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Old 9th May 2017, 22:22   #16
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Default Day 11: Manali - Solang Valley – Chail (259 Kms)

Day 11: Manali - Solang Valley – Chail (259 Kms):

The hotel is on the river side and this was the view
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-2.jpg

We were all excited about the prospects of that day and woke up early. It was freezing cold. We had a long day ahead of us, A visit to Solang Valley followed by a 300kms/10hrs drive to Chail.

The plan was to finish Solang valley visit as soon as possible and then proceed towards Chail.

After a nice breakfast at the hotel,we started towards Solang valley which was about 17kms from the hotel.

On the way to Solang, we rented the snow suits and accessories which I thought was unnecessary initially. Later, I realized that it was very much necessary to play in the snow without catching hypothermia. We were all suited up and ready to experience the snow.

On the way to Manali town

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-3.jpg

After crossing Manali
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-4.jpg

At the check post, they verified the PUC certificate and noted the vehicles details

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-7.jpg

Some wide roads towards Solang valley


More videos



Solang Valley:

We reached the valley by 9 AM and the crowd was less with around 10 cars in the parking area.

At the parking, Solang Valley
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-8.jpg

From the parking area, it was a trek of 2-3kms to reach the snow point. The terrain was rough and rocky. It proved to be difficult to trek .

There was another path as well which some trucks were taking. The entire area was the construction site for the tunnel project. So, the options were trekking or horse riding to reach the snow point.

Initially we started to trek, but then realized this is not going to work. We were sure that our younger one will want us to carry him half-way through. So, we decided to hire 3 horses to take us up to the snow point.

The horse ride was a bit on the scarier side as the terrain was too rocky. It was about 30 minute horse ride to reach the drop point. After we were dropped, we crossed few small streams by walk to reach the snow point.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-ps1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-ps2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-ps3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-ps4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-ps5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-ps6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s4.jpg

The place got crowded in no time
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s5.jpg

Since it had rained in the previous days, the snow had mixed with dirt and become slushy. Nevertheless, the kids were excited to roll around in the snow.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-s8.jpg

Someone wanted to bring this snowball home

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-photogrid_1494224067032.jpg

We spent around one hour here and the crowd started trickling in. So, we decided to return.

We couldn’t leave this lovely place without having some Masala Maggi and garma garam chai. We called for our horse jockey and returned to the parking area.

Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 22:49.
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Old 9th May 2017, 23:01   #17
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Default Re: Day 11: Manali - Solang Valley – Chail

Jam-packed parking:
We were shocked by the sight that awaited us in the parking area. It was jam-packed with vehicles. There were only about 10 cars when we parked. It was a very wise decision that we came early.

This was how the parking area looked when we returned. There were also cars were parked for around 2kms on both sides of the road.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking.jpg


From dashcam, when we parked the car
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking1.jpg

From dashcam, when we returned from the snow point
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking3.jpg

Parked on both sides for around 2Kms
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking5.jpg

Few pics taken during the return on the Sollang Valley - Manali stretch
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r6.jpg

Looked like private bus depo
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r9.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r8.jpg

We reached our room by 1:15 PM and decided to check-out and start our journey towards Chail.

A nice experience during Check-Out:

Something that we missed while returning was to withdraw money from ATM. We were short of cash after our expenses in Solang Valley (for snow suits, horse riding etc.). And the POS machine in the hotel was not working. With the nearest ATM around 3-4Kms away , we were going to be delayed for our journey towards Chail. The hotel Manager realized our predicament quickly and suggested us to do an online transfer of the money after we reach Chail. We were surprised with his offer; after all we were strangers/tourists to him. I was still willing to go to an ATM and settle the bill before leaving. But, he was very cool and insisted us to pay the next day after reaching Chail. We agreed to this offer and took his bank account details and mobile number and left the hotel. It was 1:45 PM by then.

