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Old 19th March 2014, 22:09   #1
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Cool Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Anyone that has read my past travelogues, must be aware about Crusoe and Neil. Crusoe is my Linea T-jet, and Neil is a Punto MJD owned by my wife (and fellow BHPian) Bhavi.

The last time Neil went on a long trip, was when I did the diu (Did the Diu! Delhi-Ahmedabad-Diu in a Punto). This time the plan was to take Crusoe but as luck would have it, I lost Crusoe's RC before the trip, thus was left with no other option than to take Neil.

Before starting with the details, here's a glimpse of what all we experienced.

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-228dsc04443.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-283dsc04502.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-354dsc04574.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-463img_20140311_085840_edit.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-473img_20140311_133132_edit.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-536img_20140312_085808.jpg

Last edited by Biraj : 17th April 2014 at 22:49.
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Old 21st March 2014, 18:21   #2
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It had been more than 6 months since my last road-trip. Thus, I decided to utilize the pending leaves and go for well deserved trip to Himalayas. Since both Bhavi and I had enough leaves in our kitty, we decided to make this trip at leisurely pace.

Day 1:

We wanted to start around afternoon on March 5 but seldom do our trips progress as per the plan. After a long discussion at home on which car to take, we decided to go-ahead with the Punto. In retrospect, it turns out to be a great decision as:
  • Extra 15 mm of ground-clearance was very helpful
  • Smaller overhangs were also very useful
  • While the distance traveled was similar to what I covered during the kalatop trip. The fuel expense was at 50% of it.

We started at 7 PM and faced one of the worst weathers of the season. There was a dust-storm along with thunder-showers. We decided to spend some time with my parents-in-law, while waiting for the weather to clear up. We finally started around 9 PM and made a dash towards our first stop at Murthal.

The rain-continued but we could manage decent speeds. Since we visit Murthal regularly, we decided to give the Dhabas a miss, and try Chokhi-Dhani. Quite honestly, it was a disappointing experience. We moved from there within 30-40 minutes and decided to take a halt near Ambala.

The past few day were so busy that I has feeling extremely tired. We reached Karnal around 11.30 PM and checked into Savoy Greens. Spending 3100 for 5-6 hours of sleep did seem expensive but it seemed safer than other options on that highway.

Day 2


We started from Savoy around 9 AM after a heavy breakfast at McDonalds. We took Ambala-Kharar route to avoid Chandigarh. All the pace that we had built in Haryana+Punjab was lost at Swarghat. The roads from Swarghat till Bilaspur are in pathetic condition. I wanted cover as much distance as possible in daylight thus, we drove non-stop till Bilaspur. We stopped for lunch at Lake View Hotel in Bilaspur at around 1.30 PM. This restaurant offers amazing view of the Govind Sagar Lake. I was astonished at noticing the remains of the old Bilaspur city in the lake. One can see the roof of temples and palace of Bilaspur's king, protruding from the lake.

Govind Sagar Lake
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-002dsc04216.jpg

Remains of the old city
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A closer look
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-007dsc04221.jpg

100% unadulterated Coke and view
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Telling the tales of times gone by
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After a heavy lunch and some rest, we started at 3 PM. The roads improved and covered distance quite rapidly (on a Punto). Sundernagar seemed really Sundar. We reached Mandi around 4.15 pm but it took almost 90 minutes to cross Mandi. Shiv Ratri is a major festival in Mandi and the celebrations continue for almost a month after Shiv Ratri. As a result, there was a terrible traffic jam in Mandi.

After Mandi we sped our way to Kullu (not before crossing the magnificent Aut tunnel). At Kullu, we took a turn towards Naggar. It started pouring when were near Kullu, and the weather kept deteriorating. The last 5 KMs to The Castle (Naggar) seemed quite tough due to the combination of darkness, tiredness, rain, narrow roads, steep climb, etc. We finally reached our hotel at around 8 PM.

