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Old 18th October 2013, 11:20   #1
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Default Get up and drive! Quick Delhi-Amritsar Trip

Speaking of high speed cruising: I did a recent trip Delhi-Amritsar-Bhakra Dam-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi in the 2nd Oct weekend.

Initial plans was for a Shimla trip however leaves were approved at the last minute. Couldn't let the leaves go waste so made a quick plan on night of 1st Oct to just go to Chandigarh and explore the area around, stay a night and come back.

Day1: ( Delhi to Chandigarh. And then let's continue upto Amritsar! 460kms)

Made a late start around 9am,tanked up at Majnu-ka-tila, faced light traffic while leaving Delhi and within 45 mins was on the NH1.

Had been a regular office goer to Sonepat earlier, and had made some trips to Murthal and Kurukshetra recently.

NH1 was nice but had some diversions.(under-construction flyovers at places, mostly in Haryana. Hooda hai-hai)

Things improved after crossing Kurukshetra and up until Ludhiana its a really beautiful piece of tarmac. no pothole no nothing. cruising at 100-110 all the way.

Reached Chandigarh bypass around 1-2pm. Had a quick snack in a quite clean place.
Since we had time, made a spot decision to continue upto Amritsar (had already planned that trip route)

Ludhiana-till Jalandhar is a real mess. Broken roads, diversions, unruly traffic. Very dreary driving. and then just before entering Jalandhar, had a late lunch/tea session at Haveli.

From Jalandhar,there is a right cut for Amritsar and the road becomes two-lane for 30-40kms. Speeds drop considerably and I managed doing 50-60 max.
The road is fine though, not broken.

After you pass this particular stretch you are greeted by a excellent divided 4-lane highway that takes you all the way upto Amritsar.
Had already found out a few good places to stay in Amritsar and go straight away to Queens Road where you have the Hotel Shiraz Regency.
Nice clean newly constructed rooms, decent parking, security guard etc.
get a Family Suite for like 2K IIRC. Freshen up , chat a bit, Tea session and then take an auto to go to the Golden Temple.

What an amazing feeling and it is really heartening to see that the place is so clean thanks to the devotees/volunteers.
compare this to any Hindu temple and you can clearly appreciate the difference.
Had a good darshan, the surrounding Amrit kund has even got fishes (maybe to clean up any food articles that get in the pond, dunno?)

Afterwards, take a quick auto to Kesar da dhaba (dunno whether this was the real one; it was in a small lane in an area similar to Old Dilli)
Great food, but oily and the prices are not what you would expect for a Dhaba!
Went back to the hotel, slept like a log.

Day2: (Amritsar- Nangal town, 200KM)

Was ready by 8AM and had a breakfast of Chole-Bhature and then saw the other attractions in/around Amritsar: Ram Tirath, Durgiyana Temple, Jallianwala Bagh.

Finished off around 2PM , was tired from all that walking in the sun but need to leave for Bhakra Nangal Dam in Distt.Una
The route was very scenic and the State Highway was terrific with very little traffic. Started cruising@100. Had a quick Lunch/Coffee session on the way at a decently busy Dhaba and started again.

Just before Una, you have a little bit of a elevation.
Small hills driving. Now I have driven in the hills only one time before in the Herebertpur,Uttarkhand area. This drive was also very similar.

I know only three cardinal rules of hill driving: Drive Slow (30kmph), Honk at curves and my own personal fave: lets not overtake.

After these hills, there is a nice drive through a bit of plains with crests and troughs. THOROUGH fun. amplified much times by the Duster's magic carpet suspension.
and then you get the first glimpse of the mountains (Dauladhars?)

The road is terrible as you enter Una Distt. but you soon reach Nangal town.

We wasted atleast an hour-90 mins looking for a decent place but could find one.
Was told to back upto Mehatpur (abt 7-8kms from Nangal) and was told of a Hotel Menon.
Surprisingly decent hotel. very spacious rooms. Got two doubles@900 a piece.

Had a warm bath, had a little tipple, arranged room service for Dinner and made next day plans and booked a Ertiga to visit Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi temple. (100kms to and fro from the hotel)

Day 3: (Anandpur sahib, Naina Devi Temple, return to Delhi , 350 kms)

I like to avoid hill driving as I am a complete novice at that. besides once you are driving you completely miss out on enjoying the beautiful hill scenery and the smells of the forests.
Not to mention that this was the day of our return to Delhi and I had another 350Kms to go today.

We left early by 7am. First went to Anandpur Sahib 30 kms away which again was so beautiful and elegant. Had a quick darshan, yummied up the low-sugar, high-ghee (halwa) kadha prasad and started again to Naina Devi.

Now this is a hilly drive of abt 20kms and once at the top you have the option to go through a Trolley to the main temple or continue by a very slim one laned road to the summit.

