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Old 2nd April 2017, 21:59   #1
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Default Our 9 day holiday in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh

This is a trip report of a trip we did in 2015. Due to various commitments and laziness couldn't write it down. As the information in the report might help someone else also, we thought it would be better be late than never, so here we go.

Prologue

We (6 friends from different locations in Kerala) were contemplating for a long trip for quite some time. Himalayas were our destination but didn't had any clarity on when and where to start. Thought of the trip was live for months. After many discussions and deliberations, we finalized on HP and Punjab, which will give us a taste of Himalayas and North Indian plains. The initial plan was to visit Shimla, Manali, Dharamsala and Amritsar.

A rough plan of a nine day trip was chalked out. But information from many sources suggested Dalhousie also as a must see place. So we included that too in our itinerary. Last minute inclusion of Dalhousie really stretched our plan so that we had to spent a night in our rented Innova. More of that in details, later.

He got a contact of travel agency (colorsofindiatours.com) through one of our friends and we got a reasonable rate of Rs15300.00 per person from them. The rate included 7+1 seater Innova for 9 days, 3 star hotel stay for 8 nights with break fast and dinner (triple occupancy), travel for the entire trip and local sight seeing.

Next, started our hunt for cheap air tickets. Initially we planned, TVM/Kochi - Delhi to and fro flights, but dropped plan due to high fares. After many calculations, we decided to book AirAsia from Banglore to Chandigarh and return. We booked in January for our trip to be done at March. We got the tickets at Rs 8K per person, to and fro.

To reach Banglore, we booked in train number 12778 Hubli Express, which starts from Kochuveli at 1250hrs and reach Yeswanthpur at 430hrs. Friends will board the train from their convenient stations on the way. Train number 12778 was our convenient train as the flight was scheduled at 940 hrs.

The travel agency forwarded us the list of hotels in each town they had tie ups with and based on feedback from trip advisor, we selected Hotel Bridge view regency for Shimla, Hotel Royal Park Resort at Manali, Hotel Royal Palace resort at Dharamsala, Hotel Miniswiss at Dalhousie and Hotel PR Residency at Amritsar. Now with Airtickets and rail tickets booked and advance paid to the travel agency, we waited patiently for the D-day on 12th March 15.

Day 0 (12 March 2015)

Myself and friend from Trivandrum, reached Kochuveli railway station in a taxi and boarded the 12778 Hubli express by 1230hrs. Train started exactly on time. We chatted about our trip for while and later relaxed on our berth. Train reached EKM, TCR etc and our friends boarded from their stations. As train food always found to be stale, our friend from Thrissur bought biriyani from Hotel Saffire, a well known non veg restaurant at Thrissur, for our dinner.

We booked an Innova through "Taxiforsure" from the train itself for our next day early morning journey from Yeswanthpur railway station to Kempagowda international airport. We had dinner in train and slept.

Day 0 Distance travelled- 570KMs.

Last edited by ontheroad : 23rd April 2017 at 15:39.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 22:14   #2
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Default re: Our 9 day holiday in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh

Day 1 (13th March 2015)

Train No 12778 Hubli express reached Yeshwanthur railway station by 4 30AM. The pre booked Innova driver was waiting for us, outside the railway station.


Yesvantpur Jn at 5AM

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The journey from railway station to Airport took about 45 minutes. We paid him Rs1780.00
We reached Bangalore Airport at about 6AM. We relaxed a bit, took some photos, and also freshened up in airport.
Check in for the AirAsia flight to Chandigarh began at 7AM. He had an excellent south Indian veg break fast from the
"Malgudi express" restaurant inside the boarding area.


The bird which took at us to Chandigarh

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Boarding started by 9AM and took off by 945AM. Though the flight was on schedule, cabin experience was neutral.
I have had better hospitality in other low cost airlines like Indigo, GoAir etc. The cabin crew avoided eye contact with the guests
and didnt even smile to the guests. Landed at Chandigarh as scheduled by 1250PM.

Flight path


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Check out from Airport took about 10 minutes. Chandigarh civilian airport is a small airport (when compared to Kochin, Trivandum, Banglore etc) which occupies a part of Chandigarh Airforce station. Try to get a left side window seat in the flights landing in Chandigarh airport to get
a full view of the various aircrafts used by the IAF.

