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Old 28th April 2010, 21:59   #16
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Originally Posted by jaysmokesleaves View Post
Beautiful place and beautiful pics.
Thanks Jay.

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How safe is it for motorists from out of state ?
I felt pretty safe driving in Tripura. However, a truck driver from Udhampur, whom I had talked to on our way back, told me that if a vehicle (especially a truck) somehow breaks down in the deserted long hilly stretches and has to spend the night on the road, some locals (tribesmen?) extort upto 10,000 in the name of safekeeping of the vehicle.

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Are all the roads governed by timings ?
Nope. There were no restriction on movement in the West and South Tripura districts. In North Tripura too, the places like Dharmanagar and Kailasahar didn't have anything of that sort.

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Is tourist accomodation easily available ?
Hotel Rajdhani in Agartala which is located at a central place is decent. There is a Ginger hotel too. We had stayed at the Tripura University Guest House in the outskirts. The Government tourist lodges in various places of attraction (you'll find a nice list of those in the Tripura Tourism web site) offer decent accommodation at rock bottom prices but you need some luck to get their phones ringing. As of now availability of accommodation is not a problem.

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When is the best time(weather wise) to drive to Tripura
Mid April was HOT and humid. I suggest Sept-Feb for more pleasant weather. The downside : greenery might be less.

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Are any permits required for Indian tourists to visit specific places?
No permits, not toll taxes, no parking fees!!

Last edited by tortoiseNhare : 28th April 2010 at 22:01.
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Old 29th April 2010, 09:24   #17
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The weather was getting hot as we were going downhill and not far from the plains. Just when we thought the AC is to be turned on we saw this on the roadside.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040537.jpg

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We got down and washed our hands and faces with cool and clean water. Not so far down we sighted a river to our left. The road is now going through a well known landslide prone area. The river found its way down to the plains of Bangladesh to the right as we crossed a bridge.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040544.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040545.jpg

Was that the Kushiyara river? The activity on the river bed on the Bangladesh side was war-like as captured by my wife with the camera. I presume, due to lack of other means of communication, all the trading activities take place on the boats.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040546.jpg

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The road condition meanwhile went from bad to worse. As we exited Meghalaya and drove into the Cachar District of Assam, NH44 became one huge graveled road with craters where many heavily loaded trucks were rendered hors-de-combat due to a broken axle. Our speed hovered between 5k-20k per hour till Kalain.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040549.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040550.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040551.jpg

It was already 3.30 pm, Karimganj was still 35 kms away and the road would be like this at least till Badarpur. It seemed Dharmanagar would not be possible before it got dark. We stopped for lunch at Kalain at a nondescript roadside eatery. The food (rice + fish curry) was surprisingly good. When we sat in the car again it was 4.00 pm. The car's odo was showing 24,816. So, till then we could do only 304 kms in as many as 11 hours.

Last edited by tortoiseNhare : 29th April 2010 at 09:26.
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Old 29th April 2010, 14:29   #18
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That water falls photo is mind blowing. So are those numerous boats. But what steals the cake is the lonely rafter on the catamaran. So poetic.
Man. I used to hate a subject in school called geography. Now I've travelled wide and far. I realised that it's not the subject I hated. It's the syllabus. They should scrap all those text books and use T-BHP travelogues to teach geography in schools!
Way to go tortoiseNhare. Amazing travelogue in the making!
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Old 29th April 2010, 14:49   #19
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Oh man, where is NH44? There is basically no road at that section. It's high time for govt to do something. Compared to the good roads in other parts of Assam, it's in very very bad condition.
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Old 29th April 2010, 17:01   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
That water falls photo is mind blowing. So are those numerous boats. But what steals the cake is the lonely rafter on the catamaran. So poetic. Man. I used to hate a subject in school called geography. Now I've travelled wide and far. I realised that it's not the subject I hated. It's the syllabus. They should scrap all those text books and use T-BHP travelogues to teach geography in schools!
Way to go tortoiseNhare. Amazing travelogue in the making!
Well said. I think this may be applicable to so many of us!, including me, off course .
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Old 1st May 2010, 13:15   #21
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@MX6 Thanks a lot mate.

@Kaushik_S
The common lame excuses for the poor roads: low lying area; all the rain water from the hills flow down the road etc.

