Ever wondered witnessing the beautiful reflections of clear sky and the mountains in the blue water of the lake at about 14000 ft. Well, better things require efforts to be put in and so did we on our trip. The trip included some detours for the itinerary didn’t go as per plan but that only made our road trip in Himachal even more adventurous. Here is the itinerary one should refer to make the most of his road trip in Himachal Pradesh covering Manali, Chandratal, Mcleodganj, and Amritsar as a detour on the return journey.
Day 1 (Haldwani – Delhi- Manali) – 755kms
Today you begin your journey so-called a Road Trip in Himachal Pradesh. Leave Haldwani by the noon and reach Delhi by eve. You can take a halt if you want else to continue your trip on the Delhi – Manali Highway.
The route is a complete highway and with the views getting more spectacular as one approaches Manali. A patch of about 30kms is a bit of trouble at between Bilaspur and Rampur as you leave from Haldwani. Beyond this, you are going to enjoy your drive. As you reach Kullu you will find beside the lovely blue water flowing and splashing as they strike the rocks.
There are plenty of options between Haldwani and Delhi but the most appropriate would be at Gajraula which is almost midway between the two. One can have all sorts of options from Dhabas to restaurants and even fast-food outlets like McDonald’s, KFC, and Dominos etc. For taste and hygiene, I will suggest Bikanerwala, Sagar Ratnam or Moga.
After crossing Delhi the best option available is Sukhdev Dhaba at Murthal or Jhil Mil Dhaba at Karnal. Have your tummies filled here as you won’t find much any further.
Early morning after covering almost 3/4th of your journey you can take a halt at any tea stall and refresh yourself while enjoying the beautiful views and cold breeze with a cup of tea/coffee.
In Manali you can head to the Jhonson Cafe or try as the locals for the famous Tibetan cafe in the market.
Manali has plenty of hotels & hostels from budget to luxury but if one wants to feel the beauty and peace I will suggest staying in the Log Hut Area as it is a bit away from the market hustle bustle and offers serene beauty. The one I found the best and stayed in was Snow Valley Resorts. The resort offers large cozy rooms with amazing views. Moreover, it has a terrace to enjoy your morning tea admiring the pine forest.
Also, don’t forget to take the complimentary meals with the stay as there are not many great options to eat and hotels serve a better and tasty food. If you are an explorer than go out exploring some cafes in the old Manali which is a backpackers paradise.
Places to visit
- Solang valley – The valley about 14 km from Manali offers a great place to beat your adrenaline rush with sports like paragliding, riding the ATV bikes and even more in the winters when the valley is snow covered and the pines capped with snow. The place is perfectly apt for the nature Must try the paragliding for it gives breathtaking views.
- Hadimba Devi temple – Situated close to the Mall road the temple offers a calm and peaceful environment to the pilgrims. It is a cave temple situated in the foothills of the Himalayas being surrounded by the lush green pine forest.
- Mall road – The main attraction of the tour after the dawn is the mall road. All the tourist head out to the street for a walk in the cool breeze and enjoy shopping, eating and just feeling relaxed.
Day 2 (Manali – Chandratal) – 128kms
Today you cover a distance of merely 128km to reach the pristine glacial lake. The lake is surrounded by the dry barren mountains which stand as a connection b/w the lakes and the sky. It will take about 8 hrs. to reach this out of the world place. Be prepared as today will be a test of your driving skills coming up with a new challenge at every other turn. You must have an SUV for this with a good ground clearance and power to throttle on the slopes.
Leave early in the morning to avoid the rush at Rohtang and reach Chandratal before sunset. Get your breakfast packed. Chatru will be the first spot to eat and after that Chacha Chachi ka Dhaba at Batal that is 14kms before Chandratal.
You will find some camps 2kms before the lake costing Rs. 800 to 1000 per head per night. Book your stay and go towards the lake. Spend few hours there and return back to the camp. Have the complimentary dinner and enjoy the night in the freezing cold temperatures reaching up to minus 12 degrees Celsius.
Place to visit
- Chandratal – Also called the Moon Lake is a true heaven for nature lovers. One can spend the whole day just admiring the beauty of the lake. If lucky enough on a no windy day you can even get to see the clear reflection of the blue sky and the surrounding mountains. It’s totally a picturesque moment for the photographers. Also one can shot the galaxy in the sky with a professional camera.
Tips – Don’t forget to take warm clothes and some medicines as there is a lack of oxygen and one can suffer from breathing problems.
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Day 3 (Chandratal – Manali – Mandi) – 236kms
Today covers back on the same route to reach Manali and continue the drive ahead to Mandi which is 3 hrs. ahead of Manali.
Leave empty stomachs from the camp around 8 to 9 am and take a halt for breakfast at Batal. Drive straight ahead to Manali and you may stop over for some snacks else drive to Mandi. Dinner in the hotel you stay at or can have at the food joint of Dominos.
There are a lot of options to stay you can find on Google. If you love beauty and having breakfast riverside with birds chirping music I would suggest Visco resort which is 2kms ahead of Mandi. The morning at the resort is perfect to sit beside the river sipping a cup of coffee and witnessing the mist in the environment with the birds chirping in the background. There is nothing better than this moment.