Route was via Mandi, Shimla

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-mc4.jpg

At around 2:15 PM, we stopped for food on the way(Bhallus Cafι), probably the worst food experience during the trip. It was a 45-50 minutes stop.

We stopped again for some shopping at 3:15 PM, this took 30 minutes. My wife wanted to buy Kullu shawls and sweaters even though we live in the tropical Bengaluru.

Some pics on the way to Mandi
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-mc1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-mc2.jpg

It started raining when we were nearing Mandi
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-mc3.jpg

We crossed Mandi by 5:45 PM and decided to refuel there.

Another 137 kms to Shimla and from Shimla, Chail was another 60 kms.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170407_180957.jpg

  • At Mandi, we bought lot of fruits to eat along the way. None of us were interested to stop for dinner. So, we managed with fruits and stopped for just 5-10 minutes in between.
  • The roads and traffic was very mixed throughout.
  • Few stretches had heavy truck traffic coupled with bad roads.
  • Crossed Shimla around 11:00 PM
Kandaghat - Chail:

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-mc5.jpg
  • Kandaghat – Chail stretch was a fun drive in middle of the night.
  • This entire stretch of 30kms is very narrow with winding roads.
  • Roads were in good condition
  • Absolutely no oncoming traffic throughout the drive
  • It was pitch dark and only our headlights and the GPS to guide us.
  • We had no clue of the landscapes on either side of the road. A valley? A river? How deep was the fall? Absolutely no clue.
  • It took us around 40-45 minutes to reach our hotel by 12:30 PM
  • All of us were very tired and went to sleep right away.


Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 08:01.
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Old 13th May 2017, 12:25   #18
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Default Day 12 – Chail Palace, Cricket Ground (24 Kms)

Day 12 – Chail Palace, Cricket Ground (24 Kms):

We didn’t have many plans for this day as we wanted to rest and relax. This hotel was situated in a nice location and food served here was excellent. Also, the rooms were spacious and the service was very good. This was one hotel which was booked in advance by HVK CHD.

Chail Palace and the world’s highest cricket ground were nearby. So, we decided to visit just these places.

View from our room
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h1.jpg


Cottages
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h2.jpg

Car parking
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h3.jpg

Chail Palace:

Source: Wiki

In 1891, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala incurred the rage of Lord Kitchener. It led to the restriction of his entry in the Indian summer capital, Shimla. This incensed the Maharaja and he vowed to build a new summer retreat for himself. So he rebuilt the place (Chail) as per his requirements.

After accession to the Indian Union, Maharaja of Patiala donated most of his buildings to Chail Military School and Government of India.

The Chail Palace is well known for its architecture: the palace was built as summer retreat by the Maharaja of Patiala during the British Raj, on the land allotted to him by the British for former's assistance in the Anglo-Nepalese War.
Entrance gate of the palace
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp2.jpg

The Palace
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp2a.jpg

The interiors
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp9.jpg

Some open space to sit and relax
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp10.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp12.jpg

Kids play area
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp13.jpg

Car Parking
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp14.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp15.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cp16.jpg

You have an option to stay here as well, http://www.chailholidays.com/thepalace/
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-capture.jpg


Chail Cricket Ground

Source: Wiki

Chail Cricket Ground was established in 1893 by Bhupinder Singh Maharaja of Patiala who made Chail as his summer capital. The ground located at 2444 meters above sea level that make highest cricket ground in the world. The ground is surrounded by forest and is used as the school playground by Chail Military School. During school vacations, it is also used for Polo.

There is a well maintained Basketball court as well.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cg1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cg2.jpg

Basket ball ground
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cg3.jpg

On the way to the cricket ground
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-cg4.jpg



Some random road pics taken around Chail
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r5.jpg

Chail bus stand
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170408_140858.jpg

Yummy Maggi
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170408_153537.jpg

Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 08:03.
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Old 13th May 2017, 18:13   #19
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Default Day 13: Kufri – Narkand – Hatu Peak (174 Kms)

Day 13: Kufri – Narkand – Hatu Peak (174 Kms):

Let me first talk about the adventure that Hatu peak is.

