Trip to Himachal- Paradise on Earth

#1 Sep 16th, 2017, 23:11
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  • touraddict71 is offline
#1
Dear Friends,

Last year I planned a trip to Hiamachal. Before I started my trip I collected many valuable inputs from this forum and it is you all who provided many such important inputs in my earlier trips too. I am not very active in this forum but fond of reading your reports and information that you provide now and then.

I therefore feel the urge to contribute something whenever I get a chance to. The state Himachal Pradesh is not a new name to the tourists and I know there are many reports as well. But with time, the reports become outdated and hence I think we should post recent reports even if such already exists.

Rest is on you how you like it.

This is going to be a bit lengthy. Please excuse me if you feel bored.

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As mentioned last year we visited HP. After making all adjustments such as leaves of my spouse and me, the vacations of my son's school etc. we could manage 12-13 days to utilise. Our journey commenced on 8th Oct from Howrah and the return was scheduled on 20th Oct via Amritsar. The team consisted of 5 members with my son as junior as a kid and my in-laws who were senior citizens. Earlier we had read about Himachal and its beauty.This state was also not explored before by anyone of us (except me who happened to visit Paonta Sahib for 2 days for some official reason) and that increased our excitement manifold.

According to the plan, we were to go to Chandigarh, by Kalka mail and continue to Shimla by road afterwards.With great interest we started in the afternoon of 8th Oct. The train was scheduled at 7:40 PM for departure but as it was Saptami , anticipating the traffic jams in the evening we started early.

So, as planned we booked an Ola cab and reached Howrah station around 5 PM. After that we had no other choice but to pass time till 7 PM roaming here and there and gossiping.

The train started 5 mins late. After placing the luggage properly and getting settled, we had our dinner which we brought with us. It was about 30 hrs journey which will take two nights. The first night and the following morning somehow passed in the train.As I mentioned, we were supposed to drop at Chandigarh which as per the schedule was about 3 AM at night. So we decided to sleep early. We had already booked a cab from Kolkata in advance for the rest of the journey i.e from Chandigarh to Amritsar. The driver in Chandigarh already called me and confirmed his arrival and asked me to inform him when we reach Ambala. By the time we went to sleep (10 PM) the train was already 1 hr late.

I woke up around 2 AM by the noise being made by our fellow co-passengers who were planning to get off at Ambala. I came to know that the train was late by one and a half hour. Finally, around 3:30 AM it reached Ambala and I called my driver as decided. The train reached Chandigarh at 4:00 AM and we got off with our luggage and came out of the station. The Innova we booked was already there. We quickly got into the car and started for Shimla. It was all dark outside except the street lights located here and there. So we could not witness much of the roadside beauties of the journey.

10/10/2016
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We reached hotel Gulmarg Regency at Shimla around 7 AM. The Check-in time was 12:00 PM and as all the rooms were still occupied by the boarders,we were told to wait there till 10 AM to get the rooms. I asked my in-laws to sit and wait at the reception as they were too tired to explore nearby locations that time. It was a sunny morning with cool breeze blowing. We all had a cup of tea at the hotel. After that we 3 (my son and my spouse accompanied me) decided to go for a stroll.

And... it was so charming outside... The hotel entrance was a little crowded as it was on the road which was being used by incoming and outgoing boarders along with tourists and pedestrians.

Coming out, we decided to go to the left without knowing what was there. The views were very different from a congested city like kolkata as one can imagine. I took a few snaps with my canon digital. The road was going uphill and we were on the lookout for a good restaurant to have our breakfast/lunch later after we get our rooms. We would have gone further when we received a call from our in-laws at the hotel and came to know that rooms were allotted to us.
So we returned to our hotel and got into our room.

The rooms were as it used to be in hilly areas. Wooden floors and the roof was embedded with mirrors. A circular type of double bed with blankets and wrappers placed in the middle. There was a balcony attached to the room. A Television set was placed at the corner. Clean towels, soaps etc were placed properly. The toilets were equipped with hot and cold water facilities. All seemed to be fine except that we didn't find enough points to charge our mobile ,camera, laptops etc.

