Going from Uttar Pradesh to Bihar on the #28States28Plates drive
We’re reaching the halfway point of the #28States28Plates drive and we’re still making our way toward the north eastern parts of the country. Yesterday, we were in the City of Nawabs and today we’re in the slightly less fancy town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar. Muzaffarpur is the fourth most populated city in the state, but is just one-tenth the size of Patna. Of course, it is more popularly known for its Shahi Lychees which we planned to try out, but little did we know as we left from Lucknow that not everything will go as planned.
The route from Lucknow to Muzaffarpur is actually fairly straightforward. After a quick photo-op at the Rumi Darwaza in the wee hours of the morning, we headed out onto NH27 which carries on pretty much all the way to Muzaffarpur. The road surface for the first hundred or so kilometres isn’t great — patchy with lots of undulations, plus unruly buses and tractors to share it with. However, the surface does smoothen out later and you can settle into a rhythm. The only thing breaking our rhythm was our need to get an RT-PCR test done for our entry into Sikkim tomorrow. In most cases, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue but when heading into smaller towns, processing of the samples takes longer since they have to be sent to bigger cities. After hunting for a good few hours, we found a diagnostic lab in the tiny town of Gopalganj. We ended up paying a bomb for each of our tests (Rs 1800 per head!), but the centre did say we’ll get our results the next morning.
Once we headed out of Gopalganj, we stopped at a roadside dhaba for some lunch. It was a simple meal — roti, dal and aloo sabzi — but the fact that it tasted home cooked and had minimal oil meant it was soothing to all of us. After we’d fuelled up our bellies, we topped up our cars and headed into Bihar. The highway in Bihar is actually pretty good. There’s lots of greenery on both sides and while the road itself is two lanes wide on either side, there isn’t much traffic on this side of the NH27. A word of caution here: the locals graze their animals on the divider, so we suggest staying alert even on the seemingly empty patches.
Before we knew it though, we were in Muzaffarpur and little did we know we had a grand welcome for us there. A local political party passing through the heart of the town meant the most dense traffic jam some of us had ever seen (even bicycles were stuck!). We clenched our teeth through the traffic and carried onto our night halt. We hadn’t really had the time to taste any real ‘Bihari’ food during the day so we ended the day with some traditional Litti Chokha and home-style mutton curry. The former is a dish born here in Bihar, Litti is a small ball of dough filled with sattu and flavoured with spices and is to be dipped in Chokha which is a blend of brinjal, tomatoes, onions and garlic. It tasted brilliant, with fresh ingredients and a punch from mustard oil. The home-style mutton curry, with some steamed rice, was the perfect way to end the day. Tomorrow, we will make the 500-odd kilometre drive to Gangtok — if our RT-PCR report comes through. Fingers crossed.