Hatu Peak:
  • The last 5Kms to reach Hatu peak was a really challenging one.
  • It was a steep climb along a very narrow road. The road condition was not great with sharp hairpin bends and no space for oncoming traffic.
  • We had to keep honking to alert the oncoming traffic and keep listening for any honking sounds just so that you can wait by the side if you are near a clearing.
  • Some hairpin bends had loose sand/gravel causing scary wheel spins.
  • It was an exhausting drive and I took some good 30 minutes rest after reaching the top.
  • At the end of this post, I have attached a small clipping captured during the decent from Hatu peak.
Chail - Hatu Peak
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-hatu1.jpg

The road in the middle(green arrow) leads to Hatu peak

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c1a.jpg

Rough and narrow terrain
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c5.jpg

Precarious roads
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p1.jpg

At the peak
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p2.jpg

Taking some well-deserved rest
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-p9.jpg

The decline during the return
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r2.jpg

Some snow still remaining
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r8.jpg

Here is a short clipping of our decent from Hatu peak. The video of uphill climb was not clear because of sunlight.




Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 08:09.
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Old 16th May 2017, 23:04   #20
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Default Re: Day 13: Kufri – Narkand – Hatu Peak


While going towards Kufri from Chail
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-1.jpg


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-3.jpg

Here are few pics taken on the Kufri – Narkand stretch:
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-4.jpg

Stopped for a quick Maggi breakfast
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-7.jpg

Roads between Kufri and Narkand were wide and decent
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-9.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-10.jpg

Some nice curvy roads

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-11.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-12.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-13.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-16.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-14.jpg

During the return towards Kufri-Chail after visiting Hatu Peak
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-17.jpg

Spotted this nice hockey ground on the way
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-18.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-19.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-21.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-23.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-24.jpg

Spotted this toppled tempo trax during our return, hanging off the cliff
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-capture.jpg

A short clipping on the Kufri to Narkand stretch



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Default Day 14: The return journey starts – Chail – Ambala – Noida – Agra (579 Kms)

Day 14: The return journey starts – Chail – Ambala – Noida – Agra (579 Kms):

Time had come to say bye to the mountains and get back to where we started. The trip had been splendid so far and it was saddening to start our return journey. Plan was to start pretty early from Chail but the cold weather made an early start difficult.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-capture.jpg
  • We started by 7:00 AM and the temperature was 8 degrees then.
  • The initial 30Kms was the same route that we did during the midnight drive to chail. We finally got a chance to see the landscape along this route.
Kandaghat - till Kalka
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-capture5.jpg
  • We hit the highway (Kandaghat) in about 35-40 minutes.
  • On the way to Kalka, we stopped to buy some Himachali pickle/jam from one of the many stores that lined this stretch.
  • The roads were curvy and winding till Kalka.
  • Traffic was little on the higher side both-ways so overtaking was tough and at times I had to follow a long train of vehicles at a slow pace. Very frustrating!
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-1.jpg

Lot of road work were happening in this stretch. So it was very dusty.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-2.jpg

Short clipping, Kandaghat(Himachal Pradesh) towards Kalka, ghat roads


Short clipping, Kandaghat(Himachal Pradesh) towards Kalka, dusty roads due to road work




By 9:30 AM we reached the plains. And we started to feel the heat that we escaped for the past 10 days.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-3.jpg


Refueled at a BP and proceeded to Ambala.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-4.jpg


Fast(slow)ag
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-6.jpg

HR bus, my elder one was more interested in clicking buses
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-7.jpg

We had plans to meet a friend in Ambala. So, we entered Ambala instead of bypassing it. His house was around 10Kms off the highway. We spent close to 3 hours there before resuming our journey towards Noida.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-9.jpg

