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Old 4th September 2017, 23:38   #1
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Default Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Hola fellow Bhp’ians. This is going to be a fairly long thread, so it will be a lot nicer if you could grab your favorite beverage before you start reading. This travelogue is about a road trip we took in March 2017. Been planning to share the experience with you guys for a while, but was lazy, apologies for that. But I felt I should write this now, fighting my laziness because of a reason. The reason is a rocking city, Chandigarh. Of late, Chandigarh has been garnering lot off bad press. First the disturbing Vikas Barala stalking case, then the massive 112mm rainfall which caused flooding and now the atrocious DSS violence. I felt sad for the city and made me remember the wonderful time we had in Chandigarh during our short holiday. When a malayali compliments another city/state for it’s beauty and quality, it is a big deal. Allow me to explain. Even though mallus are the official migratory birds of India, we are extremely defensive when it comes to matters concerning our home state/city. No ‘dharthi’ is better than my city ki dharthi kind defensiveness.

Take my case for example. I was born and bought up in Cochin and for me and most of the people here, this is the Miami of the East. We have beautiful beaches around the city, the culture, food and music scene is awesome and the general quality of life is top notch. Now if you need a weekend getaway, then Munnar is only a 3 hour drive and Alleppey backwaters is just an hour’s drive. There are so many more hidden gems within a hundred kilometers radius of Kochi. My point is, when a mallu visits another city, be it domestic or abroad, he/she subconsciously benchmarks it with his/her hometown. So a city has to be mighty good to impress a skeptic mallu. Chandigarh is just that. Simply clever, simply superb! (Yeah, I stole those lines from Skoda!) This travelogue is about my unofficial honeymoon covering Three Destination in two different states using three different self drive cars in a span of one week. Interested in this story? Read on..

Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana-1instagram-framemin.jpg

Disclaimer: I have no business or personal association with any of the Firms/hotels/products listed in this travelogue. Its just my honest experience that is being shared.

Flashback

I got hitched to my high school sweetheart last December. Some of you might have read my Ambassador restoration thread here. http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/post-w...r-mark-ii.html (The Wedding Story : Restoring my 1973 Ambassador Mark-II) It was a fun,exciting journey and all the hustle bustle was totally worth it. My better half is a medico and she is currently pursuing her PG in Ludhiana. Now here begins the story. Due to the acute shortage of doctors in our country and the hectic work life of PG students, she was granted a paltry 15 day leave for her own wedding. But that is an eon is doctor years! Most of the leave was consumed for the pre wedding preparation and we barely had any days left after the wedding for a proper honeymoon. So we decided to take the holiday when she could manage a proper leave.

The plan

Suddenly towards March end, she was able to manage a week’s leave and we were very excited. Somehow we managed to make a last minute plan to hit the road so as to make use of the holiday to the fullest extend. The basic itinerary was set.

Day 1- Travel to Chandigarh and stay overnight
Day 2- Drive to Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh
Day 3- Explore Kasauli
Day 4- Drive back to Chandigarh and binge on Punjabi delicacies
Day 5- Explore Chandigarh and drive to Ludhiana by evening
Day 6- Ludhiana
Day 7- Drive back to Chandigarh airport

Now the adventures of app based travel bookings begins. Why adventures, I’ll tell you why. My tech savvy friends call me the Dinosaur. One can’t blame them completely. At 28 years of age, a minimum level of tech literacy is expected from you. When the whole wide world was going digital, my planet was still analogue and ticking at its own sweet relaxed pace. But this time I decided to use applications as my primary tool. So booked air-tickets using Paytm and got a decent amount as cash back. Next was booking rooms in multiple locations. I used to be an Oyo Rooms loyalist, but ever since they started rapid expansion, the quality of their Premium hotels has become rather questionable, at least in my previous two three experiences. I was skeptical about completely relying on Oyo, so decided to split the stay between Oyo and Booking.com. Rooms in Chandigarh was booked via Oyo and rooms in Kasauli and Ludhiana were blocked using Booking.com app. Turns out it was a wise decision indeed.

