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Old 14th October 2008, 12:23   #16
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good explanation, will be careful, I still have lot of time to plan, but have almost decided on this route, I hope you enjoyed Varanasi, I have been there for few hours long back in 2002, visited Ganga took the boat heard all the story from the boat man and back, the only thing I learned, it helps to have a local there else everybody there is trying to "loot" you. but if they figure out some local they become reasonable.

-Pramod
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Old 14th October 2008, 12:53   #17
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It will be a very interesting route, through the so called badlands of central India. I love the way the topography changes and people's dress, language, architecture - in short everything - change when you are traveling such long distances. Sometimes this change is gradual and sometimes it is very sharp. For example the change from Bengal to Jharkhand and then from Jharkhand to Bihar is very gradual. But the change from Orissa to Andhra is very sharp.
I think you are a very avid traveller. Keep posting.
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Old 14th October 2008, 21:15   #18
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A few more pics from the trip

Sarnath Stupa (created by Asoka the Great)
Another ghat - completely defiled by unregulated advertising
Sarnath ruins
Attached Thumbnails
Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-7.stupa.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-digpatiyaghat.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-sarnathruins.jpg  

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Old 14th October 2008, 21:46   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Welcome to the confusion that is Godaulia, Varanasi
For a short while I don't mind that confusion. That place is famous for fantastic lassi

Nice read and great pictures.
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Old 14th October 2008, 21:57   #20
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Lassi, jalebi (jilipi for us Bongs), kachauri, paan/jarda, malai/rabri and of course Benarasi sarees. I had the most wonderful paan infront of the Biswanath Galli. And the most amazing Mihidana in Bangali Tola, further ahead. I have tasted Mihidana wherever they are available in the country but never quite this taste anywhere.
And thanks Rudrada for the complement. "Great pictures" from you is quite something. Wish I knew how to use the photoshop fully. Could further enhance the pic.
I am glad we went to Chunar late in the afternoon and saw an amazing sun set from the fort.
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Old 14th October 2008, 22:15   #21
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Hi Sudipto,

You have crossed just 45 kms away from my home (in my home town) and that is Dumri (Parasnath Railway Station). Actually Parasnath is some 20 kms away from Dumri More towards Giridih and it is biggest pilgrimage for Jain Community. I must hope it is nice drive.

I want clear one misconnception. Maoist would not trouble ordinary citizens of India. Have you ever heard of Maoist killed or harmed people of highway. It is the local goons/dacoits that do the business on highways and because of that police patrol party goes along with many trucks/buses/cars in those area in night.

Driving on GT Road is a pleasure now a days(Except few bad stretch). I remember I reached Kolkata from Giridih in 4 hours (Total 280 Kms out of that 60 Kms bad stretch) from Giridih in a hired Bolero when I my train cacelled due to Bengal bandh.
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Old 14th October 2008, 22:20   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Another ghat - completely defiled by unregulated advertising
Benaras is a big cauldron and melting pot of hindu and so called bong traditional culture.
That said those ugly wall paintings for advertisements are truly eyesore. It was the same when I was shooting there for ITC in 1987.
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Old 14th October 2008, 23:25   #23
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@ Anuj
Yes we did cross Dumri and saw the entry gate to Giridih on the right hand side while going. That is precisely where the road is still incomplete. But since work is going on in full swing I guess it should be over in a few months.
It is true that Naxalites don't harm ordinary people. But there are two points here - A. They don't think inter-state self drive tourists are ordinary people. They think we are very rich, which we actually are relative to the poor in those small towns and hamlets. B. There are many common thugs who have infiltrated into the ranks and files of the Maoists and they are the ones who create the problem.
But all said and done that region is one of the most beautiful parts in eastern India. The tourism potential of the area has unfortunately been never exploited. Once upon a time Bengalis used to keep their garden houses in that area. Now there is nothing left worth talking about in terms of tourist infrastructure.

@ Rudrada - We saw Raghu Rai with his camera near Dasaswamedh Ghat on 8th October. The moment he realised that I had recognised him and was calling out for my wife, he vanished in one of the side lanes !!

