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Old 29th January 2023, 12:57   #1
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Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Background: In Dec'22, X3 had turned 16 months (ODO at 17k) and the itch to take it on a really long trip was growing more than ever. It had done Mumbai-Bangalore couple of times, Bangalore-Goa once, Bangalore-Ooty once, Bangalore-Gandikota and few other relatively smaller trips. So, the planning started in November to do something bigger, bolder and traverse one leg of the golden quadrilateral. Broad contours of the plan were finalized in November first half. Plan was that my brother will travel from Mumbai to Bangalore and we'll travel to somewhere North East during Dec. last week and Jan 1st week. We started with planning for Kaziranga and gradually shifted to North Sikkim targeting Gurudongmar and Zero point. We were fully aware that targeting these two in last week of Dec. isn't the best plan as the chances of both places being open to public would be zilch. But as they say, journey is more beautiful than the destination - we thought, let's find out the truth in the statement and marched on. So, by mid November, we had finalized the dates, booked BOM-BLR flight tickets for my brother and explained our plans to mom dad. Initially, they were a little reluctant in giving their nod but finally gave a conditional approval. The condition was that they will join us on this journey.

The Plan: We started with agreeing on some tenets that we'll follow throughout the trip.
  1. We won't drive more than 1000Kms in a single day in plains
  2. Avoid night driving at any cost
  3. Swap drivers every 3-4 hours
  4. No insane speeds
  5. Re-fueling preferably in big cities instead of highways
  6. No high speeds on even marginally bad roads. We are on RFTs.
  7. Pack light and preferably in duffel bags instead of suitcases

First step was to drop pins on the map to plot our onward journey. Following the tenets above, we decided to make stops in Vizag, Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata, Darjeeling, Gangtok and finally in Lachung.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-onward-journey.png

Second step was to plan the journey for parents who were in Punjab. So instead of making them come with us all the way from Bangalore, we booked their tickets to fly to Kolkata where we planned to pick them up from and they will accompany us thereafter.

Third step was to make bookings for next 2 weeks. This was the most difficult undertaking. We started with a Google sheet, added the plan with dates and cities, started pouring in options (hotels and BnBs) and made several cancelable bookings to secure places. 1 Re bookings on MMT and ibibo are quite a boon to have while doing such planning.

Fourth step was to prep the car. ODO was at 17k and the last service was done at 12k. BMWs service intervals of 12k ensured that we had adequate range (7k) before the next engine oil service. So didn't bother to go to the service center. I've read about these service intervals that the range drops substantially after long trips. Since, in our case, we didn't have a choice to prepone the service that much, so took a chance. Only thing needed was to top up the adblue. It was showing topup amount of 7L but gulped up full 10L. Got it done from the nearby BP pump. They charged Rs. 1000 for 10L and did the honors. Tanked up on diesel also as Karnataka has the cheapest rate - Rs. 87.9 compared to all the other states we were going to travel to.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221222_133557005_hdr.jpg

Fifth and last step was to stock up on munchies, water and RedBull. This is when I learned that even Bisleri can be bought at a 50% discount when purchased in bulk . I picked up 2 crates of 1L Bisleris, carefully selected snacks that wouldn't cause any litter inside the car (Dates, cashews and makhanas) keeping it healthy and clean . Ordered enough stock of RedBull (for my brother) with 15 mins delivery a night before start.

Day-1: Bangalore to Vizag
Distance traveled: 1010 Kms
We planned to start at 4am from Bangalore and we managed to stick to the plan despite the fact that my brother's flight to Bangalore got delayed and he landed at 1am. I picked him up from the airport and we managed to get only a couple of hours of sleep before the long drive to Vizag. Any change would have a cascading effect and hence we decided to stick to the plan.

Exiting Bangalore was a breeze early in the morning and we were greeted with wide open road to Kolar. Visibility was excellent and we clicked lots of pics of tarmac. My brother said - "Do you remember, how excited we used to be 15 years back to drive 10Kms on the DND Flyway as it used to be one fine road. Now look at these never ending stretches of fine tarmac. We certainly have come a long way with regards to the quality of roads".

