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Old 5th April 2018, 09:15   #1
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Default The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

I was used to listening to an Old Khamoshi Movie Dialogue, “Woh Sapna hi kya jo na mum keen hi na ho?” which in English translates to “What’s a dream if it doesn’t appear to be unachievable?”

Thus started my Penchant years back and it got fresh fuel after the successful completion of the K2K Drive with the Team Duster India group. And then it got ignited with Fresh Air when I got an intimation from office that I need to avail leaves as part of Annual Shutdown. Thus began my serious exploration and chalking out the plan for the West to East Solo Drive.

It was a Poke from fellow team bhpian ARAY and a good friend Snehasis who were to travel to Tawang as part of their annual Family Vacation from Hyderabad and Bangalore respectively and wanted to see if I would like to tag along. Initially I was not very keen as I always wanted to touch NE of India when I can do the West to East or the East to West Drive at a stretch, but with the additional days of leave being available and a chance to complete the North(Siachen Base Camp), South ( Kanyakumari), West (Dwarka / Guhar Moti near Narayan Sarovar Lake) and Eastern most Motorable point (Kibithu) all in the same calendar Year – 2017 as a single driver.

Reeturaj has been a friend for some time and being from Guwahati has good knowledge about the road and route that we should take. Also, it was a blessing to know that he runs a Home Stay by Name Aprilla Lodge in Guwahati (Which eventually became my Launch Pad for the NE leg of my travel.

Planning started, waypoints marked on the map and serious discussions began somewhere in the month of November. Due to the vast experience of Snehasish, approached his den one day with the intention to chalk out the waypoints and sound out if the plan was looking feasible or am I just hallucinating? Our discussions used to start in the evening and stretched to late evening. By this time, Mrs Snehasish and Jr. Snehasish became parties to the conversation. We started using the terms like, 'now we have reached Orang and next we need to see if we can reach Dambuk', to this Mrs Sinha would give a loud applause, reminding us that we are still in Bangalore and on paper, we had reached wherever we wanted. Plans were finally looking feasible but with very precise timing and long hours of driving. This was definitely something I was looking forward to.

The way Points were chalked, I start from Bangalore and other than regular Bio Breaks and Food stops my next Halt will only be a Baroda the gateway for me to enter deeper into Gujarat. For Gujarat I had chalked out my Places of Interest and SomenathJi Temple was the first one to seek his divine blessing and move ahead. The way points in order of Visit were as below;

Bangalore(KA) - Navi Mumbai (MH) - Baroda (GJ) - Somenath Ji Temple - Sasan Gir NP - Bhuj - Guhar Moti - Dholavira - Jaipur (RJ) - Lucknow (UP) - Darbhanga (Bihar) - Fulbari (WB) - Guwahati (AS) - Kamakhya Temple - Kaziranga NP - Tinsukia - Tezu (AR) - Kibithu - Mangoldoi (AS) - Arwah Caves (ML) - Cherapunji - Mawlynnong - Dawki / Shnongpdeng - Tamabil 0 Point - Nameri (AS) / Bhalukpong(AR) - Tawang - Kolkata (WB) - Chilika Dhaba (OD) - Vizag (AP) - Ring Road, Hyderabad (TS) - Bangalore (KA).

As Per Google Maps it translated to close to 12,000 kms of driving, just how I wanted!

Since this trip was within 4 months of our Leh Trip so nothing major had to be purchased from personal and vehicle readiness perspective. Got the vehicle checked and serviced with a fresh set of Synthetic Oil from the Authorised SC and I must call out the untiring effort put in by Vinay the Service Advisor from Trident Renault, Mysore Road, who like last LEH trip put his best effort in ensuring that I do not encounter any down time and get stranded. Kudos to him and the Trident Mysore Road Staff who ensured that the vehicle was in top notch condition and there advise for me was to get the OEM Exide Battery replaced with a slightly better AH rated Amaron battery keeping in mind that the Car is now 3+ years old and I will come across very cold morning starts. The next thing I did was took the vehicle to the nearest Amaron Retailer who offered a good deal for the battery.

Vehicle Readiness Done! Now I need to pack some emergency / survival essentials if I get stranded on the road for whatever reason. And I followed the same list of items which I followed for the LEH trip and headed to Metro Cash and Carry and picked up all the items.

The days were fast approaching and I ensured to pick up the Arunachal Pradesh ILP(http://arunachalilp.com/index.jsp) and ensured to mention all the Districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Also managed to secure a Jungle Safari Booking (http://girlion.in/ForestVisitDetails.aspx) for the GIR National Park, which was in very high demand owing to the Holiday season for most kids.

Leg 1:

Literally speaking, Leg 1 of the trip was the K2K drive which I did in the month of July-Aug 2017 and my detailed travelogue in teambhp can be found here http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...nyakumari.html.
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Last edited by GTO : 8th April 2018 at 23:41. Reason: As requested
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Old 5th April 2018, 09:30   #2
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Leg 2:

The Day was set and I ensured to tank up the previous day evening (This is a practice I follow from a couple of years) as it saves a good 15-20 mins in the early morning rush.

The Route Map that I am to undertake!

The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu-w2e.jpg

Opening ODO

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Left Home at 7 AM on Day 1 and plan was to cover as much as possible before the sunset and try and move as closer as possible to Maharashtra Border. It was smooth sailing and my first stop was at a Restaurant very close to Davangere at about 10:40 AM. Traffic was moderate and I was able to maintain good speed. My Lunch Break was at about 2:40 PM, very close to the MH and KA Border. I reached MH and then onward got stuck in a huge pileup of moving vehicles (Close to Bumper to Bumper Traffic) on my way to Navi Mumbai and then Pune stretch. I made it a point not to take any breaks during this critical stretch and will take a break only after the highway opens up. Little did I know that it will be till I reached Sasunavghar in Maharashtra at about 11:30 PM. But then the place I chose, at Hotel Kathiyawad, was a true foodies delight even though it was only a Pure Veg outlet. The parathas I ordered and devoured on were one of the best I had till date!

It was a mistake, rather a BIG Fatty blunder!! Knowing that my destination was still far and I was in no mood to miss my Day 1 target. Pulled up all my anti sleep dotes that I had figured out in my years of driving and first it was Red Bull and then couple of chewing gums and that helped me significantly in ensuring that I reached my pre-decided destination of Baroda a good 1388 Kms in about 23 hours with breaks.

Checked into a hotel which was suggested by OYO based on my nearest location and the place was good with a decent parking. Had breakfast and crashed onto the bed only to wake up by 3:30PM, finished a quick shower and then headed for the nearest restaurant which would offer me small snacks and a tea! Must say that Baroda amazed me with the cleanliness and no Political posters even though it was the election fever going on. It’s unbelievable for someone coming from South and born in Kolkata! Before I moved out of Baroda it was treasure hunt time and had to collect few items in order to move to the next stage and then successfully completing the trip. I will leave this part for you all to guess.
In order to reach Somenath Ji Temple and then complete Darshan and then reach on time for the 9 AM Safari at GIR forest meant that I had a long night on the road for me. Left my Baroda Hotel at about 10 PM in the night after a nice and spicy Cheese Lapeti in-front of Sayaji Baug, must admit that the name was too catchy for me to get tempted.

My target to reach Somenath Ji Temple was by 6 AM and complete the darshan and leave for Sasan GIR by 7:30 AM (Max). I was able to reach Somenath by about 5:30AM with multiple breaks and a short power nap break which I took at a Reliance Fuel Bunk. And Reliance Fuel Bunk deserves a special mention for the hygienic condition of the washrooms, and I made it as my preferred Bio Break stoppages in the cross country run.

