The summers simply don’t seem to be coming to an end, which only means one thing for us here at autoportal — heading up to the hills. So we decided to head to the hills near Delhi, in Himachal. Now we had already been to Shimla and Kasauli a few times so we needed a new destination to explore and rightly so we chose Dharamshala, which is around 465km from Delhi.
We started around 4 am in the morning to ensure that we wouldn’t be caught in Delhi’s traffic. It’s always good to start early to avoid the heat of the sun and the irritation that comes along with ity. With minimal traffic at this hour we made rapid progress and touched Karnal by 6am. Another plus point of starting early is the fact that you don’t need to use the AC, which in turn means that fuel economy is aided greatly.
Our early morning start as well as the fact that we were drving on a Wednesday meant that we met minimum traffic on the road. We reached Ambala in under three hours and crossed the city of Chandigarh by 8am. This was a big blessing since we had covered almost half the journey before the sun started to pelt down some serious heat.
After Chandigarh you have to drive a bit slowly and carefully since its only a sigle carriageway from Ropar. This carriageway extends for the next 30-odd kilometres and means that traffic moves a bit slowly. After this you need to head up to AnandPur Sahib. This is a brilliant piece of road, with plenty of greenery on both sides of the highway. Once past this you will be crossing Nangal dam. This highway also goes to Manali.
Taking a break on this entire journey is a good idea. There are plenty of dhabas to choose from every few kilometres. And if you are the sort of person who enjoys a big burger or pizza, then you will find decent fast food joints as well.
Its also a good idea to fuel up before Chandigarh, when you are in Haryana because diesel is cheaper in that state compared to Delhi as well as Himachal.
The Maruti Ciaz is a fuel efficient car and if driven with a light foot will return over 21kpl with the AC on and two passengers plus luggae. And taking travel expense into consideration, it was incredibly cheap, around Rs 2,200 for fuelling a 41 litre fuel tank. According to me it’s far better than travelling through train and bus, costing somewhere around Rs 800 per person and Rs 1,500 per person.
After driving for 380km we finally crossed Una and headed up the hills. Though, the road between AnandPur Sahib and Una is a breeze, some road upgradation work makes life a bit stressful since traffic slows down. It was an awesome sight, the roads winding up the hills and clouds moulding in a pattern of bouquet surrounding the mountains. Even then the roads are decent and traffic isn’t at its peak when you arrive in the hills by 10am.
While driving this car, you will enjoy the fact that the diesel engine is very quiet and also seems to have good power. Its large boot is also well shaped, which means that it can swallow big luggage pieces without an issue.
After driving the car for around seven hours we took a tea break at a road side Dhaba, to blend ourselves with the locals know more about this small towns on the way, including the town of Kangra, famous for its historical fort. There are lots of temples as well on the way and you can visit them any time of the year. McLeodGang is another famous destination which is very close to the town of Dharamshala and famous for its churches. This is also where his holiness the Dalai Lama sits.
We finally managed to reach Dharamshala at 2pm, which is an average speed of just a little over 50kph. Very decent considering the 3 hours of driving through the hilly section of the hills.
Remember, always carry a light woolen cardigan with you when you head up the hills and also do drink lots of water at higher altitudes. This part of the hills also receives lots of rainfall in the evening so carrying an umbrella is also a good idea.