Next step was to book the self drive cars. I had decided not to use a single car for the whole week but to try at least two cars during the journey. I ultimately ended up using three. Yes it did not make any economic sense to change cars but it was fun. So started searching for options in Chandigarh. Initial search results lead me to Zoomcars and Myles, but they were charging a premium for the same segment cars when compared to competitors. While browsing in Google play store, I stumbled upon Voler cars. I had never heard of such a self drive service but decided to check it never the less. The rent quoted by Voler was surprisingly reasonable and they even offered an additional 10% discount. Another highlight was that they did not have any Kilometer restrictions. So I decided to try Voler for the first day. Meanwhile also downloaded and installed REVV Cars, another relatively new service provider in Chandigarh. Revv had distance restrictions,but the rental for 3 days way lesser than Voler. Decided to use both. Made payment using the app and the transaction was seamless. Immediately got a conformation mail and text message. The app requires you to upload your driver’s license image and passport image as Identification. As I have never done this before, tried calling Voler customer care number and got no answer. I called again after some time, yet nobody answered. I must say I did got a little tensed. But within 15 minutes I got a call from Voler Chandigarh manager Rohith. He was very helpful and gave me clarity regarding the documentation. He ensured that the car will be ready on time.

The cars

1.Ford Figo Aspire Diesel- Voler Cars.
Since Its launch,been hearing rave reviews of the firecracker engine of Figo Diesel. When I saw the car in Voler’s list decided on booking it immediately. I just wanted it for a day and it was for highway use, so Aspire was the prefect choice of the available options. Rented the car for 6 hours and the total rent was 480/rs.

Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana-2aspiremin.jpg

2.Hyundai Grand i10 Diesel- REVV cars
This one had a Turbo whistle like a mod car. The diesel clatter was prominent but the whistle was fun to listen every time the throttle was floored. This car stayed with us for the most number of days. It was very reliable and fun to drive.

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3.Maruti Celerio AMT
The unplanned child. My intention was to use the i10 till my return and tried extending the booking towards the end of the trip, but Revv had already taken a booking before. So had to return the i10 and booked the Celerio just for 1 day, driving 180kms between Ludhiana-Chandigarh just to do that. Will elaborate in detail.

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Holiday begins

I started from Kochi by 8am and reached Chandigarh by 2:30pm with a stop in Mumbai. There was a young sardar seated next to me who was traveling to Mohali. A jolly good fellow, he gave me good company and we were discussing in length about the similarities between our two states. When you come to think about it,there are far too many.

Both are fun loving foodie states,good food and fine wines has always been our weakness.
Our women are beautiful and elegant.
We love our Royal Enfields and jeeps
Huge inflow of NRI remittance. Kerala’s Dubai is Punjab’s Canada!
So much greenery all around

We reached Chandigarh airport on time and during baggage clearance, my phone got stuck. It just stopped working. I was dumb struck. All my bookings was in it and I couldn’t revive it. Thankfully my sardar friend was an expert and somehow he managed to reboot it and it was functioning normally after that. Voler gave the option to deliver the car at the airport for an extra amount but I decided not to use that option. In retrospect If I had the car delivered to airport it would've saved me a lot of time. We took the Airport shuttle bus to Sector 43 bus Station. The beauty of Chandigarh slowly started unfolding in front of me. Voler’s office was in Sector 34 and bus conductor gave me the exact direction and finding the office was very easy even for a first timer.

The city is so well organized. I was reading about Chandigarh while traveling in the bus and came across many interesting features. The roads of the city are classified into seven categories, Known as the system of 7 Vs as below:

V-1 - Fast roads connecting Chandigarh to other towns
V-2- Arterial roads
V-3-Fast vehicular roads
V-4- Meandering shopping streets
V-5-Sector circulation roads
V-6-Access roads to houses
V-7-Footpaths and cycle tracks
Buses will ply only on V-1,V-2,V-3 and V-4 roads. A wall will seal the V-3 roads from the sectors.

There is even a disciple of climate, for the road layout in Chandigarh. The sun has partially governed the orientation of the street pattern of Chandigarh. None of the streets lie in an east-west,north-south line so that traffic is spared having to face the direct eastern or western sun. Now thats town planning!

I reached Voler’s office by 3:30pm and my car was waiting for me. The paper work was done in 5 minutes and a very friendly driver, Raju guided me to the car. It was a little bit dusty and he apologized for it. Said the cleaning guy was on leave and even offered to get the car washed if I had time. But I was in a hurry to leave for Ludhiana so said its ok.

