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Old 27th January 2009, 22:19   #1
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Default NH2: Delhi to Kolkata, Puri, Benaras, back to Delhi - 5000 km

Went out to discover the new face of the National Highways of India, and came back very pleasantly surprised. Delhi to Kolkata (1500 km) was a fast, uneventful run on the NH-2 in 22 hours - non-stop solo driving, except for tea and loo breaks. Left Delhi at 10 PM, running overnight to reach Allahabad at 6:30 AM. Refuelled. Crossed the UP-Bihar border at 10:30 AM, and - glory to God - what a surprise!!! I've travelled the NH2 in Bihar over the years at average speeds of 20 km/h all these years, and here I was doing 120 km/h constantly!!! Slowed down only when I realised that everything - from trucks to bicycles - comes at you on the high-speed lane travelling on the wrong side, and the devil be damned! Biharis haven't woken up to the fact that there are two sides to the highway, they consider their side of the road to be the only one, and consider building "two roads side by side" as a colossal waste of money... Crossed the Bihar-West Bengal border at 4 PM. Home at 8 PM. Crazy truckers in West Bengal race each other at a speed diffferential of 2 km/h, and both lanes of the highway are blocked for minutes on end, with me sitting behind these smoke-belching behemoths at 55 km/h.

Two stretches of NH-2 are not yet converted to expressway. One is a 70 km stretch at Allahabad (35 km on either side of the city) where a completely new road will bypass the city altogether. For the time being, it's into the city and out, a few level crossings, and stretches of horrible cobblestoned road for a few km - even early morning, clearing this stretch took us about 1-1/2 hours. On the way back, in dense fog on the night of 3-4 January, it took us 5 hours!!!

The other stretch is at Chouparan & Isri Bazar in Jharkhand, for about 30 km. Daytime traffic jam in Isri Bazar held us up for over an hour, and the level crossing there can dissect the underbelly of a low-slung heavily laden car. Trucks frequently break down here too, adding to the chaos.

Traffis in Kolkata is much better managed now than I ever remember. Never held up in hour-long traffic jams. Potholes are few and far between.

Left for Puri at 6 AM, reaching at 3 PM (515 km). Watch out for corrupt RTO officials at the Bengal-Orissa border on the NH-60. They'll stop your private vehicle and first demand to see all papers. Then they'll tell you that Orissa is levying an entry tax of Rs.800 (as I was told), even for non-commercial vehicles entering the state. The amount is bargainable, or as I did, you can call their bluff and just drive through. They'll repeat the trick on your way out of the state too, but are satisfied if you tell them you paid when entering Orissa yesterday. Overall, the highways on this run were decent, except about 65 km around Baleshwar (KM 235 to KM 300 from Kolkata). The traffic in Cuttack and Bhubaneshwar was just about tolerable. The Bhubaneshwar to Puri run (60 km) is on undivided highway with heavy traffic, but the surfacing is not bad.

We had a choice of driving back from Puri via Boharagora-Jamshedpur-Ranchi-Hazaribagh-Barhi-Benaras, or a 150-km longer route via Kharagpur-Medinipur-Bankura-Raniganj-Asansol-Govindpur-Barhi-Benaras. Folks we asked told us that a large stretch of the NH-33 near Jamshedpur was really bad, so we decided to go the other way. Bad decision. NH-60 till Kharagpur was fine, but continue on the same road till Raniganj and over 100 km of the stretch are nightmarish - potholes, washed out sections, sections under repair, and very slow progress. We made it to NH-2 from NH-6 (about 170 km) in 5 hours. Really glad to have left Puri at 4 AM instead of the planned 6 AM. Finally reached Benaras at 9:30 PM (1050 km).

Never drive yourself in Benaras. The city is a maze, the traffic is crazy, half the roads are out of bounds for cars, and parking? - what's that? We decided to ride an auto-rickshaw for our sightseeing ventures. Worth the price. The fellow's rear crash guard (a solid bar of steel) was ripped off by another auto banging into him. Both the drivers drove away nonchalantly. That impact on my car would have cost me more than 10 times the money (Rs.500) I paid as hire charges.

