How to reach Himachal Hill Stations like Shimla, Dalhousie, Manali, Spiti, KInnaur, Mcledoganj & Palampur etc.

Small and Beautiful Railway Stations on Kalka-Shimla narrow track: Posted on www.travellingcamera.com by VJ: The Kalka-Shimla Railway built to connect the summer capital of India in 1903 at an altitude of 2076 meters offers a panoramic experience of the picturesque Himalayas from the shivalik foot hills at Kalka to several important points such as Dharampur, Solan, Kandaghat, Taradevi, Barog, Salogra, Summerhill, Shimla and beyond up to the silvery snow line near the towering peaks.Sonwara Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka...Himalyan Queen waits for 30 minutes at this station to let Shivalik Express pass through....  KOTI Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka...I have clicked these photographs during recent visit to Shimla.... We reach KOTI Railway Station after crossing longest Barog tunnel....Jabali Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka...Kandaghat Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka...Located at an altitude of 4680 ft above sea level Kandaghat is the nice place in Himachal Pradesh for you if are looking for a quiet and peaceful vacation. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh built his palace in Kandaghat after which this place received the attention. Raja Bhupinder Singh was the ruler of Patiala and when he was expelled from Shimla, he set up base in Kandaghat. Today, this is one of the most popular destinations to travel in India.  A reflection of Kandaghat Railway Station on train window...Dharmpur Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka..Just 15 km from Kasauli on the National highway No.22 Dharampur has one of the best hospitals in India for the cure of tuberculosis. It is also connected by Kalka Shimla railway line.... Shoghi Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka...SHoghi is a small town near Shimla and now its being developed as new tourist destination in Himachal. There are many resorts with good facilities in Shoghi and have reasonable arrangements for tourist groups..Kandaghat Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka..Delux Rail-Car standing @ Shoghi Station...Tara-Devi Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka...Tara Devi temple is located on Tarav Parvat, in the western side of Shimla. Temple provides an overwhelming view of the mountains below and Shimla Town. Every year thousands of pilgrims visit Tara Devi temple, which has a great spiritual and heritage value. Historically speaking, the temple was built approximately 260 years ago ...Salogra Railway Station on the way to Shimla from Kalka..Kalka Railway Station...Kalka is a town in the Panchkula district of Haryana in India. The name of the town is derived from the goddess Kali. The town is situated in the foothills of the Himalayas and is a gateway to the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh. It is on the National Highway 22 between Chandigarh and Shimla and is the terminus of the Kalka-Shimla Railway. To the south of Kalka is Pinjore and the industrial town of Parwanoo (Himachal Pradesh) is to the north on the NH 22. Industrial development has led to a continuous urban belt from Pinjore to Parwanoo, but Kalka remains largely unaffected by these developments. Nearby is Chandimandir Cantonment where the Western Command of the Indian army is based. SHIMLA became the summer capital of British India in 1864 and was also the headquarters of the British army in India. Prior to construction of the railway communication with the outside world was via village cart.The railway was constructed by the Delhi-Umbala-Kalka Railway Company commencing in 1898. The estimated cost of Rs 86,78,500, however, the cost doubled during execution of the project. Because of the high capital and maintenance cost, coupled with peculiar working conditions, the Kalka-Shimla Railway was allowed to charge fares that were higher than the prevailing tariffs on other lines. However, even this was not good enough to sustain the company and the Government had to purchase it on January 1, 1906 for Rs 1,71,00,000.

For last few years, we have noticed various comments on our portal wherein folks want to know about various options to reach different Hill Stations in Himachal Pradesh. So we thought of sharing this Photo Journey with some details about Transportation mediums in Himalayan State of India - Himachal Pradesh. 


If you are someone who doesn't want to break the journey, VOLVO buses are best for you to reach Himachal Pradesh. Take an over-night VOLVO for any of the destination in Himachal and you will reach early morning, which will give you enough time during the day. Travelling via VOLVO is one of the most efficient way. Direct VOLVO buses are available for Shimla, Manali, Dharmshala, Baijnath, Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Solan, Una, Mandi, Kullu, Sundernagar etc. There is no VOLVO bus for Dalhousie or Chamba, but 2*2 buses are there for Dlahousie region. Most of these VOLVO buses start from Himachal Bhavan, Mandi House, Delhi and ISBT is also a pick-up point. Seats can be booked in these VOLVO buses through HRTC website - http://www.hrtc.gov.in/hrtctickets/

There is an advice to do your VOLVO booking in advance (probably 2-3 weeks before your travel date.).  VOLVO buses are very comfortable. These buses stop at nice place for dinner and then take another break at Chandigarh. 

