Go Back   Team-BHP > Buckle Up > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 5th January 2017, 13:29   #1
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

Scene 1: Home, 11:00 AM, December 4 2016

Brother: I wanna go to Thailand for a week.(Brother had come home for semester holidays)

Dad: No.

Brother: Then a long drive somewhere within India.

Me:*Not willing to let go of the opportunity* Why don't we drive down to Bhutan?

Dad: In December? It will be very cold!

Me: But skies will be clear and also many reviews online suggest December is a good alternative to other months(summer).

*Proceeds showing BHPian Samba's brilliant travelogue*

Dad: Ok lets do it.

Me: OK. *Immediately called up Toyota service center to book an appointment for service*

A plan was set in motion and yours truly presented it the next morning to get approval from the parents. Parents accepted and I was grinning like a fool as I would get to satisfy my driving soul, cause ahead lay a 5500+ km trip to Bhutan and back. Our Innova which had clocked 99,717kms only within Tamil Nadu and Karnataka with occasional trips to Tirupati was gonna take us to another country. I was over the moon.

The Plan:

16 Dec 2016: Chennai - Vishakhapatnam
17 Dec 2016: Vishakhapatnam - Kolkata
18 Dec 2016: Kolkata - Darjeeling( Dad wanted to include Darjeeling as we had never been there)
19 Dec 2016: Darjeeling - Jaldapara
20 Dec 2016: Jaldapara - Phuentsholing - Thimphu
21 Dec 2016: Thimphu
22 Dec 2016: Thimphu - Phobjikha Valley - Punakha
23 Dec 2016: Punakha - Paro
24 Dec 2016: Paro (Trek to Taktsang Lhakhang A.K.A. Tiger's Nest Monastery)
25 Dec 2016: Paro - Siliguri
26 Dec 2016: Siliguri - Kharagpur
27 Dec 2016: Kharagpur - Konark Sun Temple - Puri-Jaganath -Bhubaneswar
28 Dec 2016: Bhubaneswar - Vijayawada
29 Dec 2016: Vijaywada - Chennai


STAY:

Booked the entire India part of the stay though OYO rooms. The Bhutan part was booked on Expedia with the exception being Punakha where I booked through Damchen resorts website directly, which had a twist. More on that later. Everything was prepaid because of liquid cash problems due to demonetisation.

6:00 AM, 12 December 2016

Cyclone Vardah had started wreaking havoc in Chennai. By 10:00 AM one of our trees had completely disintegrated and a pipe from our overhead tank was broken, water and leaves everywhere. Rushed up to close the valve and save some was water, was drenched in flat 5 seconds. By 3:00PM we were in the eye of the cyclone and things cooled down. Went down to inspect damages. One window pane was completely shattered and many trees were uprooted in my locality. Car was covered with leaves, thank god no damage to our shed type car parking, considering we have four huge trees around our shed.

10:00 PM, 15 December 2016

The area we live in still had not been converted to underground power lines, hence power was not restored yet due to the n number of shattered electric poles. So, there we lay five people with our spirits still high for the impending roadtrip. Fortunately, all the uprooted trees were mostly cleared from arterial roads by 14 December itself.

TEASER

The Mighty Kanchenjunga!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_8529.jpg

Phobjikha Valley

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_0391.jpg

"Need a hand buddy"

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_8836.jpg

These are the highest unclimbed mountains in the world - Mt. Gangkar Puensum among others

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_0193.jpg

Puna Tsang Chu

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-pano_20161223_102027.jpg

Thimphu

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-pano_20161224_163934.jpg

Pollution much?

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_9497.jpg

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 13:10.
Shanksta is offline   (33) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2017, 14:55   #2
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default Roadtrip: CHENNAI to BHUTAN!!

DAY 1: 16 December 2016, Chennai - Vishakhapatnam, 830 kms

Time taken: 14hrs with multiple stops


ROUTE: Chennai - Gudur - Nellore - Guntur - Vijayawada - Eluru - Rajamundry - Vishakhapatnam
Name:  Screenshot 31.png
Views: 26039
Size:  112.0 KB

Today was the day, the start of one of my many dream road trips. Everything packed and ready. Car fueled the previous day,had to wait 45 minutes in queue thanks to Vardah.
Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-fuel.jpg

Dashcam checked.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Left home at 7:30AM and reached Amaravathi highway restaurant at 9:40AM for an awesome breakfast. Spent a good 40 minutes here. This restaurant has covered parking.
Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

After Ongole the road till Vijaywada is 6-laned and a pleasure to drive on. But there are quite a few diversions. Reached Vijayawada at 2:30PM for a sumptuous lunch at Sweet magic. Spent an hour for lunch, refueled the car and continued onwards. The road from Vijayawada to Rajahmundry was not great lots of patchwork and at many places the top layer had peeled off creating shallow potholes. Crossed Godavari at 6:15PM. Post Rajahmundry the 4 laned highway till Vizag was good. Reached our stay Hotel Meena Paradise in Gajuwaka at 9:30PM. The rooms were neat and clean with good basement car parking. Only pointer is that the approach road is only wide enough for two Maruti 800s. Had a simple dinner and called it a day.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Still a long way to go.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

One of the many beautiful sights that greeted us along the way.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Trainspotting


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Nellore reached

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

A dream to drive on!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Same sign - Many times

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

Some more views.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Closer

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

A Milestone reached after 7 years and 3 days of our Innova coming into our lives!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Crossed N5 toll Plaza

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

Tried something after lunch.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-17.jpg

A Crow

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-18.jpg

Total Toll paid on Day 1: 822/-
Total number of toll booths: 15

Fuel Cost: 5341/-

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 11:18.
Shanksta is offline   (21) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2017, 17:29   #3
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 2: 17 December 2016, Vishakhapatnam - Kolkata, 904kms

Time Taken: 17hrs with multiple stops.