Prevailing fog conditions over north India got me worried on the drive back. The evening seemed very clear, so we thought leaving Benaras on an overnight run to Delhi may not be a bad idea. It was. One hour out of Benaras, we were enveloped in fog with visibility down to ten feet from my bumper. Then came the Allahabad stretch, and we were committed to it - no visibility to even turn back! Followed trucks and local vehicles, and made it to the expressway again - Kanpur at 6:30 AM. Tea break. Mathura at 11 AM. A very long coffee break. Really needed the Espresso they serve at McDonalds - hot, strong, black, extra sweet with 3 pouches of sugar. 2 cups of it. Finally home at Delhi at 3 PM - 820 km from Benaras.
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Old 28th January 2009, 00:15   #2
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Thanks for a wonderful account of your drive. We were just ahead of you on this stretch - Dec 27-28 - during our GQ Drive. The Orissa encounter with RTO cops sounds scary. Since you reached Benares at 930 pm, did you encounter any safety issues - convoy driving, etc - in the JH-BR stretch after dark?
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Old 28th January 2009, 07:43   #3
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Nice Account. You also gave a first hand info of the Bankura route. Which car did you drive? Accent CRDi?

Abhi
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Old 28th January 2009, 10:31   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Biharis haven't woken up to the fact that there are two sides to the highway, they consider their side of the road to be the only one, and consider building "two roads side by side" as a colossal waste of money...
Why blame just the Biharis? This is the picture all over the country. Also the thing about the West Bengal truckers is a bit too one sided again. On the wide highways all local/empty trucks and buses behave like that all over the country.
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Old 28th January 2009, 10:37   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Why blame just the Biharis? This is the picture all over the country. Also the thing about the West Bengal truckers is a bit too one sided again. On the wide highways all local/empty trucks and buses behave like that all over the country.
All over India, it is the same. Wrong side driving is a right for many!
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Old 28th January 2009, 11:24   #6
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Default Thats the spirit: Solo and Non Stop

What a Speed-Run.

Thats the spirit: Solo and Non Stop

We demand pictures!
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Old 29th January 2009, 12:27   #7
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Originally Posted by hvkumar View Post
Since you reached Benares at 930 pm, did you encounter any safety issues - convoy driving, etc - in the JH-BR stretch after dark?
I've been driving long hauls overnight for quite many years now. No safety issues encountered in the JH-BH stretch this time - in fact, I'd crossed over into UP by 7:30 PM. Nor any issues on the outward run to Kolkata, or the return overnight run to Delhi from Benaras - except the fog. But I'd like to recount here one experience in BR at 1:00 AM in January 2005.

We'd left from Delhi at 6 AM, my wife, daughter and I, and got to the outskirts of Benaras by about 7PM. Brand new Accent Viva CRDi, running like a dream, cruising comfortably at 130-140 km/h. Thought we'd go up to Sasaram and take a break, but once into BR, the roads were fairly good so we decided to run to Barhi at least, if not across to WB overnight.

50KM before Barhi, we ran a flat tyre in an uphill ghat section (rear right tyre). Proceeded to start unloading the boot and get the spare tyre out. Thought a little muscle from a trucker might speed up the process, so flagged down a truck and asked. The guy refused to stop, saying it wasn't safe. That got us worried some.

I carried on with the tyre change process, but my wife thought flagging down another truck might be a good way to help. She saw a pair of headlights in the distance, and waved. What stopped was a soft-top jeep, filled with about 10 people dressed in the local rural attire of turbans, blankets and 'dhotis'. My heart stopped, came out of my mouth, and took off down the road to hide in the bushes. I KNEW we were dead. All we had for protection was a can of pepper spray.

These folks came to us, asked where we were from, and proceeded to reprimand us for travelling this late in the night on this stretch! Told us it was absolutely unsafe to stop here, and that we'd better change our tyre and be on our way ASAP. Five-six people held up the car - no jacks! - and another few people changed the tyre - job done in 2 minutes flat. Advised us to get the puncture repair done 3 km ahead at a village, and they were on their way before I could put the luggage back and start up.

