Delhi – Kolkata – Delhi – Road Trip – Part 2

Day 1: Delhi to Varanasi: 5th Feb 2010 (793 km)

The journey continues…

Thanks for all the comments. And thanks for recharging my batteries.

Part 1 was all about our raw excitement. With Part 2, we will try to describe the journey with a little bit of extended information which will help the readers to digest the journey as well as help them to note down details, if they think of trying the same (I mean driving to Kolkata) by themselves.

Now where are we …err… we have just hit the road. Its 5:15 am, and we need to stop for filling – both the tank as well as our purse (P&P – Petrol&Purse!). It was still dark outside when we crossed Ballabgarh (Haryana) – the Trip meter showed 15.2 kms. Again, out of the shear excitement, totally forgot to mention the name of the partners involved in this eventful journey.

  1. Sounav Maikap (my hubby – who drove through the whole stretch)
  2. Annoushka our 2 year daughter
  3. pici (bua)
  4. and me (being the navigator)

Me the Navigator


After clearing Ballabgarh, Sounav concentrated on kicking up the average (a trick which he learned just before the journey). We were able to touch 18.5 km/litre! That was something big considering the amount of luggage at the back. For the sake of knowledge, the New Honda City has a real time average meter.  By the time we are testing with the average thing, little Annoushka has fallen asleep after finishing her favourite chocolate. It was at the Mathura refinery (130 km), that we saw the first glimpse of the morning sun. Due to the excitement or not, it really looked beautiful and different. The confluence of the fire coming out of the chimney of Mathura refinery and the orange – red sun looked outrageous. It was at that very point we decided to have our breakfast (home cooked noodles by Sounav) as well as enjoy the sunrise.

Time for a bit of information, to travel from Delhi to Kolkata one need to cross NH2 mainly, which covers a distance of 1465 kms. Don’t confuse this with the GT Road (historical Grand Trunk Road), though there are portions of overlapping stretch with the latter.  NH2 is also popularly known as Delhi-Kolkata Road. As per as memory goes we didn’t find a single single-lane road throughout the whole NH2. Apart from a negligible few kilometres driving through NH2 was quite comfortable. Also, all major cities have a bypass attached to it – as a result there is no time lapse.

Quite a bit of advice … time to move on. It’s not before 8:00 am we hit Agra bypass. We have lost considerable time experimenting with the average of the car, time to sit on the throttle. Sounav is a speed freak, we were maintaining an average speed of 100-120 kms with occasional thrusts of 160’s also.  We jumped with excitement, when near the Agra toll booth we saw a Green board displaying “Kanpur 285 Km and Kolkata 1290 Km”. It’s like a milestone for us. We have just crossed the first hurdle towards success.  We could not hold but to call our parents (thanks to the roaming facilities) and shared the excitement of the moment.

The sun is on its directional high and blazing with all power, ringing an invisible bell announcing its 12:00 – we need to prepare ourselves for the lunch. We have covered by then 442 kms (in 6 hrs!) and were crossing the unending Kanpur bypass. We were literally hunting for a “Dhaba” but did not find a “suitable” one. We were practically stopping and asking to locals for a “suitable” place to eat. I still remember one of those guys telling us, “Aage 2 km chaliye, VIP restaurant mil jayega”. 2 km felt like 200 kms, ultimately we stopped near “Pandeo Bhojonaloy“, a Dhaba at Gulamipur, Kaushambi, UP. Sounav by then was quite tired and need some “fuel” for himself.

Gulamipur stop


Birthday girl with me at “Pandeo Bhojonaloy“


Mithu with Annoushka


We were having a very high hope about the Dhaba and ordered Sahi Paneer/Dal Makhni/Aloo-Gobi/Tawa roti/dahi and salad, but the food was horrible and we could hardly have it. The high point of that stoppage was that little Annoushka found a friend in the form of “Mithu” – a caged parrot with the Dhaba owner.