Completed the Darshan and was able to move out of Somenath by 7:10 AM. The roads in Gujarat are in general good and I had a nice surprise of sorts when I was travelling from Baroda to Somenath, when I was asked to Pull Over by Local Law enforcement. At first they wanted to know which state am I coming from and when I told Karnataka then they felt that I won’t be able to communicate in Hindi and after I did, they were like OK, so in SOUTH also they speak in Hindi! They wanted me to open the car and they would like to check, which was expected keeping in mind that I was roaming around alone during election time. But what surprised me was a camera man approaching with a camera and a big light, which I later understood was for taking evidence of the search. I appreciated the same and thanked the men in uniform to keep the state free of trouble for night travels!

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Had a very peaceful Darshan in the early hours and after seeking the blessings for a trouble-free drive which I have undertaken I quickly moved into the car and started towards Sasan Gir, where my reporting time was 8:30 AM for 9 AM Safari. I drove non-stop during this stretch and reached the parking spot by 7:55 AM. Gathered information about the reporting location and time and then moved on to a small eatery who was selling Onion Parathas and Chai, must say that I needed those! Finished my quick breakfast and moved back. Waited for a while and used this time for getting my camera readied and got into Safari dressing to ensure that I don’t swallow sand and dust. On presenting my Pre-Booked Safari acknowledgement and original Aadhar Card they issued me the Tokens and paid for the Gypsy and the Guide. This Gypsy and the Guide were all for me and was allotted Route#13 for the safari. On enquiring I got to know that the morning 6 AM Safari was not lucky enough to spot the State Animal and I felt that my hopes are even dim as I am going in later when the sun is Up.

After about 60 mins into the Safari, the Forest Guide asked the Driver to Stop as he noticed something and then to my surprise it was a Bike in the forest! On my inquiry I got to know that these are Forest Department People whose work is to keep following a Lion / ess on these bikes to ensure that they are not being harmed at, Kudos to their spirit and courage! After spotting the Bike, it was the turn to notice the Man who is using it and he asked us to move to a specific position stating that a Lioness is on its way and will cross that specific spot in a while. And as soon as we reached that Spot with my Camera ready I could see the 6-7-Year-Old Lioness walking along, but covered in the bush (Bad for my Camera), then suddenly came out in the open spot which was like hardly 15 feet from where we were waiting in the Gypsy, just to give me few seconds to take my shot. Considered myself to be Lucky and by then few other vehicles did come in as well to get sighting of such a magnificent animal in its wild habitat!

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The safari continued and sighting of regular Herbivores were frequent, as expected in any Indian Forest. Came back from the Safari and decided to have a little something before I start my long drive to Bhuj.

Restarted driving at about 12:10 Noon and initially the roads weren’t that great as it was through the villages, but once I reached the 4 Lane Highways, it was smooth sailing most of the time. I was nearing Bhachau and that is when I started enquiring about Hotel Accommodation at Bhuj and to my disappointment, I was unable to get any good leads. I decided to halt at Bhachau itself, which meant that the next day early morning I will have to start even early in order to complete Guhar Moti (Narayan Sarovar), Dholavira and then head to Jaipur. Since I checked in to the hotel early I used the extra time to spend a quiet time at the Hotel Lawn and then finished a quick Gujarati meal before calling it a day by 8:30 PM.

Plan was to leave by 4:30 AM, but i got delayed a bit due to delay in hotel check out formalities. And was finally on the road by about 5 AM and quickly made up for the lost time when I got open roads. Brushed past Bhuj and continued to my destination to the Western Most Motorable Point and little did I know that I would be crossing into a Wild Life Area (Narayan Sarovar Wild Life Sanctuary). The early morning setup was perfect to spot few animals including a couple of inquisitive Wild Dogs, who got interested in me when I stepped out for a second, but the biggest THING was sighting THE GIB (Great Indian Bustard) and I was able to capture it only in my mind as the camera / phone wasn’t ready and when they were, it decided to move ON! I also moved ON and reached the Spot which I had earmarked as a milestone for my west ward drive, and after a few clicks restarted my journey back towards Bhuj and then Dholavira!

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The drive was uneventful and I was Hungry! By the time I spotted a few shops it was about 10:30 AM and I stopped immediately. I asked for Nasta and the reply was you sit will get you packet nasta.. I was like, what is packet nasta? And when it came I did realise that it means a serving of Gathiya, Peanuts, Biscuit and Hot Tea. I was hungry and finished everything in a zippy and asked for more Tea (It was a very cold morning, indeed). After this I restarted my drive and my next stop was at Dholavira where I first had a Proper Gujarati Meal and then went for a site visit of the Dholavira Excavations. It was indeed something which I wanted to do from years to come, just to see how human settlements were thousands of years ago. It was a very overwhelming moment to learn and see how they cut out sandstones and built everything around to preserve each drop of Water and to think about how we modern people waste water in our everyday life!

The travel to and from Dholavira was through the famous White Sand area, which provided the perfect setting for a Black Car to be Pictured!
Target was to leave from Dholavira max by 4:30 PM and I was able to leave by 4:10 PM after exchanging pleasantries with the DCP of GJ Police and her family who were also visiting Dholavira. I presented a brief of my travel plan and she wished me well for the journey ahead and gave one of the Officer’s number to carry along, just in case I need anything in GJ. Thanked her for this gesture and left from Dholavira and felt quiet happy about my overall stay at Gujarat and its people.

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Last edited by Aditya : 7th April 2018 at 19:51. Reason: Spacing
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Old 5th April 2018, 09:38   #3
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Leg 3:

With the Western Zone Covered, now it’s time for the cross country drive in the shortest possible time and also ensuring that Safety is not compromised. My Plan was to avoid Night driving in Agra-Lucknow Expressway and also in the state of Bihar. In order to comply that I need to ensure that I reach Jaipur and take a break during the day time and then start my travel at the evening. The drive till Jaipur was uneventful barring a fact which I felt was funny. I was near Abu Road and suddenly I see that the temperature gauge, which was normally maintaining at 4 Bars, suddenly dropped to 2. And to reconfirm, that the air is cold, I parked the vehicle in a safe zone and jumped out to clean the windscreen (That’s another practice to get rid of sleep). I literally got a cold attack and jumped back inside the car to wear a Jacket and then step out again! Uneventful journey till Jaipur barring one more power nap break at a Toll Booth.

Reached Jaipur at about 7 AM in the morning and again OYO helped me to finalise on the place of stay based on my nearest location and it was a breeze to check in and then have a paratha before crashing on the bed! (It was 27 Hours on the road and slowly I was getting readied for longer stretches).

I was reluctant to travel on the Agra-Lucknow stretch in the night as I was well informed by HVK Sir that it’s not a safe place. I called my Local Family member Ankit, who stay in Etawah and he also advised me the same and offered me to come over to his place for a night halt and resume my journey directly for Darbhanga in Bihar. I gladly accepted the offer and reached the Agra Lucknow Expressway only to be stopped by Police. On enquiring I found that they are going to group few vehicles together and escort us to avoid any unpleasant incidents. Waited for a while and once the group size swelled to 20 the barricades were removed and we were escorted with a pilot vehicle and I haven’t seen a Police Pilot Vehicle doing speeds in triple digit, and I followed! Took the Mainpuri Exit and headed towards the location shared by Ankit and it was soon that I met him and headed to his Home. He had his mom prepare a homely dinner for me and it was indeed such a sweet gesture considering that I was on the road eating street food. I swallowed everything in a jiffy and went on a tour of his Rice Mill and of course his Super Tractor powered with a Power Steering and LED lights! Woke up by 4:15 AM and target was to leave by 5 AM from Ankit’s Home, which I did and was on the road to Lucknow.