Since then, I've (A) had my faith in humanity restored, (B) replaced tubed tyres with tubeless ones (no sudden deflation), (C) carry a foot pump and tubeless tyre repair kit in the car, and (D) look forward to getting the Scorpio with its Tyretronics early-warning system. I hope the Mahindra guys come out with Tyretronics in the Xylo too; my choice would be the Xylo if it comes in full Scorio VLX specs. Can't stop driving on overnight runs esp. on known highways; it's such a beautiful experience, romancing the road and the car, a flat, smooth, continuous run without slow-moving traffic, and your favourite music.

My favourite pics from this month's fog-bound run back from Benaras are attached.
Attached Thumbnails
NH2: Delhi to Kolkata, Puri, Benaras, back to Delhi - 5000 km-dsc04911.jpg  

NH2: Delhi to Kolkata, Puri, Benaras, back to Delhi - 5000 km-dsc04910.jpg  

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Old 29th January 2009, 16:21   #8
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Thank you for the story on the safety episode. Gives us lots of clues on what to be wary of, and how to take care of some of the risks. The Pepper Spray sounds a great idea - I should also carry one. I carry a metal rod in my car, but then it is kept in the rear of my Scorpio, not easy to take out to defend oneself.
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Old 29th January 2009, 17:18   #9
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Good write up and what you have written is also scary. The guys in the jeep were good hence no worries. BTW, you also should thank your stars that no untoward incidents happened.
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Old 29th January 2009, 19:56   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akroy View Post
Nice Account. You also gave a first hand info of the Bankura route. Which car did you drive? Accent CRDi?

Abhi
That;s right. I drive a Dec. 2004 Accent Viva CRDi on the long hauls. Done 88,000 km on it already.
Attached Thumbnails
NH2: Delhi to Kolkata, Puri, Benaras, back to Delhi - 5000 km-ddd-diu-35.jpg  

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Old 30th January 2009, 17:20   #11
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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Since then, I've (A) had my faith in humanity restored, (B) replaced tubed tyres with tubeless ones (no sudden deflation), (C) carry a foot pump and tubeless tyre repair kit in the car, and (D) look forward to getting the Scorpio with its Tyretronics early-warning system. I hope the Mahindra guys come out with Tyretronics in the Xylo too; my choice would be the Xylo if it comes in full Scorio VLX specs.
yeah quite true, as i had recently done a guwahati hyderabad trip and while at a hotel in Puri a security guard showed me a huge steel nail in my back tyre with half an inch projecting outside. I waited in bated breath for the tyre to deflate, but till next day morning i found the tyre with same pressure and then i courageously drove back to hyderabad with that nail and guess what i am yet to take out the nail and get a puncture patch done on this, the tyre has already done 1500 km after i have seen it like that, so much for tubeless Bridgestone Dueler on Scorpio doing A great job for me

Last edited by Jaggu : 30th January 2009 at 17:28. Reason: Readability, Please quote the relevant part only, esp if its a long quote. Thanks
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Old 30th January 2009, 18:51   #12
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Very nicely written.

And you did this alone !! That is one long non stop journey. Does it not get Tiring !!

I keep travelling the Agra - kanpur road and the highway here is a breeze. Excellent roads and not a single pothole. But the Wrong Side driving is really crazy. It's as if people just do not have brains !!
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Old 30th January 2009, 20:50   #13
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wow .. this couldn't have come at a better time. I'm planning a roadtrip to varanasi at the end of Feb from calcutta. I'll be following this thread with a lot of interest.
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Old 30th January 2009, 20:55   #14
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Does it not get Tiring !!
Your answer lies in my post #144 at http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...out-break.html (Maximum distance without a break).
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Old 6th June 2009, 23:41   #15
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Hi, SS Traveller,

I am planning to cover Delhi to Kolkata in my RD350 during Novend - Dec starting. What will be the weather condition then? Considering I will be riding a bike - will it be a problem to cover 300-350km/day.

Please let me know - except fog - which is the best and safe time I will get during this period.
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