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Old 7th May 2009, 23:59   #46
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Default In Benaras - continued...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
there was no mobile signal as soon as we left Benaras. Hopefully that has improved now.
Mobile signals are everpresent now all along NH-2.

5:30 pm and we were ready to go. Agenda: Shopping, religion, edibles and the Ganga Aarti. I've never driven in the lunatic traffic inside Benaras, and wasn't about to. So we looked around for cycle-rickshaws. And found this incredibly ugly looking Piaggio Ape Truk (http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/indian...-launched.html) with its monkey face and repulsive colour in the hotel driveway. (Ok, ok, I know it's pronounced "aaa-pay", and has nothing to do with simians )
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05029k600.jpg

3 cycle rickshaws found, and all aboard.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05030k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05031k600.jpg

and off we trundled through not-too-smooth roads, avoiding other road users with millimetric precision. (Not always - two rickshaws collided ahead, and one's wheel hub ripped out a few spokes from the rear wheel of the other - surprisingly, no argument ensued).
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05032k600.jpg

Stuck in a traffic jam while sitting atop a cycle rickshaw has its advantages. It lets you observe the chaos all around like the Buddha from an elevated vantage point. So I did.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05033k600.jpg

Our destination: The entrance to the Vishwanath Gali, at Godhulia. Most economical place to buy sarees, the best place for 'rabri' and 'peda', shortest entry point to the Vishwanath temple, and a 5 minute walk to the Dashashwamedh Ghat to watch the Ganga Aarti.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05035k600.jpg

And of course, how could we miss out on the 'paan Benaras-wala'?
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05036k600.jpg

After the 'rabri' and 'peda', how about a stint with the non-Mahindra Scorpio?
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05034k600.jpg


The Ganga Aarti was a glorious experience, and a large number of pictures were taken. You can see them all at this link.

Later that evening, I was scheduled to meet btirthankar at my hotel.

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 8th May 2009 at 00:07.
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Old 8th May 2009, 06:14   #47
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@SS-Traveller: Loving the descriptions of Varanasi galli's.
Is the New Pratap Hotel opposite the Varanasi railway station? The photo looks very familiar to a place I had eaten in on a Delhi-Calcutta drive after meandering into Varanasi city.
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Old 8th May 2009, 07:14   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genesis View Post
Is the New Pratap Hotel opposite the Varanasi railway station?
Yes it is. Directly opposite.
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Old 8th May 2009, 09:44   #49
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Serendipitious discovery of the best restaurant in varanasi then
Slightly OT but if you are in the mood for good south indian food in Varanasi, there is the eclectic Ayyar's cafe in Varanasi. Quite a history behind it (it is run by a transplanted family who came to Benares eons ago and the current owner is a ex yoga professor with a book to his credit) and ofcourse: scrumptious food and coffee.

It was so good that I once wrote a post about it

Genesis - soumya.org: Ayyars Cafe In Varanasi

It is such small pleasures from long journeys which one carries in recesses of the brain even after years!

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Old 8th May 2009, 09:55   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genesis View Post
Serendipitious discovery of the best restaurant in varanasi then...
there is the eclectic Ayyar's cafe in Varanasi.
Oh, that's interesting! On the Dashashwamedh Ghat Road? Thanks - I'll pen it into my 'must do' when I'm passing through Benaras next. I love SI food.
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Old 8th May 2009, 11:12   #51
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SS da, wonderful thread indeed. THe streets and gallis of Kashi (I need to surely go there atleast once in my life).

Now coming to that no frills dhaba, I somehow like those dhaba culture on highways which we hardly get in South India. Once I had amazing egg-tarka, chana-masala, hot-rotis on NH60 while going to Masanjor from Suri 3 years back.
"Apnar Photo dekhe jibhe jol eshe gelo". THis is what I took at that dhaba, see the plates all polished off and the final bill was around Rs 220 odd. Inset (My wife and sister-in-laws family)
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-100_1922.jpg

Even Arindam was telling about some amazing tasty food at such dhabas in Orissa during the GQ run.

