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Old 18th October 2006, 16:54   #1
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Default Travelogue: Bangalore to Kolkata

Bangalore – Kolkata (via Tirupati, Vizag, Puri)

Members: ROYs in ALTO LXi

This trip was long in my mind but never thought that it will materialize so soon. Late decision to go in puja and the non availability of tickets also spurred up my decision to drive down. I was really excited. Initially Sukanta wanted to join us but in about 3 days before departure Sukanta was sent to Kolkata on deputation. Now, my wife got a bit apprehensive and I somehow convinced her that I have made up my mind and there is no looking back. Fearing lots of objection from family, we decided not to tell anybody. I told my mom (which I always do before all trips) and also told her to cleanup the garage in our calcutta home as it was packed with some empty boxes.

Now a week to go, my research about the route starts. I got a lot of input from Mr. Kumar of indiahighways. I also sent a mail to NHAI regarding some portions in Orissa but no reply.

I take the car to Surakshaa and did a complete service (although the reading was just 5972km) and finished my 3rd service. Lokesh and his group of mechanics took special interest in preparing the car for such a long drive. Each and every connection were checked and tightened. I was there standby all day watching the proceedings. I also decided to change engine oil and Lokesh suggested to go for the semi synthetic one (Castrol Magnatec). He also gave 2 packs of Barhdal injecter cleaner fearing fuel adulteration in bengal and orissa. In addition, I also bought a towing rope, a footpump.

Day 1(22nd Sept, 2006): Bangalore – Hoskote – Kolar – Mulbagal – Palamner – Chittoor – Putalapattu – Tirupati

I return from office early and load the stuffs in the car. The stuffs included laptop, shoes, two big bags, a 20 lit water barrel and other small stuffs etc. We start at 2:15PM from home. Among moderate traffic we reach KR Puram bridge and slowly to Hoskote in the next 30 min. This is the NH4 to Chennai. Traffic eased out after Hoskote and within no time we reach Kolar. Kolar has a beautiful bypass and I kept on increasing speed. Kolar was the farthest point I drove in NH4, after that it was unchartered waters. I didn’t stop the car anywhere, my wife kept clicking some pics while on drive.

Entering Palamner: It is called as the “Ooty of AP”. Once in Palamner, the beautiful ghat roads begins. Nothing so scary but you need to know at what speed you should drive.Some turns are risky at high speeds. Roads are broad and will tempt to pump your pedal but I kept at 60-70kmph and enjoyed the drive through the dwindling ghats.

Roads in AP: Just before Chittoor, there is a bypass which takes you to NH18 (Chittoor - Cudapah) and straight road goes to Chennai. After about 10km on NH18 there is right turn for Tirupati, the place is called Putalapattu. The road to Tirupati is SH61 and wow what a road it is. The road is very wide and at lots of places speed is marked as 100. I was amazed to see a 2 laned road having a design speed of 100kmph. And indeed you can enjoy the ride at that speed. Within no time we passed Chandragiri fort and was entering Tirupati, where the sun was about to set. We reached Tirupati at 6:30PM and checked into Fortune Kenses Hotel and enjoyed the 4star hospitality of the ITC group. After a light dinner, we slept at 9PM. Today was a leisurely drive but tomorrow is the drive which I am looking for. As per my plan, I have to reach Visakhapatnam before dark. Tomorrow was the test of not only my driving skills but also my planning effectiveness. I was excited, a bit scared, a bit tensed but didn’t make my wife realize that.
Trip meter for day1: 248.2 kms.

Pic: SH61 (Putalapattu to Tirupati)

Day 2 (23rd Sept, 2006): Tirupati – Renigunta – Srikalahasti – Naidupet – Gudur – Nellore – Kavali – Ongole – Chilakaluripet – Guntur – Vijayawada – Eluru – Tadepalligudem – Tanuku – Rajahmundry – Annavaram – Tuni – Yelamanchili – Anakapalle - Visakhapatnam

I could hardly sleep in the night. I kept on waking up every hour in the night. If my plans succeed today, I am through. Eventhough I put an alarm for 4AM, I woke up at 3:30AM. After the regular bath and freshing up, we start at 4:30AM. Within no time, we were in Renigunta and hit SH61 again after Renigunta. The beauty of this highway can be realized now in the darkness. The markings are illuminated and it was no problems driving in the night. I was doing 100kmph easily. Just watch out for 2 series of bumps in Srikalahasti which was difficult to watchout in the night. By 5:45AM we were in Naidupet and it was just started to get dawn.