In October I was in Shimla and was coming back to Delhi in Night Bus. I reached new bus stand at 8:00 pm while bus had to start at 9:20 pm. New Bus Stand in Shimla is fabulous and I thought of doing some mobilegiri there... Above photograph was taken during day time while I was at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, but shot is taken by HTC Desire Camera :) Before I start sharing photographs of Shimla Bus Stand, let me share something about HRTC services, which have improved a lot in my opinion. Now HRTC have Volvos, TATA-AC and Deluxe buses running between main stations in Himachal. Most of these buses are very comfortable. I don't think, I need to tell anything about Volvos, but at the same time TATA-AC are decent buses with confortable seating and AC. Main different is brand and the other can felt while in hills. So if you go to Shimla from Delhi, it would be hard to feel the difference between Volvo and Tata-AC, as road is wonderful. Deluxe buses have comfortable seating but no AC. Apart from that most of the TATA-AC and Volvos have got LCDs for running movies or other videos...Shimla Bus-stand has different parking areas located at different levels of this building. This particular area seems for Haryana buses and with time, all types of buses can be seen on a particular stand. So all of these buses would move to respective counter as they have to start for their next destinations.Here is the area with most of the hustle-bussle, as all passengers are looking for their buses and boarding accordingly.There is more than enough space inside the Bus-Stand to sit and wait. All the levels of this bus stand are clean as of now and well maintained. Hope Himachal Pradesh government and employees keep this going in same fashion.There are clean and appropriate options for eatable & drinks...All current and advanced booking counters are located on ground floor. Temporary counters are also available near the place where buses are parked to pick passengers.If someone is sitting inside the bus-stand and waiting for the bus, s/he need not to go outside to see if bus has come or not. Whole area is covered with transparent glass.Apart from that, LED displays are also installed at most of the places. These LED displays show the buses currently on counter with respective information like Departure time, Counter Number, Bus Number etc.Most of the levels are connected through stairs as well as lifts. I didn't come across any escalator, which was a bit surprising thing.Here is a photograph of frontal portion of new bus stand of Shimla, which is located near Tootikandi...This is a huge area and Shimla's new bus stand is considered as one of the best bus-stands in North India. In fact Delhi's Bus Stand is under renovation, so let's see how it turn out.From entry of this Bus stand, it looks like some shopping Mall or a very luxurious office space. It was hard to digest the fact that it's Bus Stand of Capital City of Himachal Pradesh :)Bokeh of colorful lights on surrounding hills...HRTC Buses can be booked online now at www.hrtc.gov.in/ . It's really very helpful for folks to see availability online and book their tickets without waiting in long queues.This was old Bus-stand of shimla, which has been converted into local bus-stand now. There are regular shuttles between local Bus Stand and ISBT Shimla.
Time taken by VOLVO buses to different places in Himachal -

Shimla : ~8 Hrs
Dharmshala : ~ 10.5 hrs
Manali : ~ 14 hrs
Kullu : ~13 hrs
Mandi : ~ 11.3 hrs
Bilaspur : ~ 9-10 hrs
Solan : ~ 7 hrs
Hamirpur : ~10 hrs
Baijnath : ~ 12 hrs
Palampur : ~ 11 hrs
Sirmaur
Paunta Saheb
Renuka Lake

If you don't find place in HRTC VOLVO buses, there is another option. You can check Himachal Tourism VOLVO buses. These buses can be booked through http://www.hptdc.nic.in/bus.htm and they also start from Himachal Bhawan in Mandi House, Delhi. Please note that Himachal Tourism buses don't go inside ISBT Kashmiri Gate. 

If you don't find place in VOLVO buses, then you can opt for TATA-AC buses. This can happen if you are planning the trip in very short time. TATA-AC buses also have adjustable & comfortable seats but these are comparatively old buses. These buses would not be as silent as VOLVO coaches. TATA-AC buses can also be booked through following website - http://www.hrtc.gov.in/hrtctickets/