I was game for taking the trolley but my suggestions were quickly vetoed down by the other folks (we have the cab, why do you wanna waste money?? it did cost 100/head for the trolley journey)
Ah well.. you cant win always.

Naina devi is one of the shaktipeeths and is a revered shrine. There was little rush so early in the day and besides Navratras were only gonna start from the next day when it would be choc a bloc.

You have to climb up a 100 stairs I guess and then you reach the main temple. Few devotees in the morning. Had a very good darshan and enjoyed the view of the surrounding valley from the temple. (Hills are THE place to live*)

(*Conditions apply: except for in landslides, rains or heavy snowfall. )

Came down quickly and a had a so-so breakfast at a nearby hotel.

Returned via Bhakra Dam.

Now this is an iconic place. and I had already pre-decided that in my Amritsar trip , I am gonna visit this place.

The dam reservoir was full and brimming with water. There is boating facility as well (Yaay.... Yippeeeeee) though you do have to get down from the road on a little tricky trail (can get tough for seniors as I now think in retrospect)

There was this huge diesel engine powered boat available and we took a 30 mins ride. With the cool wind, the surrounding hills, the whole experience was just ethereal.

Apparently Bhakra stores so much water that if the dam ever gets breached, it will destroy areas upto Delhi.

It is a high security installation and photography is not allowed.

One can also make a visit down to the dam where the machinery/gates etc are installed but seems like they are gonna celebrate their Golden anniversary or something and its now restricted to only VIPs (ergo, not us)

Anyways, started back to our Hotel , packed our bags and started our journey back to Delhi around 12pm.

Roads are just SPECTACULAR in this part of the country and we made good straight progress; stopping only after crossing Mohali around 2 PM.

At a great South indian joint next to the Haryana Tourism Kingfisher Hotel.

Had a rather heavy thali lunch and noticed that the rear tyre had a flat.

Luckily there is a big Petrol bunk next door and we got them fixed (two ones, whaddayaknow...)

Started back around 3pm and continued our journey.
Now the heavy lunch was taking its toll and I was feeling sleepy.

I am a very cautious driver and practice defensive driving.
And that's when I realized something about road trips.

Fatigue, heavy lunch and long distance driving do not mix well. (no shi$, sherlock)

You literally start taking unwanted risks and pushing man/machine unnecessarily.

Though it was only an hour&half back that I had lunch and there was no space in my tummy- I decided to take a pit stop and get some strong coffee in me.

Had a healthy half hour break at an appropriately named Hotel Mid-way and then restarted back.

then toh kheench di... was at home around 7.

In 7 hour flat and covered 350kms+, with a lunch, a puncture and a pit stop. WOooooo HOoooooo !!!

Faster than a speeding bullet ! err.. ok.... faster than what a Shatabdi would have taken from Una/Nangal to Delhi.

Total Distance traveled in the trip was precisely 1000kms with an average speed of 65kmph. (My last long roadtrip in MP saw avg speeds of 42kmph !)
Mileage according to MID was 19+ and tank-to-tank was 17+
AC on 90% of the time.

A special note of the Duster's suspension: much has been said about it being the best suspension south of a 30L sedan, magic carpet ride without making any squeaking sounds and absorbing all potholes with no more than a little shrug.

It's all true.

And probably the reason why ordinary folks like me, who are no highway runners; have been able to carry out riding a 500 kms day.

Q: so is it a sign of higher intelligence that you ditched taking the Shatabdi to Amritsar which would have been quicker and instead went by road?

A: Shatabdi.... schmatabdi... ROAD TRIP FTW !

Will post pics later when I get back home.

p.s: all navigation done with the help of Google maps. My first trip when I did not have printed maps ready with me.
First trip with NO hotel reservations done.
Guess the Duster brings out something that's been hiding inside of you.

Last edited by BUXX : 18th October 2013 at 11:26.
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Old 18th October 2013, 13:47   #2
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Default re: Get up and drive! Quick Delhi-Amritsar Trip

Originally Posted by BUXX View Post

From Jalandhar,there is a right cut for Amritsar and the road becomes two-lane for 30-40kms. Speeds drop considerably and I managed doing 50-60 max.
The road is fine though, not broken.

After you pass this particular stretch you are greeted by a excellent divided 4-lane highway that takes you all the way upto Amritsar.
Roads, tills some time back were very good in Punjab - especially the interiors. But the rains this years have dramatically altered the situation.

There is another very scenic, driver friendly and a route which takes you through the 'real' Punjab while going from Jalandhar to Amritsar. Jalandhar - Kapurthala-Goindwal Sahib- Tarn Taran-Amritsar.

The roads are single lane, but very well laid out. The traffic is sparse and you are inconstant company of green fields. This route reminds me of the past glory of this state when things were simple but magnificent.

The cons are that the route is longer and not the best option to take if you are under tight timelines, as was the case with you.
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