Here's some detail about the hotel we stayed at:

Quote:
THE CASTLE
The Castle was converted into a rest house, a hundred year back and in 1978 this ancient building was handed over to HPTDC to run as a heritage hotel. This medieval Castle was built by Raja Sidh Singh of Kullu around 1460 A.D. The hotel overlooks the Kullu Valley and apart from the spectacular view and superb location this has a flavour of authentic western Himalayan architecture. Here, a gallery houses the paintings of the Russian artist Nicholas Roerich. Naggar also has three other old shrines. Hotel Castle is an unique medieval stone and wood mansion, once the home to the Raja of Kullu and now an HPTDC Heritage hotel.
Source: http://www.hptdc.nic.in/cir0201.htm

It's a beautiful and peaceful property. A famous song from Jab We Met was shot in this castle and many other movies have been shot here.

Here are a few pics of the The Castle and the view from it:

Castle from a distance
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-067dsc04281.jpg

It can be an eerie place after dark
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-385img_20140306_203716_edit.jpg

Neil in front of The Castle
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Our private balcony
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Wonderful view
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Meguiars QD at work
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-121dsc04336.jpg

Last edited by Biraj : 17th April 2014 at 18:48.
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Old 6th April 2014, 14:01   #3
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Day 3:

It started with a lovely breakfast at The Castle, and then we went to Solang Valley. Solang Valley is a very touristy place, and I wouldn't want to go there again. It's crowded, it's dirty, it's full of hawkers, and one can get hit by landing para-gliders, or if unlucky even get hit by mules/horses/ponies (whatever they were). Bottom line - It wasn't my type of place but that doesn't mean, others won't enjoy there. There's a lot to do there (Skiing, para-gliding, snow-boarding, etc).

Here are some shots of Solang:


Road widening work before Solang
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-071dsc04285.jpg

Solang has this
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-088dsc04302.jpg

and this
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-089dsc04303.jpg

Basically, all this
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-104dsc04318.jpg

We went to Manali from Solang, and enjoyed a lovely late lunch at The Johnson's Cafe. A trip to Manali is made well worth by the amazing food that this Cafe serves. Being a teetotaler here isn't a disadvantage because one would find the best ice-tea here.

Here's a sample of the food:

The famous Trout
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-394img_20140307_175948_edit.jpg

Wonderful pepperoni pizza
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-113dsc04328.jpg

A brave puppy that can chase away monkeys
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-114dsc04329.jpg

The famous Iced-tea
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-392img_20140307_175252_edit.jpg

After the lunch, we saw the usual temples in Manali and then headed back to The Castle.

The dark alley to Hidimba temple
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-115dsc04330.jpg



Day 4 and 5

These were days when we just wanted to relax. Started Day 3 at around 11 AM, had a nice breakfast and then did a toss-up between Shimla and Mcleodganj. Shimla won thus, we headed towards it at around 1 PM. A relaxed drive through the route via Bilaspur helped us in reaching Shimla at around 8 PM. Checked in to Hotel Landmark . It was selected due to parking, location, view, and accessibility to The Mall road. We stayed there for 2 days and did nothing. Just a stroll to The Mall, enjoy something to eat and come back. That's it!

Beautiful route from Manali to Shimla:


After Kullu
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-127dsc04342.jpg

Before Aut
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-130dsc04345.jpg

Aut tunnel
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-132dsc04347.jpg

Some dam
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-145dsc04360.jpg

Mind your head
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-138dsc04353.jpg

Some pics from Shimla


View from The Mall
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-417img_20140309_172520.jpg

View from our room at different times of the day:
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-156dsc04371.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-158dsc04373.jpg

Last edited by Biraj : 17th April 2014 at 22:45.
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Old 17th April 2014, 18:35   #4
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Day 6

A relatively early start meant we were ready by 11 AM. Looked out from the windows and it was overcast. While checking-out the hotel manager warned us that the weather forecast for Narkanda is not positive thus, we should plan for some other place. We were thinking "how bad can it get in mid-March?".

