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Old 13th January 2016, 11:14   #1
KAN
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Default New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali

Since the day we got our XUV we wanted to take it on a very long drive (rather beyond my usual 6 to 8 hours, 350 km drive from Gurgaon to Dehradun). The opportunity came during the winter break from Christmas to New Year. Schools are shut and offices are off (at least most of the days).
Please excuse the amateur photography and script!

Prologue:

After contemplating and debating long on a hill station (me) vs beach (my wife), finally hill station won (because we all were sold on the idea of a long XUV drive). The plan was made and the hotels were booked well in advance (not sure how much the advance booking helped since even booking one of the best rated choices we thought we could have done better) and the route chalked out on google.
Gurgaon -> Mcleodganj -> Manali -> Gurgaon
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Travel preparations were made:
1. Travel kit was formulated after consultation with fellow BHPians (see the following links ) and useful things like rope, etc, were collected
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/owning...road-trip.html (ARTICLE: Preparation for an Indian Road Trip)

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/route-...ong-drive.html (A Guide on Essentials of a Long Drive)

2. Other things were added like working gloves (in past I have soiled my hands and even cut my hands while changing flat tires, so have bought a pair of biking gloves to keep my hands clean and injury free), pair of blankets both for keeping my kid comfortable during drive and just in case the hotel provides a lousy blanket (that did not happen luckily), bottled water pack 500ml, medicines, USB with songs collection (old and new), torch, lots of munchies like toffees, biscuits, dry fruits, etc.
We eagerly waited for the winter break to commence. Meanwhile the travel plan received some tweaks and edits based on advice (read directives) of the elders in the family. Now we were making two more stops at my uncle’s place in Kurushetra.
Gurgaon -> Kurushetra -> Mcleodganj -> Manali -> Kurushetra -> Gurgaon

The journey.

Day 1:
We started around 11 am from Gurgaon. No odd/even day restriction yet. Everything was loaded and the first stop was at Pahalwan’s at Murthal. The drive was nice and smooth. Really enjoyed the highway cruise of XUV. Overtaking was effortless and ride was smooth. The irregularities on the uneven road was absorbed efficiently.
Food at Pahalwan’s was nice and service was quick. Overall 4 out of 5 rating.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-2.jpg
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-3.jpg

The day 1 journey continued and we reached out pit stop soon at Kurushetra and spent the night there. From hindsight the stop at Kurushetra was a good idea given the fact that we were able to enjoy the picturesque drive to Mcleodganj. The photo spots that we stopped would have been missed if we would have taken the journey in one go.

Day 2:
We started around 9 from Kurushetra towards Mcleodganj. The route to be taken was Ambala-Rupnagar(Ropar)-Kirtarpur Sahib-Anandpur Sahib – Nangal – Una – Beas Dera – Amb – Dera Gopipur – Kangra – Dharamsala – Mcleaodganj.

First stop was Anandpur Sahib. A beautiful and magnificent gate welcomed us:
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-4_1.jpg

The ‘darshan’ were divine and the sun outside was bright and warm.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-6.jpg

Rest of the drive was through the mountain roads of Himachal and very scenic sometimes with river flowing on one side.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-7_1.jpg

Found a very beautiful photo point in Dera Gopipur on top of a large rock. The view was amazing and a number of people had stopped to enjoy the view with tea and maggi.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-8_1.jpg

By the time we reached Mcleodganj it was close to sunset and we managed to capture this pic with the snow clad mountains in the backdrop before the sun went down.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-9_1.jpg

Day 3,4
Next couple of days were spent sightseeing in Mcleodganj. Our hotel was located amid the peaceful strawberry hills. Given the lean tourist period the local municipal corporation had undertaken road work and the access road to hotel was shut. This did spoil some plan as now we had to park our car at the central parking next to bus station of Mcleodganj. This was quite far away and we were dependent on the hotel to pick and drop us to the parking every time we planned to venture out.

Day 5
We started towards Manali on day 5. Got ready early, had breakfast settled bills and reached parking to pick the car. The car had accumulated a lot of dust and dirty with lack of daily cleaning in the past 3 to 4 days. We decided to get the car washed on first opportunity at some car wash on the way. We started towards Manali and were presented with two routes.