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_064443559.jpg

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_064450073.jpg

We didn't even realize when we crossed the border and entered Andhra. The roads continued to be superb. After driving for ~4 hours, we made our first tea stop at one of the tea shop (There are many good ones every few Kms. in Andhra). The cardamom tea was fantastic.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_080208263_hdr.jpg

In order to keep the 120kmph gong out, we covered long stretches on cruise set to **9

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-119.jpg

In Andhra, we started noticing a lot of Omnis for pollution control certificate. This is when we realized that ours is expired. I tried couple of times in Bangalore but to no avail. Both times, the sensors showed zero reading and hence they couldn't print the certificate. I also read threads on t-bhp where people have faced the same problems with BH6 engines. So, we thought of giving one of these Omnis a try. I pulled over and asked he he could generate the certificate. He readily agreed and mentioned that for my car, he simply needs to take a picture and generate the certificate. I happily agreed and got the cert for Rs. 100. Bigger surprise was that the same was updated in mParivahan app in real time and showed validity increased by 1 year. The certificate however showed validity of 6 months. We realized only a day after when the validity in mParivahan app got reversed and it started showing expired again . For now, I have a paper that says PUC valid till xx and hope that'll work.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-puc.jpg

We reached Nellore at ~10:30 and made a quick breakfast stop. This place is next to a fuel station and food was okay. No filter coffee available though.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-day1-bf.jpg

Roads continued to be good and we made it to Vijayawada at ~1:30 and faced our first traffic jam crossing the city. Lot's of red lights on this stretch and took us ~20 mins extra to cross this stretch.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-vw-jam.jpg

It was time for lunch and we stopped at a cafe called Brew Buzz while exiting Vijayawada. The place is nicely made with lot of outdoor sitting and a huge parking. It was busy at ~3pm. We ordered food but it was taking way too long. So decided to have a quick cold coffee and move. I would recommend this place to stop over if you are on this route.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-bb3.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-bb4.jpg

Roads continued to be excellent. No interruptions or unexpected bad stretches or animal crossings. It was just simple easy cruising for us. Traffic was also very light. Very few personal vehicles and truck traffic was also fairly disciplined. We crossed Penna river on the way and it looked beautiful. Sharing few more pics of excellent roads from Vijayawada to Vizag.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_161119130.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_155943714.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_163003851.jpg

Finally reached hotel at ~8. Got a safe parking spot with no adjacent cars parked. We stayed at Keys Lite by Lemon tree. A very nice and hygienic hotel in the middle of a very busy street. It's newly constructed and rooms were tidy. Ample parking space is available too. Sharing some pics of the place.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-vizag-hotel-1.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-keys1.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-keys2.jpg

There are a lot of places to eat nearby. We decided to keep it light and safe and ate at Subway which was at a walking distance from the hotel and retired early after the 1000 Kms Day-1 drive.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221224_204740078_hdr.jpg

Day-2
Vizag to Bhubaneshwar
Distance traveled: 450 Kms


Day started with researching an interesting place for breakfast. Zeroed in a place called Vasenapoli that served mouth watering Idli and Dosas made without rice. These are made from Ragi, millets and Jowar. The place is located in a very posh part of Vizag with ample parking space available right opposite the road. It's next to the governor's house. We took the toll road that went through the port. Loved the vibe of the city.
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_094142716_hdr.jpg
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Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_094157884.jpg  

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_094459837_hdr.jpg  

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_094741242_hdr.jpg  

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Old 29th January 2023, 21:05   #2
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Day-2 continued...
Vizag to Bhubaneshwar


We were eagerly looking forward to catch a glimpse of the mighty Chilka. The roads continued to be good. Sharing some pics of the road from Vizag to Bhubaneshwar. I am guilty of clicking too many road pics and they all look good. But somehow, we kept getting impressed and the roads didn't let us down 1 bit.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-viz2bhu1.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-viz2bhu2.jpg

It was always a fun conversation betting on who will win this race?

