I saw lot of questions being asked in this forum but hardly people post their trip experience once they come back from vacation. I am sure real personal experience would be very helpful for future travelers. So pls keep posting trip reports guyz.
Here is my personal travel experience to shimla manali , visiting after 12 years. Definitely things have changed a lot.
We flew to Chandigarh, took a cab from airport to Kalka. We did not book taxi in advance we enquired at airport counter but he quoted us some real high price so we went to taxi stand outside the airport and got an AC indica. He charged us Rs.670 to drop to kalka. I thought it was also on higher side. Because Chandigarh has mega cab services and these are metered taxis with fix charges of Rs.18 per km. so pls book it in advance,you ll save money there.
Anyways we chose a budget hotel near kalka station. Hotel lotus. Average hotel just wanted a night sleep. Good part it is walking distance to kalka station so you don’t hv to get taxi, rickshaws in morning to go to railways station. We hardly saw any rickshaws nearby in the early morning time. Hotel stay cost us roughly Rs.1100 for a night stay. Lot of eating options in kalka.
Next day early morning we had reservation for Shivalik expresss. Beautiful train journey. They do serve tea (2times) and breakfast. Took roughly 5 hrs to reach to shimla. We had already booked the taxi so got a drop off to hotel but if you havn’t then there r lot of taxis waiting, infact you can negotiate a lot on the spot for you tour.
Checked in at honeymoon inn..got an upgrade to honeymoon suit which was very good. Hotel was clean and nice. We just relaxed tht day..a short walk to mall road. Next day went to local sightseeing Kufri, Naldehra & Fagu. We don’t like riding on horses so most of the sights were useless for us. We heard from the driver that in kufri , going to top by riding horses are useless. Nothing much to see except valley view which is good. Cant say much as we skipped that. Went to manu temple. Again don’t buy Prasad woth Rs.60 and stick to show to monkeys. Rather donate it to temple. It was very foggy on top so hardly get to see anything but it is a beautiful temple with a location. Went back to hotel and evening headed to mall road. Experienced mesmerizing sunset. A must watch.
Next day morning headed to Manali @8am. Drive is incredible…beautiful river beas will accompany you till the end. Road is also very good. We took little detour and stopped at Manikaran. Visited hot kundas,temple and back to manali. On the way ,we visited a shawl factory in kullu. Bought a handmade shawl. They also show you how they weave the shawls there.
Checked in the hotel sarthak. It is far from the manali town. Budget hotel and we made the booking so couldn’t cancel it then. So decided to stay. Next morning at 6a.m, started our journey to Rohtang pass. Stopped at a local shop to get jackets. It was a big blunder..himachal tourism has fix rate card for all equipments and clothing but these shop keepers too Rs.300 per jacket and shoes from us. We learned later that some fellow tourist paid Rs.100 for the same cloths..we did ask the shop owner but he denied to pay us back the difference. We lodged a complaint at HP tourism office. Hope they take action. HP tourism has put a board in soland valley for prices which we saw later. So pls beware of these cheaters. We are visiting India after a long time, so we didn’t bargain but I guess you have to do it anywhere u go to tourist places. Learned our lesson hardway. Anyways wanted to inform fellow travelers.
We rented Alto as we were just two of us but towards the end, small cars got stuck in mud and we couldn’t go to top in small car. So we with other 3 couples who were also in small cars, decided to rent Sumo. Paid Rs.600 per head for 20km but after coming so far , we really wanted to experience rohatang pass, and I m glad we did it..due to rains not much snow but beautiful mountains surrounding the place was amazing. Spent almost whole day in this journey. Traffic problem seems to be common due to narrow road and due to rains , road was in bad shape. Took several hours to reach on top. So starting early morning is a key. Stopped at soland valley nothing much to do there too…rafting and parceling were closed due to rainy season
Next day did local sightseeing, Hadimba Temple, spent some time on the bank of Beas River, country club was good too.some more local temples. Last day went to mall road, its small and simla mall road is much better and bigger that this. Visited Tibetan monasteries ,local shopping and visited Naggar fort.
Next day @ 8am left for Chandigarh. Reached at around 4pm checked in at hotel shivalikview. Nice property and location. Next day did some local sightseeing..nothing much so if you book a local cab for 4 hours you should be good. No need to book whole day. Rose garden,rock garden, sukhna lake. Liked the planned chandigarth city. Clean and organized.
Tips: would advised few things here:
1. If possible try to book taxis when u come to shimla. We paid close to 9000 for the whole trip but u can save if you plan well. For rohatang it is advisable to hire a big car or share with someone.
2. Do check with HP tourism about rates for snow shoes, jackets. We didn’t even use any of them. There is really no snow on top. The shopowners do tell that there is snow but it wasn’t there much. Little windy but sweater and raincoats would be enough. Shoes might be helpful if u nt using sportshoes. But gloves etc r absolutely not requied. Don’t waste ur money. Skiing is not available during summers. Saw lot of people renting skigear, there was just a slap of dirty snow, if u really want to try ski, go in winter. This was useless. No need to take horses to snow mobiles to go to the snow. U can walk to it. I saw the dirt bikes charged almost Rs.1000 from one of the couple to take them upto snowslap( ridicules)
3. Bargain, bargain and bargain ..everything and anything u buy!!