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Old 7th May 2009, 08:42   #31
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Awesome report SS_Traveller. Waiting for more pics. Unfortunately I have made this trip only once way back in 2005 when the road through Bihar was horrible. I drove non-stop and took some 28 Hours door to door and my Balenos underbelly scraped twice . Hope to go to Rajasthan in December this year or sometime next year.
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Old 7th May 2009, 08:51   #32
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AND that both your sis-in-law and mine live in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad! And that you and my sis-in-law's son share the same first name!
Ha Ha. Just noticed this one.
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Old 7th May 2009, 09:58   #33
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DocSS, just saw this very impressive travelogue!
Beautifully narrated and lovely pics!

26 trips?!!
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Old 7th May 2009, 10:10   #34
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Wow, great narration! Keep it coming.
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Awesome report SS_Traveller. Waiting for more pics. Unfortunately I have made this trip only once way back in 2005 when the road through Bihar was horrible. I drove non-stop and took some 28 Hours door to door and my Balenos underbelly scraped twice . Hope to go to Rajasthan in December this year or sometime next year.
@ Deeps, BlackPearl, phamilyman: Thank you so much for the appreciation.

@ BlackPearl : I've been on that road in Jan. '05, trip done in 27 hours. The roads in Bihar were actually so much better then, as compared to what I had seen over the previous decade. The concrete stretches were done on one carriageway, and there were short patches of off-road sections (200-500 metres) joining those concrete stretches. Only trouble was getting on and off the concrete, where the underbelly or overhangs scraped. I spiced that trip with a hair-raising flat tyre experience somewhere after the infamous Barachatti at 1am. But that's another story...
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sarkar we need to meet up and swap stories!
Sure. Holiday today. Call or come over...
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I remember seeing this dead buffalo. Did you take the snap on the VNS-CCU leg?
That's right. It was just after Sherghati.

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Old 7th May 2009, 10:16   #35
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DocSS, just saw this very impressive travelogue!
Beautifully narrated and lovely pics!

26 trips?!!
Thank you so much, Mathur-saab. I was wondering where you'd disappeared!

Actually, yes. 26 single (one-way) trips on the NH-2 end-to-end, starting 1989.
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Old 7th May 2009, 11:42   #36
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Default Allahabad at last

When the road ran out, with the shadow of a gigantic flyover in the distance, we knew we were 35 km from Allahabad.

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05013k600.jpg

A 70-km bypass section, 35-km on either side of the city, is still incomplete, and we were back on the old highway that I've known in the 20th century!

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05014k600.jpg

Though the section above doesn't look too bad, there are two patches of cobblestoned streets, one on either side of the city, which were dicey to negotiate with an overloaded car. One of them is this picture below (IIRC, the place is called Sikanderpur.)

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05015k600.jpg

The road surface improved as we entered the Cantonment area. (The Board doesn't have an 'I' in its heart - I guess it's all for 'U' ).

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05017k600.jpg

Looking around for a P&P stop, we found this Reliance pump. There was activity there, but no fuel available. The pumping machines had been unpacked and cleaned. I wonder if Reliance is starting retail fuel sales again.

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05016k600.jpg

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Old 7th May 2009, 14:44   #37
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Default Allahabad to Benaras

All right, here we go again. Tanked up at Allahabad. FE: 14.2 km/l. I took the wheel back again, and soon we're across the Ganga bridge and out of city limits. It was 9:30 am. Happy to find that the traffic was not as bad as I thought it would be. 35 km and we would be out onto dual carriageway again.

20 km out of town, we spotted the tail end of what appeared to be a very long traffic jam. Right lane was free, so I nosed in for a quick look. Nothing but two-wheelers coming through from the other side. Stopped one of them to ask, and learnt there's been an accident about 2 km ahead. There was no space for cars to go through.

Fortunately, the motorcyclist advised us to take a detour into a small lane on our right. And at the same time, a Qualis dived into the same lane. Without second thought, we followed. A narrow track zigzagging though the fields greeted us, and we followed the Qualis through umpteen twists and turns and across a level crossing.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05018k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05019k600.jpg

And voila! We were back on the highway 5 km down the road. No traffic jams!

After the "Varanasi 19 km" marker, we started looking for a flyover, below which we would go, to follow the old highway again into Benaras city. There are no indication boards here or while approaching from the east, which is why btirthankar lost his way.

Once we were on the old highway (it was almost noon), we decided to take another P&T stop. This time it was a plastic-chaired "general store'.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05020k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05021k600.jpg

Stepped out of the car into a furnace, the temperature outside was so hot after the chill of the freshly serviced AC in the car. The thirst for tea quickly changed to a thirst for freshly made 'lassi', and it was delicious.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05022k600.jpg

The owner lives in a small house behind his shop, and obligingly let the ladies use the toilet inside. His business has plummeted in the last few years since the main bulk of traffic uses the expressway and doesn't bring custom to him. Therefore the conversion from 'dhaba' to 'general store'!

End of P&L stop, we crawled along the road and into Benaras. A few glimpses again of the NH-2 as it existed in the last decade.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05023k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05024k600.jpg

BT had already warned us on the phone that there were no air-conditioned rooms available at the Rahi Tourist Bungalow run by UP Tourism. That's where he was staying, and he would be able to post more pics of the place. I have an old picture of that place from our last trip in Jan. '09, and here it is.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc04908k600.jpg
Now Rahi is a place I've stayed in over and over again, because it's located opposite the Benaras Railway Station inside a lane.

