Delhi – Shimla Road Review

Last weekend, I drove to Kalka, rather Parwanoo, on my way to Timber Trail Heights, its one of those hotels perched on a hill top and the only good way to reach their is through a cable car, good nice clean place and more on that in a later post. This road further takes you to Simla and probably that would have made a better headline, thats why I named this as Delhi-Shimla review. I have been to Shimla once and few times to Chail, Kasauli, Subathu so would fill from past experience.

Delhi – Shimla drive can be divided into 4 sections.

1. NH1 (Delhi to Ambala) – 200 Odd KMs. 3.5 hours.

2. NH21 (Ambala to Zirakpur) – 30 odd Kms. 1 hour

3. Zirakpur to Kalka – 60 odd Kms. 1.5 hour

4. Kalka to Shimla – 80 odd Kms.3 hours

Get out of Delhi from Azadpur Bypass, more popularly known as just Bypass, this is on ring road which circles Delhi so hop on to Ring Road and go North from Bypass. Now you are on NH1, its one of those dead-long-monotonous stretch of tar on which you can drive on Auto-Pilot. There are towns and cities on the way but you can easily clock an avg of 60-70 Km an hour for this stretch. So depending upon time of day, it might take you anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. First stop is Murthal, the place which is more popular for its Paranthas then anything else. A motley of restaurants which are all named as something no 1 (Ahuja no 1 is one of the popular joints) where truckers enjoy their evening meal with that yellow-golden Mcdowell drink (well why only Mcdowell, because there is this McDowell No 1, have you ever heard of Black Label No 1 or a Glenn-Phiddich No 1). Avoid eating. Keep driving. Then you have Sonipat, Panipat. These days a real city long fly-way is being constructed in Panipat so if possible, avoid 9-12 AM and 5-8 PM. Sundays are better. Panipat is famous (apart from that old battle thingie) for this chain of Panchranga (five colored) pickle shops. There are at least 3 million Panchranga pickle shops on this stretch. There is this famous joke that in Panipat, if you ask for directions, they tell you with reference to Panchrangas. The converstion goes like this

Kaaru :Hey, where is the battle ground of that big fight between Mr. Akbar and Ghazni saheb ?

Tau : Well, go straight for next 12 Panchrangas, take left and after 3 Panchrangas, take another left, cut to your right through the 2nd Panchranga on your right and ask for 36 Panchrangee Lane. Once you reach there, head towards Panchranga Maidaan, then there is this Panchranga Towers, pass that, cross Panchranga gate and you would find yourself close to ………….

I must have been to this stretch zillion times and boy, how many panchrangas are there. I guess that Jat sting of humor has some thing to do with this chain of pickle stores. May be…. Any way, dont bother to stop and keep driving. You would now reach Karnal. If you are a dairy fan then ask for NDRI and have some good lassi, ghee, butter, milk products, really worth it, else keep driving. On your right you would find ‘Haveli’, its a pretty good option to stop and eat and while around. After a while you would now be at Ambala, if you are lucky you might see some sorties for Ambala is also a cantonment.

At this point, you would need to look for directions and go towards Chandigarh. Now we are out of NH1 and this road is called NH21. These days this exit is closed and you would need to further go on NH1 for a while and then take a right. This road is being done-up so while it gets done, you lose on speed and most of it is single road so you would need to be more careful. Go straight till Zirakpur and take a right towards Panchkula. Keep driving, pass the railway fatak and you are now in Panchkula Cantt area, good wide clean roads, press the throttle.

Keep going straight, and you would find the famous ‘Pinjore’ garden on your left. Its not one of those great places to halt but it might not hurt too much to actually spend some time here. They have this funny reverse big clock (yeah this place is in Haryana) and the garden is done at 7 levels, ok ok fountains, lots of trees, some flowers and lots of kids. There is this eating joint just outside of Pinjore, well colored and inviting but this guy takes years to get your orders, ok food. Also there used to be this huge bee-hives hanging from tall trees just outside of Pinjore.

Be on the same road and you would get into a congested market. Be careful on how you drive. Good place to buy stone or china vessels. There is this tribe of traffic Policeman who are on look-out. I was stopped as recently as last week and I have heard from many people so simply avoid eye contact and keep driving straight. You are now on your last few furlongs of Haryana, get into HP. They charge money to allow you an entry and now comes the beautiful part of this whole trip.