Our driver, Manoj, was waiting for us in the airport with his Innova. He loaded our luggage on to the carrier.

Team at Chandigarh airport


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The route to Shimla

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Manoj knew only Hindi. As many of us knew Hindi, communicating with him was not a problem. The Innova was well maintained one
registered in Oct14. We drove off to Shimla by 1PM.

On the way to Shimla

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We continued our journey uphill and one of our friends suggested about a ropeway near the town Parwanoo. The rope way was actually build by
Hotel Timber trail heights, a 5 star resort hotel, for their use. But it is open to public also for a per head cost of Rs700.00. Though the asking rate was costly, we went for it
for the adventure and thrill it offered. The ground station is at N30.83500 E76.98262. The ropeway is about 1650 metres long and climbs about 500 metres and takes about 15 minutes to go in one direction.


Ropeway pics

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We spent around an hour in Timber trail ropeway and continued our journey. We had our lunch from a way side dhaba at small bustop of Koti at N30.8620 E76.99894

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The Kalka-Shimla railway line is almost running parallel to the Shimla-Highway. We had not booked a ticket in the heritage railway line as all trains departed before 1230PM from Kalka and we were scheduled to land at Chandigarh by only 1PM. But one among us asked. What if the train runs late? So we asked Manoj to take us to the nearest railway station so that wecan board any late running trains. He said "yes" and took us to the nearest railway station, which was at Solan. We reached Solan railway station by 3 15PM, but the station master told us the last train to Shimla left at 1 45PM. Those we felt dejected, decided to spent some time in the station, relax and take photos. The Solan railway station hasa old world heritage charm of itself. We spend about half an hour there, took many photos and continued our journey to Shimla.

Solan railway station


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We reached Shimla at about 8PM. The travel agency booked in Hotel Bridge view regency, which is in Mall road. Vehicles are banned in Mall road, soe we were dropped at the "bridge". It is near to the taxi stand and "lift" to the mall road. The "lift", operated by HTDC can be used to go to the Mall road from the bridge. Rate per person is Rs10 and each trolly is also charged Rs10.00

The Bridgeview regency is a multistoried building, whose top floors are used as hotel. If you have weak knee or physically challenged people in your group, please avoid this hotel. First, vehicle entry is banned in Mall road and second, you have to climb many steps to reach the lift, which takes you to the reception at 8th floor. We checked in the hotel and soon had dinner.

The Bridge view Regency

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Dinner

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The location of Hotel Bridge view is good. It is right in Mall road and it offers good view of the town. Rooms offered to us were good and clean, except that the supply of hot water was not available at times. Room service rates were high for such a hotel. We had breakfast and dinner included in our package. Both were buffets and non veg options were less. Can recommend this hotel for a stay of a day or two.

Total distance travelled in Day 1 of our trip was about 2111KM (32KMs-Yelvanpur rly stn-Airport, 1965 KMs- Banglore-Chandigarh by Air, 114 KMs Chandigarh-Shima by road)

Last edited by ontheroad : 2nd April 2017 at 22:17.
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Old 2nd April 2017, 22:35   #3
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DAY2 (14th March 2015)

We had break fast from hotel and went for sight seeing at Kufri. Kufri is about 21 KMs from Shimla. It is a very small town with limited hotel facilities.

Main attraction in Kufri are the adventure and snow activities offered by some private parks. Also there is a forest trail on mule which covers some temples and other local sight seeing.

As we had no much interest in mule ride, we went for snow activities in one of the parks.

The park we went was Hip Hip Hurry.

They offered activities like reverse bungee jumping, reverse crossing etc for Rs700 and snow activities like ice skating, ice skeing etc for Rs1000.00.
Snow dress and boots will be provided for snow activities. We had much fun there as all of us were experiencing snow first in our life time.
Evening was spent in Mall road and Thakkar road.

The Lift

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The Bridgeview regency

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Views of Shimla Town from Bridge View Regency

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On the way to Kufri

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Kufri Town

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Hip Hip Hurray Entrance

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Inside the Park

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Views from the Park

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Team in Park

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Lunch at Kufri

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Night Street views at Shimla

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End of Day2
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Old 2nd April 2017, 22:53   #4
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Default Re: Our 9 days Himachal and Punjab Trip

DAY3 (15th March 2015)

Checked out from Hotel Bridge view at about 8 30am and started the long drive to Manali.


