May 14, 2011

Chandigarh, Manali, Shimla

It was the start of a new beginning, beginning with our first vacation together. The most exciting part of this vacation was that we had not planned anything apart from booking our flight tickets from Goa to Delhi and back. Little did we know that there was something else in store for us. Our initial destination was Shimla, Kulu and Manali.  This trip took us to Chandigarh, Parwanoo with an unforgettable road trip to Kulu, Manali.
@ The Qatab Minar

We landed in Delhi late afternoon. We had two choices to reach Shimla - either take a volvo bus that evening from Delhi and reach Shimla early next morning or take a train to Kalka and then take the toy train to Shimla. We decided on the latter since the train ride was romanticized in many a movie. It was an enjoyable ride passing through the green corn fields and yellow mustard flowers in the Punjab/Haryana belt.  We reached Kalka after a 3 hour train journey from Delhi and it was already rather dark. Kalka is a small town situated at the foothills of the Himalayas and is the gateway to the neighboring and beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh. We were advised to stay that night at a small town in Himachal called Parwanoo since it had good tourist accommodations. We took the advice. The rooms of the cottage were nice, the pleasant dinner, hot bath and the heated rooms was just perfect. The breakfast the next morning was fabulous. In all, the stay was excellent but the best part was when we stepped out, the view that greeted us was simply amazing.
Shimla Toy Train
We set-off to Kalka from Parwanoo for the toy train only to realize that being a national holiday the train was full except for a couple of hard wooden seats which wouldn't have made our touche very happy. So we decided against it, booked the tickets for the next day early ride and decided to spend the day and night in Chandigarh. Chandigarh is the capitol city of Punjab and Haryana and has the distinction of being the first planned city of India. Indeed it was. Broad and clean roads, clean air and nice gardens was a pleasant sight. We spent the day touring the hotspots of the city like the rose garden, the rock garden, paddle boating in the lake, shopping and night life.

It was a beautiful ride the next day all the way up from Kalka to Shimla in the toy train.. 96 kms \ 60 miles of winding uphill at a snails pace. This was the most memorable experience. It was a slow journey that included the windiest and sharpest curves I've ever had in a train. Passing through a multitude of tunnels, the view of the slopes below and the neighboring mountain ranges was just amazing. The best part of all was having hot chai on the platform at one of its stopovers station. It was so delicious since it was pretty cold and I was just not used to the different temperature. The total train ride was around 5 hrs. If ever some told you to take this train ride, take it, there is no other way to experience this. Its simply awesome.    

Shimla and Manali are just awesome places and the Himalayas are majestic. This was the first time we ever saw snow and that too..... lots of it. Coming from a state where we see just sunshine, beaches and  rain, it was a sight to see. We were in awe looking at the snow capped mountains and the adventure sports around us. We tried skiing. it was a great experience. Skiing is a sport that is learnt. Our legs ached after 10 mins of putting on our gear ! I would love to learn it some day.

I love the National Geographic website.. Incidentally, on one of the regular newsletters that I receive, I found Shimla to be on the Top 20 Best Travel Ideas for 2011.  We are glad and excited that we were able to carry lovely memories from here. And when your here don't forget to hit the bakeries on Mall Road!

This was a nice start to visiting new places. It has since been a learning experience for us traveling as a couple and as a family. We hope you find our experiences useful in planning your forthcoming vacations. Happy roadtrippin'.


  1. Wonderful blog, Michelle....thanks for sharing!!
    Beautifully written...Would love to go to Shimla some day..

  2. awesome..keep up the good work..would love to share mine as well ;) this is a good motivation :) keep writing.

  3. Lovely Blog Mich...good start n Happy Blogging!

  4. Kamakshi.. thanks for writing in.. my pleasure in sharing our memories.. shimla is a beautiful place you could go back to anytime.. try and make it some day!

    @ madhu.. lets motivate each other :-0 .. the blog does take up a lot of time. Hope to continue it as long as I can..

    @ kalu.. i see u got a new one too.. congrats! and thanks..

  5. Mich..its a old one check d date..but not open to public:)

  6. Your blog is good and valuable. You have provided a good information on your Manali tour. Manali is a good place to visit and explore.

  7. Manali is specially enjoyed in summer season. The light snowfall adds the pleasure. people can enjoy the felling of coldness in summer season. Chandigarh to Manali is full of real nature. This is the perfect time to indulge in to outdoor activities such as rafting, tracking and mountain adventurous. This is also the time when fauna of these areas get active.