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Old 10th October 2018, 00:51   #901
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Back from Siliguri, here is the report... to begin with, this ongoing repair work on the Farakka Barrage Bridge might be a boon to us who love to drive up North. But first will state the simple facts.

This morning when I jumped onto NH34 from the Botolbari end, it was around 8:45 AM, and believe me, hardly a couple of trucks or more, and the entire stretch right from Botolbari till Gajole looked like a stretch evacuated post a Zombie apocalypse, hardly any cars too, and to my disbelieve I drove from Botolbari to Gajole at regular speeds of 120 kmph ( wouldn't know the actual average ) , with nothing to even bother me. From Gajole began the truck queue, but the South bound trucks between Gajole and Mahdipur were parked occupying only one lane of the South Bound carriageway, and thus I could drive smoothly upto Malda Pathsathi, speed was of course reduced but could maintain decent speed and was at the Malda Pathasathi at 10:10 AM, surprisingly after Gajole and Mahdipur and till Pathasathi and a little further towards the Northern End of Malda, those were all the trucks that I saw, I am not sure if between Dalkhola and Raigunj more trucks are parked, but these were a few hundreds only upto Malda.

Malda as usual was congested despite only a few trucks to be seen, and it took a lot of time to cross the usual Malda traffic and post Malda began the denser queue of South Bound Trucks, Sujapur was entirely used up as a parking area, and since the South Bound carriageway through Sujapur is permanently under construction, the trucks were parked on the main single carriageway and thus had to do plenty o dirt riding shifting between the under construction lanes and the tarmac and its better to follow the local Bolero trucks for they know well the points where crossing over is easy, because at most points there are dividers and often the curb is sharp and deep and might scrape the base of all cars. Post Sujapur, Kaliachowk had the entire Left Carriage way used up as parking and there was no other option but to use the Right North Bound carriageway and the entire stretch between the Northern End of Malda and crossing the Southern end of Kaliachowk took abut 45 minutes, but didn't have to halt much anywhere, the South bound Truck queue ended right before the Farakka Barrage, and when I reached Farakka, it looked like a deserted bridge and they were allowing traffic from both ends at that moment, and it took me "9 minutes" to cross Farakka!!

Post Farakka the South Bound Carriageway was empty as expected but of course North Bound traffic was using it too now, I crossed Farakka at about 12:15 PM and then the massive North bound queue of trucks was to be seen. Right from Farakka's Southern Tip till about 10km North of Moregram, nothing but trucks, thousands of them, and the entire North Bound carriageway is taken up by thousands of trucks laying by, and more were arriving. Leaving a few voids like a few kilometers around Ballalpur, and a stretch between Farakka-Behrampur Toll Plaza and the Feeder Canal Bridge ( which too was deserted like in an apocalypse themed movie scene), the entire North bound carriageway is inaccessible to North Bound cars, BUT, since there are only a few cars on the road and buses seemed paltry too, driving I believe would be easy and smooth or rather better than on any given time on any given day when everything is back to its chaotic normal!

Overall, don't try driving by Farakka at night, it surely would be a nightmare between 5 PM and 7 AM and I think the best window to approach the Moregram to Raigunj stretch would be after 9 AM when the last few of the desperate trucks would have given up trying to cross, and of course before evening, when these thousands of trucks start moving again. But once again, during the day, I wish it was like this forever!

Last edited by themagicclicks : 10th October 2018 at 00:58. Reason: correction of innumerable typos
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Old 10th October 2018, 13:50   #902
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

I was eagerly awaiting your feedback Magicclicks and felt optimistic while reading the initial portion of the post.

However, when I read the quoted portion(below), it surely does not sound encouraging. From what I understood, it seems that the entire North bound stretch as you go from Moregram to Farakka (barring a few kms) is clogged with trucks and hence any one driving towards Siliguri would have to drive in the opposite lane. And I have often faced situations where the opposite lane/s too are clogged and it becomes an absolute nightmare.

And reiterating what you mentioned - after 5 PM, due to opening of truck traffic it is surely going to be challenging.

Also any signs of the Malda Bypass nearing completion? I think in one of the discussions Golam-da said it should have been done by October Pujas?

Thanks,
Sayak

Either way the situation does not look encouraging. We are travelling on Ashtami (17-Oct) and will update the thread accordingly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by themagicclicks View Post
I crossed Farakka at about 12:15 PM and then the massive North bound queue of trucks was to be seen. Right from Farakka's Southern Tip till about 10km North of Moregram, nothing but trucks, thousands of them, and the entire North Bound carriageway is taken up by thousands of trucks laying by, and more were arriving.