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-truck-race.jpg

On a friend's recommendation, we stopped at a view point on top of a hill that gave an expansive view of Chilka, a train track and the winding road. Parked at the shoulder and spent a few minutes watching the very beautiful lake. It's truly one of it's kind.
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_140008482_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_140231060_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_140447000_hdr.jpg

To get closer to the lake bed and get a better view, we decided to stop for lunch at Swosti Chilka Resort. It was completely packed due to peak hours and somehow we managed to convince someone to serve us lunch quickly. Food was great but the resort is overrated. It's not very well maintained and I wouldn't recommend this one for a night stay.
Post lunch, we walked to the lake bed behind the resort and clicked few pics. It was too serene and calm. There's a sunset cruise that was about to start at ~4pm. It was tempting but we decided to give it a pass and continue the onward journey. Sharing some final pics of the Lake Chilka.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_152416720.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_152429730.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_152543044.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_152900141.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_152920359_hdr.jpg

Roads were still good and we were cautioned by our friend to strictly follow speed limits in Odisha. Limit on those beautiful roads was 80. We put the car on cruise at 80 and kept going. So far so good. We were also warned of possible cattle on road. So we were extra careful but didn't face any unexpected situation. The roads looked brand new. Lot's of speed cameras though.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-od1.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-od2.jpg

We reached our destination (an AirBnB in Jharapada, Bhubaneshwar) at ~7:30pm. This is when we faced the first unpleasant experience. Since this was just a night stay, we decided to book a BnB and upon reaching the destination, we couldn't trace the house location. The plot numbers were all jumbled up and locals said it's impossible to locate the house with a number in this area. The host wasn't reachable at all.
Here, we learned how BnB owners game the system. This host had several rooms in his house all listed with different fancy names. None of them searchable on Google. He had the same rooms listed on various other platforms as well and once the ratings go poor, they simply change the listing with a different name and a minor change in address. Finally we managed to find the house somehow and found that there were a couple of other guests struggling to find the other rooms listed by the same host.
Nevertheless, this was now time to head out for dinner and this time it better be good. On recommendation from a friend, we decided to head to Bocca Cafe. Had a nice cold coffee and a delicious pizza and headed back to the BnB. Some food and restaurant pics for a change from road and car pics.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_202850132_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_204218016_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221225_204944034_hdr.jpg

And that's how day 2 comes to an end. We managed to get good sleep at the not-so-good BnB
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Old 29th January 2023, 22:14   #3
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Day-3: Bhubaneshwar to Kolkata
Distance: ~450 Kms


We decided to start early and were ready to hit the road at ~7am. But the BnB host wasn't up and the main door was locked. The watchman didn't have the keys as well. So had to hustle for next 15 mins to get out of the place. Lessons learnt for next time

There was some early morning fog but nothing too serious.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-fog.jpg

Just a little further, we saw a nasty accident. Possibly happened due to the fog. Road condition had started deteriorating by now. Lot of diversions.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_085931359_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_085935100_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_085937963_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_085939819_hdr.jpg

And more diversions to follow.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-diversion.jpg

And then the first railway crossing on the NH. Notice the chaotic traffic. By now, the character of road and traffic was changing.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-rc.jpg

We were moving very slow by now. Multiple times, encountered cattle on road too. Road condition kept getting worse. More diversions and construction.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_110743907_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_110844469.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_113747300_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_114232384.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221226_114401438.jpg

Reached Salt Lake City by 3pm and before checking in, went to have lunch. We were hungry as we'd skipped breakfast There was no place to stop on the way.
Had this delicious Bengali Veg Thali at Bhojohori Manna. This was in sector-5, Salt Lake City.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-bengali-thali.jpg

Post this, checked-in. This time, AirBnB was really good and hosted by a Super host in Sector-1, Salt Lake city. There was a puchka and bhel-puri waala right outside our BnB. I was still in complete compliance with the tenets especially the one related to not indulging in street food. But this one was something special. The crowd kept pouring in for this one. His mountain of pani puris kept vanishing at a rapid pace. So we finally gave in to the temptation. Had a few after standing in queue for ~20 mins and then quickly rushed to the Airport to pick up mom dad. Got them back home and they also relished the amazing puchkas and bhel puri. As a mandatory thing, we had to have nolen gur Sondesh and rosogullas. So, quickly looked up the best rated sweet shop in the vicinity and headed to Gangurams. It was quite good. Came back tired and crashed. No food pics taken this time. Completely missed.
Next morning, had to leave early for Darjeeling.

