October 12th, 2004


...so I'm doing research on obscure topics. The web is not being particularly informative.

I'm trying to find trip reports of people who have made border crossings from India to Bangladesh. There are a number of overland border checkpoints, including the most commonly used one, from Bangaon, West Bengal to Benapole, Khulna Division. That one's no problem; there's even a direct bus from Kolkata to Dhaka--12 hours each way for $26 round-trip, wheee--although detailed information on the bus depots on either end (Karunamoyee International, in Salt Lake on the Kolkata end; Kamlapur on the Dhaka end) is extremely hard to find. I'm assuming the Kamlapur bus depot is near the railway station of the same name, but this might turn out to be a very bad assumption.

The problems come when you're looking for information on a crossing like Haldibari, West Bengal to Chilahati, Rajshahi Division. This would be an interesting way to get to Darjeeling, but includes a 4km walk on a dirt road along the disused railway line that used to connect the two towns before Partition. Fine if I manage to pack light enough, i.e., my day pack only; not so fine if not.

I also looked into information on the Agartala (Tripura State) / Akhaura (Chittagong Division) crossing, but that looks less useful even though there's a new through bus service, because once I get to Agartala I'm stuck in Tripura and the only way out--through Assam and Meghalaya--takes me through an area (Northern Tripura) that is apparently dangerous because of rebel activity.

A few people have posted, including two pages in Czech, two in Dutch, and one in Swedish. I can't read any of these pages, and they're languages for which Google doesn't offer a machine translation.

At least the Wagah to Attari crossing between Indian and Pakistani Punjab is easy. Apparently the border ceremonies are really worth seeing. Both sides put on quite a show every afternoon.

Lonely Planet has just enough information to let me know the crossings exist--which was the starting point for this research--but only a few comments on getting to and from them. The Rough Guide India seems to be under the impression no one ever crosses into Bangladesh by land, and the Let's Go India and Nepal does little more than list the crossings.

I could fly straight into and out of Dhaka, but what's the point? You don't actually get to see the places you're travelling through. Also, I have some second thoughts about flying Biman Bangladesh.

(Do I actually think I'm going to get any information by posting here? No, this is more a description of what I do when I can't sleep.)
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