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Old 19th October 2022, 16:42   #1
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Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Durga Pujo brings the joy out of every Bengali. That joy gets manifested in many ways. Some enjoy the revelry and the madness around the pujos, some enjoy the once a year get together's with childhood friends, some enjoy the night long pandal hopping of the brilliant Pujo pandals strewn across the city of Calcutta. And then, there are some like us, who would be searching for reasons to go out on a long road trip since this period provides the window of a long holiday.

So, this Pujo season, BHPian Mi2N, BHPian dip27in and BHPian ShuvC decided to visit the North East and they decided to take a BHPian who claims to have some knowledge of the area, along with them. Plans were made and idea was to primarily visit Tawang and Kaziranga along with the requisite stops en route. After many deliberations over ample amount of food and coffee- yes, we actually did finalise the plans over copious amounts of food. Such was the scenario that we would find excuses to meet with the motive to finalise the plans for the holidays but end up stuffing our stomachs without caring too much about the plans !!

Nevertheless, the plans were finalised and the places fixed. Bookings were made and payments done at the respective hotels. It was always going to be a relaxed drive barring the Tawang stretch. As it turned out, the Tawang stretch turned out to be the most messy one. Anyways, our departure from Calcutta was set for 30th September and we were slated to start in the evening after the office hour's. Just four days before the trip, ShuvC's junior one broke his hand and he had a wrist fracture

It was a freak accident and junior needed a surgery to set the fracture right. The incident put ShuvC's participation in jeopardy and which finally resulted in his dropping out of the trip. It was a sad position to be in but then we all decided to continue the trip anyways.

Some pictures to start with:

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The above car pictures were clicked by Mithun and these are by far the most vibrant pictures of the cars I have ever seen

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The following posts in the thread have overload of food pictures, readers are duly warned

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Old 21st October 2022, 13:16   #2
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

The Durga pujo started early this year as is the norm since the last few years barring the Covid phase. We were slated to begin our journey on the 30th Sep and by then, it would be the fifth day of the festivities already. That gave me a chance to visit some of the Pujo Pandals one night, just to witness the grandeur and the majestic structures. Just sharing a picture here for vanity.

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Witnessing the Durga Pujo festivities and the sheer amount of artistry at work is mind boggling here in Calcutta. Every one should attend the Pujo festivities in Calcutta, at least once in their lifetime, just to see the hard work, the grand visual treats and the energy that transforms the City of joy during the same period. The madness engulfs one and all during this festival period. Anyways, enough has been said about the pujo festivities already and nothing much is left to write about !!

So, getting straight to the first night of our travel. We all had fixed a common meeting point and that turned out to be our dinner stop. As I said before, we will find a way to gorge on food whenever we can and one will find ample examples all along this writeup. Kitchen Sutra- this place is now a well known stop on the old Delhi road these days and food is great too. The service though, is on the slower side and could be excruciatingly slow if all the tables are full. Time for the meet up was set at 9pm but it was not until 10pm that I finally could catch up with the rest of the guys.

Thankfully, Debdeep and Mithun had already ordered the food and were halfway through the dinner when we made our entry. The food at the table looked good for a feast. Somehow, I forgot that we would be starting a journey of 12 hours or more in some time, such was the variety

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Two types of Kebabs, variety of breads or Nans, different types of meat, rice dishes and above all PAPORI. And copious amounts of fresh lime soda to drown the food. It was just the kind of dinner that would put anyone to sleep, forget anyone driving. The restaurant was decorated in some weird way though and was pretty much responsible for renewed energy in all of us. One look at the cutouts and they became the instant source of our energy :

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The two pictures above were strategically placed on the entrance of the restaurant. The pictures certainly helped in keeping the sudden lethargy vanish after the lavish dinner, the tank helped specially and as mentioned above, we were suddenly teaming with renewed vigour and energy. Such imagination from the hotel management literally floored us, before the burst of energy that is !!

So, we started with our energized self and renewed vigor from Kitchen Sutra and moved along nicely through the old Delhi road and then towards through STKK route till Krishnanagar. Every now and then, we would take a stop and discuss about the state of the NH 34 and what a smooth drive it has become these days. We passed by many Pujo Pandals en route but this one pandal near Kalna stood out. Presenting Burj Khalifa:

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Farakka bridge has become a sore point with the top surface gone and deep ruts have formed on it. Careful driving will see it through though. With the opening of Karandighi bypass and two flanks of Dalkhola bypass, the once dreaded section of Dalkhola is now a distant memory. We stopped for some chai at Pardesi Dhaba at daybreak and moved on leisurely.

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Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 6th November 2022 at 10:44.
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Old 22nd October 2022, 16:01   #3
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Our destination for the day was nearby Gorumara National Park and the place was located inside a Tea estate. We were driving sedately and soon we were passing the Fulbaari bypass near Siliguri in the morning around 9.30 and on towards the Gazoldoba route and that's when it stuck to us that we need to stop for the breakfast. Yes, after that humongous dinner last night, we still needed to have the breakfast.

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The breakfast stop was Boroli restaurant and which is a preferred place for me on this route. The place was just opening up in the morning and we were probably the first guests. Boroli is a sprawling property on the banks of the canals and serves fresh and delicious food. We ordered for some delish Aalu Paranthas and Pooris and of course some chai as well. The paranthas were wholesome and tasty to the core. Boroli gave us the morning impetus amidst some serene surroundings. The day was bright and sunny and our destination was nearby as well. Destination was hardly a drive of one hour from Boroli.

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Ramsai Tea and Wildlife Resort was our destination and there were two routes to reach the same. We took the one through Lataguri and the road passes through some narrow village roads before one touches the main road near Paanbari and on towards the other side of Gorumara National Park. The small tea resort is located right inside Ramsai tea plantations and is fantastic. The rooms are humongous and everything from staff behavior to the awesome food makes the place a wonderful stay.

