Unforgettable Himachal: Chail, Mcleodganj, Solang and Naggar

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#1 Apr 18th, 2014, 15:22
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#1
Hello my fellow IMers,
I am just back from Himachal gathering a pack of memories in mind for a lifetime.
I will be sharing with you the enchanting experience of my 10 days in the lap of the dreamy Himalayan province.
Our itinerary was as following:
March 11th -12th :Chail Palace Hotel, Chail (HPTDC)
March 13th 14th : Hotel Bhagsu, Mcleodganj (HPTDC)
March 15th 17th :Solang Valley Resort, Solang.
March 18th :Naggar Castle, Naggar (HPTDC)
#2 Apr 18th, 2014, 15:32
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As it was in the month of March, we had hoped that there would at least be the trailing snows in some parts of Himachal. But mother nature was too kind on us. There were some special plans for us in her store.
Journey Starts:
10th March
Me and my husband, on a honeymoon trip, set out by Air India for Delhi. We visited our Aunt’s place in Dwarka and left for Old Delhi Station at about 7 in the evening. We never expected Kalka mail to be on time (8.45 pm scheduled at Old Delhi Junction), as it’s track record advises for so, still we left moderately late than needed. When the IRCTC information system vowed that Kalka mail is running on time, we could not believe our ears. Then we got out of our astonishment as we saw the Old Delhi display board showing the Kalka mail to be running 2 hours late. As the night deepened, leaving us impatient and frustrated, the 2 hours increased phase by phase, from 3 to 4 to finally 6 hours 10 minutes, and the train reached at 2:55 am. We got to know that it has arrived about 1 hours earlier than its usual time. Ha ha…
Anyways, we boarded the train and it left at 3:25 am (Thank god, it is scheduled to halt for 1 hours in Kalka). We were allotted a 2 Bed coupe in the 1-AC, although you don’t have the choice to book particular seats in 1-AC coupes.

11th March
Morning at Kalka.So pleasant. Although not so early, still at 9:25 am, Kalka gave a refreshing feel after last night’s soooo long wait at the waiting room , as there was the first sighting of the hills in this journey. Shivalik was waiting on Platform 6, which was just close to platform 4, where Kalka Mail anchored in. We were afraid for quite a while that we would miss the so desired Shivalik ride due to this delay. But is it a regular rule, Shivalik waits for Kalka mail to arrive as it is a linking train.
Shivalik set off at 10 am. As it slowly mounted up, the view outside became more and more beautiful. Tall pine trees and step farms crowded on the Hills. We noticed a sort of beautiful tree, small in height and spread, but packed with beautiful white and pink flowers all over with no leaves. Just to tell here, the entire journey, we would be seeing them all around. We came to know that this flower is called Palam (White one) and Kharamani (Pink one). Both of these make delicious fruit juice and also contribute to some medications. We had one halt in the track, that’s Barog. Such a small and beautiful hill station.





Joyride on Toy train, Kalka-Shimla Railways



"Meri Sapno ki Rani" Sequence from the Hindi Movie "Aradhana"




The Beautiful Barog Station, Kalka-Shimla Railways



The train reached Shimla at 3’o clock. It was 8 degrees outside. We were immediately frozen as soon as we got down at the Shimla station. We were wondering to be so cold at 8 degrees only, when we, to our utter surprise and joy, got to hear that it has been snowing since morning and could snow anytime now and then. Narkanda has been cut out. We hired a cab to Chail Palace Hotel, where we had reserved for tonight and set off. We were close to Kufri, when it started to snow. We were more than just happy to experience our first snow fall. Kufri was under the blanket of snow. Everywhere we could see was white. The rooves of the houses, braches of trees, lines beside the roads – were all covered.
Our Driver Ji said that Chail will be much colder than Shimla as it is completely inside forest. We looked at each other this “cool” information.





It took about 50 minutes to reach Chail Palace Hotel from Shimla Station.
As soon as we came out of the car, we felt that the warning by our Driver ji was so true. Our bones seemed to have frosted in the chilly wind. We rushed into the lobby. What a grand interior. But we had no eye to see the splash of elegance right now. We were taken to the Rajkumar Suite (Room 211). It was a large room. It has long curtains, a big mirror and a set of Sofa other than the Bed, which all bore the royal aroma of this house. We really needed to lit the fireplace as the room heater was not enough for that big a room to fight the biting cold. After hours of spending near the Fire place, we came to be acclimatized.
We ordered Chinese food in dinner, which was quite delicious.
Last edited by Bias_Traveller; Apr 18th, 2014 at 17:56.. Reason: merged
#3 Apr 18th, 2014, 16:17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bias_Traveller View Post
"Meri Sapno ki Rani" Sequence from the Hindi Movie "Aradhana"
Wrong railway. It was filmed on the Darjeeling Himalayan Line.

