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Old 14th October 2008, 09:26   #1
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Default Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja

Hi friends
I had gone out to Benares during the Pujas. Basically to give shape to my long cherished dream of driving up the GT Road. The road is virtually complete except a few stretches in Jharkhand (around Parashnath) and one stretch in UP.
Although officially the road goes through Naxalite heartland we didn't feel anything. Of course we didn't stop anywhere to get a feel of the Naxalites !! Although the road goes through fairly densely populated but very impoverished areas, facilities for city-bred tourists like us are virtually non-existent after Asansol. There are millions of petrol pumps on either side of the road throughout.
The drive through Hazaribagh jungles, hills and lakes etc is exquisite. I hope to go back several times in the near future to these parts.
Driving up the road I realised one thing - GT Road as we used to know it for a few centuries is about to die a very inglorious death in the near future. It will live for another few years in bits and pieces in the old towns and cities that it used to go through. But once Indians start using the new GQ in larger numbers, most of them would forget about the Grand Trunk Road (or Sarak-e-Azam).
It is sad but inevitable.
Let me see if my slow connection speed will allow me to upload the pictures.

The drive - somewhere in Jharkhand
Welcome to the confusion that is Godaulia, Varanasi
Ghats of Benares
Attached Thumbnails
Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-1.jharkhand.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-2.godaulia.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-3.ghat.jpg  

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Old 14th October 2008, 09:31   #2
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Great drive, Sudipto. How long did you take? And are all the bypasses complete? Any thinking on safety of night driving? What about hotels to stay in - which towns are the larger ones en route?
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Old 14th October 2008, 09:50   #3
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All the bypasses are complete except Parasnath (right after Asansol). You will be driving through around 30 km of really bad road. But with a Scorpio it will not be a problem and also work is going on in right earnest. Incidentally I hit the bad patch at 90 kmph - quite literally - when my wife was just pouring tea from the flask. You can imagine the brown shower all over.
Lot of road side dhabas but nothing good quality. I stopped at a few but they didn't even have any tea to offer. I didn't see any tourist whatsoever on the road.
Night driving is at your risk I guess. It does go through Maoist heartland. But generally in the risky areas there is police escort for truckers, like in the Lodhashuli region beyond Kharagpur. I haven't heard anything like that on this stretch. So I suppose you could try. But if you have wife and children in the vehicle I wouldn't advise that.
The large towns are Asansol, Dhanbad, Aurangabad, Dehri on Sone, Sasaram, Mohania. I am sure you will get basic hotel facilities in these towns.
My total time spent on the highway was 11 hours. But I tend to drive slow, with speed generally hovering around 80-100. The actual distance - home to hotel - is 704 km.
Let me add a couple of more photographs
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Old 14th October 2008, 09:51   #4
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Sudipto da, I was thinking of sending you PM about you benaras trip. Nice start.

How did the new bulbs and tyres behave? hope you have enjoyed the high speed GQ drive better?

Also I want answers of the qs. posted by hvkumar.

Abhi
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Old 14th October 2008, 09:59   #5
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Immersion near Kedar Ghat
Immersion near Dasaswamedh Ghat
The ruins of Sarnath
The Stupa of Sarnath (created by Asoka the Great)
Sunset from Chunar Fort
Truckers' supply store - somewhere in Bihar
Somewhere in Jharkhand
Tilaiya dam - Jharkhand
The road in Jharkhand
Attached Thumbnails
Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-4.kedarghat.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-5.dmedhimmersion.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-6.sarnathruins.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-8.chunarsunset.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-9.truckers-delight.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-91jharkhand.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-92tilaiya.jpg  

Kolkata-Benares during Durga Puja-93jharkhand.jpg  

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Old 14th October 2008, 10:18   #6
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AK
Happy Lakkhi Pujo . The tyre was fantastic. Highest I did was 130/140 in a few desolate stretches. But generally I drive between 80-100. The lights couldn't be tested as I drove only during the day time. lol.
I have the log of the trip if you are interested. Sorry I didn't use the trip meter because it becomes unreadable on the road. Mine is not digital.
Sudipto
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File Type: xls Varanasilog08.xls (41.0 KB, 374 views)
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Old 14th October 2008, 10:27   #7
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Nice writeup dada. When you say really bad roads, just how bad is it? Unpaved, kaccha road or paved but pot holed lunar scape?
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Old 14th October 2008, 10:43   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
AK
Happy Lakkhi Pujo . The tyre was fantastic. Highest I did was 130/140 in a few desolate stretches. But generally I drive between 80-100. The lights couldn't be tested as I drove only during the day time. lol.
I have the log of the trip if you are interested. Sorry I didn't use the trip meter because it becomes unreadable on the road. Mine is not digital.
Sudipto
Something wrong with the link or upload? Opens, but has lot of ASCIIs in it
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Old 14th October 2008, 10:43   #9
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Pot holed lunar scape. Total bad parts wouldn't be more than 30/40 km. Didn't bottom out anywhere. And they are completing the incomplete stretches in right earnest. So if you go after a few months a lot of the bad roads would have been gone.
There is one bad bridge in UP near Mohania which I doubt would be gone any time in the near future. So that bad bridge you will have to bear with for some time I guess. But it's nothing in comparison to the total journey.
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Old 14th October 2008, 10:47   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Something wrong with the link or upload? Opens, but has lot of ASCIIs in it
I don't know sir. Probably the fact that I am using a Mac at home has something to do with it. I guess I will upload it from my office tomorrow again using a Windows system. Sorry once again.
Sudipto
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Old 14th October 2008, 10:55   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Something wrong with the link or upload? Opens, but has lot of ASCIIs in it
but I can see it. I downloaded from windows in office.