  • Nice 4L lane roads throughout but the traffic was on the higher side.
  • We did a mistake at Panipat. There was a flyover which skips the Panipat town traffic with a toll booth just before it. I was on the leftmost toll booth and while exiting, I missed the flyover entry by mistake which is on the right side of the road. So, we ended up going through multiple signals before joining back on this highway.
We entered Delhi at 3:45 PM
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-10_delhi-entry.jpg

The traffic while crossing Delhi was smooth and easy.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-11.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-12.jpg

Reached Noida by 4:35 PM.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-13.jpg

Reached Sector 125 by 5:00 PM, this is a very nice service lane
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-14.jpg
  • We met a few of our friends here. We spent around 2 hours and finished our dinner with them.
  • Started by 7:30 PM and took the expressway to Agra.
  • Reached our hotel room in Agra by 9:30 PM.


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Default Day 15: Agra – Gwalior – Jhansi – Sagar -Nagpur (863 Kms)

Day 15: Agra – Gwalior – Jhansi – Sagar -Nagpur (863 Kms):

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-capture.jpg
  • Started from Agra at 8:00 AM after breakfast at the hotel and stopped a few times on the way for buying fruits and some Agra famous Peta.
  • We refueled at an IOC bunk and ended up wasting 10 minutes after refueling.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-1.jpg

Two truckers were blocking my way an they were not willing to reverse despite the request from the petrol bunk guys. We wasted 10 minutes
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-2.jpg

Towards Gwalior, this was a decent 4L stretch but slowed us down while crossing towns.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-4.jpg

UP bus
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-6.jpg

Crossing towns were a pain
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-7.jpg

Gwalior - Jhansi:

This is probable the worst 4L stretch that I have seen in this trip. It looked like 4L construction had been abandoned for years and there were no proper sign boards for diversions. Roads were in a pathetic shape as well. Many a times, people were driving on the wrong side because the other side was not in a good condition. This stretch is a total confusion for first-timers because at many points you would not be sure on which side to drive. This was the slowest sector between Agra to Nagpur.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-9.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-10.jpg

After crossing Jhansi

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-11.jpg


Spotted a BP Coco near Lalitpur, so I refueled the car to avoid a fuel pit stop till Nagpur. It was 1:00 PM then and we had done around 340 Kms.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-12.jpg


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-13.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-14.jpg
  • During this entire stretch, we spotted lot of cows sitting on the divider, so we had to be extra cautious while traveling in this stretch. The cows made us to stop in the middle of the road twice :-)
For lunch, we stopped at Pathway Retreat near Sagar. This was good restaurant with clean toilets.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-15.jpg


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-16.jpg

Narsinghpur - Nagpur:

From Narsinghpur, we did the mistake of taking the Seoni route instead of the Chhindwara route, the roads till the 4L stretch are good. Once we entered the forest area, it was 2L and the road conditions turned to average/bad with potholes. Later, there was a 25-30Kms stretch which was very bad due to 4L construction.

The worst part was that both the high beam lights blew the fuse while doing this bad stretch and I had to manage with low beam + fog lamps till Nagpur. We reached Nagpur by 9:00 PM

Via Seoni
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-17.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-18.jpg

1828 Kms to Kanyakumari
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-19.jpg

Overall, it took us 12 hours and 30 minutes to reach Nagpur. (8:30 AM, Agra Exit to 9:00 PM, Nagpur entry)

Drama at the hotel:

We were ready to check-in and the guy in charge asked us for our marriage certificate. It really didn’t look sensible to me because we are there with two kids aged 9 and 4. We had to escalate to his Manager who later apologized personally for this incident.

We had our dinner at the hotel and called it a day.

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Default Day 16: Visit to Narrow Gauge Rail Museum, Nagpur

Day 16: Visit to Narrow Gauge Rail Museum, Nagpur:

We started the day with a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel. After check-out, we started toward the Rail Museum with little traffic around.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c3a.jpg


Our kids were looking forward to this and we reached there by 10:00 AM. But it was closed and they asked us to come by 11:00 AM. So, we took this as chance to drive around the city and came back by 11:00 AM. It was super hot by then and the temperature was in 40s.

