Long drive to kolkata Via Road All Preparation Documented

February 15, 2017

My parents were dead against this idea.My parents in laws also against this idea.My close relatives disbelieves this. My close friends said a single driver can not do this. They even added only a truck driver could do this.All preferred train journey to kolkata instead of my car.If train was not available they suggested to take flight. But since our dates were not confirmed,we really could not book either of them. We had to stop for Durgapuja in Hyderabad. Being a Bengali , not going to home town -kolkata for celebrating ma Durga (When it is worshiped in our house itself) was something which was outside of bong culture.With a broken heart we stopped and visited ma Durga in the near by pandals.

How it started again: 
The road bug started biting us(me and my wife).We were getting long leaves during january. We thought to go to some sea side as wify loves sea. We planned for Vizag. Yes,the best sea beach in Andhra Pradesh.I started googling,there were lot of articles in team bhp about hyderabad to vizag travel.Even we got few from Chennai or from Bangalore to Vizag.I inquired my gang(Souritra and Harish ) about this idea. They did that trip by bike. They agreed that it would be a memorable trip. During my further research, I came to know about a bengali gang who did hyderabad to kolkata in an Alto car. But it was their fun trip and there were no ladies with them. They were going back to kolkata permanently. I asked my mates about the journey to Vizag. Sunil who is a native of Rajamundry frequently visits Vizag suggested me that it would take max 12 hours from hyderabad. The road was excellent. All most in a last minute, I got a call from my friend Arindam,who did kolkata to Vizag and he told the beauty about the road and beauty about sea beaches of Vizag.He also informed us that they took 16 hours to reach vizag as the road condition was nice.With a happy heart I zeroed to visit Vizag.I was pretty sure I could do this trip by my car.
Gopalpur sea beach

During night, when I was just thinking about the journey,the devil idea popped up. Arindam drove 16 hours from kolkata to Vizag and the roads were nice  and Sunil said that he did this journey recently and roads were awsome too from hyderabad to Vizag,why we would we settle for less with 800KM?
We could very much do 1700KM with one night stay in Vizag. I got up from bed and gave a ring to my friend cum tour guide Souritra. Yipee...He agreed. Even he said, they had done it couple of times before with family. Wow!! exactly the fuel, I needed. He provided all sorts of information, I needed.

Safety Rules:
Next day , I did a lot of research on the route,political problems , night driving safety etc. from every angle it was safe. Souritra called me and guided me to follow night driving rules:
For the travellers safety I am just describing the rules:

  1. Take power nap whenever necessary possibly near the toll plazas . The toll plazas are safe and has nice toilet facilities.There are several plazas in the route.
  2.  Depending on the comfort level we can start the journey. but he suggested to start at evening 6.
  3. If I start at 6PM by 4PM, I will be able to reach vizag with little aggressive driving. But with normal driving we can reach by 7AM.
  4. If health permits then drive till gopalpur. It will put less burden for the next day.
While chalking out the plan , one of senior Vijay just gave gave me few more important advice 
  1. never ever go near the long carriers or lorries without a proper hand or light signal.
  2. follow hand or light signal religiously. 
  3. Never overtake anything in a blind curve.
I just memorized the rules.These were very valuable inputs.I was very much exited about the plan.Next to check if I can do this with my ford figo.Back of the mind,my brain was pointing to the fact that an alto did it.Why not a bigger engine with higher capacity?

Car testing:
Next day, I reached out to my service adviser Quazi from fortune ford tollichowki. He heard my journey details and sent my car for inspection. Most importantly,he himself did this checking. He tested the wheels,tyres and brake condition. And suggested to take a new pair of brake pads for front wheel. Tested the battery and all other necessary things, only a ford expert can understand.As ever, I trust this guy blindly. Most importantly, he never tried to snatch money from my pocket.He handed over the key with a smile and assured that my figo was ready for 3500KM+ journey.  My ford was ready for a long journey. Mr Quazi has also suggested to note down the all the ford service centre's contact numbers handy. (Just in case)

Planing:
Being prepared from all sides , I started convincing my wife -Devopriya.She initially said no but seeing all the facts ,took one day to approve my plan.Yipeeee, The road bug had bitten her as well.Now she took control for all preparation and started helping me all document related work.She downloaded google map prepared 3 different plans with tentative timings to reach the major cities.

