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Old 3rd January 2015, 19:30   #1
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Default Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

The first thing I checked when my holiday was confirmed was the distance from Ahmedabad to Shimla by road and it said 1,278 km.

That sounded doable and I started planning for the trip. I had a good four months to prepare and sought advice from all, besides posting a query on team-bhp route query section.

Everybody suggested rail or air travel. Even wife was for train/flight, because she is the one who suffers most during my road trips since she is the official navigator for me – mostly using GPS on the mobile phone and often seeking route clarifications from passers-by.

And, for a person like me who is directionally challenged, I have to admit that without her all my journeys would have ended before they began!

Some encouraged; there were some invaluable suggestions by bhpians and some friends in Chandigarh.

However, my plan to reach Chandigarh in one day was shot down in the very beginning itself. Finally decided to break down the trip into three components – Ahmedabad to Jaipur in one day, Jaipur to Chandigarh the next and Shimla the third.

What helped me decide was my last year’s trip to Mahabaleshwar (from Ahmedabad) when I did the nearly 800-km stretch in 15 hours straight with short tea breaks.

Night driving was to be a strict no, unless there are no other options. Also decided to avoid taking long lunch breaks, instead planning several tea breaks, which could give me and the vehicle enough rest in between.

My Vento 1.6 mpi had completed a year with me and had no problems but I was slightly apprehensive.

But in the past six months I had done Mount Abu, Diu and Silvassa and the vehicle gave me no problems at all. Besides, I didn’t have much of a choice. Between Vento and K10, it was a no-brainer.

A friend in Jaipur booked a room for me at Hotel Highway King, in Chandigarh I was to stay at a friend’s place for a couple of days and then proceed to Club Mahindra at Mashobra in Shimla.

So, by the last week of the journey most of my boxes ticked – bought lots of woollens, dusted up old jackets from Dubai days, bought a puncture kit online (it arrived when I returned from the trip, though), a manual foot air pump, medicines for kids, etc etc.

In the end, whatever boot capacity the car had was filled up to the brim.

Wrong start

It was 5.15 am with the odo reading 5981.

Our journeys are incomplete without missed turns, wrong diversions and the ensuing fights with the driver and navigator, that is me and my wife.

So it begins, right before Gandhinagar, we took a wrong turn.. but it turned out to be a parallel road (which are plenty between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar). But I am sure we lost some 20 minutes in the mix-up.

After that everything went according to the plan. First tea break at a non-descript Baroti and second at Batada.

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First break at Baroti

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Second break at Batada

Had lunch at Bhilwara (had got some food packed from home).
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Last edited by sreepathy : 5th January 2015 at 15:05.
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Old 3rd January 2015, 22:55   #2
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Some random pics on the way

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water bodies
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Travellers progress
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Please stay away
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Impending danger
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Another hazard
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Quick stop to use the washroom
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They just crossed

Last edited by sreepathy : 3rd January 2015 at 23:11.
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Old 3rd January 2015, 23:03   #3
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Jaipur to Chandigarh

The route followed was Himatnagar-Kherwara-Udaipur-Chittorgarh-Bhilwara-Nasirabad-Kishangarh-Jaipur. The roads were good and maintained 80-90-100 kmph all through.

At Udaipur, went against advice and took the bypass and paid the price. The road was really bad and the only vehicles plying were trucks.. and then me. Pass by bypass and it was back again on butter-smooth roads.

Reached Jaipur by 5.30 pm.

Spotted a Hotel Highway King near Jaipur on our side of the road and stopped over there... but to our dismay found that this is not our hotel.

Our Hotel Highway King was some 15 km further down and on the other side of the road.

Lost another half an hour or so to get on to the service road, where we got a taste of the evening rush hour in Jaipur. Finally found the hotel, but was told there was no booking in my name.

But rooms were available and they were willing to give me the special offer which my friend/colleague said she was promised when she booked the room for me. The room and the washroom were clean and neat. It even had a bathroom slipper!

The hotel has a bar and a restaurant too, besides parking slots for a few vehicles.

Had dinner (which was OK) from the hotel itself and hit the bed... with the next day’s journey in my mind and the devil who could trip my trip, FOG.

