East By North-East: My Blue Diamond Did It Fast

J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
30 JAN - 03 FEB 2019

Fully rested, well-fed and with tankful of diesel in B Diamond, we left Ginger Agartala at 8:45 am on 30/01/2019 to Ladybird Shillong. Since it was a 13 hour drive, I had to drop with a heavy heart my originally planned Unakoti - a UNESCO heritage site in TR, which was located on my way - due to lack of time as it involved spending atleast a couple of hours there. We took Agartala>Khowai>Kumarghat>Panisagar>Patharkandi>Karimganj>Shillong route.

We were subjected to attempted extortion at three places between Khowai and Kumarghat, TR by some local boys in the guise of some temple festival. But, I didn't oblige and continued my driving without paying them. We had an unpleasant experience of road rage before Kumarghat. We were followed by a XUV 500 on the narrow ghat road to Kumarghat. There was a narrow single lane iron girder bridge, which I entered first and crossed more than half the way, followed by XUV 500. Then, suddenly an Alto too entered the bridge from the opposite site. No amount of flashing my headlights stopped the driver. He stopped his Alto in front of Blue Diamond and asked me to go back. When I pointed out that I entered the bridge first and crossed more than half the way followed by another car, he started abusing me. When I realized that he won't budge from his position, I requested the XUV 500 driver to back up so that I too could go back to give way for Alto. Then, the gentleman sitting on the front passenger seat came out and told me to wait. He went to the Alto driver and requested him to back out as we had already crossed more than half the way on the narrow bridge. Sitting inside B Diamond, I could see him begging with the Alto driver, pointing me and his XUV 500. But, the Alto driver won't budge, He was bent upon insisting that we both back up to give him the right of way first. Then, the XUV 500 gentleman raised his voice. Hot arguments in Bengali followed from both the sides. At one stage, the XUV 500 guy slapped the Alto driver and ordered him to go back. I didn't know, what happened, the Alto guy meekly surrendered and backed out and gave way for us to drive out of the bridge. I thanked the XUV 500 gentleman, who followed me upto Kumarghat junction, where we took left turn towards Shillong and he took right turn.

The Patharkandi>Karimganj section in AS was terrible. Road condition improved only after Badarpur, AS. After entering ML, roads became good all the way to Ladybird Shillong, where we reached at 9:45 pm. We had biscuits, chikkies and dried fruits for dinner and slept. The ambient temperature was 4 deg C. Thankfully, they provided us with a room heater.

On 31/01/2019 morning, we enjoyed an excellent buffet breakfast at Ladybird. Cashew nut-strewn poha was the best. Our original programme was to spend atleast a couple of hours at the nearby Police Bazaar for shopping. But, I decided to check out in the morning itself, foregoing our shopping, so that we could reach Ginger Bhubaneswar earlier, which was a blunder, we came to know later as we were stopped at Kokrajhar, AS for more than 3 hours due to a snap strike. Blue Diamond had a tankful of diesel, costing ₹ 63.28, the lowest in this trip. We stopped at Umiam Lake, clicked some pics and continued our drive. We crossed Guwahati and Bongaigaon without any problem. We were stopped by AS cops at Kokrajhar after Bongaigaon at 1:30 pm for 3½ hours, citing dawn-to-dusk bundh call given by Bodo movement people. While we were forced to take rest on the highway, many people chatted with me. Owner-drivers of TN/PB/AS-registered Figo/Creta/Dzire chatted with me. Some were waiting here since 6 am. I slept for an hour or so. We walked up to the nearby police outpost, used the bathroom and had biscuits for lunch. We were allowed to proceed only at 5 pm. Everybody raced, overtaking each other in hurry. After a few minutes, we saw the same AS-registered Dzire, badly damaged due to an accident and its two lady passengers injured, who were shifted to the ambulance. With a sad heart, we continued our drive.

We had our dinner at 8:30 pm, comprising rotis, paneer butter masala [PBM] and tea at a road-side dhaba at Nimti Domahani, WB, where many cars were parked. The food and service were good. We continued our drive via Hasimara and Dhupguri and reached the barricaded entry to Dhantola-Botolbori road in small hours of 01/02/2019. Some cops were there. I requested the cops to open the barricade so that we could pass through, for which they warned me that the road was bad. I told them that I drove on that road during my up journey and I knew the road conditions. Only the first 350 m were full of craters and undulations, then the road was good although narrow and twisty. Then, they opened the barricade and allowed me to pass through. Every junction of Dhantola-Botolbori road was illuminated with high-mast lights and barricaded with policemen guarding. After seeing us, they opened the barricade to make way for us without any query.

We reached Farakka Barrage bridge at 3:30 am on 01/02/2019, where very few vehicles were in queue. We waited for half hour to get our turn - I used it for much-needed power nap - and then allowed to proceed. But, on the other side, i.e., from Moregram to Malda, lorries queued up to a few km long. Blue Di had a tankful near Moregram at a Reliance pump on the LHS and used their clean bathroom for ablution. We brunched at Shere Punjab, Kolaghat at 12 noon, comprising rotis, PBM, dahi vada and tea and continued our drive.

We arrived at 6:30 pm on 01/02/2019 at Ginger Bhubaneswar. After checking in, unpacking and hot shower, we headed to Priya, Jayadev Vihar for a delicious dinner of poori with potato, tomato soup and veg biryani and returned to Ginger for a well-earned rest. On 02/02/2019, we slept again after a nice buffet breakfast. Checked out at 1 pm and drove again to Priya for lunch. We left Priya at 2:30 pm. We had dinner at our favourite Sri Sairam Tiffins, Maddilapalem, Vizag comprising sambar idlies and filter coffee and continued our drive to Bangalore.

We reached Indian Paratha Company, Devanahalli by 2:30 pm on 03/02/2019 via Kadiri and Bagepalli on MDR/SH/NH. We had paneer tikka parathzza, gobhi paratha, buttermilk and masala tea and packed some more parathas for the family. We reached home, sweet home at Basaveswara Nagar, Bangalore at 4:30 pm safely and successfully. No puncture. No breakdown. No accident. No problem whatsoever. I am grateful to Blue Diamond for this successful completion of Chennai>Bangalore drive via AP, OD, WB, AS, ML, MZ, TR and Myanmar without any problem. I am also thankful to all, who have expressed their appreciation and compliments and pressed 'like' buttons.

Travelogue concluded.

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