Road Trip: Pune to Kolkata

My first leg of mammoth road trip from Pune to Kolkata concluded on 16 Oct. 2015. While I am quite content with the journey, I had a few unique experiences that I thought should be shared with people who are crazy enough to take such long and adventurous road trips. Actual distance covered- 2461 KMs.
Pune, Maharashtra to Nagpur, Maharashtra-
KMs travelled- 706 KMs
Time taken- 16 hrs 30 mins (including breaks)
Toll- NIL
Road quality- Pune to Aurangabad (Good); Aurangabad to Nagpur- Poor

Although Nagar Road Highway from Pune till Aurangabad is in excellent condition, the newly constructed bye-pass road that connects Aurangabad and Nagpur without entering the bigger towns like Amravati is not in a good condition (as on 9 Oct. 2015). Especially after Jalna, the road is in worse condition. It has dangerous potholes and driving at more than 60 KMPH may lead you to some breakdowns. I started at 6 AM in Pune and after a few short breaks I reached Nagpur at 10:30 PM.
Nagpur, Maharashtra to Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh-
KMs travelled- 393 KMs
Time taken- 06 hrs 00 mins (including breaks)
Toll- 6 (Rs. 289)
Road quality- Excellent
Thanks to NH6, we could cover 393 KMs in 6 hours. Only a stretch of around 10 KMs on the bye pass that starts before Raipur towards Bilaspur is in poor condition. Roads are so bad that the potholes may engulf half of your car tyre. Baware! It may be a better idea to travel a through Raipur and avoid the dangerous potholes. The route has numerous Tolls.
Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh to Patthalgaon, Chhattisgarh-
KMs travelled- 238 KMs
Time taken- 07 hrs 00 mins (including breaks)
Toll- 1 (Rs. 10)
Road quality- Disastrous

Patthalgoan was not a planned stop for us. We had planned to travel 430 KMs from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh to Ranchi, Jharkhand. It was a result of a bad planning, I confess. Although Google Maps suggested this route, it did not mention the condition the road was in. I, now, think we should have travelled though Rourkela, Odisha to avoid 123 KMs of horrible road between Hati, Chhattisgarh and Jashpur, Chhattisgarh. The stretch of road seemed haunted. The condition of the road was too bad with huge potholes all around. Honestly, it did not qualify to be called a road. It was full of rubble and white dust. Even the trees on the roadsides all seemed painted with white colour. There were very few vehicles on the road, only huge lorries and a few goods carrying trucks. These trucks were small ones with scanty grocery items which may be a big supply for a few remote villages. Nevertheless, we didn’t see any village or any human being travelling for about 100 KMs. It was frustrating. By the time we reached Patthalgaon, it was 5 PM and we still had to cover approx. 250 KMs to reach our planned destination for the day, Ranchi. After three long days of driving I wasn’t that physically tired as I was mentally exhausted after traveling just 40 KMs of the bad road stretch. Once I thought I could travel a bit more in the day but that would have meant we cannot afford to stop anywhere before Ranchi. The area between Patthalgaon and Ranchi is not hospitable for a night stay. And out of that 250 KMs we had to cover the rest of the bad road. I stopped by a shop just before we came out of the village of Patthalgaon. The shop owner too suggested to stay in any hotel in Patthalgaon. We travelled back into the village to find one hotel (the only one there) and got an AC room. That was like an oasis in a vast desert. Thank God! We said to each other. J We stayed there for the night and started early morning the next day to cover rest of the distance to Ranchi.
Patthalgaon, Chhattisgarh to Ranchi, Jharkhand
KMs travelled- 247 KMs
Time taken- 06 hrs 00 mins (including breaks)
Toll- NIL
Road quality- Poor in Chhattisgarh. Exceptionally good in Jharkhand
After we had covered the bad road stretch till Jashpur, we stopped at a Dhabba and had an excellent breakfast to celebrate coming out of that boring and taxing experience on the bad roads of Chhattisgarh. We, then, had a leisurely drive through the hills to Ranchi. Jharkhand has realy good roads. Quite surprising! My car was dirty (dirtiest it has ever been), we got it washed as soon as we entered Ranchi.
We stayed there the next day with our relatives. Ranchi streets are very congested to drive a car. It’s better to see the city on a bike.
Ranchi, Jharkhand to Balbadda, Jharkhand
KMs travelled- 292 KMs
Time taken- 10 hrs 00 mins (including breaks)
Toll- 1 (Rs. 85)
Road quality- Exceptionally Good! NH33 from Ranchi to Hazaribagh is a delight. Bad roads between Gandhigram and Pathargama (NH133)