Got up at 6am. Checked the weather on the mobile app. It said fog till 9am. So went to sleep again and finally left for the second leg of the trip at around 8.30pm.

Before that booked a night at the hotel for my return journey.

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That's me with my eyes firmly on the road

Last edited by sreepathy : 11th January 2015 at 12:18.
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Old 4th January 2015, 10:48   #4
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Another wrong turn

There was no fog when we hit the road and we expected a smooth journey ahead.

The navigation suggested a turn at Bawad (instead of Bawal), which took me to the Rewari-Shahjahanpur road.

The road was ok and there was scarce traffic but there were lots of speed breakers and mild fog on the way to slow down the journey.

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We thought that the road will take us to the highway sooner than later but what awaited us was pure horror.

We didnít get the bypass for Rewari and had to go through the city. The condition of the roads and the traffic mayhem that ensued will surely prompt one to think in what century we are in Ė roads were not properly laid even in the city centre and traffic followed no particular direction. Luckily there were traffic police to offer some help and after wasting some one hour we managed to get out.

Once we were out of the city we heaved a sigh of relief, not knowing what lied ahead.

The route took us directly to the Jhajjar bypass and covering the area was a breeze.

We were eagerly looking for a bypass ahead of Rohtak but didnít find one and had no choice but to enter the city once again. To compound our grief it was school time too and we were caught in a terrible traffic jam for over an hour.

Once out of Rohtak, we stopped for tea and found that the chaiwala used to be a government employee in Ahmedabad for quite long. Once he retired he was back in his village and now runs the kitli for a living.

With his winter clothes, the man really looked like a character from one of the Shakespearean plays!
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That is when I noticed that the tyre pressure was low on the front left tyre. Checked with my digital meter, which showed 19 psi. Was worried a bit after the chaiwala warned me that the Ďmahol yahanke kharab haií.

Luckily there were many tyre repair shops on the way... two of them didnít even turn their head when they saw me. Guess they generally cater to truckers and a sedan might have been too lowly for them to attend to!

The third fellow was willing to check and immediately after seeing the tyre said all is well. I insisted that he check the tyre pressure and on his manual meter it showed 30.

After that everything went as planned and we continued travelling through Panipat, Karnal Ambala and then reached Panchkula by 8 pm where we stayed at a friendís place for two days. As usual we spent about half an hour to find his house. With literally nobody on the road to ask the way, it was the gps that helped us finally.

Last edited by sreepathy : 11th January 2015 at 14:23.
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Old 4th January 2015, 11:17   #5
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

In Corbusier’s Chandigarh

The stay in Chandigarh was pleasant. Coming from the cacophony of Ahmedabad, Chandigarh was indeed a pleasant surprise. Not many people and vehicles on the road, motorists who obey traffic rules, no roadside shops, no garbage on the road etc etc.. and Chandigarh was a revelation.

That is the beauty of a planned city, I told my navigator, who reminded me that to some extent even Ganghinagar is like that!

Went to see the rock and rose gardens. Sukhna lake was closed due to bird flu scare.

Some pics

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Rock art

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Bangle beauties

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Laughing mirror

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Ready to take off

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Blooming yellows

Last edited by sreepathy : 4th January 2015 at 14:14.
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Old 4th January 2015, 11:35   #6
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Some more pics from the rock garden and the rose garden

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Last edited by sreepathy : 4th January 2015 at 11:45.
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Old 4th January 2015, 11:59   #7
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

There lies the fun!

At the rock garden also managed to shoot a series of pics where some youth were trying to have some fun

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The reluctant first step
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To return or not to?
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Well, I am determined
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...come what may
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There he goes...
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But manages to control his fall
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And didn't plunge into the dirty water beneath

Last edited by sreepathy : 11th January 2015 at 12:20.
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Old 4th January 2015, 13:23   #8
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

The drive up

The drive towards Shimla and Mashobra was uneventful but slow. Maintained 50-60 speed throughout and the car managed to climb the hills mostly in third gear and on once or twice in second.