ROUTE: Vishakhapatnam - Srikakulam - Ichapuram - Bhubaneswar - Cuttack - Bhadrak - Balasore - Kharagpur - Kolaghat - Kolkata. The stars marked on the map are unmarked speed breakers and railway crossing. There were also a lot of diversions after crossing Bhadrak till Kharagpur.
Name:  Screenshot 33.png
Views: 25164
Size:  202.1 KB

Started a little late than planned since my grandmother was also travelling with us. Left at 8:20 AM from the hotel after breakfast and drove non stop till Srikakulam. Stopped for a cup of tea at 11:30AM. Reached the AP-OD border famous for its long traffic jam. Initially I stuck to my side and it was not moving for about 10 minutes. Then a kind trucker showed us a point where the median had been broken. Crossed over and drove into Odisha in 10 minutes flat.

The Odisha stretch of the Golden quadrilateral is mostly concrete, tyre noise was high. Be extremely cautious while driving in Odisha, bikers have the right of way and theres no two ways about that. They cut in suddenly, drive slowly on the left, right, center and the median and do not give a damn. Plus I found the dogs in Odisha to be suicidal , they are worse than the bikers. Stopped for lunch at the famous Chilika Dhaba, ambience is not all that great for families but the food more than made up for it.

Reached Bhubaneswar at 3:45PM and crossing it was a piece of cake. Beautiful bypass right through the heart of Bhubaneswar. Reached Cuttack in 30 minutes and then proceeded onwards to Kolkata. Not traffic jam at Odisha - West Bengal border. All trucks were parked to the side leaving the fast lane free for cars to go through. Reached Kharagpur around 10:15PM and stopped for Dinner at Ashiana Dhaba on the Kolkata - Kharagpur highway. Post dinner got royally stuck at the next toll gate for 35 mins and finally reached our place of stay at 12:50AM in New Town, Kolkata. Room was good but hosts were bad.

Let's go!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Traffic

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Beautiful Vizag port road.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

More Beauty

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Solar Power

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Who needs HOLLYWOOD?

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

The midpoint - still far-off.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Good roads with only truck traffic

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Hay Fever!


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Swami Vivekananda

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

Spotted many Anjaneya statues being built

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Photo Bomber

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

He wanted his picture taken. Man and machine refueling.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

The Crysta has good road presence.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Remember the xTRA mile adverts.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

AP - Odisha border. Never have I seen so many trucks.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-16.jpg

More trucks!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-17.jpg

Odisha finally

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-18.jpg

Swallow your pride and drive on the wrong-side.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-20.jpg

Even they were forced to do it. Plus following rules KEEP LEFT

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-21.jpg

Need fish?

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-22.jpg

I can stretch it.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-23.jpg

Road to Chilika

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-24.jpg

Chilika Lake

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-25.jpg

Drone spotted.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-26.jpg

Crossing Bhubaneswar


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-27.jpg

Total Toll paid on Day 2: 1010/-
Number of toll booths: 16
Underbody hits: 2 due to unmarked speed breakers in the night.
Fuel Cost: 4919/-

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 00:05.
Shanksta is offline   (23) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2017, 18:21   #4
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 3: 18 December 2016, Kolkata - Darjeeling, 629.5kms

Time taken: 16.5hrs

ROUTE: Kolkata - Khargram - Morgram - Farakka - Raiganj - Rudel - Dhantola - Islampur - Siliguri - Rohini road - Darjeeling


Name:  Screenshot 34.png
Views: 24521
Size:  435.4 KB

The day started with my dad at the wheel at 7:45AM. I had driven 762 kms the previous day towards the end and wanted to rest for some more time. Exited Kolkata in 25 minutes and immediately my 18-55mm lens packed up . Switched between 55-250mm and a prime lens and managed for the rest of the trip. Reached Azad Hind dhaba at 9:00AM on the highway to Burdwan. Spent a good one hour and had awesome Aloo parathas. There was an unruly biker gang doing stunts on the highway and generally causing chaos, riding liter bikes without even a helmet. Anyways crossed Khargram by 11:00AM and then the road till Morgram was very bad till we hit NH12.

Reached Farakka at 2:30PM had lunch at Hotel Meera right before the barrage starts. Proceeded at 3:30PM with my brother at the wheel and crossed Farakka barrage in a jiffy. The road on the barrage was so bad, the front tow hooks hit in a particularly short and deep pothole. Reached Raiganj at around 6:15 PM and I took over. As per the suggestion from the chai wallah took the Botolbari - Dhantola road. He assured us that it is safe, so took a chance plus had 3 more cars following me. The road is extremely well maintained but quite narrow, The last 1km before Dhantola is just a nightmare. I can only imagine the number of hits Samba da's Etios would have taken.

Time was 9:45PM when I stopped at City center Siliguri for a bite. After dinner started at 10:30PM from Siliguri and took the Rohini road to Darjeeling. Was quite scary initially since there were no other cars on the road. The climb was fun and steep. Reached Darjeeling at 12:10AM and got lost trying to find our stay. Finally reached Rodhi resort at 12:40AM. Crashed immediately as we had booked for a 10:30AM Steam engine Toy train ride. Darjeeling was freezing at around 4 degree Celsius.

The place we stayed at is recommended since you get a superb view of the entire city and the mighty Kanchenjunga peak in the morning.

