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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips Delhi to Guwahati

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Imtiaz Ullah
Imtiaz Ullahhttps://nomadlawyer.org/about/
Imtiaz Ullah is the founder of travel website - NomadLawyer. A Corporate Lawyer, Senior Travel Correspondent, The Traveller Trails magazine and also acts as an Advisory Member, NGO - Sarvahitey. His travel philosophy is exploring new places, meeting new people, knowing the culture, eating like a local. He always believes in the idea-“ Don't just be a traveller but a Responsible one”.

Kick in the pants 

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips – Delhi to Guwahati:

Road trips are the best way to explore the unexplored. It gives you the flexibility of itinerary but at the same time one needs to be very organized and meticulous in planning. Thought of a road trip is bound to give kick in the pants.

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

I have done many road trips in Himachal and Uttarakhand. But these road trips were not satiating my hunger. As it is said, “Ye Dil Mange More”. I wanted to do a road trip which I can call the “Holy Grail of all the road trips”. 

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

I originally hail from Assam and my current work location is Delhi. I told myself what can be a better road trip than this “Delhi – Guwahati”.

 Holy Cow! I started planning in my mind, there was a certain madness and a strong desire to complete this road trip.

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

Told my wife and Mom about the road trip

For me, it was like a hell let loose moment as I had  to convey to my wife and my parents that I have been contemplating a road trip from Guwahati to Delhi.

The time during the Pandemic provided me with the best opportunity to fulfil this dream. Travel by flights and trains are not safe. Due to an emergency situation I had to travel to Assam.

It was then that I told my wife and mom ” that I am coming to Guwahati via road and I shall drive”. My wife was cool with it, she said, ” with you, it was expected and said I would also join this epic road trip”. Oops! It was a sigh of relief and next came my mom, I said the same thing to her, she was like ” are you crazy, imti? It is not at all safe, what if the car breaks down at night? where will you stay for the nights? Is it safe to drive at night? And blah blah …..she went on.” She turned into a question bank and I had to convince her. Atlast, she gave in and said, ” I trust your driving, drive safe and remember, speed should not cross 80 km/hour”. Mothers are after all mothers, she still thinks I am a kid. But atlast, a sigh of relief and crossed the first hurdle.

Route Planning 

Next came the planning of the route, what car care needs to be taken? where to stay for the nights? What can be an alternate route if there were a long traffic snarl?

To answer these questions, I reached out to the best person, Kumar HV sir aka chief aka Human GPS of India. 

H V Kumar is a motorist based in Mumbai, who has been driving around India over the last 3 decades. You can read more about him in his Facebook Fan Page https://www.facebook.com/groups/hvkumar/

 or email him at HVKumar@gmail.com

He is the founder of HVK(HiVayking) community on Facebook. HvK group has been guiding motorheads and car enthusiasts for a long time now. 

Many members from this community also chipped in with their suggestions. Atlast, after lot of discussion I finalised the route:

Facts

Distance between Delhi and Guwahati is 1927.6 kms or 1197.8 miles and the Driving Time is 1 days, 9 hours, 13 minutes.

Mode of transport: My trusted partner- Renault Duster 4wd

https://www.renault.co.in/cars/renault-duster.html?CAMPAIGN=in-r-b-newcar-duster-duster-07-2020-os-nmti-na-na-na&ORIGIN=sea_defensive&dclid=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwoJX8BRCZARIsAEWBFMLX8VxEXW23i7dXjN7pOLIEseyqaj_7FpOM4M1rLzxKjVLW1ZfFb4EaAvreEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

Holey Moley! Finally came the day of truth

After a light breakfast, we started our epic road journey from Delhi to Guwahati at 8 am in the morning. Don’t forget to take enough water bottles, snacks, protein bars as there are a few  eating joints along the expressway. Also, carry waste bag along so that you can collect the waste during the journey and dump it in a dustbin. Please take care of the environment.

Day 1- Delhi to Lucknow

Total Distance- 554 kms

Time – 7 hours.

Delhi-Gr.Noida-(YamunaExpressway)-Agra-(Agra-Lucknow Expressway)-Lucknow.

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

After 7 hours of uninterrupted drive, we reached the City of Nawabs- Lucknow. This drive was easy peasy as the expressway is in excellent condition. Just be mindful of not crossing the speed limit unless you don’t care for a challan.

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

Please note Delhi to Gorakhpur should be the ideal first day drive. But I had other plans, I stayed in Lucknow as I wanted to have the famous shaami and Galawat kebab with “ulta tawe ke parantha” in the famous Tunday Kebab. We stayed at the Legend Inn hotel for the night.

Link: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-d18978008?m=55595

Things to Note:

The entire corridor is 6/8 lane high speed. The speed limit is 100km. Generally it doesn’t face traffic jams as it bypasses the cities on the way. It has more toll

booth than others. Also ensure your tanks be full before taking this Expressway as there are very few (only 1 or 2) petrol pumps on the way.