#4 Apr 18th, 2014, 16:17
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"Ranchor Das Chanchar" scene from the movie "3 Idiots" was shot in this lobby


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave W View Post Wrong railway. It was filmed on the Darjeeling Himalayan Line.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo1MykK4u8U

Correct. It was shot in Darjeeling. But the sequence is same. You may notice a car is passing by the train. The scene is equivalent. That is why I said the sequence is same, not the place

12th March
Today was the day of our actual venture. We started from the palace itself in the morning. The palace was really big with beautifully decorated interiors and furnished with old regal furniture and lanterns all over. In the lobby, they had the Piano, arms, a statue of a soldier, the portraits of Maharaja Balvinder Singh and Maharani Maninder Kaur, imported mirrors and other gorgeous pieces of royalty. The Lobby is the place where the “Ranchhor Das Chanchar” scene from the movie “3 Idiots” was shot. They have a Billiards rooms there, which we could not avail as it was closed then. Just opposite to our rooms, there was the Maharaja Suite, that’s the best suite in the hotel. The palace was built in the year 1891 by Raja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and was turned into a hotel by HPTDC in 1972. The hotel is surrounded by deep tall pine and crucifers, which make the place misty and beautiful. We walked up the hills along the bends. But the cricket ground was far ahead to reach by walking, so we had a miss.

Daffodils in the garden


The Lawn












The Royal Heritage




13th March
We left for Mcleodganj today. Past the Ashwinighatriver, which supplies water to Shimla, we reached the town of Shimla. We did not have a planning to explore around the town or to shop due to today’s journey would take at least 8/9 hours, if we didn’t stop midway. We just went to the Shimla Kalibari across the mall which took about 1 hour and then came down by the lift after having a good breakfast. Then we started again. We crossed Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Jwalamukhi temple and it was dusk. We had a crisp lunch at Hamirpur. But could not avoid getting late than expected. But as we entered Kangra, we were taken aback by the great Grand Dhauladhar plunging in the background only making it magnanimous and heavenly. The range was hugely standing over the plains of Kangra. We wondered, being so close to Mcleodganj, we were still on Plains. But how wrong we were.Mcleodganj was far ahead. Dhauladhar looked so enigmatic in the twilight that in spite of this long long journey (we were 10 hours on road now), we were staring charmed at her. Then cameDharamshala. It was dark so we could not envisage the beauty Dharamshala possessed. Passing the market areas, we were still mounting. And this time the road was extremely narrow and curvy. Each curve pulled the road up to metres. Beside the steep and dangerous road, Dharamshala was visible down under with all her lightened beauty, and Dhauladhar was standing tall glittering in moonlight. We were anxious as we didn’t have a hint where we were going through deserted roads, there was no sign of civilization up the road, except aone army barrack, even our Driver ji had never come on this road before. Still. We were mesmerized with the view the snow capped Himalaya offered us in such twilight. I can never forget the view. Its certainly a scene stored in my eyes for my lifetime.
Then all of a sudden, a bustling town appeared in the arena. We were relieved to see the lively streets and shops of Mcleodganj. I never had an idea that Mcleodganj could be so populated. Rolling up the streets, we reached HPTDC’s hotel Bhagsu at 8:10 pm. They took a gigantic Rs.7000/- by an Alto, since it was a long way up. We were very tired but were able to capture the serenity of the place. We checked in The Bhagsu Suite (Room 215).

From the Kangra Art Museum






14th March
It’s such a lovely morning with a view of nearby sky-high snow peaks from the hotel window and the harmony of chirping birds. The peaks were so close that it seemed that they originated just outside the hotel.
Hotel Bhagsu has the best location in Mcleodganj. There is no residential hotel beyond this point. The hotel has quite a big lawn in the premises. We took another Alto (It’s a reign of Altos in Himachal) arranged by the Hotel, and left for local site seeing at about 10. First we went to the Kangra Art Museum. We personally liked the place very much as it had a good collection of art pieces, crafts work, archeological specimen, historical narrations and social and economical symbols of not only Kangra, but also whole Himachal, especially the Silk route and Kinnaur. We then moved to the Kangra tea garden and the War memorial.