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We were presented a refreshing welcome drink upon arrival and we sat upon soaking in the atmosphere. After freshening up and little chit chat after, it was time for our lunch which was typical bengali style home cooked meal consisting of usual suspects. All this while, plans were made to do the unique bullock cart safari at the Medhla Range of Gorumara National Park. The safari was arranged by the good manager (know him from his Saraswatipur days) of the resort and the tickets were booked accordingly. The tickets included the services of the guide and the bullock cart ride plus the visit to the Medhla Watch Tower of Gorumara forest.

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Safari was to start from 3.30 in the evening and we took our vehicles through lush green tea plantations in the evening till the safari point which was nearby the resort. Parked our vehicles and were soon chugging atop the bullock cart. The bullock cart ride is only a km long but the experience is unique.

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From the drop off point, one needs to take a walk through the pathway till the Medhla watch tower. We did see some rhinos and elephants in the wild from the watch tower but that's about it. More interesting was the walk to the watch tower and seeing the river pass by beside. On the return, the same bullock cart dropped all of us at the parking spot. Our tickets also entitled us for a song and dance show by the local tribal artists but we decided to give it a miss. After many photoops of the cars amidst the tea plantations, we finally got back to the resort in the evening.

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And again, soon we were eating the evening snacks The resort provided some delectable snacks and we ended up ordering and eating some despite knowing that we had ordered Chicken Sizzlers and Caramel Custard for dinner. Yes, our entire evening spent around good food and chit chat and this was only the start of the trip.

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Old 23rd October 2022, 00:33   #4
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

We were in no hurry to wake up after a good night's sleep at Ramsai amidst the serene surroundings. But then, I did sneak out to see the sunrise amidst the tea plantation and slept off again just to match up.

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Plan for the day was to move further towards Assam while be en route towards Tawang. Our destination for the day was Konoka Village Resort near Orang. We had a sumptuous breakfast at the resort. Also to mention here, someone from the group shares the birthday with the Father of the Nation and it was celebrated through a small cake cutting ceremony. The resort staff arranged for the nice cake and it was wonderful of them considering the remote place.

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We bid goodbye to the wonderful staff at Ramsai with a promise to come back again. Frankly, the place is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace and should be good for two nights easy. The winters are even better apparently and the promise of a open barbeque is a proposition that needs no invitation at all

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Our route for the day was straightforward. From Ramsai, we would be taking the NH 27 at Maynaguri and move towards Birpara to connect NH 31. From Birpara, it’s the usual Jaldapara- Borobisha- Bongaigaon- Mangaldoi-Orang- Konoka Resort. Little did we know of the surprise that was waiting for us at an obscure corner near a place called Barama.

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After crossing onto Assam, we tanked up at the IOCL pump just after the border. Fuel is cheaper in Assam and all our faces lit up instantly. Without much drama, we reached Bongaigaon and chose Cygnett Hotel as our lunch stop. Upon reaching, we were told that the Puja Celebration Buffet is going on and we can have a look at the menu. And boy, one look at the spread and the foodie genie woke up again from the slumber !!

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We gorged on the delectable spread which included local delicacies as well as the usual celebration menu. Dessert section was a killer too and one can imagine how much time we spent eating at lunch. The big foodies that we are, the lunch almost took two hours and we still missed sampling all the items on display. I would have ideally liked to rest in a couch after the lunch, such was the food but then, we did have to complete the rest of the journey too.
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Now from here, Google Maps decided to play the big daddy. While I was focused on the route that I charted before hand, Google decided to show a short cut through Barama and on towards Udalguri. Though little skeptical, we still decided to take it since it was cutting the travelling time by around two hours. Once into the single lane road, it became a fight through narrow village roads until after around 10 minutes, we came to a sudden stop. The little bridge in front of my car was completely broken and only Iron planks were laid across to let the bikes and cycles pass over. Upon enquiring with the locals, came to know that the route is pretty bad anyways and they were wondering why Google is showing the route when the bridge is broken since long.

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We made a U-Turn and hurriedly got back to the National Highway and stuck to it without further deviation. The episode set us back further and we wasted some time there. Stopped near Mangaldoi for some chai and also to meet BHPian Devonwheels who very kindly came down to meet us on the highway and also gave route updates towards Konoka. Needed to ask around on the main highway for the entry route since the property was around 15kms off the highway. We finally reached Konoka at around 9 in the evening after an eventful journey during which we almost landed upon a broken bridge and also were hurriedly stopped by an interceptor vehicle of Assam Police in a true highway chase style, for a routine check near Mangaldoi. Apparently, the three WB registered cars were travelling too fast from the usual pace of the vehicles on a single lane highway during the night

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Old 25th October 2022, 13:07   #5
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Another day, another place and what a place it was. Konoka Village Resort is a small little world in itself. The property is set amidst organic tea plantations on the banks of a river and has all the comforts and facilities that one needs to enjoy a family outing. In fact, the property has got activities of all kinds and various indoor as well as outdoor games complete the experience. No wonder that day visitors come to the property from far away places like Guwahati to have their fill of fun. The property has an ethnic store also and people can buy organic and local products at decent prices.

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For guests like us who stay overnight, the property has got demarcated cottages built with completely natural products. The cottages were very good and the huge tent cottage was even better. Only gripe if I have to nitpick, the restaurant was little far from the cottages but it was fun walking past vast greenery. They provide room service as well and have a great live counter set for the evening where we spent most of our evening after the fun filled day got over. The kids got ample amount of activities to play around and they were super happy. In fact, me and better half of Debdeep were quite energetic during a ropeway activity. Devjani or Mrs Debdeep successfully completed the whole ropeway exercise and it was commendable to say the least.

