Summer Vacation – a wonderful run through NH-2 from the Ghats of Varanasi to Home – Part II

I just hope you have liked the Part I. The responses are overwhelming…thank you all for encouraging me to complete the Part-II of my travelogues…

Day 2: Varanasi – Sasaram – Dhanbad – Durgapur – Home (680 kms – 8 toll Plazas – Rs. 410/-)

So, where are we…fortunately, there was no power cut and we had a sound sleep at night. Though we planned to leave the city by 7 in the morning, the thought to visit the Temple once again was in our mind, as we didn’t want to miss the opportunity.

This time we missed the alarm, set at 5:30 in the morning and got up only around 6:30 a.m. We had to postpone our plan to visit the Temple for next time, since we had to cover ~ 700 kms. today to reach home as well. We haven’t even crossed one state since yesterday, if we didn’t consider Haryana stretch till UP border…that we (who are staying in Delhi & NCR) cover so many times in a year.

After ordering breakfast by 7:15, I went to check whether they washed the car or not, as promised yesterday. The outer body of the car looks like we just finished, sorry ‘Won’ the cross-country rally…several layers of dust all around the body and required a considerable amount of time and efforts to bring it back to its’ original colour.

The security guard was of immense help and cleaned the car within next half an hour. There was no sign of breakfast. We dialed room service only to hear that it would be coming soon. We just waited; waited and waited…finally I decided to visit them personally. To our utter surprise, the person informed that they haven’t started yet and it would take another half an hour to serve.

I was extremely angry but somehow controlled myself by just saying “No problem, do it first, we will be checking out soon” and went to complete the check-out formalities. We would have wasted a few precious hours, had we cancelled the order which we didn’t want at that point of time.

We were delayed by approx. 75 minutes from our revised target and left the hotel at 9:30 a.m. Now, it’s time to fill-up the tank. We stopped at an Indian Oil petrol pump near Railway station and asked the attendant to fill-up the tank ‘FULL’. The meter stopped at Rs.2,460/- and it was time to make the payment. I had enough points to redeem in my Citibank IOC Card;

Where was it? Searched all the possible places, it was not there. OK, we might find it later, so now the second option i.e. Debit card.

Where was it? It’s not there either.

OMG! What have I done? I made the payment through another, as I didn’t want to make cash payment after this incident. Fortunately, we were carrying enough cash to sustain for the entire journey, which I withdrew a day before. Ohho…I left both the cards in my shirt’s pocket while changing at night and forgot while leaving home!!!

“What would happen, if I didn’t have…?” Better ignore / wipe-off the incident from the memory permanently – don’t spoil the journey…there is no undo button in life’s real case…lesson learnt and time to move on.

On 23rd of May, (just after three days), petrol price was increased by Rs.7.50/-. I lost many reward points during the entire journey, which could have been redeemed against petrol, at this crisis time.

“Living life on plastic cards only, for two weeks!” Wasn’t it the costliest mistake for such a long trip?

So, no Benarasi sarees for everyone, no visit to Lord Kasi Vishwanath Temple, Saranath as well as BHU Campus this time – we will have to come back again and fulfill all our wishes. Bye bye Benaras (in Bengali, we always call it ‘Benaras’, instead of Varanasi)

We hit the NH-2 again from where we left it yesterday at 10 a.m. The weather is very very pleasant outside (44C +). We prayed to the God of Rain to give us some relief.  However, by the time Anjishnu was back to his best of form once again, just where he had left it yesterday, as there was no break of 18 to 19 hours. Anyway, it was good for us only.

…and the fun continues

We crossed the river Ganges and saw a green sign board displaying distances of various cities. We couldn’t take the picture, as it disappears very fast.

Sasharam was ~ 71 kms from there. We found so many mango trees alongside the highway, wanted to stop the car and go for it…we were also happy to notice the sign of a good season ahead and thought to reach home at the earliest to have mangoes from our own trees.

All of a sudden we realized that we were driving alongside the Railway line now. So many times in the past, we had to take that track. If I can do it again and again, the frustrating wait for opening up http://www.irctc.co.in site and the fear of ticket availability will be over for good.

This time we didnt take your service

At 11 a.m., we entered the state of Bihar (~ 840 to 845 kms), exactly after an hour from Varanasi. When I went to Kolkata last time in 2008 (http://www.amitava.in/travelogue.asp) , there was a long queue of trucks here and since this section was not yet completed, you had to take a left turn to enter a narrow road and across an even narrower bridge and then a village market place.