  1. What if we started early morning 
  2. What if we started afternoon
  3. What if we started late evening or mid night.
It helped me a lot to plan well.After a lot of discussion , we fixed plan-II that was to start at 6PM and drove till morning.
The journey could be divide into two parts..
1. Hyderabad to Vizag or Gopalpur
2. Vizag / Gopalpur to Kolkata

For part-1 , Hyderabad to vizag:
Hyderabad-ORR-Suryapet--Vijayawada--Rajamundry--Vizag was the best route. Hyderabad to Vijayawada was having express or super expressway. From Vijayawada to kolkata was NH5. The nice part about both the parts of the route was that we could cover them in 2 days without stressing much.

Few other routes:
1. One of my friend suggested a route
Hyderabad--ORR--Suryapet--Khammam--Devarapally---Dommeru--Godavari bridge---Rajamundry---Vizag

But as we were travelling in night,we took the main road. Secondly, I heard that the road condition was too bad to drive in some places.Thirdly, Khammam was not recommended during night drive.


Accessories:
Souritra fitted 2 Hella G3 projector along with 2 , 4300K HID in my headlight. Apart from these, I also fitted 2 Yellow hella FF7000 and 2 , 35 W HID from motominds. They were extra ,Just in case, projector failed.
HID
Food:  Next comes food. As suggested by Souritra, we purchased lots of dry foods as we will be travelling in night. We cleaned all our water bottles to carry extra water during night journey. We also purchased a thermo flask  to carry tea.We finalized our D day . It was 15th Jan 2016. on the D day, Devopriya took all the control of the ground work.It gave me a chance to sleep for the entire day.At around 4 PM, I wake up and checked all the luggage.Made necessary changes and put inside the car.


Starting:  At around 6PM we started for this long drive. We headed towards TSPA and took ORR.We drove almost 50 KM via ORR and took the exit at for Vijayawada.It was 7:30 PM by the watch. It was winter. Post 8PM cars started to disappear soon. All trucks were giving us company.Since there were no much traffic , we traveled till Suryapet within 1 hour and 30 mins.We Stopped for snacks and tea break. The hotel name Food Court-7(Followed the alto guy )From Suryapet , we went straight to Vijayawada. We reached Vijayawada at 11PM. But due to the construction work of the road, we had to circle vijayawada multiple times before we could reach to PVP mall. It was a mess,We had to travel 10 KM extra inside vijayawada. Luckily, we got the dinner at PVP mall.Popular KFC was still open for us. Probably,we were the last customer for the day. We grabbed quick mills and rested for sometimes.

The journey from Hyderabad to Vijayawada was great. The roads were fine. It was a expressway having almost 400 rs INR toll. Just after crossing Vijayawada,we refilled our tank. Once we crossed Vijayawada, we met NH-5(Part of golden quadrilateral ).
on the way to Vizag
This was one of the best route available to us. Literally we started gliding in NH5.After crossing Rajamundry, we stopped for tea break. Tea and boiled eggs prepared by Devopriya. As it was winter, there were chilling effect. We somehow ended our snacks and hurriedly went inside of our car.
chilling effect at 3 am
Devopriya turned on the heater. When we started again a dense fog engulf us. We flashed our additional yellow hella many a times to see whats coming in front. While I was driving Devopriya was keeping a close eye on the navigator system and was alarming if there was a turn,As the road was good and empty almost, I could manage to drive 120 KM per hour. By 4:30 am we reached Vizag. We stopped in a tea stall after crossing Vizag.It was chilling cold outside. We had to take two rounds of tea to keep our self worm and awake.
dawn at vizag

sunrise at vizag
At 5:30am we started again,we enjoyed a very rare sunrise moment after crossing the Vizag. Once a again ,after crossing vizag the road was empty.We saw a HP petrol bunk while crossing Vizag and they surprisingly accepted credit card.
chilka lake from ghat

We refilled the oil tank once more.At around 8am we crossed the border-AP-Orrisa border. After crossing the border , we stopped for breakfast ,few eggs(left out and tea). Few curious eyes were watching us. Looked like very unusual scene for them. Thermoflusk was doing his job nicely. The tea was still hot even after 16 hours. At around 9:45am we started again for Gopalpur. Devopriya already had a chat with the Hotel guy and they confirmed the room was ready.
entering at Gopalpur
We reached hotel Mar-maid at around 12 noon.We parked the car in the hotel. Check in was pretty simple. The hotel although had a kitchen and cooking setup but was closed due to less number of visitors. The hotel guy was gentle enough to offer us lunch from outside. We ordered our lunch .Took our required bags and went to bed for a sleep.
At around 2:30Pm they served chicken curry,prawn curry and dal with rice. Gopalpur is famous for sea food, But the amount of food they served and price they quoted were not matching with our expectation.