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The property has been set up very aesthetically with lot of thought going into making the property environment friendly. The main highlight though is the yummiest food. Konoka serves a huge variety of food and their traditional dishes are noteworthy. We encountered cloudy skies and drizzle throughout our stay at Konoka but that didn't dampen our spirits one bit.

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Our morning was spent exploring many of the activities around after a heavy round of breakfast. The breakfast was basic and included a local 'pitha' as they say in this part of India. We took a round of the entire property and it was indeed scenic with the clouds covering the distant hills seen from the banks of the river. The kids also indulged in the various activities around but the continuous drizzle played truant.

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Lunch was taken at the restaurant and it was teeming with people who came for the day trips. We were accorded preference though and were promptly served with care and affection. The behavior of the staff was truly exceptional and they were always eager to listen and that explained the rush of people to the property.

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Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 6th November 2022 at 05:50.
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Old 27th October 2022, 00:40   #6
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

The evening went off really well amidst good food and good conversations. Infact, we kind of anticipated what would be the evenings like in the next few days of our trip. Konoka was a delightful experience and we slept off early since we had to start off very early in the morning in order to reach Tawang by the evening.

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We told the staff about our early departure beforehand and they were accommodative. We were ready by 5 in the morning while it still drizzled. The check out formalities over, we were accorded a traditional warm send off by the staff. As I said before, Konoka was a wonderful experience and the two nights amidst the rustic environs will remain in the memories for a long time. I, for one, will surely be making a visit to the place sooner.

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We started off amidst slight drizzle and the lush green paddy fields on both the sides of the narrow road was a sight to behold. Some pictures after, we were soon crossing Orang and where we first stopped for tanking up. Fuel can be a tricky thing in the upper regions of Tawang and without much thought, all the three cars tanked up to the brim. From then onwards, we crossed through parts of Orang and Mazbat and were soon climbing up towards Balemu- the check post for ILP and the border outpost between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

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We had obtained the online ILP's issued from the Calcutta office and hence it was a matter of few minutes and we were off again. The road is good throughout with occasional diversions and bad stretches due to landslides and starts to get better after. From Tenzingaon till Rupa, is fantastic and roads are very good. We stopped for some chai and maggi near Tenzingaon and it was good to find eateries along this route. Back in 2017, this route had only one eatery at Tenzingaon(named AMA hotel).

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We went along nicely without any drama and reached Rupa just before noon. Took an early lunch since we had two congested areas to pass through- Dirang and Jang. The lunch was the highlight of the day or so what I thought till we all approached Tawang in the evening. Lunch was a combination of many local delicacies and comprised of Thukpas and Momos and the staple rice, dal and PAPORI as well. The restaurant is run by a wonderful lady and the food is tasteful with huge quantities.

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From here on, the climb towards Tawang started and the road conditions were very good. Bomdila has got a bypass now and the road has been newly built by GREF. The infrastructure along this sector is undergoing massive change and with the Sela Tunnel almost complete, an all weather road to Tawang looks a possibility now. Coming back to the journey, we crossed Dirang without much drama. I didn't expect that since the road passes through the town and can be pain if the traffic swells. Itís after Dirang that the road conditions get patchy somewhat. By the time we reach Sela, foggy conditions were prevailing and the light started to deteriorate as well. Stopped for a quick photo stop but that was it.

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In between, we had a coffee and jalebi break at one of the Army canteens near Sangge. Yeah, we can literally sniff out anything that is edible

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After Jang, road is being widened and it has many diversions. It was dark already and the many deviations through undulating surfaces was taking its toll on us. Medium rain added to the already clumsy road conditions. Things improved nearer to Bomdir but the rains intensified manyfold. It was pitch dark and amidst heavy rains, Google decided to play big daddy again. It led us to a path on a steeply inclined road and with water coming down like streams all over the road, it was an unnerving experience to say the least. Add to this, there was road construction going on inside the town and various NO ENTRY signage's put up all across. The hotel was located near the Tourist Lodge but in the rains and fog, there was no one to ask around after the torturous Google route. I had to call the hotel and get directions over and here, my previous visit to Tawang helped despite one fella making us take the wrong route. The short route to the hotel was another story. Water was flowing down and it was muddy throughout when we finally reached the hotel after taking that narrow inclined road. We reached the hotel at around 7.30 in the evening and it took another hour to just park our cars because all other cars were parked haphazardly due to rains. It took the owner of the hotel to come down and take the matters in his own hands to sort out the parking mess.

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After many permutations and combinations and which included a Tempo Traveler stuck in deep slush and which needed push from many hands, we were finally able to park the cars outside the hotel in slushy conditions. The owner promised to get us parking spots inside the hotel compound next day and he was very proactive with all the happenings around his property. The entry to the hotel was treacherous but the hotel itself was very good for a place like Tawang. And, so we finally made it to Tawang after around 13 hours of grueling drive and justifiably, all of us crashed for the night after dinner.

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Old 2nd November 2022, 00:57   #7
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Our first morning at Tawang was wonderful. Clear blue skies, bright sunlight and the view from the hotel was beautiful. The heavy rainfall during the previous night made way for clear blue skies and that lifted our moods greatly. The first thing that came to everyone's mind after waking up- let's see how the cars are doing !! Trust the TeamBHPians to go check the cars before everything else

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And boy, the area around the hotel was full of slippery slush and we were left wondering how we managed to park the cars in such conditions !! We decided to let the cars be for few hours under the morning sun, so that the slush gets little drier. It was almost impossible to walk under the conditions and it was a miracle that we did not end up slipping and breaking our ageing bones !!

