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|1st March 2010, 14:16||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Ikon takes us to Yangtey (in December 2009!)
The Idea was to reach Panagarh (150kms from my home) by the first light of the morning. This would actually enable maximizing daylight utilization through, a known route, famous for bad road conditions. Hence the plan was in place to start from home at 4am sharp, the slippage though, was just 8 minutes. However as the miles kept on rolling, I realised we were going to see the first light a few kms (around 5) ahead of Panagarh. But then, it was only an idea that gave birth to a plan (to reach before the first light), so wasn't actually necessary to push things to make the plan work to the tee. I was just fine.
As it is, the whole distance from home to Panagarh was achieved without asking the car to prove itself, speedo needle never crossed 100. But as it turned out, the first light indeed popped up at Panagarh! (We reached exactly at 6:08 am)
Over the last one year, hadn't got a chance to really take up any serious touring. A few Puri, Chandipur, Santiniketan trips, not necessitating taking a leave from work, nothing to write about. Some family incidents had actually thrown a lot of plans awry. So at the onset, this trip was going to be a pleasant change, did not have to be exactly seriously challenging.
Regarding the destination, one may have already read about it here:-
This was the inspiration. But a minature version of it. Something that does not entail taking a whole week off.
Driving in the wee hours of the morning in absolute silence, apart from the snoring of a 4yr old, is a fantabulous experience. But not, when you are driving in darkness and looking for lane/road side markers telling you exactly which part of the road you are driving on. Luckily some lines, that may later become the lane markers were reflecting. But the road to Panagarh is known a known entity and hence no problem in the dark.
Bread and tea at Panagarh ensured that the grumpiness did not return soon. At 6:36 am From Panagarh, we kept the rising sun, in its redd-ish orange glory, on the right and the Ikon kept singing, ever wanting to see high speeds as it made its way to Moregram (ANOTHER 150 KMS AWAY). There were sporadic potholes/bad patches on the road till Dubrajpur. Then the last 10kms from Nalhati to Moregram is absolute horror. Was the same last year. Reached Moregram at 9am sharp. An hour and 10 minutes later, reached Farakka for some refuelling, 24.45 litres went in to cover the 371kms the car went since last refuel (11 kms was initial reading in the morning), and a quick round of tea to jack up the nerves.
Good going!!?? Well, law of averages! Next 1 hour we spent travelling to Malda merely 35 kms away. 20 mins static at the infamous Kaliachowk. That too after overtaking a whole long line of vehicles. Another 75 kms later, time for lunch at Raiganj at 1pm exact.
Thats the Kaliachowk more and believe me this is a National Highway, look at the Khaki clad persons body language!
Bagdogra was not very far! 43 kms to Dalkhola, 120kms from there. But we started at 1:40pm from Raiganj and reached Bagdogra at 5. The last 120 kms took 1hr 45 mins, including the usual holdbacks. The first 42 kms took 43 mins. So where did the 1 hour in between go? Yes travelling the 1 km in between these two ends. The Dalkhola crossing. This time rather than the trains, it was the huge line of lorries, some extra wide that were taking some time to cross. Guess what, the convoy we were stuck behind was moving at a snails pace, only to realise later, when the jam came to an end, was that, two bullock carts were holding up the traffic on our side. Extra wide lorries and Bullock carts, what a contrast.
However, as I parked the Ikon at the enclosure of Marinas (beside Glenaries) at Bagdogra the last rays of light went phut!! So We still made the journey (from Panagarh) in daylight. I knew since last time, and even seeing the last few kms this time, it was going to be difficult at night, as there are countless diversions, some unmarked, or vaguely so. No Lane markers whatsoever. Last time I was lucky to have a wagon R escort, but wouldn't be in such luck all the time. So the fact that the daylight did not displease us, was pleasant (also given the fact that the days are shortest at this time of the year!)
Had a small but scary incident on way towards Farakka. A sweeping left hand turn, that was lined on both sides by bushes, I was horrified to find that a truck approaching from the opposite direction was being overtaken by a Red Vista. I had to graze the car on the bushes in order to avoid a collision. That too I was lucky enough to find just enough space to squeeze in. Does it take extraordinary intelligence to know that on curves where you cant see the traffic from the opposite side, you are not supposed to overtake?
Anyway more coming very soon
|1st March 2010, 22:24||#2|
Senior - BHPian
The most irritating moments of a day involving an exciting drive, or for that matter any exciting journey, or event, are the initial few, spent in preparing. When all one wants to undertake is "hit the road", activities like brush your teeth, make the baby eat breakfast, packing bags seems like a never ending proposition. Its like, wake up, think about the entire sequence of events that one would need to perform before the ignition key can be twisted and you know its an eternity, although it might just last half an hour.
