the exhaustion did not provide us a opportunity to even think about options on the way _ suddenly seemed energised, seemed recharged to march along and we decided to hit the road again.

Day 4 – (About 300 km) aimed to get to Siliguri – Got to a early start _ every person who we met said skip Bihar as it was not safe – The original plan when we left was through Deoghar, Bagalpur, purnea, kishanganj and to Siliguri. – Got directed into the wrong road – Heat was on, riding through a mining belt and roads were filled with trucks and potholes. We were surrounded by about 2000 trucks along the way (no not an exaggeration) thee trucks were like a beeline of people standing to get their voter card – just that they were creeping with full load and some trying to overtake and drive on the wrong side at about 40 km with full load. Our only concern was not to get run-over by one of these. A thinking tea break and we said lets find the closest hotel break, we chanced upon a place called Tarapith – Did not know it was a sakthi stal _ usually the ride has a temple visit – this time we considered Taktsangh as that but the divine had other plans we suppose – Lovely town and we stayed at “Amantran resorts” nice place with individual cottages, ample parking, secured and good food _ would recommend it to riders. Just a word of caution for riders who intend to ride though this belt _ Durgapur is HOT and seriously HOT – not that any of you are going to be foolish enough to ride in summer like we did _ but if you have to PLEASE carry loads of water.

Day 5 – (About 370 KM) – Planned to reach Siliguri and reached it too – The last 110 odd km was good roads, we had to cross a few river crossings and we had to cross bridges (Barrages) which were usually filled with traffic – We were stopped about 3 times by the local police who checked the license and asked for what was in the bag – fortunately we never had to open bags and they would let us go after we said that we are from Chennai and headed to Bhutan and that the bags were only cloths. No harassment et al just a quick question and asked to go on, one of them explained that it was election time and hence the checking. (Caution for other riders) – One of the cops who was perhaps inspector or above specifically asked us why we rode through bihar (He assumed we did) and also stated that there are highway robbers who tie a rope across the road and knock you down for money _ this was shocking imaging riding into a rope tied across the road at 80+. I don’t know if its true or not but since it was mentioned to us by a person us official capacity, I deemed it fit to mention it for the benefit of other riders – specifically the border areas of Bihar and West Bengal. He also mentioned that there was a police escorted convoy which leaves every hour and asked us to join that if we were to every ride back in that bit. Other riders – please take necessary precautions. Night stop at Hotel Debjyothi which has a manager who is a rider himself _ bikes are safe, food is good, rooms are comfy and the hot water surely helped. God hotel to stop by.

Day 6 – (About 160 KM) – Target to reach Phuentsholing and got there - Good roads, and parts of the ride on are through a reserve forest and through tons of Tea plantations. Breakfast break at MalBazaar and riding into the KINGDOM of BHUTAN – Honestly we were mildly startled that we just rode into the arch at the end of a market road and bang we were in Bhutan !! May be we were expecting a little more in terms of making GRAND ENTRY – parked the bikes at the 1st place we would find, clicked a few pictures and got on to meet the agent _ needed to complete the entry permits !!

Day 6 – Entry permits and formalities for entry – The process of riding into Bhutan needs two processes to be completed (i.e.) one for the person wherein we need a entry permit to Thimpu and Paro – Other areas of Bhutan need an additional permit from Thimpu which we did not get therefore no update on that. The immigration office when we reached was full due to internet issues and it was extremely chaotic documents required are
a. Application form
b.Proof of address & Identity (we used passports)
c.Letter from the agent’s office (don’t know if this is mandatory)
d. Passport size Photographs - 3

The process is straight forward, get the docs verified, sit in front of a computer and they punch in your details. You will need to scan your two index fingers and you are done. The actual process took us about 20 minutes but the waiting in multiple places took us about 3 hours with an agent person. Would strongly recommend any agent for that may be the only way to get things done if there is some crowd. In short typical “Sarkari” Office . We got our permit for 7 days which we think is the standard.

Post the entry permit we got a room at Hotel Gallinkha, which was reasonable but had absolutely no provision for parking and we had to leave the bikes at a public bike park. (Caution : Please do not leave bikes in car parks, the cops penalise you – we almost got penalised and a shop keeper told us to park elsewhere and just as we were pulling out the cops came in but decided to let us go) – We were told that its generally safe and we parked in the same place on our return as well.

Day 7 – (about 180 Km) Once the entry permit is in place you need take the bike documents INCLUDING Pollution Control certificate to the RSTA office. They look at the documents and ask to pay 50 rupees post which the vehicle entry permit is cleared. About an hour in total with minimal crowd and no waiting anywhere. They look for the tax paid paper and in our case it was printed on the RC book which they could not find until we pointed it out to them. Straight forward process and no need for an agent, we had a agent who was not of much help anyways at the RSTA.