When I asked for the best route Raju suggested I take the ‘Kharad’ route. Its faster and traffic free. Ok, Kharad it is then. Hello google maps! Started searching for kharad and I did not get any result. There was Kharar, but no Kharad! Its only later that I could figure out both are the same and there is some connection between the pronunciation of sounds R and D in Punjabi. Now there are three routes to Ludhiana, one its the long Kurali-Chandigarh route; Next is the one suggested by Voler, the Kharar-Morinda route and the last one, Google’s favorite, Sirhind route via GT road. As I couldn’t find Kharad, decided to follow google’s advice and take the Sirhind road. Getting out of Chandigarh was easy with minimal traffic. Soon I was on the highway and was gunning the super responsive Aspire towards Ludhiana at not so legal speed. The road was almost empty until I reached a major junction and was flagged down by a Police officer. He asked me to roll down the window and asked me something in Punjabi. Reading my blank expression, he asked me something else, now in fast paced Hindi. We mallus have a unique talent. We speak Hindi, in Malayalam ! The MTI factor, mother tongue influence is very much evident in our Hindmalayalam ! So I replied in the aforementioned hybrid language, “Ludhiana jaa rahaa hoon,biwi se milne!” He was like, Ok..par aap iss rasthe pe kyon ja rahe ho? That was it, when language fails, sign language prevails! I displayed my Kathakali moves, “Main Ludhianaa jaa raha hoon- seedaa- grand trunk road- sirhind- main Kerala se hoon- pinarayi vijayan- chief minister kerala- Allepey boat race bahuth famous- I don’t know any more hindi- pls let me go Sirji ”

Rajinder Singh’ji laughed and explained to me slowly. All he was trying to say was Sirhind was a longer route and I should take Kharar ( he also pronounced it as Kharad) route instead. Said he was going towards Kharar side and will accompany me till there. We both had a good laugh and he got into the car. We started driving towards Kharar and we talked about Punjab Police and safety in Punjab. We were making good progress and he liked the car as well. That is when my wife called. Decided to mess with her head and asked Rajinder Singh’ji to answer the call! An interesting conversation ensued.

Wifey :Hello, taan evideya? ( where are you?)
Rajinder’ji : Ji boliye!
A pause
Wifey :Aap kaun hai?
Rajinder’ji : Main Rajinder Singh ASI xyz station. Aap boliye!
A longer pause
Wifey : (In a dramatic tone) Woh mera pathi hai!!

We started laughing hearing her tone! Wifey thought I got busted the moment I landed in Punjab and was taken to jail!
Decided not to mess with her anymore considering we have a holiday ahead so I parked the car and explained the situation in mother tongue. A few expletive words in Malayalam from the other side later, and a good laugh, we continued our journey. Rajinder Singh’ji got down in Kharar and gave me the exact route to Ludhiana.

The drive was scenic till Ludhiana. Open roads with fields and open spaces on both sides. Traffic was light and disciplined. I did not encounter any rash drivers on the highway. The Aspire Diesel was a hoot to drive. Overtaking was very easy and it gave instant crisp response to every input. The overall driving position and visibility was also good.

Tuned into some local radio channel to listen to some Punjabi songs but they kept playing Punjabi Rap songs in a loop. Common words in most he songs are listed below:
Desi Swag, soniye, Gurrrl, baby, Gaddi, Jeep,and assortment of car brands like Mercedes, Jaguar and even Bentley.

Reached Ludhiana in decent time transformed as a Rap guru. But the traffic in Ludhiana bought me back to reality from the bling world. It was mad especially with the disco dancing-moon walking share autowalas. They are a different breed all together. Somehow battled the evening rush hour traffic, reached her college, loaded the luggage and we headed back to Chandigarh. Decided to take the same road back and we reached by 10pm. Checked into the hotel room but by then I had already exceeded my rental time limit. Raju came to pick up the car near Voler’s office and I inquired about the excess payment; but they were nice enough not to charge me anything for the extra time. Overall had a great experience with Voler Chandigarh.

Day Two

The Oyo room we stayed was a decent facility near Sector 17. My i10 was to be delivered near Sector 17 ISBT so decided to stay nearby. Next day morning I got a call from Revv driver, a good one hour before delivery time. He delivered the car to our hotel and we were good to go, ahead of our schedule. The car was clean and in good condition. It was well run considering the 59k kms in the odo compared to the Aspire’s 11k odo reading.

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Without wasting much time, we headed towards Kasauli via Panchkula entering the well maintained Himalayan Expressway.

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The two hour drive was scenic and fast except some under-construction sections in the Kalka-Shimla road. We reached Kasauli by noon.

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Why Kasauli?

