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Old 22nd April 2017, 20:39   #1
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Default 8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-picsart_042608.42.36.jpg

It was close to 2 years since our previous cross-country drive to Uttrakhand (7618 kms Summer Road-Trip: Bangalore -> Kausani (Uttarakhand) -> Kanyakumari) and the irresistible urge for such a long drive started again. So, since December 2016, my wife and I started discussing on a cross-country drive during Summer 2017 but the discussion would die down in a day or two. However, one fine day we decided to fix a location and then do the planning later, at least this would allow me to do some research on the places to visit.

Places Considered:
  1. GJ and RJ – Dropped because it will be very hot during summer.
  2. Golden Quadrilateral – Dropped for the same reason as above.
  3. Sikkim/North East – Our younger son is too young to enjoy the far reaches of the North East
Once again it came down to a location in North India and we decided on Himachal Pradesh even though at some point we tried to combine Kashmir but dropped it later.

Planning:

This is the very interesting part for me and as usual I started with an Excel spreadsheet and Google Maps. I started with Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and it went on . Of course, various TLs and Route/Queries thread in team-bhp answered a lot of my questions. Bhpian speedsatya too helped me with various information as he was also planning a similar trip.

Later I had a talk with bhpian hvkumar (HVK Central Help Desk) about my plan and he helped me fine tune it further and I informed him that I will be taking his assistance for hotel booking throughout this trip.

After many changes, the final plan came down to Amritsar, Khajjiar, Dalhousie, Dharamshala, Chail and Kuffri. Manali was a last minute addition which we decided while we were on the way from Dharamshala to Chail.

Here is the map, with my hometown Kanyakumari/Nagercoil added as we went there at the end of the trip before returning to Bangalore.

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

Preparation:
  • With Linea close to 1,12,000 kms, I decided to do the 1,20,000Kms in advance and decided to replace Clutch, Master and Slave Cylinders as well.
  • Replaced the tyres which were 75K kms old.
And we decided to carry the following with us,
  • Glass breaker/Seat belt cutter
  • Torch light,
  • Power bank
  • Pepper spray (we borrowed this from my friend)
  • a spare unused mobile that was lying idle at home.
  • We didn’t carry much snacks this time because we decided to get local snacks/sweets from the places that we were crossing.
  • Bought steel water bottles and decided to fill these bottles. We didn’t want to store water in plastic bottles.
Few tips that we decided to follow during the drive:
  • Check the oil levels before the start every day.
  • Do a visual check of all the tyres during every stops for any reduction in air.
  • Refuel whenever we cross cities or Coco fuel stations. (Basically we didn't want to refill in remote areas)
  • Don’t stop for meals when kids are sleeping and if the adults aren’t hungry.
  • Keep updating friends/parents with location update.
  • Make sure to charge the mobiles and power bank in hotel
  • Make sure to have backup food/snacks.
  • Have backup Credit Cards and Cash spread out in multiple accounts.
  • No tight targets or timelines during drive.
  • Take power naps whenever necessary.
Now with most of the things in place and the D-day nearing, I was getting restless with sleepless nights.

Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:26.
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Old 22nd April 2017, 21:23   #2
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Default Day 1: Bangalore – Kolhapur (670 Kms)

Day 1: Bangalore – Kolhapur (670 Kms):

This was not an early morning start because we decided to start the journey one day earlier after work and cover some distance. So, plan was to start by 2:00 PM and drive till Hubli for that day. However, we ended up driving till Kolhapur for the stay.

Despite some delays at work, we started exactly at 2:00 PM.

All the luggage loaded and ready to go.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170328_135920.jpg


ODO just before the start,
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-odo.jpg

Towards Tumkur road on the NICE
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-nice.jpg
  • Traffic was little high on the NICE road and couldn't go beyond 80 Kmph
  • After crossing Tumkur, I was able to do some good speeds and increase our average speed.

Some open roads after crossing Tumkur
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7024.jpg


Sun setting for the day
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7036.jpg
  • Since I was not feeling tired and the kids were sleeping we decided to stretch till Kolhapur after checking with hvkumar. (Initial plan was Hubli or Belgaum)
  • By 9PM we crossed Belgaum and stopped for 5 mins in a lay-by.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-first-stop.jpg
  • Dinner stop was at Hotel Amar,Only Veg. This place was crowded and we had to wait for 10mins to get a table. We had lunch here during our Uttarakhand drive.
  • They didn’t accept Credit Card; so, paid by cash.
  • We stopped at BP, Nipani to refuel. Credit card payment was accepted here.
  • Proceeded to Kolhapur for our night stay, we reached the hotel by 10:40 PM.
  • It was a good spacious room and I was happy with the secured parking at the hotel.
So, overall it was a good day as we were able to cover 630 kms and reach Kolhapur instead of Hubli/Belgaum. This also helped us to be little relaxed for the next day’s drive.

Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 21:18.
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Old 22nd April 2017, 22:35   #3
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Default Day Two: Kolhapur – Pune - Mumbai - Baroda (733 Kms)

Day Two: Kolhapur – Pune - Mumbai - Baroda (733 Kms):

This was going to be one long day because we had to cross the two major cities, Pune and Mumbai and cover 700+ Kms. So, the plan was to start by 6:00AM
  • We were able to check-out and hit the road by 6:15 AM.
  • It took 5-10 mins to join the highway and we slowly picked up the speed.
Some open roads,
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-before-bf.jpg

  • After around 100 Kms of drive, we decided to stop at Vithal Kamat for breakfast at 7:30 AM
  • This hotel had just opened for the day, so it took a while to get food here.


Parking at Vithal Kamat
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170329_080123.jpg

Misal Pav
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-bf.jpg
  • After a 45-mins stop, we started towards Pune.
  • We crossed multiple tunnels on the way and kids enjoyed it.


Tunnels on the way to Pune
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-tunnel1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-tunnel2.jpg


Crossed Pune around 10-10:15 AM and encountered some traffic,

Traffic while crossing Pune
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170329_101046.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170329_101637.jpg


After crossing Pune, we took the Pune-Mumbai expressway and had a pleasant drive with less traffic.



Pune-Mumbai Expressway
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-e1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-e2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-e3.jpg
  • We entered Mumbai by 12:00 PM and exited by 1:00 PM
  • During our last drive, we crossed Mumbai in early hours. This time we could look around and get a feel of Mumbai
  • We didn’t face much traffic in Mumbai and it was a smooth flow.

Mumbai Traffic
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m2.jpg
  • After crossing Mumbai, it was time to stop for lunch and we started looking for a pit stop.
  • At around 2:15PM, we stopped for lunch. Thanks to Parag(paragsachania) for suggesting this place.
Post lunch we were looking forward to cross the new bridge across the Narmada river. During our last drive,we were stuck for close to 3 hours here due to traffic jam.
  • We stopped at BP (which is along with Sugar and Spice) for refueling, at 4:00 PM
  • Traffic around Surat was a pain with average speed coming down to 40-50kmph.
  • We crossed Narmada river little before 6:00 PM
  • It was a smooth flow and this time we didn’t even have to brake here.
  • It was a nice feeling while crossing through this bridge after the last trip’s ordeal here.
  • We were reminded of our last time crossing this river and were recollecting the 2 hr 45 min traffic jam that we encountered here.
The new bridge over River Narmada
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170329_175457.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170329_175522.jpg


We reached Baroda by 7:00 PM, this being peak hour, we encountered some traffic on the way to hotel which was inside the City. We stayed in Hotel Ginger and we liked the location as it was closer to many places.
  • After check-in, we decided to go for a walk and then have dinner.
  • Had dinner in a fast-food place which was nice. And, had some delicious kulfis for dessert as well.
  • Settled for the night in our room.


Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:32.
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Old 23rd April 2017, 21:46   #4
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Default Day 3: Baroda (37 Kms)

Day 3: Baroda (37 Kms)

This was rest day as I had to meet a friend here. A quick Google search told us that Lakshmi Vilas Mahal and the Bus Station are popular tourist spots. So, we decided to see these places on an otherwise slow and relaxing day.

Everyone was up as early as 6:30am and we had a nice buffet breakfast which was complimentary.

Lakshmi Vilas Mahal


After lunch, we went out to visit Lakshmi Villas Mahal, here are few pics. We are not allowed to take pics inside the mahal. So, I took few pics of its exterior.


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m3.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m7.jpg

Some green lawns, kids enjoyed running around.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m9.jpg

Nice parking place under the shades

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m10.jpg

Baroda Bus station:

After the Mahal visit, we were going around the city and while crossing the Railway station and Bus station, my kids insisted me to visit the bus station. So, we made a quick visit. This is probably only of the nicest and cleanest bus station that I have seen.


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b2.jpg

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

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-b4.jpg

After dinner, we filled the tank and bought some local sweets/snacks and called it a day as the plan was to start early next day.

Also, we checked with the hotel guys, if they can pack our complementary breakfast and they agreed to pack some sandwiches, juice and bananas.

Overall,
  • I found this city clean, at least the places we crossed.
  • Traffic flow was smooth with very less honking compared to other cities.
  • No urgency shown by fellow road users.

Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:55.
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Old 23rd April 2017, 22:53   #5
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Default Day 4: Baroda – Udaipur – Jaipur – Rohtak – Panipat – Karnal (1178 Kms)

Day 4: Baroda – Udaipur – Jaipur – Rohtak – Panipat – Karnal (1178 Kms):

The day started with a plan to reach Jaipur for the stay. But later, we realized that we can very much cross Jaipur and finally ended the day with a stay in Karnal,Haryana. (Thanks to HVK CHD for the flexibility we get with Hotel bookings)
  • Plan was to start early from Baroda and we started exactly at 4:45 AM
  • Hotel guys packed up the complimentary breakfast, so we didn’t have to worry about the breakfast stop.
The packed breakfast
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7108.jpg
  • We took the Halol route and the traffic was less.
  • Something that amused me in this stretch was that at every toll, there were no Fastag lane or any boards indicating Fastag acceptance. But at the counter, I kept saying Fastag and they allowed me without any questions. Only later, I found out that cars are exempted from paying tolls in this route.
During a quick stop after the sun came out

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

Some nice open roads

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-bud2.jpg

Some uneven stretch

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-bud3.jpg

Getting closer to Udaipur

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7113.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7116.jpg

Udaipur pitstop:
  • During our last visit to Udaipur, we fell in love with the yummy ghevar that is special to Rajasthan. So, this time we decided to enter Udaipur to buy some ghevar and accidentally ended up in the same shop that we bought ghevar from the last trip. That was a funny moment to recollect the locality we stayed during our last trip.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7123.jpg
  • I refilled the fuel in a BP here.
  • So, we spent around 30 minutes before resuming our journey towards Jaipur
A quick stop for 5 minutes at 12:15 PM
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170331_121338.jpg
  • Kids fell sleep after this stop, so we decided to push our lunch stop.

    Stopped for lunch in a CCD on the way at around 3:30pm.8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170331_153021.jpg
  • After 45-50 minutes, we resumed our journey and within few minutes, we stopped for a fuel stop.
  • As we were inching towards Jaipur, the traffic started increasing and slowed us down.
Beyond Jaipur
  • We took the Jaipur bypass and felt happy as I was able maintain some good speeds.
  • However this happiness was short-lived as there was some mad traffic at the next toll. I had to do some off-roading as it was full of trucks all around.
Going between trucks and then to extreme left
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170331_171547.jpg

If you look closely at the ORVM, you can see two trucks stuck as they tried to enter a lane together
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170331_172219.jpg
  • It took some 20 minutes to get out of this toll.
  • From now on, it was just trucks, trucks and more trucks on the road. I have never seen so many trucks in any route. This also kept our average speed down for the next 180 Kms.
Occasional open roads
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7133.jpg
  • Once we exited this highway and entered the Rohtak – Panipat – Karnal route, the traffic was less and I was able to up the speed.
  • Meanwhile, the room was booked in Karnal and we updated the hotel about our late arrival. They were kind enough to ask us about our dinner plans. We ordered over phone as we didn’t want to stop anywhere else.
  • We reached the hotel by 10:45 PM.
  • We got a very spacious and comfortable room.
  • After a sumptuous dinner, we settled for the night

Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 21:33.
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Old 25th April 2017, 10:22   #6
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Default Day 5: Karnal - Ludhiana - Wagah border – Amritsar (444 Kms)

Day 5: Karnal - Ludhiana - Wagah border – Amritsar (444 Kms):

After a good 10 hours rest
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_090340.jpg
  • Had a nice complimentary breakfast(paranthas) at the hotel
  • We started around 9:15 AM
  • It was all 6L/4L roads till Ludhiana but the traffic was on the higher side.
Some pics of the open roads towards Ludhiana
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_093759.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_095727.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_101747.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_101801.jpg

During the drive from the last two days, I went over speed breakers at good speeds at least thrice and ever since that, there was a slight vibration in the steering at around 100Kmph speed. So, I decided to get this sorted out and called team-bhpian Nikhil and he suggested me to get this done at Monga tyres in Ludhiana. Even though Nikhil was on vacation, he updated the tyre shop about my issue and they called me on the phone immediately. We decided to visit their shop on our way to Amritsar.

  • Reached Ludhiana by 12:00 PM and reached this shop in another 10 mins, it was little traffic heavy at that time.
  • This is probably the biggest tyre shop that I have seen till date
  • WL/WB was done in quick time and a test drive was done with the issue resolved to my satisfaction.
  • Now it was payment time, but these guys refused to accept the payment saying I am a guest to their state and it’s not fair to accept the payment. It was really a very nice gesture. We thanked them and started towards Wagah border.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_121613.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_121654.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_123206.jpg


We crossed Amritsar and drove towards Wagah border. This is the last toll before the border
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_154516.jpg

Visit to Wagah border: Couldn't attend the flag hoisting ceremony due to huge crowd

Plan was to reach here by 3:00 PM so that we can get a seat for the Flag hoisting ceremony. But, we got delayed by 40 minutes due to our pitstop in Ludhiana.