Abhi
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Old 14th October 2008, 10:55   #12
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Sudipto Sir, I am interested in knowing the road condition from "Varanasi to Dobhi" any bad patch and about any patch where you can get stuck like "Border Naka" and what precaution are necessary, as I plan to take this route in Nov, Nagpur,Jabalpur, Rewa, Varanasi till Dobhi then Gaya and Nawada. I have never been on this road before, it would be nice to know the road and time it takes, so I can plan accordingly, I will be traveling with family. I see the time from the log book is 4+ hour, is this continuous or with break?

-Pramod

PS: For the XL you have to download it and open, else it shows ASCII in browser, but works perfectly if you download it.

Last edited by pramods : 14th October 2008 at 10:57.
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Old 14th October 2008, 11:10   #13
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Pramod
That will be a lovely drive. In fact I would love to do the Varanasi-Rewa-Satna-Maihar-Katni myself in future. Chunar is on this road and we went there this time. Please post a detailed report when you do the drive.
Regarding Varanasi to Dobhi it is just 225 km on the highway. The stretch has just one bad bridge where you might face some problem with clogged traffic, but you can quite ignore this. It won't take you more than 15 minutes to clear this place. It will take you much longer to cross the level crossing in Maihar.
You won't even notice when you drive in from UP to Bihar. There is indeed entry tax line up of trucks but they park on both sides of the highway leaving the middle open for smaller vehicles.
Incidentally if you are coming from Rewa side you don't need to enter Varanasi city or even cross the river. You can hit the highway much before the city near Ramnagar and turn right (left goes to Varanasi).
Please remember not to confuse old GT Road with GQ.

Last edited by Sudipto-S-Team : 14th October 2008 at 11:20.
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Old 14th October 2008, 11:38   #14
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thanks for the info, with reference to last statement, GT vs GQ, I understand you took the GT, but is it the better choice and what would change on GQ? I am completely unaware on these facts, I have always taken Nagpur-Sambalpur-Raurkela-Ranchi-Kodarma-Nawada route, but this time I want to takeup this route and see, incidentally every mapping software shows this route only and suggest I will save upto 200+km and manymore hours.

-Pramod
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Old 14th October 2008, 12:02   #15
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I took the new 4-lane highway. It is not the same as GT Road. It is NH2. GT Road used to be called NH2 a few years ago. Some maps, like the Eicher Map, does not have the GQ and calls the old GT Road as NH2, which is not only completely wrong but also highly misleading.
If I tried to stick true to the old GT Road I would still be driving perhaps!!
You see GT Road is the old road. Very old road in fact. Created by Sher Shah Suri. All these old towns and cities on this route grew around GT Road. So GT Road inside Benares, for example, is a very busy part of the old city. This is the same picture all along the road from Calcutta to Amritsar, including Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra etc.
Now the new Golden Quadrilateral is basically a new road and it merges with GT Road in certain places. But near the old towns it by-passes the old town by some 10/12 kms on an average. So near the old towns there are two distinct roads - old GT Road which is through the city and the new 4-lane highway which is way outside the city. The locals call the new road "by pass". The truck drivers call it "char lane wali raasta". The truckers seem to be the only ones who know the difference. lol. Most ordinary folks in the old cities are not even aware of the 4-laned road.
My hotel receptionist gave me completely wrong directions over the phone because she didn't realise I was coming in from the new road. She thought I was coming via the GT Road. lol. In fact in Benares GT Road and GQ are on two opposite sides of the city.
The new road is also loosely called GT Road in several places along the route adding to further confusion.
This is quite the same thing that happened to the famous Route 66 in America. No body quite knows which is the true original Route 66. GT Road will have the same fate sooner or later.
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