Both our kids are crazy about trains and locomotives.. So, the visit to the rail museum was like a trip to the candy land for them. They explored every engine and bogey kept on display. There were absolutely no visitors at that time. So, the kids had fun running around the engines and exploring. We spent more than one hour before we decided to leave.

Here are few pics,

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-6-2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-9.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-10.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-11.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-12.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-13.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-14.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-15.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-16.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-17.jpg

Zero Mile Stone:

Source:Wiki

Zero Mile Stone is a monument locating the geographical centre of colonial India in the city of Nagpur, Maharashtra. The Zero Mile Stone was erected by the British who used this point to measure all the distances. The Zero Mile Stone consists of four horses and a pillar made up of sandstone. In 2008, The Times of India undertook to maintain the monument for the next 5 years. It is located on the south east of Vidhan Bhavan, Nagpur.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-188.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-19.jpg

We were hungry and tired after the rail museum visit and decided to have lunch at the Nagpur-famous Haldirams outlet. The lunch was yumm and we also bought some sweets to take back home.

Google helped us to locate this outlet

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c4.jpg

Yummy food at Haldiram's
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c5.jpg

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Default Day 16: Nagpur – Hyderabad (590 Kms)

Day 16: Nagpur – Hyderabad (590 Kms):

It was time to start towards Hyderabad after lunch. We refueled before exiting the city at a HP bunk and it was 2:15 PM by then.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-capture.jpg

At around 3:00 PM, we had to stop at this railway crossing for few minutes.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170412_150903.jpg


From then, it was a nonstop drive towards Hyderabad on some clean and traffic-free roads
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c6road.jpg


The stretch of 80kms before Adilabad slowed us down. However, 30kms in between this 80kms was covered with good 4L roads. The rest 50kms had diversions but no potholes. It took us 65 minutes to cover this 80kms. Traffic was very minimal.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c7roadbad.jpg


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c8road.jpg

My elder one was keen to spot and click every state bus, so here was his chance to click AP registered bus.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c9.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c10.jpg

We reached ORR, Hyderabad exactly at 8:00PM. There was some traffic at the entry to ORR.

As per our initial plan, we were supposed to stay in Vijaywada but at Nagpur we decided to pit at Hyderabad. The room was booked in Madhapur and we had our dinner at the famous Paradise.

How can we miss the Paradise biriyani after visiting hyderabad?!
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c11.jpg

After a sumptuous dinner we went back to the room by 10:30 PM and called it day.

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Default Day 17: Visiting friends and then drive to Chennai via Vijayawada(823 Kms)

Day 17: Visiting friends and then drive to Chennai via Vijayawada (823 Kms) :

The plan was to start after noon to Chennai, after fixing the headlight bulb issue and visiting one of our friends place and my office here.
  • Checked-out by 7:30 AM
  • We had a nice breakfast at our friends place. Hyderabad is always special to us as we lived there for 5 yrs during our initial years of marriage. We have lots of friends here.There is never enough time to catch up with them all. So, we were glad for the opportunity to meet this dear family.
  • Fixed the bulb issue. Since both the bulbs gave up at the same time, I assumed it would be a connection issue but after checking it out, we found that they both blew the fuse at the same time.
  • Refueled at an IOC Coco in Hitec city
  • Visited my colleagues at my office.
Traffic while going towards Hitec city
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h1.jpg

Started towards Chennai by 1:45 PM from Hitec city.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map1.jpg
  • We decided to take the Vijayawada route as we had not taken this route before.
  • Had a nice relaxed drive on the ORR and entered the Vijayawada highway. It was an uneventful drive till Vijayawada
On the ORR
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h2.jpg

A Mercedes GL 350 CDI disappearing in no time, ORR - Hyderabad


After entering the Vijayawada highway
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h3.jpg