Another 2kms to the border
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-border-2km.jpg

An unorganized private parking, I was asked to park in Neutral/No hand brakes.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-parking2.jpg
  • The place is filled with touts and agents.
  • Even before you realize, 7-8 people surrounds you to sell all kinds of desh-bhakti items like flags and caps in tricolor. They wanted all of us to paint our faces in the tricolor. We let them paint the kids' hands. Of course, none of its free. So, we ended up paying some money here just to get these touts off our backs. This reminded us of our visit to Taj Mahal during our last drive, which is also infested with these touts and guides.
It’s a one km walk from the parking towards the gallery. It was very crowded that day and by the time we reached the gate, it was closed as no more seats were available.

1 Km to the border
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-border1km.jpg

Indian flag flying high
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-flag.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_163041.jpg

Crowd after the gates were closed
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-crowd-after-gate-closed.jpg

Even though the gates were closed, the crowd outside was increasing rapidly as there was more than an hour for the flag hoisting ceremony to start. And, it was very hot too. So, after waiting for some time, we decided to return as it was becoming difficult to walk without getting jostled.

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

Some lush wheat fields while returning from Wagah border
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170401_170511.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dscn7165.jpg


Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:38.
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Old 26th April 2017, 09:15   #7
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Default A Late Lunch at Haveli

A Late Lunch at Haveli:

My wife wanted me to stop at Haveli, Jalandhar as it was recommended by a Punjabi colleague of hers. But due to the time factor to reach Wagah border, we decided to skip the Jalandhar Haveli. Luckily we came across another branch of Haveli just few Kms before Amritsar. So, we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner here.

And, the experience was amazing. The ambience was excellent. The entire place was done up to resemble a rustic Punjabi village with a big haveli functioning as the main restaurant. There were chat and fast food stalls outside the main restaurant. There were live performances by folk singers and some shops to buy local handicrafts. The food in the main restaurant was lip-smacking. The paranthas and the lassi here were awesome. This restaurant chain has 3 branches in Punjab; Jalandhar, Amritsar and Murthal. If you are visiting any of these places, don’t miss visiting Haveli. There are some fake Havelis trying to use the same concept, just like the fake Saravan Bhavans in the South. So, watch out for the original ones.


Here are few pics taken at Haveli,

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

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

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

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-h4.jpg

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

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

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After having food here, we proceeded towards Amritsar as the hotel was inside the city. This hotel was situated in a congested lane and it took some time for us before we could reach the hotel. Also, there was no dedicated parking and it was valet parking. Those valet guys initially refused to give me the car key but later after few discussions, they agreed to give me the key.

The room was super spacious here and we settled down quickly. We decided to visit the Golden temple next day, as early as possible.

Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 21:41.
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Default Day 6: Golden Temple:

Day 6: Golden Temple:

We started by 7:30AM from the hotel and decided to take an auto rickshaw to reach the temple. The main road was close by and we got an auto rickshaw immediately. It was around 10-15 minutes ride to the temple.
  • There were shops on both sides of the road at the temple entrance and we decided do some shopping after visiting the temple.
  • Once we reached the temple, we bought the scarves as it is mandatory to cover our head while inside the temple
  • The marble floor was very clean, foot wears were not allowed inside and there is a counter at the temple entrance where we can leave our foot wears.
  • No security checks, no entry tickets.
  • Before entering the temple area, one walks through a shallow water trough to wash the feet.
  • This place is very peaceful and serene.
  • The crowd started building up when we left the temple. And, the crowd management was impeccable.
On the way to golden temple

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

Temple entrance with shops on both sides
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-2outside.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.jpg

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

Langar:

Even before the start of the trip, my wife and I decided that we will have the food at the Langar in the Golden Temple. We entered the building where the langar is served in a queue. We received the steel plates, bowls and spoons in the same queue. We were asked to proceed to a hall in the first level of the building and were seated on the floor in a big hall. We were served three kinds of dal, rotis and rice kheer. A very simple yet filling fare. We were offered second helpings. Once the meal was over, we proceeded to the ground level to drop the used plates at the cleaning area and washed our hands and left the building. It was a different experience for all of us. A simple meal shared with strangers from all walks of life.. all seated on the floor and given the same kind of meal. Reminded us that we are all the same even though we come from different backgrounds.

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


Overall, we spent more than two hours here. Once we came out, we had some yummy lassi in one of the shops outside the temple. We never missed an opportunity to have lassi when we were in the land of Lassi.


Jallianwala Bagh:

This is very close to Golden temple.

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

Narrow entry/exit gate
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

Bullet marks
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


After this visit, we took an auto and reached our hotel. Regarding the autos here, it is better to taken a battery-operated auto as it is more comfortable than the regular ones.

Now, it was time to pack our backs and start our journey towards the Mountains that were calling to us.




Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 21:55.
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Default Day 6 (After-noon) - 217 Kms

Day 6 (Afternoon) Drive towards Dalhousie/Khajjiar(217 Kms):
  • We started from the hotel at 11:30 AM and started exiting Amritsar slowly
  • By 11:45 AM, we hit the Pathankot highway and from then on, it was 4L all the way till Pathankot.
  • We decided to fill up the tank at Pathankot as there are no fuel stations in Dalhousie.
  • After the fuel stop, all the curvy and good roads lead us to Dalhousie.
Exiting Amritsar

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r1.jpg

The 4L road towards Pathankot starts
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

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

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

Another 75Km to Dalhousie
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r6.jpg

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

Much awaited curvy roads start
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r9.jpg

Nice black tarmac
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8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r12.jpg

Scenic views on the way

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r13.jpg

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8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r15.jpg

Towards Dalhousie from pathankot


Shepherds and sheep were a common sight
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r16.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r17.jpg

Small clip while approaching Dalhousie

Dalhousie – Khajjiar:

The roads in and around Dalhousie are very narrow and at one point I was hesitant to take the road that lead to Khajjiar because the entry point of that road was very narrow, like a 6-feet street. I double checked with the traffic police there before taking that road.

Once we were out of Dalhousie, the road was good initially but it narrowed as we progressed.

And the last 10Kms was very bad and overall it took us more than an hour for a measly 17Kms. I guess it was probably the worst stretch of this trip.


Narrow roads towards Khajjiar
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-br1.jpg

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8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-br4.jpg

Short clipping of Dalhousie - Khajjiar stretch


We reached Khajjiar by 5:15 PM.


HPTDC Hotel Devdar (Khajjiar):

Room was booked at HPTDC Hotel Devdar and our room was very close to the parking. I am saying this because their cottages are a bit far away which were closed for renovation. Our room was still in its old state.

Room was very spacious but the doors and windows were not in a great condition. Rickety doors and windows which let the cold draft get in easily.

Room service and the food were good. But, nothing can beat the view from the room. For city dwellers coming from a concrete jungle, waking up to this view was a sight for the sore eyes.

And here is the view from our room

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-r18.jpg

Car Parking
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh17.jpg

Our room
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh3.jpg

Cottages at a nice location, but far from the parking
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh9.jpg

Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:42.
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Default Day 7 Khajjiar - Dalhousie:

Day 7 Khajjiar - Dalhousie:

In my opinion, it is a better option to stay here for a night because it gets crowded during the day as many stay in Dalhousie and make a day trip to Khajjiar.

Since we stayed here, during the early morning hours, there was absolutely no crowd and our kids enjoyed running around the grassland and exploring the place.

We went for a walk around the periphery of the place. Lots of cattle were grazing and stray dogs were running around. One dog even tried to get friendly with us and followed us around the entire time we were there.


Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh1a.jpg

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8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh10.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh13.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh14.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh15.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh16.jpg

The crowd was starting to trickle in and the daily activities were getting started. We returned from our walk and decided to get ready to explore what Khajjiar had to offer us.

Horse riding/Walking

The kids were excited about their first-ever horse ride. We got a 3-yr old horse named “Shaan” and its jockey was a pleasant chap who took the kids on the horse along the trail around the periphery of the place. My wife and I followed the entourage by foot.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-optimizedkh6.jpg

The ride was over in about 20 minutes and it was time to go zorbing.


Zorbing:

The moment the kids saw the giant zorbing ball, they started pestering us to let them go zorbing. We didn’t have much cash on us after we paid for the horse ride. We also didn’t want to spend the cash we had on us. So, we enquired about card payment or Paytm with the zorbing guys and thankfully, they were accepting Paytm. After a quick Paytm transaction, the kids were ready to go zorbing. The boys were buckled inside the ball and the ball was rolled off from the top of the slope towards the lake for a distance of about 200 mtrs. The zorbing attendant ran along with the ball and stopped it when it was meant to. The kids were helped out of the ball and they came out all shaken and stirred. They both loved the adrenaline rush..and, as if they didn’t have enough of it, they both wanted to go paragliding. My wife and I decided that this was enough adrenaline rush for a day and decided to wrap up the day in Khajjiar much against our kids’ disapproval.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh7.jpg

The boys with the zorbing ball

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh7a.jpg

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8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh8.jpg

Khajjiar Lake:

The lake itself was an obscure one which seemed to be shrinking. We wondered how small it will be during peak summer.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh11.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh12.jpg

Since we were starting around noon and we decided to have a quick lunch of Masala Maggi. We were floored by the flavors that was there in the vegetable Maggi that was prepared for us. We were surprised at how a lowly instant noodle could be jazzed up with the right ingredients.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh19.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh18.jpg


We left Khajjiar by 1:00 PM and reached Dalhousie by 2:00 PM
On the way we thought about covering Kalatop as well but then decided to move this plan to next day.

