Table of contents for Delhi - Darbhanga - Delhi
My intention behind writing road-reviews have been to provide necessary information to fellow travelers (read drivers) who wish to undertake that journey. With that thought, probably New Delhi to Patna by road, doesn’t make the cut, since not many would be traveling (read driving) such a long stretch. Patna is not a hot tourist place and neither is it close enough to let people choose the tar instead of routine rail or expensive air. So the only real reason I think would be then to use this is to get and feel high, since I did it, just the last week. I drove all the way to Darbhanga (200 Km further to Patna) from Delhi. May be 10 years down the line when I read this again, I would feel young (and stupid), so here it is Delhi Patna Road Review.
Delhi – Patna can be divided into following stretches.
Delhi to Patna Distance – 1050 – 1100 KMs , Time – 32 hours with a 12 hour night stop at Allahabad or Banaras. 20-22 hours non-stop with 2 meal breaks and 2 tea breaks.
1. Delhi – Agra – Etawah
2. Etawah – Kanpur
3. Kanpur – Allahabad
4. Allahabad – Banaras
5. Banaras – Patna
Delhi to Patna Road Map
1. Delhi – Agra – Etawah Distance
Distance – 320 KM , Time – 5 hours including a 20 minutes stop at McDonalds, Mathura.
You need to get on NH2 which is more popularly known as Mathura Road. The road exits Delhi from the south so depending upon your point of stay in Delhi, you need to plan an early exit. Ask for ‘Ashram’, its on Ring Road, and then take Mathura Road. Stick to it and cross Badarpur on the way. Badarpur has the reputation of snarling traffic so try to cross that before 6 AM else you would lose some precious time. Keep going straight and cross Palwal. The quality of the road is fantastic and you can easily clock an avg of 65-70 an hour. The traffic would slow down at Kosi trade tax barrier. Again, if you can get past Badarpur by 6, you would be able to avoid this mini-jam. The directions are a no brainer since it’s the same NH2 all the way till Banaras (or Mohania to be precise). Apart from the good tar, there is nothing else great to look at so have some good music and conversation within the cabin. As you approach Mathura, look for that huge M sign of McDonalds. It’s the only decent place to stop for a quick grab but be alert on the time spent as it can eat your valuable minutes without anyone realizing it. Also, if you are leaving early, then its a good stop to relieve yourself and get some clean-hot snacks to fill your belly.
The above pic is from Aditya’s post on Delhi-Agra-Kanpur, which now seems like the most reliable and detailed post on internet. I was so busy driving that I actually missed it.
As you cross Mathura, you would shortly get into Agra madness. Keep your patience and drive safe. There is a lot of petty traffic and some of it can get aggressive very easily so resist your set-the-world-right temptations and allow the wrong-side traffic to carry on with this business-es. If you are not very un-lucky, it should not take lot of time, 30 minutes to cross Agra. If you care and have time, then you can stop for few minutes and watch Sikandra fort. Its right there on the road, on the left.
Once you are out of Agra, the road gets a little better and traffic reduces. Press the pedal and hit Firozabad. This is the first city (after Agra) where you would start to feel the Mughal Era. Some of the old buildings could be still seen, the city is known for its bangles and glass work. There are these big tempting bangles showrooms which you need to pass quickly else a female fellow traveler’s urge makes you stop. After Firozabad, you have Shikohabad and finally Etawah. The roads are really good and you should be able to do an average of 65 (if not 70). This road falls under ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ and NHAI is currently finishing the road in Etawah, so you would need to take a detour. It should be done shortly, most of it is done.
2. Etawah – Kanpur
Distance – 150 KM. Time – 2 hours non-stop
In this stretch you do nothing but just drive quick. Very sparse in terms of traffic and the road is new. The only but very critical and important thing which you need to be aware is that you would find oncoming traffic on the wrong side of road at full speed. It’s a double road so while you think that you can drive at 100 KMph on the right lane of the left road, in practice you can’t do that. This is something which you will see for almost rest of NH2, more when you get out of big cities and are in vicinity of small towns. There is no point in spoiling your drive by getting into the blame game so as I said before, resist the temptation of setting-the-world-right and give these guys their way and forget about it. Since the visibility is good because of no distractions like polls, posters, hoardings, trees, road being straight, it’s not too difficult to spot these wrong-side-right-fellas so just let them go. You can actually do this stretch in less than 2 hours.
3. Kanpur – Allahabad
Distance – 200 KM, Time – 4 hours since the by-pass is not yet done
Most of the road within the Kanpur city is an elevated road, so that takes you away from city traffic. You need to keep on NH2 and should not be taking any left exits, which go to the city. The landscape (and the social-scape) would now begin to change. We are now starting to get into Eastern UP and as you travel more towards East, the poverty would start to hit you. It’s not very visible since you are still on a big-side road but as your cross small towns, you would start to see it. The shops in these towns are more like the assembled contraption of wood-and-aluminium (from vanaspati ghee tins) and it’s not un-common to find small kids relieving themselves in open along the road.
The road is all the same, quick and clean with very minimum traffic. About 60 Km after Kanpur, look for a big BP petrol pump on your right, its in Malwa and is a COCO (Company Owned Company Operated). Its time to re-fuel (assuming that you started with a full-tank) and get some fresh air. There is a small tea shop where you can have tea and snacks. There are swings and some green area to relax. Loos are clean though not too great. It seemed like a nice-clean and big place to have some quick bites and get enough energy to hit Prayag, the Sangam city.