Distance between the RSTA and the immigration office is about 1.5 Kilometers and very walkable, we took the bikes just in case they wanted to check but they did not even ask for it.

WITH PAPER WORK done it was now onwards to THIMPU and the 1st International Border crossing for AKARACHI (My CBR 250R is called that) – For common information – Akarachi means “Angelic Fate” and i have named the bike that for some personal reasons – She is the testimony to my life and has seen some of my best and worst days yet.

As we exit into the Thimpu road (There is only one) we hit a traffic jam but all vehicles lined up neatly, not one going on the left to overtake including motorcycles and it was indeed disciplined, we were hardly a kilometre from the Indian border and man what a world of a difference. The ride uphill began with temperatures dropping by the minute, felt great to finally have some cool air hitting us instead of being in a hot sauna all day long !! We were informed that the Border would be closed for about 2 days due to elections in West Bengal and we were thrilled (One additional day meant we would walk to the Tigers Nest).

The hotel at Phuentsholing helped us get the Gallinkha At Thimpu and with accommodation sorted out we stopped at every spot possible to enjoy the beauty, we stopped at a nice hotel just past the 1st monastery and ate Ema Dachi – I don’t know if its spelt that way but its basically Potato, chilli and Cheese they have versions of the same with Mushrooms also. (Caution: Bhutanese cuisine is spicy – Very spicy – I can eat considerable spice and a reference would be that good avakai pickle from AP is a daily feature for me, my co-rider is a Telegu chappie and he found it spicy – Seriously! those not accustomed to spice please tell them NO spice and it will still be spicy – Not just Emadachi – almost every dish was spicy)

We reached the hotel at about 8ish or so.

Day 8 – IN THIMPU – Up and about and a walk into the market space to buy a few trinkets/souvenirs and we hired a local taxi and asked him to help us with some shops etc, wanted to buy prayer flags, incense etc, lunch was a round of momo’s and some noodles. The taxi driver then suggested we head to Buddha Point – Absolutely magnificent – Buddha point is a must see – its still work in progress in some parts but magnificent and you get a excellent view of thimpu from there.

While the hotel was good and so was parking they have surrendered the lease and are closing down – Hence no feedback on that.

Post Lunch – Decided to Ride to Paro

Day 9 – the previous night we slept over drinks and food at the Drechen Resort in Paro and it was getting chilly. Got directions and decided to trek to the Taktsang Palphug Monastery (A.K.A) Paro Taktsangh. This was indeed a dream for us – we had only wished to be there for a long time now – Only dreamt about it and we were there starting the trek, we asked the local shop to safe keep out helmets and they only said when you come back please buy something from us – Nice !! sadly they were closed by the time we got down but the helmets were absolutely safe !!

We were advised to use walking sticks and were told that we will need it on the way down for sure. Good advice, we did need them _ we were told about 4 hours was the average time and we could do it in 2 hours – Well – revelation – We are not fit – it took us two hours to the rest spot which is about midway and has a hotel _ we met a fellow trekker who was seasoned veteran and he gave us some clear advice – Keep walking even slowly and don’t stop to rest , walk very slowly if you need to but don’t stop _ followed his advice and started towards the monastery. We got their at about 3:00 or so post their lunch break for which the monastery is closed, small security check and photography inside the monastery is banned – surrender all phones at the locker and move on into the monastery – Lovely place – its a piece of heaven on earth – a must see once in a lifetime. Spent while and started to trek back.

Back at paro – its a sleep for the night – achy legs but a day well spent and very very worth it !!! We met with a couple who were riding from Kolkatta on thunderbird and they accompanied us on the way back to.

Enough said after this was only the ride down and loading the bikes on a truck and taking a flight to Chennai – Let the pictures do the talking – I have intentionally left out pictures of our Indian highway as most people would already know.

Let me know your thoughts folks and thanks for the help !!

Srinivas
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Last edited by Rehaan : 27th April 2016 at 08:08. Reason: Rule #11
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Old 25th April 2016, 11:39   #2
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan and back in 8 days?

Awesome pics bro. Yes, this year the weather is insane and even in a place like Bangalore, we are seeing unprecedented rise in temperature. However, the pics are really soothing to the eyes. Thanks for sharing again.
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Old 25th April 2016, 18:05   #3
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Thanks Sami - The temperatures in the the Northern parts of AP/Orissa/South Bengal were in the range of about 42 odd _ we felt the heat even thanks to the chopped trees - Yes we have lovely roads but we have also done away with the trees. There used to be my younger days as a kid when I would think of trees as tunnels :-) because we never went through real tunnels !!

