After a lot of vacillation (whether to drive down or take the train) and getting an assurance from TAI
's @swiftkolkata decided to drive down to Puri on 25th December.
Checked the tyre pressure (nitrogen on all 5 tyres) and topped up fuel on 24th night while returning from office.
Got up early on 25th Dec morning, woke my wife and daughter, got ready and started off by 5:45 am. Was still dark then. Took Belghoria Expressway from Airport Gate 2 and crossed the new Bally Bridge in no time. Paid the toll and was in NH-6 by 6.10 am.
Road was great with few diversions between Sankrail and Kolaghat because of some new flyover construction. After Kolaghat, till Kharagpur there were no diversions at all. From Kharagpur, took the bypass at around 8 am to reach NH 60. Roads were almost empty at 8 am, probably because it was Christmas.
NH 60 is a single carriageway (vehicles ply to and fro on the same side) with many diversions. Also a lot of bumps are there, so couldn’t drive very fast. Crossed Orissa border at Jaleswar. Not much traffic here also apart from the regular pile up of trucks on one side. Took the wrong side and crossed in 5 min. Paid the toll tax of Rs.50 at the border.
Till Balasore the road continued like this. Many diversions and bumps but otherwise smooth. Stopped at the side of the highway for a quick breakfast that we had packed from home. Took 10 min to eat and attend to nature’s call and was again on the way.
After Balasore, things changed dramatically. NH 5 was as smooth as butter and it was again 6 lane. Easily did 120 kmph and 130 in some stretches. Used the Cruise Control a lot.
Fuel gauge was showing 2/3rd empty so went into a petrol pump and filled up fuel. Fuel is cheaper in Orissa by about Rs.5 as compared to West Bengal.
By 12:10 noon, we were in Cuttack and traffic was very bad there. There is a bridge which is very narrow and was stuck there in traffic jam for about 15 min. Crossed Cuttack and was looking out for the Cuttack-Puri bypass as advised by @swiftkolkata. You cant miss it as there is a huge hexagonal sign saying PURI BYPASS. The road is superb here also. Its 6 lanes and quite empty.
Speeded up and in no time had bypassed Bhubaneswar town and was approaching Puri.
As we approached Puri, the road became narrow and traffic increased. But it was around 1:45 pm so it was not too crowded. Entered Puri through Jagannath Sadak and crossed over to VIP Road and then crossed the Governor’s House and finally hit Marine Drive Road and got the first glimpse of the sea. There was a lovely, cool sea breeze blowing, so turned off the AC and rolled down the windows.
Reached the hotel at 2 pm sharp. Took exactly 8 hours 15 minutes from our house in Kolkata to the hotel in Puri.
The hotel was Puri Beach Resort, beside the Lighthouse on Marine Drive Road. Must say after staying for 4 nights, the hotel was very good. Great service, good food like home, reasonably priced. Parking is on the outside of the hotel but there is 24 X 7 security who looks after the car and also a tip to them ensured that they washed the car every morning.
Stayed and chilled out for 4 nights.
Don’t forget to have a lunch at The Pink House (the only shack on the beach in Puri) and great Chinese food at Chung Wah (the restaurant at Hotel Lee Garden on VIP Road).
On 29th Dec morning started the journey back from the hotel at 7:15 am. Filled up fuel at Puri but was surprised to see that it was costlier than Balasore by about Rs.1.50. Realised that the best place to fill up fuel is between Jaleswar and Bhubaneswar. Here the fuel is the cheapest.
Journey back was also uneventful. Cuttack town was less crowded in the morning and hit NH 5 in no time. Crossed Orissa border at Jaleswar and was in NH 60. Surprisingly despite being a Sunday, the truck traffic was pretty high on NH 60 and being a single carriageway, it was very difficult to overtake.
Crossed Kharagpur around 1.20 pm and decided to have lunch at Kolaghat Dhaba. But NH 6 was relatively empty and reached Kolaghat by 2 pm. So changed our minds and decided to reach Kolkata and have late lunch.
After Uluberia, traffic increased considerably but still made good time and reached Belghoria Expressway by 3:15 pm. Entered City Centre 2 at 3:35 pm and had lunch.
Overall trip was great. Roads were good and the car performed superbly. Got an overall mileage of about 15 kmpl. Could have got more if I had driven leisurely but wanted to drive hard and minimise the journey time.
Thanks to TAI
for guidance and advice.
Attaching some pictures from the trip.