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Old 9th June 2019, 21:12   #961
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by digitalnirvana View Post
Hi gents I am looking for advice, as we will be making a trip to Darjeeling around the end of the month.
Any inputs would be of much help.
@digitalnirvana
Sharing some thoughts which may or may not be useful for you!

Suggest you pick up the rental car a few hours in advance to your actual time of travel. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the car, it's functioning, judging it's extremities etc. You may want to run a check on coolant levels, oil levels, spare tyre condition & tyre pressures for all the wheels. Get to know where the jack, handle , wheelwrench etc are located inside the car, so that in the unfortunate case of collecting a puncture , you will know where the essential tyre changing kits are kept. Do top up the windscreen washer reservoir too. And keep the manufacturer's helpline in an easily accessible place for easy reference.

Our friend D-Bhp'ian, Samba, has already detailed the route for you, so there's nothing to add there. Fuel stops are aplenty en route and you shouldn't have any issues topping up. Apart from Azad Hind and Moregram BP outlets, there's an IndianOil COCO outlet within a kilometre or so after Malda's Golden Park hotel, where the restrooms are quite clean.

The initial stretch of Botolbari-Dhantola route is narrow with jagged shoulders. Although you shouldn't be facing much oncoming traffic in the early hours of the morning, it's better to be aware of the "edge" should you need to drop two wheels off the road for any reason. Also before the last 200 metres of the Botolbari-Dhantola, where the tarmac abruptly ends, there's a small lane on the left going through Dhantola bazaar which you should take to reach the highway.

If you are familiar with hill driving techniques, then it's fine. Otherwise remember that "uphill traffic gets right of way" in the hills always. Toot your horn around the bends and keep and eye out for the tourist sumo's and Mahindra's , often driven in a "kamikaze" fashion on the slopes of the Rohini hillclimb.
For standing starts in the hills, do use the handbrake judiciously and minimise clutch slippage.

The recently opened Margaret's Deck tea lounge, by Goodricke, is an excellent place to sip a cuppa' and munch on some snacks. It's 7to8kms after Kurseong.

Most important, relax, take it easy, enjoy the drive for a wonderful trip.

Last edited by arjab : 9th June 2019 at 21:15.
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Old 11th June 2019, 18:11   #962
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by digitalnirvana View Post
Hi gents I am looking for advice, as we will be making a trip to Darjeeling around the end of the month. ... Any inputs would be of much help
In addition to what Samba and arjab have suggested, please keep an eye on the weather forecast. The monsoon is likely to arrive in this part of the country within a week from now. As you will be travelling with a kid, be prepared accordingly.

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Originally Posted by sayakc View Post
As far as I remember, I did see machinery standing idle(on the North Bound left flank), but no men. ... But one thing I can add, now, even trucks are plying through the "One Flanked" bypass
Indeed. In fact this time I saw both man and machine are working on the Malda bypass, although not in full swing! Here is a video of the Malda Bypass from our drive in the first week of June:

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Old 17th June 2019, 11:14   #963
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Just back from my East Sikkim trip on Saturday. Everything else is as expected, East Sikkim seeing a lot of pre-monsoon rainfall since May, and it's harvest time along Botolbari-Dhantola and they have laid out pulses and corn husk all along the road and thus one has drive a little more carefully to avoid riding on the pulses. But in the end, traffic or no traffic Botolbari-Dhantola always takes more or less the same time, with a difference of a maximum of 15 minutes at dawn.

Regarding the Dhantola exit on to NH31, one must not try the main exit anymore, I usually always went that way because twice my XUV got stuck in the narrow lane to the left from the TOTO stand, and I had to get down and ask the motorised van drivers out from a shop to make way for my car. But this time, due to storms and rains in the region, the main exit ditches are full of water and mud and I found a sedan badly stuck in a ditch almost sunk in the muddy water. A Bolero was trying to pull it out and trucks were queued behind it.

Then I found a local small car drive into the petrol pump to the left just meters ahead of the exit, this far any car can drive, and then from the petrol pump it took a mud track to the highway, followed that car and found this exit to be the smartest.

But on the return leg, found the pump owner to have blocked that exit with logs, but cars could pass, and I asked one of the pump operators, about the logs, they said that they were allowing small cars, but even large trucks were taking that route and that would have destroyed that mud path completely, thus the logs.

One more note would be Raigunj, I reached Raigunj on May 30th after a local storm that fell many trees, and Raigunj was completely blocked, the civic volunteers diverted small cars into the Raigunj town at the fork and I had to ask some locals, and they directed me to a much better route through the town and over a bridge that gets you past all the trucks and out of the narrow stretch of NH34 through Raigunj and was on NH34 again ahead of all the trucks. Google was also suggesting this route as alternate route via Kulik road, but I ignored it, since from experience, Google has led me so many times into such narrow lanes everywhere, ranging from Deoghar, Bhagalpur, Bolpur, Puri and where not, that I usually prefer not to follow Google anymore.
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Old 17th June 2019, 15:57   #964
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalnirvana View Post
Hi gents I am looking for advice, as we will be making a trip to Darjeeling around the end of the month.

Please could one of you be kind enough to let me know how to plan the travel (route, petrol pumps, pit stops, and any essentials I should be aware of) so as to reach Darjeeling by around 4 pm the next day (ie around 16 hours).

Any inputs would be of much help. Thanks
Few points from my side from my recent trip to Darjeeling apart from very helpful and detailed posts from other Bhpians

- Bardhaman to Moregram stretch is quite good in terms of road quality. However, please be alert as there are quite a few speed breakers of considerable height that require cautious dealing. You can take Rampurhat route merging to Moregram if you do not want to deal with those many speed breakers. That route would be longer though. I took the Moregram route while going and took NH34 via Baharampur-Krishnanagar while returning.