In October I was in Shimla and was coming back to Delhi in Night Bus. I reached new bus stand at 8:00 pm while bus had to start at 9:20 pm. New Bus Stand in Shimla is fabulous and I thought of doing some mobilegiri there... Above photograph was taken during day time while I was at Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, but shot is taken by HTC Desire Camera :) Before I start sharing photographs of Shimla Bus Stand, let me share something about HRTC services, which have improved a lot in my opinion. Now HRTC have Volvos, TATA-AC and Deluxe buses running between main stations in Himachal. Most of these buses are very comfortable. I don't think, I need to tell anything about Volvos, but at the same time TATA-AC are decent buses with confortable seating and AC. Main different is brand and the other can felt while in hills. So if you go to Shimla from Delhi, it would be hard to feel the difference between Volvo and Tata-AC, as road is wonderful. Deluxe buses have comfortable seating but no AC. Apart from that most of the TATA-AC and Volvos have got LCDs for running movies or other videos...Shimla Bus-stand has different parking areas located at different levels of this building. This particular area seems for Haryana buses and with time, all types of buses can be seen on a particular stand. So all of these buses would move to respective counter as they have to start for their next destinations.Here is the area with most of the hustle-bussle, as all passengers are looking for their buses and boarding accordingly.There is more than enough space inside the Bus-Stand to sit and wait. All the levels of this bus stand are clean as of now and well maintained. Hope Himachal Pradesh government and employees keep this going in same fashion.There are clean and appropriate options for eatable & drinks...All current and advanced booking counters are located on ground floor. Temporary counters are also available near the place where buses are parked to pick passengers.If someone is sitting inside the bus-stand and waiting for the bus, s/he need not to go outside to see if bus has come or not. Whole area is covered with transparent glass.Apart from that, LED displays are also installed at most of the places. These LED displays show the buses currently on counter with respective information like Departure time, Counter Number, Bus Number etc.Most of the levels are connected through stairs as well as lifts. I didn't come across any escalator, which was a bit surprising thing.Here is a photograph of frontal portion of new bus stand of Shimla, which is located near Tootikandi...This is a huge area and Shimla's new bus stand is considered as one of the best bus-stands in North India. In fact Delhi's Bus Stand is under renovation, so let's see how it turn out.From entry of this Bus stand, it looks like some shopping Mall or a very luxurious office space. It was hard to digest the fact that it's Bus Stand of Capital City of Himachal Pradesh :)Bokeh of colorful lights on surrounding hills...HRTC Buses can be booked online now at www.hrtc.gov.in/ . It's really very helpful for folks to see availability online and book their tickets without waiting in long queues.This was old Bus-stand of shimla, which has been converted into local bus-stand now. There are regular shuttles between local Bus Stand and ISBT Shimla.If you miss out on all above options, you will have few other options which are huge in number and hence high probability of getting booking. Deluxe (Non-AC), Semi-Deluxe and Ordinary buses by HRTC (Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation)

Via Train -

There are very few places in Himachal which are accessible through Train. Following are the few of the railway stations in Himachal Pradesh.

Pathankot Railway Station - Nearest Railway station for Dlahousie, Chamba, Dharmshala, Mcledoganj and Palampur.

Una Railway Station - Nearest Railway station for Hamirpur. This can also be an option for folks visiting Mcleodganj or Palampur.

Kiratpur Railway Station - Nearest Railway station for Kullu, Manali, Mandi, Bilaspur & Sundernagar.

Chandigarh Railway Station - For Shimla, Kasauli, Solan & Kinnaur

Apart from these main Railway stations, Himachal Pradesh also has two narrow gauge railway tracks wherein one can continue the journey in Toy Trains. Of-course, these journey would take more time to reach your destinations. 

Shimla - Toy trains for Shimla start from Kalka Railway station and it takes 7 hours to reach Shimla from Kalka. These Toy trains cross through Solan town as well.

Jogindernagar - Toy trains for Jogindernagar start from Pathankot and crosses through Kangra, Palampur, Baijnath towns. 

Near-by Railway Stations around different tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh -

Shimla : Chandigarh and Shimla(Toy Train)
Dharmshala : Pathankot and Una
Manali : Kiratpur
Kullu : Kiratpur
Mandi : Kiratpur
Bilaspur : Kiratpur 
Solan : Chandigarh & Solan(Toy Train)
Hamirpur : Una
Baijnath : Pathankot and Una
Palampur : Pathankot and Una

By Air -

There are three airports in Himachal Pradesh - Shimla, Kullu (Bhuntar) and Kangra. Schedule of various flights to Himachal from Delhi are listed on following link - http://www.hptdc.nic.in/access2.htm. Mainly Kingfisher and Air India operates in Himachal Pradesh.