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Well, plan for the day was to see Tawang Monastery and the War Memorial and if possible, the Giant Buddha as well. Tawang Monastery is one of the largest monasteries across Asia and holds immense significance for the people who follow Buddhism. Before that though, the breakfast needed to be taken and the documents for the impending Bumla were to be submitted for approval. By now, everyone knows that you need permits from the DC Office and the Indian Army to visit Bumla since it is one of the border meeting posts with China. The Hotel guys very kindly agreed to arrange for the permits against a fee and that saved us some precious time.

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We had our breakfast at the hotel and it was a standard hotel fare available at most of the hotels across. Now, while we were having our breakfast, somehow a news floating around got us little worried. Apparently, one of the fuel bunk in Tawang ran out of fuel and was shut for the day. Fuel in the hills is very hard to come by and going by the rainfall that we encountered the previous day, it would be a disaster if the town ran out of fuel and so we thought. It was finally confirmed that only one Fuel bunk was working and we decided to tank up after visiting the monastery.

So keeping everything in mind, we decided to use only two vehicles for the day. So, TUV300 stayed at the hotel while the mighty Pajero and the humble Ecosport went on the sight seeing spree. We all were half way through our fuel tanks anyways and so the cars needed to be filled with fuel for the next day travel to Bumla. So soon after the breakfast, we were off towards the monastery which was a straightforward 10 minutes drive from the hotel. Tawang Monastery area has undergone changes since the last time I visited the place. The road is now paved all through without any pothole and new hotels have come up beside the monastery.

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The monastery was teeming with people and it was quite a task to park the cars in the first place. Nevertheless, parking over, we proceeded inside the monastery. The monastery was looking surreal under the clear blue skies. We took ample time roaming around the premises and explore the area. Debdeep-the superlative photographer that he is, started clicking and he must have come up with some brilliant shots as usual and so did Mithun. Many pictures after, we finally ended up at the cafe just outside the monastery. All this while, the need to tank up was playing in our back of the minds.

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Asked around with some of the local drivers and got the assurance that fuel is available in the single bunk but they were also not sure how long will they last. We spent some time at the nice cafe and truth be told, we have had the best cheesecake ever but the service was painful to say the least. The cafe staff mixed up our order and in the process, some of things we had ordered, never arrived !!

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We finally left the cafe in the afternoon and went straight to the fuel bunk. Now, the clear blue skies were all gone and we were welcomed by extreme fog as we were driving through Tawang town. The only IOCL fuel bunk is at the start of the town and so, we had to drive through the extreme fog for some kilometers and it was only 2 in the afternoon. Landed up at the fuel bunk and fuel was filled to the brim. Some folks were also filling the 20L jerrycans and that struck in our mind but since two of the cars were full, we were kind of okay with the arrangement and also that TUV300 will have it's share of fuel the next day.

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The major headache of fuel over, I decided to head to the hotel and rest of the guys went to see the Tawang War Memorial. The tour to war memorial didn't take much long and they came back to the hotel by 4 in the evening. This coming back early to the hotel gave us the liberty to choose our parking spot at the hotel and we gleefully took the opportunity. Since we had to leave early in the morning for Bumla, being at the front of the gates was imperative

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In the evening, the owner of the hotel invited us for the local drink and some chit chat. The owner of the hotel Tawang Heights is an enterprising fellow and very much hands on when it comes to the running of the hotel. We had an interesting session with him and some nice time spent along.

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Dinner was a mish mash of Chinese and Indian cuisine and food was good. That's how our day came to an end and we slept off little early in the anticipation of yet another sunny day towards Bumla and Shungetsar.

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Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 4th November 2022 at 00:42.
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

We woke up to some chill in the morning and it was drizzling as well. Nevertheless, we were all raring to go and got ready by as early as 7 in the morning but there was one problem- the permits didn't arrive !! The guy who was entrusted with bringing the permits was nowhere to be found and attempted calls to him went on unanswered. The hotel was teeming with people by then and all of them were scheduled to go towards Bumla and they were frantically searching for the guy who was to bring the permits.

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We decided to have the breakfast at the hotel itself while waiting for the permit and as it turned out, it was a good decision. By the time, we finished our breakfast, the permit came into our hands. Turned out, the delay was due to the late issuance of the permits. And so, off we went towards Bumla and were soon greeted by clear weather just as we were about to reach the first check point where the permits are checked and details entered. There was queue of around 10-15 people already when I joined the line while the other two cars made their way to PTSO lake. They were allowed to go since the permit for all three cars was with me only. The local drivers were considerate enough to let me jump the queue and get my permit verified. Funny thing happened when the person making the entries saw that three cars were carrying only six adults and that all the cars had WB registration. He had difficulty understanding that we were using three cars when only the Pajero could have carried all of us

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Permit checked and details entered, I started my climb and found that mobile network is gone for good. I stopped at PTSO lake and Debdeep and Mithun were no where to be found. Perhaps they merrily went on towards Y junction or so I was wondering. Turned out, they completely missed the PTSO lake due to fog and stopped at Nagula lake where it was bright and sunny. Nagula lake is one of the most picturesque lakes around Tawang and also holds a significance for the Buddhist community.

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Some pictures after, we were soon crossing Y-Junction, the fork where one route goes towards Bumla and another one towards Shungetsar lake and T-Gompa. The road to Bumla is now completely paved and black topped, a far cry from the days when it was all boulders and nothing else. The entire route is very scenic and one can see many small lakes all around. During this time of the year, the hills are a riot of colours and look resplendent under clear blue skies.

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Bumla now has a dedicated car parking zone and amenities for tourists have improved as well since my last visit when there was nothing for the people, not even a proper toilet. Things are much better now a days but on the flip side, tourists are not allowed to go further towards the Peace stones and are stopped much earlier. I was told, things have changed since the Doklam episode.