The route to Manali

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The distance is about 250KMs and with many breaks, photo sessions, river rafting at Kullu, we reached Manali only by 8PM.

The drive from Shimla to Kullu is very scenic.

The route we took was Shimla-Jukhala-Mandi-Kullu-Manali. The journey is very scenic with many mountain views, deep gorges and lush green mustand farm lands.

Villager

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Tea break Dhaba

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Jukhala

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We had our lunch from one Hill star restaurant, near Harabaag, and the food was very bad.

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To Kullu

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We reached the Kullu rafting point near to Baiserby about 530pm. Our driver took us to one Gogi bhai, who owns a rafting centre. He quoted Rs 800 per person for a 7 KM rafting and Rs150 for the rafting water proof dress. Though the rafting distance is half of the promised length, it was fun. Also paid Rs500 for video graphing our rafting.

Rafting

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After rafting, we continued our Journey to Manali. We checked in our pre booked Hotel, Hotel Royal Park Resorts by 8PM.

We didn't had a good experience at Hotel Royal Park resorts.

The Hotel is far from Mall road and other tourist attractions. If you dont have own vehicle or taxi at your disposal, reaching town from hotel will be difficult. The guys at reception are rude. We were given rooms at fourth floor and lift was not working. Food was also not good. Hot water availability was limited and on one morning, we didn't even had normal water in room. Though the room service staff respond to your complaints, they didn't solve the issues.

Avoid Hotel Royal Park Resorts, Manali

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We had dinner at the hotel by about 9 30 PM and slept.

End of Day 3
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Old 2nd April 2017, 23:12   #5
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DAY4 (16th March 2015)

Day4 was meant for visit to snow point in Rohtang pass or Solong valley.
We had our breakfast from the hotel and was on road by 1030AM.

The way to Solong valley is itself beautiful.


Hotel Royal Park resorts

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Breakfast in Hotel Royal Park resorts

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Route to Solong

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On the way pictures to Solong valley

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We should wear snow boots and protective clothing in Solong valley. The same was rented from one of the shops on the way for Rs300.

Snow point visit was ruled out due to bad weather and road was closed due to snow. So we visited the Solong valley and spend the entire day there.

The place was filled by honeymooners and kids. Many adventure activities like snow skating, snow boarding, Para gliding, etc are available here. We did some activities and strolled the area till evening.

Solong Valley Photos

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We returned to Mall road by 7PM and did some shopping there and returned to hotel by 9PM
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Old 23rd April 2017, 15:55   #6
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DAY5 (17th March 2015)

This day was planned for sight seeing trip in and around Manali.

In forenoon, We visited the ancient Hidimba Devi temple and club house. Hidimba Devi temple is an ancient temple, dedicated to Hidimbi Devi. The temple is surrounded by deodar forest.

There is a small market near to the temple, where street hawkers, handicraft sellers etc sell their home made handicrafts and cloths. Also there are people who rent Himachal attire here.

Hidimba Devi Temple

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Description

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After Hidimba temple, we visited Club house.There is entrance fee of Rs20.00 per person for entry to club house. Club house has many indoor sporting games like badminton, caroms etc on offer. We have to pay for each sporting item individually. As we didn't see much value in it, we skipped it.

The "Thapper factory outlet" in Club house is a must visit place, if you intend to buy jackets, woolen clothes or T Shirts. We found that they are cheaper than the shops in Mall road.

Had lunch in "Chopstick restaurant"in the Mall road. This restaurant is famous for Tibetan, Chinese and Indian food. Would recommend it for the good ambiance and good food, though the attitude of waiter was a let down.


Inside Chopstick restaurant

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After lunch, we strolled in the Mall road.

Mall Road - Manali

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In the evening we visited the Vashisht temple. The temple is believed to be more than 4000 years old. The Vashisht hot water spring is near to the temple.
The springs are believed to have medicinal value and said to cure any skin diseases. Seen many people taking bath in the temple pond.

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In the evening, we had dinner from the hotel and relaxed in our rooms.
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Old 23rd April 2017, 16:23   #7
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DAY6 (18th March 2015)

We checked out of Hotel Royal park and began our journey to our next destination, Mcleodganj, at 7AM.