From Kalka, hills start. The roads are well laid and well kept. Enjoy the scenic hills, take a quick stop to enjoy that corn (saada bhutta yaar), buy some stutter wines and keep driving. The same road would take you to Shimla. It would be about 80 odd KMs from Kalka and Dharampur is one of the big places on the way. Enjoy Naan and Dal at “Gyani Da Dhaba”. If you want to go to Kasauli then take a left just after Dharampur. For chail, go till Kandaghat, and take a right. For Shogi, go straight till Shogi. For shimla, simply keep going.

I think I got carried away with stretch one but really you need to see those hundreds of Panchrangas to believe me. Write back if you want to know more on this route and I would try my memory. There are some detours which can be utilized. For example, you can take a right at Shahbad (before Ambala) and directly reach to Panchkula. Or when you are on Ambala-Zirakpur road, you dont need to go till Zirakpur, rather get out from Dera Basti but I told you about the default route.

One other thing I would want to share that I had lost my power brakes so it all needed sheer raw power to stop the car and at times, a Scorpio tends to get a really bulky and I had to really use all my power to press the brake paddle :). Enjoy !!


  • backpakker says:

    well, i didnt see a need for pictures because you describe so vividly … i am yet to go to himachal pradesh ..though everyone around me has ..great story

  • manish says:

    Beautiful post yaar.

    Panchranga’s made me smile too. BTW Kaaru seems to be unaware that Gazni never fought any of the famous Panipat battles. Mr Akbar has to remain contented fighting Hemu :) But he is Kaaru, how he can be aware of it. But what happened to Tau, how he forget that.

    Seeing the end I too pushed the brakes, which were equally difficult as the urge to read more surely had equal inertia as that of your Scorpio.

  • nandanjha says:

    I knew it, that I would be goofing up on these battles. Very bad. Not that I care too much whether it was Hemu or a Ghazni but an incorrect information is an incorrect information.

    I didn’t get many comments, was hoping for more (modesty), delaying another new post from Kumkum (walk in OLD Delhi) to be pushed so that this remains on top for some more time :).

    I think they should change the name of Panipat to Panchrangapat. There are just too many of these shops.

  • manish says:


    Most of us don’t appreciate history, had Hemu (who was more likely to win the battle), would have won our history might have changed dramatically.

    Who cares about poor Hemu (the name doesn’t sound like that of a TO BE emperor , may be his defeat has somthing to do with his name), post was well written.


  • bikerdude says:


    Being a foodie, gotta mention this… guys, a McDonald’s @ Jabli makes for a very good option for relaxing yourself and taking bio breaks and grub… if burgers and fries are not your kind of a thing, you could take a breather 8 kms further st Dharampur, which is home to the famous Giani da Dhaba… but that place is crowded as hell now-a-days… another good option for Punju food is the Chawla Chicken utlet… opened above the Cafe Coffee Day opposite Giani da dhaba. Post this there are hardly any decent eating joints… so people who are headed out towards shimla… make the most of it and enjoy the food and the views from Chawla Chicken.. just make sure you are sitting on the backside terrace… or else you would be tasting the fumes of the vehicles passing on the road ;-)

  • Pargat says:

    Nice review, Have travelled on this route a lot of times …

    A few updates to this account …

    1) The city long flyovers in Panipat have been thrown open and now you can zip thru Panipat, avoiding the zillion Pachranga boards. All this comes at an expense of 20Rs. The best part of this toll road is that there is only one entry and one exit, it is acutally a express road.

    2) You can get a nice fresh Apple and other juices from the HPMC factory at Jabli in Himachal. The factory is on the left when going towards shimla. There are other shops in the vicinity and all over the route but the factory shop is the best.

    3) In Dhalli, another small village you can get a lot of pickles of almost everything you can think of from the standard mango, chillies etc all the way to chicken … yes you get chicken pickle also :-)

    4) The petrol pump at Oasis Karnal is a govt run petrol pump and has Diesel/Petrol cheaper than Delhi (though Haryana is costly than Delhi otherwise)


  • nandanjha says:

    Thanks Pargat.

    I am sure fellow ghumakkars who wish to drive this stretch would find this very useful. Be around.

  • shekhar walter says:

    We would be going through this route tomorow on our way to Narkanda…Thanks Nandan !You have made it simpler….!I also heard that the road till Panipat is in bad condition…can someone shed more light on that?

  • nandanjha says:

    I confirmed from someone who went to Karnal yesterday and its all fine.