- Just after crossing Malda bypass and after crossing hotel Golden Park, there is an under construction flyover work going on. Do NOT take the left lane of the underpass and instead take the right channel. I got stuck by following a truck and 4x4 Thar on the left lane and it was the most sore point of my trip as the stretch is filled with lunar sized craters where my Ertiga got stuck and I had to drive inch-by-inch to come out of that situation.
Just one point to add is the guys at Hotel Golden Park were courteous enough to keep our meal ready on time after taking our orders over the phone when we were crossing Raigunj.

- While crossing Botolbari - Dhantola route try to avoid crossing during peak hours specially on Sunday as local bazaar (haat) occurs on every Sunday. I learned the hard way round and got stuck in Rudel crossing for about 1.5 hrs with complete mess all around including loads of cows and goats and not to forget about other chaotic traffic

- If you are climbing up the hill for the first team, you can try the following route
Sevoke - Kalijhora - Bhalukhope - Mungpoo - Rishi Rd - Ghoom - Darjeeling
This route has very less downhill traffic and the surface is newly relaid as well. I took that road from our hotel Mount Milestone in Sevoke Road in Siliguri and with sedate driving and lots of photo breaks took just less than 4 hours to reach our hotel in Darjeeling. While returning I took the Rohini road.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Moun...380422!3e0!5i1

- We stayed at Hotel Golden Heights Enclave in Darjeeling which one of the few hotels with a decent covered parking provision within the building. The hotel is a small boutique bread and breakfast category housed within a compex and has excellent views. The hotel is situated near Sinclairs on Gandhi Road and is within walking distance from the Mall.
http://goldenheightshotel.in/

https://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Rev...st_Bengal.html

- We got stuck in the (in)famous traffic jam after crossing Ghoom for the first day of our travel. However, with little help from Google and locals we could identify a bypass route which eliminates most of the jam if not the whole. Take the Jalapahar Cantonment Road which is within 500 metres before Ghoom Station. Take that route until you are faced with a fork - one going up towards Cantonment area where regular vehicles are not allowed. The second, a little downhill comes up just behind Peace Pagoda and merges onto Gandhi Road. You need to go down and join Hill Cart Road from there, and reach chowk area which is hardly 1 km from that junction. You need to take that route as Gandhi Road from there is one way with starting point being Chowk area.

- For travelling with family, I found the Reliance pumps to be the safest bet for toilet breaks with top notch cleanliness in most of the pumps. There are quite a few on either side of the road from Moregram to Siliguri. In case you are taking NH34, there are also Relieance pumps at Ranaghat and Baharampore and before approaching Moregram

Take your time and enjoy your drive with your family
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Old 17th June 2019, 16:32   #965
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Thanks @samba @arjab@gmhossain @subhojitb for the excellent pointers.

Unfortunately I've had to call off the trip for now, but who knows maybe someday I will! Thanks once again for taking the time to write your experiences.
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Old 8th July 2019, 08:17   #966
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

Undoubtedly, the Botolbari - Dhantola rural route which effectively allows one to bypass Dalkhola traffic mess, has made life easier for Kolkata - Siliguri drive.

However, the entry to this route from Dhantola-end can unsettle even a brave-heart. The lunar craters there have now turned into marshland due to Monsoon. One can skirt these craters by going through Dhantola market but Google Maps continues to suggest one to drive through this very marshland . Here is a time-lapsed video of the full Dhantola - Botolbari route which may be helpful for the newbie on this route:

Dhantola - Botolbari | Bengal to Bengal Road (June 2019)

Last edited by gmhossain : 8th July 2019 at 08:24.
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Old 10th July 2019, 12:46   #967
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

An important note :

The SH7 route is now currently close from 3 km North of Nagar to Nakpur. Siliguri bound vehicles have to take right either from Kuli or Sherpur ( 3 km North of Nagar ). The road from Sherpur to Khagraghat more via Jibanti is in horrible condition.
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Old 12th July 2019, 19:39   #968
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by gmhossain View Post
Undoubtedly, the Botolbari - Dhantola rural route which effectively allows one to bypass Dalkhola traffic mess, has

Dhantola - Botolbari | Bengal to Bengal Road (June 2019)
Very nice background music to the video @gmhossain. Is it a rabindrashongeet instrumental?
Never realized the dhantola route to be so picturesque, usually while driving on this stretch, one is too busy dodging the local traffic!
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Old 14th July 2019, 01:00   #969
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Default Re: Kolkata - Siliguri route via Dumka, Bhagalpur. Avoiding NH34

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Originally Posted by gmhossain View Post

However, the entry to this route from Dhantola-end can unsettle even a brave-heart.

Dhantola - Botolbari | Bengal to Bengal Road (June 2019)
The video is beautiful, I have dashcam videos of this stretch both in winter and monsoon, looks lovely, really.


On the Dhantola exit, I think I posted here but if not, then again, the usual route to avoid this is to take left from the fork where the TOTO drivers park their vehicles, many have mentioned that here. The other option is to, drive ahead braving the craters, but absolutely avoid the last few meters, and get into the Petrol Pump instead, and from there you'll find a mud track straight onto the highway. In June, I saw them blocking that path with logs, but were allowing private vehicles, upon asking, they revealed that the logs were for the trucks.

Last edited by themagicclicks : 14th July 2019 at 01:01.
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