Road-tripping is still not as common in this part of the country as we would like it to be. But lack of proper roads, or nice places is hardly the true reason. Roads in the state of West Bengal are generally in decent shape (off-course NH-34 is a glaring exception). And there is not dearth of places in the state. Our Maithon and Panchet roadtrip was one such exercise where we covered the dams on Damodar river at Maithon and Panchet in 1 day and came back to Kolkata the same evening.
Trip highlights for Maithon and Panchet roadtrip
- Start very early in the morning – have breakfast on the road.
- Reach Maithon (around 220 kms from Kolkata) by 11AM.
- Spend some time in the dam, and have lunch there.
- Reach Panchet Dam and leave by 4PM
- Come back to Kolkata by 9PM, with breaks in between as needed.
The route map will give detailed idea of the journey
The trip details
In November 2014, three petro-heads, Debanjan, Jaydeep and I planned our first roadtrip – a 1 day drive to Maithon and Panchet Dams in Jharkhand from Kolkata in my brand new Ford Fiesta Classic 1.4 TDCI, a.k.a Black Panther.
The trip started from Kolkata at 6.30AM in a sleepy November morning from the airport crossing. We covered the initial stretch of Belghoria Expressway and crossed Dankuni Toll Plaza around 7.00 in the morning. The first stop for us was the Hindustan Hotel, around 70 kms from the city. A sumptuous breakfast of some Aloo Paratha, Dahi and simmering hot tea set the tone for the day.
Jaydeep took over the steering from there-on, and drove the silky smooth road till the second pit-stop on the Asansol bypass. It was 10.30AM. We reached Maithon Dam around 11 AM.
Maithon Dam was inaugurated in the year 1957 by Jawaharlal Nehru. Its main purpose was flood control and generation of 60,000 MW of electricity. It is located in the Bengal-Jharkhand border, around 40kms from Dhanbad.
After roaming around the place for some time, and taking some photographs, we decided to take a break at a local hotel nearby for lunch. It was around 1 PM.
Post lunch, we hit the roads once again and headed towards Panchet. This was another dam, this time on the Damodar River, around 40 kms from Maithon. We did not know the route, and neither did we have GPS. However, that is never much of a problem in a country like India. Local help is always around. With some help, and after some quick detours we reached Panchet Dam around 3 PM. This leg took a considerably longer time, as the roads were not so great.
Built in 1959, the Panchet Dam was one of the 4 dams built on the Damodar River to save Bihar and Bengal from the floods the river inflicted every year. We did a drive thru of the huge dam and reached inside Birbhum district. After staying there for some time, we decided to head back towards Kolkata, as it was getting late in the afternoon. We started from Panchet around 4 PM.
The drive from Asansol to Panagarh via Durgapur took around 1.5 hours because of the patchy road conditions. At Panagarh, we took a break at Baba Hotel on Darjeeling More to savour some chicken pakora and piping hot tea.
Thankfully, the broken stretch near Panagarh did not prove to be much of a problem. We reached Shaktigarh around 7PM, and stopped for another round of tea break. The long day was beginning to take a toll on us.
The next stretch from Shaktigarh to Kolkata was smooth and event free. We reached back in Kolkata around 9.00 PM, thereby concluding our first road trip in the Black Panther.