Alps Resort (Dalhousie):

  • Booked this through Makemytrip to redeem my Payback points.
  • It was a family suite with 2 bed rooms and attached bathrooms
  • It was spacious and decent (some renovation work was going on here as well)
  • Food was good
  • No good views from the rooms that we stayed.
After checkin, we decided to go out for a late lunch and also visited the Mall road for some shopping.

The car parking near Mall road
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh22.jpg

Had our lunch at Kwality Restaurant
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh21.jpg

Mall road entrance
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh23.jpg

Mall road
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-kh24.jpg

Dalhousie bus stand
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170404_162111.jpg

By 6 PM, we were back to hotel.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170403_150329.jpg



Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 22:09.
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Default Day 8 Dalhousie – Kalatop – Chamera Dam/Lake (97 Kms)

Day 8 Dalhousie – Kalatop – Chamera Dam/Lake (97 Kms):

One of my friend recommended Chamera Dam/Lake for its curvy roads and location. So, we decided to visit Kalatop first and then Chamera Dam/Lake.
We woke up bit late and it was raining as well. With temperature already on the lower side, we found it difficult to get out of the cozy quilts.
  • Had a nice and hearty breakfast of paranthas and toast.
  • After breakfast, kids played for some time in the open space within the hotel campus and then we decided to start the day.
  • It was around 10:30 AM when we started from the hotel.


Hotel premises
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170405_080701.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-20170405_081146.jpg

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On the way to Kalatop
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d81.jpg

Check post where they collect the entry fees.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d82.jpg


Very narrow roads, it is very difficult to make space for the oncoming traffic. Luckily we didn’t have to negotiate any big vehicles in the opposite direction.


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d83.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d84.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d85.jpg

No proper parking space at Kalatop
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8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d88.jpg

Awesome views once you reach the top
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d89.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d810.jpg

We had some yummy pakoras and garam masala chai
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d811.jpg

After spending some time here soaking in the view, we decided to return.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d812.jpg

We spotted some snow on the way and the kids wanted to play with it. This was our first up close and personal experience with snow

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d813.jpg


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d814.jpg

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Default Dalhousie – Chamera Dam/Lake:

Dalhousie – Chamera Dam/Lake:

After Kalatop, we were ready to drive down to Chamera Dam/Lake for which we had to cross Dalhousie. It was nice curvy roads all the way till this dam.

From Dalhousie, we came till Banikhet and then drove towards Chamera Dam.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map_chamera.jpg
  • Traffic was almost nil throughout this stretch.
  • Roads were good as well
  • It took close to one hour to reach the boating point.
  • There was one tunnel after crossing the Dam, kids wanted to go through the tunnel, so we just crossed it and returned back.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d815.jpg

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Getting closer to the dam
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d822.jpg

While crossing the dam
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d822a.jpg

Boating point
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The lake
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d824.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d825.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d826.jpg

We opted against boating, enjoyed this scenic location and started our drive back to the hotel.

Chamera Tunnel
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d827.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d827aa.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d827a.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d827b.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d828.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-d829.jpg
Overall, this was a super drive as there was no traffic, curvy roads, good roads, chill weather, and scenic location. What more can one ask for?!

After reaching the hotel, we had dinner and called it a day.

Clipping of Chamera dam tunnel



Last edited by arun_josie : 21st May 2017 at 22:14.
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Old 6th May 2017, 23:30   #13
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Default Day 9: Dalhousie – Dharamshala - McLeod Ganj (143 Kms)

Day 9: Dalhousie – Dharamshala - McLeod Ganj (143 Kms):

Initial plan for the day was to stay at Bir, but there was an International paragliding event happening on that day and all the hotels in Bir were full. So, we decided to stay in Dharamshala. Hotel booking was done by HVK CHD.

After the previous day’s fun with snow and slush, kids were even more interested to see and play with snow. Especially my younger one who started pestering us to take him to the “snow mountains”. The elder one was looking forward to seeing the Dharamshala cricket ground.
  • We has some delicious puris for breakfast
  • After breakfast, we checked-out at 9:30 AM and all the luggage were loaded in the boot.
  • I did the routine check of oil levels and a visual check of all the 4 tyres.
  • All was set and we started from the hotel towards our destination for the day, Dharamshala/Mcleod Gang
  • Exited Dalhousie by 10:00 AM, found an ATM on the way and took some cash.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs1.jpg

Initially it was wide, smooth and curvy roads
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs2.jpg


And then we took the Lahru – Sihunta – (Shahpur – Chowari Rd), this was mixed with bad roads and at times decent/good roads. 8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs3.jpg

Not much traffic in this route and mostly it was remote locations with no towns in between except a few villages.