Own Cars/Taxis/Tempo-Traveller -

Last week 3rd Mughal Motorsports Rally happened in Jammu and Kashmir. This Photo Journey shares some moments with these flying machines at various places on Mughal Road. Let's check out this Photo Journey and know more about Mughal Rally and how it went..This Motorsports rally is organized by Himalayan Motorsports with 'J&K Bank' and 'J&K Tourism department'. Usually it's a three days event, which started on 29th with vehicle scrutiny. Whole day is dedicated to certify all vehicles as per rally guidelines. Every vehicle is checked on technical ground and ensured that driver & navigator are well equipped to drive during next two days. For more idea around the same, check out - http://www.xplorearth.com/program.htmThere were two competitions in Mughal Rally. One is called 'EXTREME' which is about speed. Each vehicle is released from start point afterregular intervals and they have to cover a particular terrain to reach final destination. Of course, vehicle with min time wins this but there are some penalty clauses as well. So calculation of winners is not that simple. First winner gets 2 Lac rupees and there are 5 prizes worth 2Lac, 1.25L, 1L, 50K, 25K. Entry Fees for each vehicle is 20K.Other competition is called 'ENDURO', which is more about disciplined and controlled driving. Other name is TSD (Time, Speed & Distance), which means that each vehicle has to move with constant speed, to cover a distance in specific time period. Vehicle with minimum delta wins this competition.After scrutiny on 29th June, first day of rally had to start at 2:30am on 30th. First day was on Mughal Road which connects Shri Nagar to Jammu through Peer-Ki-Gali. It was a wonderful stretch and J&K Tourism is working on this region to developfor tourism. This whole stretch has wonderful landscapes surrounded by snow covered hills and of-course waterfalls which are created out of melting snow on peaks.Local administration had wonderful arrangements for the rally. Most of the these roads were frozen for civil traffic, as it could have been dangerous. There are more than enough security on each turn of the Mughal Road. Ambulances, support vehicles and all other relevant resources were deployed upfront. All these rallies need lot of planning from organizer's point of view as well as local administration.First day completed with few minor break-downs due to which some of the participants were disqualified for day-2. One of the gypsy toppled and two girls started again within few minutes. It's amazing to see the passion & energy of these folks. Also this sport needs disciplined planning and straegic approach to reach the destination with full safety measures and keep yourself in competition. Every Vehicle has a driver and a navigator. Navigator is very important role of this game, which has critical responsibility with him. S/he keeps record of whole route and all minute details. So S/he keeps guiding the driver about the next movements.After tiring day on 30th June, it was time to relax for some time as next day had to start at 3:30 am again. So on first day, we started from Shrinagar and came back to Shrinagar after long drive through Peer-ki-gali. Second day was on other side of the Mughal Road. So we started at around 3:30am from Hotel Centaur (Shrinagar) and reached Sinthan Top between Kishtwar & Daksum. Sinthan Pass is a wonderful place capped with snow all around. Chilly wind was flowing around Sinthan HillsSecond day stretch had all dirt roads with melting snow flowing all over. All the roads were extremely narrow and plenty of turns. From the top of Sinthan Pass, we could see a stretch of 20 kilometers which was full of curved roads into the valley. On first day EXTREME folks had come back to Shrinagar, while ENDURA folks had gone to Jammu. On second day ENDURA folks had to come back through Sinthan Pass only. So, for EXTREME folks it was to & fro stage and for ENDURA, it was one side stage from Jammu to ShrinagarDifferent kinds of vehicles were participating in Mughal Rally, many of them were gypsys and others were TATA vehicles like XENON, SAFARI... Mahindra XUV500 was also there... Maruti's Grand Vitara... Detailed information about eligibility criteria for participating in Mughal Rally, check out - http://www.xplorearth.com/program.htFirst day of the rally was towards Rajouri district of Jammu&Kashmir and second day was towards Anantnag district.Third day is kept for prize distribution and podium finish ceremonies. But this year, these ceremonies were cancelled due to death of a rally participant on second day. One of the ENDURA vehicle went out of the way and got down to a deep valley. Driver died on the spot and navigator went to coma for some time. So third day ceremonies were cancelled.Some high end motorbikes also participate in Mughal Rally. After the event, one another scrutiny takes place to ensure that all vehicles were in right state and none of them was using any avoidable material.
If you are visiting Himachal in a group, you can plan to have your own Taxi or Tempo traveler, depending upon the number of folks in the group. Roads in Himachal are pretty good and this is a recommended mode because you get freedom to roam around the main tourist destinations and also have freedom to stop wherever you want.

Apart from above details, I would like to mention transportation modes for Kinnaur, Kaza, Lahual & Spiti and Leh.  

One needs to go to Kinnaur/Kaza region via Shimla. So transaportation modes for Shimla are shared above. One can halt in Shimla for a day and move further in Deluxe buses or can hire taxi from Shimla. If you are in a group, I won't recommend to hire the taxi from Delhi, It's recommended to have local driver with you. Roads beyond the boundaries of Shimla district are tricky and local driver would be a good companion for the journey ahead. Same rule applies for Lahaul and Spiti.