A few kilometers of this and you were back on NH-2 again. However, no such long queue this time…we just zipped past through the section. That narrow road is still there on your left hand side, we may never take that road again in our life (or who knows, may be at some point in future!).

We experienced the hospitality of Bihar once, when we stopped for a cold drinks break at a road side small dhaba. The dhaba is very small and some people were playing cards, when we approached them for cold drinks and a bottle of chilled water.

The way they greeted us was wonderful. They searched for the most chilled bottle out of many from the deep freezer and gave us the same, after checking by three people. Someone went inside the house to bring the cold drinks; with an apology that this was the best they had, since there was no power since last three hours.

It really touched our heart. India is a lovely country and there are plenty of good things, people all around you, unfortunately, we tend to look negatives most of our times.

Just before Sasaram, road widening work is in progress at both side of the highway. It’s already a dual carriageway and the entire road is empty. I wonder the need of this project – may be the drive will be much more smooth and enjoyable in our next trip(s).

 After crossing Sasaram Toll Plaza (Toll Plaza # 12), the landscape suddenly changed from plain area to hilly terrain as we were approaching ‘Dehri on Son’. The sight was beautiful. If the temperature was bearable, we would have ventured out and enjoy the beauty of the place. However, we had to satisfy with few snaps from the moving car.

We wanted to enjoy the showàbut unfortunately couldnt

 

The Nehru Setu…the 2nd largest rail bridge on the river in India

We reached the mighty Bridge (Jawahar Setu, 3061 m, built in 1965) on the river Son and stepped out from the car without thinking about the outside temperature this time. It was very very hot, but we had seen the Bridge from the trains so many times, just wanted to stand on the bridge and see the river.

It enjoyed the status of the longest road bridge on the river in India (3 kms long) for a very long time, only to lose the status to Mahatma Gandhi Setu on the river Ganges (5,575  m, built in 1982) and now happily placed at 4th position.

The Jawahar Setu- the 4th largest road bridge on the river in India

It was 12:25 p.m. and we were desperately hunting for a hotel. Yesterday, by this time we finished our lunch. We couldn’t find anything for almost an hour. By the time my child became restless. Whatever we were carrying from biscuits to chocolates to Chips to Pepsi, he didn’t want to eat anything but wanted to have ‘chicken’ only.

It’s a pity for us as a parent, that we didn’t read his mind, else we would have arranged something in the morning. We drove ~ 75-80 kms without finding anything or might have just missed the place, we were driving very fast. We asked the toll attendant at Sawkala Toll Plaza (Toll # 13) whether there is any place to eat nearby.

He suggested driving for another 5 kms more towards Sherghati/Dhobi and there will be few hotels. Fortunately, we found the Hotel “A Hotel Royal India” on the other side of the highway after 5 minutes and had to take a U turn.

We hurriedly ordered Butter Chicken/Roti/Rice and Yellow Dal with Salad, with a strict instruction not to use ‘mirchi’ at all in the Chicken and reminded him again, not once but twice.

It was not a long wait. But, it seems like ages to us. “Baba Kakhan Chicken asbe? Taratari bolo” (“When chicken will come? Ask him to bring it fast, I am hungry.”)

Waiting; waiting and waiting -.looking at the kitchen

Finally when it arrived, just seeing the colour of the dish we were sure that he won’t be able to eat. It was too oily and prepared for chili lovers’ only. But it was very tasty at the same time. All our assumptions went for a toss when he started enjoying the delicious preparation of chicken and ate two rotis (his daily budget of roti is two – one is in school tiffin and second one is at night and most of the time 1/4 to be left behind).

We had to order one more roti just for him, since we were finished by then, as he is a slow eater.  I may sound a bit exaggerating here, but believe me I am sharing a true incident with you all. The most interesting part was when his mother heard him saying “ebar theke amar janno e- rakam chicken banabe” (mama, please prepare chicken like this only from now onwards, I don’t like what you prepare at home).

The tiger has tasted the blood when he was hungry, why will he like non-spicy chicken, especially prepared for him at home. I am happy that at least his taste buds will now look for foods to enjoy as well.

The delicious (spicy) butter chicken

He also made a new friend in the hotel…a three month’s old puppy and offered biscuits while leaving.