After that non satisfactory whole meal (rather a meal with a hole) we continued our journey at 2:45 pm. Our car was also asking for her share of lunch and we had to satisfy her with 1000 rupees worth of petrol.

Petrol stop - Annoushka having a gala time


High speed accidents

The brand new Allahabad by pass

Our meter now reads 598 km and then we saw another green board announcing Varanasi is still 171 kms away. At the 612 km mark we came across the new Allahadad bypass. The road is still under construction.  To our surprise and good luck, we found the Toll booth is not open for public. Driving through the whole stretch felt like a out-of-world experience. The closest we can match (the experience as well as the road), is our trip to Blue Mountains, Sydney, Australia, last year.

Yellow mustard field

By the time we are close to Varanasi we found ourselves zipping through the yellow mustard fields. In between we were surrounded by Mango trees, we barely could see any leaves except for the flowers. Seems like, a good season is nearing. By 5:00 pm, as we were very close to Varanasi city, the sun was about to say goodbye, by changing its color to Red like a Chameleon. Darkness is about to win another battle.

We were by then propelling hard to reach “UP tourism Rahi Guest” where we have booked for that night. As for a bit of advice, the road which goes to Varanasi City is easily missable – guessed right – we missed that. It was supposed to be a small green hoarding displaying the direction towards Varanasi city.  On nearing the Varanasi toll gate, we realized that we missed the opportunity to go to the city. With the help of a local we managed a road going towards our destination. Needless to explain, how horrendous the (driving) experience was.

Traffic mess at Varanasi

At times, Sounav was highly frustrated and seemed like he wanted to stop till the road gets clear. With due respect to all my Banarasi friends, the driving experience you get every day by driving through the by lanes of Varanasi, I think, you guys can drive anywhere in the world (rather galaxy)!

Friendly neighbourhood cow - “Show stoppers“


Not a good day!

Somehow after crawling through the lanes, we managed to reach Rahi guest house without a single scratch! UP Tourism’s Rahi Guest house is situated (inside a “galli”) just opposite to the Varanasi Railway station. It’s quite economic (Rs.690 for double bed Air Cooled rooms) and spacious. One can book online. The most important of all, it has its own parking space (which seems to be an unknown word at Varanasi). After a quick refreshment we headed towards Kashi Vishwanath Temple, not in our car offcorse. We rather took a rickshaw (Just for knowledge, the word “rickshaw” originates from the Japanese word jinrikisha which literally means “human-powered vehicle”) which seems to be the only safe transport at Varanasi. The temple is sometimes called as Golden Temple because of a 1000 kg gold plated spire and dome. Needless to say, the security was very heavy. Due to the worship of Shiva you will find many foreigners looking for Cannabis.   As Annoushka’s birthday was on that very day we offered a quick puja. By the way, the temple remains open through the night.

Madhur Milan Restaurant.


Rabri devi of Varanasi - yum!!

On coming out of the temple, we felt the pain of millions of rats doing sit-ups, in our stomachs. And we settled for a quick dinner at Madhur Milan Resturant. The food was great, especially the Rabri! (I still dream of that).

Dasaswamedh Ghat


Famous dome like structures of Varanasi

As for a last glimpse of Varanasi we visited Dasaswamedh Ghat, a stone throw walking distance from Madhur Milan. We missed the famous “Aarati” of Varanasi (which happens every evening at the same ghat) due to the evening rush. Kashi is considered to be the oldest living city of the world, with more than 3500 years of documented history. Though hard to digest, but it seems to be true as one can see numerous examples scattered throughout the city.

How can we put a full stop to the eventful day without tasting “Khaike paan Benaras-wala”. We gulped few and headed towards our hotel. We required a much needed rest as we need to complete our balance journey.

Till then…

Hotwheels

Click here for Part 3 of the journey

48 Comments

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Dear Anjana,

    A very informative write-up.