Surprisingly, all roads in Jharkhand are in good shape and well-maintained. Road between Ranchi and Hazaribagh, NH33, is a four-lane road and has toll. Although rest of the road is two-lane, the roads are exceptionally good.

Balbadda, Jharkhand to Tarapith, West Bengal
KMs travelled- 124 KMs
Time taken- 06 hrs 00 mins (including breaks)
Toll- NIL
Road quality- Exceptionally good in Jharkhand. Bad roads as you enter West Bengal
Tarapith, West Bengal to Kolkata, West Bengal
KMs travelled- 461 KMs
Time taken- 04 hrs 30 mins (including breaks)
Toll- 4 (Rs. 187)
Road quality- NH2 is great. NH2B extn. has around 10 KMs of dangerously bad road.

NH2 happens to be among the few good roads West Bengal has to offer. However, I found it boring to drive on NH2 with only heavy trucks and trailers. NH2B extn., that we took from Tarapith till Burdwan, is not a good road to travel on. It has a long stretch of very poor roads with half the road to be used and you have to travel with heavy vehicles with very poor visibility due to heavy dust. A Mahindra Bolero was hit in front of our eyes by a truck due to poor visibility. At another toll plaza our car got nearly hit by a desperate lorry driver who could not wait for us to manoeuvre a high rise speed breaker on the road on the exit of the toll plaza. As we entered Kolkata, another truck driver rammed on the right view mirror. Thank God and thanks to the engineering master piece by Škoda, the mirror turned and did not break. These drivers are very ill mannered and fortunately I did not find a similar experience when I travelled rest of the country. We had another awful experience when we had parked our car in front of our relative’s house in North Kolkata just to unload our luggage. Our car was clearly out on the side of the road. In matter of a second an auto rickshaw went past our car and touch it on the left side mirror. Thankfully no damage was done. However, it’s an overwhelming experience and I have to think of a time with less traffic to take my car onto the Kolkata streets.

TIP: When you see a queue of trucks or lorries on a West Bengal highway, do not queue up. Instead try to cautiously overtake them. You’ll find this more than often and when you overtake them you’ll understand you saved a few hours.

Disclaimer – This article details the route I took to travel from Pune to Kolkata using roadways. However, the best route to drive to Kolkata from Pune would be – Pune – Amravati – Nagpur – Sambalpur (Odisha) – Keonjhar (Odisha) – Kharagpur (WB) – Kolkata. You must plan your breaks based on your driving capacity. To know more about what things you must consider while planning for a road trip, please read this article.

3 thoughts on “Road Trip: Pune to Kolkata

  1. Excellent review. I am also planning to go to Kolkata by drive. I just have 1 question: Did you find any difficulties by Kolkata police? Usually they try to harass you if the car is from out of west bengal..


  2. @S@ntanu
    Best of luck for the trip! If you are travelling from Western India, try avoiding Bilaspur region. Instead continue with NH6 till Kolkata.
    Although I was a bit lucky (I guess) with Kolkata Police, I don't have any reason not to understand your fear. You have to be very careful with them and also the truck and bus operators. They are mostly not qualified drivers with ego as big as their vehicle. They rubbed my car thrice. Twice I was lucky. Third time I got 3-inch scratch. That too in front of a Kolkata Police person. The policeman took a receipt from the bus driver that was kind of receipt for the monthly fees (read bribe) that he had paid to the police in advance. The police let the driver go and told me to ignore. Just imagine, had I hit anyone, then probably the police would have behaved differently. For sure!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s