Road Trip – Exploring Beautiful Himachal – Part-I (Delhi-Chandigarh-Shimla)

I came back just couple of days before and I am still dreaming how those four beautiful days passed in Himachal Pradesh.It had been few months that I had done a road trip. So It was time to hit the road again. But I was really being superstitious whether this time My Silver Queen ( My car) will manage it properly or not because last time it had suffered a breakdown. So preparation had started a month in advance. Took it to a mechanic and got its 2 tyres replaced and also got it a new battery.Then the mechanic did its wheel alignment and balancing. Also he opened the bonut and its oral checking and declared it fit.Now the Queen was ready to hit the highway. I was so excited that the night before the journey I could not sleep . Just wanting that early morning to come really early.

Brief Information of the trip –

1. No. of travellers = 3 ( Myself the solo driver along with my family)
2. Vehicle = Maruti 800
3. Avg distance per litre = 19 Km/L
4. Total Distance Covered = 1020 Km
5. Total Amount of Fuel Consumed = Rs 3500
6. Places Covered = Delhi – Shimla – Kufri – Narkanda – Mashobra – Naldhera – Tattapani -Kasauli -Kalka – Chandigarh – Delhi


My Silver Queen posing in the hills

DAY – 1 — DELHI to SHIMLA = 360Km
Shimla, The Heart Of Himachal is located at an average altitude of 2,354 metres (7,500 ft). It is covered with the pine and oak forests.

ROAD CONDITIONS –

DELHI to PANIPAT – 80 KM – Excellent
Started my queen at 5 am on 27th March’11. The drive till Panipat on NH-1 was silky smooth Like a breeze as usual. We crossed Panipat around 6:30 am. Thanks to the Panipat Expressway. Toll Tax – Rs 20
Driving Time – 1:30 Hrs


Panipat Expressway


Sunrise somewhere near Panipat

PANIPAT – KARNAL – AMBALA – 125 Km – Good
From Panipat to Karnal and then till Ambala , NH-1 is full of diversions. Earlier NH-1 was totally smooth till Amritsar but now it is full of diversions because work is going on to make NH-1 free from red lights and stoppages.One cannot attain much speed because after each Km there comes a diversion. We stopped at Hotel Oasis at Pipli for the breakfast. Toll Tax at Karnal – Rs 81
Driving time – 2:30 Hrs


The diversions at NH-1


Clean Stretches

AMBALA – CHANDIGARH – 54 km – Excellent
Drive From Ambala to Chandigarh on NH-21 was again very smooth and speedy. Thanks to the Expressway. Toll Tax – Rs 26
Driving Time – 1hr


Ambala Chandigarh Expressway


NH-21

CHANDIGARH – KALKA – PARWANOO – SOLAN – SHIMLA – 115 km – Very Good
I was so busy in driving and photography that by mistake instead of taking a left turn from Zirakpur which takes you direct to the Chandigarh Bypass, I straight went into Chandigarh. Crossing the whole city took us around 1hr. From Kalka , the hilly terrain starts but still the NH-22 was good. Drive to Shimla is also smooth thanks to the well paved double lane roads.
Driving Time – 4hrs. Toll Tax – Rs 30


Entry into Himachal


Tunnel of the Kalka Shimla Rail Line

Shimla is connected to the city of Kalka by one of the longest narrow gauge railway routes in India, the Kalka-Shimla Railway on which the Toy Train Operates.


Toy Train Engine at Dharampur


NH-22


Silver queen on NH-22


Smooth Roads to Shimla

This is a video while driving towards Shimla –
Drive To Shimla – Road Condition

Finally we reached Shimla at 1:30 Pm. We parked our car at the Municipal Car Paking at Rain Besra Lakkad Bazaar. This parking is very small and it can cater only 15-18 cars. Luckily we got space but he charged Rs 150 per day. Other MC Car parking is located near the lift which is very big.We parked our car at the Lakkad bazaar parking because we had booked our room In Hotel White which was centrally located in the Lakkad Bazaar. Then we hired a porter who took all of our luggage from the parking to the hotel room.


View from the hotel Room


Another view

The benifit of Hotel White is that it is located in the middle of lakkad Bazzar. It is just 5 Min walk from the ridge and 4 Min walk from the parking. The room rent was Rs 1500 per day. That day we just went to the ridge and Mall Road to enjoy the evening. Though it was off season , but as usual the ridge and mall road were full of tourists.The weather there in the evening was chilly. That day we came back to the hotel early and retired to bed as we were tired.


