2 Nights, 3 Days – A Road Trip From Noida To Guwahati With Our Pet

Just like Don Marquis had once said: Of middle age the best that can be said is that a middle-aged person has likely learned how to have a little fun in spite of his troubles.

We too thought why not have some fun too.

After cancelling our train and flight tickets because we didn’t want to leave behind our furry daughter behind. Not that she would had a harrowing time with our friends who have another two four-legged cuties and Katie is good friends with them. On the contrary we would have had a traumatic holiday here. Plus then our holiday would be cut short to a week or so.

So on the morning of 18th December at breakfast it was decided that we would take Katie along on our road trip from Noida to Guwahati, a distance of 1900 kms that would take us through four states and take a travel time of 3 days and 2 nights.

Many of our concerned friends dissuade us. The reasons being fog alerts and our relatively old vehicle. Also because we have a sedan and not a SUV, so the general perception that the long hours would not be comfortable enough.

But we were confident that our Toyota Etios would be able to take the journey. On 19th afternoon the car went for a servicing and all the lights, wipers, tyres, etc. were checked thoroughly.

The next day was dedicated to packing. During the run-up to our trip, we had also bought an inflatable car bed mattress so that Katie could sleep comfortably.

Deepa used the day to make different types of sandwiches, burgers and chutneys for the journey.

Since the evening witnessed pretty dense fog in Noida, we kept our departure timing a little flexible.

Thankfully on the morning of 21st the fog was light so at 7.54 we left home. Our first day milestone was set at reaching Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh which was 780 kms and was to take a little over 12 hours.

Deepa took the wheel and my job was to navigate with the help of Google Maps.

The drive on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway was an absolute pleasure. We had two breaks, one to give Katie a break and the other to have tea with our packed sandwiches. Deepa also bought samosas which was the saving grace because the kullad tea which we were looking forward to was nowhere near hot. We had our hurried breakfast and continued with our journey. Our next stop would be for lunch after crossing Lucknow.

We reached Lucknow at about 2 and after dodging traffic for about an hour, we were on the Lucknow-Gorakhpur highway. The road was okay, though not as good as the Yamuna Expressway. By the time we crossed Ayodhya it was dark and we could see the fog building up. Not wanting to waste time we had our sandwiches as we drove past the city. Maybe on our return journey we would spend some time here.

I was in two minds whether to make a night halt or keep driving throughout the night so that we reach Siliguri in the morning, we had not booked any hotel. But with the fog rapidly becoming dense, I made a couple of quick calls to pet-friendly properties in the vicinity of Gorakhpur. We zeroed in on a hotel named Ideal The Hotel, which was pet-friendly and right on highway. The only issue was it was in Kushinagar, another 43 kilometers from Gorakhpur.

We reached Gorakhpur at about 8.30 and just after we took a right turn from the city, the fog was so dense that visibility was not more than a few meters. We took refuse behind a truck who seemed pretty confident as it slowly advanced leading us the way. After a couple of minutes it suddenly swirled. We had our hearts in our mouths. Deepa jammed the brakes and right before us was a pileup of a couple of badly bashed trucks. Taking deep breaths we continued once again behind a truck.

Meanwhile an impatient staff from the hotel inquired about hereabouts probably thinking we may not come. Interestingly there were no fog around the hotel, they said; we felt relieved that our misery was about to come to an end, but that was not to be. We reached the hotel minutes past 10. About the hotel, little said the better.

Exactly 842.07 kms done on day 1. 

We kept the next morning’s departure time open and placed our fate on the fog. Since the hotel was adjacent to the highway we could hear vehicles speeding past occasionally – that was music to our ears. I got up at 4.30 in the morning. It was still dark and there was light fog. Persuading two reluctant souls, we were ready at 7. I took the driver’s seat today. Although the fog was dense, the daylight however made it easy for us to drive. We maintained good speed.

At 10.18 we sat down for breakfast at Blue Diamond Resort and Hotel. Located in NH- 57, as you enter the Darbhanga Road in Bihar, it had clean washrooms and the food was good too. The entire restaurant was decked up for Christmas. As usual Katie was fed her breakfast much to the amusement of the onlookers. And all done we were ready to hit the road again at 10.56.

We left behind Darbhanga, Purnea, Forbesganj pretty fast. But Araria had other plans. The entire stretch of the highway from here till we reach the border of West Bengal was under construction and was full of diversions and potholes. Our speed came to an average of 40-50 kph. But once we crossed the border into West Bengal the road conditions improved. There were a couple of police checkposts starting from Naxlbari, but we didn’t face any issues. The West Bengal police probably didn’t feel a middle-aged couple with a pet sleeping in the rear seat a threat to their state. Since it was dark, we could hardly make out the surroundings. However with good roads it was a pleasure. At 6.20 we were at Siliguri. Being a weekday, we got stuck in the city traffic for some time and at 6.51 we entered the hotel. The hotel was at the Eastern Bypass in the Don Bosco colony, which meant no detour from our road to Guwahati.

Exactly 593.19 kms done on day 2.

Katie was really exhausted and she crashed out without having dinner. We thought we would try some typical Bengali cuisine. The hotel’s kitchen was not functional, so we were asked to order from outside. We decided to have egg roll, and Kolkata egg biryani. The food was cold and tasteless. The saving grace was a chill beer, surprisingly delivered to the room by Swiggy.

While Deepa caught up with her office-work, I fell asleep to wake up at around 4.30. I prepared Katie’s food, because I had to feed her a part before we leave the hotel.

Post our relaxed baths and morning cuppas, we were on the road again at 6.46.

It was probably the best part of the journey. The surroundings which the highway goes through was lush and beautiful and reminded us of the mountains of our home in Uttarakhand.

The tea garden of Dooars were scenic and resembled so much like some of the gardens of Upper Assam. It felt like we were home already.

Till Dakshin Satali it was a leisurely drive. It was past 9.30 and we were in mood for breakfast. We chanced upon Jims Motel, a nice place with a good sized lawn and parking area. Since there were no other guests, we were allowed to bring Katie inside. The restaurant was big and clean. A single good-natured person was manning the restaurant. Later we found our guy was from Dhekiajuli. Breakfast was aloo paratha and poori sabzi. Everything was delicious and the size of the pooris were not what we expected – big. The breakfast came to an end with a good hot cup of masala tea – best tea we had since we embarked on our road trip.

After hours of driving through the well-maintained highway in Bengal, we reached the Assam border at about 12. Half-an-hour in Assam, somewhere in Kokhrajar we were stopped at a checkpost. A policeman with a smile inquired for how much we had bought the car, assuming that we were on our way home buying the car from Delhi. Required a little conviction that we were the proud owners of the car for the last few years. His smile never diminished as he let us go.

The highway in many parts were under construction and we had to face numerous diversions and bad road, breaking the rhythm of driving and making is frustrating. Our exhaust pipe took a hit in a crater and started making a sound when you changed gears and accelerated. Having faced the same issue in one of our trip in our Kausani-Ranikhet trip in Uttarakhand a couple of years back, we knew we could continue. And so we did.

By the way, least our families worry themselves to death, we hadn’t told them that we were doing a road trip. As the distance to Guwahati came down to two digits we gave them the news, much to their surprise and glee.

At 4.13, the sight of the Saraighat bridge came as a relief and more of a sense of accomplishment. On the right the setting sun marked the culmination of our 1902 kms road trip.

Deepa slowly maneuvered the traffic and exactly at 4.57 we entered the premises of our home at Beltola road.

Exactly 475 kms done on day 3.

Katie was the most delighted amongst us to get her feet back on terra firma again. We too were not less glad.

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