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Old 11th June 2014, 13:26   #1
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Default Delhi - Manali Travelogue (a bit offbeat)

Finally the much awaited day arrived, when we start our road trip to Manali.

Booking was done 11/2 months in advance and prospect of driving my Cheetah for 12 hours on all kind of possible roads was leaving me with watered mouth and lots of rubbing palms. Earlier plan was to start on Friday afternoon with stopover in Chandigarh, then we decided to do the trip at one go. As per revised itinerary we started our sojourn at 4:15am from West Delhi, with navigator set on Pirini Village with following details

1. DTG: 565 km
2. ETA: 18:05 hours
3. TTG: 14 hours 45 minutes

So before we go into details of the travel, let me introduce the tour party

1. Car: XUV W8 AWD; Jul 2013 make with 10K on odometer
2. Driver: Yours truly - a 38 year old car crazy guy, who is a passionate traveller and a foodie
3. Co-Driver: My better half, in Gods poetic justice- totally non-interested in cars, for her cars are needed to take you from point A to point B in decent comfort. But an enthusiastic off beat traveller
4. Two Princesses aged 11 and 4 – Happy to be outdoors rather than at home

Coming back to travelogue, since we started early, passing through Delhi was a breeze, within 20 minutes we crossed Kundli border and we were cruising down Delhi – Ambala expressway with cruise control set on 90kmph to avoid speeding ticket. Traffic was light at that point of time and we crossed Panipat, Karnal, Pipli without much fuss and reached Ambala cantt 7:30am. From Ambala Cantt we turned towards Rajpura instead of going straight towards Chandigarh and took a right just before Shambhu Naka towards Bannur. From here on while road is still good but is dual carriageway without a divider, which further narrows down and then widens after Ropar. We crossed Bannur, Kurali and Kharad while most of the people were either still sleeping or were sipping morning teas, while scanning newspaper. Soon we reached our first pit stop point “Haveli” near Ropar at around 8:45am.

Here took bio breaks (Toilets are clean) and ordered breakfast of Chole Bhature and Tea.

As you move out of Haveli which on your right just after crossing the toll plaza, road widens again. We cruised passed Ropar and soon we were at Anand pur sahib and as soon as we crossed the bridge over canal towards Swarghat reality bit us badly, as you are jolted out of your sweet dreams. After 250 odd km of driving nirvana, we were facing pot hole ridden road, that resembled moon face rather than a national highway. Roads were pathetic till swarghat after that they just ok and route from Swarghat to Bilaspur or may till ACC cement factory was very busy. Trucks, Roadways Buses, Tourist buses and people like me were jostling for their share of a narrow hill road. Adding chaos to what was already a pandemonium was group of pilgrims on their bikes.
After Swarghat we made slow progress and plan was to reach bilaspur by lunch time and plan was to stop at HPTDC’s Lake view. Slowly and steadily we reached bilaspur and finally lake view. Whoa it was all deserted akin office of a party that has recently lost elections. So we decided to move forward and find a new place for lunch.

We crossed few good highway dhabas enroute sundernagar, but they were all rejected by my better half on one context or other. She was now getting tired and wary of long journey and wanted to reach Manali sooner than later.
She proposed non-stop drive till Manali, when we were somewhere between bilaspur and sundernagar. To which I agreed readily (did I have a choice? Nay! You do as boss says) but it was vetoed by Princesses. Hence we agreed to stop at Sundernagar, where we reached eventually around 1:15pm and stopped for lunch at a decent restaurant (I forgot the name, but it was on the distal end of the city just before you exit Sundernagar for Mandi). Good decent food, ok toilets and quick service. What more can you ask during a road trip.

We were back on road at around 2:00pm and got the cheetah refueled at Mandi. After Mandi drive is just heavenly, all the “thakan” of travel just vanishes in the fresh mountain air.
We halted at Pandoh for few moments and started our journey towards Aut Tunnel. Kids were now excited to see river besides the road and were already making plans for next few days. Their excitement was at the peak when crossed Aut Tunnel and “wallah” finally we were in Kullu valley. From here scenery got better and traffic got worse. Commercialization and tourist season was taking its toll and drive was painstakingly slow because of lot Volvo buses going to and fro on a lovely but narrow road. But we were now excited with prospect of reaching the hotel and ordering pakoras with cold coffee. Finally we entered Manali at around 4:45pm but due to heavy rush on a Saturday evening finally reached hotel at around 5:45pm.
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Last edited by Urban Nomad : 12th June 2014 at 13:26.
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Old 12th June 2014, 00:09   #2
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Default re: Delhi - Manali Travelogue (a bit offbeat)

Good start there.
I really like this shade on the XUV.
Looking forward to more.