(Prawn curry was Rs450 per plate,Rice was Rs65 per plate and Chicken curry was Rs350 per plate). We had no other choice at that point of time.At around 3:30 PM the we wake up and had our lunch. We took our bath and slept once again.At around 6:30 PM, we came to our balcony to watch the sea. But to our surprise, there was a huge gathering of locals on the sea beach. We got ready and went outside to visit the nearby sea beach. It was sankranthi , hence there was a celebration on the sea beach.

 tea after chilka

At around 7:30PM we woke up fresh. We thought to go to seaside for a walk. Hotel Mar maid was just opposite to seashore. When we went out we saw a large gathering of crowd. While talking to locals, we came to know it was sankranthi which was being celebrated.We enjoyed rice with spice popularly called jhal muri. Fresh fish fry , chola (seeds).Later we found plenty of options for dinner.To our surprise it was cheap. It was rs 150 fish fry plate ,rs 20 per plate of rice. Curd was free.Total bill was Rs440. We got rs 40 discount as well.we understood , the hotel guy made some quick bucks.We roamed around 1 hour.We came to hotel and paid all the bill. We had our dinner and hit the bed at around 11 PM.

Gopalpur in My-views(The sandy golden beach)::
Gopalpur was traditionally a nice and clean beach with different shades of blue sea water. Yes! I must say that the sunset was best part of this travel. We enjoyed sunset from our balcony with hot tea.(Served in our room).Evening was very much enjoyable with chirping birds,setting sun and essence of kewde flower. The whole sea beach was scenic and tranquil.To our understanding,this was the least explored beach of east coast.
The beach was clean and people could walk across the beach for several hours. We went during sankranthi time. We saw lots of entertainment options for different people of different ages(Horse riding,camel riding etc).
There were lots of hotels here in gopalpur. There were make shift arrangements as well. Many were offering paying guest facility.Most of the hotels were on the bank of the bay of Bengal. The  connecting road was diving them from sea beach.Being very remote area, there was not much offering like Puri or Vizag or as a tourist spot.But local vendors were capable enough to accommodate or provide foods to all.There were many items on the menu like- fish fry, fish curry,Chinese items,chicken items etc.The best part of these shops were that we could change the spices as per our need. But yes if you were travelling a non festival time, post sunset was not good to roam on the beach or the road.It was also not advisable to venture sea post sunset as there were no life guards,police patrolling available. There was no toilet facilities or bathing facilities available on the beach.So it was always better to take a room in nearby hotels(you could book one after coming here , be prepared for hard bargaining).While privacy was a concern, few KMs apart from the main beach cleanness was  almost non existent.
We had not taken bath here due to time crunch. But seems like sea bed was safe. The slope was gradual.Being shallow and sandy,one could enjoy swimming.As there was very less tourists and no life guards were available, I would suggest not to venture to much into the sea. However the waves were gentle and pleasant.Bay of Bengal was a mixture of very high and very low tide.So it was better to take care of the length of tide. 
Coconut water was must have item in gopalpur along with popular jhalmuri. We did not try other items as we needed to keep our stomach fit for the next leg of our journey. But there were lots of other items available like-Crab,prawn,motor chana,different teas etc.
In my views,gopalpur could be visited through out the year. The summer would be little humid and hot. As we had visited during winter,it was very cold.


The Alarm beeped at around 5AM in the morning, we jumped out the bed and started for next day's long drive. We were real quick and started at around 5:30PM.Even though the sunset was beautiful , the sun rise was even better. At 5:40 we hit the main road NH-5. We drove some kms and we found the beautiful chilka Lake from top of a small ghat section. There were lot of visitors busy clicking the sunrise. The  road was small ghat section.Every corner of the road gave us natural beauty of sunrise over chilka.Post crossing chilka , actual orissa started.The view of chilka from car's window was also awesome.When we entered into a small ghat road the beauty became even more prominent.
Break at bhubneswar

Bengal and orissa has allmost same taste ,same food habits. We felt that we were our town. We stopped for a quick tea that boosted us for the next course of journey. But we had to little careful here. All diversion and broken road started. NH authority were trying hard to maintain the road. At around 11 AM we reached Bhubneswar and 12 noon we hit cuttack. Seeing a good road side dhaba we stopped for lunch. We resumed our journey at around 2:30PM again. Btw, the food was super tasty. The road after cuttack was allmost empty, we could manage to maintain 100Km/hr most of the time. the road condition was great too.At around 3:30Pm we reached to the Bengal border.Crossing the border was no mean an easy task. Lots of trucks were in queue. We were told that they would move before midnight. We had to take wrong route to cross the border. The police of both side were kind enough to make our way to Bengal. Just after crossing the border and orissa we felt instantly, we were at home. Only 300KM to go. We stopped for a quick tea at kolkaghat. The road condition of Bengal was nice and smooth. We could drive 120KM/hr constantly till Andul.At around 6:30PM we reached to our home. A solid 1600Km drive came to an end. Till this point my parent did only know we were coming via train and had to do lot of break journey as we did not get direct ticket. Seeing our car they were surprised. It was a mixed reaction from them. My mom said that she knew that I was not going to take such huge risk to cross 4 states with connecting trains. Mom will be moms.You can not lie to your own mom!!!.

