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

J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
PLANNING

Having decided on Bhutan and Kaziranga National Park, I started examining other destinations in and around these two places. The first place that came to my mind was Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh. I studied many travelogues in many websites. I realised that my Linea could not take me to Tawang due to snowy weather prevailing in April-May. So, Tawang was dropped from the list. Then came Sikkim. Visiting Nathu La and Old Silk Route in my Linea is always lingering in my mind. But, the stumbling block here was obtaining vehicle permit for my Linea to visit Nathu La. I sent emails to a couple of government authorities specifically asking them about the vehicle permit for my Linea. Within a couple of days, both responded negatively: I have to engage Sikkim-registered taxi from the approved travel agent to visit Nathu La. So, Sikkim is also out of my itinerary. I finally zeroed in on Shillong and Cherrapunjee.

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I finalised the itinerary as Bangalore>Visakhapatnam>Kolkata>Guwahati>Kaziranga National Park>Shillong/Cherrapunjee>Phuentsholing, Bhutan>Thimphu, Bhutan>Punakha, Bhutan>Paro, Bhutan>Puri>Konark>Bangalore.

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Having decided on the itinerary, the next important aspect was staying in all these places. I visited makemytrip.com and tripadvisor.in and read the users' reviews and decided on hotels/resort based on good reviews and my budget. I booked hotels/resort at Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Guwahati, Kaziranga National Park and Shillong. From Bhutan onwards, I did not do advance reservation and kept it open-ended so as to have flexibility. Though I got the best rates through makemytrip.com, it came with a rider: they were all on non-refundable basis! So, before making the payments, I had gone through my itinerary many times. I set targets for myself and my Linea and decided to achieve them come what may. For example, I did not provide for any overnight stay between Kolkata and Guwahati knowing fully well about the bad road conditions in West Bengal.

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I got my MapMyIndia Lx130 navigator's map upgraded to the latest version 7.0 just a few weeks before the commencement of the trip. Based on the inputs given by fellow-members, I saved the routes till Jaigaon, West Bengal, beyond which my navigator will not work in Bhutan.

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My Linea did not require any special check-up/treatment as she is always in immaculate condition.

To be continued.
 

J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
Bangalore To Visakhapatnam

Departure: Bangalore, Basaveswara Nagar home @ 3:45 pm on 11 April 2012

Arrival: Hotel Supreme, Beach Road, Visakhapatnam @ 11:15 am on 12 April 2012

Distance covered and route: 1082.1 km; Bangalore>Chittoor>Tirupati>Naidupeta>Ongole>Guntur>Vijayawada>Rajahmundry>Visakhapatnam

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Road condition: Bangalore to Mulabagilu: Excellent 4-lane road [NH4]; Mulabagilu to Chittoor: Good 2-lane road [NH 4]; Chittoor to Naidupeta: Good 2-lane road [NH/SH]; Naidupeta to Visakhapatnam: Excellent 4-lane road [NH 16 - Old NH5]


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Finally, the red-lettered day came. Myself, my wife and my Linea left our Bangalore home on 11 April 2012 @ 3:45 pm to Vizag. Why the departure at an odd time of 3:45 pm? I chose this time because I wanted to reach Hotel Supreme between 11 am and 12 noon the next day, in time for the check-in time of 12 noon!
After crossing the K R Puram bridge, I was shocked to see the outside temperature recorded by my Linea as 38 deg C.

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We had a brief halt at Kamat Upachar at Narasapura bypass for evening coffee and continued our journey. We had our dinner at Budhanam Toll Plaza after Naidupeta on NH 16 at about 9 pm comprising chappathies and potato side-dish, which my wife had packed in plenty which would also last for next day's breakfast!


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My Linea had her tankful of petrol at HP COCO outlet at Kavali.

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I continued my driving non-stop until we reached BP petrol pump at Rajahmundry, where again, my Linea had her tankful and we had our breakfast with the remaining chappathies. We had hot tea at a neighbourhood hotel and continued our journey to Hotel Supreme, Beach Road, Visakhapatnam. At Vizag, my MapMyIndia tried to take me on a 'no entry' road, but I over-ruled it and took an adjacent road, ultimately reaching our destination at 11:15 am well before the specified check-in time of 12 noon. We unloaded, unpacked and rested.

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We strolled on the beach road in the evening.

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More to come.
 
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J.Ravi

Petrol Powered + Diesel Driven
Your writing is as awesome as your trips...
Waiting for the rest.
Thanks, JOHN MATHAI.
ok will wait for the episodes to unfold. The wait is going to be killing though!!!
Thanks for patient waiting, pushkark. I shall try to write atleast two posts a day.:)
Excelent start..... we all are sailing with you
Thanks a lot, jimmy_moh.
Good Linea Start....................
Full Enjoyment........................ :grin::grin:
Thank you, adsatinder. Hope, you will enjoy more as the journey progresses.
 
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