Last edited by dagger8 : 29th January 2023 at 22:17.
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Old 31st January 2023, 17:28   #4
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Day-4: Kolkata to Lamahatta
Distance: ~620Kms


Day-4 was probably the longest leg that we planned to cover on this trip. Google maps was showing 16.5Hrs and we had to cross the notorious Farakka barrage.
Start was good. We had a basic breakfast at the BnB and started the journey at ~6:15. We had 2 extra large suitcases and couple of hand carry bags. Boot was just the right size to fit all of it. There wasn't any space to breathe . Here's how our boot looked like fully stuffed.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-luggage.jpg

For this leg, we took the NH12 (as suggested by Google Maps) and the roads were non-existent for quite some time. The landscape had changed completely .

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221227_071422636_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-bad-road-1.jpg

By 10, we started to get hungry and thought of stopping in Berhampur for breakfast. My brother found a pure vegetarian south Indian breakfast place and we started the excursion to reach there. Entered the city and the lanes kept getting narrower. At one point we had to take a call where to leave the car and start walking. So found an empty plot, parked the car and started walking towards the location.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-bpur-parked.jpg

We kept walking in the narrow lanes. This is when we realized that Google Maps isn't the saving grace always. City was waking up and vendors were setting up shops on road sides. I was only worried about not forgetting where I parked the car so that we can walk back after having the sumptuous south Indian breakfast. And then the unexpected happened. After walking for ~15 mins, we found that the place didn't exist. We started asking locals on what can we get for breakfast. Someone pointed us to a nearby shop and we got a delicious dal puri with alloo subzi. This was hot, fresh and amazing.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-bpur-bfast.jpg

And then, we reached the dreaded Farakka at ~1PM and got stuck in a huge traffic jam that took more than 2 hours to clear. One one hand, we were thinking, it was already a 16+ hours of travel and now we are stuck for an unimaginable amount of time. On the other hand, what a place it is to get stuck. Ganga is mighty and amazing at this point. One can't get tired watching it all day. Some pics of the river and the jam.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-ganga.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221227_131124302_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221227_131152301_hdr.jpg

And here's the root cause of the massive jam. The road was only being operated 1 way as the other side was freshly laid and closed for next 3-4 hours. This indigenous vehicle carrying huge load got stuck in the wrong side and he couldn't get the ride in reverse gear. He was tinkering with a spanner in hand trying to get the vehicle in reverse. This process took him more than an hour when the vehicle finally moved.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221227_133548423.jpg

Post this, roads improved a bit and we stopped for a late lunch at Hotel Golden Park in Malda. We didn't know about this place earlier but later read that this is the default stop for everyone on this road. Food was good. Instead of their main restaurant, they keep the resto-bar open for lunch.

Post lunch, we wanted to cover up distance fast and hence no more stops. Only bio breaks at fuel pumps.
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-iop.jpg

Our ETA to the hotel in Lamahetta was already showing post 11pm. So we decided to keep going non-stop. We followed Google Maps to the T and this is the second time we got on the wrong way. We booked our stay at a place called Pine Haven Resort in Lamahetta. It's a nice hotel and they did warn us that the approach road is a bit difficult and there's no road for 1.5 Kms. We asked them what kind of cars are able to reach comfortably? To which they answered that Innova, Wagon R, Altos are able to come quite easily. So we though that's not a big deal and we should be fine. The way that Google maps showed us was not the primary one but an alternate route with more than 1.5 Kms of off-road. It was significantly more. At this time, it was 11:30pm and we were in the middle of Tukdah Forest. We had no idea where we were going and it became quite difficult to proceed as it was very steep and rocky. We were quite anxious as it was late, pitch dark, nobody on that stretch, no help available and there was no way to turn back as well. Only respite was that there was mobile reception available and we were able to call the hotel staff who was very cooperative. However, based on the location we gave them, they had no idea where we were. We kept following maps and got some sense of direction and reached a post office. This clicked. Now the hotel staff knew that we were somewhere near and they came running to guide us further. By this time, it was 12:30. We checked in and crashed. What an adventurous day it turned out to be.
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Old 1st February 2023, 08:25   #5
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Interesting journey. Nice to see the transition from dosas to puri aalo as the journey progresses south to north .

