Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Jamshedpur to Kanpur and back

My wife and I needed to attend the wedding of a nephew in Kanpur and I, always on the lookout for a long-drive opportunity, deliberately procrastinated on buying the train tickets till the car option became a fait accompli !

Even with an average of 22 km per litre of non-premium diesel in my Swift VDi, AC 2-tier travel by Indian Railways works out cheaper than car travel for two people. Only if three or more people travel together, car travel makes economic sense. Apart from the fuel cost, there are substantial additional expenses on board and lodging (hotels) during road trips involving one or more night halts. The point I’m trying to make here is that my long-drive decisions are not economic ones. It’s simply my passion for driving which makes the additional cost, additional risk and a goodly amount of irritation with the unruly Indian traffic worthwhile.

This was my third visit to Kanpur in my Swift VDi in two years. So why do I treat Kanpur almost as a suburb of Jamshedpur (though these two cities are about 900 km apart) as far as car trips are concerned? Mainly because the road is excellent and driving on it is fun. NH 33 from Jamshedpur to Barhi (via Ranchi, Ramgarh and Hazaribagh) is presently in a reasonably good shape and NH2 from Barhi to Kanpur (part of the Golden Quadrilateral project) is superb.

I could comfortably maintain 80-100 kmph on NH33 and 80-140 kmph on NH2. The best stretch was the Allhabad bypass on NH2 on which I’ll write a separate post. The Swift VDi once again performed admirably without a single problem. I love the torque and power of the Multijet engine, especially at low engine RPM. At anything above 1300 RPM or so, the car lurches forward like a wild beast at the slightest pressure on the gas pedal. Another thing I really like about this car are the powerful brakes, so essential in the badlands of India where any vehicle, animal or sub-human may suddenly decide to get on a collision course with you without any warning.

With the steady improvement of Indian roads, car suspensions are generally subjected to relatively less punishment nowadays. However, even on GQ one suddenly comes across some deep potholes or undulations and if one is doing high speeds there isn’t enough reaction time and the suspension gets subjected to huge impacts. On non-GQ highways it is common to find broken stretches everywhere in India. Another pain in India is speed-breakers – they appear without any warning and some of them are designed to be axle-breakers more than speed-breakers. Often, local people / administration put these up overnight without any signage or markings, usually as a knee-jerk reaction to a fatal road accident. After 26,000 km on my Swift I have no hesitation in saying that its suspension is quite good and far better suited to Indian roads as compared to my earlier cars (Maruti 800, Premier 118NE and Maruti Esteem).

Speed-breakers to watch out for on this route

1) The most horrible speed-breakers (4 of them) are at a place called Mandu on NH33. Mandu is 23 km from Ramgarh (towards Hazaribagh).

2) There are another 4 speed-breakers just after Hazaribagh as one is proceeding towards Barhi.

Let me now furnish some more details of our Kanpur trip for the benefit of others planning a similar trip :

Day 1 (while going) : Drove 476 km from Jamshedpur to Mohania and put up in Hotel Kaimur Vihar (phone : 06187-222822) of BSTDC. Mohania is in Bihar, quite close (24 km) to the U.P. border.

Day 2 (while going) : Drove 407 km from Mohania to Kanpur.

Day 1 (while returning) : Drove 625 km from Kanpur to Barhi (where NH2 joins NH33 in Jharkhand) and put up in hotel Highway Inn (phone : 06543-266319).

Day 2 (while returning) : Drove 260 km from Barhi to Jamshedpur.

Some statistics

1) Total distance clocked during Jamshedpur-Kanpur-Jamshedpur trip: 1796 km

2) Average fuel consumption over the entire distance of about 1800 km: 22.50 kmpl (using non-premium diesel; nil AC use; 2 persons; light luggage; includes about 100 km of city driving; 1700 km of highway driving includes hundreds of km at 100-140 kmph)

The tomb of Sher Shah Suri at Sasaram (Bihar). He made significant contribution to building / renewing the original Grand Trunk Road

Distances measured by car’s odometer :

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Namkum rly. crossing : 128 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Kantatoli Chowk, Ranchi : 131 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Ramgarh : 172 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Kujju bypass : 187 km (bypass about 1 km long)

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Mandu (4 huge speed-breakers) : 195 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Hazaribagh (Circuit House) : 223 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Barhi Chowk : 259 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to NH2 (Barhi) : 260 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Dobhi : 320 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Aurangabad : 381 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Dehri-on-Sone bridge : 404 to 407.5 km (bridge 3.5 km long)

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Mohania : 476 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Naubatpur (Bihar / U.P. border) : 500 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Varanasi Ganga bridge : 539 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Allahabad bypass starting point : 632 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Allahabad bypass ending point : 714 km (bypass length : 82 km)

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Rooma (Toyota showroom) : 861 km

Jamshedpur (Sonari) to Kanpur entry point (“Chakeri Indl Area 2” signboard) : 863 km

Kanpur entry point to Rama Devi chowraha, Kanpur : 5 km

Sunrise near Hazaribagh (Jharkhand)

Some more pics taken during this car trip may be seen at

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