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Drove this stretch non-stop and found a nice little push cart who was just setting up his shop in the morning for a Poori Bhajji with Hot Hot Tea. I moved along and next stop was after entering Bihar and stopped for lunch at a small roadside dhaba for Roti Saabji and Omlet. Uneventful drive till I reached Darbhanga and I was to meet another Duster Owner (For the first time) Bunty Bohra Ji (Who also happens to owns the famous New Mithai Ghar Sweet Shop). I was given a Warm reception by Bunty Ji and he took me for a round to show me a little of Darbhanga and its erstwhile Palace and the market area before taking me to his shop. Picked up food for the dinner and moved into the place which was arranged for me by Bunty Ji. With a Thankful Heart bid him good night and informed him that I would be leaving early in order to reach Guwahati after crossing West Bengal and he suggested me to take the route which will take me through a beautiful stretch via Sevoke Bridge and multiple tea gardens en route. It was a very beautiful route which he suggested and must be grateful for that.

Thank You Once Again Bunty Ji

He had informed me that the Fog will be nasty in the early hours till about 7:30AMbut I didn’t have a choice and decided to move along. But little did I realise that I would be taken through some of the most beautiful roads that I have travelled in, both in terms of scenery and also in terms of mud and slush when I had to take my Dusty into a River Bed which was being used as a deviation for a broken bridge. And I must mention that the fun I had during this stretch. Firstly, I had a small Whatsapp Group Running with close friends who were following my travel and also helping in staying focussed. I mentioned in this group that the river bed had slush and I had to engage my Low Range Gear box and also was using the Limited Slip Differential(LSD). And this group of mine went silent for a while as they knew that I had an FWD Duster and from did I get these extra kits!! And during this stretch I was being closely followed by a local Toyota Fortuner and I made it a point that I should cross the slush before he makes a mess out of it. And I stuck to my plan and moved out of the Slush without any drama post engaging the Low Range Gear and using the LSD… well all in my mind. And it was really fascinating to see that the Toyota got stuck in the slush and I would blame the driver and his skill more than anything else. And more so, since I later realised that it was a 4WD Fortuner and he got into the slush in 2WD mode. But then better sense prevailed and he was able to crawl out without calling in help from a Tractor which was nearby. Bad of me that I couldn’t take a pic during this time as I was too engrossed in driving out the challenging stretch.

It was a very pleasant drive otherwise and soon I crossed into the state of WB through roads meandering via the Green Tea Gardens and the morning sun rays making it look more beautiful.

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Paused for a while near Sevoke Bridge and finished a serving of freshly prepared Chicken Noodles and then headed for my destination of Guwahati. The entry point to Assam is the highway stretch under construction and there was a huge pileup of Vehicles but then I soon realised that the order of the day for Private vehicles is to take the wrong side and keep driving till you reach the Railway Gate. This was a moment which made me reflect on an old saying, “While you are in Rome, do as the Roman’s do” and so did I by driving in the wrong side. And after this stretch it was a breeze driving through the 4 laned roads of beautiful Assam. I was sharing my Live Location with my friend Reeturaj and he kept telling me that I am moving faster than he expected and I would be reaching soon to meet him and his family at Aprilla Lodge in Guwahati. But I guess he was equally eager to meet me as I was and I found him waiving at me from a nearby Café Coffee Day outlet with his Wife. After meeting and greeting exchanges I followed him to his home and which will be my first stop into the North East! I was tired after all the driving and I had to wake up early in order to reach Kamakhya Temple in the morning by 7 AM, so decided to retire on the cosy bed and keep the chatting reserved for the next day.

Last edited by Aditya : 7th April 2018 at 19:53. Reason: Spacing
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Old 5th April 2018, 09:40   #4
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Leg 4:

Woke up in the morning and got ready for temple visit, took critical updates from Reeturaj and headed straight for Kamakhya Temple. Was lucky to find a parking spot close to the temple complex as there are lots of people to misguide you in parking away from the temple complex. Picked up the mandatory items required for performing a Puja and headed to the temple. Luck helped me here as well and I was able to pick up from the last few special Darshan Tickets which were for sale but only for a limited time every day. In about 1.5 Hours I was able to reach the sanctum and sought her blessings for a successful trip ahead specially for the difficult stretch which is yet to be explored.

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My next destination was Kaziranga National Park but then it was for the next day and I had ample time for some more treasure hunt and a long chat with Reeturaj to chalk out way points and day-wise breakup of my POI’s (Point of Interest). And on hearing that I don’t have a planned stay in Kaziranga NP, he pulled all the strings that he could in order to ensure that I have a shed on my head for the night and a very comfortable one too at Bagori Lodge. Only when I reached the Bagori Lodge did I realise that Reeturaj has pulled all strings at his disposal to put me here. Why do I say that? Well the Bagoril Lodge was undergoing renovation and was closed for business and it was expected to be Reopened sometime later with a proper inauguration ceremony planned by the Owner, and here I was let in to use one of the Brand New Rooms and I was virtually their first Un-Official Guest! Here I met Mr. Alok who is a gem of a person and once he got to know that I am travelling far across the country and I badly wanted to hop onto an Elephant Safari, he ensured that in next 30 mins I got a confirmation from the Man in charge Mr. Pronob that he would put me across into one of the Elephant Back which has only 3 tourists, and I was on Top of the moon! I was to report at the Elephant Safari Point by 6AM and even though Bagori Lodge was hardly a 2 mins drive, I was wide awake and reached the site by 5:30 AM and met Mr. Pronob and had a warm cup of tea with him and had a hearty chat about elephants and overall Wildlife at Kaziranga NP, it was a very engrossing discussion and helped in understanding the diversity of flora and fauna a much better and the challenges faced for this ecologically sensitive piece of Land.

It was Elephant Safari Time! One more of my long pending bucket list getting fulfilled and it was only time that Luck would favour me in spotting an Endangered Single Horn Rhino in its natural habitat. And boy I got more than I had expected! Spotted multiple Rhino’s and the best was sighting of a Mother Rhino nursing her baby Rhino

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Spotted a Herd of Buffalo and a solitary Male Elephant, which I later got to know has been responsible for recent attacks on the Camp Elephants! Well on top of the most versatile 4X4 ever know to mankind the tall grasses and the slush proved no match to the Prowess of these gentle Giants. Time to get humbled by the prowess of Nature and move ahead in my journey to further East. Returned from the Safari and had my plan to head straight to Tinsukia for my night halt. That’s when Snehasis shared some pics and egged me to visit the One if its kind Hollogapar Gibbon Sanctuary, the only Ape Sanctuary that India hosts.

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It was a detour through some no roads and forest stretches dotting with elephant droppings and making it much more interesting and adventurous. Finally, I reached the Sanctuary somewhere around 2 PM and first look told me that I have reached way to late for the day. But then I have discovered a new art of convincing strangers in this trip and as luck would have had, they fell for my narration on my trip and a forest guide was keen to take e deeper into the forest via a railway line to attempt and help me spot the rare Ape! After walking in deep forests along with the forest guide for close to 45 mins he asked me to take position and keep my camera handy as he is expecting a big family of the Gibbons to cross overhead. And right he was, it was a big biologically related family which just crossed overhead and it was a moment to behold through my eyes as the light has faded significantly but I was able to capture a glimpse of these rare mammals through my Camera. It was time to thank and bid good bye to the Forest Guide but only after he showed me that there was a leopard very near to the track that we had crossed a while back and of course few broken tree branches indicated that the Gentle Giants did cross the path, making the forest trek a much more memorable and significant.

Time to move on and destination was scheduled as Tinsukia for my night halt and before I moved out of Proper Network coverage I used Make My Trip to complete the booking formalities at Hotel Royal Inn. The roads were challenging after I took the detour for the Gibbon Sanctuary and it continued to challenge me till I reached Tinsukia, but then nothing out of the world which Duster couldn’t handle. Reached Tinsukia at about 8:20 PM and completed the Check-in Formalities and decided to have a Chicken Meal and call it a day as the next day I move onto Arunachal Pradesh the last frontier for my West to East drive.