A quick stop on the way
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h4.jpg

Crossing Vijayawada town:
  • Crossing this city was a pain because the bypass was closed for some construction work.
  • No proper diversion boards.
  • And Google maps was rerouting us towards the bypass. We once ended up in a narrow street and luckily we exited this stretch without getting into much trouble.
  • Later, we decided to take the proper city roads and somehow we managed to cross the city.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h6.jpg
  • It took us close to one hour to get out of the city.
  • Few kms before NH5 Food Plaza, we stopped for refueling at an IOC Coco. It was 485 Kms and 7:50 PM by then.
  • We stopped at NH5 Food Plaza for dinner 10 minutes later. It was a very nice place with good food and clean restrooms. And probably a unique location with the hotel located above a toll plaza

Interestingly, Fastag deducted the toll charge twice. Once while parking and then while crossing the toll. I have raised a ticket for the same.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h9.jpg
  • After a good one hour stop here, we resumed our journey towards Chennai.
  • At around 11:00 PM, I stopped near one of the tolls for a quick power nap(my only power nap in this entire trip) and reached Guindy in Chennai by 1:15 AM.
  • It took us 11H:30M including breaks from Hyderabad to Chennai.
  • The last 70-80 Kms was not in a great shape.

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Default Day 18: Chennai – Nagercoil(690 Kms), Day 19 - Rest day(9 Kms)

Day 18: Chennai – Nagercoil (690 Kms):
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map2.jpg

Started from Chennai after lunch at 12:45PM, again it was very hot and the temperature was in the 40s.

Initially, the traffic was heavy while exiting Chennai and slowly it subsided.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c1.jpg

TN buses
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c2.jpg

Some open roads
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c5.jpg


Stopped for refueling at BP Coco/A2B in Sanamangalam on the Perambalur – Trichy stretch. It was 4:20 PM by then.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c6.jpg

Madurai bypass was a narrow 2L stretch and this was a big hassle to cross. It was narrow with bad roads and lot of heavy vehicles on this stretch.

Stopped at Capsi restaurant at Kayathar at around 8:30 PM for a 45-mins dinner stop.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-c7.jpg

We reached home in Nagercoil at 10:15 PM.

Day 19 - Rest day (9 Kms):

This was a rest day but the car required a proper vacuuming, so I took the car to a local guy and got it cleaned.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-n1.jpg

Gleaming under the sunlight
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-n2.jpg


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Default Day 20: Visit to Kanyakumari and the final leg towards Bangalore(702 Kms)

Day 20: Visit to Kanyakumari and the final leg towards Bangalore (702 Kms).

We did a quick visit to Kanyakumari before starting our final leg towards Bangalore.

I couldn't resist myself from clicking few pics

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k5.jpg

This is the end of National Highway 44 (NH 44) at Kanyakumari
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-k7.jpg


Final leg:


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b1.jpg
  • Filled the tank and started from Nagercoil @ 10:45 AM
  • This is a well known stretch as I have done this umpteen times and with less traffic we were able to maintain decent speeds.
  • Stops were just for tolls and Fastag doesn’t work at the first 4 tolls till Madurai.
  • Stopped at Hari’s restaurant @ Kappalur for lunch @ 1:15 PM, it was a relaxing 45 minutes stop there.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b2.jpg

After crossing Madurai

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b3.jpg

When we were few kms from Salem, it started raining heavily. The rains were so heavy that most of the traffic stopped on the shoulder of the highway. We decided not to stop and proceeded cautiously and entered Salem.

  • There were no rains when we entered Salem which surprised us. The roads were bone-dry and dusty.
  • Not much traffic while crossing Salem.
  • Stopped at Thoppur for refueling and tea break (5:45 Pm). It took 30 minutes there and we started by 6:15PM.
  • Traffic at Thoppur and Krishnagiri toll was crazy. And traffic flow after Krishnagiri was on the higher side as well.
Just before reaching our home in Bangalore, we got stuck in a traffic jam which brought us crashing into the reality that awaited us here.

