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Old 8th October 2009, 22:26   #16
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Great to hear that the road condition is good and nice pics. But I would suggest to please remove the pics of Farakka as it is against the rules to take pics of the barrage. What is the condtion of the bridge that completely broken 1.5 years back?
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Old 9th October 2009, 02:04   #17
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Day 2 - Siliguri - Melli - Jorethang - Mangalbaria

Last night, I had requested room service to serve bed tea at 6am. The plan was to leave by 8am and reach Mangalbaria by noon. We thought that we will have breakfast at the hotel before leaving. On my request for bed tea, the room service guy politely told me that their kitchen opens at 8am. It immediately reminded me that I was staying at a Govt lodge. After this, request for breakfast was out of question.

Work up at 6:30am. To my pleasant surprise, tea was available by 6:45am. Encouraged, I ordered for breakfast as well.

The route that we will take today is Siliguri - Sevok - Teesta Bazar - Melli Bazar - Jorethang - Reshi - Mangalbaria. I was not sure of the road conditions and wanted to leave early. We finally left Siliguri at 9am. Pretty late I must admit.

Siliguri roads are in pretty bad shape and we made slow progress till the Sevok Cantonment area. From here onwards, the road passes through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the surface is pretty good.

Passing through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary
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Approaching Sevok
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We reached Sevok by 9:30am. From here the ghats start and you get Teesta to accompany you as you go up the hills. Due to pretty heavy rains, Teesta was raging in full force and fury.

Crossing Teesta at Sevok
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View on the other side of the bridge
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A couple of days back, I had heard about a landslide at Sevok, but was wondering, whether the roads have been cleared by now. A couple of turns later, just as you get the first glimpse of the Coronation bridge, we got stuck into a major queue.

The customary shot of the Coronation Bridge
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The roads have not been cleared fully and the BRO is allowing vehicles along a single lane. We had to wait for about 20 mins, before it was our turn to move on.

Backed up traffic at Coronation Bridge, due to landslide
Kolkata-Siliguri-Mangalbaria-Ravangla-Geyzing-Siliguri-Kolkata-p9260017-large.jpg

Crossed the landslide area carefully.

Took a small break a few kms up the road for around 10 mins and then we moved on. The road is overall good, but being just after monsoon, there are signs of landslides along the way and places where the surface has been completely washed away.

A brief 10 mins break
Kolkata-Siliguri-Mangalbaria-Ravangla-Geyzing-Siliguri-Kolkata-p9260018-large.jpg

Though we were in the hills, it was pretty hot outside and we had to keep the AC on. This was a bit surprising as by this time, it should have cooled down a bit.

At one area, beyond Lohapool, we stopped by a waterfall that has formed a stream across the road. Crossed that area carefully and took a break again, to take in the surroundings and to spend some time at the waterfall. The water was cool and refreshing.

Black Hawk, taking a break
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Black? Still?
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Spent around 15 mins here and then moved on.

By the time we reached Teesta Bazar, it was 11:20am. We have covered 53kms so far and was around halfway from Mangalbaria.

Even with the AC on, Black Hawk was pulling excellently. Overtaking the Sumos and Boleros loaded with tourists, was a breeze. The loud FFE was reverbating around the quiet surroundings. I had to keep the windows rolled up as the AC was on, but I really wanted to enjoy the sweet sound of the exhaust. Most of the tourist taxis were giving way, without even asking. The tight suspension helped immensely to throw the car around the corners and hairpins. The smile on my face was getting broader

Approaching Melli. You have to cross this bridge to go towards West Sikkim
Kolkata-Siliguri-Mangalbaria-Ravangla-Geyzing-Siliguri-Kolkata-p9260022-large.jpg

On way to Melli, we passed quite a few white water rafting spots and saw Sumos going with inflated rafts on their rooftops. By the time we reached Melli, it was 11:50am and landed into another major traffic pileup. Wasted around 15mins in the traffic and then took a sharp right and onto the bridge crossing Teesta. Across the bridge, the road to the right goes to Gayzing and Pelling.

We took the right turn and was on our way to Jorethang, another 22kms away.

Day 2 continued..
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Old 9th October 2009, 04:10   #18
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Blackhawk is looking great. Driving a sedan in the hills and that too with a good suspension is an awesome experience. The esteem in stock or modded form never fails to put a smile on the face of the eager driver.
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Old 9th October 2009, 11:03   #19
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Beautiful pictures, Saurabh. I will need to refer a map offline as I have no clue about these routes and places

That Jindal Motor Sport bill is a major distraction in some of your cabin shots. Or did I read it wrong?