Last edited by Aditya : 7th April 2018 at 20:23. Reason: Spacing
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Old 5th April 2018, 10:02   #5
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Leg 5:

This was the most challenging phase of my drive and as always I had planned for an early start for the day and left Tinsukia by 4:45 AM, destination in mind was Kibithoo, little did I know what was waiting for me. Google map showed me a distance of 350 odd kms and a journey time of about 10 Hours, which according to my calculation was good enough due to my early start. Reached Dirak Gate, the entry point for me to Arunachal Pradesh and after validation of ILP and scrutinizing the Vehicle Documents I was let in to drive into the Beautiful State of Arunachal Pradesh. First few kilometres upto the Golden Pagoda at Namsai and a little beyond is a beautiful piece of tarred road via Alubari and Tezu. This is where I decided to take a stock take and I couldn’t find a better place than stopping at an Army Booth to check the road condition. This was the first time where I had come face to face with reality and was told that Kibithoo doesn’t look feasible as a destination and there isn’t anything enroute and I should have stocked up on water and food and be prepared for extreme cold and of course tank up and fill the Jerrican as getting good quality fuel could be challenging. Without wasting any more time after thanking the Men in Uniform I proceeded to the Indian Oil Bunk, which surprisingly also had provision to accept Credit and Debit Card along with PayTM! Tanked up and did my customary Windscreen Clean-up before proceeding towards the Road Ahead.

This is the stretch which not many have travelled and is kind of the Unknown Frontier with typically not much known about either the roads or for that matter anything else apart from being one of the remotest places of India. Mentally I was all ready to stay on the roads and had survival essentials to last me for 4 days which included Drinking Water food and other knickknacks. Started driving through the tar road section immediately after crossing Tezu and was wondering that so far the roads have been more than that anyone would have expected and was pretty confident of touching Kibithu on the same day and probably touch Tezu back before the night or worst case I will reach Hayuliang. I have heard about Inexperienced dreams, but little did I know that I will get a taste of it very soon. The Black express kept chugging and I was gaining in altitude and after about an hour’s drive I realised that literally speaking, there isn’t any road that I was driving upon but a path made by landslides and numerous water falls. But the view and the twisters were something any Driver would love. I soon caught up with an Army Convoy with a white Safari and a Scorpio (DL registered) and of course dozens of Trucks and Gypsies to the hoot. And when they stopped at a very sharp U turn I didn’t lose a moment to cross the entire convoy and move ahead and parked my car. That location was a real beauty with the Blue waters of River Lohit and a very soothing green cover of the Evergreen forest.

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I was monkeying around with my phone and DSLR when I saw a lady coming out of the Safari and heading towards my direction. I kept busy with my antics and then realised that she was standing next to me and was busy clicking as well. After a while she introduced herself and requested if I could take a pic of her in her camera. I obliged and quickly asked her to return the favour and then post a little discussion and an introduction with her father (he was in his Uniform) I narrated my story and what am I looking forward to achieve in the day. Mr. Sharma (father of the lady, I didn’t ask her name, dumb of me) was very upfront to let me know that it’s not feasible to achieve that by road and I would be able to cross Hayuliang by sometime after noon and post that it will be prudent enough to find a place to halt for the night and of course there isn’t any hotel around so I should be prepared about it.

I thanked him and the Army convoy for the hot cup of tea which they provided during this discussion and bid them good bye. Other than the challenging roads and beautiful scenery there wasn’t much to write home about till I crossed Hayuliang at about 12 in the noon. Without wasting much time here, I kept moving and while crossing a small village near Qunboo I realised that reaching Kibithu is no possible as it was already about 2 PM and the lights started fading. That’s when I chanced upon a small group of Men in Uniform meddling with some sort of things which looked familiar to this IT guy. I stopped the car and walked up to them and gave a debrief on what I was aspiring. They agreed to my new found wisdom that Kibithu is beyond reach for the day and I would do better not to think of camping alone on the road as it will be chilling and might chance upon few wild animals. With this word of caution, I put the ball back on their court seeking suggestion. They were unanimous that there isn’t anything on my route and only if I am ok to take a deviation can they suggest a place called Hawai. My first reaction dumb reaction was, Hawai! In India? And when they told me that it is indeed and I have to meet the DC and seek her help to see if she can put me across to any circuit house or anything else. That’s when a boy who appeared to be a student jumped out from a nearby hut and requested if he can come along with me to Hawai, as he studies in a school there and can guide me till there. I looked at the Army Engineers, who by then have fixed the repeater which was found to be faulty and gave me a go ahead for this option. I asked the boy, Pemang, to come along with me and what followed was non-stop chatter in good Hindi. He told me about how difficult the life is and more so because by nature the men do not work and its upto the Lady of the house to fend the family and to top it off there isn’t any fixed source of income and no real job that they can do. That’s when he disclosed the perils of having a greedy neighbour across the border and how they are manipulating the weakness of the locals to get their mind and heart share. Sigh! Only if the Indian Politicos and Governments work for the people without greed can they ward of this peril of Opium Cultivation in AR!

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We reached Hawai after crossing a humongous cable stayed bridge across the River and post that it was very sharp and steep climbs which lead us to the Hawai District Headquarters. It was already about 3 PM and my first target was to go and meet the DC at her office, so that’s exactly where I had asked Pemang to guide me to and after waiting for a while I was allowed to meet the DC. So it was a repeat of my narrative and she sounded very interested to help me out. First thing she asked me was to give her a written application and in the mean time she did call her secretary to check if the Circuit House is available and inform the caretaker that a guest is going to move in shortly. It will be injustice if I say that I was pleased, I was rather over the moon to know that I have a shelter over my heads and I will get a cooked food. After the formalities of letter and approval process (Had a very unique experience about how I got the approval so easily without paying a single pie from my pocket! But then that is not to be disclosed over a public forum, keep your imagination running).

Armed with the approval letter I headed towards the Circuit House and dropped Pemang near his School and by this time I was getting a bit anxious as I started feeling something rattling under the car whenever I crossed a rough patch, which was obviously all the time. After dropping him and on the way to the Circuit House I did find an abandoned Car Service Centre with a Concrete Ramp to inspect and wash the underbody of a car. But then my first target was to reach the Circuit House and get the letter handed over. Completed the post man job and informed the care taker that I will be back as I need to examine the underbody of my car. Went to the place where I saw the ramp and aligned my vehicle and lifted it up so that I can take a walk underneath and inspect in the already fading light. I was lucky to see that it was only the bolts which has come loose of the metal Engine Guard and with the toolkit I was carrying along it was a 5 min job to be back fit and fine!

Headed back to my abode for the night and first job was to transfer the videos from Dashcam and get myself freshened up as the good soul at the Circuit house was busy making a hot cuppa and dinner for the hungry traveller. All this while I was in a t-shirt and a very light jerkin fit for the southern plains. After a while I came out of the wooden room only to run for my life inside the car to dig out all the warn clothes that I had packed. The care taker broke into a laughter seeing my plight and said that he was expecting this reaction and didn’t want to spoil his chances. Now I understood the reason why on earth was this place called Hawai! No brownies for guessing as the name itself conveys the meaning. Had a warm dinner and decided to call it an early day by 7 PM and target was to leave from Hawai by morning 5 AM, to which again a smile crossed the lips of the care taker warning me that early mornings are very cold and I will do better to wait till the day break. I didn’t have a choice as my days were numbered and by any and all means I need to be back to Tezu at least after visiting Kibithu by End of the Day. Woke up early and the realised that the biggest torture that you can throw at someone will be to complete the morning rituals with the ice cold water

I was able to reach the car and was ready to leave by 5 AM and that’s when I realized that I didn’t choose the best parking place and allowed the engine to be left exposed to the chilling winds. With prayers in my lips I reached for the keys and tried to crank the engine and it refused, Damn! I did a bit of pumping of the accelerator pedal and kept the keys to ignition position and stepped out of the car and opened the bonnet to use the rubber bulb and pump it a couple of times. Stepped back in to the car and cranked the engine… and guess what? It cranked and settled into a regular diesel clatter that I was so used to. It was now time to move on and reached towards the gate to open it, and that’s when the caretaker came out and gave me a warm smile which suggested that yes man, you did it! You woke up early and got the car started and ready to roll. Thanked him for arranging everything and continued on my way.. Mission Kibithu!

