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Old 21st November 2019, 00:27   #1
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Default A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

I always wanted to drive to Sandakphu for a long time. Its a 4WD track, so taking the Etios was not an option. After buying the Duster, i planned for Sandakphu in March this year, but due to heavy snowfall road was closed, so had to cancel visiting Sandakphu. It turned out to be an awesome Darjeeling trip.

http://www.levantri.com/forum/trave...-snowfall.html (A road-trip to Darjeeling & some unexpected snowfall!)

This September few car enthusiasts from Kolkata planned to drive their 4wd's to Sandakphu. The plan was made by Bhpian Hikersoul. He has driven to Sandakphu 7 times. But sadly due to some last minute work he had to opt out from this drive.
Earlier their were 10 cars scheduled for this drive but later 5 cars opted out.

At the end five cars went for the trip-

Duster AWD (Bhpian Samba, Bhpian avrendu, Bhpian SouraC)

Scorpio 4Wd (Mr.Biswadeep Mitter, Mr.Iman Bhattacherjee, Mr.Jaydeep Bose & his wife)

Pajero Sport (Bhpian Blackpearl, Bhpian Teesta, Bhpian PapaBravo & Mr.Sashwata)

Pajero SFX (Bhpian Dip27in with his friends)

Gypsy (Mr.Soham Saha with his friend)

Everyone had different itinerary. Our plan was to meet at Manebhanjan on 16th November, 8 am and drive to Sandakphu. After a night stay we will come back to Manebhanjan the very next day.

Due to shortage of time our itinerary went like this-

15th November start at 5 pm and reach Sandakphu on 16th November.

Start from Sandakphu on 17th November at 7-30 am and drive straight to Kolkata.

Day 1, Kolkata to Sandakphu, 635 km, 20 hours

Bhpian SouraC & Bhpian avrendu reached our home at 4-30 pm. We started by 5 pm and our first break was at Azadhind dhaba to refuel my Duster & meet Bhpian 1100D. We chatted for 30 minutes and moved on.

Road was good, we took Sh7 after crossing Burdwan and reached Moregram Bp by 9 pm. Had our dinner and started for the next leg. Crossing Farakka and Malda was a breeze. From Malda, Bhpian SouraC took the wheel and he drove till Botolbari.

By morning 4 am we reached Bagdogra and again refueled our car. The Scorpio and the Gypsy started on 15th morning and they stayed at Siliguri for the night. Both the Pajero's were coming behind us. They started at around 7 pm from Kolkata. We were constantly in touch over the phone. From Bagdogra i called up Mr.Soham Saha that we reached Bagdogra, so they can get ready and reach Manebhanjan by 8 am.

By 5-30 am we reached Mirik & spent some good time over there.

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After getting the updates from the other cars, we decided to move ahead and stop at Manebhanjan. Around 6-45 am we reached the check post at Manebhanjan.

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Duster gathering some tips from his grandfather!

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At the Singalila national park forest check post, we were asked to get permission from the LandRover association first. At the LandRover association they asked for Rs 500 per car & requested us to take a car from them as well, if we do not hire local cars, their drivers will be losing their business. So we obliged. Along with our 5 cars we took a car from them as well. So it was 6 cars. After this, we bought our entry tickets from the Singalila forest department.

By 8 am all the cars reached Manebhanjan and we started our journey towards Sandakphu.

Our first break was at Chitrey for breakfast.

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Here the weather was a bit foggy but as soon as we started to climb up, the weather cleared up.

Few pics from Tonglu.

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Bhpian Blackpearl with his wife Bhpian Teesta

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Bhpian PapaBravo

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From Tonglu, Tumling came up in no time.

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It was a beautiful drive through Singalila national park till Gairibas. The road was good but narrow. Any 2wd car can be driven till here. If anyone wants to go further in a 2wd car, it's risky!

From here bad road starts. The road is no more smooth and have steep switchbacks. Sandakphu is 14 km from here. This 14 km, took us nearly 2 hours.

Kalipokhri lake

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Between Kalipokhri to Bikeybhanjan, we found this beautiful meadow and decided to do some photo-session.

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We! Left to right - Me, Bhpian SouraC, Bhpian avrendu

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From Bikeybhanjan the road is steepest. That's the last 4 km to Sandakphu.