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Old 9th October 2009, 11:58   #20
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Nice, easy paced travelogue Saurabh. Please give a map if possible to make it a good reference point for future travellers. We normally stay in Central Plaza right next door to the government lodge where you can go for breakfast or lunch etc. Nice restaurant. The Bangladesh buses start from there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
What is the condtion of the bridge that completely broken 1.5 years back?
If you are talking about the Domohona bridge, the broken bridge has been repaired for small cars and two wheelers. But they have created a small detour for larger trucks. It's not a problem any more for motorists. In fact unless you knew you wouldn't even notice it.
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Old 9th October 2009, 15:25   #21
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Here is a map of Sikkim (courtesy Sikkim Tourism)

The route highlighted in Green is the one that I took. This map does not show the road to Mangalbaria, but it is there.

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Old 9th October 2009, 16:07   #22
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Thanks for the map, Saurabh. It makes it more interesting.
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Old 9th October 2009, 17:19   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saurabh M View Post
The barrage is still manned by CISF and overtaking is still prohibited. The speed limit now is 20kph

I did not find any notice about photography restrictions, though I was expecting it and hence took a couple of shots. I think they have given up to Google Earth.

Only the Dalkhola-Islampur stretch of NH34 is 4 laned. The rest is same, though widened at places and the surface at its best. "Rocket" service is still on. The red one may be a NBSTC though.
Thanks for the info on my childhood champ "Rocket", glad to hear it is alive.

Correction: Its NH31 not 33
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Old 9th October 2009, 23:36   #24
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Hi,
Thought I'd share some random thoughts on road conditions and jams on this route.
Did Cal - Guwahati mid Sep. NH34-NH31-NH37 etc. Not NH60. I have been driving this route or some variation of it at least once a year for the the last 30 years (and even before, when I wasn't the driver. Remember Rajmahal). And though in other sectors driving time has come down drastically, in this sector, at least for me, driving times have steadily increased. Previously I used to do Cal - Jpg in 10.5 - 11 hrs comfortably, Dalkhola jams included. This time Cal - Siliguri took me 14 Hrs albeit with two jams, and one food/ refueling break.

NH34 was repaired just before elections. Has already started deteoriating.
Had jams at Behrampur (stalled truck), Kaliachack (no apparent reason) and Boxirhat (because the WB government thinks building truck laybyes a waste of money).

There has been a huge increase in the number of articulated trucks (both flatbeds, and car transporters) of late (in fact I would say that the venerable 1210 is in a minority now) and I have started dreading the railway level crossings. A large number of these crossings are in the form of a S bend, and are difficult for these behemoths to negotiate. If the vehicles from the other side do not give them space, trying to force their way in, you are in for anything from a 1/2 hour to 2 hr jam.

Would like to know the views of other regular users of this route.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 9th October 2009, 23:47   #25
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Day 2 Continued..

Road conditions remained quite good along the way towards Jorethang. However, we were quickly gaining height. A couple of rapid switchbacks and you already see Melli down below. Black Hawk kept dancing along the ghat roads. We encountered a few more stretches of bad surface as we approached Jorethang.

Dirt Track
Kolkata-Siliguri-Mangalbaria-Ravangla-Geyzing-Siliguri-Kolkata-p9260023-large.jpg

By the time we reached Jorethang, it was 12:45PM. We took a brief break outside the Jorethang ground. Durga Puja (Ashtami) was in full swing. High up in the hills, you hardly realize that you are in the middle of Durga Puja. Momentarily, I was missing Kolkata, but the serene surroundings reminded me of the frenzy thats going on in Kolkata and I was back in the mood.

Durga Puja at Jorethang
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Taking a break
Kolkata-Siliguri-Mangalbaria-Ravangla-Geyzing-Siliguri-Kolkata-p9260027-large.jpg

After a break of 10 mins, we moved on. We had another 25kms ahead of us. The road from here will be the road towards Pelling via Reshi. 1 Km before Reshi, there is a diversion. The road on right goes to Pelling via Reshi, while the road on left climbs higher up and goes towards Rinchenpong. This is known as Rinchenpong Road and this is the one to be taken for Mangalbaria. From this point, Mangalbaria is around 10kms.

