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Old 31st January 2021, 00:54   #1
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Default Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta

Introduction
A vacation with my family was long overdue, with me being away due to college and internships hogging up the semester breaks, and then came the pandemic. While COVID wreaked havoc throughout the world, leaving many in distress, I am grateful that it gave me a lot of time to spend with my family, before I move out, and onto my higher studies. After some failed attempts at a trip with bhpian MountainDeep, we as a family agreed on a vacation, and that too a road trip. Being the only motorhead between me and my parents, getting the approval for a such a long drive was quite a stretch. We narrowed down our destination to the mountains, but with the condition that our destination can’t have much elevation as we are newbies for the hills. With some disappointment I ruled out the common destinations. After some rigorous searches and travelogues (thanks to travelogues by bhpian haisaikat and bhpian gmhossain) later I fixed on the destinations of Suntalekhola and Paren. Took me a week to finish off the planning and all the arrangements for our trip with routes and hotels. Now I was just eagerly waiting for D day.

Day 1: Kolkata - Raigunj
We were late to leave home at 8:30 as the morning chills got us lazy. We faced moderate traffic till Bally Bridge. We stopped at Azad Hind Dhaba for some breakfast. Stepped on the gas till Bardhaman and we were on the way to Moregram after crawling through some traffic inside the town. The roads beyond Bardhaman were mostly with good with the occasional bad sections. We stopped (1 pm) at G S Filling station, Bharat Petroleum (good washrooms) for a break and finished off our packed lunch. The road was fine till this point. Thankful to MountainDeep for keeping tabs all the way. Father took the wheel till Moregram bus stop. The roads were ok with bad aprts and traffic, while the Moregram stretch basically was potholes. We marched onto Farakka, and crossing the Barrage was thankfully painless. Faced the usual traffic and pathetic roads at Kaliachak till Sujapur around 5pm. Crossed Malda via bypass in no time and were at Raigunj by 7:15pm. The roads between Malda and Raiguj had sudden potholes which I could not avoid, but our car took all the beating without a fuss. Took dinner and slept off early.

Day 2: Raigunj – Suntalekhola
The cold got the better of us yet again and we left the lodge at 8:30. A quick petrol stop and we hit the highway till Botolbari, with MountainDeep guiding us all the way.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0566.jpg
Fields on the Bengal-Bengal route
I am hoping that these stretches of highway expansion get completed soon. We stopped at Goagaon for some breakfast. The roads were patchy and it was difficult to keep a constant speed. The rest of the road till Dhantola was a breeze. Put the foot down on the highway to cover some time. Took right from Ghoshpukur to reach Fulbari by 12:30. Took a break for washrooms and set off. We cruised at moderate speeds to Gajoldoba and onto Kranti Police Fari. The forest and sights around us were just beautiful.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-inkedscreenshot-56_li.jpg
The revised route shown, and the original has been highlighted
Google Maps showed the road to Lataguri via Canal Road. 50m into the path, I realised there was no more a road. Turned around and came back to the Fari, but underbelly was scraped, clutch was under pressure and wheels were spun in that little time. Rerouted to Apalchand Forest- Kranti- Dhantola- Lataguri Road, which was also under renovation. The jouney till Kranti More Bus stop where we joined NH 717 was less than pleasing with bad to no roads, and a fear that our car will get stuck like some of the trucks we saw. It was a scenic drive through Gorumara National Park.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0572.jpg
Inside Gorumara N.P.
A stop was made at Chalsa for some road side momos. We navigated our way through Matelli and Samsing with tea gardens line both sides of the road.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0015.jpg
A photo break at Chalsa View Point
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0025.jpg
Tea leaves
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0576.jpg
The tea gardens
Darkness engulfed us with some rain as soon as we reached Suntalekhola Nature Resort (WBFDC). The roads here were good to ok, and some stretches were narrow. The climb here at parts had me worried, but was quite easy in reality. I was glad that we reached by daylight. We relaxed the rest of the evening. The cottages here have wooden interiors which lend it a spooky vibe. The meals there felt heavenly after a long day of driving.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0583.jpg
Suntalekhola Nature Resort
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0036.jpg
Path leading to the resort

