I thought of completing Part 3 sometime later on, but the pull of the fellow Ghumukkar’s has made me continue even before I scheduled to write. Again thanks for all your comments. Remarks from seniors like Ram Sir and Nandanji has made my page look complete. I am writing for the first time to any blog, but the response and the love I am getting, I think I should start converting many of my travel memories into words.
Let’s move on to the last phase of the journey.
Day 2: Varanasi to Kolkata: 6th Feb 2010
The day was memorable for us as we are about to complete our last leg of the journey. And also to cover the unknown factor called “Bihar” and “Jharkhand”. We were too tired and the excitement was not enough to wake us on that day. We had no option but to rely on our friendly alarm clock. We scheduled to leave Varanasi by 5:00 am, but due to “known” reasons we had to wait for another 30 mins. After getting the direction from the caretaker of Rahi Guest house we headed for the road. The direction … on coming out of Rahi guest house you head towards the Railway station, on reaching it you take a right and take an oath to not to look here and there but to go straight. Another word of advice, I forgot to mention in my last blog, is that, if you ask for direction to any fellow Varanasian, they might say “Sidhe jaia then right and blah and blah” – here “sidhe” means the road on your side, even if it goes 90 degrees left then also it will be considered “sidhe” within the direction, – something which I learned the “hard” way. Coming to the plot, we made our car drink enough alcohol (err I mean Petrol) to last the unknown last phase.
We headed towards the Ganga Bridge. Going straight from the direction told last, one will find the loop which goes to the famous double-decker Ganga Bridge. I have taken the ground floor of bridge lot of times (thanks to the railways), but riding on the terrace is something else, it’s inexpressible in words. The morning “night” was clean, and I could still see glimmers of “aarti” or something happening on the banks of Ganga.
Though the traffic was less but it was enough to slow us down. The cacophony of the morning horns and trucks preparing for the day with their lazy moves greeted us. Still we were meandering within the city limits and still some distance to go till we touch the highway, at least that what we learned from the unlit hoardings. After covering 15km of our journey we reached Mughal Sarai. We zipped through the outskirts of the city and within no time we hit the highway once again. The sun was still not on her toes. It was after travelling few more kms we came across the huge orange ball, popping out of the horizon. We stopped our car and watched the moment from a distance as if to give a hidden respect and also to greet the new day.
A green board said “Sasaram 71, Aurangabad 127, Dhanbad 361, and Kolkata 631 km”. On reaching the Bihar-UP border we were greeted with hundreds of trucks waiting to enter either of the sides. Due to disciplinary standing, we sailed through them without any problem. While entering Bihar we had to cross a small village (2 kms) as the highway there is far from complete, and might take a good few years to see it through. Anyway, being morning, we had no problem crossing the single narrow road of the village. We are in Bihar now! A sign says “Aapka aagaman ke liya dhanyabad” – thanks for coming here!!
We felt extremely sorry for always thinking of Bihar with a pinch of salt. What we see in front of us, was with us from the very beginning of the journey and it hasn’t been any different in Bihar. The roads here are equally good than anywhere else and moreover the surrounding were extremely juicy and green. We recalled the famous “Ram Payari” chai (tea) served long time ago in the trains. We didn’t recall of having it for last 10 years or more. We found a small tea vendor adjacent to a petrol pump and had our breakfast. The tea surely jolted our memories of “Ram Payari” chai, – and together with “Pakoras”, and “Breadpakoras” we enjoyed the morning of Bihar. After crossing Mohania, a road goes left to Patna (180 kms). The day is getting warmer. The road is extremely smooth, and one can push up the throttle easily. The only thing which anybody driving in this part of the country should bother about is that, you will find tractors and trucks from opposite direction coming in the same lane as yours. Initially it will be an irritating factor, later on you will be used to it. Sounav, tried to figure out, the want of such a stunt – at the end he agreed on the faulty design of the divider breaks (combined with a certain percent of the carelessness of the drivers) responsible for the wrong side driving.
The flat country side gradually changed contour as we approached Dehri on Sone. This is best we have seen so far, beautiful landscape with equally beautiful greenery welcomed us, as if we were getting a free massage to our tired bones. The thought of that moment was – fultus paisa wasul. The hard work has really paid off. After crossing that inexpressible landscape we reached The Bridge on river Sone.