The route was this.

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Beautiful Sunrise at Manali

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The distance was about 245KMs.

We had our breakfast and lunch from road side Dhaba.

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The Dhaba guy billed us more price for the food they have served w.r.t the price in menu card in this Dhaba.
May be because we were tourists.

We visited the Vaishnava temple, near Manali which was enroute.

Vaishnava temple and the "little Marcopolo"

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The journey continues with beautiful view of himalayas, tunnels, dams, reservoirs etc etc.

Tunnel entry at Aut

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Road carved out of rocks!

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Himachali Sherherds!

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Pandoh dam reservoir photos

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Terrace farming

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We reached Mcleodganj at about 430pm and visited the Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

Mcleodganj town

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Inside the Monastery

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Question answer session of Monks

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Evening shots at Mcleodganj


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After monastery visit, we strolled in the small amrket at Macleodganj and went to Hotel Royal Palace Resort, where our stay was arranged.

We would highly recommend this hotel for its hospitality, attitude of staff, food quality and room cleanliness. The hotel is close to Bhagsunath temple.

Restaurant in Hotel Royal Palace Resort.

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We called it a day after the dinner.
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Old 23rd April 2017, 16:44   #8
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DAY7 (19th March 2015)


Hotel Royal Palace Resort - Highly recommended.

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The important tourist locations nearby are Bhagsunath temple, Bhagsu water fall and Church of St Johns. After our break fast we visited these spots.

The Bhagsunath temple is a Shiva temple. There are two pools in the temple which are believed to have healing properties.

The Bhagsu waterfalls is near to the temple. There is a long walk of about 1KM to the fall location from temple.

Way to the fall

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Bhangsu waterfall

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We visited the Church of St Johns in the wilderness later. Built in 1852, it has the historic charm. We spend a couple of hours there.

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Then we started our long journey to Dalhousie by about 1PM.

Route map

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Dharamsala Criket stadium

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Typical himachal village house

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Evening tea at a road side Dhaba

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According to our travel plan, we were supposed to start to Dalhousie soon after breakfast, so that we could reach Dalhousie before evening and visit the tourist spots there. But as we could start from Dalhousie only by about 1PM, and the driver was not sure about the route, the Himalayan road challenges etc delayed our progress and we reached Dalhousie only by about 8PM.

But the surprise was that the travel agency booked our hotel at Kajjiar, which was about 22kms away from Dalhousie. There was some road block in the shortest route (according to local drivers) and we need to take the longer route through Champa, if we need to go to Kajjiar.

A quick rework of the travel plan was done.

We decided not to have over night stay in Dalhousie, but to have dinner, see the town and drive directly to Amritsar in the night itself.

We had dinner from restaurant Old Shere-e-Punjab and would recommend the restaurant.

Dalhousie town at night

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We started our journey to Amritsar by 930 pm, had many tea breaks so that the driver didn't dose off, and reached our Amritsar Hotel PR Residency by 3AM.

It was one of the most challenging journey in our entire trip covering the Mcleodganj-Dalhousie-Amritsar road distance of 325Kms in about 14 hours.

Though we blocked the room only from 12 noon next day, the receptionist was kind enough to give us room at 3AM. Would recommend Hotel PR residency for their hospitality, professionalism, room and restaurant quality.
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Old 23rd April 2017, 17:12   #9
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Default re: Our 9 day holiday in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh

DAY8 (20th March 2015)

We had to visit three places of interest today.

The Golden temple, Jalian wagah bagh and Wagah border ceremony. We had breakfast from PR residency and went to Golden temple by 10AM.

Breakfast in Hotel PR Residency.

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After the breakfast, we started our drive to the Golden temple. We had the first hand experience of Punjab traffic. Never in my life I have seen such suicidal driving. I think terms like defensive driving, look before turning, lane disciple, safety first etc are unheard in Punjab.

Manoj parked the Innova in the multi level parking area of the temple and we took an electric car to temple which cost us Rs 100.00.

It was an amazing experience at temple. Foot wears are not allowed inside the temple. But there is a free counter where you can handover your foot wear.

The temple is huge and very crowded. But the volunteers manage the show well. All have to wear head scarfs inside the temple. The scarfs can be bought for Rs10 from outside or you can use your handkerchief.