Nivedita Bridge

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Arrow straight

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Out of focus, but these guys were zipping up and down the petrol bunk and the highway on the wrong side.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

I was driving "SMOOTHLY"!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

As you sow, so shall you reap

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Smoggy!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

What I saw for the next 7 days, Don't mind the dude. It's a guy thing.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Beautiful SH7

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Pay 10 bucks to drive on the bridge

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

G-R-E-E-N-E-R-Y! Rural India at its best.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

One at a time

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

A breather before Farakka

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

Finally reached Siliguri

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

Darjeeling, sorry for the poor image.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Final Shot after parking the car at Darjeeling

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

Total Toll paid: 313/-
Total number of toll booths: 7
Underbody hits: 2, one on Farakka barrage and another just before Khargram really tall and narrow speed braker made of RCC. Crawled over it very gingerly and yet took a hit.
Fuel Cost: 2460/-

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 11:27.
Shanksta is offline   (22) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2017, 19:25   #5
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 4: 19 December 2016, Darjeeling - Jaldapara, 163kms

Time Taken: 4hrs

ROUTE: Darjeeling - Sevoke - Damdim - Nagrakata - Birpara - Jaldapara

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-screenshot-35.png

Woke up lazily at around 8:30AM and had an awesome view of Kanchenjunga from my room. After taking tons of photos, got ready to go for the toy train ride. Had booked 10:30 AM train with a steam locomotive. Since parking is a big pain in Darjeeling decided to take a cab to the station. Hired a Qualis for 300 bucks. It had 8lakh kms on the ODO forgot to click a picture of the same. Reached the station in the nick of time and boarded our train.

What a sight! First thing in the morning.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Another one

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

TOY TRAIN EXPERIENCE:

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

The joy ride is 14 km long from Darjeeling station to Batasia loop, where it stops for 10 minutes and then onwards to Ghum station. It stops for 30 minutes at Ghum station so that you can visit the museum. After that it is the same rout back. In Case of steam engine they stop twice to fill water. Overall it was very enjoyable. But ticket cost per person is 1100/-. The ride took almost 3 hours and once you complete there are cabs available right outside the station for a ride back. Do bargain hard otherwise they try to fleece you. Interestingly while going towards Ghum the 10:40 Diesel loco caught up with us and started pushing our train gently. It was quite a sight.

Water stop

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Sugar, Spice and everything nice!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

The heat of the matter.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Some views

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Batasia loop

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-18.jpg

"Arrey! Thoda Dhakka do na yaar!" .GIF image


Name:  ezgif.comgifmaker.gif
Views: 24226
Size:  2.37 MB

Diesel engine

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Steam Engine

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

Perspective

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

Darjeeling for the most part has been rundown by tourism and I contributed to that. Vehicle pollution is high, was sad to see locals having to wear a face mask on a daily basis. Got back to our resort at 1:30PM and had lunch at the same resort. Left for Jaldapara at 3:00PM after a quick refueling session. The road till Sevoke was awesome but narrow with a lot of hairpin bends, so you need to be alert. Crossed Coronation bridge at 4:45PM. The first 5kms was bad with lots of craters on the roads. But after that the roads were decent enough to maintain a steady 80kmph. The roads are arrow straight for the most part. Reached our stay Heaven Inn resort at Jaldapara at 7:00PM. The place is decent enough for an overnight halt. But choose the cottages, instead of the rooms in the main building. Had dinner and called it a night. Tomorrow was the day my Innova sets foot in foreign land.

Another quaint little resort next to ours

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Stunning Darjeeling

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Waterfall


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Teesta

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

Coronation Bridge

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-16.jpg

Total Paid for toll: 0/-
Cab Fare: 650/-
Fuel Cost: 3030/-

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 13:19.
Shanksta is offline   (23) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 5th January 2017, 22:14   #6
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 5: 20 December 2016, Jaldapara - Thimphu, 204kms

Time Taken: 9Hrs

ROUTE: Jaldapara - Jaigaon - Phuentsholing - Chukka - Chapcha - Thimphu

Name:  Screenshot 36.png
Views: 23765
Size:  523.0 KB

Phuentsholing was a 45minute drive from our place of stay. So left at 7:45AM and reached Phuentsholing immigration office at 9:00AM. Bhutan is half hour ahead of India. As soon I entered Bhutan there was a parking area on the left. Parked the car there and headed opposite to the immigration office with all the necessary documents.

HOW TO? ENTRY PERMIT & VEHICLE PERMIT:

The immigration office is the building next to the BP petrol bunk. The permits are issued only on weekdays and all other days including national holidays they do not issue permits. You can either use your passport or voter ID to get an entry permit. In Case you do not have both, you can walk to Indian embassy nearby and get an identification slip and get an entry permit.

At the immigration office go to the first floor and get the entry form depending on the corresponding number of people in your group. Fill it out clearly, attach a photocopy of your passport or voter ID and a passport size photograph. Now go to Counter 10 and get your documents verified. If there is a crowd ask one person from your group to wait in queue while you fill out the form fast and give it to them. Once document verification is done another counter number from 1-8 will be allotted. Now take your entire group and the person at the counter will take each one's index fingerprints and photo. While the officer is entering your name ensure he/she enters it correctly, otherwise getting the vehicle permit with you as the driver will be a problem.

Now your entry permit is generated and another person will take it in to get the signature of the head immigration officer. Once that is done your name will be called out and permit will be given. You can visit only Thimphu and Paro with this permit and whether you need it or not you are given 7 days of permit. Immediately take a photocopy of all permits. A single photocopy in Bhutan costs 5rupees.

It took an hour for us since there was huge crowd.

Now drive to the RSTA which is located inside Phuentsholing bus stand. Go to the first floor and to shop number 6. Pay 20 rupees and get the vehicle permit form. Fill it out and go to the second floor and pay for your vehicle. The fees have been revised, it is now 100 rupees per day, meaning I paid 700rupees. After getting the receipt attach your vehicle's RC, Insurance, PUC copy, letter requesting permit, your driving license copy and entry permit copies of everyone in your group. Go to the R.L.O office on the first floor next to the staircase and give it to him. He will check your original license and issue the vehicle permit after entering all the details. Took us 30 minutes to get the same.

