A long drive is the taste of pure freedom – you travel at your pace, you stop where you want, you go when you want to. You are the master of your road trip. You eat where you want to and stand and capture the picturesque road on your camera. Whether you ride a bike or car, you will definitely enjoy these routes.
Kolkata to Mandarmani
For your first road trip try this. Driving through the national highway is a wonderful experience. The roads are good and the scenic beauty is amazing with trees and greenery covering both sides of the road. Start from Kolkata early morning for this 180 km journey by car. The route has many dhabas and roadside stalls which offer mouthwatering breakfast of hot kochuris. Most cars make a stop at Kolaghat for a tea break in this 3 hour drive. Driving towards the south and over the bridges, you will reach Mecheda and then Contai. Mandarmani is about half an hour drive away from Contai. After you reach Chowlkhola, take left and within ten minutes you will reach the longest motorable beach in India, the Mandarmani beach.
The local police have recently stopped cars from driving on the beach as most people do not have the knowledge of how to get out if their car in any case gets stuck in the sand. Bound to take help of the locals they are also charged by them. However, if you befriend a local he might tell you the secret of driving on sand without getting stuck on it which is to keep driving in the second gear with your accelerator running strong.
Kolkata to Puri
This is one of the most beautiful road trips for you. This is one long drive you will definitely remember.
Best time to start from Kolkata is 4 a.m. as this is going to be a 9-10 hour drive covering around 580 kms. At NH6 near Kharagpur, take the Belda road to Balasore. On the way you will cross Pipli, Cuttack and Bhadrak. You can stop at Balasore for breakfast. If you take only one breakfast break, you will reach Puri by afternoon and have your lunch there. Most of the way the roads are good enough to drive at high speeds, however at low visibility at dawn watch out for any bullock carts which have been reported to cause collisions as they go without any lights. Road conditions are generally good except for a few short stretches. It is advisable to drive during the day.
The 65 km long Dankuni-Palsit stretch is also called as the Durgapur Expressway. The West Bengal portion of NH2 starts (or ends) at Dankuni. It is part of the four-lane West Bengal portion of NH2 that stretches from Barakar to Dankuni.
There are a number of good dhabas and eateries to stop and enjoy this long drive. The road is in good condition and if you are looking for a lazy weekend drive for the day, this is your open road. From Palsit, if you are a foodie you can see take the old GT Road to take you to Shaktigarh. Savour its sweet delicacy at Kousik Ghosher famous Langcha shop or to Bardhaman for Sitabhog and Mihidana. Shaktigarh will be around 91 kms from Kolkata and on a Sunday you can start in the morning, have a good lunch in a dhaba and return home before evening. Azad Hind Dhaba is the best one with the dishes on the route although a bit expensive whereas Sonar Bangla is cheaper.
Kolkata to Darjeeling
If you are a seasoned driver and looking for some thrill take this one. This is going to be really long drive but totally worth your time and effort. While the thought of driving on hilly roads scare the hell out of them, only a few are ready for the challenge. Avoid rainy season, it is too dangerous. You may prefer to drive yourself but for this route many hire drivers or cars.
It will take around 13 hours to reach Siliguri and then another 3 hours to reach Darjeeling. There are some alternatives to the route but here is the recommended one. Take the NH 34 from Kolkata towards Ranaghat and stop at Krishnanagar for a break if you want. Driving almost two hours from there you will cross Palashi (yes the battle ground) and then Baharampur. Moving along NH 34 you will reach Malda after three hours. You may decide to stop here for the night or move on to Dalkhola which is another 1.5 hours drive from there. From Dalkhola take NH 31 which will take you to Bagdogra. Siliguri is about 14 km from here and from there you can take the Hill Cart Road. Roads are generally good but the road towards Darjeeling is under maintenance so might find a few hitches. The view is absolutely amazing and the he sparkling water of the mountain river will make you feel it was worth the effort.
Image credits: 500px.com, gluebomb.com, climatechange.thinkaboutit.eu, whatsmovingindia.com
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