The beautiful Palam Flower


Kangra Tea Garden


Martyrs' Memorial @ Dharamshala








Next we went to the Dharamshala Cricket Ground which we liked a lot. I wondered how they concentrate on the ball leaving all these aside there.



We climbed up past Triund and reached Bhagsunag temple and Bhagsunag Waterfall. A swimming pool and hundreds jumping inside have destroyed the peacefulness and serenity of the Bhagsunag temple. Bhagsunag waterfall is high enough but we have seen much beautiful ones. So Bhagsunag didn’t appear to be much fascinating to us. But to our wonder, we got Himachali art pieces at almost 1/10th price here than in other places, even that in Mcleodganj. Hence, we fell in marketing in a second after we got to hear the price. I don’t know how bad quality material may be they are made up of, but I, till date, haven’t been able to differentiate between the real pieces I have and the ones I bought from here, whether I consider the looks or even durability. To tell here, the road up to Mcleodganj is thronged with craft shops all around.
We had lunch in the Hotel Ashoka International which was so-so.

The Bhagsunag




Bhagsunag Waterfall


We moved to the Dal lake in Dharamshala. The way we came through, or even the place itself was a treat to the eyes. The lake was not something extraordinary, but also not that bad I had come to read in some of the trip reports. The solitude of the place was good enough for spending a minute or more near the lake.

Rhododendrons on the way




The Daal Lake



Then we went to the place which we would term as the most beautiful site in Dharamshala. That is Naddi View point. The place is nothing but a earthy path on which you can stand and see enormously beautiful and probably the widest range of Himalaya visible from the Kangra District. May be because small white pieces of clouds were floating on the foreground and making the snowy mountains even more picturesque, it appeared to be so wonderful to us. People were standing with binoculars on tripods that were meant for tourists to view the snow, avalanches and snow storms on the so far but visibly so proximal mountains.

Naddi View Point, Dharamshala










Next was the St.John’s Church in the Wilderness. It is a now dilapidated church inside a forest of Rhododendrons. The Cemetery there made us think about the old fellows sleeping down for hundreds of years .







Our last and final destination for the day is Dalai llama’s temple. We has to deposit our cell phones and cameras at the gate and pass through a checking to enter the main building. Notably, the stony face of the men at the counter and checking posts were sans the usual Himachali innocence.
As soon as we entered the monastery, we heard some weird and scary sounds, as if emerging from a fierce animal’s throat. It was utterly grave and frightening. The prayer hall was ahead and we peeped in from the window. Here we found out that the sound was being produced by a senior llama who was standing in front of all monks and placing a palm against his mouth, making those unearthly sounds. There were accompanying llamas also but he must be the head of the pack. Facing him, on a grand chair, sitting was an old monk, who we guessed was the immediate hierarchy to Dalai Llama in the shrine. Dalai llama, expectedly, was away from public and his residential block was somewhere aside from public viewing. Baby and child llamas were sitting in a particular place, most of them yawning. :P. But common to all of them, no smiles.
To mention, we saw several foreigner llamas roaming around the streets of Mcleodganj and Dharamshala, but it was real surprise to see female llamas which I never knew to be happening.
Coming out of here, we saw a dashboard. It displayed some photos of Tibetans who set themselves on fire in battle for an independent motherland. Most of them were around 20 years of age, both male and female. Leaves us thinking.



Have you seen such a jovial monk?


On the streets of Mcleodganj


15th March
We are on the way to Solang today. Via the ChamundadeviMandir, Gopalpur zoo, Palampur Tea Estate, the scenic Baijnath Temple and Jogindernagar, we reached Mandi. Here we had our lunch. Advancing from here, near Pandog Dam, we saw paragliders traversing above the pine forests. After a few miles, was Hanogimata’s temple by the road side. The local drivers will certainly stop here and also request passengers to have a visit, since a miss might create a trouble on road, as per the legends.