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Bumla was a pleasant visit and although we did encounter some rains, it didn't matter much. In the meanwhile, Debdeep and Mithun decided to skip Shungetsar lake and proceed towards Tawang since the TUV was low on fuel and tanking up was a priority.

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We stopped at the Army run- TONGPEN LA Cafe situated opposite to the newly built Jaswant Memorial on our return journey. The cafe is supposedly world's highest cafe at the elevation of 15,150 feet above sea level. We had the ubiquitous momo and some coffee before the convoy broke up from the Y- junction.

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From here on, I was all alone towards Shungetsar lake. It was already past noon and the fog was about to descend. Road to Shungetsar is undergoing black topping and hence after a certain point, the road surface deteriorates and becomes boulder laden at some points. So, after a patchy drive, I was at the point where the lake can be seen for the first time.

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Just as when I was about to reach, there was this huge traffic jam due to a convoy of trucks from the Army and since the road is narrow, it created a traffic mess for the cars who were returning from the lake. Got stuck for some time and it really altered many a things. Firstly, by the time I reached the lake, heavy fog descended and it engulfed the lake completely. So, as a result, the beautiful views of the lake got completely lost under the fog

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Spent some time and quickly started for Tawang since the visibility was going down by every minute. I wanted to visit T Gompa as well but situation demanded otherwise. Cars are anyway not allowed to remain at Shangetsar after 3 in the evening and it was already 2.30. Another traffic jam en route would have resulted in more delay.

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I reached Tawang by evening and got to know that both the fuel bunks were closed and there was no fuel in the town. So that meant that TUV was still low on fuel and it needed refueling to get to Kajiranga- our next stop.

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Got to the hotel and the news came in that the Bhalukpong route is closed due to a landslide. That meant, we needed to alter our plan and use the same route that we took to reach Tawang. Anyways, it was decided to fuel up at Jang or in worst case scenario, two vehicles would have to share diesel till Dirang.

Some time was spent in little shopping and soon we were back to our daily chit chat session. The momos were ordered before hand at the hotel and they were delicious.

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We really had a wonderful time at Tawang and the hotel was very efficient in their service. Dinner was taken early as because the next day drive was to be the longest one of the entire trip.

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 5th November 2022 at 11:38.
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Old 3rd November 2022, 20:05   #9
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Our destination for the day was Borgos Resort Kaziranga. Now, originally, only two of us had our booking at Borgos and Debdeep was to proceed towards Guwahati since his family had their flight tickets booked for Calcutta the next day. There were two many things happening simultaneously and in the process, we were little late to start. Also, we needed to fuel up at Jang since TUV was running low on fuel.

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We started off after a quick breakfast and bid adieu to the wonderful staff at the hotel. The weather was nice and we made it to the Jang fuel bunk after an hour of driving. In the eagerness to tank up, we all skipped seeing the Jang Falls leaving it for another day.

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At the Jang fuel bunk, diesel was being rationed and folks were only allowed diesel worth of Rs 2000 only. That amount of fuel was sufficient for the TUV to reach the plains and we all were relieved, now that there was one less issue to deal with!!

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Meanwhile, Debdeep decided to proceed to Kaziranga as well and the flight tickets were rescheduled for the next day so that the whole family can be with us in Kaziranga- just the way we would have liked anyways. One more predicament went out in a jiffy as we started moving towards Sela. And then, suddenly, with one bad stroke of luck and uneven concrete surface, I had a nasty hit over the uneven concrete. Just after, we stopped for a photo break. Few minutes later, it was found that I had a flat tyre. Upon inspecting, it was found that the alloy had broken somehow. In my hurry, I missed checking the tyre pressure all this while and I suspect the alloy broke due to low tyre pressure and combined with the hit, it finally gave away.

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So, amidst the serene surrounding, it was time for an exercise that couldn't have come at a worse time. We were already little late to start with and this tyre changing exercise took some fiddling since one of the wheel nuts was not in a mood to open

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Debdeep brought out his magic tool box and along with a can of WD40 that always finds pride of place in my car, we were successful in changing the tyre. Now, the entire return journey to Kaziranga would be without a back up tyre and hence it put some additional pressure to the already delayed schedule.

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We finally made it to Sela and the weather kind of lifted my spirits somehow. I had, till that time, never got clear skies at Sela during all my previous visits. But somehow, something changed that day. May be it was god's way of compensating for the broken alloy!!

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Sela lake was a view to remember under the blue sky and it was surreal feeling looking at the beauty of the surroundings. We wanted to spend some more time but it was time which was at a premium plus the conditions around the lake was very windy and chilly.

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We started towards Dirang and as usual, we got stuck at the entrance of the town due to narrow roads passing through the town. But thankfully, the jam didnít last long and we were on our way soon.

Meanwhile, BHPian GMHOSSAIN was also in touch with me since he was also spending his holidays with his family at Shergaon and we were supposed to meet en route. He was also visiting the Dirang Monastery the very same day we were returning. It was he who suggested a small eatery outside the Dirang town and on the main highway and where we finally ended up for our lunch. The eatery was nice and food was fresh, just that the lady running the hotel took some time delivering our lunch. She didn't expect a hungry group of chicken eating bongs from Calcutta to land up at her hotel that afternoon after all

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Lunch over, and it was already 3 in the evening. We needed to push and fortunately, the roads were also good from here on. We pushed and crossed Bomdila bypass despite some dense fog.

