Decided to visit Gangtok for a few days. Got the phone number of a hotel from a friend of mine. Rang them up and very fortunately they had accommodation available. And I had a phone number of a hotel in Siliguri, where I usually stay. That was because wife reasonably refused to go to Gangtok straightaway, saying that it was too difficult for her, sitting in a car for some eighteen or nineteen hours.
Started from my home in north Calcutta right at 3 O'clock, very early in the morning. The roads were emtpty. In less than three hours reached Panagarh (a place near Durgapur in West Bengal, on NH-2). I was heading for Messanjore dam, near Dumka town (in Jharkhand). Actually there is also a shorter route from Calcutta which leads to to this place, going via Bolpur. But I do not have a GPS device in my car and I was afraid that I might get lost and not recognise the roads. So decided to take this longer route instead.
The mostly empty roads were very beautiful. This picture of the road between Illambazar and Dubrajpur (both in Birbhum district of West Bengal) was taken by my wife at half past five.
Messanjore dam, at half past seven.
Going to Sikkim during summer has almost become an yearly ritual for me. This is my fourth visit in as many years. But although on my last visit to Sikkim I could stop at this tea shop and had a cup of tea, this time I was unlucky as the shop was yet to open.
The road leading to Dumka was in very god shape. Fresh carpeting has been done this year. It has also been widened. But there are several new culverts being constructed, so there are road diversions. And I had to remain extra careful with my nine year old car (Tata Indigo, GLX model/MPFI, 96000+ KM), not to scrape the bottom.
This road continues to a small town named Hansdiha, which is located almost in Jharkhand-Bihar border. Allow me to share with you a picture of me, standing at a place close to this town and giving a splash of cold water on my face to freshen up.
It was raining heavily when I entered Bihar. Fortunately the rain did not last long. These pictures are in the state of Bihar.
This is the entrance to Bhagalpur town.
A picture of Tilka Manjhi, a great freedom fighter who fought against the British. Even the Bhagalpur university is named after him.
From Bhagalpur I had to cross the river Ganga by taking the Bikramshila bridge. This is a picture of this bridge. Unfortunately the stretch of road right from Tilka Majhi Chawk in Bhagalpur till it reaches a place called Naugatchia (where you join NH-31) is bad. Fortunately this bad stretch is less than fifteen KMs.
Once in NH-31, it is a fun to drive. Very smooth surface. Although it is an undivided road, it is sufficiently wide, even at places wide enough for four cars abreast.
And just before you reach Purnia, please take the bypass road, where you get an excellent divided four lane road right up to Siliguri. Please do not worry, there is even a sign-board present, displaying direction.
Unfortunately there was some road block at Kishanganj town, where there was an accident. And one vehicle was set on fire. Please see the column of rising smoke and the stranded vehicles. Unfortunately I did not get closer than this and my wife could not take a better view.
The locals advised me to take this bridge, drive for some five KMs by a small narrow road, till I reach a place called Panjipara (If I remember the name correctly) and hit thew highway again. Please see the local vehicles coming from the opposite (Silliguri) side.
Then it was a smooth drive all the way. Although the road has got some potholes shortly before Siliguri town, they can be easily avoided or negotiated satisfactorily. Reached Siliguri and checked into the hotel at around half past four in the afternoon.
Thanks for reading. I shall post about the remaining portion of my just concluded trip very soon.