It took an hour to make ourselves ready and then we left the hotel to explore Shimla. We stayed there for that night only and hence didn't have enough time to see places which were far from Shimla. Moreover, we were also tired after the long journey. Hence we decided to explore only areas which we could manage walking on foot. We started for Shimla Kali bari. It was very near to the hotel and we reached there in 20 mins by walking. It was Navami and the Arati was going on in full swing. We spent some time there and visited goddess Kali and the other sides of the Kali bari.

We found that there was a canteen downstairs where we can have our lunch. It was not a great lunch. However, it satisfied our hunger and we started for the famous Shimla Mall. Vehicles were not allowed at the mall. This is a place which remains crowded always by tourists, school/college students etc. The views were good. There was a church at one side and beside that, a road went downstairs towards the 'Ridge' , a market place in Shimla.
We spent some time sitting at the mall and having some popcorn etc and then visited the church. We went downwards to walk along the Ridge and see various stalls, shops etc. We saw people eating fruit salads being served by the vendors. We also bought one which cost Rs 50 per plate. It contained slices of Kiwi, Persimmon , Guava (Red) etc. The fruits were tasty specially the Persimmon. I never had this anywhere, neither I heard about it. The color of the fruit is almost like a tomato and sweet to taste.
After roaming for some more time , we decided to return to our hotel and have some tea and take rest. The sun was going to set and the wind was getting colder . So we returned to our hotel. Next day our plan was to visit Bhuntar in kulu district which was about 6 hrs from Shimla. Hence we packed our luggage and went to bed early after our dinner.

Contd...
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#2 Sep 19th, 2017, 01:23
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#2
11/10/2016
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It was a cold morning. We quickly freshened up and got ready for the onward journey. Our driver reached in time and called us. This driver was different from the one who had brought us in Shimla. He is a sardar in his 30's. not very conversant in Hindi or English except Punjabi. He assured us that he was going to stay with us for the rest of the journey till Amritsar. In Shimla we didn't get time for sightseeing in true sense. So we were excited about any place worth visiting during our journey.
We started around 7:30 AM. Our destination was Bhuntar. It is a small town in kulu district and was about 200 km from Shimla. On the way we halted at Mandi which was little more than halfway between Shimla and Bhuntar. It is a town in Mandi district in Himachal. By the time we reached Mandi we were feeling hungry. It was around 12 PM. Our driver being a Sardar suggested us to visit the Gurudwara and avail ourselves of the langar which we agreed to. The Gurudwara was like any other Gurudwara but it had some historical significance. Guru Govind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru had spent some time there. The Gurdwara was also called as Gurudwara Palang Sahib, as the Guru's Bed 'Palang' is still preserved here.
After our visit we took the langar. It was around 1 PM when we finished our lunch. Our driver was waiting at the cab for us and we resumed our journey. The temperature was more compared to that of Shimla as we approached Bhuntar and we started feeling hot. Finally, we reached Bhuntar at 4 PM. We had booked Hotel Sangam near the Beas Parvati Sangam. The rooms were good and there was a verandah attached to our room which gave a good view of the meandering Beas river flowing through the mountains.
We reached Bhuntar during Dussera and Dussera celebrations were going on. We took rest for some time, had some tea and snacks and decided to visit the Dussera celebrations. It takes place every year at Dhalpur Maidan (Ground) which was about 10 km from our hotel at Bhuntar.
Our driver was not very willing to go but somehow we managed him and around 7 PM we reached at the ground. It was nothing but a big ground where the mela was organized. This is a weeklong festival which starts with a procession of Lord Raghunath, along with other deities, carried on a Ratha across the town. The village gods and minor deities are also a part of this celebration.
We saw many stalls being erected here and there. Generally, in any mela, we see shops are setup under open sky. But there we found most of the small shops were housed inside big semicircular tents. As that was the first day we didn't see anything remarkable. After spending some time we returned to our hotel.

12/10/2016
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We spent one night at Bhuntar and the next day after having our morning tea and bath we started our journey towards Manali. The plan was to visit Manikaran on the way and then head towards Manali. It is located at a distance of 35 kms approx. from Bhuntar. We had to cross the Beas river to go to Manikaran. The views were magnificient having high mountains with lush green vegetation surrounding the entire path on our journey. There is a Gurudwara which all the tourists used to visit. This place is famous for hot Sulphur springs revered by both Hindus and Sikhs pilgrims. The hot boiling water of the sulphur spring mixes naturally with the ice cold water of the river and stored in a pool. People used to take a holy dip in the water. Separate arrangements are mades for male and females for this purpose. The Gurudwara is a multi storied building on the bank of the river. We explored all the floors and then went for the langar. By the time we completed already 2 hrs passed. So we resumed our journey towards Manali. It meant coming back 35 km till Bhuntar and then take the Manali route.