We were back to reality after a glorious 8597 Kms and 20days vacation. It didn’t feel like we were returning from a 20-day cross-country drive. We didn’t feel tired or exhausted as we expected to feel, which was surprising. My wife and I concluded that our trip to our home base at the end of the trip kind of reset and recharged us. There could be no other explanation to the high we ended this trip on. This was one memorable trip which will stay with us forever.

Our previous drive gave us the confidence to do this one. The main difference between the two was that we could do and experience a lot of things in this one where we only saw the sights in the previous one. The kids are a bit older now and hence enjoyed this trip immensely. We reconfirmed that all four of us could survive being cooped up in a small car cabin for days together without wanting to tear each other apart. We also felt that we need to do such drives consistently to explore the hidden locations that our nation has to offer us. We were already discussing on which part of India to explore next. That was how much we enjoyed this trip.

ODO @ 1,21,123 Kms (We started @1,12,526 Kms)

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b5.jpg

Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 08:32.
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Old 21st May 2017, 14:42   #28
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Default Re: Day 20: Visit to Kanyakumari and the final leg towards Bangalore.

Car maintenance during this trip:
  • Refueling was done mostly in cities, big towns or Company Owned Company Operated fuel stations. Even if I had close-to half a tank fuel and I was passing a COCO or a city, I refueled the tank. The idea was to not leave it till late and feeling forced to fill in a shady fuel station.
  • Checking of oil levels and visual check of all the tyres for air pressure before the start of the day. Interestingly, I didn’t have to refill air pressure during this entire drive and at the end of the trip it was only 1-2psi down. (Only check was done during the WA/WB in Ludhiana)
  • We did our best to not leave any eatables inside the car at the end of the day. We didn’t want unwelcome visitors foraging for food into the vehicle.
How did we manage the kids?
  • We took some board games and toys along with us to entertain the kids during the lazy days at the hotels or when they were getting bored or when they started bickering with each other.
  • No stopping the car for meal breaks when the kids were asleep.
  • They have learned how to use GPS now So, we let them navigate the routes to keep them engaged.
  • Music was almost always on and we had loaded some new collection of music to keep it interesting. The kids found their own favorite songs and they were played on repeat on demand.
  • We made sure to have backup snacks sans chocolates.
  • We used steel bottles to store water instead of aquafina/kinley bottles, considering the fact that the car might be parked under hot sun and the insides will get heated up insanely.
Some Numbers:

Summary of day-wise distance covered and the routes taken

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-totalkms.jpg

A graph showing the same
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kms-covered.jpg

Some overall statistics
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A graph showing the fuel price across
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-fuel-price-range.jpg

Toll Payments/Fastag:


Total tolls: 107
@80 NHAI tolls, I was able to use the Fastag.
@2 NHAI toll, I paid manually due to the crowd in all the counters.
@19 NHAI toll, Fastag was not enabled or they were having issues with Fastag.
@6 Private tolls, it was manual payment.

My opinion on Fastag:

Its really nice to see that at 80 out of 107 tolls, we were able to use Fastag. But one needs truck loads of patience to use Fastag. If NHAI is happy with the current Fastag operations, then it’s high time they rename it to Slowtag.

Here are some of the issues with Fastag that we faced,
  • Truck traffic in Fastag lane, it’s a big drama if their tag doesn’t get detected. In one of the toll before Baroda, there were 10 trucks queued up in the single Fastag lane that was available and the other regular counters were almost empty.
  • In some tolls, they allow you only after the vehicle in front of you has crossed the toll booth.
  • At some tolls, they verify the numbers in their system before allowing us to pass.
  • At many places, it was the manual scanner which is time consuming.
  • And there are tolls where they allow us in the Fastag lane only after verifying our Fastag device on our windscreen
  • Of course, many tolls allow non-Fastag vehicles in the Fastag lane. Especially during weekends/peak hours traffic, Fastag doesn't get any respect.
  • There are many other issues too, just mentioned a few here.
Overall, it is better considered as a cashless electronic payment mode rather than a time-saving way to travel the Indian highways.