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We wanted an offbeat destination which was not so crowded and less touristy per say. So Kasauli was an ideal choice. Kasauli is a cantonment and town located in Solan district having an elevation of 1900 metres above sea level. The climate in Kasauli is beautiful and its a perfect destination for peaceful honeymooning. There are lot of attractions for sight seeing like Manki point, Gilbert trail and Sunrise/sunset points. Kasauli is one of the safest holiday destinations in India as its an Indian army cantonment. The place also houses the prestigious Lawrence school. Its better to visit Kasauli on a weekday as there is heavy weekend traffic from Chandigarh and other areas.

Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana-7kasaulimin.jpg

We checked into the small well maintained Hotel Dippys. Booked the place using booking.com app and as I mentioned before, their user rating system is very good. Dippys had a high rating of 8/10 rated by customers. Its not some rigged system as you can find 2,3 points rated hotels in Booking. So this is very helpful in choosing the place to stay. As expected the hotel staff were very courteous and the room was clean. By evening we decided to drive till Kasauli but the hotel staff suggested we check Solan instead. So we drove towards Solan and the drive was scenic. Only down side was occasional mad drivers traveling downhill at break neck speeds. We reached Solan but by then the mall road was far too crowded for our liking so we turned around. The view of the valley dotted with large number of buildings was a unique sight.

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Had a nice talk with a friendly shopkeeper. He asked us not to miss the Mohan park in Chambaghat. Apparently Mohan Meakin company has build a huge temple and its one of the main tourist attractions of Solan now. But we decided to skip the place as it was already getting dark. Returned to our quaint little hotel and it was almost empty. There was an open terrace on the first floor and they had set a mini coal fireplace and served us delicious paneer pakodas and chicken kebabs. The temperature dropped drastically even in March and the charcoal fire was a big boon. Had a nice dinner and retired for the day.


Day Three

Decided to make full use of the day and headed towards Kasauli. We reached the cantonment area in no time and was adviced to visit Manki Point first. Manki Point is situated in the Air Force Station near the Lower Mall region about 4 km from the center of town. According to the Ramayana myth, when Lord Hanuman was returning from the Himalayas after acquiring the ‘Sanjivany Parvath’, one of his feet touched the hill; that's why the top of the hill is in the shape of a foot. On starry and clear nights a stunning view of Chandigarh can be seen from Manki Point. The Air Force School inside the station premises is run and managed by the station workers. Cameras, cell phones or any other electronic device is not allowed like headphone, charger, selfie stick, pen drive, memory card, sim card etc. You can lock them in your vehicle or deposit them at the locker facility available at the restaurant nearby the gate from which your vehicle can't go any further. Parking the car In the narrow road leading to Manki point is tedious so its better to find a safe spot ahead and walk. As it is a high security area, there is mandatory frisking and id card should be produced. After that we proceeded to the temple.

The climb is very steep and we took almost 20 minutes to reach the top. There are many friendly monkeys at the peak and cute baby monkeys jumping around. We spend sometime at the temple and relished the view from the top. It was past noon when we reached back from Manki point. Hunger was kicking in and decided to try the famed Tibetan food joints in Mall road. But most of the joints were closed as they had gone to Dharamsala.

Fortunately, one place was open serving pipping hot momos. The place was crowded so we sat outside the eatery. The guy gave a catapult along with the momos. Not familiar with Tibetan food culture, I was wondering about the connection between the catapult and momos. Thankfully, he said there are many monkeys in the area who might snatch the momos but if they see a catapult they will stay away. One senior gentleman, we presumed the shop owner’s father, volunteered to hold the catapult for us, to keep away momo hungry monkeys.

We didn’t want to start walking again after such a heavy meal so decided to indulge in retail therapy, for you know who! There was J. Jakki Mulls and Sons,one of the oldest shops in Kasauli with a caption " 1862 effort of a family” on their sign board. Next to it is Gupta brothers, as the name suggests, run by two brothers. The shop was started in the 70’s by their father and they have a good stock of local wines, jams and pickles. Bought some offbeat fruit wines, some Minchy’s pickles and the best of the lot,Bhuira jams. Co-incidentally, Gupta stores was the first shop to sell Bhuira jams back in 1999.

The story of Bhuira jam is interesting. I remember reading a well written story about Bhuira in readers digest. Quoting author Sheila Sivanand’s lines here. In 1991 Linnet Mushran visited a relative's charming rose-covered cottage in the Himachal hills. Getting there meant a backbreaking drive over unpaved roads to a secluded village named Bhuira. Nestled among orchards and deodar woods and tumbling with flowers, it immediately struck a chord in Linnet, who loved mountains and everything that grows.