This day we embarked on our forward jouney at 8:40am, manouvering the car through the bad surface of NH-31 at Siliguri dodging several road irritants like three-wheeled trucks, Ace's and cattle. But soon, we got to see the roads we longed to see. The arrow straight stretch through the forest before hitting Sevoke around 18kms from Siliguri. Long back, at this stretch we had a harrowing time bringing speed down, just in time, to avoid a line of goats emerging from the bushes. So even if the stretch looks tempting enough, alertness has no substitute.
Coronation Bridge, from a different point
From Sevoke we left the coronation bridge on the right and continued straight to Teestabazar.
On the way to Teesta
Member of the "Self Preservation society" admiring the "British" faced Ford.
Welcome to Sikkim
Another 5 kms later came Mellibazar. We knew we had to turn right here but it was a bit confusing, we could see a bridge on the left side but had no clue how to be on it. The road we were on was continueing straight, and the direction we knew said turn right!! Where? Into the mountain? A little roll and okay it falls in place, there is a hairpin turn (with an option of not taking it, by continuing straight) on the right, which inturns bends right to be on the bridge that we earlier saw on the left (270 degrees).
Jorethang (also known as Malbajar) is 26kms from here.
A tunnel just before reaching Jorethang, I must say, I do not have a FFE on my car, BUT, the "Original" Muffler had developed a leak (long back) its just welded from time to time, and thus, at other times, before these welding sessions, give the pleasure only Tunnels can explain!!
Another 20 odd kms Jorethang is legship. From Legship road on left goes to Pelling via Gayzing and road on right goes to Rabongla. The best we tried to slow things down, taking it easy, taking photographs on the way, it was still hardly 3 hours from Sliguri. So decided to remember some family relationships.
My uncle works in NHPC at the Rangit project. Somewhere around Legship. Gave him a surprise. He did not beleive his ears. He was immediately sending his car, "oh no we have brought our own", he says "what?". "You will not be able to bring it here, besides you have my Grandchild with you" he said, without knowing that was the added motivation he just offerred me. He insisted on sending his vehicle and asked us to wait. The next time he called, we had already driven 5 kms towards Rabongla. Told him. I could visualise his face but yet he managed a calm. He asked us to be extra careful for the last 2 kms.
|1st March 2010, 23:27||#3|
Senior - BHPian
At Legship we turned the car around and took the road to Rabongla from there.
On the way to Rangit (Diverse settings)
On reaching Rangit I was supposed to ask for the Officers club.
Asking for the club, one gentleman easily pointed me to a meandering road. Took about 6 hairpins the last few of which was through no surface at all. Then just at the top, there was one gate that seemed to be closed for good. We had taken the wrong road. But trying to turn the car there was impossible. Reversing was not easy, because rolling down is fine, but rolling a bit too far and the first hairpin (a right hander) will make us fly. No space to turn on the hairpin. So had to take that hairpin on reverse. Continued the descent on reverse till the next left hander hairpin and it looked like this one has some run off on the right side at the apex. Made the rear wheels of the car climb up the side, liberating some space for the front to turn and yet the car was listing at a precarious angle (rear up, left side up). Even as I turned right to turn into the hairpin, I could sense the angle the road had climbed through the hairpin, as that angle was evident by the difference of levels on the left and right sides of our car. However it was intersting only, not dangerous. Soon we were at the same gentleman who advised us the route and uncle had sent his car down by this time. Followed it up the bends this time.
I came to realise why my uncle was concerned. There were two forks en-route and on both of those, it would be impossible to guess that they were forks and that you have to take a right turn there and you dont actually see where your car is going. Like say, a left turn hairpin, rising steeply, all you have to do is drive to the edge of the hairpin and just as you would brace yourself to fall down the cliff, you would see a road descending down!! However, later I saw that it was only because of the low seating position of a car that it appears so.
Anyway, reached his bunglow and the surprise was in those few minutes he had a simmering hot lunch awaiting us.
Till this point the only passengers of my car in this trip were my wife and daughter and my parents and sister were supposed to join us on Day 3. They would be coming separately as my Sis did not get a leave, however travelling is a better way to spend the long christmas weekend than just sitting at home, so they will join us on Dy 3 at Yangte, and descend on Day 4 and travel back to Howrah on Day 5! (Crazy)
Few more random shots
So at this point gave a surprise call to my mother and handed over the phone to uncle and enjoyed the exchange of words, of someone having allowed me to bring my car to such locations and someone else justifying that there is actually no harm. We had a nice lunch time, but the weather was too cold for us. The view around the bunglow was ecstatic and was surprised as to how my uncle was very indifferent to such surroundings. He said it gets quite boring after sometime. So I guess we should be happy to be city dwellers who have the option of reclaiming life once in a while in those settings.