In Case the name on your license does not match the name mentioned on your entry permit you need to write an undertaking letter stating that you are aware of the mistake and are responsible for any outcomes of that mistake.

Now you have completed all formalities and can proceed to Thimphu or Paro.
____________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________________ __________________ ______________ ______________ ________

WHAT ARE? DRIVING RULES TO BE FOLLOWED IN BHUTAN

* No Honking. Honk how much ever you want in Jaigaon, once your cross the arch forget about it.

* Pedestrians have the right of way, Always stop when you see a pedestrian. 85% of them use the Zebra crossing and just walk out so be cautious.

* No squeezing from the left or right. People follow lane discipline strictly and wait patiently, so reciprocate the same.

* Vehicles joining your lane from the right have the right of way. For instance, if there is a vehicle joining your road from the right, make way.

* There are no traffic signals anywhere in Bhutan. It is completely manned by cops, so watch out for their instructions.

* While on the highway, if you happen to be stuck behind a slow moving vehicle wait for him to signal for you to overtake. If he turns on his left indicator it means it is safe to overtake and right indicator means there is an oncoming vehicle. This system works well but still be cautious while overtaking.

* Do not cross the National speed limit of 50KMPH. It is there for a reason. Maintaining 50kmph gives you good time to react. Since no one honks there might be a vehicle overtaking on a curve and this speed lets you come to a halt immediately.

* In Thimphu many roads are one ways and certain roads have specific times in the day where they can be used as two ways. These signs are mentioned clearly, so be alert. It is very easy getting around Thimphu.

* Do not go too close to any vehicle while negotiating your car anywhere. They are like the Americans and panic immediately.

* Lastly, Cab drivers in this country are no different from those in India. Minus the honking.
____________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________________ __________________ ______________ ______________ ________


After getting my permits, proceeded towards Thimphu. Crossed the first Immigration checkpost outside Phuentsholing. You need to show your entry permits to the officer, he will apply an entered seal and return it to you. Now take your vehicle permit to the police officer and make a vehicle entry, number of people and car model.

Then halted after 10kms at a small restaurant for some suja, better known as butter tea. It was different and I loved it. Time was already 12:10PM by now and continued to Thimphu. After about 2 hours of drive stopped at a Restaurant called Shelgoen and had hot cheese momos, Chowmein, Thukpa, Ema datchi, Kewa datchi and Puri sabji. This restaurant is definitely recommended since the food was tasty and service was very fast. Ema Datchi is green chillies in cheese and is a must try. It is not very spicy and is extremely tasty.

Hello

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Hazy

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Toorsa Tea gardens. So beautiful!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Lane Discipline

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Suja break.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

The view

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Under construction


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Driving through a cloud

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Patience pays, eventually.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

Cheese Momos

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-phu.jpg

Thukpa

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161220_144157.jpg

Crossed the second immigration check before Chapcha at 4:15PM, same steps repeated and continued. Reached Thimphu at 6:00PM and navigated, pretty easily with offline google maps to our stay Hotel Khamsum Inn on Phendey Lam. Parked the car and were greeted to super warm rooms. Room heater is a must here if visiting in December, plus all hotels provide a electric kettle in each room. Rested for a bit and then walked down to have dinner. Found this amazing place called Siena Pizzeria and had fresh pizzas. Called it a day after that, it was already 2 degree Celsius. Gloves are a must.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Pizzas so good!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-thim.jpg

PARKING IN THIMPHU:

Most of the streets in Thimphu are one way and the left is reserved for parking. It is paid parking everywhere and each street has an independent parking attendant.

In Case you book a hotel without a parking area, like I did, ensure you negotiate a deal on a standard fee/day with that streets parking attendant. In my case Expedia mentioned 150rupees self parking charges per day. Showed it to our hotel caretaker Sonam, who by the way was an awesome dude, and he negotiated a deal with the parking attendant and I paid 300 bucks for the 2 days my car was parked.

Parking lots are always full in Thimphu. Everyone has a car.

____________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________________ __________________ ______________ ______________

No Toll paid and no fuel stop.

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 13:20.
Shanksta is offline   (21) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 6th January 2017, 23:48   #7
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 6: 21 December 2016, Thimphu, 32kms

ROUTE: The place marked Norzin Lam 3 is the location of the immigration office.

Name:  Screenshot 37.png
Views: 23169
Size:  88.4 KB

Today's theme was "relax". So woke up lazily around 8:00AM. First thing on the itinerary was to go and get our permits extended for Haa Valley, Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang. Reached the immigration office around 9:30AM and took the form for permit extension, filled it up and was asked to come back at 12:00PM to collect it. You need to submit the photocopy of everyone's initial entry permit once again, so don't forget to take that.

The Parking spot opposite our Hotel.


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-0.jpg

Parked at Norzin Lam 3

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Norzin Lam

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

After this was done proceeded to Buddha Dordenma. The views you get from the dordenma on a day when its clear is spectacular. The Buddha statue sitting tall at 169 ft is way bigger than the Shiva statue in Murudeshwar.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

The Enlightened one!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Another View.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Views from Buddha Dordenma.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Size perspective.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-61.jpg

After spending one and a half hours went back to Norzin Lam and bought a SIM card. You get Tashicell SIM cards for 200 bucks, with the entire amount as talktime and calls to India are 4 rs per minute. It was 12:15PM by then went to the immigration office. The special permit was ready, collected it and headed to Hotel Ghazel for lunch. Food was good and it is a pure veg north Indian restaurant. After lunch went to the RSTA and 10 minutes later had the extended car permit in hand. Did a drive by past the clock tower and Memorial Chorten. Headed back to the stay for some afternoon siesta.

