Bhutan Road Trip – The Beginning – Delhi – Phuentsholing (1750 KMs)
The road trip expedition of Ladakh and Spiti has given us enough impetus to strive for more. This time we were all set for our first cross country/overland road trip with a bigger group. Two vehicles from Delhi, two from Pune, and one each from Kolkata and Siliguri were on their way to achieve this goal. All required car checks and equipment were already in place for the tour (Refer: Bhutan Expedition by Road). The first meeting point was Lucknow where team from Pune will join the convoy and rest from Siliguri. Even though Pune team was joining us on Sunday, we left for Lucknow on Saturday to enjoy the local cuisine and hospitality. Since we were travelling to Lucknow only, there was no pressure on us to leave early and we decided to start the proceedings comfortably. We finalized the below route for our travel:
New Delhi – Lucknow – Ayodhya – Gorakhpur – Kushinagar – Muzaffarpur – Darbhanga – Siliguri – Jaigaon – Phuentsholing
The plan for next day was to leave at ease in the morning and cover the distance till Lucknow and enjoy till the time Pune team joins us by the end of next day.
Sail to Lucknow
We flagged of our expedition at 9 a.m. from Dwarka in Delhi. We crossed the city area quite comfortably and were on Yamuna Expressway after a drive of one hour. Once we hit the expressway then there was no looking back. The highway was amazing and we were driving on cruise mode without any hassle. Post crossing the toll booth we took a halt for breakfast. Yamuna Expressway is a six lane highway concrete highway of 165 KM long which connects Greater Noida with Agra. This highway has cut down the travelling time to Agra by half. We just drove effortlessly on this highway and didn’t realise that we have covered the distance till Agra. It was time to exit Yamuna Expressway and experience the Agra Lucknow Expressway which is the longest expressway in India measuring 302 KM. After covering the bypass we entered the Agra Lucknow Expressway and straightaway hit the deck. A highway with clear visibility for miles is a dream for any driver. With no intervention in between and well maintained tar roads the drive was very smooth. In fact this is the best road on which I have driven so far across numerous highways that I have travelled so far. It runs through the interiors of western UP and crosses Ganga River as well. There is an emergency airstrip as well on this highway which can be used by IAF during emergency situation. Only that stretch was concreted on this entire highway. It was one of the most exquisite drives that I have ever had and we covered the distance of 568 KM door to door in 7 hours.
Chill out day at Lucknow
Yes, we were here in Lucknow at the city of Nawab to have a go on the exquisite cuisine. We roamed around the city and tried some exquisite Awadhi Cuisine at Dastarkhan and Tunday Kababi. Galawati Kabab, Mutton Korma, Sheermal, Mutton Biryani, Mutton Stew, Awadhi Kheer, to list a few delicacies. Also, the famous Kulfi Faluda of Prakash. Gomti River waterfront was very well made. It’s a must visit place when you are in Lucknow. The Imam Bada and Residency were the other two places of significance that we visited. We liked the city and it was quite well maintained. The team members from Pune reached Lucknow on Sunday evening and we were all set for our onward journey. The target for next day was to leave early as we were not very much sure about the road as well as traffic conditions.
Inside Imambada – The wall without any Pillar
Lucknow to Muzaffarpur
We left early in the morning at 6:00 a.m. from Lucknow and straight away hit the highway and started cruising at a comfortable speed. The highway was well maintained and we were consistently cruising at comfortable speed. We crossed Ayodhya @ 7:45 a.m. thereby covering 686 KMs. We took half an hour halt for breakfast at 9 a.m. and started our onward journey. We were comfortably cruising on highway without much of a hassle and crossed Gorakhpur @ 11:00 a.m. thereby covering a distance of 815 KMs. We continued our journey on NH27 and crossed Kushinagar @ 12:00 p.m. with odometer at 881 KM.
We entered Bihar @ 12:55 p.m. with odometer at 925 KM. The highway in Uttar Pradesh was very good and we did not face any problem. Now, it’s time to test the highway in Bihar. We continued our onward journey without any halt. There were initial jitters on the highway and we thought that our dream run will end but it was a minor hiccup. Post crossing the road under construction the highway was equally good. The best part of driving through Bihar was the change in landscape. It was very green with beautiful fields on both sides. We cruised past Gopalganj @ 1:28 p.m. thereby covering 950 KMs. We continued our journey on NH27 and took break for lunch. Since we started early in the morning we have covered most of our journey without any hassle and were set to achieve our target for the day. We moved on and reached Muzaffarpur @ 5 p.m. thereby covering a distance of 1100 KMs. On this day we had covered 532 KMs on flawless highway across two states.
