Tuesday, October 27, 2015

26th October: Day 6: Kharagpur, West Bengal, to Pakur, Jharkhand

(Editorial note: Up to this point, we had been travelling relatively happily along AH 45, the 6 lane highway that connects Chennai to Kolkata. From Day 6, however, we were going to move onto smaller state highways, many of them single roads without the road divider.

In addition, because of elections in Bihar, we had opted against taking the obvious, shorter route to Madhepura via Bhagalpur, which would have involved a fair amount of drive through Bihar. Instead, we had decided to drive through West Bengal along the Bihar border, stay the night in Pakur, Jharkhand, and then enter Bihar on Day 7 for the final leg of the journey.)

Sunrise on the way out of Kharagppur

6.04 am: (Message on Whatsapp) We are on the road again . Started at 5.30. Thank God for the rest at Kharagpur and the home that was opened up for us there. We will finally today be exiting the Golden Quadrilateral highway, and will be driving through West Bengal on smaller state highways and plan to finish at a place called Pakur in Jharkhand. Please keep us in prayer.

We then made a series of decisions that, in retrospect, were not the wisest!

1. Seeing that we were going to be driving close to Kolkata, we decided to make a quick detour into Howrah to show the children the Howrah bridge. As usual, we trusted Google Maps to take us to the bridge. Instead, it led us through some narrow roads to a small bridge over a drain....we turned disappointed, and returned to the highway.

2. We then got stuck in a bad traffic jam with merging traffic on the Kolkata-Delhi highway.

3. After driving along the state highway away from Kolkata, we noticed a sign that Rabindranath Tagore's Shanti Niketan was just 40km away. We decided to drive there!

4. We did a little bit of shopping (khadi clothes) around Shanti Niketan, then had a late lunch and set off again to Pakur.

All this time, we had no reason to expect the mishaps which were yet to come. We were quite sure we would reach Pakur before nightfall.

22:17 pm. (Message on Whatsapp): We've just reached. The journey took much longer than we expected.  Google maps led us along the state highways....but neglected to tell us that many parts of the highways have not yet been constructed. 😳 They were just mud roads, very uneven with plenty of loose rocks and gravel. I will need to look over the car tomorrow in the morning light to see how well or badly it has done. 

Anyway, here we are, finally...in Jharkhand,  on the border with Bihar and Bengal....Tomorrow we will, God willing, enter Bihar and reach Madhepura by evening. Please do continue to remember us in prayer. 

On the road through West Bengal and Jharkhand

On the road through West Bengal and Jharkhand
On the road through West Bengal and Jharkhand
On a yet-to-be-constructed highway in Jharkhand!

This stretch along the yet-to-be constructed highways in Jharkhand was something we will never forget. Mud, loose rocks, gravel, and plenty of knocks on the under-carriage of the car. And all this through Maoist territory. The children finally began crying when we were stopped by policemen in the middle of nowhere, who wanted to make sure we were not Maoists ourselves.

But we were delighted to finally reach Pakur after 10pm in the night, and find the beautiful family who were going to host us for the night. Prof Chacko, from Kharagpur, had contacted Alex Sam, Sunita Marandi and family, and once again, we were guests in the home of a wonderful Christian family who had never met us before. What a wonderful thing it is to be so related in the family of God!
Sunita Marandi and Alex Sam, our gracious hosts for the night!

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