View of Beas River from Bhuntar and a glimpse of the Gurudwara at Manikaran
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Attached Images
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Last edited by touraddict71; Sep 19th, 2017 at 11:49..
#3 Sep 19th, 2017, 12:52
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Naggar
---------
We had to travel another 50-60 km to reach Manali. We planned to visit Naggar castle which would come on the way. This was a settlement on the top of the mountain which was renovated by HPTDC and now being used as a heritage site.

Accommodation was also available. This is a small establishment in kulu.THis place is also used for film shooting purposes. After spending some time, there we started for Manali.

Manali
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It was about 3 PM when we reached Manali. Our driver was not very familiar with these routes and I had to help him with Google maps to find our hotel. I booked hotel Rohtang Manalsu online through Himachal Tourism website. The location of

the hotel was very good with thick deodar and pine forest in the background. Manali appeared to be very cold compared to Bhuntar and as it was already late, the sun light was dim and we felt shivering. We had not had our lunch yet and were

hungry. So we placed our order at the reception itself and went to our room. to freshen ourselves. I generally prefer govt hotels where ever I go and nowhere I was disappointed. Being a govt. property the hotels are generally located at very

good places with all the basic amenities and ample space at a reasonable price. They lack maintenance some times though. But here in Manali the rooms are small and old. It was furnished with a double bed, a center table and a sofa. The

television set was fixed to the wall. We found it difficult to unpack our suitcases due to lack of space. Later we identified that the hotel had a newly built setup at one side of the campus. We spent two nights there and somehow we adjusted, as

otherwise it was good enough.

After resting there for about an hour and having our afternoon snacks and tea we decided to visit Mall road. Our car was parked inside the hotel premises and we planned to visit the nearby places on foot. The mall road was about a km from our

hotel. There was a nature park on the way to which we didn't enter. Like Shimla, the Manali Mall is a busy market place with lot of shops on the two sides of the road. No vehicle is allowed there. Seating arrangements have been made for the

tourists where one can sit and watch the activities of the tourists and passersby.After sitting there for some time we thought to explore the market. We had heard that fruits like apples, kiwi, persimmon were famous in HP and hoped that we

would see some apple orchards and would be fortunate enough to pluck sweet fresh juicy apples from the trees. But as the harvesting season ends in sept, all the apples were already plucked and sent to the Market in October. However, we

could see them in the market. We bought two apples and two percimons to taste. The fruits were sweet indeed and I decided to bring some of those fruits when I return.

Meanwhile the dusk had set in and we returned to our hotel.
There were quite a few places to see in Manali e.g Hadimba Temple, Clubhouse, Manali Mall, Solang Valley, Rohtang Pass, Nature Park etc. Before reaching Manali, we had a plan to visit Rohtang Pass. But on reaching there we found the permit

itself was taking 3 days whereas we were to stay there only for 2 days. Moreover, one objective of going there was to see the beauty of the snow covered roads and mountains. We talked to some tourists who hadalready visited Rohtang Pass

and came to know that there was no snowfall in Rohtang Pass. Also due to heavy crowd during the puja vacations, it took them about 6 hours to reach Rohtang and hence they didn't enjoy the journey. So we gave up our plan to visit Rohtang

Passs and decided to visit Solang next morning.

We thought to have an early dinner and so left our hotel to explore any food joint nearby. We found one just outside our hotel premises. The restaurant was Hadimba Dhaba. It was cold outside and we reached there in search of tasty, hot and

fresh food. This restaurant was operated by women. The lady owner herself makes soft tasty hot handmade chapatis and her team prepares the curry etc. We were served with the food in about 15 mins.
After finishing our dinner, we returned to our hotel only to go to bed.ee

Beautiful Landscapes... and Nagar Castle
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Attached Images
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Last edited by touraddict71; Sep 19th, 2017 at 17:50..

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