On the way to Solang








Baijnath Temple






Crossing the Bhuntar Airport in Kullu, we reached Manali, and snowy peaks again welcomed us with all her grace. Dark was gradually setting in. We were befriended by the beautiful Beas and she kept up with us till the end. As we bent up from the bridge beside Hotel Beas by HP tourism, a sky full of Dhauladhar made the canvas on the other side of Beas. We saw the first spell of snow on the roads and houses in between Manali and Solang. As we moved upwards to Solang, snow started building higher and higher walls beside the road. There was no other car in the stretch.it seemed as if we were travelling alone in a snowy world. At about 7’o clock, we saw a hotel standing behind snow walls on the other side of a bridge. This was the single one within around 5 kms of span. the hotel had almost disappeared behind snow, but the nameplate at the crown of the gate announced that this only is our destination Solang Valley Resort.

Last edited by Bias_Traveller; Apr 19th, 2014 at 20:32.. Reason: merged
#5 Apr 18th, 2014, 16:59
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What a visual treat ....

U n I.... in this beautiful world.....green grass blue sky.....U n I......
#6 Apr 18th, 2014, 16:59
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Orchestra @ the Solang Valley Resort


We were in a state of enchantment. The main door could not be opened as snow had blocked the way out. We entered by a smaller gate and came to the reception building. The hotel is beautiful by every aspect to measure. Set amidst a jaw-dropping location, classily decorated and cozy. After all the formal signatures and all, we moved to our room 320. For that, we had to walk to a different building, and that through a snowy landscape under Holi-Purnima’s Full moon light.
We reached our room and immediately our eyes rushed towards the balcony across the glass wall. We came out to the balcony and our eyes forgot to blink. The hotel is situated just below some peaks that embark up to the sky where the hotel compound finishes. All you can see is snow and snow. Up above the Dhauladhar, the moon has risen, making the snow peaks glittering like diamond. It’s an out of the world view I will probably never be able to forget. We could hear two sounds only. One – River Beas floating nearby. And two - Sound of silence. It seemed there is no one in the world, no lights of civilization visible apart from the hotel lights. No cars passing by, no human voices, although we knew that there are other guests in the resort, we could see or hear any sign of life anywhere around.
But all good things has to come to an end. So we could not bear the chilling wind any more and had to come back into the room.
We had a grand dinner. Despite being situated in such remote location, they had arranged a room of good food and all tasted excellent. They had arranged an Orchestra. The breakfast and dinner comes under the package.

16th March
The day started with viewing the snow clad White Solang Valley. The hotel is surrounded by apple orchards. The apple trees are now looking pale and dead. No leaves, no sign of life. The Crucifers have created a contrasting black shade in the background of white. The basket ball court, road side lights and others are almost under snow. River Beas exists with a very lame flow with the major part of river bed frozen. There is an alley path beside the hotel, which mounts up to the Solang valley Snow point. Traders are seen to take their horses by that path for tourists. The bridge that we had crossed last evening to reach SVR has been shown in many films like Tango Charlie.

From the Balcony of the Resort




Apple trees From the Balcony of the Solang Valley Resort














We will today get down to Manali for a sight seeing, which included Vashishth temple, Hadimba Temple, Ghatotkach temple, SailiMahadev temple and Manali Clubhouse, where we drenched our feet in Beas.

Towards Manali





Vashishth Temple




Hadimba Temple


Saili Mahadev Temple


Wooden Carving, Saili Mahadev Temple


Beas River @ Club House


Himachali Innocence




Frozen Beas Bed






Basket Ball Ground, Solang Valley Resort


Horse Ride Traders


On return, we got a surprise of our room getting upgraded to the best suite in the resort, i.e., The Presidential suite. You get these facilities when its an off-season. This evening they arranged a folk dance, which they called “Kulminati”, meaning Kullukinatika (festival of the Kullu district), all executed by the hotel employees themselves. Today we had buffet arrangement both in breakfast and dinner. The unique Himachali delicacy that we tasted here is Rhododendron Juice.

Inside the Presidential Suite




17th March
It’s a cloudy day. The peaks have hidden behind clouds. Today we are about to walk up to the Solang Valley. But today being the Holi, tourists from Hariyana, delhi and Punjab have rushed to the valleys. Yesterday’s quiet Solang has faced a traffic jam today. Roads have been blocked by cars parked. Himachali men and women have placed their stuffs beside the roads, that include heavy waterproof coats and boots, eateries. People are travelling towards the snow point on horses. We walked for sometime and then again returned to the hotel as it was not possible to go up to the highest point walking. Also, it had started raining a little. But there, we got a good news. Rather a splendid one. The peaks that look to have covered with clouds, are actually having heavy snowfall. That is why its raining down here, and we can easily expect to have snow in the night.

