Day 1: Bangalore to Delhi by flight, sight seeing: Qutub Minar, Lotus temple, Birla temple, India gate
Day 2: Akshardhaam, Red fort, Departure to Manali by night bus
Day 3: Arrival at Manali, local sight seeing
Day 4: Solang valley
Day 5: Rafting in Kullu, water falls, Nagger palace
Day 6: departure to Shimla by taxi, Shimla sight seeing
Day 7:Shimla sight seeing: Jakhoo hills, Kufri, Naldhera
Day 8: Departure to Kalka by Shimla Kalka train, then departure to Amritsar by taxi
Day 9: Amritsar sight seeing : Golden temple, Jallian wala Bagh, Wagah border
Day 10: departure to Bangalore
Seeing the fascinating Himalayas was one of my long-time wishes which was fulfilled last year. We charted the itinerary to cover Himachal Pradesh along with Delhi and Amritsar. We completed our bookings for rooms, flight and train and we were two families consisting of four adults and two children. We started in March end.
We took an early morning flight from Bangalore to Delhi. We had requested the hotel to organize a taxi for local sightseeing and the taxi was waiting for us at the Delhi airport. We took the taxi and directly started sightseeing, starting with a visit to the beautiful Qutub complex. The Qutub complex where the Qutub minar is located is a vast area with various monuments.
Qutub minar is a beautiful tower constructed out of sand stone. The large complex also contains the amazing Iron Pillar which is more than 1000 years old and shows no sign of rust on it. There are other beautiful monuments in the complex.
After that we visited the incredible Lotus temple. This amazingly constructed temple has a flower like structure and has beautiful surroundings full of greenery. People gather to pray and can also meditate here. The place is very serene, beautiful and calming.
Then we proceeded to India Gate and later passed by the Parliament house, Rajpath, Vijay Chowk, North block & South block and Birla Mandir. It was late afternoon and we returned to the hotel and took some rest. As the hotel was right in the middle of Karolbagh, there was plenty of shopping done by the family members.
We checked out from the hotel and proceeded to Akshardham temple and then to Red fort. Evening around 5 PM we took a bus to Manali.
We arrived in Manali in the morning and checked into the hotel. The hotel was in a beautiful location with river Beas flowing just in front. After breakfast we started local sightseeing. We visited Hidimba temple. This is the only temple in India which is dedicated to Hidimba. We visited Vasisth hot springs, Monastery etc.
We visited Solang valley which had still quite a lot of snow. This is about 15 KM from Manlai en route to Rohtang pass. We took skiing equipments and a guide as we wanted to try skiing, only for fun. The drive to Solang was very picturesque with views of Himalayan Mountains covered in snow. On the way the river Beas flows among the mountains making the journey more attractive. We spent almost full day in Solang valley and returned to the hotel late in the afternoon. We had a walk in the Manali town on the very popular street called “The Mall” which houses shops and restaurants. This is the road only for pedestrians and traffic is banned here making it more convenient for the tourists. This street has good restaurants and food we ate here was very good.
The most attractive part of our trip was on this day where we went white water rafting in river Beas in Kullu. It was in the morning and the weather was bit cold. We drove to Kullu and stopped at one spot where the rafts were stacked. We see these rafts along the Kullu road. We bargained a little and took a raft and got into it along with the kids. There were two guides also rowing along with us. The rafting started along the river on the tides and lasted for about 7 KM which took 45 minutes. The water was cold and used to splash on all of us whenever the raft went up and down. The ride was just perfect and a must-do. The river had rocks, causing tides and making the raft bob up and down continuously. At the end of the journey, there are cabins for changing out of wet clothes into dry ones. Over all this was the high point and is not to be missed. We visited a Vaishnodevi temple near the rafting point and went to a small water falls in the forest.
We hired a taxi to drive to Shimla. There are not many buses connecting these towns, so a taxi may be the best option. We started in the morning and the drive took us through a series of mesmerising Himalayan mountain ranges. We reached the sweet little town of Shimla in the evening, checked in to the hotel and went around on a walk. At the centre of the city is a point called “The Ridge” which is a large open space and one side has an incredible view of Shimla town with houses at different levels on small mountains. In Shimla we saw that the roads lead to ground floor of buildings, hotels and then we climb down stairs to reach lower floors. Shimla has a very beautiful shopping street called “The Mall” which is exclusively for pedestrians. There are lots of small shops selling sweaters and other warm clothes and many gifts. This street also has good restaurants.
We hired a local taxi to visit 3 places: Jakoo hills, Kufri and Naldhera. The Jakoo hills is close to Shimla town. There is a very tall Hanuman statue on the top of the hill and a small temple. This is the highest point in Shimla and offers a beautiful view of the surrounding towns.
Naldhera is a hill about 25 KM from Shimla. This has a pine tree forest and normally tourists are taken around on horses as the path is very steep. This place also has a beautiful golf course. Kufri is again a hill. There is a small zoo with quite a number of Himalayan animals.
We took the train from Shimla to Kalka which started from Shimla in the morning at about 9:00 AM. This is a narrow gauge train and is one of the high points of the Himalayan tour and should not be missed. The track was laid around 100 years ago and it is really wonderful to see the train passing through the scenic Himalayan ranges. There are beautiful bridges and more than 100 tunnels! Credit should go to the person who thought of constructing the track through such a difficult terrain where it was not possible to even conduct survey for laying the train track, that too more than 100 years ago when technology wasn’t so advanced. Normally these trains are always full and reservation is a must to travel comfortably. We reached Kalka at about 4 in the evening and hired a taxi to reach Amritsar. It was late in the night when we reached Amritsar.
After breakfast we started sightseeing in Amritsar. The first stop point was the famous Golden Temple complex. The complex is very beautiful, with a huge pond surrounding the sanctum. We spent some time in the temple and going around the temple.
Then we proceeded to Jallianwala Bagh which is a monument dedicated to the brave Indians who died in the firing by the British. The park is maintained well along with many bullet marks on the walls still reminding us of the horrific incident. Also in the park there is a well dedicated to the martyrs who fell into the well during the stampede.
In the afternoon we proceeded to the next interesting place, Wagah border, which is about 25 KM from Amritsar. Every day at sunset, there is the “Beating Retreat” ceremony conducted by Indian and Pakistani armed forces. The event begins at 5 PM but the crowd starts pouring much earlier. There are a lot of security checks, so one has to be there early. The event is organized attractively and there is a seating arrangement, like in a stadium. What the rest of India sees as patriotism on August 15 every year is seen daily at Wagha.
There are lots of Bollywood patriotic songs played and children dance to these tunes. There are lot of tricolours seen everywhere. At sunset the main event is conducted with marches of army personnel from both sides. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously. Then the gates are closed again. It is amazing to watch this at least once in your life.
We came back to Amritsar and visited Golden temple to see the lighting in the night and the sight was incredible, with all the buildings lit up creating beautiful reflections in the pond.
We returned to Bangalore by flight via Delhi, we thoroughly enjoyed this amazing trip to North India.