Pose

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Wanna Play

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-72.jpg

Thimphu

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

There is a cop standing every 10 mts in Thimphu

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Clock tower

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-21.jpg

Parked at RSTA

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

Memorial Chorten

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Woke up at 4:00PM and headed to Tashichhodzong. The road leading to the dzong, Desi Lam is awesome. Parked the car and bought entry tickets Rs. 300 per person and you get a guide, whom you can tip if you wish to. Walked into the Dzong, admired the architecture, saw Buddha, took photos and bid adieu to our guide. Came back to the room packed up for tomorrows drive to Punakha and went to Siena pizzeria, yeah its that good, for a second time. We slept peacefully not knowing what was in store for us the next day.

Desi Lam

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

Tashichhodzong

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161221_143436_hdr.jpg

Another view.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Flag hoisting ceremony

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-16.jpg

Fly high!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-17.jpg

Symmetry

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-18.jpg

Many such fuzzy friends all over Bhutan.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-19.jpg

More symmetry

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-20.jpg

Views

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 00:17.
Shanksta is offline   (23) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 11:33   #8
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 7: 22 December 2016, Thimphu - Phobjikha Valley - Punakha, 211.5kms

Time Taken: 10hrs

ROUTE:
Thimphu - Dochu La - Lobesa - Phobjikha Valley via Wangdue Phodrang - Lobesa - Khuruthang

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-screenshot-38.png

Never thought in the least that today would be longest day of driving through Bhutan. Started from Thimphu at 9:20 AM after breakfast at Hotel New Grand, which by the way serves decent South Indian food. Headed towards Lobesa via Dechhen Lam which joins Thimphu - Punakha highway after 3 kms. Stopped at the immigration checkpost on the highway to Punakha, repeated the same procedure and carried on. Stopped at Dochu La for 20 minutes and took in the beauty of the place.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

I see snow.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Some more


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Breathtaking

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Continued onwards and reached Lobesa at 11:20 AM and towards the bridge across Punakha Chu to go to Phobjikha valley.

Lobesa

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Here is where the off-roading started. There was no road at all from Punakha to Phobjikha it was just deep pothole, rocks and slush. Initially thought it would end after 5-10kms and there would be tarmac. But we encountered tarmac only after 50+kms. The last 12 kms to Phobjikha was tarred. These 66 kms took us 4 hours because of the horrible roads and we reached Phobjikha at 3:30PM. Please ensure you are extremely careful on this road in low GC sedans and hatchbacks. In Case of a bad underbody hit there is no one to call for help for miles. I took a couple of hits in my Innova, but this could be due to the fact that it was loaded with 5 adults and luggage + long wheel base. The sharp rocks on the road pose a threat to your tyres.

The deceiving start

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Made up for the bad road

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Highest Altitude reached in this trip - 10,836.61ft

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

A herd of Yaks

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

The road to Phobjikha Valley

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Phobjikha Valley


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

Phobjikha Valley

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

Phobjikha Valley

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

Phobjikha Valley is a neat little farming village. The main reason to visit Phobjikha valley, apart from the beauty of the valley itself, was to see the famous Black necked Cranes. December is the season they start migrating here all the way from Russia. Made my way to the Black necked Crane visitor center and had a look through their telescopes for 100 bucks per person to view these magnificent birds which were far far away from the reach of my DSLR lens. A total of 353 birds had arrived in the valley till date (22 December 2016). Each crane is almost 5.5 - 6.5 ft tall. Do not forget to see the injured juvenile Black necked crane 'KARMA' in the visitor center to get an idea of the size of these birds. Finally contented that the previous four hours of torture was worthwhile headed back to our stay for the day in Khuruthang, Damchen Resorts. Slept that night listening to the sound of the gushing Puna Tsang Chu.

First sighting of Black necked Cranes, zoomed into the image so it's blurry.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

Some More

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-17.jpg

View from the visitor center

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-16.jpg

Karma, the injured Crane

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-140.jpg

Also spotted - Raven

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-18.jpg

Suddenly it became even colder and a cloud was passing

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-19.jpg

Clouds? Fog?

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-20.jpg

It became so cold that there was little ice on the road. All the neat little water falls we had passed became ice.

Ice Ice Baby

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-21.jpg

I see you!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-22.jpg

10 minute delay. Courtesy: Man-made landslide

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-23.jpg

One last shot

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-24.jpg

Fuel cost: 2000/-, filled at Thimphu.

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 12:02.
Shanksta is offline   (18) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 15:30   #9
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 8: 23 December 2016, Punakha - Paro, 149 kms

Time Taken: 6 hrs

ROUTE: Punakha - Lobesa - Dochu La - Semtokha - Paro

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-screenshot-39.png

Woke up around 7:30AM and first things first went for a walk along the beautiful Puna Tsang Chu. The water is crystal clear and the river banks are very clean. All the rocks on the river bed are round and smooth, due to years of weathering. The whole setting was achingly beautiful.

Puna Tsang Chu

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-0.jpg

This is the view that greets you a little further down from Punakha Dzong.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Around 8:30 AM checked out of Damchen resorts and headed to see Punakha Dzong, which is a 10 minute drive away. On the way spotted a couple of places offering river rafting on Puna Tsang Chu. Did not go for it due to ice cold water and weather.

Punakha Dzong

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Another shot.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2-1.jpg

"I wanna pose"

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

After visiting the Dzong went in search of a restaurant and found this awesome little eatery called Center Restaurant in Khuruthang serving hot samosas, Aloo parathas, masala omelettes and khadak chai. This place is must visit for breakfast, it is located opposite the taxi parking in Khuruthang.

The slanted board on the yellow building is Center restaurant.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Tiny Sparrow after a long time!