@LongDriveLover
My geography had been poor and in schooldays I had no interest in it too. But the travelogues in TBHP have a lot to do in making me like the subject a lot now.

Continuing with the story ...

We had another 35 kilometres of dreadful road to contend with till Karimganj. My wife got tired of clicking from inside the moving car and so the last of the snaps for the day had already been taken. Before crossing the railway line at Badarpur (the metre gauge track that now connects Lumding and Agartala), NH 44 has a bifurcation to the right as NH 53 that leads to Aizawl via Silchar, the most important town of Southern Assam. After Kalain it took us almost two hours to reach the point where the newly constructed Karimganj byepass begins (odometer read 24852 there). All of us were relieved to see a wide, tarred and even road at last.

The time was 5.50 and darkness had descended. Common wisdom dictated that we should fall back on our plan B - spend the night at the hotel of the in-laws of a friend at Karimganj. But my car was loathe to take the broken road into the town and kept advancing along the byepass. BIL too was more than willing to bet on another couple of hours' safe passage through places perceived to be badlands near the Assam border.

Some time later I noticed that the parking brake indicator light of the car was switching on and off erratically and the speedometer was dead with the odometer stopping at 24860. There was no issue with power and pickup of the vehicle but I was a little scared. The road kept getting better but after Patharkandi and Neelambazar human beings had sort of vanished from the roadside. To my mind, already disturbed by the malfunctioning instrumentation of my car, not seeing people on roadside was scary and the isolated few seen were potential muggers waiting to pounce on us. Later on, I came to know that all my fellow passengers had similar thoughts.

Once we had crossed the state border checkpost at Churaibari into Tripura, the roads became WOW! Dharmanagar seemed not far at all. Dharmanagar was the capital city of the ancient kingdom of Tripura. It is about 15 kilometres to the north of NH44 from a place called Bagbasa. The road linking Dharmanagar to the highway is perhaps the best state PWD road I have driven on. We reached the town at 7.30 pm. We had a booking at the Juri tourist lodge run by Tripura Tourism Dept.

A few wrong turns later we were at our destination of the day. The lodge offered spacious double-bed rooms with good climate controlled AC, geyser, cable TV and safe parking space at just Rs.385/- which is indeed a steal. There was non-existent room service and the WLL phone of the lodge having been unreachable throughout the evening, we could not order for dinner in time. We went out after freshening ourselves up and had dinner at an el cheapo restaurant due to the lack of any other option. I was dog tired after 14 hours of driving and went to bed as soon as we were back in the lodge.
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Old 1st May 2010, 13:26   #22
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@HareTortoise - That scenics are awesome; somehow gives me a feeling of KL.
The road really looks dreadful, can't imagine people riding on two-wheeler & the ones without helmet sounds to me
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Old 1st May 2010, 14:13   #23
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Hare has gone in to tortoise mode on this travelogue.
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Old 1st May 2010, 14:19   #24
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Nice narration and beautiful pics. Looking forward to more on this thread.
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Old 1st May 2010, 14:41   #25
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Good travelogue. Very few people actually visit that side of the country. I remember we were stopped by the CRPF around the village of Mannu some 100kms out of Tripura if I remember correctly. We were told traffic is stopped after 6pm due to safety reasons. We reached the checkpost at 6.30pm, so we had to spend the night in the village with three cars, lot of equipment. Thankfully CRPF provided us some accomodation, but we politely refused and went to a small lodge.

Next day, the CRPF were kind enough to let our vehicles through with the ROP (Road opening party) vehicles under military escort which easily saved us 3hrs. All in all it was a pleasant trip into Agartala.

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Old 1st May 2010, 15:39   #26
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Default Dharmanagar, Unakoti and Kailasahar

We got up early in the morning. Dharmanagar town supposedly have some heritage temples from old times but we didn't have much info about those and our plan was to start early after morning tea and reach Agartala via Unakoti and the border town of Kailasahar. The ladies and the kid would take some time to get ready and so BIL and I went out to have a stroll in the township.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040553.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040554.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040555.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040558.jpg

There are many ponds in the town which were converted into fisheries owned by the Govt. The day was the Indian new year's day (Poila Boisakh) and I saw many makeshift meat and fish shops on the roadside. It seemed that a non-veg lunch was customary on that day on every household. There was some fresh live fish for sale in the counter of the fishery Dept.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040559.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040560.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040562.jpg

Here I was amused to see this interesting queue!

