Ever since our last trip to South Sikkim, our hands were itching for another trip to the Himalayas. And the First thing that came to our mind was THE SILK ROUTE.The team of myself, souvik, Dhritiman & santanu all agreed instantly.
The fun of driving on those famous Hairpins of Zuluk was hard to resist. So, Silk Route was finalised. we floated the idea to some of our fellow members and few of them agreed to join us.Unfortunately dhritiman had to back out because of
leave issues.The Final Line up is as follows:
Ford Ecosport-Sourav & Priyankar
Maruti Wagon R- Souvik & Shantanu
Honda Jazz- Daipayan Da & Family
Maruti Baleno- Bratin & Family
Volkswagen Ameo- Subhayan & Slivina
Day 1(28.04.18)Kolkata to Linghtam- All of us assembled at Shaktigarh at about 7 p.m. It was going to be an overnight drive so all of us had our fair share of energy drinks(Sting). We followed the conventional Burdwan,SH7,Moregram,farakka, Malda, Botolbari, Islampur, Siliguri route. SH7 is in the best shape right now with Butter Smooth tarmac.halted for dinner & refuelling at COCO Moregram. Continued on NH34 after that. Just after crossing Malda Town we had our first of many events of out trip. My car was the lead car and just infront of Hotel Golden Park,Malda there came a huge pothole out of nowhere.Couldn't spot it in this darkness and had to go over it. stopped to check any possible damages but couldn't find any. So we carried on. Then after few kms, there were moderate size humps created by cement at places. tried to avoid them. But all of us hit them. So again we stopped to check any serious underbody hit. then i noticed that my front right tyre was nearly flat n rim was bent(as a result of previous event). switched over to spare tyre with the help of fellow members and we continued our journey. Our initial plan was to halt at COCO ghoshpukur for refreshments and breakfast. But we stopped at a Petrol Pump near islampur to refresh ourselves. Then we continued till Sevoke where had our breakfast break.Had delicious wai wai n tea. Handed over the steering to priyankar who was comparatively fresh & i needed some sleep.
Day 2(29.04.18)Linghtam- we followed the conventional Siliguri,sevoke, Melli bazar, Rangpo, Rongli route. Reached Rongli at afternoon.Got our car permit's done at Rongli P.S & had sumptous lunch at a nearby restaurant. i got my bent rim repaired at a local tyre shop and we all proceeded towards our homestay at Lingtham.
Day 3(30.04.16) Linghtam to Nathang Valley- today was going to be our first drive on THE OLD SILK ROUTE and all of us were very very excited. Got our permits verified at Lingtham Check post and together we set sail. The weather was cloudy and it was raining at times. No sooner the rain converted into snow rain and it was an awesome experience to drive in snowfall. drove along the twists and turns of the famous loops of Zuluk and reached Thambi view point. but to our dissappointment, everything was covered in clouds & we couldn't get any view of the famous zigzag roads. we continued with a heavy heart. The weather was deterioting with time with visibility almost nil at places.had a small pit stop at Lungthung amidst heavy snowfall.
The place reminded me of Russia during World War Era(as depicted in movies). We halted for lunch at a food joint some kms before nathang valley. Outside temperature was 3 degrees and it was bone chilling experience.Had Wai Wai, Coffee and proceeded towards our homestay at nathang valley.