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Myna - All ruffled up!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Some more

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Moved onwards towards Paro, Reached the checkpost after Dochu La and got our exit stamped. Initial plan was to drive via Haa Valley and Chele La pass so he the gave the permit back to me. But due to the torturous 120 kms to Phobjikha Valley the previous day. All of us were tired and decide to do Chela La and Haa valley while leaving Paro.

We meet again!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

The kind of curves my Innova loves

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

Paro Chu

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12-1.jpg

One for the album

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

Reached Paro at 3:00PM, and took the Bondey- Haa highway to reach the Paro viewpoint. This point also has an awesome view of the airport. Spent some time looking at two Druk aircrafts taxiing on the runway.

Paro View point

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

Paro


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-14.jpg

Druk Air

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-15.jpg

Where there's a will, there's a RUNWAY

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-16.jpg

Photo opportunity!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-17.jpg


Finally checked into Galing resorts, which once again was situated along the banks of Paro Chu.This was also booked through expedia inclusive of parking charges.

View from Galing resort

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-18.jpg

No Fuel stops done.

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 12:13.
Shanksta is offline   (16) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 17:12   #10
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 9: 24 December 2016, Taktsang Lhakhang trek, Car: 28 kms, Man: 6.2 kms

Time taken for the Trek: 5hrs

Time taken to go to the starting point of Tiger's nest: 20 minutes


ROUTE:
Name:  Screenshot 40.png
Views: 21819
Size:  89.1 KB


Many people online had stated that a Bhutan trip is incomplete without a trek up to see Taktsang Lhakhang aka Tiger's Nest. While casually chatting with the caretaker the previous evening, he mentioned that it would take us 3 hrs to complete it. But another storekeeper told us that this being our first time it would take us around 4 hours one way, which meant a total of 8 hours. Finally, our trusted Google-behen quite optimistically showed us that we would take 1.1 hours to complete the trek each way.

TREK ROUTE:

Name:  Screenshot 41.png
Views: 21842
Size:  45.6 KB

SOME STATS AND POINTERS:

* Tiger's Nest is located at 10,240ft. Car parking is located at 7,200 ft.

* The trail is roughly 3.6 kms long. Google shows the shortest trail which is 200 metres shorter and does not account the 400 metres of stairs in the end.

* We climb to a maximum elevation of 10,750 ft.

* There are 700+ stairs towards the end of the trek leading to Tiger's Nest. Thats right you got to climb 700 steps at 10,000ft . But good part is only half the steps each way. You descend 350+ steps and climb up 350+ steps each way.

* Horse ride is available for the young at heart, but they take you only a little past the Taktsang cafeteria which is the midway point.

* Do rent a Hiking pole for 50 bucks. Really comes in handy cause the trail is extremely steep.

* I definitely would not recommend this hike for the elderly or the unfit (no offence).

* There are numerous shortcuts which are very steep. But be warned you will experience severe thigh pain the next day, if you choose to use them.

* Don't bother carrying backpacks, tripods and heavy lenses. One wrong footing and both your body and wallet will be hurt.

* While hiking in the dry season you have to cope up with dust lifted by the horses and strong smell of their manure. Can make you feel breathless quite fast.

* Horses are extremely well trained. They stop the moment they see a human and wait for you to pass first. They also walk in single lines mostly.

____________ ___________________ ___________________ ____________________ __________________ ______________ ______________

MY EXPERIENCE:

After the varied feedback received above left our hotel room at 8:40AM. Car parked at the start of the trail at 9:15 AM and trek began at 9:20Am. Initial few meters were easy and after you reach a small rivulet is when things go from zero to eleven. After a few meters of steep climb felt totally drained out. Mom, Dad and bro were also equally drained out.

The road outside Galing resort!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-0.jpg

First look

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Ground Zero

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2-0.jpg

Ground eleven

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Loose sand and ruts

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

A little before the cafeteria

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Continued climbing and reached the Taktsang Cafeteria at 11:10AM. Had black coffee with sugar crackers and continued the climb. By 11:45AM reached the stairs and had the first glimpse of the monastery and it was absolutely worth it.

From the Cafeteria

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5-0.jpg

Beautiful view all around

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Yellow-billed Magpie

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-60.jpg

Some more climbing

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Levels out and then you reach the stairs.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7-0.jpg

Stairs

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Ran down the stairs with much enthusiasm, but all was lost when I reached the other half of the stairs that had to be climbed up. After a lot of perspiring at 10,000+ft and 7 degree Celsius, Madrasi you see, reached the at 12:20PM. The monastery closes at 1:00PM. Went in, had a look around, took some rest and began the return journey at 1:00PM.

The climb !

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

Tiger's Nest

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-80.jpg

Another Shot

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Once again splendid views all around

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-12.jpg

This was in store on the trek back down

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-13.jpg

The trek back down was worse. Understood exactly what our cars go through while we drive downhill. The heart was idling, thighs and ankles were aching from all the braking, foot was worn out and the spine was under load supporting the entire weight of the body. I quickly took off and ran away from my family, took wrong turn after the cafeteria following a Bhutanese family and the route they took was super steep. Slipped many times as we all had only our sports shoes on. Reached the comfort of my car at 2:38PM and dad followed after 20 minutes and the rest two turned up 10 minutes after that. Dad and bro both fell down while trekking down.

Headed to Mountain Cafe on the main road and had some snacks, then did a little shopping buying mementos for friends and family. At this point discovered that we had reached the weekly withdrawal limit,thanks to demonetisation, and did not have cash. Bhutanese don't have credit card machines. After much confusion and searching found a gift shop which had a credit card machine. Narrated our problem to the owner who kindly swiped our card for the amount we wanted as cash including 3% transaction fee and gave us liquid cash.

After all this had a simple dinner and called it a day. Today was the last night in Bhutan. Snow was predicted the next day, and the chances of us visiting Chele la pass looked bleak.