We finally started from Shimla at around 12 pm. It started drizzling but the roads were good so, we maintained decent speed. The first signs of Snow was at Fagu. We were really excited to see snow around us but still wished to see more. As they say, "Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it". After we crossed Theog, the rainfall changed to Snowfall. The snowfall kept getting heavier with time, and the visibility as well as grip was starting to get affected. We reached Narkanda at 1.30 PM and headed towards Hotel Hatu. The idea was to rest there for a day and head towards Rampur on the next day. The road to hotel Hatu had snow + ice + muck i.e. it was a tough <1 KM drive to the Hotel from NH22. To make things worse, a truck had got stuck 100 meters before the Hotel. We had to park our car on the road and walk up to the hotel in extremely heavy snowfall.

Luckily, they had a room and delicious food for our lunch. Special mention to the team at Hotel Hatu. The guys there are very helpful and offer great service. It might not be the most luxurious space one can find but will definitely be a recommended place for stay.

When we reached the Hotel we saw a garden with greenish tinge but after 1 hour, we could only see white.

Let me allow the pictures to do the talking from here on.


Overcast sky in the morning
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-159dsc04374.jpg

Clouds got heavier as we moved further
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-167dsc04382.jpg

Crossing Kufri
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Snow at Fagu
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Enjoying the weather at Fagu
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-420img_20140310_122950.jpg

The intensity of rain was increasing with height
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-198dsc04413.jpg

Snow + Slush at Theog
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-425img_20140310_123402.jpg

The Goodyears performed much better than my expectations
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-430img_20140310_123503.jpg

See, snow
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-222dsc04437.jpg

Posing with Snow
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-228dsc04443.jpg

Enjoying the twisties
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-232dsc04447.jpg

Rain giving way to snow
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-238dsc04453.jpg

And the snowfall decides to become heavy
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-251dsc04466.jpg

Even more heavy
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-437img_20140310_134027.jpg

The route towards Hotel Hatu
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-261dsc04476.jpg

The place where we stopped. It was very slippery
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-440img_20140310_140015.jpg

Road in front of the hotel
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-299dsc04518.jpg

Entry to Hotel Hatu
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-307dsc04526.jpg

Walking back towards Neil after lunch
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-275dsc04494.jpg

Neil enjoying the snow
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-451img_20140310_155201_edit.jpg

Blue car with white roof, but not a Mini
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-454img_20140310_155230_edit.jpg

Divine
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-294dsc04513.jpg

Every cloud really has a silver lining
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I'm missing it will be an understatement
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Next morning
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The following pics explain the intensity of snowfall

Clicked within couple of hours
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-wonderful-trip-1.jpg

Clicked within an hour
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-wonderful-trip-2.jpg

First pics was clicked in the evening and next was clicked at early morning of following day
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-wonderful-trip-3.jpg

Last edited by Biraj : 17th April 2014 at 22:45.
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Old 17th April 2014, 22:41   #5
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It snowed almost the entire night. There was a snow storm too, with very strong winds blowing outside. We were quite nervous whether the car would start because there was the fear of Diesel freezing. I checked the temperature on Google and it showed -6 C. We hoped that our beloved Punto won't let us down and went to sleep.

Day 7


The day started early at 8 AM. I peeped out from the window and all I could see was white. Let the pics take over from here:


The view outside
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-464img_20140311_085846.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-336dsc04556.jpg

I went down to check Neil. The first thing I saw was:
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-340dsc04560.jpg

Then I saw Neil
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-463img_20140311_085840_edit.jpg

We did live to drive here
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-339dsc04559.jpg

Neil wearing a white suit
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-343dsc04563.jpg

We wished for some snow, and got this...
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-347dsc04567.jpg

I was thinking, how would we get out of here?
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-344dsc04564.jpg

Thus, started taking the snow off
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-352dsc04572.jpg

Neil's Mohawk
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-355dsc04575.jpg

The Bolero refused to start. Fortunately Neil started on first crank.
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-357dsc04577.jpg

After idling Neil for an hour, we started the journey back.
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-468img_20140311_132914.jpg