Photo session with his new friend…but, look at the distance

We left the hotel at 2:25 p.m. This time we became wrong-siders for a minute (only). Apologies for breaking the rule and entered Jharkhand in no time. Dhanbad is ~ 195 kms from there.

After Dhobbi, there is a small place namely ‘Barachati’ that disappears as fast as it comes up. However, you will notice many drums, decorated alongside the highway, mostly in blue colour.

Would you like to buy drums for your home from here

We reached the most beautiful stretch of the entire NH-2. Last time when I went home, this stretch was not ready and had to take the old GT Road (which is still there, but is in very poor condition and might have been abandoned already).

If I were a poet, I could have described the scenic beauty of this stretch, here in this post in a different way, but unfortunately I am not. I can only enjoy the same, captured those frames in my memory and stored for ever. However, we have taken few snaps to share. There is hills, serpentine empty road, dense forest, greenery all around, you and your car – what a combination for a road trip. What else would you expect!

I think it is a part of Hazaribagh National Park.

The most beautiful stretch on NH-2 (my personal observation)

As we were driving through Bagodar, we were aware of that we were passing through Chota Nagpur Plateau. Landscape is changing by every second. We suddenly went back to our school days. We read about Chota Nagpur Plateau in Geography book long time back and now we are passing through that area.

Geography book suddenly opens-up in front of us with all its’ chapters, as a live example. The Chota Nagpur Plateau is a plateau in eastern India, which covers much of Jharkhand state as well as adjacent parts of Orissa, West Bengal, Bihar and Chhattisgarh.

The total area of the Chota Plateau is approximately 65,000 square kilometres (25,000 sq miles) and rich in minerals such as “mica, bauxite, copper, limestone, iron ore and coal”. The Damodar valley is rich in coal.

Massive coal deposits are found in the central basin spreading over 2,883 Square km. We passed Pareshnath Hill (on our left hand side), which is the highest point of Chota Nagpur Plateau (4429 ft). High hills are a striking part of this section.

Here the hills are often dome-like in outline. However, as we are approaching Dhanbad, which is a part of Manbhum-Singhbhum division of Chota Nagpur Plateau, it consists of undulating land with scattered hills.

Passing through Chota Nagpur Plateau û empty road

 

Chota Nagpur Plateau

Topchanchi is another small place just like Barachati on the NH2, you will notice many shops which are selling swords, spears, axes and other such arms. Unfortunately, just a few kms before this place the battery of our camera exhausted once again and we didn’t have any more snaps. [Recently on June 27, the place came to news because of a major Maoist attack].

It was almost 4 p.m.; if we left as per our plan, we would have been at home right now. But, life doesn’t always go on according to your plan. At 4:30 p.m., we crossed Dhanbad, the block # 6 (remember those 7 blocks; 7 x 200 kms = 1400 kms and we are at home, so simple!).

One more block to go…we told each other. If everything goes well, we must cover this stretch by next 3 hours. The river Barakar flows as a border line between West Bengal & Jharkhand. When we crossed the river Barakar, we told our son that we have reached your place.

He is too little to understand the meaning of “your place/state”. We hope when he will grow up, he will also be excited as soon as stepping in West Bengal, just like us. We shouldn’t forget our roots and must pay respect. I am neither trying to inculcate nor encouraging regionalism in him, just want him to love the place from where he belongs.

So, we have entered West Bengal.  It’s been a very long time since I was here (very unusual since I left home). Just to think of meeting your near & dear ones after a long time, changed our mood completely. I was feeling like I have just started the journey and only 3 more hours to go. Crossing one by one known towns i.e. Kulti, Asansol, Raniganj, Andal and reached the steel city ‘Durgapur’ at 6 p.m. We still have 120 kms to reach home.

Our prayer (at 10 a.m.) to the God of Rain must have travelled some light years distance by now or we were in a long queue, as it started raining heavily, along with thunderstorm and lightening (if anyone reading this post, may please calculate the distance to reach Him or Her and let us know – we will all pray together to get relief from this hot summer).

A section of ~5 kms after Panagarh is not converted into dual carriageway (entire NH-2 has dual carriageway, except here) and there was a long line of trucks. The visibility was so poor that I wanted to stop, but there is no way you can stop there.

It was completely dark and raining heavily. We had to slow down and negotiate our way through trucks to reach NH-2 again. This section of NH-2, is popularly known as Durgapur Expressway. From here till Kolkata, is the best part of the entire NH-2, in terms of width of the road, condition, as well as maintenance. The entire NH-2 is superb, but if you drive this section, you will definitely feel the difference.