Duster was kept in auto mode and i was maintaining a rpm between 1900-2500 in 1st gear. The road was narrow and Duster just managed to take the switchbacks in one go. Just at the last turn before reaching our hotel a Mahindra Commander came from the opposite side and i had to take my foot off from the accelerator. The incline was very steep and we were three on board. It was difficult to build momentum from there, so i reversed for around 10 feet and engaged 4wd lock and gunned the Duster at 3000 rpm. It came up easily.

A video of the switchbacks -



Finally we reached our hotel (Sherpa Chalet) around 1 pm.

Few pics from our hotel campus.

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When we were having our lunch, Bhpian Blackpearl told us, they have to go down as Bhpian PapaBravo was not feeling well. He was mostly affected by AMS. So without taking a chance they left Sandakphu and went straight to Darjeeling. It was indeed a super hectic drive for Blackpearl. Kolkata to Sandakphu to Darjeeling in 23 hours!

In the afternoon, we wanted to drive to Gote for viewing the sunset. It's on the way to Phalut and 2 km from Sandakphu. All the other team members were tired, so they decided to skip visiting Gote. So three of us went ahead in my Duster.

Here the incline was less but there were more boulders on the road.

We witnessed some of the best views of sunset in our life!

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Bhpian SouraC at Gote view point

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Last edited by BlackPearl : 29th November 2019 at 01:26. Reason: Rectified name of place on request
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Old 21st November 2019, 00:53   #2
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Default re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Continuation of Day 1

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After witnessing this mesmerizing sunset, it was time to drive back to our hotel.

A video on the way back-



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The evening was chilling cold but the the sky outside was dam clear. I was tempted to do some night photography, but the cold backed up by the wind blast was not at all inspiring. I was wearing a jacket over a hoodie, with gloves and monkey cap & was still shivering.

But the view outside was so tempting, that i decided to give a try. Gathered some courage and took my camera out. Within 2 minutes i was having a running nose, with no sensation in my fingers and a mild headache.
With some difficulty managed to get, these few shots.

Kanchenjunga at Night

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The Milky way

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Moonlit clouds

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Post the photography session, had a light dinner and retired for the day.

Sleeping in night was difficult. It was cold and wind was coming inside the room through the gaps of the closed window! It was super windy outside. Still managed to get a light sleep for 8 hours.

Day 2, Sandakphu to Kolkata, 650 km, 19 hours

The alarm rang at 5 am. We got up and went out to see the sunrise. The view outside we saw was to die for! Again one of the best sunrise we saw in our life!

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Last edited by Samba : 21st November 2019 at 01:57.
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Old 21st November 2019, 01:27   #3
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Default re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Continuation of Day 2

Bhpian SouraC

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After the sunrise we came back to our room and freshened up in 30 mins. Taking a bath was out of question. No electricity in night, plus the water we got were in buckets and drums as there is not water supply line at Sadakphu! The water was dam cold!

We got ready and started for our return journey by 7-30 am by bidding goodbye to our other group members.

On the way back Bhpian SouraC clicked these awesome pics of my Duster on the incline and he even managed to click few pics from the running car. Hats off to him. Though the below pics have my water mark, these were clicked by him.

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That's me!

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We again stopped at the same meadow to click the sleeping Buddha for one last time in this trip!

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Mr.Soham Saha's Gypsy parked at Gairibas.

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Here we had our breakfast and continued our journey towards home.

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Reached Manebhanjan at 10-40 am, and by 1 pm we were at Siliguri.

After a short break and having our lunch we started back at 3-30 pm. Around 6 pm we reached Raiganj and took a tea break. From here i handed over the wheel to Bhpian SouraC. He drove nonstop till Shaktigar. At around 1 am i was back on the driving seat. Palsit toll was stuck with truck traffic. The queue was more than 3 km. It would have at-least taken an hour. So we took the 20 km longer old Delhi road and reached home by 3 am.

The support/help i got while driving from Bhpian avrendu and Bhpian SouraC was just unparallel. Else this drive wouldn't have been this easy.

1285 km of awesomeness comes to an end, with some lifetime memories!

Last edited by BlackPearl : 29th November 2019 at 01:27. Reason: Rectified name of place on request
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Old 21st November 2019, 03:18   #4
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Default re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!

