Amazing ride buddy....wanna do this circuit with you one day....It was February 2020 and the coronavirus was something like China's problem and not ours. February is the perfect time to find some snow after just half a day's drive from Delhi. I was also looking for something like that. The plan was to see some snow, spend some time on a river's bank, visit some ancient Himalayan temple, and stay away from tourists. All of this except the last part was possible on a ride to Manali and beyond. But I really wanted to be at a place which is less crowded.
Initially, the plan was to go for a ride following this itinerary:
Day 1: Delhi - Yashwantnagar
Day 2: Yashwantnagar - Kharapathar - Tiuni - Chakrata
Day 3: Chakrata - Paonta Sahib - Delhi
However, my plan was flexible and it did change on the go. So the itinerary that I followed was this:
Day 1: Delhi - Summer Hill, Shimla
Day 2: Summer Hill - Kufri - Kharapathar - Tiuni - Hanol - Mori - Purola - Naugaon
Day 3: Naugaon - Mussourie - Dehradun - Delhi
Day 1: Delhi - Summer Hill, Shimla:
Usually, I leave pretty early around 5-ish in the morning when I go for my trips/rides. But not this day. It was the election day in Delhi and I really didn't want to be the irresponsible guy who leaves for a trip whenever there is a voting day. Well, I did leave for the trip, but only after casting my vote. I was ready with my bike topped up with petrol and all my riding gears. Even though I reached the voting center exactly on time the voting begins, there were still 5 people in the queue. I anxiously waited for my turn, did my duty, and straightaway hit the road at around 9:00 AM. Crossing Delhi was not a challenge as it was a holiday and then, I still had enough time to comfortably reach my destination in the daylight. Dominar has one of the best headlamps in its segment but I still prefer not to ride after its dark.
It was peak winters and quite chilly even in the afternoon. I underestimated how cold it could get riding on the highway. I was in only a t-shirt and a riders jacket on top of it. I did have another warm jacket in my luggage but it was so bulky that I could either wear that or my riders jacket. I preferred the riders jacket over the warm one since it has some inbuilt protection layers. I was wearing gloves but they were also ineffective in stopping the chilly wind hitting my fingers. I rode non stop till Chandigarh (barring hourly water breaks) and decided to have my lunch at a place called Namaste Chandigarh. It is right on the Ambala - Chandigarh highway, some 10 kms before the city, and hosts a variety of outlets like Haldiram's, Subway, Chaayos, and Nick Bakers. I had a plate of chole bhature from Haldiram's in my lunch. If you are wondering why would anyone have chole bhature on a ride, then let me tell you; I am wondering too as I am writing this blog.
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At Namaste Chandigarh. We usually stop here for lunch when driving on this highway.
While having lunch at Namaste Chandigarh, I was exploring some places to stay near Yashwantnagar but could not find any options. My wife helped me from home and suggested a good guest house in Summer Hill, Shimla. I immediately called the owner and booked it for the day. So, here shifts the plan to stay in Shimla and not Yashwantnagar.
As soon as I started riding again, I realized how cold it would be up there in hills. So, I bought an inner warmer from Zirakpur for some Rs 250 and decided to put it on right there. It actually worked wonder and I was not feeling cold anymore. Faith in inner warmers restored!
Even though most of the Kalka-Shimla highway is under construction and not really in a good shape, the stretch near Parwanu is really good. It is the section of the Himalayan Expressway which is now complete. Soon, we could see this expressway constructed till Shimla. But I am not too hopeful as I am seeing this construction on this highway since forever now!
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The traffic was less and I enjoyed the ride till Shimla to the fullest. There were a couple of traffic jams on the way till Solan, but then, jams are for cars!
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Shimla as seen from Kalka-Shimla highway (NH-5)
I reached Summer Hill, which is on the outskirts of Shimla at around 5:00 PM in the evening. It was cold and I could also spot some little snow in the corners. Looks like it snowed a week ago but melted now.
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Narrow-gauge tracks near Summer Hill
I checked into my hotel which was right beside the Summer Hill railway station. Being a train enthusiast, and having some pleasant memories from childhood of the Shimla toy train, I loved this location. The hotel owner offered me a warm wooden room which also had a big window with the sunset view. I was really a good deal for Rs 1000 per night. But I guess that was the off-season price.
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Summer Hill railway station. I sat here for a while looking for trains going towards Shimla which was the next station from here.
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Sunset from my room
Stay for the night:
City Inn Hotel,
Summer Hill, Shimla
Contact: +91 94184 87752
Watch this space for more....
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Kanchan, Gaurav & Advika (@himalayan_monal) • Instagram photos and videos