Overall, don't try driving by Farakka at night, it surely would be a nightmare between 5 PM and 7 AM and I think the best window to approach the Moregram to Raigunj stretch would be after 9 AM when the last few of the desperate trucks would have given up trying to cross, and of course before evening, when these thousands of trucks start moving again. But once again, during the day, I wish it was like this forever!

Last edited by sayakc : 10th October 2018 at 14:01.
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Old 10th October 2018, 14:04   #903
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Either way the situation does not look encouraging. We are travelling on Ashtami (17-Oct) and will update the thread accordingly.[/quote]

No, what I saw and what I think, is that, despite both North and South bound using the same carriageway, vehicular traffic is very limited and it actually is a breeze if you plan to approach Moregram sometimes after 8 AM I would say, better 9 AM. I saw very very few local cars on the road, maybe they are not plying along this route, because local means they would also have to return by that evening, and that would be a nightmare for them. So I believe if you time properly, it would actually be a smooth sail.

But be aware of runaway mini vans, I failed to mention this before, I had two lucky escapes on my way back, when some mini van, for whatever reason I could not fathom, when signaled by the police to leave the road and park, tried to make a wild turn around and escape and almost hit me, and I escaped a side hit by lucky reflex I must admit.

Yesterday I started from Siliguri at 4:45 AM and was on NH12 near Bardhaman at 5:15 PM so the time was just good despite several breaks for the infant ( 1 yr 10 months ) and I should have been home in another 2 or 2.5 hours, but due to the early Puja hype, entire NH12 was choc a bloc with traffic and then "O Kolkata"! ... i finally reached home at around 9:30 PM! So beware of the Kolkata timing instead

The trucks are being managed pretty well by the police, so you'll always have a way to drive along, there are gaps where you get to drive along the Left and then they'll guide you to the right and so on. Overall, pretty well managed I must admit.



Regarding Malda bypass, in May I had to get on that under construction Bypass and then take some underpass through some under construction section of it, and then take the Magalbari Road back onto NH34/27. It was all dusty muddy and under construction and locals were taking a steep mud ramp to get back into inner Malda, which they said was not what I would do since I wanted to go further towards Raigunj. so I had to ask the workers to remove the blockades, and allow me to drive along the under construction road further towards Mangalbari and then ask more construction workers for the clue and they showed me an underpass below an under construction flyover and I finally could connect to mangalbari, the rest of the North bound bypass was inaccessible due to deep trenches.

This time too, I saw few cars and bikes getting on the North entry of the bypass just South of the Hotel Golden Park, but I am sure they are locals and they would take some local route to get into Malda town.

Overall, it's still very much under construction and from the entry and exit point views I got, it's nowhere near serviceable anytime soon I guess :(

Last edited by themagicclicks : 10th October 2018 at 14:16. Reason: Added answer and corrected typos and some more observations added.
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Old 27th October 2018, 23:38   #904
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Status of Malda Bypass

Malda bypass is under construction and yet to be completed , however you can take the same during daylight hours and cross Malda in about 15 to 20 mins , thereby avoiding the route through the very congested city. A high GC vehicle is recommended , but any car can traverse with a bit of careful driving. The road surfaces on the bridges are yet to be laid and one bridge is not fully operational. However the main bridges over the river and the railway lines are complete. This status is as on Oct 2018.


I am enclosing a map of the route as well as a KMZ file that can be fed into a GPS. A video of the entire journey is also included.


MaldaBypass.kmz

Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34-maldabypass.jpg





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Old 28th October 2018, 01:15   #905
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Quote:
Originally Posted by DriveTrain View Post
Status of Malda Bypass

Malda bypass is under construction and yet to be completed , however you can take the same during daylight hours and cross Malda in about 15 to 20 mins , thereby avoiding the route through the very congested city. A high GC vehicle is recommended , but any car can traverse with a bit of careful driving.
WOW! I have seen the same entry point too which evidently was much different from what I saw and entered from in May,2018, but really, didn't expect such drastic development, the first 3 or 4 minutes of the video and its ROAD already, and what I drove on in May, 2018 was just dust!

That's really some positive news, super duper positive news!

The First bridge that you drive over, was where I "think" I had to take the underpass and drive towards another bridge and then take a left towards Mangalbari back in May.


Cheers!
Neelanjan

Last edited by themagicclicks : 28th October 2018 at 01:17.
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Old 30th October 2018, 13:11   #906
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Folks who have driven upto Siliguri from Kolkata during the kalipujo/Diwali week last years pls comment on any possible road blocks/diversions while passing through villages on account of festivities/chanda collection.



Also, can one expect for traffic traffic to be low along Farakka on Diwali day as it was on Dussehra day?


thanks
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Old 30th October 2018, 13:23   #907
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

An Update,
met a couple of drivers at the Mahindra Workshop yesterday, both from Malda and drives the Rexton of a Malda politician, both confirmed that personal vehicles are plying along the Malda bypass now but at times the civic volunteers block the entry and you have to plead a bit.