P.S. OT, but there's a meet upcoming in Delhi - do join us.
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Old 12th June 2014, 13:27   #3
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Default re: Delhi - Manali Travelogue (a bit offbeat)

Day 1
Due to long travel hours previous night we decided to keep day 1 light and even God agreed as it was raining since morning.
We decided to go to Martin’s Café (Himalaya Sports Club) in Village Shanag near old Manali. It is a small family run business, which opens it kitchen and courtyard to public only for Sunday brunch. Do try this place if you happen to be in Manali on a Sunday and you like smoked trout and oven fresh pizzas.

We enjoyed light environs of the café and obviously the food. Left the place at around 2:30pm and instead of going back the usual way, we drove towards old Manali through apple orchards on a road called Shanag Road. It was one the best drive I have ever done. We reached old Manali in about 45 minutes from there and parked the car at the first available slot and roamed around old Manali and club house area. Bought some trinkets and knick – knacks and returned to hotel at around 5:30 pm
Next day plan was to visit Rohtang and Solang Valley and travel desk advised us to leave by 4:00am in the morning to avoid traffic jams and rush at the top.

Day 2
It started early 3:00am to be more precise and we were in the lobby sharp at 3:45am. Our packed breakfast was waiting for us and so was the car and the driver. Kids were bit groggy, boss a bit irritated and I was bit bemused to start so early for a 60km drive.

Soon I realized why, as I saw atleast 50 cars ahead of us all driving towards rohtang at that point of time and this number would swell later in the day. However kids and boss slept as soon as we were out of Manali and I enjoyed the early morning drive chit-chatting with the driver. We reached rohtang at around 6:00 am in the morning and already it was crowded and there was a mini traffic jam. We were all excited to see ice and snow but all the excitement fizzled out or “froze” as soon as we moved out of car.
It was extremely cold and windy; it would be safe to say that these were inclement weather conditions to do anything. We decided to start back sooner than later because we did not want kids to be exposed to icy cold winds and get sick. We ordered cup of tea and Maggie at a road side shack. In toto we were in the car within 30minutes of reaching rohtang.

By that time traffic has started to build and there were mini jams on every hair pin curve. But unlike delhi, people here were patient enough to stick to their respective lanes so traffic was heavy, but was moving. We reached Solang valley by 8:45am. Bright Sunny weather of Solang valley were like heaven after icy cold conditions of Rohtang. I was left wondering how these two extremely opposite places are just one hour drive apart. I presume that’s the beauty of himalayas
We did some touristy things like parasailing etc.. at Solang and started back towards our hotel. We reached our hotel at around 1:00pm and took much needed rest. Plan for the evening was to visit a trout farm.

As planned we reached rainbow trout farm near Naggar at around 6:00pm and had a look around, saw different species of trout they had in their tanks or fish pools. They had an extensive menu with various varieties they could dish out from Trout.We ordered Pan fried trout with tarter sauce and as per promise, they caught fish after our order and it took them some 30minutes to prepare our order. The wait was worth every minute soon we finished off every small crumb on the plate before heading back to hotel.

Day 3

Day 3 was supposed to be leisurely wherein we planned to have a picnic in a small place called pandu ropa, which some 30 minute drive from Manali. We also arranged for some local cuisine as our lunch. Plan was to order local food at camp on our way up and enjoy hot piping lunch on our way back. When we reached Pandu ropa our local contact asked us if we are game for a 30 minutes trek to a lovely place called Hamta Pass or jobri Nala. We all readily agreed and adventure begun. We walked though devdar forests, small mountain streams to reach a place which no words can describe. It was divine, serene and refreshing at the same time

After absorbing the freshest of air for around hour we started back and stopped at our designated spot for lunch. I do not what or why, that was the best lunch of the trip. May be it was uniqueness, simplicity, freshness or fire in the belly because of the trek, we enjoyed rajma, lingdi, sidu and red rice till the last morsel and come back to hotel to pack our bags full of wonderful memories and promise to ourselves to back soon.

Day 4
We started our return journey sharp at 4:00am from Manali and reached delhi by 4:30 in the evening. Nothing much to write about on our way back, as kids were sleeping most of the time and boss and myself were discussing pending work/emails which is awaiting us…
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Last edited by Urban Nomad : 17th June 2014 at 14:50.
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Old 18th June 2014, 15:24   #4
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Default Re: Delhi - Manali Travelogue (a bit offbeat)

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Travelogues. Thanks for sharing!
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