    When you make the trip, then please come back and update the situation here please.

  • Deepak says:

    i just came back from chandigarh ys terday

    the panipat stretch is simpy zipping …

    now delhi to ambala is 2 and half hours by the clock from north delhi
    three flyovers and you cross at 120 + at ease

  • nandanjha says:

    Good. I sincerely hope that we dont miss Panchrangas because of flyover, may be at the toll booth then can keep some cans.

  • Deepak says:


    Just cant miss the famous Giani The Dhaba,z famous with Parents & visitors
    who visit on weekends to Lawrence School Sanawer .
    one more good option Hpdtc (Hotel Apple cart inn )at Kyaarighat to stay
    its got decent food and a Well stocked Bar and an opn Lawn
    just 20 kMS short of shimla ,on your left side on main shimla road
    Though its just got four rooms But the Valley view is simply awsome

  • Deepak says:


    Just cant miss the famous Giani The Dhaba,itz famous with Parents & visitors who visit on
    weekends to Lawrence School Sanawer .
    one more better option to eat post Dharampur is
    Hotel Apple cart inn At Kyaarighat
    its got decent food and a Well stocked Bar and an open Lawn
    just 20 kMS short of shimla ,on your left side on main shimla road
    Though its just got four rooms
    But the Valley view is simply awsome….

  • Amit says:

    Delhi azadpur bypaas was a chaos few months back..anu update on that ?

  • nandanjha says:

    There is now a clover-leaf flyover maze there. Its a breeze now, gone are those painful days where the bypass just make you cry.

  • Pradeep says:

    Azadpur bypass is a complete breeeze now, Panipat flyover is an expressway. Also in himachal don’t miss visiting Pinewood restarurant & cafe run by HPTDC, in Barog. After Dharmanpur, skip the barog bypass i.e kumarhatti-solan direct road, but go to solan via barog.

    food, prices and the scenery are truly worth it.

  • Rajesh says:

    Guys .. planning to go to Shimla in few weeks , never travelled in hills though , is it tough/scary/ok/ or should i take a taxi if driving in mountains .. also , any hotel you cn recommend in Shimla with safe parking..

    • Sahil says:

      @ Rajesh ,
      I just came back yesterday doing a road trip to Shimla – Kufri – Narkanda – Kasauli – Naldhera – Delhi.

      Roads to Shimla are pretty wide and in very good condition. You will have no problems in driving on this route. But if you are driving first time in hills please be slow. Don’t drive fast seeing the speedy traffic. However roads after Shimla till Kufri and then to Narkanda are not good. Stretch From Kufri to Narkanda is really very bad.

      For parking , go for the Municipal Parking instead of any Hotel Parking. One MC Car parking is near the lift which is very big . Other MC car parking is just near the Lakkad Bazaarwhich is small. However they charge around Rs 150 per day.

  • Nandan says:

    Rajesh – Shimla roads are pretty wide and safe. So drive slow, do not overtake unless you can clearly see that no vehicle is coming from the other side and enjoy.

    Sorry, I do not have any recommendations for any hotel.

  • Rohit says:

    I think their success has gone to their heads. We have been regulars to Giani’s whenever holidaying that side. But this time we were in for a rude shock. The waiters were positively rude. They told us very rudely that there was only one type of paranthas available we could take it or leave it. This after we waited ten minutes for a table. I’m certainly not going back there again. We discovered another place right opposite called Vaishno Bhojanalaya, which was small but friendly and hospitable with a variety of delicious paranthas. Bye Bye forever Giani’s

  • rajesh says:

    Dear Nandan
    I thoroughly enjoyed and could not stop smiling on reading your write-up dt 20 november 2007. What a sense of humour ! Lot of water has flown down the drain since then and things have really eased up. I plan to goto Shimla in the end of June. I am just an average drive with 10 year old WagonR. Please advise me the route after Zirakpur. There is some new expressway has come up and how is the road from Shimla to Fagu.



  • ROY says:

    I am going to follow the same route day after tomorrow, any recommendations for good dhabas ? and the road is fine in the monsoons – right ?

    • rajesh says:

      i zipped thru Delhi-Zirakpur-Expressway on right hand turn- Timbertrail -Solan-Shimla-Fagu Wide roads. Expressway is too good. Try MIRCHI dhabha/restaurant near Ambala. Prompt service / good food.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    @ Roy – Haveli at Karnal. Yes, roads are good.

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