But all in all a wonderful ride and blessed to be back home safe after a brilliant trip.

The next trip in Jan is being planned and suggestions are welcome.
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Old 26th April 2016, 17:44   #4
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Quote:
Originally Posted by Srini76 View Post
Thanks Sami - The temperatures in the the Northern parts of AP/Orissa/South Bengal were in the range of about 42 odd _ we felt the heat even thanks to the chopped trees - Yes we have lovely roads but we have also done away with the trees. There used to be my younger days as a kid when I would think of trees as tunnels :-) because we never went through real tunnels !!

But all in all a wonderful ride and blessed to be back home safe after a brilliant trip.

The next trip in Jan is being planned and suggestions are welcome.
I'm so glad you continued your ride after suffering from heat.
How was the weather in Bhutan?
I know this is best time to go there, but wanted to understand from a first hand visitor.
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Old 27th April 2016, 13:12   #5
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Chennai to Bhutan!! A crazy feat I must say.
An inspiration altogether for riders all around the country to push themselves beyond the limit.

Both the CBR 250R bikes look perfect, and as you might have experienced that they are brilliant for touring. Learning from their big brother the VFR1000, I'm sure you must have enjoyed touring on the bikes very much.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Srini76 View Post

Took frequent breaks – Drank upto six liters of water each – generally done and dusted
Quote:
Got directed into the wrong road – Heat was on, riding through a mining belt and roads were filled with trucks and potholes.
Despite our road conditions, and in your case wrong directions, two-wheel touring is picking up in the country thanks to enthusiasts like you!

Quote:
Akarachi means “Angelic Fate” and i have named the bike that for some personal reasons – She is the testimony to my life and has seen some of my best and worst days yet.
A personal connection with the bike is a welcome sight.

Quote:
Entry permits and formalities for entry – The process of riding into Bhutan needs two processes to be completed (i.e.) one for the person wherein we need a entry permit to Thimpu and Paro – Other areas of Bhutan need an additional permit from Thimpu which we did not get therefore no update on that. The immigration office when we reached was full due to internet issues and it was extremely chaotic documents required are
a. Application form
b.Proof of address & Identity (we used passports)
c.Letter from the agent’s office (don’t know if this is mandatory)
d. Passport size Photographs - 3
Thanks for sharing the required documents.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and pictures.
Ride hard Ride Safe.
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Old 27th April 2016, 13:37   #6
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Chennai to Bhutan! What an awesome ride! I hope your bikes arrived safely in Chennai. Which transporter did you use to get the bikes back to Chennai?
regards,
Ashok
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Old 28th April 2016, 08:07   #7
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Chaith.Turbo - Honestly we did not know that it was the best to get there, day temperatures were in the range of about 15 to 20 and nights were seriously chill _ i would think about 4 - 5 Degrees. Buddha point had strong wind and that was chilly. Rain/Drizzle is sort of unpredictable, I suppose thats with all hill stations ! comfortable _ and I like the cold anyways. Would be cautions with elders and kids though.

Omkar : Thanks for the feedback _ honestly I have never been on VFR1000 so dont know (leave aside been on one I dont think I have even seen one in flesh). Just one observations in the hills when there is a sort of a cross wind the CBR tends to move a little sideways _ it happened to us about 3, 4 times in the ride - I am about 80 Kilos and that was surprising considering the bikes weight and mine !! Perhaps the tyres, still on a conti-go !!

Asphil : We spoke to a transporter who runs a service for two wheeler/4 wheeler manufacturers - He mentioned that anyways his truck go back empty to Chennai and he can ship the bikes back _ we have not got them yet - We heard that they have left Siliguri only Yesterday (27th April) - I will update post receipt of the bikes, I am not sure if I can share the name/contact of the transporter on this forum - but can surely share on a PM if you need it.

Thanks,

srinivas
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Old 13th May 2016, 10:47   #8
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Default Re: Chennai to Bhutan - An 11 day Ride

Hi All,

Good news - The bikes are back !! the transporter did a fantastic job and we got both the bikes in top shape, The Black CBR however had a dent in the exhaust heat shield - We were honestly anticipating much higher damage and we must admit that it was a brilliant job done with transportation. It might not be appropriate to discuss transporter details in the common forum but if any of you want any details please PM and We can share it for sure. Transportation was from Siliguri to Chennai.

Off topic : The bug has bitten again and the next ride is being planned _ The next ride is in January 2017 and as of now seems to be Chennai - Shirdi - Gokarna - Coorg - Chennai. The only constraint being that it needs to be done in 9/10 days - Worst case we may drop Gokarna or coorg.

If anybody has any other recommendations for any other route please do let us know.

Thanks,

Srinivas
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