But what was more important is, that Farakka is now under heavy work and during the day it is taking about 1 to 1.5 hours to pass, they are letting a few more trucks than usual now, and are passing 25/30 vehicles in batches. According to them, it's now easier to pass at night, since they are not working on the Bridge at night. Anybody that could confirm this?

Last edited by themagicclicks : 30th October 2018 at 13:25.
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Old 30th October 2018, 13:27   #908
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

How much of a real difference does it make if someone avoids the malda- farakka route and goes via Bhagalpur? Actually I took that route to avoid the regular NH34 but that was long back (may be 7 to 8 years) so don't recall now. However that route was mostly hassle free except for the crossing of the Bhagalpur city.
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Old 30th October 2018, 13:40   #909
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Hi guys,
I just returned from Siliguri on 23rd october 2018. I started for Siliguri from Kolkata on 13th October. Roads are very good throughout. SH7 to Moregram stretch is in good shape but be careful if you have to drive during night time. Winter is a almost here, I faced dense fog on this stretch on 13th and it slowed me down. Just as you leave the SH7 and approach NH 112A, the road is in bad shape. Drove through the opposite flank of the highway while going. Just follow the other vehicles and everything should be clear. While returning, no such issues. Diversions are marked. Malda Bypass not operational. So I didn't bother going that route. faced traffic at Malda while returning at around 10 a.m. Very slow movement of traffic in Farrakka while going as well as coming.

Botolbari to Dhantola was Ok, road is in good shape. Didn't get caught for puja chanda while going. But was caught twice while coming (one they asked for Rs.50, I paid Rs.20.And another one asked for money by making up stories, I scooted by saying "I don't have change" and he let me go.) So drive cautiously during the festive season.
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Old 30th October 2018, 13:44   #910
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zappo View Post
How much of a real difference does it make if someone avoids the malda- farakka route and goes via Bhagalpur? Actually I took that route to avoid the regular NH34 but that was long back (may be 7 to 8 years) so don't recall now. However that route was mostly hassle free except for the crossing of the Bhagalpur city.
You will still need to navigate through Bhagalpur city, which is a pain, more so during the evening. I traversed through the route some 9-10 months ago and apart from the mindless city traffic, the condition of the roads inside the town was pathetic.

Vikramshila bridge was also in a pitiful state but after that, the route was fine. No other bottle necks except for Dalkhola crossing. Try not to cross this section in evening and you should be fine.

Regards,
Saket
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Old 31st October 2018, 20:22   #911
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Panda View Post
Hi guys,
I just returned from Siliguri on 23rd october 2018. I started for Siliguri from Kolkata on 13th October. Roads are very good throughout. SH7 to Moregram stretch is in good shape but be careful if you have to drive during night time...
Botolbari to Dhantola was Ok, ...
Red Panda's post pretty much sums up the entire route update. I have been through this route during my Sikkim road trip on more or less the same date as yours and fully agree with your update. Thanks!

The overall road condition throughout from Kolkata to Siliguri is good, in fact it has improved significantly over the years. The bottleneck at Kaliachowk is more or less sorted. Yes there may be occasional hold ups but the dreadful nature of Kaliachowk is absent.

While I was traveling towards Siliguri, the trucks were not allowed to cross the Farakka bridge during day time. This resulted in trucks lined up from about 1 km off Moregram till Farakka barrage on the Northward flank and after Mahananda bridge in Malda town (when the four lane starts) till about Itahar/Raiganj on the Southward flank. As a result had to take opposite flank from Moregram to Farakka barrage, but it was smooth cruising as well.

While returning during the day around 12 pm, I saw trucks were being allowed in the Farakka barrage, so there was no question of opposite lane driving and there was no major hold ups as well. I found crossing Malda town is more troublesome now, as the roads are not sufficient to take the load of traffic. Malda bypass would sort that out in the future as well. So, overall very happy with the state of the roads till Siliguri.