Reminds me of our trip to Sikkim / Darjeeling / Kalimpong. Hated the roads - the locals used to complain that it was ghats and not manageable, but I believe TN/Karnataka has enough ghats which are maintained very well. (Just shows how we Indians just accept sub-par quality as a norm).
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Old 1st February 2023, 08:35   #6
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Quote:
Originally Posted by dagger8 View Post
It's a nice hotel and they did warn us that the approach road is a bit difficult and there's no road for 1.5 Kms. We asked them what kind of cars are able to reach comfortably? To which they answered that Innova, Wagon R, Altos are able to come quite easily. So we though that's not a big deal and we should be fine. The way that Google maps showed us was not the primary one but an alternate route with more than 1.5 Kms of off-road. It was significantly more.
Google develops its own brains when it hits the hills.
In 2021 August, we stayed in the same area and Google was very keen that I take my Ecosport through those beautiful off-road trails!
However, since it was day time, combined with the fact that i dont trust the Google lady, we decided to stop-ask-go.
The regular route was probably 0.2 kms longer but way smoother! After reaching the B&B, i actually took a walk towards the Google recommended route which was :
a) Closed
b) strewn with huge boulders and sticky mud
c) insanely stupid to try on anything other than a BullDozer (which was exactly what the locals were using to lay the road)

I have a feeling that Google mistook fast walking locals as vehicles and charted the course! So much for AI!
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Old 1st February 2023, 19:09   #7
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

This must have been a fun drive. However, this report seems to be incomplete. I plan to do a similar road trip from Mumbai some day. Your RFTs have done really well especially on non-existent roads. Look forward to reading your detailed experience in North Sikkim.
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Old 2nd February 2023, 17:07   #8
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Day 5: Touristy stuff in Darjeeling
No driving day


After an extremely adventurous night drive, we had a very peaceful sleep. Hotel Pine Haven is good and rooms here are big and comfortable. They gave us heated blankets that kept the beds cozy. Breakfast was nice and basic.

One of the key considerations to take the car out was availability of parking which is in absolute scarcity in Darjeeling. We had planned to do all the touristy stuff today i.e. walk the Mall, take the joy ride, visit peace pagoda and few other places. So, we booked a taxi for the full day and keep the car parked at the hotel.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_091212762_hdr.jpg

We got a Bolero and it really is the GOAT in these terrains. Here's a short clip of the approach road of the resort and how effortless Bolero makes it look:

On the same day, a Kia Seltos was trying to climb this and the wheels kept spinning. Part of the problem was with the driver too who was revving the engine more than required. After few attempts he literally gave up. Then one of the cab drivers helped him, drove his car all the way up to the highway and came back. It really wasn't as simple as it appears in the video.

The cab dropped us at the top of the Mall road so that we could walk down and reach the train station. There was some Darjeeling tourism festival going on at that time. Here are some pics/videos from our sight seeing.



Mall road was usual stuff. We wanted to pick up some Darjeeling teas and a close friend had recommended us to buy Makaibari silver tips tea. We picked up a few varieties and marched on.
Next recommendation was to have a meal at Glenary's. Unfortunately, this was the scene at Glenary's. There was a huge waiting line for restaurant and in their bakery shop, it was mayhem. Wasn't possible to get our hands on anything (especially eggless).

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221228_124945216.jpg

So we kept our Mall road affair short and walked to the train station for the Joy ride. The tickets for the same can be booked on IRCTC. Here the trick was that one can't book a ticket when the source and destination station is the same. For this purpose, they have 2 station codes for the same station. We booked the ride from DJ to DJRZ. Couple of pics and short videos of the Joy Ride.





