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Old 27th December 2006, 12:30   #1
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Default Narkanda... Paradise!!

This Christmas vacation we decided to head to Narkanda(2700mts height) for some snowy fun. Though we missed snowfall by a day, it was a great trip. we started on 22nd and came back on the 25th. Tried for extending our booking by a day, but sadly it was house full.
Well here go the gory details.
Narkanda is situated about 2700mts above the sea level and is located on the Hindustan Tibet road around 60km ahead of shimla. Since its a relatively unknown place, and places around narkanda are equally unknown, it does not suffer from abuse like shimla, kufri etc., hill stations. Moreover the 10+ hours drive from Delhi ensures its relative quietness. Couple this with the tiny hamlets and hill roads around this place and you have the perfect place for an adventurous holiday.
Enough of background, now to the details.
For full gallery visit SmugMug - Tanveer Singh (tanveer) : Narkanda Dec 2006
Day 1, Dec 22
The plan was to leave delhi by 7:30 am. But by the time we got ready it was already 8:15. I had already tanked up the indica couple of days before and the odo read just about 50 odd kms. We picked up a friend and his wife who wanted a drop to shimla on route. So finally when we reached the outskirts of delhi it was 10am.
Had breakfast near karnal(excellent dhaba where we often stop on the way). If anybody wants LAT/LONG coords for that place, PM me.
After that it was flat out on the NH1 toll road. In indica flat out means 110kmph, since higher speeds involve getting totally empty roads and sitting on the pedal. The 130kmph top speed which the GPS trip logger happy proclaimed is very misleading!
Anyways we reached the chandigarh road around 1pm, and from there it was a nightmare.
NHAI has realized that chd road has killed too many people(a fatal accident a day) and needs to be made 4 laned. So its all chaos with very very bad and unruly traffic. Till Kalka(Haryana Himachal border) it was like this. Finally we entered himachal and my sole aim was to cover as much track as possible during daytime. The road is amazing and we stopped at just one place on the way to catch tea and sunset.
By the time we dropped our friends it was already dark and it was around 6:30 when we finally exited shimla. Got the car tanked up here. There was no anti freeze diesel available, but since it wasn't snowing and temparatures were not dropping below -2 or so, I guessed it was okay. The trip meter read 415kms and the car took in 29 lts of diesel. that includes almost 90kms of uphill and 100kms of city driving conditions. Very frugral!
After shimla is was the dark and lonely NH22, also called the Hindustan Tibet road. Normally this road is very well maintained, but snowfall around 2 weeks earlier had led to landslides, and it was badly potholed and strewn with sharp stones. My biggest worry was puncturing the Potenza's which at 35000kms are not at the prime of their youth. Moreover tubeless repair facilities are not available there. My bad of not getting a tubeless repair kit. But luckily during the entire trip there were no such incidents, and they managed the terrain well.
On sharp curves in some downhill stretches I could feel the suspension take a beating as the aging shockers made the car rock like a boat and skit nervously over the potholes.
Couple of stretches with loose rocks(impossible to see beforehand) also saw the tail dancing, but the tyres held on. After this trip, I have decided that the new tyres will be potenzas too. There ability to take the abuse is simply awesome. Surprisingly, I did not have to engage 1st gear on any of the uphill tracks. I was worried what the rarified air will do to power, but I guess the worries were unfounded.
Finally it was 8pm we reached. After 10+ hours on the road.
At Narkanda we put up at the hotel Hatu, which is HP govt run. The rooms are very very nice, ambience is 5 star with excellent food at really really cheap rates. A valley facing room costs 1300+ taxes. Try to find anything equivalent in shimla the rates are 4000+!
We also got a discount of 30% while booking!
After dinner it was time to crash. 6 hours uphill in an Indica are not exactly relaxing,


Day 2 : Hatu Peak and some more
At around 7:30 I crawled out of bed to find a chilly sunny morning. Rushed to the car, which was parked in a shade. The thermometer indicated 0.5 degrees. Got in, gave heater once, and cranked. Half crank and the nice quiet was shattered by clatter. Good I had replaced one faulty glowplug during service. Parked the car in the Sun. Its a DLS and therefore no heater, so solar heating will have to do.
Got ready, had a good breakfast and around 10:30 set for Hatu peak. At the tea stall on the junction which connects Rampur road and Thanedar road we had really good tea. If you ever go there, dont miss that tea. The stall is right next to Forest check post.
The proprieter warned us that the Hatu road is about 7kms long out of which only 4kms or so is motorable with rest covered with thick ice.
So off we went to hatu road. 2 minutes on the climb, I remembered Khaadu's words, that the road is very very narrow. Now I know why Sam was praying so hard on the highest tbhp meet!
The road is barely wide enough to take in 1 car. So if 2 cars come head to head, one has to reverse to nearest turnout. As we went along, I kept on mentally noting the turnouts, luckily uphill did not encounter anything. There were couple of empty grounds on the way where many people had parked and were playing in snow on the sides. We decided to drive on till we found snow on the road.
That place came 2kms from the peak.

