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Old 4th January 2009, 16:14   #1
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Default Delhi-Manali-Delhi - Dec '08

Delhi-Sonepat-Panipat-Ambala-Chandigarh-Ropar-Kiratpur-Swarghat-Bilaspur-Ghagas-Mandi-Pandoh-Aut-Sundernagar-Bhunter-Kullu-Manali.

Number of occupants: Nine (including five adults and four kids). And, of course, the accompanying five medium-to-big pieces of luggage, not to mention the half-a-dozen small on-the-way kind of bags.

Started from home at 12:30 a.m. (yes, midnight). Delhi to Kundli was a breeze. But after that, it was dead slow. Why? The killer fog engulfed the road completely. I drove in the middle of the road, trying to follow the mid-road markings and also the blinking indicators of the vehicles in front. The newly-built Panipat toll bridge was easy to manouevre as the bridge lights were fully on and the road was easy to see. The fog was present all the way up to Chandigarh, with very few, rare letups in between. It was as if we were driving through white smoke, so thick it was, with visibility reduced to a couple of metres. The blinkers were on all the way up to Chandigarh. The fog picked altitude after that and by the time we left Chandigarh, it was early morning. Ropar highway gave us some more fog, though. But it became slightly easier to drive because of increasing daylight.

Fog on Ropay highway
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Right turn at Ropar
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Right turn at Kiratpur
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Made a right turn at Kiratpur and we entered Himachal. Stopped for tea after Swarghat and saw an awesome sight.

Between Swarghat & Bilaspur
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Pit stop after Swarghat
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Govind Sagar Lake
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Lunch near Mandi
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From there on, it was easy drive up to Manali. The entire hill road journey was breathtaking, but the one part that really shook us was the 3-km long tunnel just before Aut. Wow, it was simply amazing, marvelous piece of engineering with full lights inside. It’s a two-lane tunnel. While going, we did not realize that the tunnel was that long and kept looking for the exit but it never came. After three kms, we finally saw daylight and out we stepped into Aut – another great halt if you’re looking for something local to buy.

Kullu valley was beautiful. Manali was our base station while we checked out the surroundings. We visited Solang Valley, Kothi (had initially thought of going up to Gulaba but the traffic on that highway was simply too much and we decided to return from Kothi), Vashisht temple, Hadimba temple, the local Monastery, the forest park and, of course, the Mall. The main Mall has been kept out of bounds for vehicles.

The weather was superb in Manali – very cold at nights, and bright and sunny at day time.

Kullu narrow road
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Kullu valley
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Kullu playground
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On way to Manali
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Manali valley
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Diversion on Manali-Solang highway
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On way to Solang
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Vehicles parked near Solang picnic spot
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Mine too
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While returning to Delhi, we started late morning and took several stops and could only reach Swarghat by the time darkness fell. Checked out the two hotels on the highway, but both were fully booked. One of the hotel managers was kind enough to arrange accommodation at Anandpur Sahib. Even though it meant going in the opposite direction to Delhi, we decided to go for it as the kids were feeling restless and tired. It turned out to be a welcome stop as we got to see the gurudwara that we always passed by at great speed while on our previous trips to Himachal.

More pics follow...
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Old 4th January 2009, 16:30   #2
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Default Some more pics...

Some more pics...

Near Solang Valley picnic spot
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Solang valley
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Yaks at Solang
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View from top of Solang
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On way to Gulaba
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Traffic jam on way to Gulaba
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Kothi
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Lone ranger at Kothi
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Vashisht Temple
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Snow hills
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Anandpur Sahib Gurudwara
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Returning to Delhi (another fog on the way)
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Looking forward to more trips...
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Old 4th January 2009, 20:33   #3
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Nice pictures, you'll be surprised that I have once camped in the heart of the the Solang valley crater on my trek from Manali to bea's kund, manali was not a popular tourist spot then and Solang valley was not commercial with hardly anyone staying there. Not to mention of the bonfires during the camping.
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Old 4th January 2009, 20:42   #4
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Lovely pics.....I am amazed that you got to see snow. or is it normal to have snow fall in december too??
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Old 4th January 2009, 21:02   #5
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Nice pics!
Looks like you could not make it to Rohtang?
When was it closed this year?
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Old 4th January 2009, 22:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadu
...you'll be surprised that I have once camped in the heart of the the Solang valley crater on my trek from Manali to bea's kund, manali was not a popular tourist spot then and Solang valley was not commercial with hardly anyone staying there. Not to mention of the bonfires during the camping.
Man! That experience must've been out of the world. I'd love to do that at least once in my lifetime. Do you have any pictures from that time? Pls share if you do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deky
...I am amazed that you got to see snow. or is it normal to have snow fall in december too??
It does snow in December in the higher reaches of Himachal. Why, even Shimla, which is not very far from the plains, is reputed to get snow during Christmas. Manali had received snow a few days back and the snow you see in the pictures is from that day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sj_koova
...Looks like you could not make it to Rohtang? When was it closed this year?
No way we could make to Rohtang, as the snow had blocked the highway up to Gulaba. But then of course we couldn't even do Gulaba because of the massive traffic jam (all tourists, who else) on the way.
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Old 5th January 2009, 00:27   #7
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Lovely pics. I also visited Manali with my wife in the first week of Dec.