Hitting GQ: We hit the Chennai – Kolkata Golden Quadrilateral at Naidupet about 120km north from Chennai. It was morning and Vizag another 700kms to go. My wife was taking a nap and I was getting bit tensed looking at the distance so I slowed down, recomposed myself. Lets think step by step. Let me target Vijayawada before lunch and then I will think of Vizag. Now I just started pumping. Within no time I passed Gudur and Nellore.

After Nellore, the beautiful stretch comes, it is through some forests and it was fully deserted. I pumped full throttle and decided to do some speed test as my wife was also sleeping. I touched 140kmph on this stretch and kept within 120-130kmph most of the time. Fearing that I might get tired I kept between 110-120kmph after that. Soon we pass Kavali and was about to reach Ongole where we stop for breakfast and fueling in the Reliance A1 Plaza. I have already done 170 odd km in 2 hours in GQ. Good!!! My execution is according to the plan.

We start from Ongole at 8:30AM, and kept speeding but had to go slow in the bypasses because of traffic. In another 75min saw me passing Chilakaluripet. It was 9:45AM and Guntur was within stricking distance.

Entering Guntur: We reached Guntur at 10:30AM. About 20-30km before entering Guntur, I saw various hoardings mentioned that this area belongs to PSPD and ITD divisions of ITC. It left me wondering what Guntur is for ITC is like Jamshedpur for Tatas. It was huge land where ITC tobacco and stuffs are made.

In another 30min we were passing the huge Krishna river to reach Vijayawada and into Krishna district. After crossing the bridge it was Vijayawada town. NH9 (Hyderabad – Machilipatnam highway) meets NH5 here and goes like a ring road around Vijayawada. It took us another 30min to cross Vijayawada. Initially I thought to have lunch there as vijayawada food is not to be missed but later moved on fearing loss of time if stopped here.

Crossing Krishna River to reach Vijayawada

We stopped at A1 Plaza about 30km from Vijayawada for a small break of water and refreshing. I was driving continuosly for last 4.5 hours so this was much needed break. We were not hungry for lunch so thought to have lunch in Rajahmundry. My wife gave me snacks, biscuits and water in every 30min of drive and so I was not feeling hungry at all. I was determined to hit Vizag before sunset.

We passed through small towns like Gannavaram, Peddapadu before reaching Eluru bypass. Eluru bypass is beautiful and almost without any traffic. In another 15min we reached Bhimadolu where the railway station and the highway is side-side. From here there is a left turn to Kovvuru which takes you through the famous Rajahmundry bridge but I didn’t take the risk and continued on NH5 although distance wise it was 50km longer.

Eluru to Rajahmundry stretch on NH5 is another beautiful stretch. We passed through two towns of Tadepalligudem and Tanuku. We are into West Godavari district. The road passed through beautiful green agricultural fertile land of coconut trees, rice plantations etc. The whole stretch is very fertile and one could see the lovely green paddy crop, rice fields or coconut plantations. I touched 135kmph again here. We passed through two bridges on Gowthami and Godavari before entering Rajahmundry.

Some pics of the stretch

What I saw was the each of the town/city in this stretch from Vijayawada had the idol of Lord Hanuman guarding them. We could capture one or two through my camera lenses.

Entering Rajahmundry and a soft corner: This place was always special in my heart. Although I never stayed here but we have passed here atleast once a year when we used stay in Hyderabad during my school days. Once in the summer of 1988, when East Coast express was crossing over Rajahmundry bridge, my dad told me, “You have study very hard from now on to build such bridges where buses are on the top, train in the middle and river flowing beneath”. That sentence is still fresh in my mind and proved to be very inspirational. That is the time a kid pledged to take up only engineering and nothing else. Kiddish though but ya that what goes into the mind of 9 year old? Rajahmundry Duel Bridge and the Farakka barrage were the 2 icons that stuck my mind as a class 4 kid and drew my interests into engineering.

