Destinations

Road trip to Sikkim – Part 1

A road trip to Sikkim had been on the plans since the last trip to Manali with the same set of friends. We came about a plan to start from Bangalore and ride through the seven states of India to get to Sikkim and cover whatever possible and return. This was scheduled to happen during hot summer months of April & May. A month before – the planning, packing, scheduling basic travel and stay for the trip was thought through. Gathering inputs from fellow biker friends, the well acclaimed HVK online group forum (for anything North East of India) and Google maharaj of course. After several iterations and having considered various options, taking into account our participating friends timelines, shipping/transporting logistics, cost and finances viable for each of us – we came upon the decision to ship the bikes to Siliguri and drive up to there one way and those who don’t/can’t ride back will have the bikes shipped back and take a flight back. So it’s a Triumph Tiger, KTM Duke 390, Yamaha FZ, Aprilia SR150 and the Xylo. While it’s just Vageesh on his Aprilia SR150 scooter and me on my Duke 390 who would be doing the return leg on 2 wheelers.

Basic checklist to be ready and packed are briefly listed below:

  1. Vehicle documents – Registration, PUC, Insurance (originals with 6 photocopies)
  2. Personal identification documents – Driving License, Aadhaar card (original with 6 photocopies)
  3. Motorcycle riding gear – Helmet, riding jacket, riding pant, gloves, boots, rain gear.
  4. Regular wear (when not in/on vehicle) – Clothes, toiletries kit, medicine kit, electronics kit.
  5. Car/Bike check – service, ride/drive check, tools, spares, maintenance/cleaning stuff.

Bengaluru – Tirupati (259 km)

Day 01 : 21 Apr 2017

Started by 6:55am from home. A short stop over at Whitefield to meet up with Kiran before heading on out of Bangalore. We had breakfast at Saravana Bhavan at 10:30am just before Mulbagal. Crossed over to Andra state and reached Palamaner by 12:30. At 2:40pm, had a flat tyre 10km from Tirupati. Started to rain. We fixed by replacing with a spare tyre and drove ahead to the Mahindra service centre by 4:30pm. We got to town for a new Xylo tyre replacement. Evening snack was managed with egg omelettes and noodles close by. Tyre fixing was done by 7pm. Stayed at a hotel booked in advance. Good snacks at Manasa Fast Food close by. That was the end of day one. With the loss of nearly a day’s travel time, we had to make up for it in the next two days if we were to stay on track, as per schedule.


Tirupati – Rajamundry (636 km)

Day 02 : 22 Apr 2017

Had breakfast at MFF and started by 7:30am. We make a short stop to hydrate with coconut water. Then we cross bridge over the Penna river, that which had no water in it. Good roads all the way so far. At Tanguturu, toll booth had a N5 food plaza on above. Half past noon and we pass the town of Angole via bypass highway. At Burepalli, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant that served amazing veg meals here. Simple tasty authentic Andhra vegetarian meals served here. Clean and air-conditioned restaurant by the highway. Only possible good option for food available on the highway, besides the several dhabas around which can’t be vouched for. Fuel stop at Guntur at 3:30pm. Heading for the Rock-cut cave temple at Undavalli (suggested to my friend Deepak) 7.6km off the highway, near Vijayavada. NH7, Tadepalli get off highway and take a left after petrol bunk. Entry to the rock-cut cave temple entry was Rs.15/- for Indian and Rs 200/- for foreigner. Mysterious are the ways of humans of differentiating one from another.

Vijayavada city main roads are good. Another fuel stop at Vidyanagar, just after Gannavaram. 135km to Rajamundry. A short tea break and another toll booth. Cross River Godhavari to get to the town of Rajamundry. After a drive around town we finally found a good hotel to stay at. Had dinner at a nearby restaurant. Sleep by 10pm. At about 1am a policeman knocks on our room door to verify who we are. Showed our ID proof and stated our purpose of visit. All is well and so we got back to sleep.


Rajamundry – Puri (650 km)

Day 03 : 23 Apr 2017

Wake up by 6am and ready by 7:30am. Refueled our vehicle and started out at 8:15am. Expensive toll prices. Annavaram stretch (between Bendapudi and Tetagunta) is nice. We should have take a left at Anakapalle to skip Vizag but missed it. At Lankela Palem, we take left to skip entering Vizag and head to Srikakulam. Single lane broken tarred road through small villages. Here most if not all statues, pictures, idols of God Hanuman is painted green. Don’t know if green color paint is cheaper or that the locals like Hanuman in green avatar.

12:45pm, we stopped at a restaurant in Bhimunipatnam for lunch. After several expensive tolls on route and about 4:10pm, we crossed over into Odissa and stopped for a quick tea break. Lovely drive from Ramba to Tangi. Lovely view from Nirmalajhara with the forest hills on the left. A road and a railway track on the right with the sea far beyond as backdrop.

Another 110km to reach Puri. From Tangi 17km take a right turn at Rameswar, leading to Puri. Reached here by 6:45pm. Concrete single/two lane roads till Puri. After several searches through various hotels by the beach, we checked into one. Had dinner by 10:30pm. Half hour by the beach and back to hotel by 11.50pm to sleep for the night after a good 12 hours of travel time for the day.


Puri – Kharagpur (430 km)

Day 04 : 24 Apr 2017

The city of Puri is over-crowded with very narrow lanes, street vendors, haphazard driving sense, honking. Unplanned town. Jagannath temple visit at 8am. Beware of the pundits/pujaris here who wait to extort and devour your money before you realize what’s happening. Con job in and around the place. Do NOT carry your wallet/mobile phones when visiting this temple. 10am we started out towards Konark, 40km. Stopped for brunch by the beach 4km before Konark.

