Completed a Nepal roadtrip in january, sorry for being late in penning the travelogue for the paucity of time. But it was an hell of an experience and would keep posting the travelogue as I complete it.
The route we took was Bhubaneswar-Jamshedpur-Ranchi-Patna-Motihari-Raxaul-Birganj-Hetauda-Mugling-Pokhara-Kathmandu-Birganj-Muzaffarpur-Patna-Gaya-Kolkata-Bhubanesawr.
2991 Kms, had it been 9 more we would have had a milestone figure of 3000, but The Nepal Roadtrip was a milestone in itself for us, an unforgettable roadtrip through the potholed roads, lovely hosts, lost tracks, statewide strikes, flat tyres, corrupt officials, foggy roads, unwell travellers, cash strapped pockets.…what not. Definitely a trip to remember and a tough standard set for upcoming roadtrips in the pipeline.
It all started with an unplanned plan to get out somewhere, out of Bhubaneswar daily routine & preferably on d roads. And thus came up Nepal as a challenging and interesting endeavour for its awesome views and adventure sport activities. The bags were packed and thus began the longest roadtrip of my life. The “three” me (Manu), Sandy & Hota were all set to leave on 5th Jan, when in the morning we decided to delay it by a day so that Sandy recovers from his fever. We hope something that happened that day helped him recover quick ;) Day 1
Next day targeting a early start we managed to leave XIMB only by 11:00 AM. Our plans had started to fell apart from the start itself & thus we began the trip with flexible planning (if only we could call it a plan ). Straight we hit to the BP-Chandrashekharpur fuel bunk get the tank topped up & gather eatables (read Lays, Coke & Redbull). 12:00 PM we leave Bhubaneswar & hit NH-5. All pumped up and music blasting thru speakers we cross Cuttack, Bhadrak, Chandikhol. At about 3:30 PM we feel hungry and observe an A1 Plaza (at closed reliance outlet) some 25 Kms prior to Balasore. After an awesome lunch (though it took some time to get served but food was good) we head towards Balasore from where we take a left turn onwards to Baripada and Jamshedpur. It was a dual carriageway road without divider, most portion of which was driveable up until Baharagora. NH-33 from Baharagora to Jamshedpur was a nightmare. It was already 6:00 PM, headlights were on & then the pathetic roads made us crawl all over till Jamshedpur. Our plans of reaching Patna on Day 1 were in shambles. We refuelled our tanks on sighting a petrol bunk and upon enquiry were informed that the roads ahead were worse than we travelled on, it was then that we modified our flexible plan to stay put at Jamshedpur after consultation with friend in Jamshedpur regarding road conditions ahead. We reach XLRI at 9:30 PM, met some old friends and then the party started. What a night it was much more needed for relaxing after such treacherous roads. XL guys played a good host and thus we break for sleep at 4:00 AM. Day 2
Woke up at 8:30 AM, all of us with a bad hangover but we needed to move on for the rest part of our journey. At 9:30 AM we leave XLRI and hit the Ranchi Highway with just a pathetic Tea enroute. We enter Ranchi around 1:00 PM & then we head on to Hotel Junglee, onto exit of Ranchi on Ranchi-Patna Highway. For food matters we always trust Motabhai, & that too he hailing from Ranchi itself, Hotel Junglee ought to be good. Had sumptuous meal of Chicken Tikka Butter masala, Ghee Rice, Dal Makhni & Nan as recommended by Motabhai. It had nice ambience appealing a lot to a traveller and nature lover with pics of various animals and specially tiger. Having our tummies full and some good roads we head towards Patna with Hazaribagh, Nalanda enroute. Just about some 20 Kms from Patna, it had to happen to us, how can be travel on a day without any hassle, we were caught in a long jam prior entering Patna. Somehow criss-crossing the trucks we managed to clear thru the jam, when it occurred to us that the jam was a fallout of some cops trying to ooze out money of truckwallahs in the name of checking. God save us. Entering Patna at 10:00 PM we search for hotels on makemytrip, google maps, everywhere, and then we find a okayish hotel wid parking and decide to take it for the night. Straight we head on to nearest Domino’s outlet we saw while during our search and grab on to Pizzas & Pastas to relieve us of our hunger. Back to hotel and we call it a day hoping to leave early next day so as to make up for the lost time. Day 3
We leave early today. 8:00 AM, we look out our hotel window & its foggy outside. We were supposed to be in Pokhara today. But the roads have led us so far only. We were all determined to anyhow reach Pokhara today and make up for the lost time. Quickly we checkout of the hotel put on our GPS and head on towards Gandhi Setu over river Ganga. It was so foggy or was it our sins that we couldn’t get even a glimpse of the Ganga. Anyhow we cross the bridge and reach Hazipur flyover, we decide to have some tea and ask for directions from the local taxiwallahs who are much more knowledgeable about the roads. We initially planned to take Muzaffarpur highway onto Motihari but were suggested to take road via Lalganj onto Motipur, from where we get onto NH-28 to Motihari. Thus armed with local road info and pleasant weather we move on towards our destination.