Crosssing Godavari Bridge to enter Rajahmundry

Anyway, we stopped for lunch at a hotel on Rajahmundry bypass. It was 2:30PM and Vizag little less than 200km. Now I am comfortably placed and within the planned target. That was a nice one hour break, we had nice Andhra meal in the hotel, tanked up the car in the adjacent BP pump and started our journey to Vizag at 3:45PM.

After Rajahmundry, we enter into East Godavari district. Here too we encountered fertile land on both sides of the highway. It was greenery throughout. Now I was feeling bit fatigued but didn’t reduce the speed. Thankfully I found a swift doing similar speeds overtaking me and then I started tailgate him till Yelamanchilli. This helped me to take the needed rest while driving and also covering the distance quickly. Within no time we passed the temple town of Annavaram and soon we were passing Tuni. Now vizag was less than 100km and the time was 5PM. Cool!!! In another 30min, I stopped in A1 Plaza at Yelamanchili, another 60km to go for Vizag. Had a nice coffee, took a nice break. I have driven more than 700 km so far and within my plan time. I was thrilled but tired at the same time. I kept my composure and decided to enjoy after reaching vizag hotel.

Reliance A1 Plaza @ Yelamanchili

The last 50km from Vizag had beautiful picturesque mountains, greeneries. Traffic started to increase before vizag and finally we reached the Vizag Steel plant gate at 6:30PM. It was getting dark and within bumper traffic we finally checked into beach road hotel (Hotel Supreme) at 7:30PM. My tripmeter read 800.2km. I kept quiet for some time and on entering the hotel room, I jumped up and down like a kid just got his first bicycle. It was like a dream come true. This day required hard strategic planning as I have never done so much distance in a single day. I hogged the dinner of simple rice, dal and curd and went to the adjacent beach to enjoy the breeze. It all went dot as planned.

Pics of Vizag:

Bengali barrage in Vizag: I never knew Bengalis have such a high influence to tourism in Visakhapatnam. I could see Bengali craft showroom, Bengali banner in hotels, hotels mentioning special Bengali preparations. Our hotel was also booked by the Bengal brigade after durga puja. The beach road had lots of Bengali speaking crowd. Maan! That was a surprise for me.

Day 3 (24th Sept, 2006): Visakhapatnam – Bhimuli – Vizianagaram – Srikakulam – Tekkali – Palasa – Ichchapuram – Berhampur – Chhatrapur – Ganjam - Rambha – Balugaon – Tangi – Khurda – Bhubaneshwar – Pipli – Puri

We checkout of hotel and 6AM, see the sunrise next to the beach and take the beach road. In between we take some snaps and by the time we hit NH5 it was already 7:15AM. I tankup on the BPCL COCO outlet on the highway and proceed. After about 30km, we stop at the A1 Plaza for breakfast. We had delicious dosas and chai.

It was 8:30AM that we start from A1 Plaza and we never took any break in between till Bhubaneshwar other than a fueling stop. Although the distance was about 400km to Bhubaneshwar but GQ work was not done in Orissa in some stretch. Hence that was the worrying factor.

Within no time we reached Champawati river bridge. After the bridge GQ work is underway and only 2 lane is functional but still I could easily average 70km in the next hour. Soon we reached Srikakulam.

The roads after Srikakulam is fully done and through beautiful flore and fauna. I was continuously doing 120+ kmph in this stretch till Ichchapuram, the border of AP.

Srikakulam - Ichchapuram stretch

No Highway: I was pumping at high speeds expecting that there will be diversion as I knew from NHAI site that after Ichchapuram GQ is two laned. I took the Ichchapuram bypass and kept on going. Suddenly after 7-8 km, I can feel that I am going into no man’s land and before I could realize I can see there is no road in front. GQ suddenly ends and braked at the edge and looked around. There was nobody only paddy fields. That means I have to go back again another 7-8km to go away from bypass. Fortunately found one farmer cycling towards us and here my crooked telugu knowledge helped. He told me not to worry, just go through the mudded road through the paddy fields, take a turn in 200m and you will reach NH5. I was worried if my car gets stuck in mud but I trusted this guy as he told you can cross the paddy field. I told my wife to get down and keep walking in the front and I will follow her. Soon I found a swamp which was dangerous and I could see truck tyres which might have struck lately but somehow I managed to cross it with the help of my wife who was walking in front and giving adequate feedback. That was an hilarious adventure. I forgot to take a snap as I got tensed looking at the condition. Soon I was on a muddy road and as told by farmer we reached the highway which was just 200m away.