If you plan to go to Leh via Manali. Head to Manali through one of the modes mentioned above then you have few options. Hire Bikes from Manali, if you want. Or you can also take Himachal Tourism bus to Leh. There is a halt and Tourism department takes care of stay on the way. It's quite economical as well. But best is to have your own vehicle because landscapes on the way are very beautiful and you may want to have freedom of stopping whereever you want. 

Please feel free to comments back in case you have some specific queries on this.

Cheers ! 

18 comments:

Sumit said...

Shimla - Toy trains for Shimla start from Chandigarh Railway station and it takes 7 hours to reach Shimla from Chandigarh. These Toy trains cross through Solan town as well.

Further to the above mentioned information in this Blog. This Toy Train is not From Chandigarh Station, its from Kalka Station. Please correct this in your Blog.

Thanks and Regards,

Sumit Malhan

Sumit said...

Shimla - Toy trains for Shimla start from Chandigarh Railway station and it takes 7 hours to reach Shimla from Chandigarh. These Toy trains cross through Solan town as well.

With reference to you above mentioned Lines in this blog. I want a Correction, this toy Train starts from Kalka Station instead of Chandigarh. if i am wrong, please let me know.

Regards,


Sumit Malhan

VJ Sharma said...

Thanks for pointing this Sumit. I have corrected it and can't believe that we made this mistake :(

Thanks Again !

Unknown said...

Hi.. im planning to go more than a couple of places -kasol malana mcleodganj dalhousie.. Can you pls suggest me a good solid plan so that i dont end up taking detours again n again??

VJ Sharma said...

unknown :) - I need to know the duration of your trip, so that I can suggest accordingly.

Viraj said...

Hey!
Pretty informative. I will be travelling to kasol soon and will be alighting at Delhi aairport earlier in the day. So can u please suggest the best mode of transport to kasol preferably ac mode. Also if 10 days is too much to spend in kasol if I hardly undertake any trek And any other places that I can visit without rushing here and there.

VJ Sharma said...

Hey Viraj, HRTC Volvo buses are comfortable and you need to take Manali Volvo. And you already know how to do the booking :)

honey garg said...

Hi . I am planning to visit kasol , shimla n manali . Please suggest a plan . My duration time is 5 days.

Thanks

honey garg said...

Hi . I am planning to visit kasol , shimla n manali . Please suggest a plan . My duration time is 5 days.

Thanks

Azeez Shaik said...

Hi Sharma,
My whole family is planning a himachal tour, Can u pls suggest me the best way and what are the main places to visit. Our duration time is 8 days

We are planning to go Shimla, Manali, Sangla, Kalpa.
Your reply will helps me a lot in this journey

VJ Sharma said...

Hi Mr Azeez - Please go through various posts on Shimla, Manali, Sangla, Kalpa and various parts of Kinnaur. If you still have specific questions, please drop a comment with exact details you need.

vjrock said...

Hi
vivek here..I am planning a solo visit in 2016 to Places in HP.
My first stop is Manali.
I will be departing from delhi.
Preferring non AC local buses..cheap & economical ones.
As you mentioned above i can get them from ISBT.
Can you tell me if i go directly & buy ticket on same day when i am leaving, will i get it or one i have to buy the tickets 2-3 days before my journey ?
i mean like we do when plying in DTC buses of delhi..same time buy..same time leave type...
& also pls tell me what is the cost of ticket in local NON AC buses..if u have info
Thanks VJ :)

VJ Sharma said...

Try to book in advance.

nitzzz said...

Hey
Your blogs and information providing is pretty good.
I have already booked tickets to kasol for 2 nd week of July.
I would like to know abt the return from kasol to delhi. We have to get to bhuntar to catch bus?
Buses from Kullu , Manali will be stopping in bhuntar or we hav to do prior booking.??

Is there any buses during morning or afternoon?

Nand kishor said...

Hi,
I am planning to visit kasol this month I wanted to know the expense information.

I just have info about Delhi to bhuntar wanted to know about bhuntar to kasol, tosh, kheerganga, malana and manikaran.

Can somebody help me I am traveling alone...

VJ Sharma said...

Nitzzz - Sorry I missed your comment and couldn't respond on time.

VJ Sharma said...

Nand - There is probability to find shared jeeps and buses, but you need to have time for waiting :) ... I am not very well aware of scenario these days and the commute frequency also varies from month to month (read season and off-season).

Hope someone who visited recently comments here to help you.

nitzzz said...

Dear NAnd kishor.... You will get shared cabs, jeeps and buses are also der from bhuntar to kasol. You will get transport to tosh , malana and manikaran from kasol. Kheerganga is mainly trek.

.

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