Day 3: Samsing sight seeing
Due to lack of clarity on the internet regarding Suntalekhola “River camp” and “Nature Resort”, we had booked rooms in both places for consecutive days of 17 and 18, thinking they are different places. When we got there we saw that it was on two opposite banks of the Suntaley river, and around 100m by walking distance via the Suntaleykhola Hanging Bridge.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0029.jpg
Suntalekhola Hanging Bridge, Creta, River Camp seen behind the trees
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0034.jpg
Another view of the hanging bridge
Earlier the river camps were swiss tents, but since 2020 they have been upgraded to two cottages with two rooms each. The modernisation has been done very well, but the TV connection had not been recharged. We had to move our luggage between these two places first thing in the morning, with check in/out process for each. After this was done, we took a local vehicle an went for sight-seeing to Neora river dam, Rocky Island, Murti river view point and Mandalgaon Shiv Mandir.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0048.jpg
Neora River Dam
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0052.jpg
Neora River bed. My parents crossing it
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0058.jpg
Murti river valley from view point
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0067.jpg
Samsing Hanging Bridge
The rest of the day was spent lazily. We got to know that we were the only guests for that night, and the cooks even left for the Nature Resort where more staff was required. This resulted in us 3 being the only inhabitants in this sprawling area.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0082.jpg
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0085.jpg
Views of the river camp

Last edited by pu5han : 31st January 2021 at 01:47.
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Old 31st January 2021, 01:37   #2
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Day 4: Suntalekhola – Paren
The day started with a lovely walk along the trails scattered around the place. After breakfast we embarked on our jouney at 10:30. We had to refill air for the front right tyre (a recently discovered puncture) and moved on through the tea gardens to Kumai Murti Picnic Ground. Here we crossed a narrow bridge over the Murti river and joined the Khunia-Jhalong Road. Maps stopped working as we lost network coverage soon after leaving Kumai forest. We stopped at Gairibas to ask for directions. That is where we realised, we missed our first attraction – Dalgaon view point, and we turned back.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0090.jpg
Dalgaon View Point
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0606.jpg
Jaldhaka river valley, Jhalong in view too
The roads were narrow upto that point, but not much of a hassle. From this point we took directions from people, with assistance of offline maps. We crossed Gairibas again with our onward route to Jhalong. We took Jhalong Bindu Road as we wanted to keep driving along the Jaldhaka river. Here the roads were ranging from patchy to bad. We saw the Jaldhaka Hydel Power Project II and stopped at The RJ for lunch. The RJ is a fantastic place with food complimenting the fantastic view.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0108.jpg
Parents posing
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0613.jpg
Lunch at the RJ overlooking Jaldhaka river
We reached Paren Nature Resort around 4pm, and settled in for the night among the towering forest. The roads here are now constructed unlike the photos I had seen earlier. As bhpian gmhossain had mentioned, the updates by the government is remarkable. Even though these cottages look old, the facilities inside are UpToDate if not modern. The WBFDC cooks have managed to impress us in all the 3 places.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0118.jpg
A stream beside the resort
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0120.jpg
Paren Nature resort

Day 5: Paren – Chisang
After some tea at 7,we went to see Bindu Barrage, which happens to be another connection point to Bhutan, but it is not used. The road was broken at sections, but the drive was scenic.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0629.jpg
Panorama of Bindu Barrage
We stopped frequently to look around and enjoy the nature. After breakfast back at Paren Nature Resort, we started for Chisang. Since my parents were apprehensive of the upcoming elevation to Chisang, the owner of the homestay came down to our hotel with a driver. Our car followed the owner’s Alto upto The Wildwoods Homestay.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0651.jpg
The Wildwoods Homestay
The views here keep getting better and cannot be described with pictures nor words. We parked our car, kept our stuff in the room and left for local sight-seeing to Todey bazar, Indo-Bhutan River Camping and Tangta Monastery with a hired car.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0159.jpg
The road to Tangta
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0160.jpg
Tangta Monastery
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0163.jpg
Simana Khola. The river valley with Bhutan on the left bank and India on the right
The roads here were still being constructed, and a 4x4 was necessary. The beauty here is untapped and a plethora of homestays and farmstays are coming up. Dabai Khola and Simana Khola are two rivers here that join Jaldhaka, but are not shown on maps yet.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0182.jpg
Dabai Khola
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0183.jpg
River camping
The rest of the evening was spent lazily exploring. The homestay has its own farms and cattle. Everything there is purely organic and a treat for us visitors. Black whole cardamom is a widely exported item from the place. Chisang is set in the backdrop of Tendu Plateau in Bhutan.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0209.jpg
An attempt at stargazing