Kept chugging and it was soon day break and for some reason I was doing much better than the day before on the rough terrain and occasional sighting of the “Mithun”.

The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu-img_20171222_11293101.jpeg

Had a quick drive and crossed across numerous bridges and water crossings to reach a place which Welcomed me to the Eastern Most Road of India

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Had to stop for a few clicks and this is when the vistas became more and more sublime and absorbing. In one such place I just got down from the car to click a few and by the time I headed back I could see that I have spent more than an hour!

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I was shocked and literally had a brain freeze when I saw that its already 9AM as per my One Plus 5 and due to some reason I looked at the car dash to see that it’s about to be 7AM. That’s when I realised that the One Plus detected its Motherland and decided to switch the IST for CST. Stopped the Automatic Time Zone selection on my phone to restore normalcy and started driving towards the last frontier that I so badly wanted to reach. After a few more active landslides and sharp climbs I was looking at a board and when I looked at the rear view mirror I realised that I didn’t have a wider Grin in many years, why? Well see the next picture

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Got down and clicked and then it was time to move ahead to meet the men at the Check-post. The surprise on their face narrated that what I have achieved is accomplished by a rare few in a Car! Spent some more time and was offered water and tea from the Army camp and it was about 8:20 AM when Kibithu was done and Dusted, and yes mission West to East, Accomplished Finally!

Now starts my return journey from Kibithu, which I couldn’t accomplish in a single day as per my initial plan, but this time around I was well versed with the terrain and my target was atleast reach Tezu before day break. Took a pause in a very picturesque location and finished my simple brunch comprising of Puffed Rice and Spicy Mixture, some dry fruits and a hot cup of coffee prepared in car. It was about 9 AM when I was done with this entire process and was ready to hit the road for a non-stop ride.

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And non-stop I did, till I chanced upon 2 bikes parked next to a Bridge and 1 of them beaming a KA registration plate. I couldn’t stop myself from getting down and have a quick chat and that’s where I met Abhi Surendran, a mighty traveller and his friends. As I later got to know more about him the more I was amazed of his travelling prowess. More power to you on all your future Travels!

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After a quick snap and some general pleasantry, I was back on my way down and my next stop was at Tezu for refueling at about 4:30 PM.

And yes I did forget to mention my lost chance of fame when I crossed a DL Registered Ford Ecosport from the opposite direction near Salingam and in my mad rush didn’t get to check the mighty occupants of that car which included the Human GPS Kumar HV Sir as the navigator and Ajay a Limca Book of records Holder, who were also on their road trip to Kibithu

After refuelling at Lohit Agencies in Tezu I decided that it’s still good time to push and reach Tinsukia and I marched along with the new vigour of achieving the Target and now attempt tis to make up for the time loss of the previous day and hence a stretch target to Tinsukia. Everything was as per plan and I took a brief halt for a much deserved food break from at a restaurant near Namsai. It was about 5PM when I had a well-cooked Arunachal meal and even though it was dark I continued to move ahead. But then if everything goes as per plan then what’s the fun?

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I was very near to crossing back in to Assam near Naodihang Bridge a little ahead of Dirak Gate when a Road Blockage made my smooth sailing to a grinding halt. Apparently this was a politically motivated 24 Hour road blockage and I was asked by the protesters to go back. I parked the car out of harm’s way and went to speak with the local guys to understand what’s the issue. I was informed that they are protesting to be “Liberated from India and be allowed to merge with China! “ I was taken aback! The traveler spirit in me didn’t take even a second to ask for help, I started narrating my travel plan and sought their help in finding an alternate route as I won’t ask for them to allow me to go via the closed route, in order for me to reach Assam. During all these discussion, I sensed couple of guys who were willing to help me out and quickly grabbed the opportunity and took out my phone and asked them for the alternate route that I should take. Atleast they were helpful in this aspect and helped me with milestones for the altered route that would see me pass through some forest stretches devoid of any road and of course devoid of traffic.

With all the required information in my kitty, I started walking back to my car and there I see 2 CRPF gentleman waiting for me. The first interaction originated from one of the men under a mask asking me if I am from Karnataka and I answered to the affirmative, post which all conversation started in Kannada. And a brief of that conversation was that they were surprised to see that they were actually helping me to chalk out a different route as they are known to be stubborn. I informed them about the new route that I was to embark upon and whether it would be safe for me to continue as per their wisdom. I was much relieved to hear a Yes from them but with a word of caution that the suggested Path will take me through some serious bad forest roads and night time isn’t the best. But looking at me and my vehicle they asked me to continue. I thanked the CRPF guys and also those few local guys who helped me in finding this alternate route and continued on my course. With the mighty Kibithu conquered no roads were bad enough and with this new found belief I continued and found myself in a unique situation after a good 2.5 hours of driving. I could see a good 4 lane highway with adequate vehicular movement but don’t seem to find a way to connect there. Reason? I was now driving on a narrow stretch of land which separated the agricultural land from a long stretch of water and to be precise the width is almost similar to the width of my Duster!

It was pitch dark and with no one in sight I had to continue going on this thin strip of land, till I chanced upon a Man walking through his field. I quickly stopped the car and sought his help on how to connect to the highway and guess what? I was told that I have taken a wrong turn and this road will take me nowhere and I need to turn around! Now in this narrow stretch how do I turn around? The best option was for me to engage the reverse gear and drive watchfully without either falling into the water or the fields which was like 5 to 7 feet below. I continued on this reverse mode and after a while I found a place which was slightly wider and was my best bet for turning around with a 3 point manoeuvre.

I did my best not fall off the road and was able to turn around and continue on my way back for about 2 kms where I indeed saw another road which was to take me to the 4 laned highways. And I was just about to touch the highway when I spotted a Closed Checkpost. Stopped my car, got down with the permit related documents and the man on the other hand was stunned to see me on this road at this time of the night! After explaining him my ordeal and checking my documents I was let OUT of the check post to cross over from AR to AS and of course the beautiful 4 lane Highway! As I was back on the highway and was cruising over the Dhola Sadia (Dr. Bhupen Hazarika) Bridge I was just hoping to reach the same hotel where I stayed 2 days back in Tinsukia. Without any further drama I was able to check in to Hotel Royal Inn, Tinsukia. Ordered for a Chicken Meal and finished a quick shower. By the time I hit the be it was about 10 and I had a very pleasant sleep and now its no more a rush but a slow paced travel that I am looking forward to.

Last edited by Aditya : 7th April 2018 at 20:23. Reason: Spacing
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Old 5th April 2018, 10:25   #6
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Leg 6:

As per my original plan, I was expecting to reach Meghalaya and spend a quiet Christmas maybe at a camping site near Dawki, but as per the legend of this trip, I had No Bookings and of course I was unable to get any prior confirmation of night stay in Meghalaya, so time for a plan change. Reached out to Reeturaj and sought his advice and that’s when he suggested to explore the culinary side of Assam at a place called IORA The Retreat. And I must admit that the Foodie in me was looking forward to such a treat. I wasn’t disappointed and ordered Patot Diya(River Cat Fish cooked in Banana Leaf Wrap) and Gahori Pura (Pork grilled over fire); which felt so refreshing to my Bengali taste buds.

