After spending five nights in Bhutan, we left Paro for Mumbai, a journey of 211 km by road and 2681 km by rail. The transformation from Bhutan to India is clearly visible. A peaceful, honk-free zone turns out into an area of hustling-bustling crowd and noise at Jaigaon.
The journey through West Bengal, though, was smooth enough. The entire road is covered with tea gardens and a part of it passes through the Buxa Wildlife Sanctuary.
Alipurduar city has two railway stations – Alipirduar Jn. (APDJ) And New Alipurduar (NOQ). Our train – 22512 Karmabhoomi SF Express was to arrive at APDJ at 10:25 pm, whereas it arrived there at 12:30 am. The station is grand, magnificent and has all modern amenities including Railwire wifi.
The train has a rake reversal at Howrah and hence halts there for 25 minutes. It was still 2 hrs late. While we alighted there to buy Bengali sweets, we reached just in time to board the train as it had already started departing.
I would never recommend this train in any direction. This train isn’t just late, but also has a non-functional pantry car. The only way to get food is through e-catering, which is also unreliable because of ridiculous delays. However, I still adore the railways and would prefer them over flights for they allow us to see the actual countryside.
Next morning, the train was 5-6 hrs late and kept halting at every ordinary station as an unscheduled halt, it was maximum in Chhattisgarh and Vidarbha.
Finally, after spending three nights in the train, the final nail in the wall was the train being short terminated at Thane, already 5 hrs late. It was supposed to reach Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at 11:15 pm but reached Thane at 4 am in the morning. Added to this, Ola and Uber observed a strike in Mumbai, so I don’t think I need to explain the situation in which we reached Mumbai. This was the maximum time I’ve ever spent in a train.
All in all, the trip was excellent. Bhutan is cool and is a good holiday destination for honeymooners too. To conclude, I wish to thank a few people – my parents for sending me on this trip, Mr. Saket Karve for meticulously arranging everything with our tour operator and last but not the least – our driver Shri Munna Ray from Siliguri, West Bengal. I ought to respect this person, for his masterclass driving skills to negotiate the curvy roads perfectly! He was the driver who took us all the way from Bagdogra to Phuentsholing, Thimphu, Punakha, Paro and back to Alipurduar in a Bolero. Our entire trip was well within our budget and we spent approximately only INR 18,000 per person including everything – airfare, train fare, package fees, entry fees, etc.
A special thanks to everyone who have liked my posts too. I have received a flood of notifications for likes on my previous pages while the entire collection was not even complete!