Day 6: Chisang – Siliguri
We woke up early to view a fantastic sunrise. The owner of the homestay told us a lot of stories and we could see the triborder of India-Bhutan-China from his place. Supposedly Doklam is just 21km by aerial distance.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0212.jpg
Sunrise from Chisang
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0217.jpg
Doklam as seen from the homestay
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0228.jpg
Tendu Plateau
After a hearty open air breakfast we were out on the road by 11. This time no driver was required and I drove the way down. We later realised that the apprehension for the incline was unnecessary. We stopped at Jaldhaka Picnic spot to have a quick look around.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0240.jpg
Inside Chapramari forest
This time we took the road through Chapramari Wildilife Forest and joined NH 17 and moved onto Siliguri via Damdim and Coronation Bridge. There was a 45-minute traffic line on Sevoke road before entering the city.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-_mg_0241.jpg
Coronation Bridge
We stayed at a relative’s place near Bidhan Market, for the night. We were struck with bad news that evening as my grandfather had taken ill, and appropriate arrangements were made to hasten our journey.

Day 7: Siliguri – Kolkata
We refuelled from HP – Bakshi & Palchowdhuy Gasolene which is my relative’s (cousin grandad) pump and started at 7. Dropped my mother off at Bagdogra Airport for her flight at 9:30 and we moved on with our journey. After crossing Islampur we met with heavy fog on the highway, but we kept up the speed. This time we took the Dalkhola route and the journey was smooth until we had to wait for 30 mins at the rail crossing. We carried on till somewhere in Shishai where we took a break. Here father took the driver seat. Had lunch at Banful Dhaba around 12pm. This time I moved to the back seat for some rest. We had tavelled just a litte when we came to a screeching halt. I opened my eyes to see a group of people blocking our stretch of the highway, there had been a bike accident not long ago. After about half an hour later we were allowed to go, when a vehicle could take the injured to the hospital. My napping trials went down the drain with the incessant honking, from Sujapur onwards. It was a slow pace till Sultanganj. I took the wheel after crossing Farakka. We entered Berhampore around 4:30 and the journey was fine till then. With father’s disapproval of night driving we moved on, as I wanted to be home by that night owing to my grandfather’s health (mother called later to inform us he was fine). MountainDeep told me the way via Krishnanagar and acquainted me with all the niggles. There was usual traffic at all the towns and except Krishnanagar where it increased tenfold. From there we took the Badkulla route to Ranaghat, where I had to deal with messy autos. Entered Kalyani around 9 and reached home via Kalyani expressway by 10:45.
Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta-img_0673.jpg
Total path traversed

I hope I could properly share my thoughts and experiences of this trip in writing, and I hope that you enjoy the thread.

Last edited by pu5han : 31st January 2021 at 01:58.
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Old 31st January 2021, 04:44   #3
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

Will go to our homepage this week

Last edited by GTO : 31st January 2021 at 07:53.
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Old 3rd February 2021, 13:14   #4
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Default Re: Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta

Really Nice Insights into the under rated North Bengal. The unending long snarls of trucks and unbearable traffic jams as heard frequently has so far kept me disinterested to this stretch . However, I must say yours was to an extent a smooth one.
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Old 3rd February 2021, 22:48   #5
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Thanks for the nice trip report. Could you please provide a comparison of the current road conditions for the visa Bardhaman route & via Krishnanagar route?
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Old 4th February 2021, 01:55   #6
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Wonderful first TL on TBHP @pu5han. Glad that you made it such smoothly. Beautiful pictures of the mystic North Bengal. How did the Create AT perform on the hills?
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Old 4th February 2021, 17:16   #7
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Default Re: Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta

These are places which are very close to the heart and I absolutely love to visit whenever we get the scope. Your first travelogue rekindles that spirit! Being born and brought up in Cooch Behar, some of the places you visited like Jaldhaka, Jhalong, we used to visit for winter picnics.