The only kind of traffic jams that we faced in these mountains
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs4.jpg

Some bad roads, HPTDC buses were untouchable in these roads
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs8.jpg

Video clipping, Tunuhatti - Lahru stretch (On the way to Dharamshala from Dalhousie)


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs9.jpg

Some traffic due to road work. We had to wait for 5 minutes.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs10.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs11.jpg

Video clipping, Lahru stretch (On the way to Dharamshala from Dalhousie)


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs12.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs14-1.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs14-2.jpg

Finally some wide nice roads

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs13.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs15.jpg

Video clipping, Shahpuri - Chowari road (Towards Dharamshala)


We hit the Pathankot – Mandi road at 1:25PM
Some traffic due to a narrow bridge
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs16.jpg

This is after taking the Pathankot – Mandi road.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs17.jpg

Another long traffic jam due to a bridge work
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs18.jpg

Filled fuel in a BP before proceeding towards Dharamshala
Stopped for lunch at Midway Resorts around 2:00 PM, it was a good one hour stop here
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs19.jpg

View from this resort
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs20.jpg

After this pit-stop we proceed towards Dharamshala Cricket Ground. The kids wished we could watch a match here.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs21.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs22.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs23.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-dhs24.jpg

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Default Dharamshala - McLeod Ganj

Dharamshala - McLeod Ganj:

This was one of the most challenging stretches during this trip. This route was via Potala Road and most part of the last 8Kms was very challenging for the following reasons:
  • Very narrow road and the climb was very steep with multiple narrow hairpin bends.
  • Oncoming traffic and cars/two wheelers parked irregularly on the sides will make you brake/stop on the uphill climb.
  • Very less scope to reverse because of the high traffic behind you.
  • This route went through a very congested and populated residential/commercial area with space enough for just one vehicle.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t1.jpg


When we started with this stretch, I thought that this narrow stretch will get over soon. Since, it was going uphill, I was trying to keep up the momentum. At one point, I started seeing the oncoming traffic and thought if this was an one-way that we entered by mistake?!. There were a few taxis behind us which gave us an assurance that this is not an one-way.

At few hairpin bends, only after turning left, I got to know that it was a very narrow hairpin bend. So, I asked my son to follow the GPS and let me know the hairpin bends in advance. Thanks to Jio, the mobile connectivity was wonderful here. Airtel network was horrible in remote locations.

Here is one narrow steep hairpin bend

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t3.jpg


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t4.jpg

Oncoming traffic
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t5.jpg

Video clippings from my dashcam




With me already looking forward for some breathing space, it was a shocker that this road started going through some shopping area with space only for a car. On top of it, traffic started piling up as well. I started using hand-brake and clutch to climb up from stand-still positions. Once I tried without hand-brake and the car started moving behind a little which was scary.

Residential area
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t6.jpg

Commercial area and there was a traffic jam
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t8.jpg

Vehicles parked haphazardly by the side
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t9.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t10.jpg

The roads getting narrower
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t11.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t12.jpg




After 5Kms we got some open roads for about a km and then last two Kms narrowed again.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t13.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t14.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t15.jpg

Overall, this last 8-9Kms was quite challenging for me as I have not taken such a long stretch of steep and narrow roads before. The ones I had taken were only small stretches of steep incline.

This one was towards the hotel, a slope but not a easy one

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t16.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t16a.jpg

Video clipping of the same


8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t16b.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t16c.jpg

At the hotel parking
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t17.jpg

By the time we reached the hotel, it was 5:15 pm, I was exhausted and needed some rest but my wife wanted to go shopping in McLeod Ganj. The hotel we stayed was about 3 kms from McLeod Ganj and I was in no mood to drive down again in that rain and fading light. So, she hired a cab through the hotel and went alone for shopping. A win-win for both of us.

The view from the hotel was awesome. The snow-covered peaks looked so close from the hotel.. made us want to reach out and touch them. This only intensified the war-cry from my younger one about wanting to go to the “snow mountains”. We kept pacifying him saying that its very far away and we can’t go there.

Spectacular view from our hotel
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t18.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t19.jpg


My wife returned from her shopping expedition just after 7pm laden with awesome momos for us.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t20.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t21.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-t22.jpg
  • We had dinner soon after and settled for the night. The room was comfortable with a nice view.
  • During our dinner, I had a nice talk with the owner who explained us on how Dharamshala has become a tourist spot post 2000.
  • The night got a little scary when a strong thunderstorm hit us. The noise the rain made on the roof felt straight out of a horror movie. We just huddled together and prayed for the rain to let up.
  • There was a power cut due to the rains and there was no power backup in the hotel. We were given emergency lights as they expected power cuts to happen during thunderstorms.
  • We requested the hotel to arrange us breakfast by 7:30am as we had to long drive of about 10+ hours to Chail via Mandi ahead of us.
  • Plan was to do a quick stop at FASS, Mandi for checkup and car wash. There was some metal sound from left rear while going over bad/sharp potholes.

Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:56.
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Default Day 10 - McLeod Ganj – Mandi – Manali(Actual plan was Chail) - 143 Kms

Day 10 - McLeod Ganj – Mandi – Manali(Actual plan was Chail)- 143 Kms:
  • The good people of the hotel woke us up by 6:45am so that we could be on time for our drive. Otherwise, we would’ve overslept after such a stormy night.
  • Also, their normal breakfast timing was 8:00 AM, but for us they got the breakfast ready by 7:15 AM.
  • Kids were finding it difficult to get up as the climate was very chill.
  • We were ready to hit the road by 8:15 am after a hearty breakfast.
  • This time we took a different route to exit Dharamshala which was wide, traffic-free and uneventful.
  • With the temperature around 10 degrees, there were no tourists around and the roads were literally empty.
This was the alternate route to avoid those narrow roads.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map1.jpg

Soon, we were on the road to Mandi
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-map2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m1.jpg

Some diversion due to road work
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m2.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m3.jpg

Nice tarmac
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m4.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m5.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m6.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m7.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m8.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m9.jpg

This was one bus which was being driven like a small car on the twisty sections
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m10.jpg


Stop at Ganesha Fiat, Mandi:
  • We bypassed Mandi town to reach the Fiat Service center.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m11.jpg
  • We reached there by 1:00 PM right when the service technicians were leaving for lunch.
  • But after hearing that we are in the middle of a long drive, they decided to check my car immediately.
  • This service centre was attached to the showroom, so my wife and kids rested at the showroom’s Customer Lounge.
  • The mechanic and I took a test drive for the metal sound which I was getting while going over bad potholes. I suspected an issue with the rear suspension, but he was sure that it has nothing to do with the suspension. So, they did a complete under body check and all the bolts were tightened.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m12.jpg
  • We did one more test drive on the same stretch and this time we couldn’t hear the metal sound. I was happy and decided to skip the car wash as they were already late for lunch. But they were fine to do the car wash as well.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m13.jpg
  • By 2:00 PM car wash(including vacuuming) was done and I paid the bill for the checkup and car wash which came to Rs. 400/-.
  • Car was super clean now; especially the interiors which was starting to look like a tornado went through a junk food store. All that snacking during the drive resulted in lots of crumbs and the car benefited from the vacuuming.
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m14.jpg

Chail or Manali? A big dilemma!

The hotel booking at Chail booking was done and paid in advance through the HVK CHD. HVK enquired with us if we were interested in seeing snow in Manali. We said “No” as this will extend our trip by one extra day. We debated about cutting one day out of the 2 days-3 nights that was originally planned in Chail and including Manali as the kids were very interested to see snow. This also meant that we would lose one day’s hotel charges for the booking done at the hotel in Chail. So, we decided to skip Manali and didn’t want to disturb the original schedule.

The FASS technicians heard this discussion and told us that it would be a shame if we didn’t go to Manali after coming that far and this close to it. They insisted that we should go visit Manali and experience the snow. They also told us that this is the right time to visit Manali as it had snowed the previous day.

So, after a 5 minutes discussion with them, I called HVK and said that we were fine to lose one day at Chail and will go to Manali instead for the stay that night. HVK was concerned about us losing the hotel charges for one day. His team spoke to the hotel in Chail and they were able to postpone the booking by one day without any extra charges. We were more than happy with this arrangement and thanked HVK and his team for the flexibility they provided us.

The trip was getting extended by one day and we will be driving to Manali instead of Chail from Mandi. The kids were excited about this last minute change as we will get to see the snow and the younger one gets to see his “snow mountains”.

We thanked the Fiat guys and proceed to have lunch at Visco resort nearby, the time was 2:15 PM by then. It was an one hour stop there.

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m15.jpg

After lunch, we refueled at Mandi before proceeding to Manali. We exited Mandi by 3:30 PM.

108Kms to Manali
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m16.jpg

3 Kms Aut tunnel, on the way to Manali


  • The traffic was little on the higher side with average speed around 30-40Kmph.
  • Overtaking was little tough due to heavy oncoming traffic.
  • And it was drizzling as well.
Traffic jam near Kullu due to some diversion
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m17.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m18.jpg

Another traffic jam after Kullu due to road work, this took around 30 minutes to clear
8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m19.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m20.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m21.jpg

8597 Kms Drive - Exploring Himachal! Amritsar – Khajjiar – Dalhousie – Dharamshala – Manali - Chail-m22.jpg
  • We entered Manali around 6:45 PM and we were stopped at the green tax check post.
  • We quickly paid the green tax and proceeded towards our hotel booked by HVK CHD.
  • Hotel was located by the river side on the NH itself.
  • Very spacious room and we ordered room service for dinner and called it a day.
Driving between mountain ranges, Mandi - Manali


Last edited by arun_josie : 22nd May 2017 at 07:58.
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