Linnet and her husband Viney soon bought that house with an acre of orchard. "Just to keep it in the family," they said. Peaches, apricots, plums and kiwis flourished in and around Bhuira, along with Himachal's ubiquitous apples. What concerned her was how so much of all that precious produce just went waste.

Linnet had always baked and made preserves, growing up as she did with the excellent seasonal produce of Somerset in England. "That was my only qualification," she chuckles, "I knew how jam should taste." She began gathering the windfalls to make apple jelly. That became a windfall in more ways than one. Today, Linnet not only produces what many consider India's best jams and fruit preserves, she's single-handedly brought employment and prosperity to the farmers and the women of Bhuira village. Link to the full article http://http://www.readersdigest.co.i.../1/121447.html

By evening we started walking towards Gilbert trail covering Sunrise point on the way.

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There were few tourists and the walk was tranquil. There are some army checkpoints in between and the the place is immaculately maintained. There were many soldiers from Madras regiment stationed in Kasauli and they were very friendly. As it was nearing dusk,one of them suggested we walk till sunset point and return before its too dark.

If you are going to Kasauli, you should never skip Gilbert trail.

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The feeling of walking along this serene patch of land along with your loved one is simply surreal and add to it, the view from Sunset point is breath taking. After spending some beautiful moments at Sunset point we walked back towards our car, blissfully enjoying each moment.

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Day Four

As expected, the weekend traffic started poring in and our near empty parking lot was crowded. We checked out by 11 am and met the owner of the Dippys on the way out. The place is run by a retired Army Gentleman. No wonder its so well maintained.

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Thanked the staff for their warm hospitality and headed towards Kasauli Brewery. It is the oldest operating distillery in Asia and one of the oldest whiskey making distilleries in continuous operation anywhere in the world.
I was super excited to visit the place and my better half was giggling watching me act like a buffoon! We reached the place only to be disappointed. They did not have any factory tour and the the plant was also shut down for maintenance. We were joined by a bunch of fans from different parts of the country and we collectively schemed to meet the factory manager. One of the office staff understood our excitement and joined us to get permission. But the factory manager didn’t care to meet us and denied our request outright. Cant blame him, after all its his responsibility to safeguard the secrets if any and protect the property. But come on Mohan Meakin, you should not ignore your fans like this. After the disappointment, took some pictures of the Loco boiler and maturation room.

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The security came and intercepted us claiming photography is prohibited. I told him in my broken hindi, “Ithna door se ayaa hoon, ye plant dekhne” and I heard a voice from behind “Exactly bro!”. Another disappointed fan like me,who came from Bangalore just for the factory tour! We all had a good laugh and cursing our stars, bid goodbye to the place we were so excited to visit.

We reached Chandigarh by around 2pm and decided to have our lunch from the famed Pal Dhaba in Sector 28. The place was crowded and ordered the Special butter chicken, one of their signature dishes.Felt it was overrated and was not very special, at least for us.

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This day was not turning out to be so great and hoping that the worst is behind us, we headed towards the designated Hotel for the day. Boy,we were in for a nasty surprise. The hotel was Chandigarh Grand near the IT park.It looked like a new hotel and pictures in Oyo was also inviting. But the staff was rude, right from the moment we checked it. Maybe they had some internal issues but why show it to the customer? Decided to go ahead with the stay anyway as it was only for one day. We were accompanied by a bell boy to the elevator and once we got in and the doors closed, the guy suddenly started weltering in pain. Panicked we asked him what happened and he showed his hand. A bee stung him. Inside an elevator. It was just the three of us inside. It could have been anyone of us. Poor guy’s luck was not in his favor that day. We checked into the room and decided not to use the elevator!

By evening Pal Dhaba started disagreeing with my stomach and I was very uncomfortable. My wife suggested we go for walk and decided to talk a stroll along the Sukhna lake promenade. The ‘antacid walk’ as we called the stroll, provided some relief from the not so ”special” butter chicken! The promenade was exceptionally well maintained and with the mild breeze, the walk was rejuvenating. Its one of the best spots of Chandigarh. Sukhna lake was the venue for the Asian Rowing Championships and has the longest channel for rowing and yachting events in Asia.