Google maps – Mcloedganj – Dhramshala – Palampur – Baijnath – Joginder Nagar –Suran – Bhuntar –Kullu - Manali

XUV navigation - Mcloedganj – Dhramshala – Palampur – Baijnath – Joginder Nagar – Mandi – Bhuntar –Kullu – Manali

The XUV route was about 20 to 30 kms longer so we were wondering if we could save some time with google maps.
Started in good pace and XUV was eagerly driving towards the destination and found a nice Hyundai service station near Palampur who agreed to wash the XUV and we stopped to get the car cleaned.
Around noon reached Baijnath and found that there was an international paragliding site there at Billing. We decided to utilize this opportunity and go for this adventure. Things happened quickly and in no time we were climbing the icy slopes in a hired Alto after parking our car at the parking near the landing site. The experience was amazing! The wind had its chill on the top but sun shined brightly.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-10_1.jpg
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-11_1.jpg
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-12_1.jpg

The take-off was smooth and the flight awesome!! We landed in after 20 to 25 mins of flight time. Thanked and paid the instructor/pilot and celebrated with hot tea and maggi.
After a total 2.5 hours of fun filled experience ( 35 mins ground preparation – 45 mins hill climb – 20mins of gearing up and debrief - 25 mins flight time – 30 mins conclusion and tea break) started again towards Manali.

After battling through a rough patch of bad road (about 35 to 45 kms where road was bad) arrived at a point where google maps and XUV navigation were pointing to two different paths. Path recommended by XUV was the highway with good road ahead. The path recommended by Google maps was thin mountain road with a width that could not take 2 cars together. But the google maps path was around 25 kms shorter. Given the daylight time we had spent paragliding, decided to take the path google was suggesting to save time. Reluctantly continued on this narrow path over the hills. It was late afternoon and soon the sun would set and it would be dark. When we reached IIT Mandi gate we received the call from out hotel in Manali to inquire when we were checking-in. Explained that we would probably be late and informed them of our location and intended path to save time. The hotel recommended us to take the highway (route suggested by XUV) since the narrow hill roads were unpredictable and deserted. Given the situation and family on broad we took a U turn and traced back some 15 kms to join back the highway at Mandi. From there it was a zip drive to Manali and we reached hotel around 9.45 pm in night.

Day – 6,7
We spend the next two days driving our XUV for local sightseeing.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-13_1.jpg

Manali has these different city parts connected by narrow wooden bridges where one vehicles can cross at one time. These compounded with the New Year rush resulted in long jams around the city. See the long queue in the background.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-15_1.jpg
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-16_1.jpg

A picture of the mud scooters and 4x4s in action @ Solang valley.
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-14_1.jpg

Day – 8, 9
We started around 9 on our way back to Gurgaon (Manali – Kullu – Sundernagar – Barmana – Bilaspur – Ropar/Rupnagar – Ambala – Karnal – Panipat – New Delhi – Gurgaon). This time we were able to see the beautiful mountain drive with river on one side which we missed during the night climb to Manali. The Beas River is extremely beautiful with white ripples. A number of white water rafters have set camps along the road for enthusiast. Given the close to freezing conditions outside did not explore this.
There were few hot water geysers en-route as well where people were locals were enjoying warm winter baths. (spot the natural geyser in the 360 pic)
New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali-17_1.jpg

Ride was smooth till around Sundar Nagar. After which a large stretch of bad road presented itself where there was some sorts of road widening happening. This had severely damaged the existing road and XUV squeaked over the pathetic roads. Finally good roads returned once we reached Bilaspur. The rest of the journey was smooth and we stopped at the factory outlets at Ambala before finally reaching out pit stop for the night at Kurushetra. Next morning started early and reached back Gurgaon. It was Sunday so no odd-even restrictions while crossing Delhi.

Epilouge:
The XUV returned with miles crossing the first 5000 km mark ready for the first service.
The car received its first service with minor issues of slight squeaking of dashboard (that was developed while crossing the bad road patch on our way back) and the soiled interior leather (from the trip - given the light color it has). Both issues got fixed (later one corrected with the extra internal cleaning package).

Overall experience “Awesome”!!
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Old 14th January 2016, 15:41   #2
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Default Re: New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali

Nice little travelogue KAN. Fine pictures and an informative write-up.

It brought back some pleasant memories. Palampur, Baijnath and Joginer Nagar are fantastic places. I've been there a few times - my last trip was in 2011. Much lesser crowds than the ones at Manali and Shimla and the views are absolutely breathtaking. The paragliding is an added attraction!

Himachal occupies a special place in my heart. I urge you to visit Chamba and Khajjar some time. You won't regret it.

Last edited by Aditya : 14th January 2016 at 15:44.
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Old 17th January 2016, 20:52   #3
KAN
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Default Re: New Year Drive with the XUV5OO: Gurgaon - McLeod Ganj - Manali

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aditya View Post
Nice little travelogue KAN. Fine pictures and an informative write-up.

It brought back some pleasant memories. Palampur, Baijnath and Joginer Nagar are fantastic places. I've been there a few times - my last trip was in 2011. Much lesser crowds than the ones at Manali and Shimla and the views are absolutely breathtaking. The paragliding is an added attraction!

Himachal occupies a special place in my heart. I urge you to visit Chamba and Khajjar some time. You won't regret it.
Thanks Aditya!! Definitely plan to explore more of Himachal and lots of MP!
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