Dangerously beautiful roads
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-473img_20140311_133132_edit.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-476img_20140311_133439.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-477img_20140311_133450.jpg

Achieved a milestone
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-487img_20140311_135538.jpg

Snow came to say "GoodBye"
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-489img_20140311_140524.jpg

We entered clouds
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-506img_20140311_143301.jpg

And exited them to see beautiful vistas
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-513img_20140311_143623.jpg

The trickiest section - Fagu
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-522img_20140311_151220.jpg

We slid our way through
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-526img_20140311_152118.jpg

Slow traffic was hurting the momentum
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-523img_20140311_151502.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-529img_20140311_152812.jpg

Finally, crossed Shimla
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-534img_20140311_154151.jpg

After having lunch near Shimla, we continued on our way towards Chandigarh. Since the return journey was done at almost 20 KMPH, we reached Solan around 7 PM. I called Ross Common in Kasauli and booked a room there. We stayed there for the night.



Day 8:

In the morning we first clicked a pic of Neil's rugged look and then gave it a good wash with ONR.

Before
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-535img_20140312_084844.jpg

After
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-537img_20140312_101539.jpg

We started around afternoon and had delicious lunch at world famous in Punjab, Gyani Da Dhaba. After lunch we headed towards Pinjore and saw the garden. While it's beautiful, it's crowded by future couples of Punjab thus, next time I would give it a miss.

After a long uneventful drive, we reached Delhi at around 8.30 PM.

Here are some pics of Pinjore and the road that leads to it.

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-541img_20140312_143637.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-358dsc04578.jpg

Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-363dsc04583.jpg

Finally, at home
Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu-552img_20140315_233259.jpg


Thank you for reading/browsing!

Last edited by Biraj : 17th April 2014 at 22:47.
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Old 18th April 2014, 12:23   #6
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 18th April 2014, 12:42   #7
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Default re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Good Lord; That's some snow. Not a very common experience driving on an Indian road.

Nice travelogue with some lovely pictures. Neil Esq seems to have relished the experience too .

Some tips please for driving in snow and on ice laden roads, without aids like snow tires.
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Old 18th April 2014, 12:46   #8
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Smile re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Biraj,

One word for the travelogue. Fantabalous. The pics esp of the snow was simply great. Liked the mohawk look of Neil. How much distance did you cover and how much did Neil return back in terms of average.
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Old 18th April 2014, 12:48   #9
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Default re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Woah! Are the snow covered Punto's pics real?

They look out of the world, the second pic especially.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful travelogue.
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Old 18th April 2014, 14:07   #10
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Congrats Biraj for a successful trip amidst such terrible weather. The pictures of the snow filled Hotel Hatu are just mind blowing. The thread and the machine which enabled it-Neil-deserve five stars.
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Old 18th April 2014, 16:41   #11
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

wow I miss home. Very good write up. I once did Rampur to Shimla on my bike, Narkanda had more than a feet of snow. I still remember the chill..
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Old 18th April 2014, 16:47   #12
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Wonderful travelogue Biraj. Never thought a hatch back can make such a trip through the slush. Can see from the pics that you had a wonderful time!
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Old 18th April 2014, 17:38   #13
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Amazing experience you've had.
Did your Punto require snow chains on the terrain?
And a diesel(correct me if I'm wrong) isn't always going to start on the first crank in the cold?
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Old 18th April 2014, 21:18   #14
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Very nice write up and love the pics. Have been to The Naggar Castle in Manali, but we went on a taxi (too boring). And Pinjore is just an hour's drive from my home. But your pics just made the places look amazing. Have to plan a road trip to the Himalyas.
And the trip you took the car was a true test for her potential. Whoever underrates a Punto, should read your post.
All the best for the upcoming adventures.
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Old 18th April 2014, 21:28   #15
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Default Re: Go Snow - With my Punto to Hatu

Amazing! I have always been thinking of taking my Ritz vdi on such a stroll but never got that confidence. Now I am confident enough after going through your narration and hope I will sail through these minor hiccups.
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