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Old 4th October 2014, 11:51   #1
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Default Tips & Advice: Chandigarh to Manali

Hi Friends,

Many travelogues have been written on Manali trip by many travelers. Objective of this write up is to share certain details on road condition and some friendly advice.

Journey Details-
1. Vehicle- Maruti Suzuki Dzire VDI
2. Trip Start and End point- Chandigarh Airport
3. Journey Date- 25th September 2014
4. Start time- 06:00pm
5. End time- 02:00pm on 30th September 2014

Journey Details-

1. From Chandigarh Airport to Punjab University to Kurali. Take right turn on NH 21 and continue.
Certain stretches on this road are under construction. Expect bad patches.

2. Cross hotel Heritage Haveli on your right. Drive till Toll Plaza. Pay toll of Rs. 43.

3. Continue till outskirts of Kiratpur Sahib. You will reach a place where road branches into three. Take the middle one towards Manali. Road condition really good. You can easily drive at speed of 80-90KMPH.

4. After taking the road to Manali, continue driving at half of the speed you were enjoying till now!
Beware of the bad stretches and incoming traffic from Himachal. Mostly trucks carrying cement causes problem.

5. Beware of the bad road for next few kilometers. Cross the first cement factory on right. I believe this plant is by Jaypee Cement.

6. You will enter Himachal Pradesh. At the state entry point, pay toll of Rs. 40.

7. From this point, road till Gara is in good condition. You can manage with 50-60KMPH.

8. Since I reached this place in the night, there was no good place for family to have food.
There are dhabas on the way, which were not suggested by many.

9. After Gara, the road is in “not so bad” condition till Swarghat.

10. After Swarghat, the road is in “worst condition”. You need to “follow the potholes to reach Bilaspur". Even if you are driving in daytime, you cannot avoid the potholes. Bad part of the driving experience- in process to avoid the pot holes, vehicles are driven on wrong side! As certain corners are blind, it becomes difficult to maintain the speed as well as patience. Continue on the bad road till Barmana.

11. After Barmana, there are good places for families to stop for food near Harabaag.

12. After Harabaag road condition improves again.

13. Reached Hotel Kannan Castle at around 11:45pm. Had a good stay at this place. Morning view from room was good.

14. On 26th September, started journey at 08:00am. You will cross Mandi, Pandoh. Road condition is good. Had breakfast at Shan-e-Punjab near Aut. The view of river from this place was really good. Now even though the road condition is good, beware of the Mahindra Bolero pick-up vehicles. I found that these vehicles are being driven dangerously. Keep safe distance!

15. Reached Bhuntar. Need to take right to reach Manikaran.

16. On the way to Manikaran, you will see Himalayan Village Resort at Kasol. This is a good property. Considering its distance from Manali and nearby attractions, I think, this is good for people who would like to stay away from the town. For kids, without snow, it would not be encouraging to stay here for a long. Road condition is good. Drive safely especially on the smaller stretches.

17. On the way, got first glimpse of the snow capped mountains. Reached Manikaran at around 11:30am. Attended langar at the Gurudwara Sahib. Visited the ancient Shri Rama temple. My son was amused to see the hot water springs and ice cold Parvati river at the same place.

18. Started journey towards Kullu at 01:00pm. Saw the apple market. Fortunately we could see apple orchards with green and red apples still on the tree. It was a great view. Purchased couple of shawls from the Kullu market. Bargaining is must here!

19. Reached Manali at 04:30pm. Our stay was at Negi’s MayFlower. This property is good. Food quality, taste and quantity was good. Masala tea was really nice. Staff was also good. Families with elder members, hyper active kids shall be aware of the wooden floor as there are high chances of slipping.

20. Next day visited Rohtang Pass and Solang valley. On outskirts of Manali, you will see many shops renting out the suits and guides. If you are not carrying enough warm clothes, renting the suit and rubber shoes is highly advisable. Suit + shoes charges are Rs. 250/- per head.

21. Do not opt for guide. Charges are Rs. 1,100/-. All the places like Gulaba, Rani Nallah, Rahalla water fall, Nehru kund are on the way. What the guide helps is to point you towards the boards! You can figure this out with Google maps or by looking the boards on the road.

22. In off season, paying for the ski package is also a bad idea. The reason, you will not have enough snow even at the hill top, forget skiing! At the top point in Rohtang, the local photographers have made arrangement for taking snaps with skiing set. Photo charges Rs. 30 with your own camera or on your own SD card, Rs. 50 with photographer’s camera and print delivered at your hotel.

23. In off season, you may like to ride horse to reach the hill top. Charges vary from Rs. 1,200 to 2,000/-. Again bargaining is required. As per the locals, decent price varies from Rs. 800 to 1,200 per head. Enjoy the hot tea (Rs. 20) and Maggie (Rs. 50) at the make shift hotel at the top. Enjoy the view of snow capped mountains too.

24. On the way back, visited Solang Valley for activities. Being off season and less operators, you would find less activities. Also prices are also hiked up as there is no competition. ATV ride- Rs. 250 per head. Parasailing- Short ride Rs. 1,000/- long ride Rs. 3,000/-. Actual cost in season with multiple operators varies from Rs. 600 to 1,800.

25. Next two days we enjoyed all the local attractions. A walk in the pine tree forest is recommendable. Go for the silence it offers.

26. To enjoy different hotels and food, I opted for EP (room only) package at MayFlower. Following are certain recommendations for foodies -
a. North Indian- Daawat on Mall road
b. Pizza- Casa Bella Vista on Hadimba Temple road
c. Chinese- Chopsticks on Mall road
d. Chaat items- Delhi Chaat on Mall road
e. Multi cuisine- Negi’s MayFlower
(I have tried these places and found to be good)

Certain good looking places which were not tried, but can be explored-
a. Hotel Sher-e-Punjab on Mall road
b. Bars at Johnson’s hotel and Jimmy Johnson’s lodge on Circuit House road. These are next to each other.
c. Leela huts for stay.

27. Started return journey at 05:00am on 30th September. Even during daytime, you will need lot of patience to handle the bad road from Barmana till RTO checkpoint near Swarghat. This is stretch of around 70 Kilometers. Reason is lot of potholes, traffic due to pick up vans and trucks carrying cement from the factories on the way.

28. Reached Chandigarh Airport at 02:00pm safely.

29. For safe driving and good amount of breaks, you shall allocate around 11 hours of time for Chandigarh to Manali drive. With 3-4 breaks only, time of around 9 hours is good. If someone wants to risk his/her own as well as other’s life on road along with damaging the vehicle, a time of around 8 hours is sufficient. Which is not at all recommended! You will spoil your as well as other’s journey. Near Bilaspur, spotted a truck which entered a house as the driver lost control. Fortunately no human life was lost, but house was damaged and the accident caused traffic jam.

30. Newbees on the road, beware, your calculations of driving time would definitely go wrong on this journey if you do not account time for food breaks (for you and the vehicle), slow moving traffic, traffic jams, huge potholes, trucks and busses blocking the road.

Start early and reach safely! Have a nice trip. Enjoy!!

Following are some of the pictures captured during the trip:

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Last edited by GTO : 4th October 2014 at 16:46. Reason: Adding line spacing :)
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Old 6th October 2014, 12:16   #2
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Default Re: Tips & Advice: Chandigarh to Manali

Thanks for the well-compiled list of directions ravindra. I'm sure these will go a long way in helping first-time travellers on this route.
Nice pictures too!

Last edited by Aditya : 6th October 2014 at 12:17.
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