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Old 14th January 2009, 15:59   #1
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Default Cold,Nippy,Frosty,Chilly Escapade to Himachal Pradesh !!!!

Places Visited : Delhi-Shimla-Kufri-Chail-Naldehra-Kasuali-Chandigarh-Delhi
When: Dec 25th to Dec 29th,2008
Typical Temparatures: 2C to 4C
Snow : None, disappointment level at it's peak
Distance above sea-level : Approximately between 6000 meters to 7500 meters. Not sure, if i read correctly if it was meters or feet.

The plan for our annual vacation was decided well in advance and we wanted to travel up-north so that we can accomplish two things at the same time. Meet family as well as spend some time in a cold place ( I absolutely love cold weather). So abviously, Himachal was the nearest to Delhi therefore, it came immediately to mind.

Now,the next question, where in Himachal? We have been to Kullu-Manali-Manikaran-Rohtang Pass circuit before so we decided to head the Simla way. So booked our flight tickets and were all set.

Only mistake was not booking the accomodations as we were under a very wrong impression that ongoing global recession would ensure we won't have problems in easily getting an accomodation. Besides, i was told there were too many hotels to worry about it. Only to realize how wrong that advice was.

After reaching Delhi, due to a sudden urgent health issues of one of our family members, wifey decided to stay back and it was only me, BIL and a cousin. Initially had booked a Chevy Tavera, but due to wifey decided against coming along changed the ride to an Indica. We decided to leave at 7AM the next day after reaching Delhi.

Indica arrives promptly and were delighted to see our driver is a sardar gentleman, we then knew there would be a lot of conversation in store for us along the way, which turned out to be true and sardarji was cracking jokes and sharing anecdotes all along the way which made the journey quite pleasurable.

We started from Rajinder Nagar and en-route picked up cousin from Rohini and headed towards Chandigarh. I was told if your driving on that highway, do not commit the crime of "NOT EATING" at Ahuja's whose Parantha's are the best on that highway.

True to that reputation, i haven't had paranthas any better than Ahuja's during my entire trip. Loads of butter ( they didnt crib of giving extra as others usually do) and one of the best stuffings ( Aloo, Gobi, Muli etc). Also, i was told this route does not have any dhabas serving you NV food as there was some temple enroute and anybody who started one, suffered huge losses. Don't know how true it was. Incidentally, we had only one meal of NV food in our entire HP trip.

We continued our drive in the foggy morning and just before reaching Chandigarh, saw a lot of people on the side of the road selling KINNOW ( for people who don't know, they look and taste same like oranges). we stopped for a while, and had a couple of glasses of it's juice and continued our drive towards Simla and were stopping every now and then to enjoy the view and had a late lunch of kebabs and pudina paranthas at a roadside restuarant while approaching the ghat section of Simla. We picked up a lot of stuff that keeps you heated during the night in that bone chilling winter.

We reached Shimla around 5:30pm and to our despair and anguish there were hardly any rooms available. We struggled in that cold for nearly 3 hours to get a decently priced one.

Most were quoting 3K-4K for a night which was evening-light robbery for the quality of rooms. Finally, after lot of talking to brokers ( who are all over the place in Shimla) finally got a decent room for about 1.5K a night. It was so cold, as soon as we got our room, we three fought to get inside the wraps on the bed.

The tap water was so chilling, it took a brave heart and mind to wash up before dinner. Hehee!

Day 1
We headed out at 9AM and decided to visit Kufri. It was about 20kms from Shimla and was crowded like anything. Seems like most tourists spend a lot of time at Kufri and you reach to a point where you park your car and then take the horseback ride for about 8kms to reach the view point.

I found it decently ok, nothing extraordinary, maybe during snow it would probably be a beautiful place. We returned to Shimla and spend the rest of the evening gawking at Himachal apples on the mall road. The mall road is the only place in Simla that you will find interesting to spend in the late afternoons and evenings.

Otherwise, Simla is so small, it finishes even before it starts. We tried out some kiwi fruit, ate lots of ice-creams and hung around like everyone else on the mall around, essentially doing nothing. What a way to relax, no time pressure, no checking emails, i had even chucked my phone in the room. So it was focused relaxation.

Day 2
Oh boy!, It's tough to get up in that weather and we forced ourselves to get up and decided to visit Chail and Naldehra on that day. Roads were crowded all through as it seems like most of Delhi and Chandigarh folks were in Himachal.

Every other car had a (HR,DL or CH) plates. It was pleasantly suprising that i enjoyed Naldehra the best even though we went there against some people's advice that there is nothing to see out there. It is a nice picnic spot with tall pine trees surrounding a plain in between and it requires a nice invigorating walk to reach up to that point. We spent a good amount of time there and during late afternoon returned back to Shimla.

We thought let's watch Ghajini, so my BIL who happens to be a thin guy decided to take a short-cut from the hotel and go to the mall road and pick up tickets of Ghajini for a 7pm show while the two of us returned to the hotel to rest for an hour or two. Our driver requested he too wanted to join, so we got him a ticket as well.