Abhi
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Old 8th May 2009, 11:34   #52
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Default Back on the road

Our proposed departure time from Benaras was 5 am, but ultimately we hit the road at 6 am. With my bro-in-law at the wheel, we drove out of the lane from our hotel, to be greeted by a blaring cacophony of air horns and a truck-bus-cycle-rickshaw-human gridlock that early in the morning. Got out of that mess somehow, and headed for the Ganga Bridge along an otherwise empty road.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05130k600.jpg

Approaching the loop to go on to the bridge
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05129k600.jpg

The sight of this beautiful bridge has never failed to attract me, I cannot explain why. Take a look.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05131k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05132k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05133k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05135k600.jpg

The view across the river from the bridge, especially towards the ghats of Benaras, is also wonderful on a clear day, but stopping on the bridge is not a good idea. So one quick shot of the river from the passenger seat of the moving vehicle.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05134k600.jpg

After the bridge, we executed a right turn, and we were back on the expressway.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05137k600.jpg

The road looks much the same all along,
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05136k600.jpg

until we approach the octroi checkpost at the UP-Bihar border. Hundreds of trucks lined up on either side of the road. A few years ago, this stretch would have been a nightmare to cross, with a traffic jam extending for miles, and a waiting time of a few hours to get across the 3 km stretch. This morning, we sailed through effortlessly and into Bihar.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05138k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05139k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05140k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05141k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05142k600.jpg

At the entry point into Bihar, there is one more incomplete section of the dual carriageway, forcing traffic onto a narrow road and across an even narrower bridge, and then through a village marketplace. A few km of this, and we were back on dual carriageway expressway again.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05143k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05144k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05145k600.jpg

Well, they don't welcome us to Bihar, they thank us for coming there!

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05146k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05147k600.jpg

There's some roadwork activity happening on the Bihar side, but the new bridge at border which is meant for the expressway, is still half complete. My guess would be another 2 years before this section is complete.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05148k600.jpg
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05149k600.jpg

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 8th May 2009 at 11:43.
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Old 8th May 2009, 12:22   #53
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Lest I be infracted for spamming the forum, I will reserve my adjectives for after the entire travelogue is posted. In the meantime - Fantastic, keep 'em coming
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Old 8th May 2009, 19:43   #54
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Default Bihar - overcast skies and tamasha unlimited

NH-2 through Bihar and Jharkhand is a great drive now. Slot into 5th, don't exceed 80km/h, and enjoy the fun.

The first thing that greeted us was overcast skies in the distance, and a cool breeze hinting at rain later on.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05150k600.jpg

And then the tamasha began. All kinds of vehicles on the road - tractors to Tata Magics - came hurtling at us on the high-speed lane. Pull over to the left, or get smashed. That was the mantra. Get smashed like this...
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05154k600.jpg

Err... what's that on the roof of that MM Maxx? A gigantic trunk, and a wedding party inside! The MM Commander in front is not even optimally loaded - the driver's picked up far less than the optimum desirable of 27 passengers; the poor guy is losing a lot of money every km he crosses! There seem to be just 2 people on the roof...
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05152k600.jpg

Five km down the road, a full-size seven feet tall almirah flew off the top of a bus in the right lane. We were in the left lane. I was so surprised I forgot I had a camera! Motto: In Bihar, left is safe. (Corollary: In Bengal, Left rules!)

Another few few km ahead, a small trunk started to drift off from the roof rack of a Qualis as we proceeded to overtake it. Rolled down the window to tell him he's losing his trunk, and he promptly slowed down, making our overtaking manoeuvre so much easier! Good technique to use the next time, I say!

Flying almirahs and smashed cars (and a dead buffalo - pic posted earlier) were a little rough on our nerves, and we pulled into our first P&T stop of the day, the Hotel New Guru Nanak Basera, next to a gurdwara at a place called Kudra near Sasaram.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05155k600.jpg

And what was a CD-plated brand-new Innova doing parked outside? In Bihar? At 8:30 am? Beats me.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05156.jpg

Benevolent old Sardarji with a white beard sitting at the entrance, really tried to hard-sell us into more solid stuff than just tea, but tea was all we wanted.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05157k600.jpg

There was no electricity (of course!) and the cavernous interior of the dhaba was not too exciting. The loo was right at the back, and it was almost as dark as a whale's gut there - I hope we didn't miss our mark by too much...
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05158k600.jpg

More tamasha coming up soon...

Last edited by SS-Traveller : 8th May 2009 at 19:59.
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Old 8th May 2009, 19:57   #55
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So it took me some time to figure out the traffic pattern on NH2 in Bihar and Jharkhand.