The Christ Church at the Ridge


The Christ Church


The Mall

This is a short video which I captured while walking at the ridge.
View from the Shimla Ridge


Sunset at the Ridge


Another Sunset Shot


The 108 feet Hanuman Ji Murti as seen from the Mall Road. It is the tallest Haunuman Ji Idol In the world

The next day plan was to cover Shimla – Kufri – Narkanda – Shimla which I will discuss in the next part. Till Then :-)

56 Comments

  • Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Sahil,
    Very informative & detailed road review supported with statistics and nice pictures specially of the signboards which helps in making story more informative and interesting. Your stories fits to all the requisites of a good travelogue.

    Thanks.

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Very well narrated road review , well done Sahil !!!!

    Looking forward to see your next post.

  • Nandan says:

    Those milestone boards are a treat for someone like me. I also looked at the video. Expect to see some when I hit road next Sahil :-)

  • SANDEEP says:

    ??? ?? ??? ???,
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    ?????? ?? ?? ?????? ??? ???? ??? ???? ???
    ? ????? ?? ?? ???? ??????? ???

  • Sumit Nirmal Kumar says:

    Hi Sahil,
    Liked the way you explained the roadtype for the trip. One can easily figure out what all to expect on the way to Shimla.
    Over all a nice travelogue.
    Keep travelling.

  • venkatt says:

    Thanks for the detailed description Sahil. Good pictures too. This post will be very helpful for planning a road trip to Shimla.

  • Roopesh says:

    Good one Sahil. Have been to Shimla few times and spent several hours hanging around The Ridge. Thanks for reviving the memories.

  • Great Post Sahil….

    It made me nostalgic about my trip to Shimla and Kufri, in February. (Will soon write it for Ghumakkar) That time Kufri was covered with snow…Pics are really good…

    Waiting for next part… :)

    • Sahil says:

      @ Shefali….Thanks a lot for your appreciation.
      I could see in the drafts that you have started to write down about your trip. Good to see that…Cheers !!

      Sahil

  • pratibha r pail says:

    hi Sahil
    Went through your Himachal Pics , they were good too . Can i expect Part II also ? Even the info below pics is very intresting and informative.Infact after going through your kashmir pics i have seen all your Previous 29 posts. They were also very great to watch. You are lucky to be living a central place like Delhi as all the places are easily accessible to you. Are you also planning to go to Leh-Laddakh some day ? The place is amazing. I haven’t been there but many of my friends have, they say it is too good. we had been to Himachal and other places like sikkim-Gangtok, But every time i end up comparing them to Kashmir. There is no place like Kashmir.
    One more thing i would like to ask in case you know, Last time when i been to kashmir i brought along kilos of almonds and walnuts with me, which were not only very cheap but also high in taste, unfortunately since we had gone through a tour operator, i am unable to recollect the name of the shop from which i had brought them, i only know that on the ground floor there was a dryfruit shop and above on first floor (A very horribly thin metal staircase leading to the first floor) there was a clothes and other handicrafts shop. i do not recollect the name. i only know that it was in Srinagar somewhere near the dal lake. Can you tell me as to from where i can get them couriered at my place in Mumbai. Do you know anybody there, from whom i can get these dry fruits couriered to me? If you do , please let me know the address and phone nos. You can send me the details via my email – prati_pp5@yahoo.co.in.
    I am very sorry if am troubling you.
    Looking forward eargerly for your next post.
    bye
    Pratibha Patil

    • Sahil says:

      @ Pratibha….Thank you so much for appreciating. I am Glad that you liked so much.

      After going through your comments , I feel that you really Like Kashmir a lot. Actually in reality anyone who vists it , never forgets the heaven.

      Regarding Almonds and walnut , I bought them from a shop named ” Khurshid Ali Merchants” at Lal Chowk. I will let you know its contact number later. I hope it would be helpful for you.

      Sahil

      • pratibha r pail says:

        hi Sahil
        So when can i expect your new travel venture? Its really sweet of you to have replied to my mail so promptly. Now my eight year old son Nikhil also has become fan of your photos. Every time i log in i expect to see some new pics, though thats very mean of me, because i cannot expect you to go on a holiday trip every 15 days. I am very suprised that inspite of you being a software engineer , you manage to take out time for your trips. Maybe your passion for travelling makes you Zoom …. to all these beautiful places.
        Thanks for providing the name of the shop in Kashmir, as soon i get the phone no, i will try to contact the shop and see if they can send them to Mumbai.You will be surprised and shocked to know that the almonds (Mamro badam) which i talking about are sold at rate rs1600 in mumbai whereas in Kashmir they are just for rupees 350 . such a vast difference Can you beleive it ?
        My husband is also very fond of photography i will send his facebook id so that you can see his share of pics also.
        bye take care