However it was a nice and pleasant journey with lots of memories. Special thanks to Sunil to provide road condition till Vizag , special thanks to Arindam to provide the road condition from vizag to kollkata,Based on them we did 2+2=4 calculation. Last but not the least our travel guru Souritra and Harish for fitting projectors,guide and long drive guidelines.




Cost Details:
Diesel Cost: Single side:
1st time
Diesel- Rs 4000
2nd time
Diesel- Rs 4400
3rd time
Diesel- Rs 4750

Toll Cost:
Rs 1750 all 3 times

Hotel Cost:
1st  time
Rs 1700 at Gopalpur
2nd time
Rs 4500 at Vizag
3rd time
Rs 1500 at viag

Car used:
Ford Figo

Return journey:
Every time we do not maintain good timing, this  time we maintained good timings. We were always on or before time of the schedule. That put us always one step ahead.
We started santragachi at 5am in the morning and touched kona highway in no time. After 15 minutes we touched NH5.Kona expressway and Nh-5 was very good with very good road.We drove straight towards kolaghat .
Good morning 

It was cold winter morning hence no traffic. We reached Kolaghat within 45 minutes. Famous sher e punjab was yet to start their business. We thought to have our breakfast at Kharagpur instead.In another 1 hour we reached kharagpur. We had our tea and some snacks. At around 9 AM we crossed Bengal -Odisha border. We crossed Balasore,Markona and then Bhadrak. I was expecting some good hotels at Bhadrak but we could not find a suitable one. Seeing no other option, I had to drive till Bhubaneswar. It was around 1:30 PM . We took our lunch. The hotel at Bhubneswar was quite nice and clean.We ordered  fish meal.  The food was very tasty. After finishing our lunch , we started our journey again. After crossing Bhubneswar, till Ganjam, the road was almost empty with one or trucks(very slowly munching miles).At around 5 PM we reached Brahmapur.
Sun set at chilka



As it was only 5PM, we decided to go ahead . Our plan was to stop at the popular area when we would feel that we needed rest. But Just after crossing Icchapuram, the road till Srikakulam was almost empty .

As we experienced , while going, this side of Andhra Pradesh did not have any issue during travelling in night.So we drove till Vizag. We reached Vizag at 9PM. We did not book any sea view hotel. It was just near to the NH5. The journey from kolkata to vizag was simply breathtaking with some bad patches in Odisha.


The Vizag was a beautiful city.This beautiful city gave us a good news that Saradindu and Sutapa blessed with a baby boy. It was truly an excellent news.We hurriedly ordered dinner for us. We took hot water shower to reduce the tiredness. Once our dinner was served,we quickly ate all and hugged bed as we were very tiered.

Next day we woke up at around 10 AM had our breakfast. We roamed this city a little bit and touched the sea. We got dinner in a nearby hotel and slept for make ourselves ready for the last leg of the journey.At 7:30 PM we woke up again and started preparing for drive. At 8:30PM we started again. Just after crossing ,vizag we realized that we were hungry. We got a CCD attached to a HP diesel bunk. We took coffee and sandwich(chicken). At around 9:20PM we started our journey via NH-5.At 9:40PM we finally bid adieu vizag. The road became very active during night with lots of dhabas. They were fully operational. We stopped at a family dhaba for dinner. We also refilled our tea flask and ended up buying half dozen of boiled eggs for our journey.
Once we restarted our journey, we never felt that we were alone,Lot of Volvo buses,private cars , govt buses were coming from vizag to different cities. We zoomed past Rajamundry and after crossing Rajamundry, we stopped for a quick tea break. Our next break was at Tuni at around 3AM. It was very cold outside of the car. We took tea and boiled egg.At 3:30AM we started for Vijayawada. At 7AM in the morning  we crossed Kanaka durga temple. In this cold morning Vijayawada offered us traffic free bypass from NH5 to Hyderabad Vijayawada expressway. After crossing kondapally fort, we stopped for a tea break.But as I was very tiered, I slept for couple of hours. This power nap gave fresh energy to start our journey again.




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