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Rupa was crossed in a jiffy and were waved off by Golaam at Shergaon where he was waiting for us. It was great to see him and greet his lovely family. We had a nice cup of tea and little chit chat after, we were on our way again. Ideally would have liked to spend some more time but we had to hurry since it was getting dark already. As Mithun said on later, we would probably plan a stay at Shergaon and spend some days in the pristine environment.

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The rest of the journey till Balemu was enterprising to say the least with broken roads, slush, dense fog and make shift clearing of landslides at places which made the progress very slow at times.

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By the time we were at the plains near Mazbat, it was already 9 in the evening. Debdeep decided to halt a Tezpur for the night, join us at Borgos the following day and so booked a hotel on the go, We had our booking already at Borgos. Called up the hotel and ordered dinner and told them that we would be late. We finally reached Borgos Kaziranga around midnight.

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The check in was super smooth and the staff made sure that our luggage was in the rooms without any delay. We were mighty impressed with the service at those odd hours and the quick service almost helped in mitigating the pains of the whole day travel. The food came quickly and we had our pre-ordered dinner and crashed. That is how we ended our most busiest day on the road.

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 5th November 2022 at 12:57.
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Old 4th November 2022, 19:32   #10
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

It rained during the previous night while we were fast asleep. The rooms were inviting enough for a wonderful sleep and it was only in the morning that the surroundings looked fresh and green. The resort is among the best in Kaziranga and one look around confirmed the same. The resort is very aesthetically built and very well planned as well.

We leisurely went for a stroll around the property and which in turn built the appetite for the breakfast. The buffet breakfast spread was a combination of variety of items and it was excellent. They even have a table consisting fully of local Assamese delicacies and the items were delicious. The breakfast was hearty and the tasteful. It's not always that one can say that about the hotel breakfast buffet very often.

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In the meanwhile, Debdeep and family were having their breakfast at the Tezpur hotel. In their eagerness last night, they had booked a hotel which was vegetarian. To imagine Debdeep eating something vegetarian was hilarious thought in itself. He was just about finishing his breakfast quickly so that he can join us back at Borgos.

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Breakfast was super heavy and it took a stroll the property again to lessen the amalgamation of so much food Debdeep was on his way and our Kaziranga safari was booked to start at 1.30 in the afternoon. The Jeep safaris were started after re-opening of the park while the not so palatable Elephant safaris were to start from the month of November. The Kaziranga National Park remains closed for visitors during the monsoon season.

Debdeep arrived soon after and checked into the property. The team was complete again and the madness was to begin soon, yet again after a brief lull. Borgos also houses a pretty decent souvenir shop and the ladies of the group were more than elated to scour for nitpicks.

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And soon, it was time for the safari as our vehicles arrived. One doesn't have to book the safaris beforehand in Kaziranga and most of the hotels arrange for the safari themselves. Our safari vehicle was the good old Maruti Gypsy and we couldn't have been more happier.

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Borgos is near the Kohora range and since it was early in the season, only two gates of Kaziranga were open. So we needed to reach the Bagori gate for the safari and which was around 15 kms from Kohora. The national highway 37 that passes through Kaziranga has speed restriction throughout and the maximum speed allowed is 40kms/hr.

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Upon reaching the Bagori gate, saw that queue for the entry formalities was already long with around 5-7 gypsies in front of us. The entry formalities needed an ID proof of any one member of the group from each car and the camera charges which amounted for Rs 100 per camera. The weather was getting humid and it was quite a task to wait for the entry under the sun.

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The entry formalities over and soon we were entering the park after crossing a narrow bridge. The guards at the gate checked for plastic water bottles and after counting the bottles and making an entry of the same, they allowed the Gypsies inside the park. The topography of the park is quite incredible and the park is covered by dense and tall Elephant grass all over due to being flood prone. The terrain is vast and consists of many swamplands as well.

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As soon as we were inside the park, we got to see the famed Rhinos and there were quite a few of them roaming around. We were in the midst of the safari when the rain gods came calling for a brief spell. The gypsy drivers scampered for the soft top covers but in the process, we got drenched somewhat.

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The safari was an enriching experience and we got see the wildlife inside the park from close quarters. The tall and long Elephant grass was green and it presented a different perspective to the whole picture since we are more used to seeing the dried grass. My childhood safari was atop an Elephant and thus, this time the experience was different altogether. We all had a wonderful time inside the reserve and we came back happy and hungry.

It was already evening when we reached Borgos. Straight away we went to the restaurant for a late lunch. Since the normal lunch hours were over, we opted for a continental lunch. We were almost famished after the safari and the guy taking the order was almost flummoxed. In fact, at one point of time, his order looked like an index of a good natured novel

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The food was brilliant and we had a gala time over the table. We were so glad that Debdeep and his family joined us at Kaziranga after initially planning otherwise. He had to take some financial hit because of the rescheduling but we didn't mind that one bit of course. Initial plan of Debdeep was to drop his family at Guwahati Airport and then proceed towards Calcutta all alone in his Pajero.

Anyways, late lunch over and I got to know that there will be a session at the banquet hall and the hotel staff were seen inviting the hotel guests. I decided to give a peek to the program while rest of the group quickly plonked themselves in Debdeep's room for one last chit chat session of the whole group, knowing that Debdeep and Co would be going back to Calcutta next day. I joined after some time and the chit chat session went long into the night with cakes, pastries and finger food for company.

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We couldn't have missed the wonderful dinner and despite knowing that we were almost full, we still gave it a shot. The intensity of the order was more focused towards the desserts and at one point of time, we were laughing among ourselves regarding the weight we were putting up by all the food, not that it mattered anyways. So much so that, at one point Mithun can be seen looking tired just by looking at the dessert !!

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Dinner was a regale affaire once again as we headed back to our rooms. Borgos is indeed a special place and I have promised myself to go back there soon enough and the rest of the team happily concurs to the view as well.