    In UP tourism hotel , Rooms & food both are good as well as economical, best thing is that hotel is very close to railway station.

    You rightly said that our Varanasi friends can drive any where in the world. :-)

    There are couple of shops near Dasaswamedh Ghat where you can get flavored suparies (mouth fresheners) , they export also.

    Have you tried Varanasi’s thandai ?

    For home food I prefer to go to a restaurant at main market (Godaulia) run by Gujarati dharamshala. But its purely vegetarian.

    • Deepak sharma says:

      FULL 1 DAY TOUR OF KOLKATA @ RS1000/- PER HEAD AND FOR GANGA SAGAR EXTRA RS. 500/- PER HEAD. TOUR INCLUDE 1)DAKSHINESWAR 2) KALI GHAT 3 ) VICTORIA MEMORIAL 4 ) BIRLA PLANITORIUM 5) KOLKATA ZOO AND SOME COMPLIMENTORY VISIT . IF INTERESTED CALL ME @ 09831658618 , NAME = DEEPAK SHARMA , EMAIL ID = deepnsi@yahoo.com

  • NARESH says:

    Dear Anjana,

    your trip was very interesting,and after that………?????????

    • Anjana and Sounav says:

      Please wait for the Part 3 of the story which mainly covers Jharkhand, Bihar and Kolkata … also covers Allahabad (Sangam) while coming back to Delhi

      • saurabh says:

        can anybody tell me the bypass road for delhi, if i am coming from sonipat side and want to go kanpur bypassing delhi.

        it urgent,

        • souvik says:

          Dear saurabh,
          Unfortunately there is no bypass in delhi, however the government has decided to make two bypasses one through kundli-manesar-palwal other through baghpat-ghaziabad side but construction has yet to begin.The best way to cross delhui is in early hours through ring road wjich passes through the heart of city in a circular fashion.regards

      • Hi,
        i would like to know whether it is safe to travel on a personal car through Jharkhand to Kolkata from Delhi in the aftermath of the maoist carnage.
        regards

  • nandanjha says:

    Ok. So Allahabad bypass is done. Great. Not sure whether you have read my story. I did this stretch (not till Kolkata but went north at Mohania, ahead of Varanasi) couple of years back.

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2008/06/29/delhi-%E2%80%93-patna-road-review/

    You are so right about Varanasi signboard, I thought someone would have fixed it. We missed it too. There were three of us, my better half + our then 3 year old daughter.

    I am curious to read the next leg of journey.

  • nandanjha says:

    And get a gravatar image from http://www.gravatar.com , it would appear along side the title as well with your comments.

  • Nice to know that Allahabad by-pass is done.

    When I went to Kolkata in October 2008, I had to go through Allahabad city and crossed a few level crossings, and stretches of horrible cobblestoned road for a few km – it took nearly 2 1/2 hours to cross this stretch.
    I missed my chance to drive on the by-pass when I went to Allahabad again this February, though I have seen that it is open now.

    You can read my pot at http://www.amitava.in/travelogue.htm (The website is a personal one, developed by myself – just started…

    http://www.travel-library.com/asia_pacific/india/in_20090611131436.html

    Look forward to read more…

    Regards,
    amitava07@gmail.com

    • nandanjha says:

      Amitava – your run reads pretty crazy, a true ghumakkarish flavor. Enjoy !!

      • Hi! Thank you for your comments.
        I also read your post – very well articulated…
        I have travelled from Wagah Border to almost the last motorable road in Bengal – now, I am thinking to cover South…may be next year…
        Invite you to my website…after a week or so…for more such articles/updates…
        Regards

  • The whole post was very exciting !
    Congrats for writing such a lovely post.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    Anjana,

    Your write up is simply charismatic and breezy – I had to read it in one go.

    A lucid and vivid description of your journey from Delhi to Varanasi. Rabri Devi of Varanasi was simply hillarious.

    Thanks for inserting some well taken supporting pictures.