Towards the Snow Point






Traffic Jam towards the Snow Point






Snow molten Streams on the road side


Beas


Solang Valley Resort



Tonight, they arranged a candle light dinner for us.

18th March
All white washed. As our eyes opened, we got to see a new world. The black foreground made by the apple trees and crucifers till yesterday, has been abolished. All has turned white. It has snowed whole night and was still snowing. We got out in the balcony and saw that the floor has turned white too. On the staircase outside, on the branches of the apple trees, on the basket ball court, everywhere, the only visible thing is snow. We took an umbrella and left for the restaurant building to enjoy the snow.











Stair Case


Snow on Branches








Road Being Cleared






We had checked out, it was our last morning on Solang. We didn’t want to go, but we have too. We set out for our next destination, Naggar Castle, amidst heavy snowfall. It was -7/8 Degree centigrade outside. We were gloom but eyed towards the next with the heavenly Solang filling in our minds.













We did our first White Water Rafting on Beas in Kullu. We flew down 7kms and our Alto chased us the whole way by the parallel road. Our very amiable and an absolute gentleman Driver ji was so very enthusiastic to take our snaps up from the road up hill. It is because of him we have those lovely photos clicked during rafting.





We then had a bit of marketing in the Kullu Shawl markets, and then finally headed towards Naggar Castle.

Kharmani at Full Bloom







Palam Bloom




Naggar is a peaceful small village on Kullu Valley with her own rural charm. But after the dreamy Solang, we thought we could have skipped the place. Not that nagger had no charm, but its quite a place with neither having the waves to the flowing life, nor the kaleidoscopic beauty that other places had. Still one can spend a day of leisure in the castle. We checked in the Fozal Peak Suite. The corridor in front had a nice view of the Kullu Valley with the Beas penetrating amidst and the Himalaya overlooking her. As most of the tourists of Kullu take a visit to this castle as a part of site seeing only, avoiding a night stay, the hotel did not have any other rooms reserved. The restaurant is also moderately run.

River View from the Naggar Castle








But the castle itself looks beautiful. It is built with wood and stones. It was made by Raja Siddhi Singh and the castle reflects that royal touch. Deer heads hung beside the doors, vintage lamps, and Himachali Wooden Carving make their presence felt. There is a small museum and an emporium inside the castle. The song “Ye IshqHaye” from the film “Jab We Met” was filmed here.













19th March
Its our last day in Himachal. We took a walk in the village towards the Reorich Art gallery. But it was being tough to climb up so much. So we returned to the castle very soon. Suddenly we got to hear some sound of drumming. Upon looking down into the valley, a group of people were seen to be walking with something covered in a veil of fancy colours. Some people were drumming their traditional percussions and some were blowing the traditional “Shinga” called “Karnal”.
We came to know that covered is Himachali deity. Today there was some religious festival and the deity was being taken to that place of worship.



We saw another procession while on the way to Manali Bus stand in the afternoon. We took the overnight AC VOLVO bus by HPTDC to Delhi. We bid farewell to the heavenly Himachal.
Last edited by Bias_Traveller; Apr 19th, 2014 at 20:35.. Reason: merged
#7 Apr 18th, 2014, 19:17
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Amazing & Lovely ....
#8 Apr 19th, 2014, 11:38
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Wonderful captures Madam. Enjoyed each and every pictures. Great visual treat..
Cheers...

Showing : Quest Of Snow
#9 Apr 19th, 2014, 12:09
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Excellent Photography!!!!!
#10 Apr 19th, 2014, 12:23
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I'm loving it!
#11 Apr 19th, 2014, 13:38
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Thanks to all for liking my trip report. I just wanted to share with you all the amazing experience of the Himachal Mountains. The purpose is served. You liked it.
#12 Apr 19th, 2014, 14:00
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Just Awesome..Splendid..mind Blowing... we must visit
#13 Apr 19th, 2014, 20:40
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Actually yes. We all must try to visit these places at least once in lifetime. Heavenly.
#14 Apr 19th, 2014, 23:05
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Let see if we can visit it or not, But dont have any idea about the weather in the month of October,November
#15 Apr 19th, 2014, 23:05
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Originally Posted by Bias_Traveller View Post Actually yes. We all must try to visit these places at least once in lifetime. Heavenly.
Let see if we can visit it or not, But dont have any idea about the weather in the month of October,November
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