Day 4(01.05.18)Nathang to Gangtok- Today was going to be an eventful day of our drive(More on that later). Experienced sunshine on early morning which was a big relief to all of us. Bratin decided to leave early coz he wanted to visit Thambi View point again(as we missed any view the previous day). But within half n hour he was back with a Flat Tyre(First event of the day).Upon inspection we couldn't see any tyre cuts, but the nozzle to fill air was missing. It must have fell during some impact. So with no other option he had to switch to Spare tyre which had 15 inch rims.We proceeded towards gangtok. First halt was Old Baba Mandir which is the Highest Point on Silk Route at an altitude of about 14k feet.It was chilling outside with temperature of nearly 3 degree. Here few Army Men informed us that it's snowing heavily towards Gangtok part of silk route & the route may be closed anytime. So without further delay we continued. Next stop was supposed to be Kupup Lake, but we hardly saw it as it was covered with clouds. So we continued towards New Baba mandir. After visiting the temple we proceeded towards the famous Changu Lake.Crossed Nathula gate en route Changu lake. All of us badly wanted to visit Nathula Pass but the permit's for the same were available only from Gangtok.So we had to give it a miss. We visited Changu Lake and halted there for Lunch. It was freezing temperature outside. After having Sumptous Wai Wai n coffee we proceeded towards Gangtok. We were relaxed a bit as we have crossed the critical sections of silk route & the possiblity of route closure was gone too.The weather was also clearing up eventually.
Just when we thought that everything was going according to plan, the next event of the day happened. There was a Huge Pothole in the middle of the road in a sharp turn and the first three cars fell victim to it.
Thankfully nothing happened to My Ecosport,But Bratin's Baleno & Souvik's Wagon R had flat tyres due to it. Bratin was already running in Spare Tyres so it was a major issue for us. His was 4 nut tyre. So we tried with my spare tyre but it didn't fit. Ameo's was 5 nut tyre so no question of it being used. Lastly we resorted to Jazz's spare tyre which was 14 inch & was of 4 nuts. Thankfully it did fit but to our shock the tyre was not touching the ground even after tightening. The reason was Baleno was with THREE TYRE PROFILES now- 16 inch, 15 inch & 14 inch. Eventually we had to defalte all other tyres a bit to make 14 inch tyres touch ground. In the meanwhie souvik had switched to his spare tyres. After this, 3 cars(Waggy, Jazz & Baleno) are without spare tyres.With no other option we proceeded toawrads Gangtok. Thankfully the rest of the drive was uneventful and we reached Gangtok safely.
Day 5(02.05.18) Gangtok- Today was supposed to be reserved for local sight seeing. But after yesterday's incidents, the first and foremost to do thing was to Hunt for tyres.So myself,souvik & Bratin left hotel in search of tyres.
found a puncture repair shop nearby. They didn't repair souvik's tyre, instead they converted it to tube ones. But Bratin's tyre tube was not available with them. So again we went hunting for Bratin's tyre tube. After nearly 10 kms,we found a tyre shop who had stock of Baleno tyres(Apollo Alnac 4G). Bratin wanted Yoko but they were hard to get in gangtok. So with no other option, he bought one tyre of 16 inch rims. The new tyre was fitted in place of Jazz Spare tyre and the same was returned to Daipayan Da. So finally Bratin was on 3 16 inch rims and 1 15 inch rims.Souvik was running on spare tyre & put the repaired tube tyre as spare. In the meanwhile, others visited local sightseeing places in gangtok. they insisted us to join, but i was feeling very tired. So myself n souvik decided to stay back and assured that we will join them in M.G Marg at evening. We went to M.G Marg at evening, did some shopping , had sumptous dinner at Taste Of Tibet and returned back to hotel. The next day was going to be a tiresome one as we would be going to kolkata directly. Departure time was fixed at 4 a.m so that we can avoid the jam in siliguri town. But since it was our last day of trip, we continued gossiping around. Finally we retired at around 1 p.m.
Day 6(03.05.18) Gangtok To Kolkata- we left at approx 4 a.m after a short sleep. Gangtok to Kolkata was a breeze. faced little jam in siliguri jam . We refuelled at COCO Ghoshpukur and halted at Islampur for breakfast. The rest of the journey
was uneventful. Halted at Malda Pathasathi for delicious Lunch. Faced usual jam at Farakka. Rest was mostly smooth sailing. Reached Kolkata at about 10 p.m.
It was an exciting & thrilling trip. We throroughly enjoyed a lot. But we missed out on most view points, and with this on mind we will be visiting Silk Route again. Till then..... CHEERS.
NOTE: Few pictures were clicked by fellow traveller's.Posted here with their permission.