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After satisfying my appetite and still no confirmation about stay in Meghalaya, the plan was changed to have a stopover at Guwahati and yes, you guessed it right. I was back at Aprilla Lodge which was quickly arranged by Reeturaj and I was given an offer to meet his family and his friend Dr. Nitu’s family who were out and are on the same stretch of highway on their return to Guwahati as well. Without any hesitation, I agreed and meeting coordinates were shared. It was a quick meet and lots of things to discuss. Dr. Nitu, a genuinely good human being and a Doctor, turned out to a very resourceful person and due to his involvement with multiple NGO’s operating out of Meghalaya he had good connections as well.

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So attempt for my stay in Meghalaya got a fresh boost. It was planned that I start tomorrow early morning from Guwahati and cover Arwah Caves, Cherrapunji, Mawlynnong, Dawki and Tamabila 0 Point.

Stuck to the plan and left from Guwahati at about 5 AM and my first planned stop was Arwah Caves a drive of good 4 Hours. Must admit that the Roads in Meghalaya is a dream to drive and soon I found myself nearing Umiam Lake View point at about 7 AM. Took a brief halt and satisfied the shutter bug in me as the fog and low lights made it a look like a scene out of any Hollywood movie. Kept chugging and I reached the entrance of Wah-Kaba Falls at about 8:30 and it was time to satiate my growling Tummy. And it was indeed the perfect place. Did a clean sweep of the Bread Omelette and a cuppa and quickly moved to the entrance of Arwah Caves. Was pleasantly surprised to know that I was the first guest for the day and I have to wait for a while before the ticket counter opens. Well it wasn’t long and neither was I complaining as the view of the evergreen forest around was very soothing to the eyes. Took the tickets and moved into the underground caves and was pleasantly surprised to see the untouched by jazzy lights (Unlike Borah Caves near Vizag) path which took me down into the land of stalactites and stalagmites with an underground river flowing through. After trekking inside the cave I headed out to the bright sunny day which was waiting for me to explore the land of Meghalaya. Next destination was Cherrapunji. Any boy I was mighty disappointed from the fond memories I had of the beautiful and wet Cherrapunji that I had visited as a school boy.

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Roamed around a bit but I found it overly commercialised to my liking and headed towards my next destination Mawlynnong, a 2.5 hours drive. But then when you come across a small food stop looking over the valley at a very picturesque spot what do you do? Pull the car over and have an early lunch! Had the biggest momo in my life which was good to fill a tea saucer! (PIC) Finished my early lunch and moved quickly to Mawlynnong and it was beyond my expectation that the place will be so crowded. Luckily I could find a spot to park and started walking down the stairs of the Cleanest village in Asia

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Must admit that even after the chaos of the regular tourist the place itself was very calm and serene and gives you a very calming effect with its Bay leaf trees and other huge trees all around. Soaked in the atmosphere and decided to move after a while to the Living Bridge which was at about half a km from my current location. Took the car and headed towards the Living Bridge and was able to spot that the there is a good amount of tourist here as well and most of the tourist vehicles were parked on the road. On enquiring how far is the place, I was told that if I decide to take my car (an off road trail) it will be about 700 metres and if I decide to walk it will be like 500 metres. I decided for the former and good that I did. After the last point where you can take your vehicle you still need to trek for about 3 metres through tricky pathways to reach the living bridge. It was indeed a nice experience and spent close to 30 mins there chatting with a budding author who was launching her book from this very location.

Even after all attempts from all quarters I was not getting any good news about an accommodation somewhere near Dawki and that’s when Romel Kumar, another Duster Owner settled in Bangalore but with strong roots in Meghalaya came to my rescue. He was able to find a guy who has set up a new camping site at Shnongpdeng a little further upstream from Dawki. But then I was informed that the location is very remote and the accommodation will be very basic and so would be the food.

I kept moving and it was the overly crowded Dawki which looked poised to become the next Cherrapunji in terms of tourism overtures! It was Christmas eve and enjoyed the Christmas carols and long processions that were taken out by the local residents. Once the crowd cleared a bit the vehicles were allowed to move and I found myself on the way to Shnongpdeng. Reached the spot which was shared with me and I was to meet Kiman who manages the Camp Site. Even in fading day light at about 5PM it was pretty clear that this an unspoilt piece of land with a humongous cable bridge which I need to cross over by foot in order to reach the camping site. Perfect recipe for a relaxing and out of the bounds camping. Parked the car at the designated place and carried my sleeping bags and other nick knacks and trotted on the hanging and swinging Cable bridge which will take me across the Wah Umngot (River). This was the kind of camping experience that I always wanted to experience and I couldn’t thank Romel enough for getting this arranged in a zippy. Spent sometime chatting with Jamie a UK National and 2 college guys from Maharashtra who were also camping at the same site. It was dinner time and after a quick grub of rice, dal and sabji it was time to retire for the day inside my tent and fall asleep amidst the sound of water flowing and chorus of hedge crickets or other similar insect.. It was indeed a very relaxing way to fall asleep and I didn’t have a clue of what’s happening till it was about 6 AM in the morning. Pulled the zip open and the first experience was WOW! Is this where I stayed ?

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Criss Crossed the ever swinging Cable stayed bridge and was lucky to find a shack where I asked for a tea and asked if he has anything for breakfast. He offered me a Guhar Meal comprising of Rice and Stir fried Pork which tasted so fresh in that cool morning. It was time to have a boating experience and already figured out that the Camp Site Co-Owner also has a boat and he offered me to take on a boat ride on the most transparent water body that I have ever come across. The 2 college guys were also looking for a boat ride and asked them if they would like to hop in for this experience and as I guessed, they were more than happy to join in. The boat experience was a different experience with crystal clear water allowing me to explore the underwater animals with naked eye and also with the action cam which I threw in the water tied with a rope in my hand. Its one experience that everyone who loves the off-beaten track should experience.

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The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu-panaromic.jpg

It was time to move on and my previous days 1 missed location, Tamabila 0 Point was the first point to visit on the X-Mas day. It was fun to step in and out of the No Man’s Land and see the people and vehicles of Bangladesh at an arm’s length.

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After taking few snaps it was time to move and the destination for me was far up Nameri where I was supposed to halt for the night and start the next day for Mission Tawang (The last destination for my trip). Again my man Friday, Reeturaj was able to pull few strings and was able to put me into N Palky Camp, Nameri. It was a very secluded place and mobile signal was not available most of the time, now this was a challenge for the first time in this trip. I was expecting to meet Snehasis and his family who had already crossed in West Bengal and was heading my way and then subsequently head towards Tawang together. I called it early that night and woke up late as I had nothing to do apart from waiting. Headed out of the camp and after a brisk walk was able to get mobile signal coverage. Got connected with Snehasis and figured out that it would be impossible for Us to leave for Tawang today.

Spoke to the Owners of N Palky camp, who by now was in awe on listening to my travel, and arranged for a stay for Snehasis and his family and for myself in the Camp for another day. Plan was to move out early morning and head to Tawang via Bhalukpong. It was in the evening when I met my friends and we all had a very relaxing evening around the campfire. Plan was to start the next day at about 5 AM. We all woke up early and was ready to roll at about 5:30 AM. Crossed into Arunachal Pradesh again at Bhalukpong and after mandatory Permit and other document checking we were allowed to move ahead. But a little ahead we were stopped by BRO team and asked us to wait as the road ahead is closed due to landslide and it won’t be till 7AM that we would be allowed to move. We were disappointed but then that’s expected in this terrain. The BRO guys spoke to someone and decided to let us move and asked us to be watchful of landslides and bad roads. We kept moving and soon was greeted with the official Land Slide wherein we could see that the road ahead is closed and there is no way that our vehicles could cross over.