Driving over the mighty “Bridge on river Sone” is an experience to remember – once crowned to be the longest (3 kms) road bridge over a river (now overtaken by the MG Bridge of Patna – 5.5 km!!!). We slowed our car to a speed where we puffed the over expressing beauty of the never ending bridge. After crossing Aurangabad bypass we paused for a quick round of cola.
Shortly after the brisk break we were greeted with a signboard announcing Dhandad not too far away (some 250 kms). We suddenly realized we have crossed more than half of the journey, and our destination is not that far away. To reach the target on time, we announced an incentive – lunch on reaching West Bengal! Being a Bengali we also decided what we will have on reaching the imaginary target – fish, rice and misti doi. The momentary Carrot is in front of Sounav, he has already plunged into action. We crossed the forest area of Barachatti – beautiful meandering hilly roads together with brownish green surroundings – till we reached Isri Bazaar, the highway road here is yet to be complete and like the village road which greeted us during entering Bihar, this one also goes through a single lane village road. Moreover we also need to cross a railway level crossing. The levels were closed and we had to wait for 15 mins or so to get it opened. There were heavy trucks waiting for their turn to cross. It is a narrow lane together with uneven surface, I wondered what will happen if a truck gets stuck somewhere. We used every bit of trick to zip through the patch as quickly as possible, till we struck the highway once again. Driving through another 55 kms we reached Topchanchi. Topchanchi is famous for its beautiful artificial lake. Try Googling, the images are worth captivating. Another 30 kms we were zipping through the Dhanbad bypass. We now knew we are about to touch West Bengal very soon – and we felt the same excitement that started the whole thing. And then came the river bridge that cuts Bengal from Jharkand – we were through the border gates and hooray – we have made it. The feeling of that moment was inexpressible – it’s like reaching the moon.
It’s also time for the incentive thing. We settled for a small Dhaba (Samrat hotel) along the road side of Asansol bypass. The food was not like the one we expected but had all that we decided upon.
After crossing Raniganj and Durgapur we came across another crawling zone of Panagarh. Panagarh is like a scrap yard heaven with old army trucks, crushed cars dumped on both sides of the road. The daylight is fast blotting out – by sunset we reached a place called Shaktigarh (very near to Burdwan). Our childhood memories were jolted, revived with the sight we came across. Both side of road house sweet shops selling the famous “langchaas” of Shaktigarh. You have to see to believe – as to the size of the langchaas. All shops are named after langchaas.
There were “langchaa Mahal”, “Langchaa Hall”, Langchaa kutir”, “lagchaa ghar”, “langchaa pon” etc. Together with Pakoras, Mihidana and SitaBhog we had a burpy evening feast. After crossing Shaktigarh, we were greeted with a newly laid road which remained with us till Dankuni. Here is a word of advice for the first timers going to Kolkata by road – if anybody is planning to hit the Howrah, they should look for the green board pointing towards Kharagpur – that will hit the Kona bypass. Going some km in the bypass, a left road (visibly marked) goes straight to Howrah. For others, who are targeting for Dakshineswar, Airport etc, they should stick to the “Kolkata” direction from Dankuni. Guessed right, we messed with the direction and wasted some two hours in locating our target. The sign board somehow is misleading and we took the Kolkata direction instead of the Kharagpur one – rest you can guess.
We reached our Kolkata home late in the evening. Needless to say, our journey became an instant hit among our friends and localites. It was a stressing one, but the achievement of completing what we planned very meticulously was worth rewarding.
While coming back to Delhi we planned to stay at Allahabad and booked Triveni Darshan (UP Tourism) for the same. We reached Allahabad at around 9.00 pm after leaving Kolkata at around 5.00 am. The hotel is good if you are planning for a night. The good part is that – the Sangam is not that far from the hotel. We managed to reach to river banks (Sangam stahl) early in the morning in our own car – thanks to the iron planks placed over the soft soil – which otherwise would have been an impossible activity. We performed a morning pooja. I am out of words to express the atmosphere, and sure was a reward to our achievement.
We reached our home late in the evening the very next day, and we just had enough breath to pull ourselves to the bed. We smiled – who knows when the adventure bug will again hit us. Till then…