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Old 15th June 2010, 12:38   #1
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Cool Mighty Mountains! Dhauladhars @ Dharamsala

McLeod Ganj is a place which I had always wanted to check out, but at the same time was never much inclined due to the heavy tourist rush in there most of the times. So it was way down in the 'Places to visit' list of mine.

One fine day of the first week of May, my Dad expressed his desire to go to Dharamsala. I was kinda perplexed as this was unusual for him, but decided to plan a trip to the place. Wifey's B'day, the 7th of May was over the weekend. Hence we decided to take a trip from 7th to 9th of May, and if she could get a holiday on 10th, stretch it for another day.

Getting hotel bookings was the next task and things were looking kinda bleak as every place I checked out seemed to be fully booked, or the asked tariff was way out of proportions. Luckily, a friend of wifey belongs to Dharamsala and proved quite helpful in getting the bookings. The final confirmation for the booking, from Anupam Resorts in Naddi, came on 6th May and we're all set to leave early morning on 7th. All the luggage had been packed, food items for the drive sorted out and lights out time was set to 11 PM.

The trip was a mix of good and bad. Good cause we got amazing views of the Dhauladhar range, hogged on some amazing food of various cuisines (Tibetan, Italian, Indian, Lebanese, and others) and celebrated wifey's B'day at the sunset point. Bad cause, the place was crowded as it's the high season & we got rooms at the third floor of the hotel (really troubled my parents). Furthermore, the rooms we got had no views whatsoever, which for me was a big time drag. Going to such touristy places in season is a major pain in the butt!

A few pics before I begin the detailed travelogue.

Some views of the Dhauladhars

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Inside the temple complex of HH Dalai Lama

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St. John Church.

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Yours truly!

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Old 15th June 2010, 14:11   #2
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The first photo of the mountains is an amazing one. Is it a panorama? I do not remember seeing such clear views of the ranges on my trip. Where was the pic taken.

Eagerly waiting for the rest to follow!!

Regards.
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Old 15th June 2010, 14:20   #3
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Originally Posted by deky View Post
The first photo of the mountains is an amazing one. Is it a panorama? Where was the pic taken.
Nope, it's not a panorama. I think I took that one somewhere after Kangra town. Used the 75-300 lens for this snap.

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I do not remember seeing such clear views of the ranges on my trip.
Yeah I'd say we're lucky. The weather stayed kinda clear for the first two days of our trip and while we're leaving Dharamsala, clouds rolled over blocking the views.
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Old 15th June 2010, 15:09   #4
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Default Day 1: 7th May

We got up around 4:30 and the first thing I did was to curse my alarm clock. Darn thing was supposed to ring at 4 but didn't, or maybe we're in too deep a sleep to notice! Hence the plan to leave latest by 5 AM was ditched and we're able to start the journey only around 6. Because of the delay, we encountered some traffic on the Delhi roads but soon hit NH-1. Traveling with the whole family has one real advantage, this being that the womenfolk carry packed breakfast which avoids those early morning breakfast stops. So we didn't need to stop anywhere and before 9 AM, we'd crossed Ambala. Stopped at a decent Resort on the Rajpura road for loo breaks and tea. Felt like having coupla boiled eggs, but I guess we're there too early as the resort's kitchen was still coming up to speed and had nothing edible to offer, only tea and lemon water.

Took the Chandigarh bypass via Banur and just zipped through the excellent road till Rupnagar, where the construction happening on the road slowed our progress. Reached Kiratpur in decent time and that's where the fun began. It was around 11 in the morning, but it looked more like 7 in the evening. The sky was full of dark clouds and winds were picking up. I guess I'll let the pictures show you what I mean.

Dark clouds!

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Mom & Wifey having a laugh with day turning into night!

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The road ahead!

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Anyways, we moved ahead towards Anandpur Sahib and that's when the clouds burst. No burst is not correct, I'd say they exploded. The sky was full of lightning streaks and we could hear loud thunder even with all the windows up and music playing inside. And all of a sudden, we're in a very heavy downpour and visibility was reduced to a hazy 10 meters. We could see cars/trucks/buses pulling over the shoulder to weather out the storm, but I wanted to continue ahead. Was driving at slow speeds of 15-20 Km/hr when I saw these strong headlights in my RVM and realized that a truck was approaching fast to my rear. Gave way to the monster and decided to follow it at safe distance.

Following the beastie with bad visibility!

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Clouds getting less dark!

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It turned out to be a great decision as that guy kept a constant speed of 50 Km/hr in that heavy downpour which helped us in saving time. The catch was that I'd to be real careful about maintaining a good distance from him, but not loose him in the dark and also needed to keep a lookout on the water level on the road in certain sections. But it all turned out well and we made it to Nangal in quite a decent time.

Decided to halt at Nangal as parents & wifey wanted to check out the reservoir. There're boards of No Visitors Allowed, but we managed to coax the cops stationed there to allow us 5 minutes. We're given strict orders of no photography, hence we left the cameras in the car. A funny incident happened in those 5 minutes. Wifey was having a conversation, with my SIL, over her mobile while we're inside the compound and passed me the phone for me to have a chat. A cop saw her passing the phone and somehow imagined that she's clicking pics. Soon we're faced with two agitated looking cops who're demanding to confiscate the phone. Wifey told them that ain't happening as she hadn't clicked any pics. The situation was resolved when we showed them the last pic captured using the phone. The funny part was, while leaving we asked them to pose for a shot and clicked what we're not supposed to, without the cops realizing they'd been duped.