My theory: They built a divided highway but did not do any change management. So when the local people woke up, one morning, they were like: "Wow! Yesterday we had only one road, now we have two" and promptly proceeded to use both sides for two way traffic.

Once you put on this lens, the chaos makes sense
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Old 8th May 2009, 20:08   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genesis View Post
"Wow! Yesterday we had only one road, now we have two"
Precisely. I'd commented about it in http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/1147149-post1.html - I was told this by local folk in the area. That's what they actually think.
Quote:
...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...
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Old 8th May 2009, 22:56   #57
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Default Teaser

Dear BHPians, you spend a lot of money on your car's ICE, don't you? I'll show you something better than ICE - it's called OCE. Hang on for the ride till then...
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Old 9th May 2009, 09:43   #58
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Nerves cooled, liquid out and liquid in, we set off again. The flat countryside gradually changed contour to a slightly hilly terrain as we approached Dehri-on-Sone. The roads were empty, smooth and a little twisty; the sky continued to be overcast though there was no sign of rain. Very enjoyable drive through the morning. Didn't feel like we were driving through India, and Bihar at that!

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05159k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05160k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05161k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05162k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05163k600.jpg

And then we were on the Sone river, crossing the seemingly endless (over 3 km long) Sone bridge, at one time the longest road bridge over a river in Asia. (The MG Bridge at Patna now takes the world crown at 5.5 km). My only grouse was the high railings on the bridge blocking the surrounding view - but then, our trucks and buses fall off bridges with metronomical regularity, so we couldn't really blame the NHAI, could we?
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05164k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05165k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05166k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05167k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05168k600.jpg

Finally, across the river, and roughly two-third of our journey completed.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05169k600.jpg

THe road continued to be good, and we passed through villages on the way. Mercifully, local traffic was light, and not too many wrong-siders came along. The sun had come out by now, and the mid-morning heat kept everyone indoors I suppose.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05174k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05176k600.jpg

There seemed to be a lot of hay everywhere - in the fields, on the roofs of the houses, everywhere.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05177k600.jpg

Going on a picnic? Buckets, anyone? Jerrycans? Stoves?
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05175k600.jpg

And how would you go on that magical picnic, pray? Obviously, on an optimally loaded Tata Magic.
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05170k600.jpg

And what about the entertainment? Well, there's the ICE to be played at full volume! Alpine HU, JBL speakers, maybe even Bose... Uh... the heat's too much - the ICE melted! In Bihar we have OCE. On-car entertainment.

Here it comes...
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05173k600.jpg

A full band on the roof of an optimally loaded (soft-top) trekker!!!

Who needs rollbars? Thes vehicles have such strengthened roofs, a rollover would do nothing much.

I need a break. Another P&T break. This time at Barhi. At the Yadav Line Hotel. I wonder why we find 'line hotels' in Bihar. Why are they called that? I haven't seen 'line hotels' anywhere else - have you?
Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05178k600.jpg

Delhi-Kolkata by Road | NH2 in Full Detail-dsc05179k600.jpg
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Old 9th May 2009, 13:33   #59
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I did not had a chance to go through this travelogue after those initial teaser. First I did was checked out the distance between Delhi-Kolkata from Maps which indicated around 1500 kms. I did enjoyed going through this travelogue in one stretch till post# 58 & hooked up to this.

Bit confusing on when U took the break (Day-1), how many total kms completed for the first day, tipping with average distance covered would be more interesting and would help others with some travel inputs.

Nice photographs & have saved few to my favorite folders.

Last edited by Surprise : 9th May 2009 at 13:38.
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Old 9th May 2009, 15:29   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surprise View Post
I did enjoyed going through this travelogue in one stretch till post# 58 & hooked up to this.

Bit confusing on when U took the break (Day-1), how many total kms completed for the first day, tipping with average distance covered would be more interesting and would help others with some travel inputs.

Nice photographs & have saved few to my favorite folders.
Hi Surprise: Thank you so much for going through and enjoying this thread.

The first session of driving was between 9:45pm on Day 1 and 1:00 pm on Day 2. This was from Delhi to Benaras, 820 km IIRC. The second session was from Benaras to Kolkata, about 690 km; we drove from 6 am on Day 3, and reached Kolkata at 7:15 pm on Day 3.

You are welcome to the photographs. I would be happy if you just acknowledge they are mine.
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