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 5th November 2022 at 19:53.
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Old 5th November 2022, 21:55   #11
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

I was driving without a spare tyre and I needed to do something about it. It would have been too much of risk to drive all the way from Kaziranga to Calcutta without a spare tyre for company. Called up BHPian ChiranjitP from Guwahati and told him about my predicament. We were supposed to meet at Guwahati anyways and he readily wanted to give his spare alloy rim from his Ecosport, provided I courier the alloy back !! It was too kind of him to even give the offer to me just like that, he didnít have to but he still did. I requested him and to my other friends in Guwahati as well, to see for a spare steel rim for the time being until I find another alloy rim back in Calcutta.

Our destination for the day was Bongaigaon and we had our booking at the same Cygnett Hotel where we had our lunch while moving towards Tawang. But before that Debdeep needed to drop off his family at the Guwahati airport for them to catch the late night flight to Calcutta. Also, there was this plan to meet a group of Guwahati BHPian's which was brewing ever since our trip was at the planning stage. Chiranjit was the brain behind the meet up and he was constantly in touch with me ever since our journey started.

Debdeep was still in dilemma whether to head straight for Calcutta after the drop at Guwahati or stay back with us at Bongaigaon. Our rooms were booked anyways since BHPian ShuvC had to drop off and all his bookings stayed put since there were no refunds for last minute cancellations

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The picture above is of the pastries which were ordered the day before but as has been mentioned in the previous post, we were too full to even touch them. Meanwhile, our stay at Borgos ended with the fabulous breakfast again and we were now on our way to Guwahati. I will not put up the breakfast spread pictures again, which was different and better then the previous day. Oh, the pastries were duly taken out from the mini fridge and carried over neatly packed

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The sprawling property has got equally efficient staff and is run very sincerely by the management. Thoroughly impressive I must say for a place like Kaziranga. Some pictures of the sprawling property :

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We started off from Kaziranga at around 10 in the morning and just after around 20 minutes or so, I saw the mighty Pajero was using the dipper behind me. Turned out, the Pajero was not getting enough pull and power and it had an issue with the EGR valve. The automotive expert that Debdeep is, he immediately got to the cause and after some calls, did something that eradicated the issue for the time being. The car was good to go and we were on our merry way again.

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All of us stopped for a tender coconut drinks break at the Nagaon bypass and the stop also came in handy for buying some local handicrafts. Local bamboo and cane products are sold in plenty on the Nagaon bypass on both sides of the road. The quality of craftsmanship is good and comparable to ones sold at the fancy stores in the city.

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It was just before reaching Guwahati that we needed to adjust our ways since Debdeep had to move towards the Airport. Paucity of time prompted the change in plans and Mithun also decided to join Debdeep. Also, Debdeep again changed his plans and decided to be with us at Bongaigaon since it was late already and he was to travel alone. So, just after entering Jorabat, we tanked up knowing well that fuel costs are lower in Meghalaya. And from then on, I entered Guwahati city through Khanapara and the rest of the guys took the bypass towards the Airport.

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Chiranjit and the rest of the BHPian's were waiting near the Taj Vivanta since two of the major tyre shops were nearby and I needed to scour for my steel rim. Met BHPian ReeturajYogi and BHPian Gunin and of course ChiranjitP. Now, Reeturaj I have met previously but it never occurred to me that I was meeting Chiranjit and Gunin for the first time. My better half was left surprised seeing the wonderful camaraderie !!

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We drove to the tyre shop nearby and after two attempts, we could finally find one sparingly used steel rim of required size and specification. Paid the quoted price and some bargaining by Reeturaj helped. One major headache sorted, it was time for a quick pitstop at a restaurant nearby. BHPian Rupakchoudhury also joined and he happens to be my childhood friend from Naharlagun, Itanagar.

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We had a lovely time with all the guys and it was fantastic to know the persons behind the handles of the forum. Special word of appreciation for Gunin who made it for the meet up at such short notice despite returning back from a grueling trip from Balpakram National Park just few hours back. Reeturaj, for those who know him, knows that they have a friend in him for life. I certainly have one in him for sure. Konoka was suggested by him and I can't be thankful enough for that. And I was particularly thankful to Chiranjit for arranging the meet up, it was lovely meeting them all.

Rupak is one guy with whom I always meet whenever I am at Guwahati and this time was no different. That he is a BHPian as well, helped towards the common cause

I bid adieu to the wonderful lads and took the city roads towards Bongaigaon. Being a Sunday, city roads were more or less empty. I wanted to buy some baked goodies from the famed Sheikh Brothers situated at Panbazar but it was closed for being a Sunday. Debdeep and Mithun were around one hour from Bongaigaon. They reached the hotel by 6 in the evening and just as his wont, Mithun started sending me pictures like the one below :

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I reached Bongaigaon by around 8 and quickly got freshened up before our chit chat session- a staple for the last seven days or so every evening. We missed the presence of Debdeep's family though, they were such an integral part of all our evening sessions until then. It was great though that Debdeep decided to stay the whole hog with us till Calcutta. Yes, his predicament finally made way for a certain conclusion, much like it happened with the movie Bahubali-The Conclusion. The suspense finally ended and we were relieved

And here we were again, deciding what to eat and what not to !! After much deliberation, we decided for a much curated dinner and keeping it simple with the humble Biryani and mish mash of Tandoori Naans and mutton. Yeah, so much for a simple dinner.

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 6th November 2022 at 10:10.
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Old 6th November 2022, 02:01   #12
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Our last stop before the return to Calcutta was at Gazoldoba Tourist Lodge. Now this was a newly built property with some great reviews. The proximity to Siliguri was another added bonus and it would have made the task to bypass Siliguri completely easier while on our return. The route to Gazoldoba from Bongaigaon was straight forward and passed through picturesque tea gardens and Dooars- the arguably greenest part of Bengal.