We had crossed the last toll plaza (Toll Plaza # 17) at Palsit at 8:25 p.m. If you are going to Kolkata, you will have to pay one more toll at Dankuni (~70 kms).

Today, we didn’t have the opportunity to exchange biscuits at any toll plazas, as it happened yesterday. The details of Toll Plazas are as mentioned under for our friends. You may find it useful at some point of time:

Day – 1 (May 19, 2012)

Day – 2 (May 20, 2012)

Sl #

Toll Plaza

State

Rs.

Sl #

Toll Plaza

State

Rs.

1

Badarpur – Kosi

Haryana

35

10

Dhaffi

U.P.

50

2

Mahuvan

U.P.

35

11

Mohania

Bihar

35

3

Tundla – Firozabad

25

12

Sasaram

85

4

Semra – Atikabad

50

13

Sawkala

35

5

Anantram Auriya

45

14

Rasoiya Dhamna

Jharkhand

50

6

Sikandra – Bara

35

15

Ghanghari – Bagodar

70

7

Purwamer

75

16

Garui

W.B.

50

8

Katoghan

35

17

Palsit

35

9

Lala Nagar

45

18

Dankuni *

50

* I didn’t have to cross ‘Dankuni’ Toll Plaza

Another 28 kms from there, we left the highway at Gurap, (see the road sign, taken few days later, below “Dasghara” – A small write-up about the place will be there in my next post).  It is another 15 kms from there to reach home. At 9:15 p.m., finally we left the well pitched road and enter our village road…one more Km to go. So, we have done it.

My place

“How was the trip?”

“Enjoyed, except the last few hours, when reaching home seem to be the only thing in mind. However, that could most probably be our excitement to reach home to meet everyone”.

“Would you mind to do it again?”

“Of course yes! But you need to pamper us a lot like this time…, we will think & let you know well in time…enjoyed this journey beyond my expectations”, came the reply.

The rain has stopped a little while ago. After 1480 kms, at 9:20 p.m., we stopped the car in front our house and everyone came out. They were again surprised to see us. It was a family reunion after a long time.

The 4th member.

After taking bath and dinner, we went to sleep. In sleep, I tried to remember the journey once again from the start and it went on and on…finally, getting out of my bed at 4:30 a.m. with the sound of a rooster. I used to wake up with the same sound for many years. I have not heard any rooster crowing in Gurgaon. Contemporary city life has taken out off me is rooster crowing sound…feeling good to be at home.

Rooster

You may find this post a bit lengthy…since this is a road journey from one metro to another (~1500 kms), there is actually nothing we can write on the places, except how we enjoyed our journey…hope you will like this as well.

We have reached the destination, but our journey is not yet completed, so the series will continue…as we pray for monsoon to arrive, bye for now with a promise to come back soon with the last part of this journey…we will take you through the delta of Ganges, Take care.

19 Comments

  • Tx Nandan and Ghumakkar team, for publishing this post today.

  • lakshay says:

    thnx. i m waiting 4 this. comment after reading.
    lakshay

  • lakshay says:

    i have no words for your presentation. nice photos.

    thanx 4 sharing, lakshay

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Happy B’day Amitava !! :-) :-)

    I am away so not able to read, Would do and comment, Take care.

  • anilmisra says:

    Great write-up. Congrats.

  • Surinder.Sharma@shaw.ca says:

    Happy Birthday Amitava,

    I really enjoyed your writing and photos are also good. Little problem due to plastic money, I think you and your wife can should have two cards. If one is missing other’s card can be used. Breakfast in morning, just enquire from staff in advance which time it serve. Little tip can work otherwise find any good place for breakfast as morning hours are good for Journey. You are great driver who perform this journey with family in Car.

    Thanks

    • Thank you for your wishes.
      and also liking the post and photos. Photos were taken in a Nikon digital cameras (10 mp), the photos were not in excellent quality as compared to DSLR, but it captured the journey very well. Hope in my next posts, photos will be much more clear than this time. During day time with proper lighting, these small digicams are also good, but problem is with bad light and DSLR is DSLR

      Tx for the compliment of my driving… I even enjoy my daily drive of 2 kms from office to home.

      Regards,

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Finally, I reached here. Brilliantly written log Amitava. This kind of ‘Road Review’ with detailed info on Tolls, sections etc is exceptional.

    So now I know what you were mentioning in your first part.