        • Sahil says:

          Pratibha , Thank you so much for your sweet words .
          New travel venture is still not decided but it would be soon. Till then you enjoy my Himachal Trip :)

          Coming back to Kashmir.
          Name of the shop – Khurshid Bin Ali Dry Fruit Merchants , Koker Bazaar , Lal Chowk, Srinagar
          Contact No. – 09419058872
          Residence Phone No. – 2461415

          From Srinagar, I bought walnuts at the rate of Rs 850/kg while in Delhi they sell at Rs 1400/Kg. Same goes with Almonds also. Also the quality in Kashmir is very good and they are fresh.

          My facebook id is given above in ” About Sahil ” Column. You can send me yours or your husbands friend request there.

          Sahil

  • rkumar02 says:

    Very nice Sahil.
    I drove down in last Oct but took whole day…had been driving 25km/H and enjoying beauty of hill.
    That time Panipat – Ambala was big pain and eat my time..seems still in same condition. Also Zirakpur to Kalka was big pain that I heard that smooth now after opening up flyovers. Oh, yes I can see my relative home in one of your snap taken from Hotel white. I stay in lakkar bazar ..his house is just down the hotel white…

    Very good snaps..really amaze to see how you manage taking such good photographs while driving and offcourse milestones so tempting to hit the paddle of my car..

  • Sahil says:

    @ R.Kumar…..Thank you so much for your sweet words. Yes offcourse milestones really give an itch for driving more.

    Sahil

  • Ajay says:

    Great work .you gave a clear picture about your road journey, i am also planning one to shimla.

  • sameer says:

    hey sahil i am planning a delhi delhi shimla run by 24th so,please tell me how many places are there en route shimla,in shimla and near about shimla that one can visit and what will be the best route to go there while enjoying the scenery…???

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Sameer ,
    1. The best route to Shimla is – Delhi – Chandigarh – Kalka – Solan – Kandaghat – Shimla

    2. The main places to visit in Shimla are – The Visceral Lodge ( Indian Institute of Advanced Studies) , Jakhoo Temple , Tara devi Temple which is at NH-22 before Shimla , The Mall and the Ridge are the all time favourite.

    3. Regarding the Places ahead of Shimla – Try to drive upto Kufri – It offers some very good Views.
    Also go to Mashobra and Naldehra – It gives some fantastic scenic views.
    If you have one more day in hand , while coming back to Delhi try and visit Kasauli. You will really like it.

    Rest you can go through my other parts of the Himachal series.

    Sahil

  • sameer says:

    @sahil,thanks and the planning is still on and we are now thinking to go to chail and kasauli as shimla is prety crowded..!!

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      @Sameer ,

      It is correct that Shimla is now crowded as particularly it is a tourist season. In my views you can skip Chail as it does not has much to see except the Maharaja Palace. Instead you can go to Narkanda which is 70 Km ahead of Shimla. In Narkanda , you can go upto Hatu Peak which provides some stunning views.

      Kasauli, you can surely make a visit , really a serene place.

      Sahil

  • sameer says:

    Sahil,
    thanks alot for your opinion and vil surely look forward for narkanda instead of chail as my priority while going there is that i want place to be beautiful and less crowdy..and ya hatu peak was there on my list and vil surely visit that place…and ya one question for you what all routes are available to go to kasauli..???

    sameer

  • sameer says:

    @sahil,

    thanks alot..and i have already gone through all your post,which are veryhelpful to me.

    sameer

  • sameerg001 says:

    @sahil,
    what will be the weather conditions in kasauli,do we require to take light woolens or cotton clots will work??

    please suggest

    sameer

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      @ Sameer ,
      Kasauli at this time of the year would be hot . You might not need any wollens for Kasauli , but take some light cardigan or jackets along with you as you may need them for some other places. Overall the temperature would not be much cold in any of the places you have planned. The temperature in Shimla would be around 25-30 degrees in this time.

      Sahil

  • sameer says:

    @sahil,

    thanks alot for all the info and answering my queries,now i have skipped chail as you suggested and will be going to either narkanda or naldhera.

    sameer

  • Sundeep Sharma says:

    Awesome trip dude….

    Very informative article. I am also planning to Simla from Delhi this weekend.

    Can anyone confirm if the weather is supportive.