This one is the diesel engine that also does the duty along with the steam ones. The ticket for the diesel engine train ride is a bit cheaper than the steam engine one.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221228_133802309_hdr.jpg

As we all know that in Darjeeling city, the train track is along side the road and it crosses the road at several points without any marked crossings. So the traffic aligns to the side and lets the train pass. At one instance, there was a Scorpio that stopped in the way and couldn't clear the train's path as the car ahead of it stopped. So the train engine brushed aside the Scorpio and didn't even stop. Poor guy. He made no mistake but still ended up in this situation

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221228_135757375-1.jpg

After finishing the Joy ride, we called our taxi and headed to Peace Pagoda. This is a beautiful and serene place. It was a bit foggy when we reached there.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221228_154753614_hdr.jpg

We were already tired by this time and decided to head back home. Drive back to Lamahatta was ~1 hour. Long one but very scenic. So we called it a day. Next day, we had to leave for Gangtok and the thought of scary off-road drive from hotel to highway kept thins interesting.
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Old 2nd February 2023, 21:27   #9
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Day 6: Darjeeling to Gangtok
Distance: ~95 Kms


Today was a "wake up when you want to" day as the distance to be traveled was less. But our body clocks were set to wake up in wee hours. Our hotel reviews mentioned that one could get good views of the Kanchenjunga in the mornings but it was not the case for us as it was cloudy. We started the onward journey to Gangtok by 9:15 am. First task was to cross the unpaved track (~2kms) and get to the tarmac. This is how it looked like. It doesn't look that steep in the pictures but it was. Top it up with the slippery stones and sharp hairpin bends. X3 handled these like a pro. My brother was driving and he's (somewhat) trained off-roader. The key was to keep the throttle input to a minimum. All wheel drive came in handy here.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_092202720_hdr.jpg

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_091850451_hdr.jpg

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_092023585.jpg

Once this stretch was over, we were greeted by one of the best and most scenic road to Gangtok. This scenic stretch is called Peshok road that takes you down to Teesta river and then joins NH-10 to Gangtok. Our cab driver from last day warned us about this road as the descent is quite steep. On our way, there was a small congestion where couple of other cab drivers noticed out out-station car, asked us to roll down our window and suggested us to go in second gear and use engine braking as much as possible. Too much braking will make your brakes very hot and they can even catch fire. We didn't bother much and drove as usual and it was just a regular joy ride (A Bimmer on such twisties - what else can one ask for).

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_095238002.jpg

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_095247982.jpg

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_095647925.jpg

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_095712748.jpg

We were quite fascinated with these bridges throughout our journey as they look beautiful, delicate and drivers are quite disciplined while crossing these. This was the first one we encountered on our way and TBH it looked scary. Despite several vehicles crossing the bridge safely, a question still pops up in everyone's mind - What if???

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_100050530_hdr.jpg

From here on, the river Teesta rides along the roadside. It's a beautiful shade of blue. There are several places where one can stop and spend time watching the beautiful river flow. We were not in a hurry and made the most of this scenic drive.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_105852865_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_111453173.jpg

Somewhere along the way, we made a quick stopover and had this delicious sweet curd. This was very different from the Kolkata Mishti Doi but it was fresh and lip smacking. Looked too tempting to resist.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_111103083_hdr.jpg

After going a little ahead, we saw a car wash and dad immediately agreed to get a quick water wash. There's something with dads that they absolutely hate traveling in dirty cars. And I on the other hand, didn't let him remove the dust as the car is bone stock i.e. no PPF or ceramic. So this decision was taken in a flash and we got in queue and asked them to do a quick water wash and dry.
While I was taking the car on this ramp, my brother insisted that I don't do this and let them wash the car without ramp. The guys insisted and I thought it's okay. The cars before were also getting washed like this. But later he shared that these ramps are quite risky and he has seen accidents happen with such ramps while setting up cars in Auto Expo. Key reason being these are not clamped to the ground and if the car goes a little further, it has a tendency to flip. Once even a person got his leg fractured who was trying to put weight on the ramp to make it stable. This time, made a mistake but lesson learnt.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_115635476_hdr.jpg