One mistake, we started at 6:30pm from hotel and parked the car near the lift and there was a huge crowd at the lift and after running the uphill roads that dot entire Simla, we walked into the movie theatre panting for life about 20 minutes late. We all thoroughly enjoyed the movie and headed back to the hotel around 10:30pm.

We made sure to call the hotel to keep food for us as most hotels in cold places close their kitchen pretty early.

Day 3
Relaxed most of the day taking walks around the place and spent the evening at Mall Road.

Day 4
Got up early, packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel and loaded the luggage in car and headed out around 9AM. Our destination was Kausali which was enroute Chandigarh.

It was a lovely to experience those beautiful roads leading to Kasuali , it was pure bliss, small winding roads with quaint old structures of houses, churches, temples etc. Kasuali is famous for boarding school and iam sure a lot of celebrities have studied there.

I am told even Sanjay Dutt went to school here. There is a famous Hanuman temple here which is visited by almost all visitors on this circuit. However, now it's controlled by the Indian Air Force ( there is a AF station in Kasuali).

We did not visit the temple as there was a long queue to get the passes from the defence folks to go up the hill to visit the temple. However, we hung around for a long time taking in the amazing scenary. There was a beautiful resort on the side perch of the hill which had absolutely astounding views of the mountains far across.

Around 1pm, headed out towards Chandigarh and reached Pinjore Gardens at 4pm and spent a couple of hours there and then went to the Sector 17 market in Chandigarh and had some pani puri and aloo tikki's and then decided to head back to Delhi around 7pm.

From here on the fun started, we picked up some stuff in the car and were enjoying it in back-seat while the driver was in full concentration for the entire drive from Chandigarh to Delhi ( 250kms) which took us 8 hours) as the fog was so dense, we can hardly see a couple of feet ahead of us. I have never seen such dense fog in my entire life, so it was a fabulous experience.

Thank god, there was a median for the entire drive to delhi and almost bumper to bumper traffic and saw some minor collisions on the way and unfortunately, witnessed one major one, wherein a Swift had gone in completely from behind into a truck. Hope the occupants are safe, which at that point of time, seemed unlikely.

We reached Delhi around 3:00AM and dropped cousin at Rohini and went home. We had a wonderful time in Himachal Pradesh and the beauty never ceases to amaze me, the only damp squib was lack of snow. Next time, will be there in late january when the snow is imminent.

Apart from vacationing in Himachal, spent more than a week in Delhi, catching up with family and generally hanging out at different places and visited the regular areas like CP, Janpath, Pallika Baazar and did a lot of shopping.

Another agenda of my trip this time was to eat at different locations and enjoy the flavour of Delhi and we were almost eating out most of the days.

Some of the places that I enjoyed eating out were :-

Karims at Jama Masjid, took a Metro from Karol Bagh and had some sumptious Mutton Burra, Kebabs, Meat Badam Pasanda. Also tasted their meat biryani but it was nothing to write home about. Their food taste lingers until after a long long time. Sadly, out here in Hyderabad, people are crazy about Biryani all the time and we hardly have any places where we can get some delicious succulent kebabs.

Tundey Kebabs at New Friends Colony, they opened recently in Delhi for the first time and their famous Gelawati Kebab ( made from minced meat and papaya) is to die for. Also, their Shammi Kebabs was out of this world. Then tried some Shawarma's from Al-Bake in the same market.

Bercos in CP, go there every visit which is popular for chinese food. But,this time it was disappointing and their fruit beer still remains a favorite.

Changezi Chicken, it's located in Bada in Old Delhi. It's not situated in very up-market area so be prepared. But,their CC is to die for. It is continously cooked in a large tawa outside the restuarant and you will find changezi chicken at every table as people come from far and wide to taste this unique dish. It goes very well with Khemari Roti which i found here better than at Karim's.

Gilaani and Rehmaani opp to Parliament house. Again, this is not upmarket location but he allows you to get your own stuff in the car and order for kebabs. I had one of the best chicken tikkas in my life here.

Piccadily,Not Just Paranthas, Punjabi by Nature in Rajaouri Garden/Tagore Garden : Awesome places for some great grub

Some other places worth mentioning are Gianey's Rabri Faluda and Natraj Dahi Balle in Chandi Chowk. My my, delhites are living in a foodie's paradise. You must be thinking this write-up suddenly shifted from being a travelogue to a food guide.

I wanted to share this experience and say kudos to awesome food that's available all over Delhi.

Now, allow me to let some pictures do rest of the talking, keep an eye on the thread have many pictures to share :-
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Old 14th January 2009, 16:06   #2
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Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
Approximately between 6000 meters to 7500 meters. Not sure, if i read correctly if it was meters or feet.
Feet. Imagine that Everest is 8848 mts.

