I am basically from Lucknow and live in Noida. Normally I board a night train to visit Lucknow. We were visiting my parents in Lucknow on new year’s weekend and this time decided to drive down because of two reasons. One, we had to pick up some stuff from my parent’s house for which we needed a vehicle. Second and more important was that, having completed the big road drive (Delhi – Jaisalmer- Jodhpur – Delhi in 4 days) on previous weekend, we were high on driving!
The Delhi to Lucknow distance is approximately 500 km by road. The standard route is Delhi – Hapur – Moradabad – Rampur- Bareilly – Shahjahanpur- Sitapur – Lucknow. I had been hearing about the bad road conditions on some stretch on this route. Another new route that is becoming popular is the Delhi – Kanpur – Lucknow route. Some of my friends tried this route few months back and said that it is fast as it’s a 4 lane road but longer than the standard route by about 50 km. We decided to take the longer and the faster one.
“Delhi Kanpur Lucknow” route can be divided into 4 parts:
a. Delhi to Agra ~ 200Km
b. Agra to Etawah ~ 125Km
c. Etawah to Kanpur ~ 150Km
d. Kanpur to Lucknow ~ 80Km
Delhi to Agra: Started early (around 5:45 am) from Noida and reached NH-2 via Kalindi Kunj. Road was clear in the morning so we covered the first 150 km quickly. Delhi-Mathura-Agra road is an important road (because of Agra) so generally one doesn’t experience bad roads here. But this time, I guess maintenance was due and we met some rough stretches. Arrived Mathura (160 km) around 8:30 and stopped at McDonald’s to get fresh, but couldn’t resist the smell of fresh burgers and ended up having burger and french fries for breakfast. You can not miss this McD while driving as its huge in size and is a good place to stop for breakfast if you start early in the morning.
We continued on NH-2 and reached Agra which was around 50 km from our first stop. On this route, I was going beyond Agra for the first time, but knew that there is a flyover from where the road turning towards right leads to Agra city and the flyover continues straight for Kanpur. I did confirm with some pedestrians and continued towards Etawah-Kanpur. This straight road is supposed to be the bypass and one expects a smooth drive. Seems that this one has lost the ‘bypass’ status as people were avoiding the service road and drove across the main bypass. This was the main bottleneck on this stretch and we took some time to cross Agra.
Agra to Etawah - From Agra, we headed towards Etawah and based on our research about this road, we were on the ‘WORK IN PROGRESS’ stretch. From Agra to Tundla (some 20 odd km) the road was quite good and I was smoothly sailing the car but after crossing Tundla, we started feeling traces of new construction. Diversions, unfinished roads, vehicles coming on wrong sides all started together. Once, near Etawah bypass, we got confused and took a newly constructed but unfinished road that was closed in between and then had to come all the way back to take the old road and ended up driving few extra km. One must take care of this specially near Etawah.
We reached Etawah around 12 pm. Bypass was still not functional so we crossed the city and continued on road towards Kanpur. The road directions inside the city are surprisingly clear and simple.
Etawah to Kanpur: After Etawah, the road condition was awesome. We felt as if we were on Delhi-Jaipur Road. The road has 4 lanes with wide divider in between. You should take care of vehicles coming towards you in the wrong direction. Yes, people avoid taking U-turns and use wrong side and it becomes very dangerous when you are driving at 100-120 kmph on a smooth road. But since the road condition is very good, one can drive on a comfortable speed to cover this stretch.
We took a small tea break, had some snacks we were carrying from Delhi and continued towards Kanpur. We reached near Kanpur around 2 pm and then took a cut that lead to Kanpur city. I visited my college HBTI after a long time. The roads inside Kanpur are just as they were 6 years back! They are in such a bad shape that by looking at the road, one can not say whether it was ever built or not!
Kanpur to Lucknow: It was really nostalgic being in Kanpur and visiting college after so many years. Finally we had evening snacks and tea in Kanpur and headed towards Lucknow. We spent around 3 hr in college and then hit back the road to reach Lucknow by late evening. In college days I used to drive my ‘Hero Puch’ on Kanpur-Lucknow high way and at that time it was 2-lane single road. Now it is 4-lane double road. The road quality is poor near Kanpur but it improved as we approached Lucknow. We covered this stretch of 80 km in around 90 minutes. Entered Lucknow around 6:30 pm and reached home at 7:30 pm.
I’m sure that like me, a lot of people must be scared of driving in UP specially because of the bad roads that existed until sometime back. The new routes are well maintained and clean and a 500 km drive is very much possible.
* Delhi to Lucknow route can be done comfortably in 8-10 hr driving at a decent speed with 2 short breaks.
* Places to stop for a break/bite:
o McDonald’s near Mathura
o A1 Plaza in between Mathura and Agra
o A1 Plaza in between Kanpur and Lucknow