Beautiful photographs - especially the stars, clouds, snow-clad peaks and sunrise. Definitely added to my wishlist.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 21st November 2019 at 03:20.
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Old 21st November 2019, 06:35   #5
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Default re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Great to read and see the pictures Samba. I am really happy that you finally were able to make this trip and got such a lovely view. It's been in your wishlist for a long time. With a cordon of friends like SouraC and Avrendu it must have been a great fun filled drive all the way, me biting fingers to miss by a whisker. Speaking to you guys from half the world away I could feel the excitement. I wish I could make it this time but unfortunately had to travel for work. I wish you many more such beautiful drives and keep enriching this wonderful forum with your lucid narrations and photography. Congrats to you and the Duster, keep Driving!
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Old 21st November 2019, 09:14   #6
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Samba View Post
Due to shortage of time our itinerary went like this-

15th November start at 5 pm and reach Sandakphu on 16th November. Start from Sandakphu on 17th November at 7-30 am and drive straight to Kolkata.
Hmm! It reads to so simple. Hats off to you Samba! Mere mortals like us would think twice, if not thrice, to drive to the nearest mall in the week-end! And here you are executing a week-end drive to Sandakphu, the highest peak in Bengal, that too from Kolkata!

Your pictures are surreal to say the least.

Best,
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Old 21st November 2019, 09:37   #7
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Short crisp and and adventurous trip. Thanks for sharing. Have seen several dusters climb Sandakphu but this guy makes the climb look like a walk in the afternoon. Epic pictures for sure. Rated 5* .
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Old 21st November 2019, 09:51   #8
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Just awestruck by your awsome pictures and fantastic piece of writing. One thing I must say, at weekends mere mortals like us go to malls, pubs or movie halls for relaxations but legends like you , go to Sandakphu for peace of mind.Hats off to you!!

Last edited by Sayata : 21st November 2019 at 09:55.
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Old 21st November 2019, 10:43   #9
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Wonderful pictures of a wonderful adventure.
How was the performance of all cars ?
Did you loose traction anywhere ?
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Old 21st November 2019, 10:48   #10
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

A crisp travelogue with mind boggling pictures. I have been there 6 times but never clicked a single pic like the ones you have shared! It is a crime to post mediocre pictures in this thread, but I will still post whatever I have clicked with my phone . It was too bad that we could not stay for more than an hour at Sandakphu top. Missed out on the evening 揳dda?as well. Hats off to your driving skill, you made it look so easy!

Taking a break on SH7
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Filled up diesel near Islampur
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From the left: SouraC, Avrendu, PapaBravo and BlackPearl
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A 2WD Bolero with IFS converted to 4WD in Siliguri
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Breakfast at Chitre while the team waited for the Scorpio and Gypsy to catch up
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Samba showing interest in a Thar Di, our lead vehicle for the trip
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Shaswat, owner of the Pajero Sport
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PapaBravo
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Elgin, Darjeeling
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Glenary's, Darjeeling
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We stopped here in search of clean washroom and dinner. Washrooms were utterly disappointing. Hence we moved on to stop at Golden Park, Malda
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The Pajero Sport posing with the Sandakphu veteran, our Mahindra Thar.
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Last edited by BlackPearl : 21st November 2019 at 11:16.
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Old 21st November 2019, 10:52   #11
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Stunning pics. Adding this to my to visit list!
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Old 21st November 2019, 11:02   #12
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Amazing. As you been there, will you advise to ride there on adv bike(Himalayan)?
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Old 21st November 2019, 11:17   #13
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Amazing pics, and amazing trip! Have been there only once, on foot and with some help from the LRs, and I can understand what hardship and pain is hidden between words in the 2 lines where you summarize the climb.

As for the cold, it is one of most intense and moist cold one can feel. One feels like a cheese-hungry mouse running towards the mousetrap while sitting inside the hotel rooms, knowing the views are changing by the second and one can not afford to miss a single frame.

The alpine meadows beyond Sandakfu towards Kaluk (where you have taken the sunset shots) are one of the most beautiful ones I have laid my eyes on, and boy what a sunset did you see!

Even sitting at my home I have a shiver in my bones thinking of the semi-sleepless night one has to spend at Sandakfu top, but I want to go back, again and again.

Thanks again for sharing the lovely frames, Samba da!

Last edited by cr4nkshaft : 21st November 2019 at 11:18.
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Old 21st November 2019, 11:17   #14
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunny_ST3 View Post
Amazing. As you been there, will you advise to ride there on adv bike(Himalayan)?
Bikes are no longer allowed in this route :-(
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Old 21st November 2019, 11:49   #15
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Default Re: A weekend road-trip from Kolkata to Sandakphu

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Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
Bikes are no longer allowed in this route :-(
Any resistance from the locals/ taxi owners for tourists 4 Wheelers?

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