I was looking for a fixed departure package, as usual to visit rural parts of Himachal Pradesh because it is safe and free of tension as the tour operator takes care of everything. And I booked it with a reputed travel agency through online search, during Durga puja in 2017.
Pick-up and drop point was Shimla and Manali respectively. As I'm from Kolkata, so Kolkata to Shimla and return ticket from Manali to Kolkata was booked by me on my own. I was very excited to visit this part of Himachal.
Almost 15 days before the scheduled date of journey, when I called up the travel agent to know about the pick up point in Shimal, I got to know that there's no place for a solo traveller in the group as this's a festive season and all the seats had already been booked. The advance would be refunded in full. What a disappointment!! They didn't even bother to inform me earlier.
Anyway, there are only two options left for me, one to cancel all the train and bus tickets that I'd booked myself or go for a solo trip to visit Shimla - Manali. Because Durga Puja is one of the biggest festivals of Bengali's and during this festive season it was just impossible to book any package trip with any local travel agency adjusting my dates of journey within this short period.
I thought Shimla - Manali is a very popular tourist destination and well connected by overland too. I had been there before also. So I thought, if I go solo this time, I can choose everything i.e. accommodation, meals, sightseeing and at the same time, I was feeling nervous considering that what would happen if any health issues develop, travelling alone would be safe or not.
But, despite all that negative thinking, I decided to go for a solo trip. Luckily I was able to book hotels in Shimla and Manali at reasonable price too.
Day 1 : Howrah/Sealdah to Delhi by Rajdhani Express
I Left for Delhi by Sealdah (SDAH) - New Delhi (NDLS) Rajdhani Express on 26th September,2017.
[ Train No. 12313 , leave from Sealdah railway Station at 4.50 p.m., fare 2,280/- (AC 3 Tier )].
Day 2 : New Delhi to Kalka by Delhi –Kalka Shatabdi Express
Reached New Delhi Railway station around 3 p.m. as the train was running late by 5 hours due to some technical work on the railway track.
Schedule time of arrival of Rajdhani Express at New Delhi railway station is 10.30 a.m. whereas my connecting train was at 5.15 p.m. after a gap of more than 6 hours. Hence I'd booked an online 'Executive Lounge' at New Delhi Railway station in advance for staying. I dropped there, left my luggage, freshen up, had my lunch and relaxed for some time.
Executive Lounge: It's a fully air-conditioned facility where railway passengers can stay while waiting for their trains. It is located at the concourse of Platform No. 16, New Station Building, Ajmeri Gate Side. It can be booked in advance through the following websites :
i) www.irctc.co.in ii) www.irctctourism.com &
Entry Fee for the initial 2 hrs. is Rs. 150/- per person inclusive of all taxes.( Cost may be increased now). It offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian buffets cost Rs. 300/- max.
Boarded New Delhi –Kalka Shatabdi Express in the afternoon.
[ Train No. 12005 leave from of New Delhi railway station at 5.15 p.m., Fare Rs. 550/- (Chair Car)]