Near Golden temple

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The Golden temple

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We had the free lunch from the public kitchen. There was a small queue infront of the dining area. The meals was vegetarian and was simple, nourishing and tasty.

It consisted of rotis, rice, daal, a vegetable dish and a sweet (Jilebi).

After the lunch, we visited the Jalian Walla bagh. The built up area inside the bagh is still preserved.

Jalian Walla Bagh

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Martyrs well.

Many protesters jumped into this well in order to escape from the bullets. But the soldiers fired into the well and killed many

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Firing point

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Our hero

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After the Jalian Wallah Bagh visit, we went to Atari

Day 8...to be continued
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Old 23rd April 2017, 17:25   #10
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Default re: Our 9 day holiday in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh

DAY8 (20th March 2015)..Continued...

After the Jalain walla bagh visit, We started to Atari for the retreat ceremony by 2PM and reached there by about 315pm. Atari is about 30Km away from Golden temple.

Visitors have to walk about a KM from vehicle parking ground to the parade ground.

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The retreat ceremony was awesome with all the patriotic songs, marches, dance etc. The heat was unbearable though.

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Snipper

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The Crowd

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The Delhi-Lahore-Delhi Bus

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Getting Ready

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The Parade Begins

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Performances

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The flag dehoisting ceremony begins

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BSF Jawans

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The ceremony concluded by about 6 pm and we returned to Golden temple to see it in night.

The view of golden temple at night is an awesome sight.

Golden temple at night

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After the temple visit, we did shopping in Shastrimarket. Clothes are available at very cheap rates there, when compared to cost in Kerala.
We did buy some sweets also and returned to hotel by 10 45PM
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Old 23rd April 2017, 17:30   #11
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Day9 (21st March 2015)

This is the last day of our trip. For the last 9 days we had an exicting time together.

We checked out by about 530AM and started our non stop journey to Chandigarh. The Amritsar-Chandigarh distance is about 250KMs and both the driver and we didn't
know the route. With the help of Google map we somehow managed to cover the journey without much delay. The route we took was Amritsar-Jalandharbypass- Ludhiyana bypass-Samrala-Chandigarh route

The Amritsar-Chandigarh route we took.

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It was a non stop drive, even without breakfast and just one bio break and we reached Chandigarh by 11AM. We had some snacks from Airport as breakfast.

We thanked Manoj for the good service he has rendered for the last 9 days. He has driven about 1350KMs with us through the Himachal and Punjab roads. He is a very soft spoken and safe driver. He is not fluent in English, though he understand some sentences. His contact number was Nine 8053406 eight five.

Manoj with his Innova

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The AirAsia flight from Banglore soon landed and boarding was completed by 1250pm.

The bird

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Flight took off by 1PM and landed in Banglore by 3 55PM.

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From Bangalore, we had different ways to go. I caught the Madiwala Vayuvajra BMTC bus (Rs230) and dropped at Madiwala by 6PM.
My Kallada G4 bus to TVM was scheduled at 9PM. My colleagues also caught their respective buses and trains and reached home the next day.
My bus came on time and reached home by 8AM next day. Thus the wonderful trip came to an end.

It was exciting trip covering 852Kms by rail, 1390 Kms by Innova, 725 Kms by Bus and approx 3890KMs by air in 10 days.

For all of us, it was our first Himalayan trip and, hopefully, more to follow.

Bye.
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Old 24th April 2017, 10:05   #12
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Last edited by GTO : 24th April 2017 at 10:06. Reason: Bump
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Old 24th April 2017, 14:47   #13
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Default Re: Our 9 day holiday in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh

An excellent extensive trip log of Punjab-Himachal with a lot of very useful information on stays, routes and restaurants. The pictures of Solang Valley snow and Golden Temple were stunning. Thanks, ontheroad.
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Old 24th April 2017, 22:32   #14
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Default Re: Our 9 day holiday in Punjab & Himachal Pradesh

Great travelogue ontheroad! The pictures look great.

What was the travel agency like? Did they meet your expectations and would you recommend them?
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Old 25th April 2017, 22:31   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s4ch View Post
Great travelogue ontheroad! The pictures look great.

What was the travel agency like? Did they meet your expectations and would you recommend them?
They were quite professional. All arrangements were done by them as we asked them to do. Would definitely recommend.
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