Allahabad is about 140 KM from this place, you would pass many small towns and finally you would reach a point, from where it appeared to me that NH2 is making a by-pass. Its not yet ready and didn’t seem like it would be done shortly. In any case, we had decided to stay put in Allahabad (a quick story on that later) so we went in. You would pass a town called Lukarganj. The road suddenly gets narrow and some of the stetches are actually stone-paved, with so much of petty traffic and narrow-potholed roads because of rain, you wonder whether you would ever make it to Prayag. Sustain all that and find a good place to stay. I stayed at Kanha Shyam which I think is incorrectly rated (high) and has lived its life. I looked at Map and it shows a by-pass kind of thing. Anyway.
4. Allahabad – Banaras
Distance – 120 KMs, Time – 2.5 Hours (if you are coming from city, once by-pass is there, it would be less than 2 hours)
I think I started to write about the social side but didn’t elaborate much. Now you are in true Eastern UP. While the quality of the roads remain same, the infrastructure seems to have taken a beating. The houses wont have plasters on the outer walls in small towns, the shops have no spank and the landscape looks more rural. There are less tractors in the fields and there are more people with bare chests and worn-out dhotis. Even though it would look more like apna-desh, it may not be necessarily pleasant. Almost everyone would be chewing pan or a gutkha, from toll man to rick puller to khaki clad police wallahs. There is definitely much less rush and there is more time per transaction but it can get a little depressing at times, especially for spoil-ed metropolitans. I noticed more of this since I stayed at Prayag and had to really pass through couple of small towns. I think one of them was Hanuman-Ganj (what a hindu-muslim solidarity name of a place, hanuman and ganj) but most of you would avoid this if you don’t chose to stay at Allahabad.
Anyway, I would come back and rather focus on road, since we have a long way to go. We stayed at Banaras but if you don’t then that’s much better since Banaras is not on NH2. You spend a lot of time going in the city and coming out (that has its own charm but can be avoided at least in one of the to or fro trip).
5. Banaras – Patna
Distance – 250 KM, Time – 5 hours
Eastern UP is gradually getting over. While you can survive the chaos and sheer variety of Banaras by being more patient, we were preparing ourselves to enter Bihar which over time has lost its reputation of being a hub of culture-education and power. Since we were in the city, we headed towards Mughal Sarai to get to other side of Ganga. Mughal Sarai used to be a big hub for Indian Railways at one point of time, it even is today, to a great extent but development over time has acted as a great leveler, and for the same reasons it’s fairly big and the urban sprawl goes on for a while. I still remember the times, when the loco of our train would be changed, from Diesel to Electric or vice-versa, depending upon which side you are going to. Banaras and Mughalsarai is divided by a bridge. After crossing Mughalsarai, we joined NH2 and it was again 6 lane high-speed drive till Mohania.
From Mohania, you can either go all the way down to Kolkata or take a left to reach Patna via Ara. As we took the left, the landscape suddenly changed. From a double road highway, we were on a single two lane road but very well tar-red. On both sides we had long stretches of fields. Since it was June, the rice has not yet made in and there was nothing on the fields at most of the places.
We crossed numerous small towns on the way, we were able to get past quick because there was hardly any traffic. The occasional bus or even less occasional tractor was what we needed to maneuver. We drove past Buxar (remember the battle of Buxar) and were heading to one of the big political and historical marvels of all times. This part of Bihar is a little better-off in terms of overall development, employment, money, at least till Ara. The distance of 150 KM from Mohania to Ara was spent in less than 3 hours. We had not planned to break till Patna so we kept going.
At Ara, we had a one hour stop at a railway crossing. As many as five trains passed while the barriers were down. This simply killed the good time we had saved but anyway. From Ara, the road quality takes a hit, especially as you reach Danapur, even though Danapur is a cantonment area.
One interesting ride which I should share with all of you is this real long road bridge, after Arrah. As we were approaching the bridge, we noticed that the traffic has gradually started to drift towards right and there is this serpentine line which seemed to be heading at some barrier. We suspected a railway crossing, being ignorant we kept on our left and after passing all the waiting trucks (which were now on our right), we discovered that there is this long road/rail bridge. So we reached to the head of the queue, may be the make of the car did it or what, we were not looked at with contempt by the few police-men who were controlling the entry to the bridge. After a while, we were asked to move in and boy what a view. Try to imagine a narrow real long straight bridge which is double-decker, since the rail bridge is on first floor, is old, the color if the iron has gone rust-colored, you look down and you see Ganga and there are not many cars in front, infact none for us. The bridge is so long that you can’t see the other end and I didn’t meter it but it must be more than a KM. If someone from that area is reading this then we would really benefit from some more details. It was one damn different experience.
Ok, So it’s already past noon. Enter Danapur, remember to take a right (so keep asking) else you would get into something which you would regret (we almost did). Get off Danapur and you are at Patna. You are still at the out-skirt but you could sense that this once has been one of the greatest cities of all times, the patliputra, a city which has seen the only golden era of Indian History. So much for drive and for the adrenaline, we were finally there.
I was to drive beyond Patna (200 KMs further towards North) but I would save you further fatigue. Its been a really really long journey. We crossed the longest bridge on Ganga (5 odd KM), Mahatma Gandhi Setu, which was not in a good condition. Some pics before I close.
We could see the mammoth Ganga in its full glory and as we looked up, the astonishing skyscape was even more grand. Being humbled by both, we clicked some pics, thanked our stars , while still driving and carried on.