This year I got a chance to design an itinerary for my friends. They wanted to go for a Himachal Trip. Considering it being peak season, I suggested them Shimla Tour instead of Manali. Since they were coming from Mumbai Shimla was a better choice. Manali route takes around 8hrs from Chandigarh if there are no landslides or roadblocks. To make it more appealing I suggested Timber Trail/Kasauli, Solan, Shimla, and Kufri. These all hill stations comes en-route or just after Shimla which takes four hours to reach.
It was tough to book hotels as New Year was around the corner. The ones that we narrowed down on 3rd December 2017 were sold out on 4th December 2017. Next day without any delay we made is bookings. I booked a Hotel in Dharampur (Near Kasauli), Kufri, Morni Hills and Chandigarh. We booked two Rooms in all hotels except Chandigarh. All was done under Rs.21,000/-.
How it came so economical?
Firstly, we kept our travel from 27th to 30th December 2017. Secondly, all hotels were on the outskirts and not in the main city. This does not mean the city was too far away. It was not more than 10kms. With our own car to drive, it was easy to travel. Here is how the Itinerary looked like.
Day 1: Yadvindra Garden, Timber Trail, Monkey Point (Kasauli), Hotel Check-in Neo Vedic, Dharampur
Second Day: Shimla, Jakku Mandir, Museum, Hotel Check-in Kufri Ashray, Kufri
Day 3: Explore Kufri and Chail Palace Check in Redwood Resort, Nada Sahib
Fourth Day: Rose Garden, Lake, Rock Garden, Check in Turquoise Hotel, Chandigarh
The Road Trips, The Attractions
We started early and reached Yadvindra Garden or Pinjore Garden as the locals call it. The garden was made by a Mughal Nawab but was completed by Maharaja Amar Singh of Patiala. After taking some pictures and selfies we had awesome tea at an in-house restaurant.
Our new destination was Timber trail. It is a great hotel with spa; they also have a fantastic rooftop bar. However, we were not here for that, our interest was the cable car. It is less than 10min. ride and priced at Rs.1145/- for adult and Rs.945/- for the kid.
It is expensive but the view is awesome. There is not much to do once you reach the top. They are a spa hotel and a restaurant with a great view. They also have an open-air lounge bar with a fantastic view. My friend did the usual click-click.
After spending around 3 hours and having our lunch, we headed back to our first hotel the Neo Vedic at Dharampur. Once checked in we were too tired to go to Kasauli for the Monkey Point. The ride to monkey point from our hotel was around 40min.
About Neo Vedic Resort:
- Rooms – Good
- Bathroom – Hot Water Available, No Shower
- Food – Average
- Extras – Rs.300/- for a room heater
Upon reaching Shimla, we came to know that the new Chief Minister of Himachal oath ceremony was going on. We had a tough time reaching the ridge. For the first timers, you can park your car in the multi-level parking near the `Lift’.
This lift will take you to the ridge and will cost Rs.10/-. You can also go through `Lakkar Bazar’ (लक्कर बाजार), which is a steep climb and can take half an hour to reach.
If you have no problem climbing, this is good to explore the market area for souvenirs and street food. You should not miss Aloo Tikki, Hot Milk, and Jalebi.
Tip: Take the lift and reach ridge. Take a left from Hotel Baljees and get into Lakkar Bazar from the top.
The road to Kufri from Shimla is half an hour. The road is good and scenic. We could not enjoy the scenic beauty, as we were late. Being winters, the sun sets at around 5:15 PM. The climb is steep with a lot of steep curves. We were using GPS to reach our hotel. The `Google Aunt’ was sure that we have reached our destination but all we could see in the dark was the Valley below.
Even after re-entering location, she was sure we had reached our destination. We called our hotel for directions. I realized that the hotel was on our right side at top of the hill. So be careful while using Google maps, old style `asking’ still works. Finally, we reached Hotel Kufri Ashray.
About Kufri Ashray Hotel:
- Rooms – Very Good (New Hotel)
- Bathroom – Hot Water Available, Big Shower
- Food – Below Average
- Extras – Rs.300 for a room heater
- Pluses – Great View from the room
We left early for Chail Palace, which was a one-hour ride. It is deep in the valley with lots of curves. The road is single but in good condition. You can reach Solan, bypassing Shimla. That was the idea as our next location was Nada Sahab. The ride was pleasant and scenic. However, my two friends were feeling the motion sickness dues to the whole road being all curvy.
Remedy – Smell/Suck Lemon, have some mint, drink some soda, orange flavored candies
The Chail Palace does not have anything to see. For me the drive was good. The restaurant was serving `Himachali Cuisine’, which was the only plus. The food was tasty and reasonably priced. For the lovers, it can be a good place to get married. They allow that the logistics though needs to be handled by a professional.
Reaching Nada Saheb
Nada Sahib is Gurudwara and that is how the place got its name. We as usual reached late and check straight into the Redwood Resort. We checked into our rooms. The experience was however marred by the service and attitude of the hotel staff. It has become a thing now if you book via aggregators like Oyo, make my trip etc. the treatments is somewhat different. When I say different, it is in a bad way.
The room provided smelt, all of us could smell the foul toilet smell. The attendant said he does not but if you still want to change, we will. We said thank you, and they changed our rooms. The food was below average in the night. The breakfast in the morning clearly showed we do not want to give you anything more. This is another cliché of hotels who give complimentary breakfast when you book with them.
They did tell us that if you do not check out 11 o’clock sharp the will charge us more. Therefore, we left with a sour taste. We did not go to Morni Hills, which was a one-hour ride from the resort. I have gone in one of my earlier trips. The Morni hills have a natural lake called `Tikkar Taal’ surrounded by mountains. There is hotel run by Haryana Government. You have to book quite early, as there are few rooms.
About the Redwood Resort:
- Rooms – Good
- Bathroom – Limited Hot Water, Big Shower
- Food – Below Average
- Extras – Rs.1000 for an extra mattress (Rs.500 in other hotels)
Our final halt was Chandigarh we had covered Rose Garden, Sukhna Lake, The Elante Mall, Shopping center at Sector 22 and the famous Gol Gappas (Pani Poorie) in Sector 23. For travelers coming to Chandigarh do not miss the Rock Garden and check out Sector 19 Market for shopping.