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That’s when we spotted a JCB Moving from the opposite direction and we were quick to head towards the JCB operator and seek his inputs on how long we need to wait. He looked at us and then our vehicles and told us that that he will make the road blockage flat and if we can cross over those rocks and debris then we can move now, else it will take at least 1 hour to make to road open. We took our chance and asked him to give us a signal on when we should attempt to cross over. And hardly after about 15 mins he gave us a signal to try our luck. As Snehasis has an AWD Duster, it was unanimous decision on who will attempt it first. Without much fuss the AWD sailed through the pile of rocks and it was time for me to emulate the same in my FWD. Maintained momentum and was watchful of the path that my wheels were to trod and I was able to sail through without much fuss as well. Phew! Kept moving and we encountered multiple road blocks till we reached Tenga. We stopped at Tenga for breakfast and that’s where we were informed that the road ahead is without any further landslides and it was just the news that both of us wanted to hear. It was a memorable drive to Tawang via the Sela Pass where we encountered rough roads and dry ice on the snow as well as fresh snow and we cherished the scenery of snow clad mountains like kids in an ice cream factory!

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We reached Tawang at around 8:00 PM after numerous stoppages due to our childish zeal for the snow cad lakes and mountain peaks.

The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu-img_20171227_12321801.jpeg

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We checked into Hotel Whitehouse run single handed by a super-efficient lady Sonam. It’s a basic accommodation with running hot water and wooden flooring to keep the occupants warm. First Priority was securing our parking spots and ensuring that the engine area is not exposed to the chilling winds (learning from my experience at Hawai). It was an uneventful dinner as it was a Veg Day in Tawang as per their weekly calendar and we had what was available. Our plan for Tawang was cut out and it was an early start at about 5 AM and first place of visit was Tawang Monastery which will be open early as per the discussion we had with Sonam.

Last edited by Aditya : 7th April 2018 at 20:23. Reason: Spacing
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Old 5th April 2018, 10:59   #7
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Leg 7:

Morning 5:00 AM and all of us were ready and eager to leave, for me today is the last day of my memorable trip and I would start my downwards journey after completing the Tawang Circuit. We had a cup of warm tea prepared by Sonam and we told her that we will be back from the monastery and Buddha Statue for freshening up before we move out of Tawang and she accepted the deal gleefully. Visited the Monastery and offered our silent prayers and then a quick visit to the Buddha Statue and we were back to the hotel by around 6:30 AM.

The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu-monastery.jpg

We freshened up and then our destination was the War memorial which again highlighted the extreme sacrifices that our men gave in these extreme terrain! We were out of the War memorial by around 7:30 AM and it was planned that we will drive together till a little before Rupa and then we split as I continue my downward trip and Snehasis and family proceeds towards Eagles Nest and continue with their Birding Trip.

The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu-vista.jpg

Both of us had a crazy drive down the mountains and it was about 2PM when we reached the Y Junction from where we are to split and I continue on my solitary journey towards the mainland. And this is when I felt that the interesting drives are over and it’s going to get boring. But then little did I know what was in store for me courtesy Google!

After taking the deviation I went towards Rupa and I moved on the path as shown by GMap. After about 30 mins into that stretch I realised that this was not a road frequents by Men or their vehicles and it was really a narrow stretch of Mountain roads and with active Landslides all around. I trusted GMap as it has been with me in throughout the trip and proceeded as navigation unit command. After driving for about an hour and more I came across a spot which had a water crossing and a board put in the middle of the road asking not to venture in the waters as its Deep. Stopped the car, pulled the zippers and converted my full pants into half and got into my rubber shoes and pulled out a long stick which I had in the car. The best option to gauge a path is always by taking a walk across before dipping your tyres, and I followed it to the hilt! Walked the path and I realised that with slight caution my Duster will wade through. Removed the board and crossed over the water crossing without any drama and then got down from the vehicle to restore the warning sign as it was before I ventured. Continued on my route as per navigation and after a while I could spot a very wide highway which was much lower in altitude and I was high on the mountains.

The navigation unit egged me to take the path ahead and it is expected to merge with this highway. Like an obedient student, I kept following till I came across a cliff and all I could see was the highway running below and my car on top of the cliff. Got down from the vehicle wanted to do a land survey, it appeared that there is trail which will take my duster down, but the incline is so steep and filled with loose soil that if needed, I won’t be able to climb back with my FWD Duster. Started walking down the steep incline to check if this downwards trail will connect me to the highways and to my satisfaction I found that It will once I climb down and cross a small rocky patch. And interestingly I had the energy left to make the steep climb Up and within a little gap I was down with my Duster on the Highway stretch. Now google map kept showing me that I am very close to International Border and I got a little worried whether I was still in India or did I cross over! Kept moving on the highway and after a while I spotted in a distance some Army vehicle convoy was moving towards my direction and in the state of mind that I was in driving on the international Borders, I was wondering if its Indian Army or otherwise.

Luckily after few seconds it was confirmed to be a BRO Convoy and I jumped out of my car and waved at the convoy. A gypsy pulled over and asked me about my whereabouts and from where did I come in order to land up on this stretch. I explained and pointed to the cliff from where I descended into this highways, to which they gave me a look of disbelief but told me that if I continue on this stretch I will eventually reach Mongoldoi. The greedy traveller that I am didn’t find it odd to ask if there is any Fuel outlet nearby and a place for me to eat. Both the questions were answered to the affirmative and I thanked them for their inputs and continued on my journey, which I later got to know was the under construction Trans Himalayan Highways. It’s a very good surface which is getting built and I am certain that once its commissioned for regular usage the livelihood of the far reaching areas of NE is bound to change by leaps and bound.

Continued on my drive and after about 20mins or so came across the Newly opened Fuel outlet and I tanked up for safety and the city dweller in me couldn’t hesitate in asking if they accept CC or PayTM. And guess what? They did neither! Moved on and after about another 30 mins of picturesque drive I came across a small hut which had a board in English stating that it’s a restaurant. Without any hesitation I pulled over and walked into the the hut and asked if there is any food available and I found the Owner Lady to be hesitant and told that only Momos will be available and I was overjoyed, but then she came back and told that it’s not chicken but Yak Meat momo. To which the hungry traveler in me said Please bring it on. Had a plate of Yak Meet momo and asked for an Omelette and a cup of tea.

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Wiped of everything clean and moved on. Due to 1 day extra unplanned stay in Nameri I was behind my schedule by a day and it was time to rush. And rush I did. Left Tawang at Morning about 7 AM on the 28th of December and kept driving non-stop till I reached my Calcutta Home the next day at about 7 PM in about 36 hours with breaks and a visit to the Renault Service Centre near Berhampore for a Brake Pad replacement, which I felt has gone a bit weak during my drive down from Tawang. But then I made it a point for a stopover and a small power nap at a place called Jhajangi in the middle of night for a Dal Tadka.

For all you Highway on My Plate lovers, this is a must stop place. It’s basically a truckers’ haven with all sorts of quirky things available from Notebook, Rice, Dal, Oil, Rope, Tarpaulin and what not. And did I say that this place has a huge facility with running water for refreshment and provision for you to rent beddings and sleep. Was literally amazed at such an arrangement made without any govt intervention and running for years. Thank you Snehasis for suggesting this quirky and functional place for a mid-night stopover! T

he Locomotive kept chugging after a short power nap and refreshment break and then it was a fun drive amidst the thick fog that West Bengal had laid out to receive me in style. Well the roads leading to Farakka are in total shambles and those planning to take that side do factor additional time and effort to cross these stretches.