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 12:17.
Shanksta is offline   (15) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 18:49   #11
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 10: 25 December 2016, Paro - Siliguri, 313.6 kms

Time Taken:
8hrs

ROUTE: Paro - Chapcha - Chukka - Phuentsholing - Hasimara - Nagrakata - Damdim - Sevoke - Siliguri

Name:  Screenshot 42.png
Views: 21629
Size:  586.4 KB

Woke up to hear that the roads at Chele La pass had ice on them. Then something made me think of the number 24 and I checked the special permit. There it was, we had been granted permission only till 24 December which meant that Haa valley and Chele La was ruled out. I completely forgot about this in my excitement to trek up to Tiger's nest. No harm done, always a reason to revisit. Now since that was ruled out left leisurely at 7:45AM to Siliguri. Had 600 Nu. wanted to dispose it off, hence filled up diesel worth the same. The drive back to Phuentsholing was calm with nothing much to report. Reached the final immigration checkpost before Phuentsholing at 13:00PM and gave back our entry permits. This is a must and do not forget to it.

Frozen

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Always wanted to take a pic like this!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

The narrow highway till Chapcha

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Wait for it.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Down there?

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Or the other side?

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

The Last cloud we passed through

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

Entered India at 13:00PM, the half hour time difference you see. Stopped at Hasimara for a fillup. After this wanted to see the Rhinos having come so far. Hence went into Jaldapara forest reserve and to my dismay all the Gypsy rides for the day was sold out. Then a guide told us that the forest reserve side through which private cars could go for a safari was denser. So decided to go for that and was about to pay for the same when my dad found out from the guide that Rhinos are not present there. So abandoned the entire idea and pushed off to Siliguri. Stopped for lunch somewhere after Banarhat. Reached Sevoke at 4:50PM and from then on to our stay, Hotel Park Heaven, took another 2 hours because of the crazy christmas traffic.


Fuel Cost: 3181/-

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 12:23.
Shanksta is offline   (14) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 19:35   #12
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 11: 26 December 2016, Siliguri - Kharagpur, 671.2 kms

Time Taken: 15.5 hrs

ROUTE: Siliguri - Ghoshpukur - Islampur - Dhantola - Rudel - Itahar - Malda - Farakka - Berhampore - Khargram - Burdwan - Howrah - Kolaghat - Kharagpur.

Name:  Screenshot 43.png
Views: 21406
Size:  307.6 KB

Today was gonna be a long day! Had to tackle Siliguri - Kolkata, which was the only strenuous part of the entire road trip. Not because roads were bad, roads were decent. But this entire stretch was like driving past Krishnagiri district on the Chennai - Bangalore highway, everybody drives on the wrong side and it is not safe to drive on after 5:30 PM when it becomes dark.

Keeping all this in the mind started at 7:30 AM. Had breakfast on the go, a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jam. Just as we neared Islampur it started raining heavily. Visibility reduced to less than 10 meters ahead. The rain lasted for half an hour. Reached Raiganj at 10:25 AM and stopped for chai.

The wrath of the rain gods!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-0.jpg

All for a good reason

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Brilliant Dhantola- Botolbari road.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Canopy

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Mustard

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

Some more

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

I go on forever


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Then proceeded non-stop till Farakka and stopped at the same Hotel Meera after crossing Farakka barrage for lunch. This time chose to go via Berhampore to avoid the bad road between Morgram and Khargram. Turned out to be a good decision, roads were good for the most part and there were very few large and deep potholes. Crossed Kolaghat at 9:00 PM and stopped for lunch at one of the many Tara Maa Dhabas. Finally, reached Kharagpur at 11:00 PM and checked into Hotel Greenland Tower situated on the highway for some much needed sleep.

Total toll paid: 510/-
Number of toll booths: 10
Fuel Cost: 2735.5/-

Last edited by Shanksta : 7th January 2017 at 23:15.
Shanksta is offline   (14) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 19:51   #13
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 12: 27 December 2016, Kharagpur - Bhubaneswar - Konark - Puri - Bhubaneswar, 476 kms

Time Taken: 8.75 hrs

ROUTE: Kharagpur - Balasore - Bhadrak - Cuttack - Bhubaneswar - Uttara - Nimapada - Konark - Marine drive - Puri - Satasankha - Uttara - Bhubaneswar.

Name:  Screenshot 44.png
Views: 21326
Size:  193.1 KB

The reason for driving till Kharagpur the previous day.

Name:  Screenshot 45.png
Views: 21478
Size:  132.2 KB

Started leisurely at 9:00AM after a nice long sleep. This time had to drive on the wrong side to cross the West Bengal - Odisha border. Crossed Balasore at 11:15AM and Bhadrak by 12:15PM. From Bhadrak it took 3 hours exactly to check into our stay in Bhubaneswar, Hotel Venus NXT.

Breakfast stop

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-0.jpg

Crossing Cuttack

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-11.jpg

The actual plan for the day was to visit Konark sun temple and Puri Jagannath. So once again left at 4:00 PM and reached Konark at 5:00PM. To be honest the Sun temple was a let down. It looked bad with all that scaffolding and had way too many hawkers. Plus it being Christmas holiday the crowd was crazy. Spent 45 minutes here and then proceeded through the Konark - Puri marine drive. The road passes through Balukhand forest reserve and is home to deer. But we saw nothing more than dogs. The marine drive is very well maintained and would have been a treat to drive thru with daylight. But there are many cats eyes that light up beautifully.