    To the fans of ‘Gangs of Wassipur’, ‘Topchanchi’ would sound familiar. I also drove via Topchanchi (was coming from Devgarh, Jasidih, headed for Dhanbad) in April.

    Rain Gods are here now so look fwd to Delta. Best wishes once more.

    • Tx, Nandan. Feeling good to read your review.

      Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the picture yet – let’s see if I can make it to the hall by this weekend.
      Yeah finally it’s raining here too…and what a relief…

      I am sure readers will like the next part as well. Time is a big constraints these days for me for different reasons – let’s hope to submit the same at the earliest.

      Take care,

  • First, please accept my belated birthday wishes.

    Very good description of the journey just like the first part. Total toll till Kolkata sums up to Rs. 840 which is almost the 3AC ticket price.

    Please ask Nandan or Vibha to club both the parts in one series. Waiting for the next part.

  • Tx, Deependra for the wishes.
    It is good to know people who share the same birth-date as yours and added in my list too.

    If NHAI maintains road like this and improve road signs, travellers will never mind to pay tolls – I just hope someday, we just need to pay one toll for the entire stretch.

    Look forward to your trip to Mussorie.
    Let’s hope if I can submit the next part by tomorrow.

    Tx,

  • jijo says:

    Thanks for this wonderfull experiences.
    I had covered from New delhi to TATA and back with newly purchased i20 Asta(Petrol) in Chatt puja.

    I have covered it in around 22 hours with three small breaks. My wife and two kids were little bit worried and bored as we were not having camera for snaps. But kids enjoyed the jhula at petrol pump.

    Thanks again for the wonderfull informations that this site has provided.

    • Amitava Chatterjee says:

      Hi Sanjay, Thank you for liking the post.

      So, did you come across this post before leaving for TATA or after.
      I am really feeling happy that this post help you.
      Boredom will always be there for the co-passengers for such a long journey…but it’s also nice to note that kids enjoyed a lot as well. When did you start the journey and from which part of Delhi…interested to know in detail…How did you find the driving and road…must be good and enjoyed the drive, did you take turn from Dhanbad or before? You can also plan to share your journey, don’t worry about the pictures…that can also be taken during your next trip…when I went alone four years back, I took only few snaps through my mobile…(do invite you to read the same ( http://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/11/08/tbd-a-hurricane-trip-to-cover-3300-kms-in-5-days-to-celebrate-diwali-at-home/ )

      Keep driving and enjoy Indian highways…Take care

      • jijo says:

        So, did you come across this post before leaving for TATA or after.
        >> Yes i am pretty new to this site and incite me to travel by road. Yes Your post and couple of other posts were very informative.

        >>When did you start the journey and from which part of Delhi…interested to
        >>>know in detail…How did you find the driving and road…must be good and
        >>enjoyed the drive, did you take turn from Dhanbad or before?

        I have started my journey around 4:45 a.m. on 17th of november from Uttamnagar,new delhi. I got fuel near Bhikaji kaama palace…Through yamuna expressway i reached NH-2 around 7:30 am.
        Before 60 killometers from Kanpur we had one hour break at nearby dhabaa…i could not remember…But parathaa were awesome. My wife and kids enjoyed that parathaa.
        Tank was again fulled at 50 killometers from Allhabad by pass.
        After that it was almost non-stop journey beside kids requirement… till aurangabad. We again stop there for one and half hours having out light dinner and refreshment. Around 7 pm we headed to towards Barhi.
        Meanwhile at i refused to pay any toll by begging them not to charge because i was hesitant to pay any toll.At Barhi they pass me through side corner pass(They call VIP pass) I crossed Barhi around 9:30 pm night.
        Since it was my first road trip i was sceptic about staying at night in motel or hotel at small kasbaa. So i have decided to go ahead with the trip.
        I like silence. My kids and wife were slipping.So it was fun to be alone..ie…full opportunity to be align with my car i..e. Me and my new machine(i20)…The road was bad. I was not aware of the names. Probably i was struggling at night till hazaribagh. At hazaribagh we have stopped for tea …and paneer pakorhaaa….
        Then we have started towards Ranchi…the road was good and very thin traffic. Speed was good and reached Ranchi around :30 am.Here i have to ask for TATA . From here i have completed the journey around 2 hours 15 min.. and reached home around 2:45 am.

        It was fun. We have decided to visit goa in January 2013. Let us see….how it will be shaped up….

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