Here is another pic of the so called Bengali culture on the wall of a Bangali Tola galli. A poster announcing some cultural programme
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Old 14th October 2008, 23:41   #24
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Here is another pic of the so called Bengali culture on the wall of a Bangali Tola galli.
It is known as bangali tola...
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Old 14th October 2008, 23:58   #25
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Benaras (as pronounced by some of us) seems to be the bengal outside it. Pictures just brought back memories. Last time I had been there must have been 20 years back and it doesn't seem any different. Maybe just the indicators on the Bajaj scooter! Will keep your trip log handy. Waiting for more pics.
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Old 15th October 2008, 00:29   #26
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Nice to know that you had a safe trip. Was eagerly waiting for this travelogue. Nice pics. Benaras never ceases to amaze me. The word "timeless" is most appropriate here. I used to spend my whole day sitting at the ghats or roaming through the narrow winding lanes where each and every building has a story of its own, to tell.

You are right. The sunset from the ramparts of Chunar Fort is amazing.
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Old 15th October 2008, 00:52   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anujmishra View Post
Hi Sudipto,
Driving on GT Road is a pleasure now a days(Except few bad stretch). I remember I reached Kolkata from Giridih in 4 hours (Total 280 Kms out of that 60 Kms bad stretch) from Giridih in a hired Bolero when I my train cacelled due to Bengal bandh.

How on earth did you do that?

Some months ago, I travelled Calcutta to Deoghar and back. On the way up, because both the driver and I were new, we made a disastrous mistake, and turned right off the GT Road at Kulti, struggled through to Chittaranjan, and then completely lost control thereafter. It took us seven hours to reach Deoghar, and towards the end, travelling first in twilight then in gathering darkness, I was quite petrified (picture 92 not-very-well put together kgs quivering like a blanc-mange). On the way back, we were very well clued-up, and returned Deoghar-Dumka-Maithon-Suri-Panagarh-Calcutta. A mere four hours. So, considering Giridih is some way from Jasidih, and you were taking the GT Road, and presumably through Dhanbad to get to Asansol and so on, you must have been driving like a bat out of hell to make it in four hours.

Or did you actually fly?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anujmishra View Post
You have crossed just 45 kms away from my home (in my home town) and that is Dumri (Parasnath Railway Station). Actually Parasnath is some 20 kms away from Dumri More towards Giridih and it is biggest pilgrimage for Jain Community. I must hope it is nice drive.

I want clear one misconnception. Maoist would not trouble ordinary citizens of India. Have you ever heard of Maoist killed or harmed people of highway. It is the local goons/dacoits that do the business on highways and because of that police patrol party goes along with many trucks/buses/cars in those area in night.
I tend to agree with you about the Naxalites, in Jharkhand and in AP alike; I don't too much about the situation in Chhatisgarh.

There are in fact people I know who co-exist with the Maoists, the MCC, the People's War Group, the CPI(ML) and the whole rag- tag- and bobtail, and with no significant expenditure in paying them off.

As a matter of fact, I am aware of some entrepreneurs who are trying to popularise travel to these parts. They don't seem to have any trouble with the Maoists.

As an on-the-road traveller, however, as Sudipto has pointed out, I might get different treatment, especially in the coal belt, and a cocktail of Maoists and local thugs might convert our dream to a nightmare.
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Old 15th October 2008, 09:14   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonobashi View Post



I tend to agree with you about the Naxalites, in Jharkhand and in AP alike; I don't too much about the situation in Chhatisgarh.

There are in fact people I know who co-exist with the Maoists, the MCC, the People's War Group, the CPI(ML) and the whole rag- tag- and bobtail, and with no significant expenditure in paying them off.

As a matter of fact, I am aware of some entrepreneurs who are trying to popularise travel to these parts. They don't seem to have any trouble with the Maoists.
I have been personally stopped by Naxals in interior Andhra - they were black masked and carrying sten guns. Saw my MH number plates, gestured me to stop, made polite enquiries as to my identity and destination, and let me go. As long as they are convinced that you are not a establishment guy, they have no problems with you. On another occasion, I was in coasatl Karnataka (interior from KUndapura-Baindur-Kollur) where there are certain Naxal problems, and I was cautioned to get out of the area (these were villages on the foothills, not even connected by pucca road) before dark. This time, I was on an official mission with a high-profile organisational identity, which could have created problems for me.