Road to Konark.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Rural Beauty

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

First Glimpse!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-3.jpg

Close up

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-4.jpg

My spot

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-5.jpg

Egrets

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-6.jpg

Architecture

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-7.jpg

The ugly scaffolding!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-8.jpg

Sun dial


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-9.jpg

Marine drive


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-10.jpg

Entered crowded Puri at 7:00PM and made my way to the car parking. Took a van running from the car park to the temple and had a good darshan of Lord Jagannath. Beware of Pandas, they will empty your wallets if you open it in front of them. The crowd was worse than Tirupati what with all the pushing and shoving. The most shocking part was hearing that this was the off-season. Wonder what happens during Rath yatra. Left for Bhubaneswar at 8:30PM and the drive back was devoid of much traffic but the smog was bad. Went to Venus Inn restaurant after reading rave reviews online and it lived up to its name. What amazed me the most was finding a queue to enter a south Indian restaurant in Bhubaneswar at 10:15PM in the night.

Total Toll paid: 545/-
Number of toll booths: 8
No fuel stops.

Last edited by Shanksta : 7th January 2017 at 22:53.
Shanksta is offline   (14) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 21:04   #14
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 13: 28 December 2016, Bhubaneswar - Vijayawada, 781.2 kms

Time Taken: 14 hrs

ROUTE: Bhubaneswar - Khurda - Ichapuram - Srikakulam - Visakhapatnam - Rajamundry - Eluru - Vijayawada.

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-screenshot-46.png

Had initially decided to drive to Vishakhapatnam for the day. But decided to do a bit more today and take it easy the next day on the home stretch. Checked out of our hotel at 8:00AM, had breakfast at Venus Inn once more, and departed at 9:15AM. Reached Odisha border at 11:30 AM and first time it took us more than 20 mins to get past the border. Decided to have lunch at Srikakulam at 1:30PM. A quick google search revealed that Hotel SVD was a classic. Reached there and it was crowded, had to wait 20 minutes to have awesome biryani. It isn't a great choice for vegetarians, my dad and grandma did not like the veg meals they had. After a sumptuous lunch reached Vishakhapatnam at 4:00PM and it took close to an hour to cross Vizag.

On the road

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-1.jpg

Focus

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-2.jpg

Post that crossed Godavari bridge number four at 7:00PM. At 4.1 kms it is the longest in India. Entered Vijayawada at 10;45PM and checked into Hotel Leela Grand Inn at 11:00PM. Today was the last night of the road trip. Well something had to happen and I promptly dropped my phone and cracked it's screen.

Total toll paid: 776/-
Number of toll booths: 13
Fuel Cost: 2362

Last edited by Shanksta : 8th January 2017 at 01:07.
Shanksta is offline   (13) Thanks Reply With Quote
Old 7th January 2017, 21:50   #15
BHPian
 
Shanksta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Madras
Posts: 376
Thanked: 870 Times
Default re: Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!

DAY 14: 29 December 2016, Vijayawada - Chennai, 462 Kms

Time Taken: 9 hrs (Driving time: 7 hrs)

ROUTE: Vijayawada - Guntur - Ongole - Nellore - Gudur - Naidupeta - Tada - Redhills - Kolathur - Vadapalani - Home.

Name:  Screenshot 47.png
Views: 21188
Size:  73.1 KB

Today being the final day wanted to take it slow and steady. Mom, Dad and Grandma had woken up early and gone to visit Kanaka Durga temple. They returned at 8:15AM and then we had breakfast at the hotel itself. Finally, checked out at 10:00AM and first stop was to fill fuel for the last time. Topped up the tank to the brim and the next stop was Amaravathi highway restaurant for some authentic Andhra meals.

Wanted to stop at N5 Toll plaza on the way for some ice cream. About 5 kms before the toll plaza we got caught for speeding. It was a well executed set up by Andhra police. All of a sudden a 1km stretch on the highway becomes a 60kmph zone and they have a interceptor there. Every single car travelling on the highway was stopped for speeding. They gave a nice printout of my Innova on the highway with speeds mentioned. Paid 300 rupees fine and went on our way. Reached the restaurant at 2:45PM and it was crowded. Waited for 20 minutes to get a table and had sumptuous meals. Bought some sweets and embarked on our final 135 kms of drive.


Done for speeding.


Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161229_125326.jpg

The View from N5 Toll Plaza

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161229_123638.jpg

The food court

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-pano_20161229_123456.jpg

Covered car park!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161229_124946.jpg

Last Toll plaza

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161229_170843.jpg

Total Toll paid: 387/-
Number of toll booths: 7
Fuel Cost: 3105/-


Hit Kolathur traffic at 5:00PM and got royally stuck for an hour. Finally, reached my home at 7:00PM exactly and our 5855 kms road trip to Bhutan came to an end.

Done and dusted!

Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161229_185657.jpg

The culmination of a great spur of the moment trip, planned out by me. I had a great feeling of contentment and also peace for the fact that the entire trip of went of smoothly and safely. Reflected on all the good times we had, places we saw, things we did and people we met.

I drove just 20 kms shy of 4k kms of the entire 5855 kms. My brother drove 1019 kms and dad drove around 850 kms.

Next day gave my baby a thorough wash. Yet to get the 1.05 lakh service done.

All shiny now!
Road-Trip: Chennai to Bhutan!-img_20161230_090903_hdr.jpg

CONTINUED

Last edited by Jaggu : 8th January 2017 at 18:24.
Shanksta is offline   (42) Thanks Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Calcutta-Bhutan-Calcutta road trip queries BlackPearl Route / Travel Queries 62 16th October 2016 22:58
Planning 15,000 kms, 32 day road-trip (23 States & Bhutan) - Suggestions & advice? Renjith_Mani Route / Travel Queries 27 24th August 2015 16:55
Car Hire:Road trip- D'ling,Sikkim,Bhutan,Dooars,Kaziranga & probably Meghalaya RDBull500 Route / Travel Queries 2 24th July 2011 23:20


All times are GMT +5.5. The time now is 03:52.

Copyright 2000 - 2017, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks