This post was first published on July 3, 2018. It has been updated with some latest available information for the reader's benefit.
A road trip is always special. In this day and age of cheap flights and budget family tour packages, a random road trip is the only form of adventure travel to explore your wanderlust soul, fully. As in our case, this year’s road trip from Delhi to Kolkata by car didn’t involve much planning as we have been on these roads quite a few times, except the stopover schedule for night-halts.
For those who might be on-road for the first time, they should begin by planning, before going for a road trip to Kolkata by calculating the total distance to be covered with stopovers and night-halts.
Plus, you should also take account of all on-road expenses and toll fees as they constitute an important part of the budget.
Road Trip Planning 101
Delhi to Kolkata is around 1500Kms by roads (which include detours) so if you want to go slow then you can do 2 stopovers on the way – one at Varanasi and the other in Dhanbad or Asansol. But you can reach much earlier by covering more distance each day with a single stopover.
We started our trip at 6 am from West Delhi and it took us an hour to leave the city. It is always advisable to start as early as possible so that you can avoid getting stuck in the peak-hours traffic rush.
If you are planning a road trip from Delhi to Kolkata by car, you can avail two route options. If you are driving through Mathura road, then expect congestion. But Taj Expressway will make you cover a longer distance in a much shorter time.
There are plenty of well-maintained refreshment facilities and restaurants lined across the highway, so take a little break to stay refreshed. Though the tariff will seem a little inflated at first, the driving experience will help you overcome that thought soon.
We avoided Mathura Road which passes through some of the busiest stretches of Faridabad, Karnal, Vrindavan, Mathura and subsequently, Agra.
Instead, we opted for the Taj Expressway which bypasses the entire stretch of Faridabad to Agra. It is one of the best roads in the country and it costs us a toll fare of Rs. 420 (in February 2018) but driving on this road in our Tata Tiago XZ was really a pleasure.
We drove straight for around 10 hours and reached Varanasi – our first stopover destination, at around 7PM. Though you can expect to reach Varanasi in 9 hours, getting deeper into the city will take a few extra hours. This is mainly due to the narrow roads and congestion and also due to the fact that most of the decent staying options are situated in the main city.
We opted for OYO Rooms because there are plenty of good options to choose from, plus the services and facilities are up to the mark.
After a long drive we decided to relax a bit and while you are in Varanasi the best way to do that is with a glass of ‘Bhang Lassi’. It is an Indian milk-based drink infused with fresh cannabis leaves.
Though cannabis is not legal in most part of India, the city said to be founded by Lord Shiva himself, has rules of its own.
Next day we decided to stay back and wanted to explore the city as much as possible in a single day, so we figured that Sarnath is the best option nearby Varanasi.
If you want honest opinion then I must say that while you are in Varanasi, you should definitely check out Sarnath if you really want to experience something really great.
Related Read: Sarnath Travel Guide – Why it should be on your bucket-list!
After having a great time at Sarnath, we decided to return back to our hotel early and spend rest of the day there since the 2nd leg of our journey had to be started early next day, in order to reach our destination on time.
The next day we started at around 7 in the morning. After straight 12 hours of drive bypassing Dhanbad and the beautiful valley of Sherghati in Bihar, we finally reached Dankuni – the gateway to the city.
By 9 PM, the smell of eggrolls and fish-fry confirmed our presence in the heart of the city of joy.
Some handy tips on how to plan a road trip from Delhi to Kolkata:
Most Suitable Car For Road Trip
The choice of the car totally depends upon the number of people going for the trip. If it is up to 3-4 pax and limited luggage then a hatchback can be sufficient enough. However, anything more would require an SUV for greater comfort and ease.
In our case, we travelled in our brand new TATA Tiago XZ, bought merely 4 months back from the date of our journey. Its 1200cc Revotron engine powered us through the long stretches of Indian Highway quite effortlessly. As hatchback cars offer better mileage, we were able to stick to our estimated budget with the help of its fuel efficiency.
Carry Enough Cash For Toll Fees, Fuel & Food
Always keep this in mind that Indian Highway Petrol Pumps Do Not Accept Cards. If you are lucky to start from Delhi, get your tank filled up as the fuel prices are cheapest there. As you start moving along with your trip, get it filled up once it gets half-empty. There can be stretches of highway where you won’t find a filling station so it’s always safe to check for the fuel levels whenever you spot a Petrol Pump. Overall we saw that fuel prices were highest in Bihar, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar & Jharkhand. Also, the roadside food outlets rarely accept cards so it is always better to keep some cash handy.
Get Fastag first, if you don’t have already. This would make your toll payments cashless. As a result, it will expedite your journey as well. We took this trip in early 2018 and throughout the journey, we came across Toll Booths which insisted upon cash payments. Keep around Rs. 5,000 in cash for just in case. You never know when you might need some extra cash for these kind of payments.
Also, pay attention to the toll fare as some of them offer single fare for longer stretches which can help you save some money. Keep the toll receipts handy as you would be required to show them at the next toll booths to avail a waiver.
Take A Leak At The Highway Petrol Pumps
I am not kidding but the washroom at the highway petrol pumps are pretty decent. Based on my experience, I find that Reliance Petrol Pumps and Hindustan Petrol Pumps are better than its other counterparts. But, everything depends upon the road and your luck!
Sometime you will find one of the toilets locked, so ask the manager to open it for you. They often keep the cleanest ones for the road trippers like us.
Planning The Night Halts
Considering that the total drive would be somewhere around 1500 kms. it would be advisable to take 2 night-halts during this trip. One should be Allahabad, which is somewhere around 600 kms from Delhi. Second-night halt can be easily planned for Dhanbad or Asansol, which is a little over 500 kms. from Allahabad. The remaining leg of 280 kms. to Kolkata can be easily covered on the 3rd day of driving.
However, if you are pressed for time and intend to cover the distance in lesser time then, single night halt at Varanasi is the best option.
Booking Your Stays
Both Varanasi and Allahabad are popular tourist places so planning your stays in advance would be advisable if you are planning a trip in winters. We took our trip in February which is a relatively good time to visit these places.
Our stay in Varanasi also coincided with the Hindu festival of Mahashivaratri so we were expecting a rush of devotees. We booked our hotel rooms through OYO beforehand.
Previously, we have taken such road trip in summers which didn’t require us to pre-book the rooms. We simply walked-in and always managed to get ourselves a good deal.
One major plus point of booking the rooms through OYO App is that you can ensure a proper parking space for the car.
If you do a Google search for hotels in Varanasi then you would always find them boasting of “Parking Facility”. However, once you reach there, you would probably end up keeping your car on the road itself. Needless to say, this always puts some risk of theft or damage to your car in a relatively unknown city.
Apart from Parking Facility, you would also get complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi with most of the OYO stays.
Start With Ample Stock of Water & Food
One thing which costs the most while being out on roads is water. When each bottle costs nothing less than Rs. 12, a major expense includes buying water for the whole group. So, always start with a portable water dispenser and large canisters of water which can be used to fill the dispenser.
As we start very early in the morning, we usually end up having breakfast while on-the-go. To avoid stopping at some roadside stall, we packed in some sandwiches and fruit juice packs to make sure that we could have the food without stopping anywhere. In this way, we were able to avoid stopping till lunch and managed to cover a lot of the distance meanwhile.
Save Money, Pack Your Tea/Coffee Kit
This may sound ridiculous, but if you come to think of it, Tea and Coffee are one of the most expensive items on the menu card of most of the food joints. A cup of Tea never comes for anything less than Rs. 15 per cup and usually on the most of the occasions, they are never up to the mark.
You can save a huge chunk of money by packing in some very simple things on your next trip:
- A Thermos or Flask with Boiling Hot Water to make Tea/Coffee in the first part of the trip.
- An Electric Kettle, which can help you boil water whenever you stop next or during your night halt.
- Tea Bags (we had some instant teacups with us which made life much easier)
- Coffee Sachets
- Sugar Sachets or Sugar Cubes
- Milk Powder Sachets
- Stirrer or a spoon
Get Your Car Serviced & Tires Checked Before The Road Trip
Maybe you just got your car serviced 2 months back, but still, you would not like to take any chance on roads. In the penultimate week of your much-awaited road-trip, your first priority should be to get your car checked thoroughly at a registered service station of the brand of your car. In our case, we had just got the first servicing done a month back, but we still went to Tata Motors-Autovikas Service Centre in New Delhi and asked them to check if our car was perfectly capable of going out for such a long road trip. After all, we don’t want to be left stranded in the middle of the road with leaking oils or flat spare tyres!
Pack As Light As Possible
It’s true that a road trip means no excess baggage hassles, but still, you would not like to bulk up your car with unnecessary weight. Take light-weight yet sturdy bags and pack the essentials. Avoid bulky suitcases which are heavier on their own. Also, pack a few cotton towels, extra sheets travel pillows and lightweight blankets/comforters (if travelling in winter) for just-in-case. Most of the hotels these days offer basic bedding, however, there is no harm in carrying just a few extras.
Over the period of time and a dozen of these long road-trips, I have come to realise that there are few things which one should pack-in for a greater comfortable journey. Some of these which are right on top of my head are:
- First-Aid Kit with Travel Sickness Medicine like Avomine, etc.
- Spare waste plastic bags for disposing of wrappers, etc. Drop them off in the dustbins at your next toilet halt
- Hand Sanitizers, Pee Safe (Toilet Sprays) & Wet Wipes
- Extra dusting clothes for the car as roads are dusty and you might like to dust some of it off your windshield
- Mosquito Repellents – Ointments, Electric Dispensers, Sprays.
- Hand Towels & Tissue Papers
- Disposable Plates & Glasses
Return Road Trip From Kolkata To Delhi
Just like our forward journey, our return was also well planned with the essentials neatly tucked in along with several memorabilia from Kolkata. We started early around 6 AM and left the city before it got congested with the daily office commuters.
We made a mandatory stop at Shaktigarh and had some of the very famous Shaktigarh Langcha. For those who don’t know, these are deep-fried cottage cheese dumplings dipped in thick sugar syrup. It is somewhat very similar to Gulab Jamun, only varying in terms of its shape. A typical lyangcha is cylindrical in shape.
We drove straight to Varanasi with only few toilets and refuelling breaks. We crossed the Sher-ghati stretch of Hazaribagh in no time and were in Uttar Pradesh by lunch.
I wasn’t much impressed by the quality of roadside eateries in this part of the country. Unlike their North Indian counterparts, they were quite unhygienic and shabby.
Luckily I packed in few sandwiches along with a box of sweets for just-in-case. We decided to stop under a shady tree and have some coffee with our snack-lunch.
Within no time we were back on road, zooming past the trucks to reach our destination. We faced a lot of detours as numerous flyovers and city bypass roads were under-construction. This somewhat hampered our speed, but eventually, we managed to reach our hotel around 8 PM.
We quickly settled in for the night so that we could get some much-needed rest. Next morning we had our breakfast and left off to cover the rest of our journey.
We continued on NH 19 by following Varanasi-Allahabad Road till we came across the Agra-Lucknow Expressway. We took the slip road to get on that Expressway and continued as it merged into Taj Expressway. With this route we were able to avoid some of the very busy intersections of NH19 followed by the congestion of Agra and Mathura.
Within no time we entered Noida and then subsequently Delhi. Although we reached home at around 10 PM the city traffic congestion was partly to be blamed for this delay.
In a nutshell, once you catch those expressways, you can rest assured of good and safe roads till you reach the city. All of this might come at a slightly premium price of the Expressway Toll but it surely is worth every penny as you would see that the roads are truly the best here.
Road trips are a treasure trove of memories which continues to fuel your excitement for the next few months.
The same happened for us. We keep looking back at it and re-live some of the highlights of the journey.
Indian highways often fall short of offering a world-class journey experience but it has its own charm in a crude & rustic way.
And if you are looking for some motivation to take this trip then your love for driving and Indian countryside should suffice that.
I hope I have managed to motivate you to take the trip yourself. If you do, then do not forget to share that with us. Tag us on Facebook or Instagram .
Note: This post contains some affiliate links which would allow me to earn some commission upon every sale.
We have fixed our road trip from West Delhi to Asansol(West Bengal) on 20th April. We are 2+1 child so if any small family want to travel with us then welcome.One person must drive car well and we could share our expenditure also. I have Hyundai Venue new Car(SX optional )petrol car
20 Th April 2020 we will start from West Delhi at morning 4 am
It was a nice article indeed. Thanks for sharing.
I am also planing for a trip on the same route in this October,
I was wondering if you can through some light on road conditions and some tips which may help for a safe drive on this route.
Last time we took this trip (Feb 2018) roads very pretty ok. There were some detours as new flyovers were under construction. Later I heard, most of those projects have been completed, and it is a pretty decent ride now. So, go ahead, I would say. Also, while you are on road, keep your navigation on.
Thanks for your prompt reply
This is great post, I like it. Thanks for sharing helpful information. Your writing is very good, I really use full this post. thank you very much for this post. Nice post!!.. Thanks for sharing your wonderful travel experience. It helps people to plan places for their vacation, enjoy your vacation by book Cab service in India.
For your Cab Service promotion, mail us at [email protected]
It was an awesome trip and very nice description. You said you drove tata Tiago, so did u drive alone or you exchanged your seat with your wife ?? how much appx did it cost you on one side petrol ?? and appx how many hours did you drive in one go ??
I am planning a trip somewhere in durga pujo 2019 and i have a Grand i10 and i am the only driver , so asking you these queries 🙂
one more curiosity …what the top most speed you attained ??
Yes, we drove our TATA Tiago this time, but can I let you in a secret? We have done this roadtrip twice before in our Maruti 800!! Yups, you read that right. We were a family of 4 with quite a decent amount of luggage. And, it was amazing. We took regular short breaks for washroom and tea, and that relieved us from cramping or any other discomfort. I am telling you all this because I think you should be OK in your Grand i10.
Coming back to this trip, we were 5 people in the car and out of these 5, 3 could drive. Me, my wife and my Father-in-Law! I started driving as we began from Delhi and continued for the most part of it. Towards evening (when we were almost 150kms away from Varanasi), I switched with my FIL and he drove the rest. However, throughout the rest of the trip I drove. Whenever we took our stops, I made sure to stretch my legs and arms and drink plenty of water to avoid muscle cramps.
Regarding the fuel cost, it was somewhere around 9k-10k one way. Petrol was priced somewhere around Rs.70 pl in Feb. 2018 (Keep cash for this as highway petrol pumps do not accept cards)
On our first day, we drove for 10 hours to reach Varanasi. On our next day, we covered the distance between Varanasi and Kolkata in 12 hours. Speed was somewhere around 100-110 kmph. (We didnt overspeed, as our car was loaded pretty much) Roads are pretty good and driving is actually a pleasure on highways.
I hope you have an amazing trip. Since it is going to be festive season, book your rooms earlier at the stopover destinations. Ask away if you need to know anything else.
Thank you for the information provided. Actually i am from “Bhiwadi” ie in rajasthan , so ill have to add 2 Hrs to your travel time. I do plan to start at 5am and try to make to “Benaras” by 7pm. i also do not intent to drive to fast so 100-110 kmph is also ok with me .
Yes i agree its a festive time so i do plan to avoid the “benaras” city , so can you suggest any good on highway hotels ?? i did some study and found two names but no review on them 1) Anshika line hotel 2) Green Villa kashi guest house.
But your journey tips are realistic and helpful.
And i was really surprised by ur let out secret that you did this journey by Maruti 800cc , seriously ?? wow ….
you gave me full confidence by letting out your secret . If you can by 800cc then i am sure my grand i10 will fare well.
How was the weather when u did your last journey ??
I am so glad we could be of help to you. As you plan your trip, we are getting the goosebumps here!
Personally I don’t have any experience of Highway Hotels near Varanasi, however, I would strongly suggest you to check out OYO Rooms. There the amenities like Parking, WIFI, Breakfast are clearly mentioned and that helps. I mean while you take rest, your car also needs a safe place in an unknown city, right?
And, yes, we travelled from New Delhi to Kolkata TWICE in Maruti 800. Both times, it was amazing. But our last trip was with TATA Tiago, and needless to say it was superb.
Our first New Delhi to Kolkata roadtrip (in Maruti 800) was around Durga Pujo, almost 10 years back. I remember it was quite hot. Our last roadtrip (in Tiago) was in February, so it was amazingly pleasant. Although, Kolkata was already hot by the time we reached there!! I hope you have an amazing journey. If you post your updates on Facebook or Instagram, do tag us. Click on the links to find our page.
I am also planing for this trip at the time of Durga Puja, I will drive my Baleno 2017,
Let me know if we can meet and start together.
oops sorry bro. saw this too late. actually my prog. got cancelled due to sudden demise of my father. so had to go by flight . but am planning for kali pujo next year. do let me know . am sorry for a such a late reply
Sorry to drop in, but our condolences, Sugata!
I am deeply and sincerely sorry for the loss of your father.
We will surely meet next time, however I did it solo and experience was good
Excellent review. To the point- very well described and the whole write up makes it look and feel so interesting. we also love road trips and had just travelled frm kolkata to Vishakapatnam and Hyderabad last december with wife n kids. we r again planning a roadtrip frm kolkata to delhi and back in the last week of march.
Your review has been very helpful indeed.
We are so glad that it helped. Let us know if you know any more details, we would surely try to help!
Happy Road tripping!! 🙂
Hi, thanks for nice info Dear, God Bless You, Me and my sister also love road trips, last trip we did from Delhi to Mumbai and back, and now again we were planning this Delhi-kolkata Trip and your post is very helpful, one more thing I need to ask what is the road conditions. And how much toll you paid approximately. And around how many days you spent in Kolkata as we. Thanks once again, waiting for your reply. Best Regards 🙂
Hi, Thanks for stopping by. I am so glad that this post was of help to you.
Regarding roads, overall its good barring few stretches where maintenance work was underway. But, I am hoping in the past one year those projects might have been completed.
For Toll Fare, we ended up paying somewhere around 5000 Rs. (both ways) Might I add, please keep ample cash as Toll Booths generally do not accept Cards. We stayed at Kolkata for a week and then took our trip back home.
Hope this helps. Let me know if you want to know any more.
this was very helpful. can we know the names of the hotels where you did night stay at varanasi on the way to kolkata and return? we are planning in mid march and have just started our online research to help us enjoy the trip
Hi, Thanks for taking your time out and reading my blogpost. On our way to Kolkata, we stayed at Hotel Shyamal that we booked through OYO Rooms. And, on our way back, we chose Assi Inn on Assi Ghat Road. Might I suggest that if you intend to explore the city of Varanasi, then only enter the city and choose your hotel. Otherwise, look out for hotels on the highway itself. You will save a lot of time with this. Mid of March means immediate culmination of Kumbh so it would be better to skip the city. Let me know if I could be of any more help. Have a safe journey!!
Love the tips you have mentioned here. A road trip is always fun and adventurous specialky if its with family.
So true. Road trips with the family makes it even better!!! Actually the more people on board for such trip, the merrier it becomes!!
Wow! Delhi to Kolkata seems a little to far don’t you think? But it seems like you had everything planned in your head beforehand.
Yes, it was over 1400kms but we covered it at our own pace with night halts in between. It may sound crazy but road trips are so much more fun than taking a flight!
You have given such brief detail from Delhi to Kolkata road journey. It is really helpful.
Thanks. I can just go on and on about road trips. But I think this should be good enough to help those who are planning one soon!!
Thanks Snigdha. I am glad you found this post helpful.
Wow. Covering Varanasi en route to Kolkata from Delhi is a wonderful idea! I love going on car road trips, but there’s a lot of safety concerns to be always kept in mind.
Over the past few years, we have seen that Indian roads are quite good and sufficiently provided with amenities. Highway Police, NHAI officials and even Truck Drivers are very helpful. Driving after sunset should be avoided, otherwise it’s absolutely safe.
Wow! What great details in the article. Love the post. Will follow your advice for all future road trips.
Thanks…and glad that this could be of help!! Happy Tripping…..
Loved reading such a beautiful post I so want to plan our next road trip ASAP 🙈🙌
wow….get down to planning your next trip soon!!! Catch a weekend getaway with your family….it is always so much fun!
Me my husband and our kids we love road trips and we go on 6 to8 hours long journey almost every 6 months. Its such a lovely time we spend together. I am sure you had an amazing time traveling to Kolkata
I am so happy to find another roadtripper here!! Ain’t these fun?
We took many road trips as kids and often saw Dad look after the car maintenance things you’ve mentioned here. With these helpful tips travel hiccups can be easily avoided.
Absolutely! Taking care of the car is of prime importance. I hope you still do road trips!
We love the road trips and with the amazing roads everywhere it gets more fun to go on long destination drives. Your tips are very handy and crucial.
Yes, roads are amazing now. That really makes these trips more interesting. Thanks for appreciating the post.
Great post, we love taking road trips a lot but haven’t taken a long trip of Delhi to Kolkata types. Loved that you mentioned all pointers, even stocking of the sry foods for the journey.
I am glad that you found this post good. Do you think I missed out on something? Let me know if you have found some tricks useful in your trips.
Woow its a long journey. I do not think my hubby will agree so long drive with kids. Yes but your trip is great guide tour for us
Indeed, Delhi to Kolkata is quite long. But you can always go for shorter ones. For instance, weekend getaways are perfect for travelling with kids. Give it a try. You might even get yourself addicted to road tripping, just like us!! 😉
You have provided an amazing guide to delhi to Kolkata travel! Carrying cash is indeed a necessity!
Thanks Mrinal. These tips would be useful for any road trip throughout India. Indian roads are more less similar everywhere.
Road trips are fun. I love them. They give us liberty to pull over anytime and enjoy midway attractions. But you are right, planning plays a crucial role.
That is why we love road tripping. No train or flight schedules, completely at our freedom to follow our routes.
I teallrlove road trips and yet to plan to my fav destination…..but your tips for this is really helpful as yes it should be well planned and executed
Just a few little details can make the road trip so much fun. After doing such road trips for a decade, we have almost nailed it for Indian roads.
The best part qboab road trip is quality time with your partner , loads of food and memories. The plan seems to be super good
Absolutely, Hema. Even after so many months, we still love to cherish those memories.
Such a enjoyable and dil se remember journey .. awesome details journey review with lovely tips. Bookmark the post.. Very helpful..
Thanks. Road trips are amazing, right?
Good one..Hope u plan for more exciting trips ..and waiting for updates
Thanks and Yes, in fact few more road trip posts are in the pipeline! Stay tuned for the updates.
Thank you so much!!!
I enjoyed reading this article particularly! Loved how clearly you described all the pros and cons of a road trip.
Thanks a lot Sanandita for giving it a read. Road trips have been a part of my life since childhood and I feel with little help in terms of planning, every body can go out and enjoy an adventurous trip of their own!
Nice narration. Getting inspired