After this, it was smooth road till our resort. We decided to stay outside the main city and booked Udaan Alpine Resort. Its' a beautiful property just on the outskirts and surrounded by mountains. For us, cherry on the cake was that all Udaan Group of hotels are pure vegetarian and mom dad loved the food. It was genuinely good and service was excellent too. Got a preferred parking spot too with no adjacent cars parked close.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_143712548_hdr.jpg

We booked a family suite i.e. a single room for all 4 of us. It had a nice attic where me and my brother slept. It was lovely. Only one negative if at all we have to mention was that they charged separately for room heaters. This was a unique one that we didn't experience in the entire journey. Sharing few pics of the restaurant and the room.

Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_154702827_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_142258422_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_142208593_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_142052531_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_142039898_hdr.jpg
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-img_20221229_142025219_hdr.jpg

We had lunch here and now only task was to plan for the next day. We wanted to do Changu lake and Nathu La. After that, we wanted to sort out the permits issues for our travel to Lachung. This is something that gave us quite some headache. Hotel gave us some contacts which all converged to a single person. He was persistent that it is very risky to go to North Sikkim in our own car and especially when this is from another state. On top of it, he said there are no permits being issued for nAthu La and Changu Lake. We tried hard and called almost every possible taxi operator we could find on Google. Couldn't find anything reliable and the one assisting from the hotel wasn't willing to take us anywhere. So Nathu La was scrapped and our worry was to quickly make progress on permit for Lachung. Our wonderful team-bhp members suggested us to get the permits from Mangan and that was our last resort.

I made one last try calling our hotel in Lachung and the manager game me a contact from Mangan who could help me with the permit. The gentleman sounded very promising and assured that we will have the permit next morning i.e. one day before our travel. We sent him all details and he asked for some advance payment (anything we feel like). We transferred the entire amount and he kept the trust. Next day first thing, we received our permits.

So output of Day-6: Traveled to Gangtok, ended up in a very good hotel, secured the last leg of our trip. Ended the day and retired peacefully in our attic.
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Old 25th March 2023, 16:36   #10
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Quick question if you know. I am driving to Bhutan from Bangalore. Taking almost the same route except that I do not need to stop over in Kolkata. Any route suggestion for Bhubaneswar to Siliguri?
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Old 30th March 2023, 12:13   #11
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Quote:
Originally Posted by nissar View Post
Quick question if you know. I am driving to Bhutan from Bangalore. Taking almost the same route except that I do not need to stop over in Kolkata. Any route suggestion for Bhubaneswar to Siliguri?
While going, we took the suggested route from Kolkata i.e. Krishnanagar, Berhampore but this road isn't good. On our way back, we got recommendations to take the marked route i.e. Berhampore to Bardhaman and then follow AH1 to Kolkata. This was a single road but much less traffic and much better surface.
Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d-kolkata-siliguri.png

Now, if you are coming from Bhubaneswar and do not want to enter Kolkata, then there's a direct road connecting Kharagpore to Bardhaman. This is a small stretch which I didn't travel. Rest of it is good to go.

If someone can validate the road condition from Kharagpur to Bardhaman, then rest of the way is sorted.

Hope this helps.
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Old 31st March 2023, 07:24   #12
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Re: Bangalore to North Sikkim | 6300 km | BMW X3 20d

Quote:
Originally Posted by dagger8 View Post

Hope this helps.
Thanks a lot. I have already reached Bhutan now and i took the Durgapur route after a truck driver said it was fine. The route had a lot of single lane but the roads were good. Plus we could stay the night at Durgapur at Fortune by ITC. I recommend this route if you want a nice hotel.

But during my return i am not sure if i should take the same route or try to reach Kolkata the same day from Phuentsholing. Is it safe to reach Kolkata little late at night say 11pm or 12am. Pardon me for the question as I don't have much idea. So far I have managed to avoid night driving in unfamiliar places.
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