NH5 @ Orissa Border

Life in Orissa: From Ichchapuram checkpost, we enter Orissa and the road is simple 2 laned and our speed drastically reduced. In another 3km there was reliance pump where I tank up and enquired about the road ahead. It was scary, no work has yet been started in GQ. From the pump, an employee took lift for Berhampur and he told that the highway work will start in November.

We start from the pump at 11:05AM and looking at the condition of the roads and traffic, I felt that Bhubaneshwar is long way to go. Anyway, I didn’t give up. I did a small assessment of the situation and told my wife, we will not stop anywhere for lunch, lets do with the chips, biscuits and water but lets target Bhubaneshwar by 4PM at any cost.

We dropped the reliance guy on Berhampur bypass. From where we can see right turn for Gopalpur (another 9 km from there). Traffic, poor and narrow roads was taking our time but still I could do 50km in the next hour. Berhampur and Chhatrapur had nice bypasses though. After Chhatrapur, we can see GQ 4 laning work is on and most cases; we can use the one side of the GQ. Hence our speed increased. We reached Ganjam and then to Balugaon. It was about 1:30PM when we were passing Balugaon, we can see Chilka lake from the highway.

After crossing Balugaon, we enter into the completed stretch of GQ at Sunakhala. WOW! Bad roads over and my car started to hit 125kmph again. In no time we passed Tangi and entered Khurda. From Khurda to Bhubaneshwar one side of GQ was complete so here also I could speed off and stopped in Bhubaneshwar for lunch at 2:30PM. Finally we did it before our estimated time. We decided to relax for an hour in the restaurant. We had a nice veg thali and a fish thali for my wife with patal-sabji, Bengali-dal, karela-bhaja. Food was yummy as always you will find in Bengal and orissa.

Poor Traffic towards Puri: We start from restaurant and hit the road for Puri but I can see the traffic is very bad. All were doing 100kmph and that too dangerously. I found Bhubaneshwar – Puri stretch to be very tiring and risky where the indicas and the sumos driving like mad not to mention the mini buses. That stretch almost drenched me but I could manage with them and reached Puri in another one hour. Checked into Hotel new sea hawk on the beach at 5:30PM. Another day over as planned and I could reach puri before darkness.

Chilling in Puri Beach: Puri had a beautiful beach. Here you can see more Bengalis than oriyas at any point of time. Beach is very clean and a nice cold breeze. My wife did some shopping on the beach and we ate bhog from Jagannath temple and retired to bed.

Pics of Puri beach & Jagannath Temple & the Famous Bhog:

Tripmeter reads 485kms.

Day 4 (25th Sept, 2006): Puri – Bhubaneshwar – Cuttack – Chandikhole – Jajpur Rd – Bhadrak – Balasore – Jaleshwar – Dantan – Kharagpur – Kolaghat – Kolkata

We get up very early and go to Jagannath temple to offer puja. After puja and the necessary stuffs we start for the last leg of the journey at about 8AM. Initially I thought of doing Konark temple but dropped as I was more excited to reach home. Also I was worried of the state of roads in this part of Orissa.

After facing heavy traffic in Bhubaneshwar and Cuttack, we start pumping the pedal. Road was good but traffic was heavy. We pass through Mahanadi bridge after Cuttack. We stopped for a late breakfast in A1 Plaza in Jajpur (I think the place was Panikoili). We were not so hungry so just had a dosa shared among us. Also it was damn hot outside so we decided we will not stop for lunch instead we will lunch on cakes, biscuits and snacks.

Roads were great till Chandikhole but from there till Bhadrak the roads were fine but the bridges sections were in pathetic conditions. We were bottlenecked at those sections and hence we were losing time. Although Kolkata looked just 250km from Balasore it took us hell lot of time.

We passed Bhadrak and Balasore where heavy construction work of flyovers and roads are underway. May be in the next 6months the drive will be different.

After Balasore one part of the GQ is open so drive became smooth but no so speedy as there was incoming traffic. Within no time I passed through Rupsa. After Balasore it NH60 which is the part of GQ and it goes till Kharagpur.