We parked there and enjoyed the snow. We were unaware that it was just the beginning.
We were around 3100mts above sea level, with 300 more to go in a span of 2 kms.
So we started the steep climb
Indica from just 200mts walk ahead!

Now you can guage the steepness!
We found lots and lots of snow


The views were spectacular too!

On way we came to the first open hilltop about 1km from Hatu. Felt like top of the world!


Soon we reached the Hatu Peak. altitude 3400mts!

The peak afforded some spectacular views!


Finally it was time to walk back

The road to Hatu, in case you were wondering how wide(or narrow it was). these were the widest stretches!

After that we had lunch back at the hotel(just a few kms away) and then set off on a drive towards thanedar for some sunset views. Also went to Tani Jubbar lake



the night brought in lots of stars, but it was too cold to get a really nice exposure, moreover the ring of lights around the hotel played spoil sport


Cont..............

Last edited by tsk1979 : 27th December 2006 at 13:01.
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Old 27th December 2006, 12:31   #2
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Day 3 : Trip to Satluj, and inner hamlets, country roads and church
We decided to see nearby places, starting with Satluj river. The road was NH22 again, extremely well maintained and wide, with only a few bad stretches.. BRO really maintains the roads well!
On route we stopped at Satluj viewpoint

In less than 30kms we had decended from 2700mts to less than 1000!
Soon it was a straight drive along satluj. Decided to stop on the way on satluj banks

After this we decided to visit Kotgarh church. One option was to go back up the way we came, about 45kms to narkanda and 20kms to Kotgarh, but near our stop point I had spied a road leading uphill which proclaimed Kotgarh: 20kms.
The road was a road for just a couple of kms after which it was a steep uphill rock littered dirt track. Reminded me of Raid De himalaya pictures!
In a short distance we were up in the clouds again!

Look closely and you can spy the bridge in the previous shots!
To give an idea of the road, here is a pic

There were some good stretches too, and there was no traffic

We reached the church, established 1872, whch makes it around 135 years old!!


From there we drove back to Narkanda, around 20kms away saw amazing sunsets

Our room also gave amazing views!

Saw Venus which I clicked with the 300mm lens

And the moon too

Some stars too

We tried to get booking for one more day, but it was house full!
The drive back
Got late in starting and got out only around 12:30pm. Had tea again at the same stall

After this was the drive back. Till shimla it was peaceful with little traffic. Took the shimla bypass which is really really long. Next time, better go through shimla!
The bypass is 4 times as long as the straight road through tunnels!
After shimla is was nightmare, with crazy drivers. One thing I have noticed that when people driving accents, wagonRs etc., other vehicles see an indica pulling behind them, they get into an ego battle, as if its below their dignity to have an indica overtake them. This is more true for Delhi cars!
On blind narrow curves these guys pussyfoot, you cant overtake, and wherever visibility is good, they slowly take the best like across the curve, not letting you overtake. On rare straights with good visibility they floor it. It get so irritating when these guys drive slowly in front of you and then increase speed as you try to overtake, using their more powerful engines to outgun you. But gravity is a great equilizer and I got past a few such morons after some effort. But these idiots then start racing, even trying to overtake on blind curves. A wagon R guy almost rammed into a truck trying to overtake on a blind curve. I guess bad drivers will drive the same, wether on hills or in the city.
Luckily there were very few such idiots.
By the time we cleared parwanoo, it was close to sunset

Next was nightmarish traffic at Kalka all the way to Zirakpur where NHAI is making flyovers etc.,
Decided to take the longer way to ambala via Rajpura so that we had more stretch on the excellent NH1 and escape the madness from Zirakpur to Ambala.
The route is 25kms extra and also involves an extra 30rs toll, but at night its the sane option.
Tanked up just before Punjab border as diesel is cheapest in Punjab.
The trip meter read 437kms, and FE was 15.07! Simple phenomenal. Last tank up had been at shimla while going towards Narkanda. After that it was all hill driving in interior himachal with just 35kms in the plains. Lot of that driving was on dirt tracks in steep uphill sections too. For all its lack of power, the indica truly brings on a smile at Fuel pumps.
It was almost 11pm when we reached home, after around 10:30 driving, with one stop for lunch at Giani tha dhaba near Solan(Its the best on that route) and a coffee stop at madras cafe near Amabla, for amazing south indian filter coffee!