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Breakfast at Cygnett was a typical spread usually found in business hotels. We were kind of spoiled by Borgos and it's hospitality probably in the last few days. Anyways, breakfast was done in a jiffy and we left for Gazoldoba by 10. One can gauge the happiness quotient at the breakfast table by just looking at the following picture

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The road surface was good and the progress fast with occasional stops en route. Only some parts after Odlabaari tea estate and which passes through a forest are bad and rest of the road is very good.

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We got to know mid way that BHPian ShuvC would be joining us at Gazoldoba and it was kind of apt that he would be with us for the last leg of our journey. We all were looking forward to seeing him since he was part of all our plans right from the very beginning.

Gazoldoba is a famous spot for Birder's specially and is known for many migratory birds during the winter plus the sunset views are known to be very good. We scampered through to Gazoldoba, just in time for the sunset. ShuvC also reached almost at the same time and he brought along Rosogollas with him as a part of ritual followed in every Bengali household after Bijoyadashami. It was very thoughtful of him to do that and showed the kind of person that he is. And all this after he missed the whole trip !!

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Bhorer Aalo- that's the name of the property at Gazoldoba. The tourist lodges of Bengal have been recently renovated and the services have been upgraded greatly. The property at Gazoldoba is top class and the cottages are specially good for a government property. Of course they are newly built but credit where it is due, the staff is eager to please the guests and are prompt in their service. Set amidst a sprawling area beside the Teesta Barrage, the cottages are far from the restaurant and the reception area but the staff provide a battery operated car for the guests to traverse the distance.

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We settled in slowly into the cottages and then it was time for one last hurrah together before our return to Calcutta. Some lovely snacks like Chicken balls and fries, delightful tea and some pure unadulterated fun, the evening was spent merrily while the seeds of the next trip was also planted.

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By dinner time, it started to rain heavily and the battery operated cars had a tough time in taking us to the restaurant. The staff didn't complain though and they were prompt in their service. Dinner was simple bengali fare and after all these days, a simple fish thali tasted heavenly.

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Next day, we had a scattered plan. Debdeep and ShuvC decided to leave early in the morning together while me and Mithun decided to start after having the breakfast. A series of good night after, our holiday was coming to an end.

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 6th November 2022 at 05:03.
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Old 6th November 2022, 02:49   #13
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

The rain continued all through the night. As it came across my mind, it was almost like this through the entire trip. Almost every night it would rain heavily and by the morning, weather will clear up. Debdeep came to say bye early in the morning and me along with Mithun went up to the parking spot to see them off. The mighty Pajeros were quite a sight after the rains and were looking just as they should- rugged.

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As soon as they went, it was time for us to get ready for one final grind as well. Siliguri- Calcutta is almost predictable these days and we started off after breakfast at around 9 in the morning from Gazoldoba. Crossed Fulbaari bypass pretty soon and we cruised through Islampur, Dalkhola and Karandighi bypasses.

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We stopped for lunch at Bonophool Dhaba near Gazole. This place has become a preferred food stop during the day while on this route and it didn't disappoint this time as well.

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The last day drive back to home at the end of a holiday is always the most frenzied drive, at least in my case. While we were having the lunch at Gazole, the other team was doing the same at Baharampur tourist lodge.

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It was after Gazole that me and Mithun broke up as a team. He had some issue with the Fastag of his car and that ate his time at the Gazole toll plaza. I was in touch with him throughout but somehow after Krishnanagar we kind of took different routes. I took the usual STKK route while Mithun took the NH 34 route since the distance was shorter to his home through that route.

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I stopped for a chai break near Krishnanagar and soon that was to be the last stop before reaching Calcutta. Meanwhile, Debdeep and ShuvC reached their respective homes by the evening. I followed soon and reached my home at around 9 after an eventful and joyous holiday. Too much fun and too much food- well that's what the holiday was at the end of the day. Baahon crossed the 1,40,000 Kms mark during the trip and it has been a wonderful experience of blissful drives so far.

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Some snippets in a nutshell:

All the hotel stays were fabulous and every hotel is recommended highly. Road conditions were brilliant through out the journey with occasional bad patches which is to be expected just after the rains. The roads to Bumla from Tawang have improved tremendously. The Bhalukpong route is still landslide prone and if one is using their own car, Balemu-Shergaon-Rupa-Tawang is the recommended route. The road near Jang is undergoing widening and repairs and should be good in some time to come. Arunachal Pradesh is getting black top roads in unheard of sectors and it's time to explore the uncharted regions now. The state is beautiful and there are whole lot of uncharted territories to explore. Kaziranga is a nature's delight and should be on the must visit list of every traveler. The brilliant terrain and the topography must be seen to believe. Regarding NH34, only sore point is the part before where the four lane starts after Krishnanagar and which is really bad and the other is the surface of Farakka bridge. The bridge was repaired few years back but it seems the top layer is gone again and there are deep undulating ruts made by the heavy vehicles which have turned the surface precarious. Careful driving and one should be good to go though.

Hope people reading the log don't get bored or offended by the food pictures but I trust Debdeep and Mithun to add some more though

Last edited by ABHI_1512 : 6th November 2022 at 10:20.
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Old 6th November 2022, 12:07   #14
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th November 2022, 14:55   #15
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re: Tawang & Kaziranga Redux | Cars, Friends, Food and some more food

Awesome, was waiting for the writeup and like always is another wonderful effort.
I always keep updating my bucket list for places to stay whenevr i read ur tlogs��. Until next time bro, keep trippin, keep sharing
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