Splendid historical and architectural marvel at the Konark Sun Temple, Konark, Odissa. Built in 1250 AD during the reign of Eastern Ganga King Narasimhadeva – I (1238-64 AD). Beautiful sun temple. Parts of it damaged over the years, some parts were held together and some withstood the elements and interventions over the years.

Started out for Kharagpur at 1:30pm. Past Cuttack and over several bridges, with lorries on the road and no good landscape on either sides. After driving through three more expensive toll booths, we stop at Jaleswar for a tea break but ended up having early dinner. 4.8km from the border of WB and 91km from Kharagpur. Reached Kharagpur and found place to stay for the night. Checked in at 11:45pm.


Kharagpur – Suri (235 km)

Day 05 : 25 Apr 2017

Woke up by 8am. After much searching for a restaurant, we reached IIT, Kharagpur to have breakfast nearby by 10am. Heavy, noisy and busy traffic on the roads. Hot and humid climate. A quick stop at the railway station to knock off portals on the mobile based game Ingress.

Drove out from the town by 1pm. A short stretch of the road with lush green cover on both sides is a very lovely sight. Just after Satbankura, we stopped to refuel. We passed the Amlagola Range Elephant Corridor area with lush greenery on either sides of the road. We cross over the Shilabati river bridge at Bara Dumuria. At 5pm, we stopped for a short break little after Durgapur and we cooked up bisi bele baath on the small gas stove that I brought along.

Further on, at Joydev Kenduli bad stretch of road, more like off-road as this was an area where a river tributary flows through. At about 6:15pm, we passed the Bakreswar Thermal Power Station to the left of the road. Also passed a KTM showroom here. All auto rickshaws were the electric kinds with open sides and a canopy overhead, which is a very good thing. Reached our hotel of stay, had dinner and we were off to bed by 11pm.


Suri – Latpanchar (450km)

Day 06 : 26 Apr 2017

Woke up by 5am and were on the road an hour later. Refueled on the highway. Had biscuits for breakfast, while on the move. At some point, we crossed the Tilpara Barrage.

Enquired with biker friend Daivick who had recently done the route solo on his Duke 390 a month back as to which route to take to Siliguri from the options below.

Route A via Dumka, Banka, Purnea, Kishanganj
Route B via Rampurhat, Pakur, Malda, Raiganj

He suggested to take Route A during daytime and so as to avoid the heavy truck laden roads on the Route B and so this was in our plan initially. At this time, Google maps stated that Route A is longer by 32km and would take 2 hours more to cover despite usual traffic. So we chose Route B and continued on. At Nalhati-Karimpur we are to take a right, a series of trucks had stopped on the route creating a traffic jam.

Bad roads near and crossing the Farakka feeder canal by 9am and get onto NH34 highway. Badly maintained highways. Cross River Ganges over the Farakka Barrage. Stopped at a big hotel for lunch at 12:30pm. Food was not worth the price. At Bikaur, we took a right turn (off the main highway leading to Dalkola, Kishanganj and then Dhantola) going via Khanta, Biprit meeting back onto the highway at Dhantola. This route is much quieter with no lorries and narrow roads as we drive past small villages on route. 130 km more to go with the likelihood of reaching the home stay at Latpanchar by 8pm. From Dhanrola, the highway roads are very good.

At Bidhannagar, good concrete roads and tea plantation on either sides of the road. Reached Siliguri by 8pm and later Latpanchar by 9m. Bad road for nearly 10km off the main road with an uphill climb with almost a 1100 meter altitude gain. We get to the home stay there and have dinner by 10pm. Distance of 2727 km covered in total.


Latpanchar – Siliguri (40km)

Day 07 : 27 Apr 2017

Lovely quiet home stay next to a govt. school established back in 1946. 6:30am we set for bird watching. Got to see and observe the amazingly beautiful, big yet shy bird, the Rufus necked Hornbill. Got back by 9am for breakfast. By 9:30am, we head for more bird watching to Lava which is about 3 hours from here. We get back by noon, pack our bags, have lunch (which wasn’t good) and head back to the Siliguri town.

By evening we reach the hotel booked for our stay, where the rest of the gang from Bangalore had already reached there by a flight to Siliguri. Chai-pani, followed much later by beer-wine and dinner. We reach Siliguri after 7 days long drive having covered about 2800 kms. With the first leg of 3 weeks long tour done, the best is to follow as we get eager to travel through Sikkim.

After a week’s roadtrip done upto Sikkim, wherein switching from jotting down notes of the trip, to keeping tabs on expenses, playing ingress, taking pictures, acting navigator and being the driver on turns, finally manage to sort and put up this write-up with pictures of our trip.

5 Comments

  • Prajwal {RPXtereme}
    April 28, 2017 - 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Very neatly briefed. And helpful too. Hope u enjoyed the remainder leg of the trip too, where u ride ur beast. Waiting to read rest of ur story.

  • Himangshu Chatterjee
    May 7, 2017 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    Pavan ,had a opportunity to meet with you and sharing thoughts with you in Hotel sagar..nice to meet with you

  • RKrishna
    May 15, 2017 - 10:49 pm | Permalink

    Awsome Description and veryhelpful. We may follow the same soon. Copy cats we are.

    • pavan
      May 16, 2017 - 10:15 pm | Permalink

      Thank you and happy it came of help to you for your trip. Safe travels. 🙂

  • November 16, 2017 - 2:00 am | Permalink

    Very neatly described…. You should add captions to images it will make reading more fun…..

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