Worst Roads in the entire trip: There was a place called Basta where the bypass cinstruction is on so we had to enter the village and the roads was really poor condition. It was difficult to handle the car upright. Somehow I managed the next 5km in 40min and again back to GQ and sped away but it was already 3PM and we were losing time. The next 15 odd km took me 10min where another dicersion awaited. That was through Jaleshwar. It is the Bengal-orissa border. Jaleshwar is in orissa and Laxmannath is in Bengal. This 8km stretch from Jaleshwar to Laxmannath took me 75min as I was struck between trucks (checkpost) and pathetic roads (some stretch was only gravel and no road).

Road @ Jaleshwar - laxmanath stretch

Entering Bengal: Anyway agony has to end so it ended as soon as we hit the GQ in Bengal at Angua. Yes!!We are in Bengal. Beautiful roads, passing through fertile rice-paddy fields. It was greenery all around. But the time was 4:35PM and I have to pump now. Empty roads, no traffic in the next minute my car was zooming at 130kmph. My wife was so thrilled seeing Bengal that she put off the music and started to sing the beautiful tagore numbers. I was focused on the road and trying to push as hard. Within no time we were passing Belda and before we could realize we passed Contai, Bakhrabad, Nekursini, Benapur and into Kharagpur bypass. I look at the watch. Maan !!! I did 62km in 35min. That was fast.

Greenary of Bengal (Dantan - Kharagpur stretch):

Kharagpur Bypass: Kharagpur has a big bypass as we couldn’t see anything other than paddy-fields. We meet the Mumbai highway (NH6) here in Kharagpur and so the GQ is NH6 now. Before I could imagine about kharagpur bypass I was passing through Jakpur. Madpur, Balichak and Shyamchak passed in a whisker. Once upon a time I remembered the 29 RS on the Howrah kgp line.

Taste of Bengal: It was about 6PM, we were passing Panskura where there was maintenance work on BP so we were diverted through the town. While passing through the town, I saw a sweet shop preparing hot chops. I couldn’t resist the temptation after such a hardship drive. We parked the car in the roadside and bought four hot Mochar Chop and 6 hot rosogullas. Before the truckers object my parking the car on a narrow road, I went into the car and started the journey and my wife fed me with delicious stuffs. I was driving continuously since 11AM in the morning and now it was 6PM.

Jam in Kolaghat Bridge: I was thinking of reaching home by 7PM but at that moment we got stuck on Kolaghat bridge as it was under construction and only one part of GQ is open and it got jammed. It took us half hour to cross it. After that it was pumping time. It was heacy traffic but everybody was doing 100kmph and so was i.

South Bengal Buses: A sumo in the front, myself in the middle and a Santro in my behind were all doing 100-110kmph in the fast lane after Uluberiya. All of a sudden I see heavy honking and dipper from behind. I see the Santro sway to the left, now I see a monster behind me with 6-7 headlamps. Before I could think I too swayed to the left lane and so did the sumo in the front. Then this bus zoomed passed us. This was South Bengal state bus and he never bothered to even brake. Oops !! it looked as if he has jammed the accelerator with a brick and only using the steering.

Entering Kolkata: Entrance to Kolkata is beautifully designed from GQ and very well marked and was of international standard. From the highway there was a left turn indicating “Vidyasagar Setu Exit” near Satragachhi which I took. This is the Kona Expressway. The straight GQ is bypassing Howrah and hitting NH2 near Dankuni which is the Kolkata – Delhi GQ. I took the Kona expressway reached vidyasagar setu in no time.

Pics of Vidyasagar setu taken while return:

Traffic in Kolkata: Vidyasagar setu to Dum Dum via ParkCircus, EMBypass, Ultadanga(VIP Road) took us sometime as it was heavily traffic. Calcutta was preparing for the durga puja festival and the city of joy was welcoming us. I can only say one thing “If you can drive in Kolkata you can drive anywhere”. Bangalore traffic is a bachha. My house from Airport takes just 10min and I could see mom and sister waiting downstairs with garage open. I stopped the car directly into the garage and punched into the air. Yes! Mission over. Time: 8:45PM.
Tripmeter read 515km

The car consumed 110 lit of petrol for a distance of 2048km with AC on throughout (except 100km in the morning)