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      @ Sandeep ,

      The weather would be cool due to monsoon. As Sameer told , it would be a foggy weather. So Best of Luck for your trip and drive safe. And Yes , thanks for liking the post.

      Sahil

  • sameer says:

    @sudeep
    yes the weather there is awesome at this point you will be welcomed by fog everywhere which u will really enjoy sighting,have a nice trip.

    Sameer

  • ajit says:

    Hi,

    Dost..how was the roads and driving conditions in shimla ,
    i never drive in hilly area , so can i go with my car – you suggest me

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      Ajit , The roads to Shimla are practically good , broad and easy to drive.

      Hilly driving is not at all difficult. Just keep a few things in mind
      1. Never overtake on turns and blow horns on turns.
      2. Always make use of your handbrake when stopping your car while ascending or descending.
      3. Drive slow and dont overspeed speciallyt in hills.

      So go ahead. I guess you will have no difficulty in driving.

      Sahil

  • I am in love with Shimla. The weather remains pleasant at all months of the year and its a nice tourist destination.

  • Gaurav says:

    The best kind of review, with pics of course!

    Thankyou very much yar!

  • Adite says:

    Hi Sahil. Thanks for putting up this info about your road trip to Kasauli. I have a question… Is there any other alternative route to Kasauli from Delhi? Thanks!

  • Sahil Sethi says:

    Hi Adite,

    The default route to Kasauli is the same which I have mentioned – Delhi – Chandigarh – Dharampur – Kasauli(New Kasauli Road)
    The other route is Delhi – Chandigarh – Parwanoo – Kasauli (Old Kasauli road)

    Sahil

  • Maddy says:

    Hi Sahil,

    Nice post. I was browsing for some information to reach Shimla from Delhi. In fact I need to go to Solan accompanying 5 girl students for a school competition next month. Will you please clarify

    1. Is it necessary to Go to Shimla to reach Solan or from Kalka itself we could reach Solan
    2. Is there any Cab companies that you could suggest in Delhi? What would be the Taxi fare? Are there bigger vehicle which could accommadate 7 or 8 persons?
    3. Reading your post I feel it would be apprx 9hrs to Shimla. How long it would take to go to Solan?
    4. Are there A/C Buses ( HP Tourism or Private operators) available from delhi in the mornings to have a scenic trip? Would you help me with their contact numbers or websites?

    For your information, i will be flying to down to Delhi in the early morning, so planning to headdown to Solan stright. What would you suggest?

    Thanks in advance

    • Sahil Sethi says:

      Thanks Madhavan.

      Solan comes before Shimla. So no need to go to Shimla. There are regular buses(Ordinary, AC and Volvos) from Delhi To Shimla. Take the ticket till Solan and get down there.

      Delhi to Solan would take around 7-8 hrs.

      Regarding the website, visit the HRTC Website and go through the timetable of Delhi – Shimla buses.

      Regards.

  • Ajay says:

    Very informative

  • Ambi says:

    Thanks for this information . It’s really helpful for the first timer. Well written.
    Really Appreciate!!
    Ambi

  • richa sharma says:

    It is an excellent post on roads of Chandigarh.Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Amandeep Singh says:

    can any one tell me the total toll tax from delhi to kasauli??? Thanks in advance…

  • Bindu says:

    Hi Sahil
    We are planning to drive down to Naldhera from Noida in March (though I have booked train tickets!!) Had a few questions please:

    1. How are roads
    2. Is it safe to drive – only my husband would drive. We have Baleno RS.
    3. How long would it take to reach Naldhera, assuming we would take a break for b/f
    4. What is be best route – via Chandigarh? or would you suggest some other route.
    5. From when would the hilly drive actually start? We have driven to Narendra Nagar (place beyond Rishikesh), Mussorie and Dehradun. Is the drive similar or any different.

    Thank you.
    Bindu

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Hello Bindu,

    Sahil has not been active at Ghumakkar for a while now, so let me try to answer.

    Roads are very good, all through. Yes, it is completely safe to drive and more so in a sturdy vehicle like Balero. From Noida, please plan for a total travel time of 10 hours, including one break for lunch and another break for fuel/bio-break/tea. You do not need to go to Chandigarh. From Zirakpur, go towards Panckula, Kalka, Simla and Naldhera.

    Hilly drive would start from Kalka. There is new fantastic expressway, Himalayan Expressway which bypass the Kalka city. You would have much taller mountains than what you would have experienced at Narendra Nagar or Dehradun. Unlike Doon-Mussorrie road, the Simla road is wider and sees much more traffic so remain steady and keep going. It is going to be a very rewarding experience.

    All the best.

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