    Awaiting the next part of the journey.

  • Mam,
    you have a great art of expression what you have in your mind. Bravo…. I am kostubh from Corbett National Park and works as a travel person here in Corbett. I like to invite you here in Corbett so all ghumakkars can get lots of information what they couldn’t get earlier as the best writer didn’t came here yet. So plan a trip of corbett, I’ll give you some travel ideas when you plan for it. Hope we’ll meet soon here in Corbett…… Again its a very nice write up I ever read on Ghumakkar.

    • Anjana Saha says:

      Hi Kostubh,
      Thanks for your kind and generous remarks. Its my honour that you have liked my writeup. You yourself is no strange to the blogging world. I have seen your numerous post. I have been to Corbett twice, once for a day and another for a couple of days (@Infinity Resort) but still I know I have seen only 10% of Corbett. Again, thanks for your invitation. We will surely come up with some “excuse”!

      Thanks once again,
      Anjana

  • Dear Mam,

    As you wrote that you stayed in Resorts only I confirmed that you have not been in the most proffered zone for wildlife i.e. Dhikala Zone. Now I offer you the visit of Dhikala Zone and I hope you know well that this is very tough to get accommodation in Dhikala. I have Rooms in this zone for 19 to 21 st May and 21st to 23rd May. So if you like to visit the real Corbett do contact me ASAP as I wish that you should be there as you are a true ghumakkar & writer too. If possible do me a call at 09359363083 or 09837092025. I’ll let you know other details for that. Hope we’ll meet soon here.

    • Deepak sharma says:

      FULL 1 DAY TOUR OF KOLKATA @ RS1000/- PER HEAD AND FOR GANGA SAGAR EXTRA RS. 500/- PER HEAD. TOUR INCLUDE 1)DAKSHINESWAR 2) KALI GHAT 3 ) VICTORIA MEMORIAL 4 ) BIRLA PLANITORIUM 5) KOLKATA ZOO AND SOME COMPLIMENTORY VISIT . IF INTERESTED CALL ME @ 09831658618 , NAME = DEEPAK SHARMA , EMAIL ID = deepnsi@yahoo.com
      FOR MORE DETAILS CALL ME

  • Very well written Anjana. Looking forward to be with you in your onward journey till Kolkata.

    Interesting information about Rickshaw as well.

  • This article is terrific and up to date. I totally agree with the writer regarding all this stuff of Trips .The information provided in here is very fruitful and i would like to add on one more technology which i found during searching for last two hours on GPS in india
    http://www.satguide.in/
    check it and let me know, what you think about it.
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    Sales Manager

  • umesh mishra says:

    i am native of u.p.staying in mumbai.as my brother works at ramnagar dairy, i also visit varanasi frequently.visiting ramnagar fort would have been excellent idea.auto over pontoon bridge is nothing short of adventure trip.wonderful writeup.seems as if i am travelling with you.waiting for part 3.

  • rajan arora says:

    Great write up Anjana… very nicely narrated..been to kanpur a few times but not beyond that. waiting eagerly for part 3…

  • Great job Anjana.

    I can very well feel the level of your excitement as you narrate the journey. I have read you part 1&2 and much eagerly waiting for the 3rd. I hail from patna and likely to travel this May. I would really appreciate if you could please post the 3rd part before I leave as it would be of great help to me. How’s anoushka anyway? God bless her!!

    Thanks in advance.

  • rajesh says:

    Excellent effort. please complete the story how was your journey.

  • prayags says:

    Hi,

    A really engrossing read. I can not wait for the part – III. Me and wife were amazed at the energy level you and your family has.. I mean after driving for whole day you decided to go for darshan and other places as well. No wonder you could do this long journey in two days.
    Amazing..

