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Old 17th June 2022, 13:35   #1
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Default Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

Hi guys,

This is going to be pretty much my first travelogue ever, about our May-Jun '22 Himachal Pradesh trip.

4 Adults + 2 young kids for the trip & LOADS of luggage.

Destinations covered:

* Shimla: 1 Night
* Chindi: 4 Nights
* Kalpa : 2 Nights
* Narkanda : 1 Night

Total trip: 1250Kms, out of which 700Kms+ on the hills. Good & Bad roads both.

Car used: 2016 Creta Petrol Automatic, which returned a mileage of 10Kmpl with AC full-time on, even on uphill sections.

I was pretty much satisfied with D mode during uphill, but did resort to Manual mode during the downslopes. While it was a Petrol car, I still felt loss of power at the high altitude; but it wasn't unbearable.

I was a little skeptical of whether I would be able to pull off the hill journey (my first time) - by the end of the trip, I was thoroughly enjoying the ride back from Shimla via the old highway (Shimla-Matholi-Shoghi) which eventually opened up at Kandaghat, on to the Himalayan X-way.

True bliss had been achieved, man and machine were indeed one.


Day1, 29th May : Delhi-Shimla, 375Kms, 8 hrs with food breaks.



My initial plan was to ride direct to Chindi from Delhi, 400 odd kms.
The route that I had used while planning the trip itinerary showed 400kms, out of which I knew the first 275kms of plains highway/Xway mix would be easy-peasy. So 400kms seemed doable.

And then, I found out that the real route would be Delhi-Shimla-Mashobra-Naldhera-Tattapani-Chindi. This is 450Kms and seemed like bit of a stretch to do in a single day, given that the road ahead from Tattapni is a single carriage, barricaded one with quite a bit of elevation.

To be on the safe side, I decided to add a day and leave on Sunday. So now the big question was which hotel to book in Shimla for the night?

Pic of Shimla from an earlier trip

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20140817_162004.jpg

I decided on the Hotel Rock Castle, Shimla - seemed to have a decent parking, was off from the main road, but not by much. (google map images) , good reviews and not overpriced.

What a shocker when we actually landed there !!

The hotel is situated at a hill with a short but steep downhill access road, that requires 3 pointer turns on the pinhead curves. Man, my buzz from driving on the Himalayan X-way had rudely ended. Anyways, made it safe and sound !

First point of business after reaching the hotel was to book a taxi for the local sightseeing. We had been to Shimla a few years back, but decided to have the kids a darshan of arguably the most famous hill station in HP.

Luckily, the food at the hotel was super tasty and by the time we finished our lunch, the taxi wallah was there.

Enjoyed visiting the:

Viceregal Lodge,

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_153054.jpg

Flowers outside the hidden Glass House at the IIAS

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_151755.jpg

Himalayan Bird Park (just outside the IIAS gate) ,

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_155430.jpg

Jakhu temple in the background and

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_181813.jpg

finally The Mall.

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_175729.jpg

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_191248.jpg

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_192322.jpg

Modi ji's rally was scheduled the next day and so Annedale which we wanted to visit, was closed for visitors.

Came back to the hotel, had our dinner and called it a day.

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220529_2002402.jpg

Day 2: 30th May, Shimla-Mashobra-Naldhera-Tattapani-Chindi: 95Kms , 5 hours



Started from Shimla around 9AM , filled up the tank and onwards for our 4 nights stay at Chindi.

Today's journey was 90-95 kms, which took us about 5 hours with a long breakfast break at Sharma Bhojanalay at Besantpur.

Attachment 2323981

Road after Tatapani is a single carriage, old style barricaded one, with moderate commercial traffic. Not so easy for myself, but managed.
It will not be a great idea to do Delhi-Chindi in a single day: too long and you will be tackling the fag end of this road at dusk.

Stay at Himachal Tourism's Hotel Mamleshwar, Chindi.