A beautiful stay at Muzaffarpur
We reached our destination for the day – a beautiful and tiny village on the outskirts of Muzaffarpur. Yes, we stayed in this beautiful village whereby we came close to the nature and were overwhelmed by the hospitality of people. Everyone was enjoying the rustic village life and its raw beauty. From bathing under the fresh hand pump to sleeping on terrace under billions of star and non pollution environment. We visited nearby mango orchard, litchi, and fields. Plucked raw mangoes, litchi, and many more items and enjoyed it to the core. We crave for such environment in the hustle and bustle of the city but here natural environment is in abundance. A beautiful sunset followed by even more astonishing sunrise was highlights of our stay. We must admit perception about Bihar got changed. The target for next day was not aggressive and again we were at ease.
Onward journey to Siliguri
After breakfast we started our onward journey around 11:30 a.m. and left with sweet memories of our stay. The road conditions were amazing with very less vehicular movements and we were cruising at comfortable speed. The lush green outfield on both side of the road was an amazing sight. We crossed Darbhanga @ 12:25 p.m. thereby covering 1195 KMs and were enjoying our cruise on a clear sunny day with good visibility. The only thing that was missing on the highway was availability of good eateries. We continued our onward journey in search of restaurant and crossed Forbesganj @ 3:25 p.m. thereby covering 1370 KMs. The best part of the highway was that there were no intervention of city in between and major city were being crossed through bypass. We came to a junction post Araria where two ways were heading towards Siliguri and one was longer by 65 KMs but was via NH27 on which we were travelling. We decided to follow NH27 basis the quality that we have experienced and crossed Purnea before entering West Bengal @ 5:30 p.m. with odometer at 1460 KMs. A small tea break to get refreshed and after that we proceeded towards Siliguri and reached our target @ 7:45 p.m. thereby covering 1583 KMs. The 25 member team got completed at Siliguri. The target for next day was to leave early at 5 a.m. so that we can reach Phuentsholing on time to complete permit formalities including vehicle permit.
Siliguri to Phuentsholling – The gateway to land of Thunder Dragon
We started at 6:30 a.m. in the morning and have already kept sufficient food in the vehicle to proceed without any break. But at times things don’t work out in a way it was planned. One team took a halt for breakfast and others followed them which in the end resulted in a delay of 1 hour from our schedule. Sticking to timeline was very important so that formalities can be completed on same day and we pushed all of them to move ahead. The road conditions were quite good with few phases of rough patches due to road construction activity. The drive through forest area and on the hills was quite appealing. We were enjoying the drive and tea estates on both side of the highway at the later part of the journey made it more enjoyable. Then we entered a congested and chaotic town Jaigaon that is the connecting link between India and Bhutan. We continued through congested lanes of Jaigaon and crossed over to Phuentsholing from behind instead of main entrance due to which it took us time to realise that we have entered Bhutan. Since we got scattered in the madness of Jaigaon it took us some time to reach our destination “The Park Hotel” in Phuentsholing. We drove very cautiously till we reached our hotel. We met our guide Dorji at our hotel for the entire tour and he helped us in completing the formalities for permit. With the help of our guide we were able to get the permit for all on same day and were left with vehicle permit only which would not take much time. Government offices follow strict timeline and we need to get formalities completed on time to proceed ahead. It took us some time to imbibe the fact that we have finally reached Bhutan – the happiest country in the world at 12 p.m. thereby covering an overall distance of 1750 KMs.
Basic Necessity check before going for long road trip
We did the basic necessity checks and arrangements before starting our road trip and would suggest all to be very careful about the same.
- Did the mandatory checking of our car like when was the last servicing done, air pressure including the spare tyre, fuel, engine oil, coolants, etc.
- Carried all the valid documents like vehicle registration number, insurance, PUC, and driving license
- Searched the route map and finalized the trip schedule
- Downloaded the offline maps
- Have kept additional comfort for the back seat
- All necessary medicines were in place
- Since we were travelling with a kid we kept additional food stuffs, water, clothes, and medicine for child
For further details on necessary travel tips click here.