After a nice walk we went for night drive around Chandigarh. All the bad experiences of the day just melted away. Roads were well illuminated and near empty. We drove down the sector 8-9-10 Geri route. For people who haven't heard of The Geri (punjabi slang with no real English translation,but meaning to drive around slowly on a particular stretch) has been actively linked with Chandigarh’s youth since early 1990’s. Young boys drive around their cars in this route with the hope to woo girls studying in the vicinity. The popularity of Geri route can be gauged from the fact that every year during Valentine’s day and on holi, Chandigarh police stations nearly 400 personnel along this route alone to ensure nothing untoward takes place. Even during night there were many cars with windows rolled down and sub-woofers blaring Punjabi music. It was a fun drive for us and we also played along, rolling down our Grand i10’s windows, blaring Malayalam songs!

Day Five

It was time to bid Chandigarh goodbye and proceed towards Ludhiana. The staff of hotel,especially the receptionists showed no signs of improvement and was still grumpy! We checked out and lodged a complaint about poor service with the Oyo captain. She promised she will look into the issue and will get back to me soon. Its been five months and am yet to receive a call from Oyo.

We went to Rock Gardens after that and its amazing how the waste of a city can create something so magnificent. The story of how Nek Chand, a government official who started the garden secretly by collected waste materials from construction sites, recycling the debris into work of art making his own version of the divine kingdom of Sukhrani and how he hid such a huge premise from the authorities for 18 years is truly incredible.

As it was a weekend, the place was very crowded.

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getting out of the parking lot was difficult. Parked next to our car was this Innova.

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How is this possible? Saw many new generation luxury cars with Old number plates.

Had a nice lunch from hotel Aroma. The food court had many options and the food was very tasty as well. We proceeded to see the Open hand monument and took the ceremonial selfie in front of the structure.

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The huge structure swaying with the breeze is worth viewing close. Le Corbusier stated it as a symbol for peace and reconciliation. It is open to give and open to receive.

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After a quick stop at the Eiffel tower of Chandigarh, we headed out to the highway and the drive till Ludhiana was entertaining with interesting huge banners like this..

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I am not blurring the details as it was a huge one placed on the highway for everyone to see!

We checked into a Hotel near her college and called it a day.

Day Six

Penny wise, pound foolish was the theme of the day. Better half joined the hospital and this day was supposed to be ‘me time’ for relaxation. But an unnecessary cost cutting measure adopted earlier ending up costing more money and time. This is what happened. While making the car booking from Kochi, I wanted to hold the car till my returned date. But better half did not want me to hold the car till then as we wont be using it much for traveling in Ludhiana and she wanted me to take a bus for my return journey to the airport. So I initially booked the Grand i10 for 3 days, planning to take a bus back from Chandigarh to Ludhiana on the fifth day of the holiday. But the reality that I forgot was that I am a lazy guy and at the risk of sounding like a moron, am not a big fan of public transport and always prefer driving to my destinations.

So on day five, I extended the car for two more day but the car was only available for one day. Called Revv helpline and they asked me to try the next day again and I might be able to extend once more. But luck was not in my favor and I was unable to extend the booking. That meant I had to drive all the way from Ludhiana to Chandigarh, return the car, make a new booking, collect the new car and drive back to Ludhiana and return back again the next day to leave. I know, even I feel like an idiot reading the above passage! But that is exactly what I did. I was on holiday, Didn’t have nothing much to do that day so decided to hit the highway again. Reached Chandigarh for lunch and dropped the car near Aroma and made a fresh booking. Fun fact, which I learned from the driver. The Grand i10 did not have any other booking pending and seems like Revv did not encourage multiple extension attempts.

So I basically drove down all the way from Ludhiana,to return a car which did not have any other takers lined up. Any how it was a mistake from my part by not planning properly so there is no point blaming Revv for my goof up.

Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana-26parting-shot-i10min.jpg

As we were staying in old Ludhiana, decided to opt for a hatchback as the roads are narrow and congested. In comes Celerio AMT. I never drove an AMT before so wanted to try this one. My driver was kind enough to skip lunch and deliver me the car on time, ahead of schedule this time as well. Celerio was a fun little car to drive. She was pretty responsive on the highway and the drive was enjoyable except for the wild AMT jerks in stop go traffic. Celerio excelled in old Ludhiana, easily battling for space with cycle rickshaws, mad bikers and my dear dearest share auto stunt riders.

Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana-25brown-roadmin.jpg

Went for a night drive for dinner and did the packing for next day’s return.

Day seven

I was flying out by 2pm so started early. As I had some time with me,decided to try the Sirhind route. The road was was very well maintained by I missed my exit at Diwan Todar Mal flyover. Google rerouting only made the problem worse. Somehow managed to ask some local guys and got back to designated route but managed to loose good time. There was a mild traffic block in Jhanjheri, but rest of the road was wide open. Managed to reach Chandigarh before it was too late but I had exceeded my rental time by 20 minutes. Revv charged me a steep amount as penalty but again,who is to be blamed for not keeping time! Overall experience with Revv was positive with the staff courteous and cars in good condition. Took an ola cab to the airport bidding goodbye to Chandigarh but not without making a mental promise to visit again soon, for more fun and quirky road trips!

Last edited by Rehaan : 7th September 2017 at 13:25. Reason: Adding spaces after periods for the few missed out ;)
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Old 6th September 2017, 08:30   #2
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Default re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 6th September 2017, 10:41   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Astraholic View Post
.

Wifey :Hello, taan evideya? ( where are you?)
Rajinder’ji : Ji boliye!
A pause
Wifey :Aap kaun hai?
Rajinder’ji : Main Rajinder Singh ASI xyz station. Aap boliye!
A longer pause
Wifey : (In a dramatic tone) Woh mera pathi hai!!
That had me in splits. Will read balance later
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Old 6th September 2017, 11:45   #4
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

One hell of a story, enjoyed every word of it. Even though I am living in Chandigarh for over 10 years now but still thank you for updating my GK about the city and especially the Kasauli brewery.
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:25   #5
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Great narrative!!

re: the innova: This is a so called VIP number. Very "in" in punjab.
There is a system whereby a person can buy a new car, transfer the number from his old car to the new one, and get a new number for the old car.
So, basically you get to keep your "khandaani" number on your current vehicle!!
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:28   #6
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Thanks for sharing such a sweet Travelogue

Chandigarh indeed is a great place to live in (unfortunately not many jobs/presence in/of the i.t /ites sector)

I have stopped booking oyo rooms myself as their premium rooms look good only in pictures ( had 2 bad experience and that was it for me)

Thanks again and Best Wishes
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:30   #7
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

As a budding doctor hailing from Ludhiana, I find this thread hilarious and insightful into so many things that i just take for granted! Seems like you had a good time.

Congrats on the marriage and wish you a wonderful journey ahead! Both in life and on road
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Old 6th September 2017, 15:07   #8
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

First things first, congrats on your marriage!
Some great narration out there! Few incidents had me in splits! Have been a fan of your write-ups, especially the thread about your Amby Mark II's restoration.
Cheers!
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Old 6th September 2017, 18:48   #9
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Most people seem to like Chandigarh, no matter what part of the world they are from.
Having spent 28yrs of my life over there (born and brought up), I seem to have outlived it's charm and find it has changed a lot especially the huge no of vehicles on the road due to the virtually non existing, underutilized public transport system.
Personally I prefer the Sirhind-GT road route over the Kharar route as it means not having to deal with huge traffic jams at Kharar and also the road to Ludhiana has oncoming traffic without dividers and very accident prone. The famous comedy artist Mr. Jaspal Bhatti also met his sad fate on that road. The other road consists of six lane GT road which counters the extra 10kms with ease and also doesn't have any tolls.
Your travelogue of Kasauli brings up quite fond memories where we used to go for picnics quite often with my family. My masiji was a teacher at St. Mary's and a visit to Guptaji and the Tibetan Aunty who ran the stalls alongside it were a staple as was eating Bun-Samosa at Anandji's.
We used to carry homecooked Rajma Chawal and eat it alonside those lovely trails. Thanks for rekindling those memories.
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Old 7th September 2017, 07:14   #10
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

I will admit to the culture, food, live music and general quality of life being a notch higher than most cities. However; on beaches, I feel Kerala can do much better. I am from Cochin too but our beaches are a mess. Calicut beach used to nice but this has gone to the dogs too. Full of litter. For beaches, I still prefer Goa or the Pondicherry coastline. I find them much cleaner and if you really want to be isolated, the option exists too.