Great determination to brave the cold!! But I think, you may have come across some snow, if you could have gone till Narkanda. There had been at least one snowfall till the time you went.
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Old 14th January 2009, 16:07   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008;1129993
[B
Distance above sea-level :[/b] Approximately between 6000 meters to 7500 meters. Not sure, if i read correctly if it was meters or feet.
It has to be feet. Mount Everest is 8848 metres

Too bad there was no snow !!!
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Old 14th January 2009, 16:31   #4
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It has to be feet. Mount Everest is 8848 metres

Too bad there was no snow !!!
My bad, feet it is
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Old 14th January 2009, 16:41   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
...
Some of the places that I enjoyed eating out were :-

Karims at Jama Masjid, ....

Tundey Kebabs at New Friends Colony, they opened recently in Delhi for the first time and their famous Gelawati Kebab ( made from minced meat and papaya) is to die for. ...

Changezi Chicken, it's located in Bada in Old Delhi. It's not situated in very up-market area so be prepared. ...

Some other places worth mentioning are Gianey's Rabri Faluda and Natraj Dahi Balle in Chandi Chowk.


My my, delhites are living in a foodie's paradise. You must be thinking this write-up suddenly shifted from being a travelogue to a food guide.

...
Boy oh boy.. you really did get the bang for your vacation by just eating at these wonderful places.

The 'real great' food is still in old delhi & chandni chock area and for sure the delhi folks are living in foods paradise.

The upscale & glitzy joints are noooooooo patch for the authentic taste one gets in old delhi -- both veg & non-veg.

And yes, you haven't mentioned it but I am sure you would have found that all these places in old delhi are VFM -- quite reasonable in costs.

Cheers,
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Old 14th January 2009, 16:47   #6
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Ha, so here you go. Mobike, seems it was a excellent trip. Sad to hear that your wife could not join you.

Tell me about that parotha We had similar stuff on the way to Agra from Delhi. That was awesome taste with those white butter. Ummm, I miss it now.
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Old 14th January 2009, 16:53   #7
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@Shahnawaz, thanks for your comments. Yes, indeed the food in old delhi is total VFM and still remains the best in taste as well. Some pictures of the good ol' grub

Three Muskeeters on this trip
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Old 14th January 2009, 17:12   #8
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Mobike008, found your log very engaging! Wish you'd tell us which hotel you finally checked in at!
Strangely, having done that route dozens of times, never had parathas at Ahuja's! Next time for sure. Where is it?

You're lucky in a way that there was no snow at Kufri. Had there been, you'd have found yourself walking through a slush of snow and horse poop!! Not pretty at all!

Last edited by anupmathur : 14th January 2009 at 17:13.
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Old 14th January 2009, 17:14   #9
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Originally Posted by mjothi View Post
Ha, so here you go. Mobike, seems it was a excellent trip. Sad to hear that your wife could not join you.

Tell me about that parotha We had similar stuff on the way to Agra from Delhi. That was awesome taste with those white butter. Ummm, I miss it now.
, i hardly have paranthas when i am in Hyderabad. So, i compensate it when i am in Delhi.

We spoke before your trip to north. Hope it went well?

@Anupmathur, thanks

Ahuja is located in a place called Murthal which is about 45kms outside of Delhi on the Chandigarh highway. It is supposed to be the best place for paratha's

We stayed in a hotel called Madhuban/Pineview. It is right behind the HP petrol pump in Simla. I will post a picture from outside soon.
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Last edited by mobike008 : 14th January 2009 at 17:18.
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Old 14th January 2009, 17:18   #10
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, i hardly have paranthas when i am in Hyderabad. So, i compensate it when i am in Delhi.

We spoke before your trip to north. Hope it went well?
Yes, it went well for 6 days. Only change was that I went with T-Bhp family

Yes, I am talking about the GQ drive.
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Old 14th January 2009, 17:18   #11
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nice writeup with pics.
man, you had posted 18 pics and 9 pics out of that is about fruits and food. this is not fair at all. i feel hungry.
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Old 14th January 2009, 17:26   #12
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Yes, it went well for 6 days. Only change was that I went with T-Bhp family

Yes, I am talking about the GQ drive.
That was a mindblowing trip. I am sure you guys had a wonderful time

Quote:
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nice writeup with pics.
man, you had posted 18 pics and 9 pics out of that is about fruits and food. this is not fair at all. i feel hungry.
. I am sorry, but if there is something that i am living this life for and that is food, food, food
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Old 14th January 2009, 18:03   #13
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Nice pics Avi, The white butter reminds me of my college days at Kanpur. They used to serve bread with loads of white butter and mattha for Rs5 which was damn tasty.

Abhi
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Old 14th January 2009, 18:08   #14
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Nice pics and narration. Looks like lot of vehicle traffic (as you have mentioned). You are showing only oranges, how about apples. Do treat us with pics of apples and sceneries in and around HP, Shimla and sorrounding places.
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Old 14th January 2009, 19:00   #15
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Hey mobike, was waiting for this thread for a long time. Nice narration and yummy pictures!

@snaronikar, the season for apples is monsoon time. Now only bare apple trees are visible.
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