    Regards

  • Somnath Das says:

    It is really a Thrilling, and one can assume how you experienced enjoyment/hurdles Etc……. It is good for the people who are planning for such trips…….. I can easily guess your experience in U.P. ( ULTA PRADESH Not UTTAR PRADESH) Thanks……… I had some Different Experience in UP While travalling to Firozabad from Delhi several times…………

    Thanks to you for posting your Experiences…………….

  • nandanjha says:

    the wait for Part 3 is getting longer :-)

    We are mid-way, make us reach Kolkata.

  • samresh says:

    gulamipur is my favorate place

  • Onil Gandhi says:

    from one ghumakkar to another …. well travelled..well written..the picture captions are quite apt

    i share

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2010/06/20/car-trip-mumbai-manali-mumbai-4550-kms-in-15-days/

  • pranshu says:

    great job and a very informative post.

    Is the yamuna expressway operational i.e. for coming to delhi from agra?

  • Arunava says:

    I have seen your posts ,its very much impressive.
    I am planning for a trip to Delhi from Kolkata on my bike(Yamaha R15)
    I will not drive at night.please suggest me places where I will stay & the stretch between Dhanbad and Varansai as there are no big cities.
    Hope I will get NH2 in a better condition.

  • Joyjeet Bose says:

    Dear Anjana,

    I drove from Delhi to Kolkata and back (this week). I too stopped in Varanasi for the night before continuing my onward journey. I had a great time with my family and I have referred to your travelogue quite a few times before finalizing my journey. Thanks for all the information that you have provided.

    -regards,
    Joyjeet

  • very informative!!!….

  • Amalabha Banerjee says:

    Hi, I am planning to go to Kharagpur frKarnal on 15th June 2011 solo drive Ford figo diesel with my family. will drive through NH2, halt at Varanasi. Earlier we travelled in June 2007 by WagonR. Any body recently travelled from Delhi to Kolkata by NH2 recently pls suggest…………….

    • Joyjeet says:

      Hi Amalabha,
      I will try to be precise in my description. I traveled from Noida to Kolkata and back this January and I loved it. Anjana’s description in this article is very good and helped me a lot. But I did my home work. I noted all the cities at 20 mins interval on the way and enabled my mapmyindia device to track me. I also subscribed to Google latitude and kept my BB on so that my friends could track me. The signals are not good in Bihar and Jharkand but the mapmyindia device was good. It tells you the petrol pumps and the eating joints on the high way. But note I found all the reliance joints closed and is a pity. I also had a print out of the Google map with a resolution of 2 Kms. I used to tank early and check the tyre pressure every morning and not in the evening. It might be a good idea to ensure that a hand pump and other tubeless accessories are with you.
      Start early and it solves most of your problem. I drove mostly during day time on the first day of our journey. On the second day as we were reaching our destination we drove till early evening.
      The drive through Delhi will slow you down and Delhi to Agra is very congested and you cannot avoid it. Is it possible for you to stay in Agra? The ride from Agra to Varanasi is going to be very good. Just pay you toll and zip through. Do not forget to take the Kanpur Bypass followed by the Allahabad Bypass. The Allahabad bypass is 82 Kms and it is NOT complete. The 4lane becomes 2 lanes in some place so try to drive behind the trucks and overtake them cautiously.
      The road from Varanasi to Durgauti is crowded because of trucks and the road condition is good but not great. You will slow down a bit in the leg. From there till Durgapur in West Bengal it should be a smooth drive. If you try to go via NH2-NH6 then the road from Durgapur to Panagarh is bad with lot of pot holes, traffic. Finally when you reach Palsit, the toll road traffic slows you down by 1 hour. The number of trucks moves at a snail pace. You have to use your imagination to get around the traffic. If you take NH-60, then you will reach Karaghpur straight.
      Hope this helps.
      -regards,
      Joyjeet

  • Amalabha Banerjee says:

    Dear Joyjeet,

    sir, thank u for your kind advice.
    I will also have MapmyIndia GPS Navigator system in my car.
    We will start very early morning and hope we can reach Varanasi by 8PM.
    Will follow as adviced. Regarding NH60, in my last visit June 2007 it was very bad condition. So I can reroute my journey only after confirmation about road condition.
    Pls help me if you can get this information.