My wife is from Chandigarh and during the first "meet the would be parents" trip, my jaw dropped. The first thing that played back in my head was, why can't every Indian city be like this. When you need to post a letter or courier to Chandigarh, the address reads, persons name, house number, sector number and Chandigarh postal code. As simple as it gets. When it comes to a planned little city, Chandigarh is something else. It is impossible to get lost. Every sector has its own housing community, shops, etc. Every shopping area has its own parking too. Look at google maps for Chandigarh and you would mistake it for a developed city abroad. I like the round about concept at every intersection. Off late they've had to signal most of them due to increasing traffic. Still, I find traffic much more disciplined than most places. The green cover is amazing.

On Paal dhaaba, I will admit that their food is over rated but I still go there cause they do great tandoori. Whenever I do the yearly trip to Chandigarh, which usually lasts for a week, I'm at Paal at least 3-4 times. I call it "heart attack" food but then you live only once. More reason to eat healthy I'll admit.

The Geri route that you referred to has a really good chaat shop. The best chaat I've ever had. I forget the name. As someone from the south, I have never seen gol gappas's so big.

Entertaining read. Thanks for sharing.

Last edited by sandeepmohan : 7th September 2017 at 07:15.
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Old 7th September 2017, 14:53   #11
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Hahaha, you have made a great story out of three boring places, Ludhiana Chandigarh and Kasuali. These three cities may be in three different administrative setups but have same Punju blood running in them. Most welcome when you come in next, will guide you to better places to have butter chicken.
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Old 7th September 2017, 17:50   #12
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Great write up Astroholic. It was great to read; you have a great sense of humor. Congratulations and wish you a blissful life ahead.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful experiences. This evoked nostalgic memories.

I lived in Chandigarh for 10 years from 1986 to 1996 when I was in the Air Force.
How did I get to live for 10 years in the same unit without getting posted out is a different story.
I too loved that city and enjoyed every moment of my 10 years there.
Back then Pal Dhaba was known for VFM helpings and quick service.

I never could go back to Chandigarh again. It is on my to do before I die list.
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Old 8th September 2017, 19:01   #13
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Default Re: Honey, is that the moon? Chandigarh, Kasauli & Ludhiana

Quote:
Originally Posted by Astraholic View Post
Hola fellow Bhp’ians. This is going to be a fairly long thread, so it will be a lot nicer if you could grab your favorite beverage before you start reading.
First of all heartiest congratulations to you and your better half and wish you both a happy and prosperous married life. Cheers for an interesting and gripping narrative sprinkled with hilarious moments of laughter which have become rare to find luxury nowadays. Enjoyed every bit of reading accompanied with a smile on the face.

Quote:
Holiday begins

I started from Kochi by 8am and reached Chandigarh by 2:30pm with a stop in Mumbai. There was a young sardar seated next to me who was traveling to Mohali. A jolly good fellow, he gave me good company and we were discussing in length about the similarities between our two states. When you come to think about it,there are far too many.
Haha… Now thats quite a spot on assessment.

Quote:
The city is so well organized. I was reading about Chandigarh while traveling in the bus and came across many interesting features. The roads of the city are classified into seven categories, Known as the system of 7 Vs.
Hands down there cannot be any disagreeing to the fact that Chandigarh is the most planned city in the country. Being clean and green it’s also called the 'City Beautiful'. But it has its own share of problems. Though it was designed for a population of 5 lac, it is now virtually bursting at its seams with over 12 lac residents. Coupled with that is the problem of ever growing traffic which spells chaos on city roads during morning, afternoon and evening rush hours. It would be pertinent to mention here that Chandigarh has highest per capita availability of vehicles in the country. Total number of registered vehicles in the city is over 10 lac.

Quote:
The massive 112mm rainfall which caused flooding
With the change in rainfall pattern, torrential rains have become new normal which results in flash flood like situations owing to weak storm water drainage system, thus converting city roads into raging torrents every time it pours. But despite all these shortcomings Chandigarh still holds its charm and is infact among most livable cities in the country.

Quote:
That is when my wife called. Decided to mess with her head and asked Rajinder Singh’ji to answer the call! An interesting conversation ensued.

Wifey :Hello, taan evideya? ( where are you?)
Rajinder’ji : Ji boliye!
A pause
Wifey :Aap kaun hai?
Rajinder’ji : Main Rajinder Singh ASI xyz station. Aap boliye!
A longer pause
Wifey : (In a dramatic tone) Woh mera pathi hai!!

We started laughing hearing her tone! Wifey thought I got busted the moment I landed in Punjab and was taken to jail!
This conversation and the ensuing confusion dropped the laughter shell.
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