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Had a session of Poori Bhajji just as I entered Bengal and that kept me going through the day. And I still had few biscuits and puffed rice to keep me going. It was about 2:30PM when I reached the Renault ASC near Berhampore and after a quick chat with the Service Manager he put in his weight to get me back on the road in flat 30 mins after a brake pads change and bleeding of the Brake oil with a top up. He also offered me a complimentary Car Wash, looking at the Unwashed state of my car.

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I thanked him but declined the offer as it has become a practice now to Wash the car only after I complete the trip, and for that I need to reach my Bangalore Home. Nothing extra ordinary than the regular traffic that you can expect on the highways passing through West Bengal and there wasn’t any indifference. I kept driving till I reached Shaktigarh and it was a must stopover for me for the legendary “Langcha” and other deep fried Bengali delicacies.

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Carried over a few for my folks back home in Calcutta and it was about 7PM when I parked the car inform of my Calcutta Home. One of the longest non-stop drive that I have undertaken covering Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and West Bengal.

I took a planned break of 2 nights and completed more of my treasure hunt with a visit to the culinary delicacies of Calcutta and of course a visit to the Dakhineshwar Kali Temple to seek to Thank for the blessings and pray for my safe return to Bangalore.

Fish Fry at Basanta Cabin!

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Dal Pakodi near Hatibagan!

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My initial plan was to start from my Calcutta Home and take a stopover at Vizag and then to Bangalore. But the Tawang to Calcutta non-stop instilled in me a lot of Over Confidence and I attempted to do this stretch without any Break or Halt. I stuck to my plan and this was a known stretch for me as it was only last year that I did this stretch to gauge my readiness for the solo drives that I had planned for 2017. The GQ was exceptional as usual and with the introduction of GST the long queue of Goods vehicles at interstate borders are from a bygone era. I had started from my Calcutta home after having breakfast and the next food stop that I took was at the famous Chilika Dhaba.

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Since I had a long drive ahead of me, didn’t indulge into filling myself rather had a light food and then kept chugging. It was about 7PM when i came across this mammoth IOL COCO Outlet (Google + Code F3CM+JC Bandhatalanuagam, Odisha) on the other side of the 4 lane highway. Looking at the enormous facility I didn’t hesitate to take the U turn and fill up the tank and also the much required refreshment. I would strongly suggest anyone travelling via this stretch to take a refreshment break here, the facilities are beyond expectation including a provision to Self-Cook and decent Rooms to stretch your legs.

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I didn’t do either of it and rather moved out after a short 15 mins break and kept chugging.

At about midnight I crossed Vizag City and was still feeling fresh to continue driving. And continue I did throughout the night and my next stop was for breakfast at Gowri Shankar Family Restaurant(Google + Code M275+f4 Kalaparru, Andhra Pradesh) and the Vada and Dosas with the red Tomato Chutney was just too good. Took a little longish break as it was about 8 AM and I had been driving for about 12 hours with couple of Bio Breaks in between. Restarted my journey down south and the I had planned this time to take the route via Hyderabad Airport to Bangalore instead of the Tirupati stretch as I was certain that during this time of the day I would encounter heavy traffic and I will get bogged down in the single lane state highway. My Next stop was at Hyderabad Outskirts at a restaurant called wifi Bawarchi A/C Restaurant  and ordered for a serving of Mutton Biriyani and Chicken 65. Washed it off with a can of Red Bull and resumed my journey from Hyderabad to Bangalore. I was doing good time and post lunch I resumed at about 2:45PM.

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Normal driving should take me about 7 hours but then I had Wings! Crossed Anantapur at about 6 PM and there was coffee shop where I took a 30 mins break for refreshment. Restarted my last leg and crossed the Bangalore Airport Toll, now it was home stretch for me and I parked my car at the basement at about 9:30 PM to the much relief of my Daughter and Wife! A distance of 2141 kms from my Calcutta home to Bangalore Home in about 36 Hours with all breaks and fuel stops included. Not bad, considering that the fastest Train Duronto Exp takes about 30 Hours from Howrah to Yesvantpur and local travels from and to the railway station extra!

Closing ODO

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A Well Deserved Cleanup the next Morning

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1) Trip Planner and Way Points with Planned vs Actual Drive time

Way Points and Milestone Tracker.pdf

2) Fastag Report on Tolls Paid


Last edited by Aditya : 7th April 2018 at 20:23. Reason: Spacing
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Old 6th April 2018, 09:59   #8
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th April 2018, 12:07   #9
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Since I was among the first to poke you about this trip, let me be the first one to congratulate you once again for such a humongous planning and execution. Must say the planning phase was very interesting and glad I could contribute inconsiderably. Great roads and cars have made things much easier now .
Beautiful narration and some great images. Sorry to hear that your DSLR pictures had issues. We will discuss offline to see if that can be fixed. Keep travelling and sharing such beautiful experiences. Rated 5*.

Since you mentioned you don't believe in washing your car during a trip , so do I.
Long live TDI !
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Old 6th April 2018, 12:25   #10
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Wonderful naration and photos, i will be in touch with you soon for North east roadtrip. Do you have 110 PS??? Also please shed more light on LSD and Low Range Gear??
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Old 6th April 2018, 12:53   #11
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Oh my goodness!! 12309 KMs solo. Hats off to you, man! The title of the thread is perfect indeed. One crazy bong you are. Takes herculean guts to even contemplating such a solo trip.

Apart from adventure, this was also a culinary trip, I would say. Thanks for the pics. A special mention for the Duster too. Didn't let you down even once. Kudos!!
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Old 6th April 2018, 13:43   #12
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Wow, a fantastic travelogue. Happy to see that the Duster performed the way we owners expect it to. Hope to do a similar trip to Leh and another one Arunachal Pradesh in the fourth quarter of 2019. Your travelogue has provided a lot of information. Your long drives are legendary; such as the Kolkota to Bengaluru. Keep up the travel. India is a large country and there is always another place to go.
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Old 6th April 2018, 14:28   #13
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

This is superb. How do you manage not to sleep on long lonely night drives? Frankly, I havent done any so I dont know how it feels, but yes its a dream to one day drive from Mumbai to Langza in Himachal.

A wonderful read indeed. Keep travelling bro.
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Old 6th April 2018, 18:09   #14
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Thumbs up re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Great!! Doing all 4 in a year!
I was closely following your Leh Ladak trip.. And this is tops it since its solo - especially the last 26 hrs journey!

Hope to join you for future trips!!
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Old 7th April 2018, 06:36   #15
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Default re: The Crazy Bong goes to all the 4 Quadrants - Siachen, Kanyakumari, Narayan Sarovar & Kibithu

Thanks for the encouragement countrymen!

Originally Posted by invictus View Post
Do you have 110 PS??? Also please shed more light on LSD and Low Range Gear??
Yes its a 110 FWD, well.. none of those exist physically

Originally Posted by prince0407 View Post
A special mention for the Duster too. Didn't let you down even once. Kudos!!
And i must say that these Compact SUV(?) format is the reason why i could travel the length and breadth of this country with such elan.

Originally Posted by SajiNSalin View Post
Your long drives are legendary; such as the Kolkota to Bengaluru. Keep up the travel. India is a large country and there is always another place to go.
Of course lot of unexplored places!

Originally Posted by Dieselritzer View Post
This is superb. How do you manage not to sleep on long lonely night drives?

A wonderful read indeed. Keep travelling bro.
Couple of tricks learnt over the years and the most effective ones are chewing gums, Red Bull and cleaning the windscreen. And singing aloud while you drive

Originally Posted by a_bharadwaj View Post
Great!! Doing all 4 in a year!
I was closely following your Leh Ladak trip.. And this is tops it since its solo - especially the last 26 hrs journey!

Hope to join you for future trips!!
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