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-original_6847b6c20836437d888ec76f75ffd4e4_img_20220531_155338.jpg

Attachment 2323982

Day 3, 31st May: Local Sightseeing at Chindi, 50-60Kms



Next morning, the view from the grand window of our room.

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_073621.jpg

Apple orchard next to the Hotel

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_155343.jpg

We went for local sightseeing around Chindi.
Today's journey was about 50-60 kms and we hired a local Sumo and hopped on for our ride to Karsog Valley to visit:

Mamleshwar mandir


Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_113850.jpg

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_113914.jpg

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_114040.jpg

Kamaksha mandir


Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_121450.jpg

Mahunag mandir


Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_135937.jpg

A sweet surprise awaited us after the trip when our taxi wallah took us to his own Apple orchard !

Returned back to Himachal Tourism's Hotel Mamleshwar, Chindi.


1st June, Day 4, Pangna Fort , 25Kms

Today we decided to visit Pangna village which was about 12 clicks from the Hotel.

Finish breakfast and went out to the parking and damn, what do I see, that the Front passenger tyre is almost flat !

Get out my Amazon Basics tyre inflator and fill the air up. Just to be sure, get the Stepney changed by a nice PB cab driver who had just arrived there.

Went to the local puncture wallah, he can't find the leak. Put the Stepney back on and continue. More on this in the end..

Picturesque Pangna Village:

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220601_134823.jpg

Pangna fort in the background of PWD Office:

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220601_141500.jpg

PWD Rest House in Chindi:

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220601_150627.jpg


2nd June, Day 5: Chindi temple ,500m from the hotel and Karsog bus ride !

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220602_084539.jpg

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220602_085715.jpg

First time saw a Nashpati/Pear tree, near to the hotel :

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220602_091412.jpg

The kids saw a local bus and insisted we take a ride. We had nothing better to do, so hopped on one and landed in Karsog again! Enquired around and seems there is a small lake ( nee Pond) at the top of the hill, about 10-12 kms from there. Hired an Alto and were glad we made it here, as the views from the top were spectacular !

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220602_120946.jpg

3rd June, Day 6: Chindi to Kalpa, 180 Kms, 8 hours

Today was the time to check out from Chindi and move for Kalpa.

The route that we took was : Chindi- Kumarsain-Rampur-Sarahan-Bhaba Valley-Reckong Peo-Kalpa

The roads just outside of Chindi for the next 20-25kms was all banged up and took a while to cross. Anyways, after a bit of a jarring ride, arrived at Kumarsain and took a much needed brunch break.

Waterfall just outside of Kinnaur valley:

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220603_131435.jpg

Satluj flowing alongside our route :

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-20220603_085150.jpg

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220603_142311.jpg


Part 2 of the Travelogue coming soon !
Attached Thumbnails
Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_165736_bokeh.jpg  

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220531_1553482.jpg  

Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!-img_20220603_070332.jpg  


Last edited by BUXX : 23rd June 2022 at 16:48.
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Old 24th June 2022, 09:10   #2
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues section. Thanks for sharing!

Going to our homepage tomorrow
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Old 26th June 2022, 00:25   #3
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

great thread and nicely edited videos. Do tell us what challenges you faced as a first-time driver, and on which routes.
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Old 26th June 2022, 11:53   #4
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

Nice pictures. I have driven on this route (NH1-Shimla-Naldhera-Tattapani) twice in the last year and loved the scenic beauty that accompanies the drive.

I have been driving on Himalayan roads for more than a decade. I drive an AT car and would suggest that the moment you start on any of the Himalayan roads set the AT transmission to manual mode. The 'D' mode on Himalayan roads is not required, while uphill the computer will try to upshift too quickly when it's not even required. The AT should be set to manual mode and second gear is more than enough to deal with the uphill and downhill roads of the Himalayas. I have experienced that setting the AT to 'D' mode when doing uphill climbs incurs irrelevant upshifts accompanied by too many breakpoints, while on downhill roads the 'D' mode simply gets the car out of control and again incurs breakpoints. When the car is set to manual mode, the second gear, the car should hold that gear whether on uphill or downhill roads. While on uphill roads all one needs to do is modulate throttle and it will maintain adequate speed, it will save on breakpoints as well. While downhill, the second gear will hold the speed of the car--not exactly the way a proper manual transmission car would do, but still will do the job-- and it will save on breakpoints.