  • My highest distance traveled in a single day: 800.2km (Tirupati to Vizag)
  • Highest speed: 140+ kmph
  • My Best three Stretch: Nellore – Ongole, Eluru – Rajahmundry, Kharagpur – Angua
  • Worst Stretch: Bhubaneshwar – Puri (poor traffic sense), Jaleshwar – Balasore (construction, bad roads)
Special Thanks:
  • Mr. Kumar of indiahighways,
  • NHAI website,
  • Lokesh and his team from Surakshaa, Bangalore,
  • My wife for nursing me with food, water time to time,
  • My alto for happily negotiating the bad-good roads and fulfilling my wish to make my parents sit in my first car.
Signing Off
Abhijit Kumar Roy
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Old 18th October 2006, 17:02   #2
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great post!..and great achievement!
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Old 18th October 2006, 17:09   #3
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Oh, man. This is some trip.
Actually you are probably one guy that is living the Alto credo - "Let's go".
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Old 18th October 2006, 17:15   #4
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Hey Abhijit, really ABSORBING travelogue....you do write well, I must say . It was almost like doing the trip myself.

And what I like about your travelogues is the speeds and timings that you mention - very realistic.

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Old 18th October 2006, 17:34   #5
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Default Dharoon; Khub Bhalo

Abhijit, wonderful trip, great write up and excellent pictures.

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Old 18th October 2006, 17:44   #6
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Abhijit ,

That was a great writeup.Can you please frunish the best mileage and the worst mileage acheived if ever you had recorded. I am more interested in knowing this since i also own an Alto LX.
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Old 18th October 2006, 17:59   #7
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wow man was was an awsome travelogue. i mean the best i have ever read. hope you enjoyed your stay in kolkata "Babu Mosai". wish you and your family a very late "Happy Bijoya Dashomi".

yes you are right, if one can drive in kolkata you can drive anywhere.

the stretch between bhubaneswar (rosulgarh junction) to puri is a mess speacially the part where you have the mini buses (stopping out of nowhere). but the stretch is very good in terms of the road and neon signs at the bends (properly visible during dark). but the stretch between check toll gate (while entering cuttack through NH5) is peculiarly narrow and crowded but managable.

take care and drive safe!
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Old 18th October 2006, 18:01   #8
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Now that is what I call a travelogue. Amazing stuff dude. Hats off to u.
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Old 18th October 2006, 18:12   #9
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Can a write up get any better than this? Amazing one AkRoy felt like I also did the trip with you.Hats off Captain of the Alto. Alto rocks , miss my old car !!
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Old 18th October 2006, 18:59   #10
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Awesome trip and lovely write-up!

I can't wait for you to put up what you experienced during the return leg. How many kilometers has your Alto done so far?

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Old 18th October 2006, 19:13   #11
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Very tempting - am now planning a drive to Jamshedpur maybe next year....
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Old 18th October 2006, 19:47   #12
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Oh man, That was some big trip....

One of my Manager, Sumandra Ghosh, some time back had mentioned that Bengalis are the one who are very outgoing and like to travel a lot. You are living up to the true spirit of it.

I have read all your travelogs, and they do stand out with great info and get the reader glued!

Keep them coming!
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Old 18th October 2006, 19:49   #13
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Originally Posted by Raajiv
Abhijit ,

That was a great writeup.Can you please frunish the best mileage and the worst mileage acheived if ever you had recorded. I am more interested in knowing this since i also own an Alto LX.
I record my car's performance in every refill in an excel. Max average so far was 21kmpl and worst was 15.7kmpl. I hardly drive in city, achieved the lowest figures with city drive, servicing. Presently my ODO is 10620. So expect the figures to improve.

During the Kolkata trip it was AC throughout and at higher speeds. Still it return me an overall 18.5 kmpl which I thought was good.

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Old 18th October 2006, 20:32   #14
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Originally Posted by DRC

I have read all your travelogs, and they do stand out with great info and get the reader glued!
I was actually glued like you mentioned DRC and then my manager was like helllllooooo when's the presentation coming in.
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Old 18th October 2006, 21:28   #15
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Kudos to you man. This is inspiring stuff. I am not sure if anyone on T-BHP is as enthusiastic about driving to various places as you are.
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