Took almost four hours to cover nearly 130 km! There was no hurry and was driving very leisurely. There was a lot of traffic and no unnecessary overtakings and tailgatings, which are common on Mount Abu.

Once we were close to Shimla we started seeing thin layers of snow here and there and kids got excited. Checked into Club Mahindra and enjoyed the evening and night within the hotel.

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Kufri disaster

Next day decided to visit Kufri. On popular advice took a cab and got dropped at a point from where we were to take horses to reach the top. The place was crowded.
Paid some Rs 3,000 for the horse ride up and down and rubber boots.
Never thought it would be a disaster when we started our ride. A few metres into the climb and reality struck. The route was treacherous and nobody was controlling the horses. The animals were taking their own path and even they were finding it difficult to find grip on the slippery route.

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Initially we thought it would be a single journey. That was not to be. After about 300-400 metres, we had to get down, scale a short, steep stretch on our own and take another set of horses, and again get down and then continue to the top on a third set of horses. That made it a three-phase journey through a dirt path that is made up of muck.

We completed the first stretch without many problems.

We got down and started to climb a 100 m stretch on our own. All of us slipped and fell multiple times but luckily there were no injuries. Similar was the case with all other tourists. Took about half an hour to cover the climb and had to wait for another half an hour for the horses. Had to make several phone calls to the phone number given to me when the money was paid.

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The second stretch on horseback was equally scary. My daughter refused to ride alone and she was seated along with me on a sturdier animal. Saw people, including adults, screaming. Some were crying while some were asking those controlling the horses to slow them down. Saw even horses falling down.

Eventually we got dropped into ankle-deep muck.

But there were no horses to take us up and there were about 100 people waiting for their turn. We waited for about half an hour, called up the number again, who said horses are coming soon. In the meantime, my daughter started shivering and her lips went blue. We got scared. I tried to ask people who were returning from the top if there is something extraordinary to see there. Most didn’t reply and some said there is nothing there but snow. So we decided end our journey and return.

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After another half an hour of wait, got horses and did the two-step journey down. We held on to each other for some time, thanking God that nothing untoward happened during this misadventure of a journey.
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That's my beaming navigator, happy to survive in one piece

Quietly returned in the taxi (that was arranged by Club Mahindra) and I didn’t forget to rebuke the taxiwallah who was also supposed to act as a guide to us. He could have warned about the pitfalls of the trip, given that we had two kids with us.

Last edited by sreepathy : 4th January 2015 at 13:47.
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Old 11th January 2015, 12:02   #9
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Finally, some fun

On the way back from our Kufri misadventure, we spotted a nice place full of snow with fewer crowds and decent space to park cars. So, the next day we came out in our vento, and spent some fun time at the spot.

No taxis were stopping there and that was the main reason for fewer people and cars. We scaled some height, all the while eyeing the tube ride being enjoyed by people. The ride is just a jugaad -- invented by buzurgon, said the tube ride operator to us.

Three guys were managing it. They have felled a tree on top and were used it to operate their ride. Wife and kids played in the snow for as long as they could (that was just half an hour!) and finally all of us took the ride down. The only damage was Rs50 per person!

Some pics:

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Kids ready for the fun

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Snow snow everywhere

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The climb up

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The jugaad

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How it works

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The ride down

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All smiles

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Son on his way down

Last edited by sreepathy : 11th January 2015 at 14:26.
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Old 11th January 2015, 12:40   #10
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Customary walk along Mall Road

Was told that there is nothing to see in Shimla city, but the walk along the Lakkar Bazaar, Mall Road and the Ridge was mandatory. Was also told that there wonít be parking available, so itís better to take a taxi. Spend almost half a day there. The walk is nice, itís got some old-world charm to it.. given that Shimla was the summer capital of British India. Vehicles, except ambulances, police vans and municipal vehicles, are not allowed along these route.

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Last edited by sreepathy : 11th January 2015 at 12:46.
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Old 11th January 2015, 14:14   #11
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Bye Bye Shimla

Left Shimla after 10am and drove down at a very leisurely pace of around 40-50 kmph. Noticed that most vehicles were desperately trying to stop ... so that people can come out and vomit! Maybe the climb down was very unsettling for the tummy. Even my daughter vomited 6-7 times, and son once.