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040563.jpg

8.00 am. It was time to bid Dharmanagar a goodbye.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040564.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040566.jpg

The PWD road from Dharmanagar to Kailasahar passes throught picturesqe locales. Traffic was virtually nonexistent and it was a pleasant drive upto Unakoti.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040567.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040570.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040572.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040575.jpg

We reached the heritage site at 9.00 am. What we saw there was spell-binding. Unakoti means one less than a crore. The legend has to say that Lord Shiva, in a fit of rage, had got the 99,99,999 Gods (all except Himself!) turn into stone statues at that place. Thought the number seems to be a gross exaggeration, I could not count them out. The photographs just cannot do any justice to what we got to see there.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040576.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040581.jpg

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To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040585.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040586.jpg

Last edited by tortoiseNhare : 1st May 2010 at 15:47.
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Old 1st May 2010, 16:04   #27
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Amazing snaps !
I thought forests were pretty dense. But they look "light"?
Or my geography does not serve me right.

My first views to Tripura !

The state's one of most amazing gifts to the nation.
The dashing duo: SD & RD
Is there any Burman trivia out there?
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Old 1st May 2010, 16:22   #28
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Originally Posted by MX6 View Post
Hare has gone in to tortoise mode on this travelogue.
It was an interesting comment, till tortoiseNhare changed gears and got into rabbit mode! .

BTW. Nice snaps of heritage site there, tortoiseNhare.
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Old 1st May 2010, 17:15   #29
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Some more pics from Unakoti.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040587.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040588.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040589.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040590.jpg

Yours truly is dwarfed by the face of a God.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040594.jpg

As we came out of Unakoti this new visitor was seen standing there.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040597.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040598.jpg

We all were feeling hungry and hoped to have a good place for breakfast at Kailashahar. Kailashahar is a border town and the most interesting border point is the Archive Field. Before finding any eating place we ended up at the Archive Field. We however could not see any border fence there and were curious to spot the international boundary. My wife was a little late to come out of the car and she was carrying the camera. At that moment a gun toting BSF personal rushed towards us and politely and firmly requested to come a few steps back. We were actually standing on the no man's land! Thank God no photos were clicked. Otherwise the camera could have been confiscated.

Many years back there was a barbed wire fencing on the western side of the field as was evident from the standing metal angle posts. However the repair work of the fencing, though in Indian territory, is being objected to by the Bangladesh Govt. The objection if within 150 feet of the international border cannot be ignored according to international convention, we were told. The BSF personnel (who hailed from Bangalore) told us to drive another half a kilometres to the north to see the border fencing. He again requested us not to take photographs. This time we didn't comply with it.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040600.jpg

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Coming back to the market area we could spot this eating joint.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040606.jpg

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040607.jpg

The shop was doing brisk business too, surely because of the new year's day. It was past 11 Oclock by the time we had finished. We all loved the short stay at the town in some inexplicable way. The onward journey to Agartala got underway. First we had to get to NH44 at Kumarghat. We thought that the PWD road that took us to Kailashahar would lead to Kumarghat, perhaps correctly. But the road that we took, perhaps by mistake, turned out to be one narrow village road, which again was more or less in good condition.

To Tripura : A driving experience to remember-p1040608.jpg

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This was exactly the road described here (thanks Phamilyman)
My Big Escapade - Destination Unknown...: Day 39 - April 16 - Kailashaher to Melaghar

Quote:
Get going and ask around for Fatikroy and this road went into quite some villages and at one point the road got rediculously thin at like 4-5 feet! Wondering if i am on the right road and i may miss the convoy. After much asking around, i made it to kumarghat.
In fact though I boast about my Bengali to be above average, the dialect spoken there completely floored me and I guess I had half understood many of the responses when asking for directions. We reached NH44 at Kumarghat without any problem whatsoever.

Last edited by tortoiseNhare : 1st May 2010 at 17:27.
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Old 1st May 2010, 17:17   #30
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Boy, there's so much of North east that I've not known. Like a frog, I jumped from a well in to what I thought was an ocean. Now I'm stumped. What I thought as ocean was just a bigger well! There's always more to explore and one life is not enough. I now envy the astronauts even the rover machines. What's it like up there?
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