Only broken stretch in the entire journey are :
1) Stretch1

It is unavoidable

2) Stretch2

Avoidable through this

So, ~3km of bad roads in the entire journey
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Old 11th November 2018, 19:56   #912
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Adding an update from my last week's drive to Siliguri and beyond and back with my wife and our seven year old. SH7 is a delight to drive on barring two gigantic speed breakers in the initial stretch after Bardhaman. These are unmarked and low GC cars need to tiptoe along and over. The stretch right as you approach Moregram BP is bad with trucks kicking up dust around the craters. A few kms after crossing Moregram, I had an eye out for cues to take the opposite lane and it did not take long as entire stretches of the north bound flank was occupied by trucks waiting to be allowed ahead. Police volunteers are stationed at each junction to guide traffic and I was asked to keep to the opposite lane. Traffic slowed down considerably as we approached Farakka but kept moving and just when it seemed that we would get to roll past Farakka without breaking stride, we ground to a halt about half a km onto the bridge and there we stayed put for more than an hour. We were stopped again twice before we exiting the bridge and it took us about 90 minutes to cross the two odd kms. The surface of the bridge is being stripped down and small vehicles need to be cautious as there are awkward patches. We did not encounter any congestion at Malda as it was a Sunday afternoon. I was taking it easy with a child on board and it was already dark when we turned left onto the Botolbari-Dhantola route and let me add to the list of already issued caveats of avoiding the stretch at ungodly hours. It was not late when we did this stretch on our way up and I would have preferred to have done this stretch during the day. The fag end of this stretch near Dhantola is lunar and one can avoid that using the alternative Gearhead_Mait has suggested above. From Dhantola onwards its smooth sailing to Siliguri.



On our way back this Friday, I had already decided to break at Raiganj for the night since we were driving down from the hills and did not want to face truck traffic at Kolkata late in the night. That decision did the trick as we left the Raiganj tourist lodge at 5AM, enabling us to zip through a still sleeping Malda town. We were on Farakka at around 645, 15 minutes before the repair work for the day was to begin (7AM - 5PM daily) We inched along at barely double digit speeds but more importantly without being stopped. There are some diversions after Farakka while Kolkata bound but they are marked and we made good time to BP Moregram. The rest of the drive till Kolkata was uneventful barring which size Langcha to pick at Saktigarh


As noted by other route regulars, not many decent rest and dining options on the route. We stopped at Mango leaf at Malda on our way up only to leave when told that it would take more than 30 minutes to serve a simple rice dal meal. We met the same fate at Golden Park on the outskirts of Malda and this time we resigned ourselves to the delay and the overpriced meal. Found the tourist lodge at Raiganj to be VFM and the staff friendly when we stopped on our way back. They even kept a hot meal ready for us when we called ahead and requested a late lunch!


Supratik
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Old 11th November 2018, 21:01   #913
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

If any of you traveling via Bhagalpur, avoid Vikramshila Setu on Tuesday from afternoon till late evening because of Chhath Puja. In fact, Bihar would be crowded from ~15:00 hrs to ~18:00 hrs.
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Old 27th November 2018, 09:32   #914
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Few riders had participated in the Kawasaki Ninja Owners Group Ride and were riding varied bikes, KTM's, Multistrada, Tiger, RE's and they were pissed off in the NH-34 route, so suggested the only alternate available.

This route might not have worked on that day had they been on 4 wheels, 2 wheels helped them navigate in Vikramshila Setu.
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Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34-whatsapp-image-20181127-9.30.05-am.jpeg  

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Old 7th December 2018, 08:35   #915
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

The second phase of Farakka bridge repairing seems to have started from this week [1,2]. This phase will fix the expansion joints which require concrete work. This also means that no heavy vehicles (trucks) are allowed even during the night, until the work is completed (in around March 2019). The trucks are now diverted out from NH-12 at Morgram and at Dalkhola. So it seems that except for an hour that may be required for one-way bridge crossing at Farakka, the passenger vehicles will have field days in the rest of the stretch. The parked truck queues on the left carriageway are now expected to disappear. Of course toll companies are staring at huge losses!

Here are few related updates:

Malda Bypass:
Considering their dire financial situation, the HCC has now sold off entire Farakka-Raiganj highway stretch of NH-12 to Cube Highways, a Singapore based company [3]. So until the new company takes the charge, the opening of Malda bypass is likely to be delayed again!

The HCC is apparently also planning to sell-off the Baharampore-Farakka stretch. I wish they do it soon. They started collecting toll in this stretch in 2014. Still, they haven't been able to complete Baharampur Bypass in this last 4 years.


Krishnanagar-Baharampur:
This stretch has seen some progress in last one year. I drove through it in the last week of September. Except for Sargachhi-Beldanga-Rejinagar stretch, the work was nearing completion in the rest of the stretch. In last week, the new 4-laned Jugpur railway overbridge near Bethudahari, was opened to traffic. The toll plaza was also getting ready. So we may expect partial toll operation to begin for this stretch in next few months.

Road painting work has started (near Nakashipara)
Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34-20180920070251_23.54078_88.42848_1000050.jpg


[1] https://www.anandabazar.com/district...rpose-1.908408

[2] https://www.anandabazar.com/district...e-ban-1.909575

[3] https://www.business-standard.com/ar...2801110_1.html

Last edited by gmhossain : 7th December 2018 at 08:41.
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