"After whisky, driving is risky."

The roads of northern India may be some of the most dangerous in the world.

Unpaved, mountainous and remote, they are also some of the most humorous.

The roads from Cuttack to Darjeeling are littered with witty, often lyrical road signs warning drivers of their danger.

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Life is 'precious'. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied
Life is 'precious'. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied

The roadside poetry of Himalayan India keeps motorists alert and amused with such aphorisms as:

"Remember safety is gainful, accident is painful" and "Hurry burry spoils the curry."

After Whisky Driving Risky. Photo / Wikimedia Commons
After Whisky Driving Risky. Photo / Wikimedia Commons

The Public Works Department of Darjeeling might not have had tourists in mind when they put out the signage, but the darkly humorous tone has become popular with visitors to the region.

Aimed at dangerous drivers, the signs have found a more appreciative audience among sightseers.

Dark humour is still found at on Indian roads at the top of the world. Photo / Veronique Durruty/Getty Images
Dark humour is still found at on Indian roads at the top of the world. Photo / Veronique Durruty/Getty Images

Blog posts and travel journals are filled with observations noting down favourites. Darjeeling's place on the route to the Himalayas means many tourists stop off to admire the roadside wisdom of the mountain tea region.

Donate Blood in Blood Bank. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied
Donate Blood in Blood Bank. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied

"Why don't we have signs like this in the U.S.?" reads one Medium entry by an American tourist.

Arguably if it weren't for visitors to the area, the signs might have lapsed back into more prosaic speed cautions and limits.

The roads of Darjeeling. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied
The roads of Darjeeling. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied

The English-language cautionaries first appeared on the road network that sprang up alongside the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

A decade ago some of the signs were in a sorry state.

This was before a group of UK-based train spotters the started a project to refresh the old signs.

Keep safety in mind. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied
Keep safety in mind. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (DHRS) began funding a repair project for the sings covering an 80km journey between Darjeeling and Siliguri.

Speaking to The Telegraph India, the society said they were "dismayed to see the condition of these signs and came forward to re-paint them."

Alert today. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied
Alert today. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied

They clearly saw the future of the signs as no laughing matter.

The signs spread high into the Himalayas into Ladkha during the 1980s, carrying philosophical musings such as the "Life is a journey and the road unknown" and "Darling, I love you, but not so fast!"

Repair and repent. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied
Repair and repent. Photo / Simon Gee, Supplied

Around Darjeeling today newer road signs in motoring green and reflective lettering have taken up the tradition – continuing to inform and delight motorists on the busy Indian roads.