I also drove through the Bhadrachalam-Konta-Sukhma-Jagdalpur route recently, which is supposed to be the hotbed of Naxal warfare - no problem there too.
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Old 15th October 2008, 09:20   #29
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Originally Posted by bonobashi View Post
How on earth did you do that?

Some months ago, I travelled Calcutta to Deoghar and back. On the way up, because both the driver and I were new, we made a disastrous mistake, and turned right off the GT Road at Kulti, struggled through to Chittaranjan, and then completely lost control thereafter. It took us seven hours to reach Deoghar, and towards the end, travelling first in twilight then in gathering darkness, I was quite petrified (picture 92 not-very-well put together kgs quivering like a blanc-mange). On the way back, we were very well clued-up, and returned Deoghar-Dumka-Maithon-Suri-Panagarh-Calcutta. A mere four hours. So, considering Giridih is some way from Jasidih, and you were taking the GT Road, and presumably through Dhanbad to get to Asansol and so on, you must have been driving like a bat out of hell to make it in four hours.

Or did you actually fly?
Why there is question to fly? In your writing itself speak that you went on state roads and those are not in good condition that is why it took 7 hours reaching Deoghar.

From Giridih we went to Gobindpur (40 Kms from Giridih). The 60 kms what I said is bad stretch actually those are single roads we get while reaching and added 20 more kms into it for average. Single roads are not actually bad stretch. We can easily do around 60 - 70 KMPH.

Now from Gobindpur to Kolkata is excellent GT Road (NH - 2 ) where average speed is around 70 - 80 Kmph. (I am taking on lower side). Also we were fortunate enough that we did not get any jam any where on GT road. As GT road is famous for miles long jams.

Total travelling time (On Road) was around 4 hours only and have taken 1 hour break for lunch. Also driver of Bolero was well versed with road and speed breakers etc. as he usually do 5 - 6 times Giridih - Kolkata in a month.

So, what is the big deal in reaching Kolakata in 4 hours (Actual travelling time).

If you want you can try yourself.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bonobashi View Post
I tend to agree with you about the Naxalites, in Jharkhand and in AP alike; I don't too much about the situation in Chhatisgarh.

There are in fact people I know who co-exist with the Maoists, the MCC, the People's War Group, the CPI(ML) and the whole rag- tag- and bobtail, and with no significant expenditure in paying them off.

As an on-the-road traveller, however, as Sudipto has pointed out, I might get different treatment, especially in the coal belt, and a cocktail of Maoists and local thugs might convert our dream to a nightmare.
Actually, those people are local thugs, goons who loots the vehicles in the name of maoists.

But for travellers it will be nightmare if it is maoist or local goons. Even, I was victim of loot during evening hours in those area.


@Sudipto:

Yes you were right. Giridih, Deoghar etc were happening to be tourist/summer home for rich Bengalis in early 20th century. There are still many swanking old bengali bunglows are there in original shape. Most of the bengalis were doing businees with MICA which is abundant in that area of Jharkhand.

Now everything they left or sold and they are not coming back.
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Old 15th October 2008, 09:53   #30
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Banobashi
If you are coming in from Giridih to Kolkata you don't need to come via Deoghar/Madhupur/Chittaranjan etc anymore. You come to Dumri/Parashnath and then turn left towards Topchanchi-Asansol-Burdwan-Kolkata - brilliant 4-lanes.
By the way, I am going to Deoghar on January 23rd. Glad to know in advance that the traditional road is in shambles. In fact AK Roy had posted a few weeks ago that the Massangore-Dumka stretch is fine now and I was in two minds as to which one to take and was thinking of doing a loop. Now I am decided I will go and come back via Dumka (Trikut on the way will be a nice stopover).

Anuj would have probably come like this
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Last edited by Sudipto-S-Team : 15th October 2008 at 10:01.
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