Place to visit
- Prashar Lake – If time permits the lake situated at 49 km north of Mandi with an altitude of about 8000 ft is a must visit. The small island in the lake that keeps changing its position and moreover the undetermined depth of the lake are few facts known.
Day 4 (Mandi – Dharamshala – Mcleodganj) – 131kms
The route is awesome with a small patch of about 3 – 4kms of disturbance ahead of Mandi. Covering the Baijnath temple near Dharamshala continue the drive to reach Mcleodganj.
After breakfast in the hotel leave and for lunch you may halt on the way, though there are not many options you have. Reach Mcleodganj by the eve. Check in to the hotel and fill up your tummies at any of the cafés. The best ones are Tibetan Kitchen, Mc ‘LLO, and for sweets Woeser bakery if you are looking for Tibetan, north Indian, and some sweets respectively. Must try the Walnut Tart at the Woeser bakery.
There are plenty of options available from Rs. 1500. I suggest taking one close to the Mcleodganj square. Hotel Sapphire offers a great balcony view and is nearby the square. Don’t take the meals in the hotels and leave it to try in the numerous cafes.
Place to visit
- Baijnath Temple – Being situated on the way to Dharamshala which is about 40 km from here, the temple of Lord Shiva is built of beautifully carved out of stonework and is from the old age. There is a lush green carpet grass to spend some time and on the backdrop of the temple is a panoramic view of the mountains and rivers.
I am sure as the road trip approaches its end you must be carving for more. So to cater this today you will take a small detour on the way back to Delhi. Adding to the trip will be the magnificent gold structure The Golden Temple.
Day 5 (Mcleodganj – Amritsar – Delhi) – 680kms
The route is a highway and one can achieve a good average speed to reach Delhi. Today you will go for local sightseeing and then drive to Delhi via Amritsar to cover Golden temple.
Enjoy the early morning tea at the roadside stall on the square. Breakfast at any of the café and leave by 9: 00 am as a lot to cover today. I suggest the Carpe Diem on the temple road for the breakfast. Also, must give your taste buds the taste of another great dish from the Tibetan cuisine called Lapping Noodles which are served either dry or soupy and are available close to the Monastery on a small stall roadside.
Places to visit
- Bhagsu temple – Situated 2 km from Mcleodganj the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It comprises a freshwater spring for the devotees to take a dip. You can park your car and walk through the street as you shop some stuff for yourself. After the worship, move further towards the waterfall.
- Bhagsu waterfall – At about 1.5 from the Bhagsu temple leads a path to the 20 feet high waterfall. Due to the slope to reach the zenith of the waterfall, a good amount of strength will be required. The fall is at its peak beauty during monsoon with mist rising from the water and the tiny droplets in the air present a soothing effect on the soul and body.
- Dal Lake – Not to be confused with the one in Jammu & Kashmir, this is totally different from the one there. The lake beside a tourist spot holds religious importance. Every year, on the occasion of Radha Ashtami a fair is being organized here which is a plethora of colors.
- Jhon Church – This beautiful stone church dates back from 1852 and is one of the buildings preserved since the British Era. Located at 20 mins walk from the Mcleodganj Square makes it easily accessible. The Belgium stained glass in the window marks memories as a gift from Lady Elgin. The church though itself beautiful gets added beauty from the thick pine forest that surrounds the church.
- Tsuglad Khang Complex – Located down the street on temple road the entry from the large Iron Gate involves security screening. The place is home to 14th Dalai Lama and allows photography within the campus except inside the main temple.
Golden temple or Sri Harminder Sahib – Located in Amritsar in the states of Punjab this is one of the holiest places of Sikhs. Made of pure gold, the Gurudwara surrounded by a beautiful lake. Also, it holds its name for having the world’s largest kitchen serving free food for 100000 – 300000 people a day.
Delhi is full of hotels from cheap to luxury which suits all sorts of travelers. Book online for great deals. Prefer taking it after crossing Delhi to prevent morning traffic jam.
Day 6 – (Delhi – Haldwani) – 278kms
Route is same as was on the first day of our road trip with the same food options. Leave at your own comfort either with the sunrise or after a nice and light breakfast.
Places to visit
- Lotus Temple – The Baha’i House of Worship located in Delhi, known for its architectural magnificence. Its Lotus shaped structure rising above the lush green garden makes it insta worthy for photography lovers. In a group of three free-standing marble petals make the nine entry and exit gates of the temple. Inside of the temple is a vast room where people sit in silent devotion to god. The moment you step in a very calming and pleasing atmosphere is felt.
- Red Fort – The fort served as a residence of Mughal Emperor for about 200 years. Also, its great significance in Indian political history makes it a paradise for history lovers. Built from the beautifully carved red stones the fort houses a number of museums. Its location in the Central Delhi makes it within easy reach.
- Humayun’s Tomb – Situated in East of Delhi, it is the first structure to use red stone at such a large scale.The tomb houses the graves of Bega Begum, Hamida Begum and more from the family and was crowned with the UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993.
The road trip ended after covering the states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal, and Punjab.
*This is how we had our road trip. Adjust the above itinerary in lieu with your driving caliber and no. of days in hand. Feel free to reach me for any and all help.