Thanks to the rainfall (and its stopping), the weather had become lovely. We drove on with the windows rolled down, enjoying the cool breeze seeping in. Alas, things took a wrong turn while we neared Una as the clouds departed, sun came out in its full glory and road became bad as road widening/repairing was in progress. So we drove through the next 20 odd Km, over potholes and a mix of gravel & sand. I even got a chance to do some off-roading through mud slush cause we'd taken the wrong path at a diversion and I wasn't feeling like going back.

Next thing on the agenda for parents & wifey was visiting the shrine of Chintpurni. We reached there around 2 PM. I ain't a person interested in going into temples, so decided to stay with the car inside the parking. Another reason was that I wanted some time away from my parents so I can have a few ciggs as I was dying of nicotine depravation! With the family back in the car, pepped up after their 'Darshan' and me having gotten my stamina back, rolled ahead around 2:30. Passed Kangra and saw great views of the mighty Dhauladhars in a distance.


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Mighty Mountains! Dhauladhars @ Dharamsala-dsc07679.jpg


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Soon we're in lower Dharamsala. The main road of lower D'sala is pretty narrow and it's very hard to stop your vehicle on the road without causing a traffic jam. So the plan to have lunch in there was dropped and we proceeded towards Naddi. Reached a fork and had the option of continuing towards McLeod Ganj, or go towards Naddi. We decided to get to the hotel first as my parents were starting to feel the effects of something they ain't used to, a road trip. The road towards Naddi was pretty steep one and just my luck, the bugger in front of me in a Chevy Spark stalled. He was alone in the car, and still it took him coupla tries to get rolling and in the meantime I was thinking about my predicament. My Esteem was fully loaded with four people and their luggage, with a steep incline in front. First try with a light foot on the accelerator, the car stalls. So I knew it was time for some high revving and maybe a tad bit of half clutching. I guess I overdid both of them as my car lurched ahead after a truly exciting wheelspin! The drive from the fork till our hotel in Naddi was done mostly in second gear, with the need for downshifting coming a few times owing to steeper inclines and bad roads. Finally we reached the hotel & checked into our rooms around 5 PM.

To be continued...
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Old 15th June 2010, 20:06   #5
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You started at 0600 hrs, and reached D'Shala by 1500hrs? Wow!! is that the normal time taken or have the roads improved? I am asking this because when I went there last year around the same time it took us 15 hours. Though we did take a detour and went to see Bhakra Damn and then went along the Gobind Sagar Lake, but still I dont think it should have taken us 15 hrs. Lol!!

Yeah May 7th it did rain heavily in HP, I remeber I was on my trek and it did seem that the flood gates have opened.

Please continue
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Old 15th June 2010, 21:35   #6
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I had been there 5-6 years back through public transport. I must say I had no idea of the geography/geometry of the region.

But the place in itself was awesome. I also stayed at McLeodGanj instead of Dharmshala. I forgot the name of the hotel. It was very close to the residential school at the top.
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Old 16th June 2010, 11:54   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deky View Post
You started at 0600 hrs, and reached D'Shala by 1500hrs? Wow!! is that the normal time taken or have the roads improved? I am asking this because when I went there last year around the same time it took us 15 hours. Though we did take a detour and went to see Bhakra Damn and then went along the Gobind Sagar Lake, but still I dont think it should have taken us 15 hrs. Lol!!

Yeah May 7th it did rain heavily in HP, I remeber I was on my trek and it did seem that the flood gates have opened.

Please continue
No buddy, we reached around 1700 hours (5 PM).

Quote:
Finally we reached the hotel & checked into our rooms around 5 PM.
But yeah, if only wifey & I were traveling, we might have reached by 1500 hours! 15 hours does seem on the higher side, but then those detours tend to stretch things.

The road, especially the one that goes to Una after Anandpur Sahib was in a real bad shape. Add to that the fact that it'd rained, made that stretch all the more pathetic. Luckily the great weather compensated for it.

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But the place in itself was awesome. I also stayed at McLeodGanj instead of Dharmshala. I forgot the name of the hotel. It was very close to the residential school at the top.
Totally agree with you mate! Me & wifey plan to go there again for 4-5 days during off season. Missed checking out quite a few eating joints. And I guess it'd be a great place to have lazy strolls when there's no tourist rush. Weren't able to check out McLeod Ganj the way it should be this time around.
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Old 16th June 2010, 14:33   #8
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If its OK with you sir, I will try to dig out some of the old snaps and post some of them.

We did Manali, Dharamshala and Dalhousie in that leg.

Last edited by ampere : 16th June 2010 at 14:35.
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Old 16th June 2010, 15:12   #9
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If its OK with you sir, I will try to dig out some of the old snaps and post some of them.

We did Manali, Dharamshala and Dalhousie in that leg.
Definitely go ahead, the more the merrier I say.

One sincere request ampere, please don't call me sir!
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