Day 2: Lucknow- Bagdogra

Total Distance- 900kms

Time- 19 hours

Route- Lucknow – Barabanki – Faizabad – Basti – Gorakhpur – Kushinagar – Gopalganj – Pipra – Supaul – Nirmali – Muzaffarpur – Darbhanga – Jhanjharpur – Forbesganj – Araria – Purnia – Dalkola

Holy Grail of Indian Road Trips - Delhi to Guwahati

 Lucknow to Bagdogra was by no means an easy task. It was 19 hours of uninterrupted drive and a distance to 900kms to be covered. We started early in the morning at around 5:30 am. The road till Gorakhpur is in deplorable condition with mulitiple potholes and some of them are really big. A car with low ground clearance will really be tested here, however, driving the duster 4wd, I did not face this issue. Infact , the driving quality was just impeccable.

We entered Gopalganj, Bihar at around 11:30 am. We were taken aback by a huge roadblock caused by stationary trucks. One of the truck drivers told me that the road congestion may extend to even 10 to 15 hours, asked to reverse my car and take the wrong way. After successfully maneuvering through the fleet of trucks, I was just about to hit the highway, my car was hit by a jeep.

The jeep had police logo in the front mirror  and the driver was  flaunting all the driving rules. The car hit directly at the rear bumper of my car and a portion of the bumper came out. I was like,’Hell’, ” welcome to Bihar”. It really did spoil my mood. But holding onto my nerve and not losing my cool, I kept driving, we reached Gopalganj town. I got the bumper fixed in a garage. It did eat up my time. After having fixed the bumper, we started again, but again we encountered a huge traffic jam.

We took a detour by following a Bihar registration car and soon we were crossing through multiple villages of Bihar. The roads became narrower, swollen river on either sides, cattles happily walking on the road, we even saw young girls performing on some vulgar numbers. I was like what the Hell!  After encountering narrow roads, off roads and no roads, we crossed Chakia village and ultimately we hit the SH 63. The SH63, is also in pathetic condition and ultimately we reached NH27(Muzzafarpur) crossing Motihari. The places I have crossed were similar to the places I have seen in movies like Gangs of Wasseypur or Gangajal.  I am not castigating, but the condition in villages of Bihar is really appaling. I had no other option but to drive through the night in Bihar, which is not at all safe. Please avoid night driving through Bihar. I had to face a couple of unwarranted incidents, which I don’t want to delve into in this blog. But we came out safe.

After crossing Kishanganj, we finally entered North Bengal and  reached Bagdogra. 

A sigh of relief. We settled for the night at Sudhriti Hotel, right at the highway. Somenath da, the owner of the hotel and a good friend prepared ilish fish, kosha mangsho and home cooked food. Thanks to my dear friend Boudhayan Bhattacharya, who recommended and booked this hotel. After a sound sleep, we got up early in the morning and after a good breakfast hit the road again.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/Sudhriti-Hotel-Restaurant-1475831259366551/

Day 3- Bagdogra to Guwahati (The last leg)

Distance –  (450.7 km)

Time – 10 h 32 min)

Route- Bagdogra via Sevoke, Birpara – Hasimara Shrirampur-Bongaigaon – Nalbari – Rangiya – Guwahati

The route starting from Bagdogra via Svoke route is a pleasure to drive. I rolled down the window, enjoyed the beautiful landscapes and driving past wild mountain rivers. Throughout the drive, I felt safe to stop to breathe in clean air, learn about cultures and taste local food. These are the perks of a road trip. 

Finally, we reached Shrirampur gate and Guwahati was within sniffing distance. At the gate, we were stopped by the cops and said, they will escort our car and stop at every district. But citing emergency situation at home, I managed to dodge this requirement.

 Continuing our drive through the districts of Assam, we reached Barpeta Road and had a lovely dinner with local chicken, mutton and Assamese parantha at Rajkanya restaurant. 

Also Read: https://nomadlawyer.org/experience-the-tea-tourism-of-rural-assam/

Ultimately, we were on Saraighat bridge.

Important pointers 

  • Plan to drive around 12 hours per day with proper breaks.
  • Carry enough food and water for the journey.  I had dinner at the hotels and asked them to pack breakfast. 
  • Prebook the hotels but don’t pay – incase your plans change for any reason.  
  • Don’t drive too fast. Rather enjoy the experience. The roads are good mostly – just stay safe and keep the driving to the day. 

Helluva! I completed the epic route trip that I had been dreaming for a long time. There was a sense of satisfaction. Now, I have started contemplating the next road trip. Renault Duster 4wd has been my trusted partner. 

We received a warm welcome at home. My entire family was waiting at the gate to greet us and they were equally elated as we could accomplish this.

If you are also planning this epic road trip and need any assistance do write to us at:

connect@nomadlawyer.org

Travel and don’t stop ! 

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