Very soon we saw hints of fog. Enquired about Kanchenjungha spotting. He informed that he hasn't spotted it once in December. Asking him to join us next day, we drove out, first to Legship, then 15 kms from there to Gayzing and soon (2kms or so from there) at Tashigang Yangtey.
Enroute Gayzing from Legship
Yangtey, here we come
The place presented a different charm to what we saw in the photographs. The resort was covered in fog. The feeling was like being in a different world altogether where only the resort existed. It was chilly. Enquired at the reception about chances of locating the snow capped peaks. They echoed the same story that they havn't seen them in December. The rains that usually happens in December did not happen. If it rains it will be clear the next day.
Went upto the room, almost having nothing else to do, lazed around with the kid. Then took her to the lawns and she was too overjoyed to run around the slopes. Just as the darkness was about to fall, I felt something like a needle hit me on my hand. The needle was freezing and I realised it was indeed water. Then there was another, then another. It started to rain.
|2nd March 2010, 13:27||#7|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: City of seven islands.
Thanked: 203 Times
Does seem like a chrome strip. Further the fog lamps as well makes the Ikon look amazing. I should work on a budget for mine soon.
|2nd March 2010, 22:54||#9|
Senior - BHPian
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...th-bengal.html (Ikon 1.6 with weak clutch takes us to Darjeeling and a few forests of North Bengal.)
A shot from the BHP Garage!
Infact the obsession with this chrome strip is such that I also have it on the Fiat 1100d
Only downside, I dont have any more of it, somebody brought a reel from Auto Zone.
|2nd March 2010, 23:57||#10|
Senior - BHPian
The mobile alarm was suposed to go off at 5:45am and as we sat patiently looking at the mobile to sound that alarm, we could see faint shades of white in the far off western sky.
It had been raining all night, so technically the sky should have been clear, but a little worry was that, we were not observing any signs of it. It was foggy. I went out of our room, to the other side, to see what the rising sun looked like, it looked promising.
Came back to the room, waited a few more minutes, did not seem that the sky was clearing up, or that the light was getting better. Took another trip to the rising sun and it looked much less promising than before.
Went back into the room, WAIT! what do I see? its getting clearer.
We saw the complete shades of the rising sun reflected on the peaks of Kanchenjungha, right from the warm interiors of our room. A few shots from the Balcony!!
Its for not for nothing that 25th December is called BADA DIN!!
On this day, my parents and sis were to join us. At 8am their Volvo had just reached Siliguri as we were soaking in the snow-capped peaks while having breakfast, a resort vehicle was supposed to bring them up to Tashigang. So we had some free time till then.......coming very soon
On the top of the World
Looking down on creation
|3rd March 2010, 00:36||#11|
Senior - BHPian
Since We had sometime to kill, so decided to head to Peling, some 9 kms from the resort.
From Peling we decided to head further into Kanchenjungha Waterfalls, on the way to Yuksum, the previous capital of Sikkim. The initial few kms were bad, but soon we came to know why the folks in Marshalls and Savari's were giving us the amazed looks.
There were numerous landslide points. Numerous, places where the road was merely dirt track, through steep descent. With big craters. Ikon was taking it cool, but a lingering thought was that we wil have to drive back. However I put the thoughts to rest to enjoy the fantastic mountain scenery only offerred by Sikkim.
But this one above that we see from the road is not the real one,
The one above you dont directly see from the road, No Not even this one
For the real one you have to walk a little, climb a little, push and make a little way.
With the little one and the slippery rocks, and the crowd around, we made ourselves content with having seen it from here itself.
On the way back, as anticipated, the drive back would be interesting. Front-wheel drive, on slippery gravel, and steep ascent doesn't mix too well. However, we came to know that Parent's car hasn't made as much progress as it should have from Siliguri, so we STILL had time.
However, the car did not create any fuss at all, simply took the slopes in second gear and only sometimes necessitating the use of first. I had soon gained enough trust, to stop midway to take photographs such as this.
This was at a very steep slope, although not evident on the snap, but if one notices the rear of the not-so-loaded-car squatting down, one will deduce that its definitely the slope. A Marshall had come from the top, asked it to wait as I took the snap, out of need to get this over with quick, did not pay attention to hold it steady enough. Backed up the car all the way down as a courtesy to the Marshall, then took the slope again. Easy. Love the Ikon 1.6 with its fabulous low-end grunt, perfect for steep hill climbs. Perhaps its now that the car is truely beginning to endear itself to me. No rattles, no complaints, simply good fun, and add to that post spare-part price correction, its really fabulous.
Anyway, about to get into Pelling, a local boy flags us down, running towards us. A Live landslide!!
