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Old 26th May 2016, 16:46   #1
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Default Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)

It was the early morning of 21st May 2016 I headed off to Siliguri in North Bengal to enquire & do some homework with regard to purchasing of a plot in Siliguri & decided to visit the place from my present home in Birgunj ,Nepal which is just across the Indian border with Raxaul in Bihar.

I planned to take the East West Highway ,also known as the Mahendra Highway which runs parallel to the IndoNepal border, mostly single lane in each direction, it scarcely qualifies as a highway even as per Indian standards. runs across the Terai geographical region of Nepal, from Mechhinagar in the east to Bhim Datta in the west, cutting across the entire width of the country is the longest highway in Nepal. I have first take the north south road to Kathmandu & after about 35 kms from Birgung, then take right to join the East West Highway & drive 400 kms straight eastwards to reach the eastern border i.e.Kakarbhitta.I would need to keep my Nepali no. plate car in Kakarbhitta & then take a rickshaw to cross the Mechhi river bridge & on the other Indian side take an Indian no. plate car, as Nepal registered cars are not allowed across the border. You can bring your Nepal no. plate car to India but the amount of documentation, embassy formalities, and bank guarantee etc that you feel much better rather to book a cab if you are for a small 2-3 day trip.

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-bhimdattatomechhinagar.jpg


I started around 5.30 am from home in Birgunj & by 1.30 pm reached Mecchinagar on the eastern Nepal border with West Bengal in India.

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_07_30_43_pro.jpg

These are the most dangerous observations in this so called highway,the entire 370 km straight stretch has more than 30 small bridges & culverts with Himalayan streams (tributaries) underneath,though the road is reasonably double lane and about 35 ft wide,these culverts or bridges are about 20 ft wide,so it narrows up & that too without any warning signs or displays whatsoever,only one who knows this road should drive at normal speeds else for a new person in this road you need to be very cautious.I myself spotted 3 fresh accidents ,an oil tanker lying on the river/stream bed,a luxury AC micro bus (Toyoto) with tourists head on into a tree and a Tata Sumo again head on against the stone barricaded culvert.
Also the trucks or other big vehicles will not give way even if you have happened to reach the bridge first and even blinked dippers.

Click image for larger version

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Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_07_29_28_pro.jpg
Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_07_29_25_pro.jpg

These small bridges are also at time one pass only & mostly these were found mostly in the first 100 kms of the journey.
The road surfacing is also not like what we have in India nowadays its more like the road surfacing during the 80s,the feel of small gravel is all along the first 150 kms.

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_08_10_14_selfie.jpg
Trying out a selfie ,here you can clearly see the road surface.


Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_10_32_37_pro.jpg
Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160522_09_35_50_pro.jpg

On the Koshi river barrage,flowing from Nepal to India,I did not see any photography prohibited sign.

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_13_22_53_pro.jpg

The border gate to India (Panitanki 30 km from Siliguri)

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_13_25_57_pro.jpg
Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160521_13_27_15_smart.jpg

Crossing the Mechhi river in a Rickshaw to catch a cab for Siliguri.


Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160522_08_25_26_pro.jpg
Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160522_08_25_38_pro.jpg
Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wp_20160522_09_39_42_pro.jpg

On reaching Kakarbhita I parked my Dzire in a parking lot of a restaurant & asked the owner to see the car as I would be returning the next day afternoon.
Hopped onto a rickshaw with my laptop bag which had space for some trousers and two T-shirts. The rickshaw crossed the Mechhi river bridge & I was in Panitanki,30 kms from Siliguri, changed my Nepali SIM cards to my Vodafone & Airtel ones and after a 15 minute wait my booked cab arrived ready to take me to Siliguri.

I completed by work in Siliguri on the same day & stayed back for the night in the Mainak Lodge a reasonably priced tourist lodge but its restaurant & bar was not having enough food items and the first time I found a bar not having snacks or any food whatsoever which I can have with a bottle of beer.
Did not have a sound sleep may be due to 400 kms of driving & then moving around in Siliguri.

The next day morning I left the lodge around 6.30 and took a shared Sumo till Panitanki on the Nepal border.

Next day morning I returned back to Kakarbhitta for the journey back, there was a slight layer of dust on my overnight parked car, dusted it & started driving back home.I started around 7.45 AM & was home in Birgunj around 2.00 PM with a 30 minute lunch & a 20 minute power nap. In fact you feel very sleepy on the wheels & when you stop somewhere for a powernap it doesn’t come particularly if you are too tired & having a erratic sleep cycle. I am very particular about not driving if feeling sleepy as in last November I dozed off, myself having a fracture and my wife an head injury.

Some points to be noted when driving inside even the best roads in Nepal as follows:
• They don’t compare at all with the Indian highways technically, there may not be potholes but banking on turns, road surfacing, sudden narrowing & sudden widening without warnings are all over. You always feel uncomfortable expecting something new approaching particularly roads where sudden shallow causeway type depths come up & if you are driving at 80 or more your car will take off, fly & land after a meter or so. During an earlier journey this happened & I had to change both the front suspension tie rods.
• There will be very narrow bridges and which you won’t be able to judge whether they are single way or not, normally two trucks can’t pass, one truck & one car can pass very carefully & two cars can pass easily, the worst thing is that there is no approach signage.
• There is not a proper single dhaba worth writing about in the entire 400 kms, so stocking up some packets of biscuits & cakes before the journey would be prudent.
• There is no helpline no. or any highway patrol in case of any emergencies, there are ATMs at some points in between but they all down their shutters by 7.30 PM.
• Unlike India the police here is very helpful & in the entire stretch they will not check you at all, unless there’s are routine checking. They will address you with a Sir & in very polite way “Sir, can I have a look at your registration & licence”. They are also very fit & trim unlike our fellow countrymen cops.
• In the entire stretch there is no car or tyre dealer who does wheel alignment or wheel balancing.

Last edited by Samratrek : 30th May 2016 at 07:10. Reason: completion of travelogue
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Old 31st May 2016, 10:15   #2
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Default Re: Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 31st May 2016, 11:08   #3
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Default Re: Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)

Hi Samratrek. Good to see a bhpian from Nepal. Keep updating the travelogue section with you trips in Nepal. Would be helpful to bhpians when they are traveling to Nepal.

I have been traveling to Nepal a lot since 2011 for work. My work entails a lot of road travel as well & therefore have been driven & driven myself a lot on the the E-W Highway all the way from Mechi to Mahakali as they say.

I don't click my pictures now but here are some from past trips :

The beautiful EW Highway :

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-ew-highwya.jpg

A Wifi Sumo

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-wifi-sumo.jpg

This is from 2012. This car got 3 puncture in the 7 day trip.

Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)-pucture.jpg

Since you are from Birgunj, You would recognize this place.

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Sorry for the picture quality. Didn't have fancy phone back then.

Regards,

Pawan
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Old 24th July 2016, 12:26   #4
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Default Re: Nepal: Driving through the East West Highway (Mahendra Highway)

Hi Papabravo
Let me know when you are again coming to Nepal,I will definitely be updating about road conditions here in Nepal.
Regards
Samrat
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