So this is how the wonderful vacation ended. The indica as always did not let us down, and though at 72000kms the suspension is showing its age, the engine is still top notch, and the car never felt losing power, or overheating.
While coming back on NH1 about 100kms from delhi there was some missing for some time, which I guess is due to dirty fuel filters, which are overdue in replacement. I wonder why the service guys did not change them.

Our only gripe was lack of snowfall, but then Hatu peak had lots and lots of snow. To add insult to injury when we came back do delhi we got the news that it started snowing. But our luck that we could not get our stay extended by a day!

But all in all it was an amazing trip, and one of the best vacations we had. Narkanda is a truly amazing hill station, and the best part are the hill folks, friendly and always helpful with ways and hospitality!
Khaadu is one lucky guy to live in such a place, its truly heaven on earth.
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Old 27th December 2006, 13:11   #3
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Khaadu's home is about 150 metres away from the Kotgarh Church. Beautiful area. Nicely taken pictures. When we had gone (pictures here (The HIGHEST team-bhp meet yet!!)) there was no snow but it was beautiful.

Well done TSK. Nice pictures.

Last edited by Sam Kapasi : 27th December 2006 at 13:16.
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Old 27th December 2006, 13:21   #4
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Awesome writeup tsk!!! and lovely photos... We should surely have a "Highest team-bhp meet" again lol .... Dada kothai???
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Old 27th December 2006, 13:23   #5
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I tried calling Khaadu on sunday, but I guess due to his 3pm sleep his phone was off. Hutch lady kept singing that the number is out of service. Looks like our dude forgot to pay the bills
From the pics in your thread, the road is in a much worse shape. Now its metalled atleast till the point we stopped due to snow. After that its all covered in snow but where the snow had melted the road surface appeared metalled.
Also, in your pics there is a river and a bridge? Is this satluj. We had a hard time finding a place where we could park on NH22 and walk down to the river. Looks like you had a better spot.
And did you guys have Canon vs Nikon wars? Your Dad sports a Nikon while your BIL has a Canon with an L lens!
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Old 27th December 2006, 13:32   #6
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No war. Dad's a better photographer by many years.

Canon won the digital war, it's quite simple We all know that. Dad had an assortment of Nikon accesories and Nikkor Lenses which he could not have used on the Canon.

PS - My BIL no longer uses that EOS10D, he now has an EOS1DS- II
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Old 27th December 2006, 14:25   #7
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Narkhanda is Heaven !!
I had been there 2 consecutive years 1985 and 1986. doing the Himalayan rally. I decided its heavan and so went back for a 1 week holiday in 1987!
would love to go back again, but my wife prefers other less rustic, more developed locations!!
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Old 27th December 2006, 14:26   #8
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Its developed enough now, with great access and nice places to stay. I went for the first time in 1994, and it was quite a sleepy town then.
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Old 27th December 2006, 14:45   #9
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Nice travelogue tanveer! May be some day...

Damn, I miss snow, now that I am away from it.
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Old 27th December 2006, 15:31   #10
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Quote:
At Narkanda we put up at the hotel Hatu, which is HP govt run. The rooms are very very nice, ambience is 5 star with excellent food at really really cheap rates. A valley facing room costs 1300+ taxes. Try to find anything equivalent in shimla the rates are 4000+!
We also got a discount of 30% while booking!
Did you book on the same day you reached ? Because its difficult to get bookings in good hotels at this time of year. Moreover you got 30% discount.

Nice writeup ..
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Old 27th December 2006, 15:49   #11
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We booked 15 days before, normally the hotel gets fully booked this season and as it is a ski resort even Jan-Feb are busy.
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Old 27th December 2006, 15:51   #12
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For reference, can you provide the link from where you booked the hotel ?

Thanks.
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Old 27th December 2006, 15:57   #13
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Nice write up....yet to read the whole thing though....

One thing though...how come your car has KA number plates ??
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Old 27th December 2006, 16:04   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by navdeep View Post
For reference, can you provide the link from where you booked the hotel ?
HPTDC, Home Page
this link has booking section but does not work. So I went to HPTDC office in Janpath, Delhi. Chandigarh also has a HPTDC office, and you can find address from the website

Quote:
Originally Posted by nikhilb2008 View Post
Nice write up....yet to read the whole thing though....

One thing though...how come your car has KA number plates ??
I was in Bangalore for 4 years before moving to Delhi.
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Old 27th December 2006, 16:06   #15
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Thanks Tanveer......
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