Stopped at Dilli Gate for tea. Both tea and snacks were bad for the money they were charging. They had some goods dogs.

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Bought some apple burfi for friends and colleagues.

Reached Chandigarh before 3pm and stayed at a friend’s place. Didn’t go out and had a good night’s sleep.

Left Chandigarh before 8am and after leaving the city was immediately hit by thick fog. On average, visibility was 500m but at some stretches it came down to around 200-300 or so. Luckily there were not many vehicles and I could maintain a speed of 50-60 all along. Fog cleared while nearing cities and reappeared with a vengeance after that.

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Stopped at a dhaba for brunch. Had very Punjabi parantha and tea. Everybody liked it.
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Luckily for us the gps was not locking and we relied mostly on advice from truckers. And that helped us finding the right road to Rohtak and to our amazement we also found the bypass.

Caught by cops

But as fate would have it, there was some trouble waiting for us at Rohtak. The bypass road was so good that we were cruising at over 100 kmph and was caught for speeding! In fact every car was speeding and was stopped by cops.

The radar showed my speed as 111 kmph and the fine was Rs 1,400.

What happened in this melee was that we missed a right turn and lost another hour trying to get back on the highway, all the while venturing into places like Beri and asking for directions.

Finally we were back on the right track to Rewari, reaching Bawal and then continuing via Shajahanpur, Shahpura and finally reaching Jaipur by evening.

The roads were not crowded and the drive was uneventful, with me maintaining a speed of 80-100. Stayed at Hotel Highway King itself. They gave us the same room. Didn’t go out and took rest in view of next day’s drive.

Said bye to Jaipur at around 7am. Took Kishangarh, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Himatnagar route and reached home by evening.

To summarise:

No. of days: 10

No. of full days on the road: 4

Total no. of kms covered: 2,752

Petrol: Less than Rs12,000

States (UT) covered: Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal

About the drive & vehicle

If somebody asks me what was the best thing about the trip, I will surely say the drive. No other mode of travel would have given the chance to take in the diverse sights and sounds of our country, with drastic variations even in the taste of tea available on the roadside.

My vento gave me no trouble at all, though it scrapped its bottom at all places, be it speed breakers, uneven roads, diversions etc etc.

The vehicle held up well for the whole trip, which had all sorts of roads, and was fully loaded with luggage and four people (two adults & two kids of 11 and 7 years).

But I am sure that better ground clearance will be one of my first criteria for my next vehicle.

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The first wash in 10 days!

Last edited by sreepathy : 11th January 2015 at 14:19.
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Old 12th January 2015, 11:57   #12
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th January 2015, 12:41   #13
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Sree-

Did you finally enjoy the trip. From what you've written, the only time you guys had fun was at the snow spot near the tube ride.

And those pictures with so many horses and so many people - Gosh !. I don't want to be going there. You've nicely managed to get the practical aspects of visiting Shimla. This place was on my "to go" list with family, and looking at the crowd and the taxis and the sheer number of tourists, looks like I should pass thru Shimla and look for a different place to stay and enjoy the vacation.
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Old 12th January 2015, 13:21   #14
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

hi jkrishnakj,
have written in the last part of the travelogue that the best part of the trip was the drive, at least for me. And, that is the first thing I look forward to if a trip is being planned. Wife and kids enjoyed the trip, save the kufri disaster. The stay in Shimla was not bad but i won't prefer such a crowded place next time. In Shimla basically you enjoy the weather, play in the snow (you can't do that for long though) and relax. If you expect that much, Shimla is good. This is my experience. Maybe other people in the forum might have a different opinion based on their visits.
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Old 12th January 2015, 14:35   #15
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Default Re: Ahmedabad to Shimla, the Queen of Hills

Nice travelogue Sreepathy. Good narration and details. I liked the way you have described your "direction disasters". I think they too make a road trip interesting. Of course, it depends on how one takes them.

Was your pony ride going to take you to Kufri Fun World? If yes, I understand that there is a motorable road to it, possibly for a SUV.

Last edited by Musaafir : 12th January 2015 at 14:40.
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