    Thanks with regards
    Amalabha

    • Joyjeet says:

      Hello Amalabha,
      I have enquired about the status of the NH60 from my friend who has been there in December 2010 and the road there is still not in great shape. This means you probably have to stick to the highways NH2-NH6. This also means that the bottle neck will be in Panagarh and Palsit.
      -regards,
      Joyjeet

  • Amalabha Banerjee says:

    Dear All,

    I want to share my recent experience of journey by road from karnal to kharagpur. we had a fine trip. stared early at 3:15 am from karnal so no triffic found in Delhi,Faridabad reached Kanpur at noon 1 pm and Varanasi at around 7 pm. Allhabad bypass is superb, saved time but NH2 between Allahabad by pass and Varanasi found dameged (road settelded down due to heavy wheel load of truck) causing difficulties for car. Request NHAI to look into the matter.
    Jharkhand part is nice, all by pass is opened.
    Panagarh still not completed.
    Durgapur to Dankuni still pit holes exist, risk to drive over 80 kmph
    while returning we started at 4:45 am and reached Varanasi at 6:30 evening. visited Vishwanath temple and Dasaswamed Ghat. Next day started at 4:45 am. Due to heavy traffic at Agra and Faridabad we could reach Delhi at 7 pm. We took our dinner after Sonipath and reached Karnal at 10 pm. So others interested can plan your journey.

    Thanks to all
    Amalabha Banerjee
    09646510061
    journey date 15th June 2011 returned on 24th June 2011

  • Joyjeet says:

    Hi Amalabha,
    Did you take the Durgapur Expressway?
    -regards,
    Joyjeet

    • Amalabha Banerjee says:

      Dear Joyjeet,
      yes, we took Durgapur Expressway and then at Dankuni we took NH6 to Kharagpur.
      regards
      Amalabha

  • Colonel Shailesh Gokhale says:

    Dear Mrs Anjana Saha,
    I am Colonel Shailesh Gokhale, an Army Officer who is planning a road trip in my Wagon R from Kolkata to Delhi while moving out on posting. Saw your blog during my search on Google to find out the same. Would it be a good idea to take the Golden Quadrilateral and cut through the disturbed areas of Bihar and Jharkhand to reach Delhi? I have to mov by road due to certain compulsions and I want it to be safe. Can you give me valuable inputs on route, it’s condition, halts and any imp thing I should know? It will be a great help. I am planning to leave around 30th August. Would you pl help me out? Regards.

  • Candace Gochie says:

    Waiting for Sony’s lawyers to respond with another pointless lawsuit.

  • Vishal says:

    Thanks for the mention of our restaurant Madhur Milan Cafe in your blog and the lovely photographs clicked by you.

    We have recently launched our website and looking forward to having better web presence.

    Website : http:www.madhurmilancafe.in
    Facebook Page : http://www.facebook.com/MadhurMilanCafe

    Looking forward to serve you guys on your next trip to Varanasi.

  • Vishal says:

    Thanks for the mention of our restaurant Madhur Milan Cafe in your blog and the lovely photographs clicked by you.

    We have recently launched our website and looking forward to having better web presence.

    Website : http://www.madhurmilancafe.in
    Facebook Page : http://www.facebook.com/MadhurMilanCafe

    Looking forward to serve you guys on your next trip to Varanasi.

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  • rahul says:

    hey i am rahul i put upin delhi.i want a adventure on my byke from delhi to gaya.is it safe or not plz tell any one if they experience it……plz i am waiting……….

  • K Malagar says:

    Hi,
    We are planning a road trip from New Delhi to Varanasi. Just wanted to know how safe is it for driving and other elements such as robberies etc.

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