Our happiness of finding a good road and lovely foggy weather was just about to end as we entered Lalganj. Some locals have orchestrated a jam for protesting for something (it’s a daily routine over there as told by a rickshaw wallah :P). We found a helpful driver who offered us to follow him through the interior roads and we followed, trusting him in such a scenario was our only escape. We managed to cover a little distance when we needed to refuel and let go of that car, thinking we would catch it back after refuelling. But as destiny had to be with us, as we moved out of fuel bunk, the road ahead was jammed with a local boy who obviously had nothing else to do shouting at us “Akhbaar nahi padhte kya”, & we were like WTF who knows there’s gonna be a jam in the middle of nowhere. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise, we took out our google maps and google baba had to come to our rescue, it showed a path which actually was a single lane broken half mud half potholed roads & we took on it as being our only option if we had to keep moving. It turned out to be a wise decision as being a less used road no one thought of blocking it & in around 1.5 hours we were onto NH-28 at Motipur. Finding a good 4 lane highway we started cruising at over 100kmph, but as yet again destiny had to be, I realised losing control of the car, fearing a flat tyre got out of it to find the fear coming true. To our already delayed schedule now extra time for changing tyres was to be accommodated. NH-28 Bad luck. tyre change
Finally after having changed tyre and soon getting it repaired we head on towards Motihari. At the ICICI Bank there we get our money for the trip (in denominations of 100 only for use in Nepal).
Around 2 PM we leave towards Raxaul “the border” and yet again we hit a rough patch of roads. Although being constructed, we hope it to be ready by dec 2014. Motihari-Raxaul road condition
At 4 PM we arrive at Raxaul and are greeted by a huge traffic jam along the border road. As somehow we managed to get to the front of jam, we were asked by a “thulla” for chai-coffee. After having a thought we realised we had to bribe him if we wanted to get ahead, and as soon as we handed him over Rs.100 note, He was in front of our vehicle making way for us all the way to the border. Little did I realise that even a pic of Gandhiji is so powerful to clear ways for you. Nepal Entrance
And now we enter Nepal, finally. We get our entry pass for car “Bhanzaar” made @Rs.300/day and move on ahead in search for the place to get road permit but couldn’t get it. Later we realized its importance. Anyways Its 6 PM, had no lunch, super hungry, a lot more to cover for Pokhara with hilly roads and night coming on. We decided to move on with a break at around 7:30 PM for dinner (Ok food, we were super hungry hence gulped it). The route was Hetauda-Bharatpur-Mugling-Pokhara. We move on towards Pokhara determined to reach tonight anyhow. The hilly terrain started from Bharatpur and was active with vehicles giving ways and also following traffic rules completely. We reach upto Mugling at around 10 PM and decide to break for tea and change drivers. The route ahead from Mugling to Pokhara was lonely with only few vehicles in between. Little have we moved ahead from Mugling, fog engulfed us. Fog+Night+Hilly roads is a dangerous combo anyday, not to be suggested to anyone. We moved along slowly utilising Nokia Maps (Thanks to our friend Hota for installing offline maps as we had no network connectivity once we entered Nepal). On the way we were stopped at a Police checkpost, asking us for road permit which we didn’t had. We had to shell out 500NC (NC=Nepali Currency, 1IC indian currency= 1.6 NC) and got a receipt made for the same. Later our foggy journey was helped to a great extent by a truck flying past us and we gladly followed it until it gave us way after traversing great deal of foggy curvy roads. We continue on and finally around 2:30 AM we enter Pokhara.
Pokhara is a calm city and during night the calmness intensifies, roaming around the streets our search for hotels start. One after another, most of the hotels are closed and now we are ready to settle for anything with 4 walls and a roof. On our last ditch attempt, we were thankful enough to the guard of Hotel Grand Holiday to open up the gates and show rooms. Little did anything mattered that moment and soon we crashed into our beds with shivering cold breeze blowing outside. The warmth of the quilt and our tired bodies made sure we slept in no time & thus came the longest and most eventful day of our travel to a halt with a satisfaction of reaching the destination. Day 4
It was a peaceful day meant for relaxing with no travel. We got up to a beautiful morning at 10AM ;) and a stroll along the lakeside road made us awestruck at the simple beauty of the place. Afternoon we move out of our hotel rooms to get a good massage. Reaching out to main lakeside market we have some sandwiches and move onto massage parlour for much needed Deep Tissue Massage. Having had ourselves pampered and feeling lot relaxed we head on to absorb the beauty of the lake Phewa. After strolling around we move into lakeside restaurant Clay Oven, sit into the balcony staring over beautiful Phewa Tal with a glass of JD in our hands and calmly soak into the natural beauty around. Dogs playing, people strolling leisurely, boats floating calmly brought a great sense of calmness to mind after tiring 3 days of journey, all of it feeling worth it. Post having some snacks we move on to get a SIM so that connectivity is not an issue. Got an NTC SIM from its main office by providing a passport copy and off we go back to our hotels to freshen up and enjoy the nightlife Pokhara has to offer. boats on phewa tal Phewa Tal View of Annapurna from Fewa Tal
Chilling out at Cafe Oven Clay
Later in the night on recommendation of a friend we start on foot searching for Busy Bee Café which was in the vicinity itself. Its undoubtedly the most happening place at night in Pokhara. With live performances and jovial crowd dancing and soaking into the mood, we order few drinks and some great food. It was 12:30 AM, hardly did we realise sitting there and the place started closing down, we start the walk back to our hotels and calmly get into our beds waiting for the paragliding trip next day. @ busy bee cafe