The road rapidly climbs from here. There are stretches where I had to put BH in 1st gear to pull up and around the hairpins. As we moved on, around 5kms up the road, there is one more diversion. The road on left goes to Rinchenpong, while the one on right goes to Mangalbaria. They have put up a board showing the direction of Bliss Resort. We finally reached the resort at 2pm.

Bliss resort
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Black Hawk has landed
Kolkata-Siliguri-Mangalbaria-Ravangla-Geyzing-Siliguri-Kolkata-p9260039-large.jpg

Today we have covered a total of 109 kms in 5hrs, including breaks. BH was beyond recognition and was almost white with dust. Parked her at the parking lot, which was visible from the room allocated to us.

Bliss Resort is truly bliss, given the settings. The resort is pretty well laid out over a large area and has only 6 rooms - 4 on the ground floor and 2 on the first floor. There are no other resorts or hotels within a 5km radius. The only habitation is Mangalbaria village, around 1 km down the road. The Kanchanjunga range should be clearly visible from all these rooms. Since it was already noon, there was considerable cloud cover around the peaks and they were not visible.

As we settled down, we ordered some chicken thukpa. It was ready in 30mins. Oh so delicious!!

The sun was setting as I stood on the balcony. I was hoping for the cloud cover to go away so that I could get a glimpse of the snow clad peaks. But that was not to be. Gradually, darkness descended and the villages in the far away hills started twinkling in the darkness. As a half moon became visible, I was praying for clear skies the next morning. With a lot of anticipation, I retired for the night after an early dinner.

The alarm on my cellphone set at 4:30am...

Last edited by Saurabh M : 9th October 2009 at 23:49.
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Old 10th October 2009, 08:55   #26
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Great going Saurabh. It reminds me of our trekking from Pemayangtse to Yuksam.
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Old 10th October 2009, 09:27   #27
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Saurabh,

Seems you had a great time.

Also helped me in the fact that I was also thinking of a drive to Siliguri,did not have any idea about how good the roads would be.

Will be talking some inputs from you as well when I would plan something.

Btw,from the car stickers you seem to be a colleague of mine at Rajarhat

Will catch up sometime.Have pinged you my intranet id.

Joy
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Old 10th October 2009, 12:50   #28
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Welcome to team-bhp Sutripta. It's a small world.
Couldn't agree more with you on the s-shaped level crossings and the trailer type trucks getting stuck there due to rush ins by smaller vehicles. I have suffered precisely because of this on Dalkhola level crossing for more than half an hour and overtaking them in town areas is next to impossible.
But if you are using Panagarh Moregram detour you are assured peace of mind because via that route you don't have a single level crossing upto Calcutta.
Having used both NH 34 and Panagarh-Moregram, I think it's worth the extra 60/70 km via Panagarh if you are driving during the day time.
Some friends who can drive in the night prefer NH 34. ADC is one. I find it unimaginable.
I have always crossed Kaliachak during the height of afternoon in May. I think that's why I have always found it quite deserted. All my friends who frequent this route find this impossible to believe.
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Old 10th October 2009, 13:47   #29
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Thanks Sudipto for the welcome, to a looong time lurker!

Regarding brainless behaviour at levelcrossings, the biggest offenders are the smaller vehicles, and the buses.

Took NH34 this time because reports were that it was good now. After all, one must keep in touch (with old roads and old friends).

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 10th October 2009, 13:50   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rudra Sen View Post
Great going Saurabh. It reminds me of our trekking from Pemayangtse to Yuksam.
Thanks Rudra-da. I plan to drive to Yuksom one day. I will need some suggestions for a couple of pics from my next post on Day 3.

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Originally Posted by joy_swift View Post
Btw,from the car stickers you seem to be a colleague of mine at Rajarhat.
Will catch up sometime.Have pinged you my intranet id.
Its a small world indeed. Will surely catch up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sudipto-S-Team View Post
Couldn't agree more with you on the s-shaped level crossings and the trailer type trucks getting stuck there due to rush ins by smaller vehicles.
I have always crossed Kaliachak during the height of afternoon in May. I think that's why I have always found it quite deserted.
Welcome to TBHP Sutripta. I also noticed considerable increase in the number of trailer trucks on the road, and invariably they have NL registration. The jam I faced at Kaliachak was also for no apparent reason.
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