Did you take your beast to Kothi? I am glad you didnt take it further up as the road is simply terrible. We hired a taxi for Rohtang with my car relaxing in the hotel though I took it to Solang twice during my stay.

And Hats off to you man, you could adjust 9 passengers and all that luggage in a vehicle made for 5.
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Old 5th January 2009, 10:29   #8
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great snaps, I really want to drive to that AUT tunnel. Last time when I visited Manali, it was under construction :( .
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Old 5th January 2009, 17:27   #9
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Nice pictures. I am glad you found snow in that region. Btw, which dates did you travel exactly on this circuit?

I was in Shimla/Kufri circuit during 3rd week Dec'08 and darn there was no snow for miles together
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Old 5th January 2009, 21:13   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Nice pictures. I am glad you found snow in that region. Btw, which dates did you travel exactly on this circuit?

I was in Shimla/Kufri circuit during 3rd week Dec'08 and darn there was no snow for miles together
I sympathise with you 100%. I met with the same fate during Jan 3rd to Jan 9th, way back in 2002. I've never seen it snowing anytime in my life---even in god darn Tahoe lake in California in Dec 2004. I've always reached those places a couple of days late
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:16   #11
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Great Pics. I did the Delhi - Manali road trip in my Accent in 2007 March. It was one of the most scenic rides ever.

The views are breathtaking especially the snow clad mountains. The tunnel is also amazing.
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Old 4th February 2009, 11:42   #12
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Beautiful pictures KK!
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Old 5th February 2009, 12:40   #13
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Hai KKdelhi,

Wonderful pictures and narration. Guess the Snow-Gods were unkind Looks like the scenary and the drive made up for what the snow could not give.

You mentioned the route as: Delhi-Sonepat-Panipat-Ambala-Chandigarh-Ropar-Kiratpur-Swarghat-Bilaspur-Ghagas-Mandi-Pandoh-Aut-Sundernagar-Bhunter-Kullu-Manali.

Do you have distances/ timings for this stretch, I know you got slowed down plenty with fog from Kundli -Chdh onwards. Still the distance and timings would be useful as a data base. Thanks for sharing,

Ramky
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Old 3rd April 2012, 00:50   #14
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Default Re: Delhi-Manali-Delhi - Dec '08

Planning to do a Manali from Delhi on 04 Apr 2012. This is the plan:

Start at 8.00 p.m. from Delhi and start the ghat driving early morning so as to reach Solang Valley Resorts (where booking is done for 4 days) by 10.00 a.m.

Have done Delhi - Manali 10 years back in a Santro, took 15 hours.

Now doing it with a BMW X1, so should be a better experience.

Any advise would be appreciated.
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Old 3rd April 2012, 01:30   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeshchand
Planning to do a Manali from Delhi on 04 Apr 2012. This is the plan:

Start at 8.00 p.m. from Delhi and start the ghat driving early morning so as to reach Solang Valley Resorts (where booking is done for 4 days) by 10.00 a.m.

Have done Delhi - Manali 10 years back in a Santro, took 15 hours.

Now doing it with a BMW X1, so should be a better experience.

Any advise would be appreciated.
It still take around 11-12 hours to manali. The average speed will be slightly reduced after panipat till pipli as the road widening is going on. Roads are good ahead as usual, except when you start to climb the hills upto the ACC plant after bilaspur (barmana) There is a lot of truck movement till the plant. But I guess you will reach that stretch around 3 AM so it would be less of an issue. Also turn right immediately after the bhuntar airport ( Nagar Road )so that you can bypass the kullu city as well as manali to reach straight to solang valley resort.
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