A couple of dooars threads that I posted on the forum. Old ones though!

1. https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...s-purulia.html (Dooars & Purulia)
2. https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/assem...ml#post4692440

Best Regards,
Sayak
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Old 4th February 2021, 23:04   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sportymonk View Post
Really Nice Insights into the under rated North Bengal. The unending long snarls of trucks and unbearable traffic jams as heard frequently has so far kept me disinterested to this stretch . However, I must say yours was to an extent a smooth one.
From the stories have heard I of this route, I believe I got lucky to some extent. I did face snarls of upto 45minutes, nothing to get me worries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by H0RSEPOWER View Post
Thanks for the nice trip report. Could you please provide a comparison of the current road conditions for the visa Bardhaman route & via Krishnanagar route?
On the Bardhaman route - The road is mostly good, but there few bad stretches just after exiting Bardhaman. Onwards there are bad patches of about 100m at random intervals. The intersections on SH7 have pathetic roads and pathetic traffic management. The connector at Moregram to NH114A (prev NH34) is literally craters.

On the Krishnanagar route - The road Morgram onwards till Krishnanagar is good except the town areas. Beyond Krishnanagar, I took the Badkulla route instead the highway. The Badkulla route (SH 11 I believe) is just 2 lane, but sooth with occasional speedbreakers. The autos are a menace. The stretch from Ranaghat to Haringhata is bad and it took me a while to get through. From there I went via Kalyani expressway which again is 2 lane with bad intersections till about Panihati. The rest of the stretch is fine.


Quote:
Originally Posted by haisaikat View Post
Wonderful first TL on TBHP @pu5han. Glad that you made it such smoothly. Beautiful pictures of the mystic North Bengal. How did the Create AT perform on the hills?
The Creta MT was incredible and did not give me a single issue (apart from the unknown puncture) through the whole stretch. The bad road performance has left me surprised. On the inclines I had occurrences of wheel speen on the gravel/rocks. But not once I did feel that the car would get stuck/ not be able to go ahead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sayakc View Post
These are places which are very close to the heart and I absolutely love to visit whenever we get the scope. Your first travelogue rekindles that spirit! Being born and brought up in Cooch Behar, some of the places you visited like Jaldhaka, Jhalong, we used to visit for winter picnics.

A couple of dooars threads that I posted on the forum. Old ones though!

1. https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...s-purulia.html (Dooars & Purulia)
2. https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/assem...ml#post4692440

Best Regards,
Sayak
I am glad that you liked it and could bring back fond memories. You were lucky to have stayed in the laps of nature.
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Old 5th February 2021, 10:03   #9
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Default Re: Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta

That was a lovely explanation and a very well versed one as well. According to me, Creta has always been an explorer with power on tap especially in manual petrol. I have a few general queries about the trip and the vehicle though;

1- What's the rpm limiter for Creta during In-Gear acceleration?

2- What was the overall FE you managed during the whole 1444km trip?

Thank you!
Have a good day!
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Old 5th February 2021, 10:42   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parth Adhikari View Post
That was a lovely explanation and a very well versed one as well. According to me, Creta has always been an explorer with power on tap especially in manual petrol. I have a few general queries about the trip and the vehicle though;

1- What's the rpm limiter for Creta during In-Gear acceleration?

2- What was the overall FE you managed during the whole 1444km trip?

Thank you!
Have a good day!
Thank you for the kind words. I hope to join you in future trips and adventures.
Answering your quesries,
1 The red line starts at 7000 rpm but the revs are electronically limited post 6500
2 I got a dismal figure of 13.15 kmpl, but veterans of this route tell me this is normal for a petrol car.
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Old 5th February 2021, 10:46   #11
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Default Re: Suntalekhola & Paren | First 1000 km road-trip for me and our Creta

Quote:
Originally Posted by pu5han View Post
On the Bardhaman route - The road is mostly good, but there few bad stretches just after exiting Bardhaman.
========
The rest of the stretch is fine.
Thanks for your response! My hometown in India is in Krishnanagar. Last year also when I went to India, the road condition for the Krishnanagar to Kolkata stretch was in bad condition. And traffic jam was very frequent from the junction of Badkulla road with the national highway near Ranaghat till Boro Jaguli.
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