(The Benaras railway station)
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc04909k600.jpg

Large space for car parking, no traffic noise at night. Clean, cheap, reliable. Since most of my trips have been in winter, I had never needed to look for an AC room before. I remembered a new hotel in the vicinity of Rahi, which had underground parking. So into the same lane we went, and pulled up at the Hotel Plaza Inn.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05028k600.jpg

Ok, there were AC rooms available. Rs.1500 per room, plus taxes. We all love a bargain. My wife bargained. She bargained really hard. No, no, the guard outside didn't boot us out! He just kept standing in his fancy shoes.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05025k600.jpg
Finally settled for Rs.1100 per room, inclusive of taxes.
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:11   #38
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And voila! We were back on the highway 5 km down the road. No traffic jams!

After the "Varanasi 19 km" marker, we started looking for a flyover, below which we would go, to follow the old highway again into Benaras city. There are no indication boards here or while approaching from the east, which is why btirthankar lost his way.
No Wonder why I got confused and lost there.

BTW That kind of 'Qualis' Detours are real savers.
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Old 7th May 2009, 15:43   #39
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I really appreciate your sense of humour. It comes out in virtually every post of yours.
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Old 7th May 2009, 17:08   #40
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Exclamation How to access Benaras from NH-2

From the west (from Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad):

Look for the "Benaras/Varanasi 19 km" marker milepost. Another @ 1.5 km further on, look for a flyover after a marketplace. Take the road under the flyover, drive to the centre of the flyover alongside it, and turn left obliquely to join up with the old highway. 14 km down this road is Benaras railway station.

From the east (from Kolkata, Barhi, Sasaram):

Look for the "Benaras/Varanasi 12 km" marker - big green overhead board across the road. Another @ 1.0 km further on, look for a flyover (about 34 km from the Bihar-UP border). Take the road under the flyover, drive to the centre of the flyover alongside it, and turn right, under the flyover to take the road to Ratangarh. Follow this road (about 6-7 km) to a T-junction. Turn left here - this is the old highway. A right turn here takes you to Mughalsarai. The road goes over the old Ganga bridge and winds through town to the Benaras station - @ 8 km from the T-junction.

Hope that helps...

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Old 7th May 2009, 19:40   #41
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Awesome travelogue. I am really glued to this thread due to excellent narration with touch of humor and above all - pictures.
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Old 7th May 2009, 20:55   #42
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Default In Benaras

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BT has been banned and Varanasi thread deleted.
So I learnt. Unfortunate. I'd grown to like him and his style of posting & photography, whatever be the issues or his shortcomings.

Anyway, to continue. We were in Benaras at 1:15 pm, and ravenously hungry. Intentionally missed a big breakfast to feast on lunch, followed by a siesta. What upset us most was the power outage at Benaras. The hotel promised us no AC during the day if there was no power, but guaranteed the service at night after 9 pm. So? We soon discovered that Benaras gets about 2 - 4 hours of power during the day. So no AC to help our proposed siesta.

Now, to lunch. A stiflingly hot dining room at the hotel forced us to venture out to my regular 'dhaba' on the main road - a 5 minute walk that left us sweating and puffing. This photograph of the 'dhaba' - the New Pratap Hotel - was taken in the evening, because the road in front had traffic so bad during the day that one risked being run over.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05127k600.jpg

A note here: I've frequented this place over the last 20 years, and the food has been wonderful every time. The place is not exactly squeaky clean like a fancy restaurant, but the food is fresh and tasty, and I've never been ill of it. Don't expect napkins and bone china at your table - spoons are available, but they've never heard of forks and knives. With apologies to vegetarian members, I would recommend the mutton curry (or egg curry), and 'roti' (or 'naan'). The salad you see below is on the house!
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05026k600.jpg

Back at the hotel again, the gods were kind. The AC was running (they have a centralized system), and we had a very comfortable siesta till 5 pm.

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Old 7th May 2009, 22:04   #43
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....
The salad you see below is on the house!
....
But where are the green chillies?!

.... which is why I always carry some in me own pocket!
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Old 7th May 2009, 22:19   #44
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But where are the green chillies?!

.... which is why I always carry some in me own pocket!
Now, now, Mathur-saab, you'll ask for the tomatoes and celery next! It was like a furnace outside, and chillies in the gastrointestinal system would have made matters worse (than even chillies in the pocket)! That's why the onions - supposed to have a cooling effect...

As I said before, this is a no-frills restaurant. Salt, chillies and paper napkins available on demand. But the costs... I bet my relatives that 5 of us can't run up a bill above Rs.500, eat whatever we might. Actually the bill for 6 people (btirthankar joined us for dinner) was about Rs.350. This included 4 litres of bottled drinking water. BT was a little uncomfortable at first due to the lack of frills (he asked for paper napkins and that took a couple of minutes to arrive), but then he dug in and thoroughly enjoyed the food.
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Old 7th May 2009, 23:19   #45
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@ BlackPearl : I've been on that road in Jan. '05, trip done in 27 hours. The roads in Bihar were actually so much better then, as compared to what I had seen over the previous decade. The concrete stretches were done on one carriageway, and there were short patches of off-road sections (200-500 metres) joining those concrete stretches. Only trouble was getting on and off the concrete, where the underbelly or overhangs scraped. I spiced that trip with a hair-raising flat tyre experience somewhere after the infamous Barachatti at 1am. But that's another story..
Exactly, we entered Bihar at 12 in the night and it took me 7 hours to travel the next 200 Kms. I had to be extra careful because of the low ground clearance of the Baleno, but sometimes could not avoid the humps of gravel betwwen those stretches . On top of it there was no mobile signal as soon as we left Benaras. Hopefully that has improved now.
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