You had one too many people in an AT Petrol Creta. Didn't you observe moments, especially doing uphill climbs when the car was thirsting a rev-up (asking for more power to be delivered from the engine) whilst the AT defeated that by doing an upshift in 'D' mode?

I have been driving a Honda Accord 2008 AT primarily on NH-1 - Manali, and NH-1 - Shimla routes and always stick to manual mode second gear for such purposes.
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Old 28th June 2022, 11:34   #5
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

@bhaduri :

As a first time hill driver I would pen out these top tips/things to lookout for :

1. Never overtake on the corners or upslopes. This is the top one really.

You should definitely have the visibility of oncoming traffic when you overtake. And when you do, do it like you would take off a band-aid : quick & complete.

2. Control your speed & line before entering the corner and not during.

3. Stick to one speed limit (25-30 kmph is decent) and 2nd-3rd or 3rd-4th gear combo, depending upon the gradient.

4. Drive within the daylight - plan to end your drive by 4-5 PM.

5. Use engine braking and the brakes in the downhill sections. I was a little conservative earlier with using brakes earlier, but not during the latter part of my trip.

@ritedhawan:

The good thing about the Creta's AT gearbox is that it kinda remembers your current/immediate response to a driving scenario.

For eg: If you are on the highway and have been a little aggressive with the throttle input, it will downshift 2 gears and let you safely overtake and then (it feels like) it holds the gears longer and upshifts at a higher RPM than it would normally do (usually 1500rpm); for a while before reverting back to its original avtaar.

Coming back to the hilly drive: Downhill was always M.

I did a blend of D mode and M in my uphill sections. It served as a decent mix of convenience & control.

I didn't feel that the engine ran out of power except for 1-2 instances, and there, switching off the AC helped overcome the situation.

I do wish that it was equipped with the L mode (that restricted upshift to only the 3rd gear) that earlier Maruti AT's came with, as it would be absolutely adequate for the hills.

I do have one query though: When in M mode driving downhill and trying to control my speed via engine braking- dropping a gear or two would result in the engine revving till 3000-4000 rpm. Is that safe?
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Old 29th June 2022, 15:02   #6
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

Quote:
Originally Posted by BUXX View Post
I do have one query though: When in M mode driving downhill and trying to control my speed via engine braking- dropping a gear or two would result in the engine revving till 3000-4000 rpm. Is that safe?
You drive Creta Petrol, right? Then don't worry about the 3000-4000 rpm. Petrol ones can revv on these rpms safely for extended period of time.

Nice Travelogue, waiting for the second part.
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Old 29th June 2022, 16:55   #7
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

@TSIched'Out : that's correct, its a 1.5 NA Petrol , 6 AT. thanks for the confirmation- was a bit worried on this point.

2nd part of the Travelogue, out soon by the weekend !
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Old 29th June 2022, 20:43   #8
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

Nice to refresh memories of 'Devabhumi', some good parts of which I was able to travel during my stint at NCR. And these are some of the really nice stretches in the state. The PWD rest house at Chindi is also really nice. Waiting for the more exciting part. Pictures are really nice.

Last edited by Kandisa : 29th June 2022 at 20:45. Reason: Addition
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Old 30th June 2022, 11:30   #9
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Default Re: Himachal beginnings: Driving in the hills for the first time, please be gentle!

@Kandisa: The PWD pesthouse in Chindi is actually at par if not better then the HPTDC Hotel! And the location & grounds are definitely superior !
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