Friday is unlike most days. It’s a day when we actually feel a sense of freedom from our daily routine. The plan was simple. At 6 am sharp, all of us had to meet at the Delhi border, which heads to Karnal and zero-in on a destination on the way.
Whatever was the deadline or plan, no one could manage to reach the designated spot at 6 am. We got the huge 490-litre boot of this sedan filled up with luggage and finally, the journey started at 8 am in Nissan Sunny..
We were heading to Kasauli – a small town in the state of Himachal Pradesh. It is 77 km from Shimla, 70 km from Chandigarh and around 300 km from Delhi.
The journey started from NH1, but since we missed on the early morning start, we got choked in traffic near the border. It was moving traffic, so didn’t cost us much time. Always remember, the best time to start your journey if we have to drive through interstate highways is early morning, let’s say 5 or 6 am. You’ll have to face minimal traffic at this hour. After getting through the Delhi border traffic, we came on the first stretch, Delhi to Murthal, which is around 80 km and driving on the highway is so monotonous that it pushes you to take a break.
Taking a break on NH1 is never that tedious a job, as you have plenty of Dhabas on this highway. After 2 hours of continuous drive, we opted to a halt at Haveli. While there are many more famous food joints on the way, like Amrik Sukhdev, Gulshan, etc., Haveli gives a feeling of local (Desi) food and culture with a touch of regal seating. Entering the foot steps of the Haveli, you will see some fine sittings (Khat) with some sculpted figures. The most amazing thing is the truck facing the entrance to the hall. My favourite part at any Dhaba would be mouth-watering paranthas, especially when its cottage cheese (paneer) parantha.
Once we fuelled ourselves, we thought of fuelling our Nissan Sunny and the Sunny took a huge gulp without hurting our pockets, as the fuel in Haryana is cheaper than Delhi. Driving a Nissan Sunny is unquestionably reasonable, since this mid-sized sedan delivered an amazing mileage of 19.2 kmpl and that also with its power AC pack with a second row AC vent as well. Taking travel expense into consideration, it was incredibly cheap, around Rs. 2,100 for fuelling a 41-litre fuel tank. According to me, it’s far much better than travelling by train and bus, costing somewhere around Rs 800 per person and Rs 1,500 per person, respectively, not to forget, hiring a cab to your hotel.
After driving for kilometers, we took a right towards Shimla, hitting the picturesque Himalayan Expressway, NH22. Although the road between Chandigarh and Dharampur is a breeze, the new flyover around Panchkula makes life easy and the lights of the hills visible from there are just mesmerizing. It was an awesome sight with the roads winding up the hills and clouds moulding in a pattern of bouquet surrounding the mountains. To reach Kasauli, we took a diversion from Dharampur, and came on a single-laned road, with occasional bumps and bad patches.
While driving this car, all you have to do is punch the pedal to develop the 1.5-litre diesel engine rev. When harmonized to a five-speed manual transmission, it will pump out bolt to show off that hidden 85 bhp of power and 200 Nm of torque under its hood. Stability with amazing ground clearance of 161 mm and the large boot (boot size – 490 litres) are few of its good traits that compelled me to take this car on a mountain ride.
After driving the car for roughly 6.5 hours, we took a tea break at a roadside dhaba to blend ourselves with the locals and know more about this small town. Some places of interest that will attract you is the Monkey Point, a hill that derives its name from Rishi Man-Ki, who used to worship an idol of Lord Hanuman and legend has it that Kasauli came into existence after Lord Hanuman placed His feet here in order to advance on to the Sanjeevani hill. The place where the lord actually kept His feet is believed to be at a hillock, which is 300 m high. Other attractions include Christ and the Baptist Church that will give you an amazing example of Kasauli's colonial architecture, a call of serenity that can never be ignored by a tireless traveler; a small Sanwara Station (16 km) on the Kalka Shimla Railway line that can make a good downhill hike from Kasauli; and Baba BalakNath Temple, which is at a height of 3 km on a hill top and is a famous temple of Sidh Baba Balak Nath.
If you happen to visit the town during the off-season (November to February), it is quite likely that you would not come across any tourist for a long while on your walk. Still, you would be accompanied on your walk by the sweet and soothing voices of the birds, and gentle rustling of leaves.
After knowing all the details, we just thought of continuing to our destination, as the adventure was yet to begin because we had not booked a hotel. We finally reached our destination after driving for around 8 hours and finding a hotel in this small town was not a difficult job as there were plenty of cheap and hotels worth staying.
The most disappointing moment was when it came to our mind that we had to leave for Delhi very next day. We had just enetered our room and this thought hit us!. Although I didn’t mind driving back Nissan Sunny at that very time too, but I just wanted to feel it more on the mountainous blind turns.