Here is one good example
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-6.jpg



Hotel Bookings:

  • Bookings at Kolhapur(1N), Karnal(1N), Amritsar(1N), Mcleodganj(1N), Manali(1N), Chail(3N), Agra(1N), Nagpur(1N), Hyderabad(1N) were all done through HVK CHD(Central Hotel Desk). Except Chail, all other bookings were done based on our location at the end of the day.
  • I did advance booking for Baroda (2N), Khajjiar(1N), Dalhousie(2N) to exhaust my payback points.
  • Our experience with HVK and his CHD team was fantastic. All his bookings were spot on with spacious and clean rooms, good service, dedicated parking etc. The only exception was Amritsar where the hotel was is in a congested lane with valet parking. Initially, they refused to give me my car keys but later after some discussion, they handed over my car keys. But again, the room was super spacious, very neat and clean.
  • Also, HVKs timely heads-up regarding eateries on the highways helped us multiple times. Especially on the dry Agra – Hyderabad stretch which doesn’t have much facilities like other highways.
  • During our drive towards Chail, his team was constantly in touch with us till we reached the hotel at 12:30 AM.
  • He had also given us maps in the RoutO app with all the routes, fuel stations, eateries, ATMs etc marked in it. It was very helpful to cross cities like Mumbai, Delhi as we need not worry about Google maps routing us through narrow lanes like what we faced in Vijayawada. And, it helped us extensively in Himachal as well.

Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 23:53.
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Old 21st May 2017, 14:46   #29
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Default Note of thanks

Note of thanks:

Team-Bhp:
As mentioned in my first post, all my research for this trip was done through team bhp threads(Route queries/Travelogues thread). So, a big thanks to all those who have contributed here.

True Sai(FASS, Salem)
– They did a flawless major service on the car a week before the trip. Complete details here.

Team-Bhpian hvkumar and HVK CHD(Central Hotel Desk)
(https://www.facebook.com/events/159377194249965/) for all his support during this trip.

Team-Bhpian Nikhilb2008 for this timely support even though he was on his vacation. And a big thanks to Monga Tyres (http://www.mongatyres.com/) as well

Team-Bhpian speedsatya for sharing his findings and ideas as he was also planning for a similar trip then. He completed his trip after mine.

Team-Bhpian paragsachania for all his suggestion on his favorite KA, MH, GJ belt and service related inputs.

Team-Bhpian nkrishnap for his suggestions during the major servicing and assisting on the bulb upgrade.

Mangesh Kodalkar (Head- CRM & Customer Care, FCA)/Arun Rajput(Fiat)
: I spoke to Mangesh before the trip regarding the Fiat Support in Himachal and on the Central India route. He gave full assurance of support in case of any issue. He also provided me with contacts for the two service centres in Himachal in advance.


Footnote:
We had fun writing this travelogue. Although, writing this proved to be more challenging than the actual drive . This was a special drive and we will come back to this thread whenever we feel like reliving this drive. If you have read till here , thank you so much for reading this. Hope you enjoyed our travelogue.

Last edited by ampere : 22nd May 2017 at 09:15.
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Old 22nd May 2017, 09:06   #30
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Default Re: 8597 Kms - Exploring the Himachal : Amritsar – Khajiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chai

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

Wow! What a jam packed travelogue Arun! Will surely inspire many from the south to take up long drives into the hills of North. We had visited these places (Manali/Dharamshala/Dalhousie) quite some time back, but we were on public transport then. McLeod Ganj surely is an awesome place to unwind.

While traveling from Manali to Dharamshala, we halted at a Dhaba late in the night. I distinctly remember Floyd being played. And guess the song? Comfortably Numb!

Last edited by ampere : 22nd May 2017 at 13:32.
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