My Itenary does not have room for unintended stoppages. But this had the potential of being a BIG show stopper. Watched the rhythm and the timing that the rocks take, from the time they start to fall, till, they reach the ground zero.
A little calculation, a visual inspection of the road, there was a path in the middle yet to be blocked, though strewn with rocks, but nothing that will hit the underbelly. Get into the car, observe the top and go for it. Went across within seconds, few rocks flew from underneath the tyre and hit the under carriage. No damage done.
Resting after crossing the Hazard, for inspection as well as the Photograph of the landslide.
As we went back, Parents and uncle had just reached. It was also time for lunch. Whatta timing, Bada Din rocks!!
The evening was spent with uncles qualis taking us to the Khichipalri lake. The road to this lake was pretty rough, almost non existent. The Qualis, developed a rattle from the rear right leaf.
Note the calmness of the water, very silent, very serene, undisturbed, one single swan and countless ribbons.
This is a holi sacred spot, where you have to wish something. I decided to wish for something, but then God himself told me not to be so materialistic, o okay "All IZ WELL".
Amazing day comes to an end. Dad looks at the Kanchenjungha pics captured early on in the day and is all excited to catch the view next morning.
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|3rd March 2010, 11:28||#12|
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: CCU & Kitchener
Thanked: 58 Times
Very nice writeup Anirban. Was waiting for this. The road to Kanchenjunga falls had been bad for quite some time now, if not years.
Hope you liked the resort at Gayzing. Very nicely located. Waiting for the rest of the travelogue and pics.
|3rd March 2010, 12:04||#13|
Join Date: Nov 2006
Thanked: 2,590 Times
|6th March 2010, 00:30||#14|
Senior - BHPian
Wake up, similar conditions, hazy peaks, foggy foreground, told everyone to be patient, it was just the same previous morning till it cleared up. This day, it did not clear up, it just became more foggy. It wasn't Bada din.
Lazed around, took some snaps of the resort.
Tashi Gang At Yangtey
Soon it was Noon and it was time to start going down towards Siliguri.
We stopped countless times, once to have Momo, another time to have tea, another time to say hi to the Monkeys.
Monastery at Peling
Just had a good family time.
But at Siliguri or Bagdogra that night, there was hardly an accomodation available, reason being flights that were cancelled due to fog. Had to put up at a run down place. We were given their best "deluxe" rooms with deep-Purple walls. Daughters favourite colour being Purple, was very happy. Rest just wanted the night to be over.
|6th March 2010, 00:44||#15|
Senior - BHPian
We started from Bagdogra at 6am. It looked like usual dawn haziness, but soon, we found fog.
So much of it. Driving was difficult. The whole world was white. Nothing else other than white.
Frequently from the white, some dark spots would emerge to be trucks going in the same direction.
Twice those trucks happenned to be heading for us, with lights off in the opposite direction. Can't blame them, they missed some diversion.
Latest trend is to put yellow metal road barricades on the highways to check speed. These very things, are hazards on a foggy day. I had just overtaken a bus from the left. Few moments back, the bus was actually going ahead of me since a long long time at the same speed, I was able to hear its horn from time to time, but not see it. After overtaking it, this bus decides to follow me on the right lane (our car being on the left). Then out of the blue right in front of me appears this obstacle brakes would stop, but did not know if something was following me behind on the same lane. Last I knew a white zen was. So decided to swerve in front of the bus. We were safe. But then reduced speed bus reduced speed further.
The 120kms to Dalkhola took 4 hours, thanks to an accident at Islampur, two trucks had collided head on, fog was to blame.
From then on we had a fast run till Malda, after having "Breakfast" at Kishangunj at 10:30.
From Malda there were two or three stoppers till Moregram. The reason was mostly some political activities in the areas.
From Moregram we decided to take the Bahrampore route till Calcutta. Dad likes this route, as the distance is about 70kms less. I did not like this route mainly because the surface has generally always been bad. Someone told Dad that the surface was, now, good. But as it turned out, the surface was not a problem, countless crowded areas, enroute, was.
There was a big jam at Krishnanagar. Then there were the level crossings.
We reached home pretty late, moreover for this short route, we had to drive through Kolkata to reach home, the expressway route is closer to home.
Lesson learnt, expressways rock, even if you drive a few more KM's you drive fast, you dont stop, you dont tire.
So this was the end of a 5 day escapade. Did not anticipate it to be this good or exciting, but turned out very sweet. However it was very very hectic for my Parents, but they actually liked making the most of the 3 days my sister had. Moreover Dad had fun with a Scorpio mHawk on the way back.
There wasn't much in it isn't it?!
Here you go!
Last edited by 1100D : 6th March 2010 at 00:52.
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