**Disclaimer 1: LONG LONG post alert..kindly read at your own risk of dozing off 😛
*/Disclaimer 2: All the snaps have been uploaded `from my phone, so kindly bear with the picture quality
Life can be funny sometimes, you know! There are plans that, despite being made well in advance, with meticulous precision, can fall flat and wreck the whole experience. And then there are plans that are made on the spur of the moment, with the least amount of preparation, yet they turn into an unforgettable experience that you want to cherish forever.
I have just got back from a holiday with an experience of the latter.
Namnam and I reached Delhi on 15th of July with no plans but to stay put right here and spend our vacation with our folks. But..just one week into the stay and I was cribbing and cursing the unbearably hot weather. It didn’t seem like we had changed places. Rather it just felt as though we had simply travelled from one hot weather of Dubai to be in the other hot weather of Delhi. From one furnace to be in another!
I was itching to get to some place cooler. To add to that, some friends were already holidaying in places like Manali, Coorg and sharing pics of beautiful views thereby tempting the hell out of me, which made me want to get out of here with my folks in tow, even more!
And I did just that!
In no time I got around to planning a short getaway with my parents, dad in law and Namnam. My parents were super charged up! Especially my Ma. Her child-like excitement made this impromptu holiday planning even more worthwhile 🙂
I started out with Manali since 2 of my friends were already there holidaying with their families. So I knew the weather was totally favourable and conducive. And it was closer to Delhi than Coorg was.
Train tickets for Chandigarh were bought and it was decided that we would book a cab to drive up to Manali. Then I learnt that the drive in itself was about 9hours long. Not to forget the 3 hour train journey to Chandigarh. Since my father and father in law had health issues, I felt that it would be risky to engage in such a long journey. So we dropped Manali and chose another hilly destination, which entailed slightly lesser amount of travel time.
Dharamsala, the holy land of The Dalai Lama.
Needless to say, the pater and the mater were super thrilled at the prospect of visiting Buddhist temples and a chance to explore Tibetan culture and cuisines.
Then began the search for a good hotel. I checked with a group of friends on What’s App and Monika recommended with a link to this particular hotel where she had stayed a couple of years ago. The 8 Auspicious Him View Hotel.
Mon, thanks a bunch again, for the recco! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in the hotel as you would find out in the post ahead 🙂
I loved the whole look and feel of the website. So did my travel companions :). I had some concerns about my parents and dad in law’s health and their acclimatization to the high altitude weather considering the long steep drive up. But a few calls to the hotel and a couple of mail exchanges later I was assured and reassured of a stay as comfortable as possible. I also read some reviews on Tripadvisor, which is where I turn to whenever I need some more clarity about the destinations I am travelling to, which further helped me in deciding to go ahead with this choice. Most of the reviewers had only good things to say about the hotel.
I booked 3 nights for the five of us. And also arranged a car transfer from Chandigarh station to all the way up to Mcleodganj where the hotel was located.
Mcleodganj is about 9 kms further up from Dharamsala.
We left Delhi at around 740 on the morning of 28th July by Kalka Shatabdi. We reached Chandigarh by 11. From where we got into the cab that was waiting to take us to the hills.
It was a comfortable ride, with lovely weather to keep us company. Add to that, old Hindi melodies being played in the car while on the go and my father humming along with them with pure nostalgia writ large on his face! It’s moments like this that make memories to treasure, isn’t it?
Now as per the internet search a car ride from Chandigarh to Dharamsala usually would take about 5 hours and 30 minutes. And when I spoke to the hotel staff, I was told the same. But in actual the whole journey took us 6 hours and 45 minutes.
That could have been because we halted in between to have lunch on the way. Speaking of which here’s a peek into a plate of supremely delicious chole bhaturey that we had from Heritage Haveli on Chandigarh highway..
Also a glass of masala chai which is not to be missed if in case you halt here to refuel your tummy!
And yes this restaurant, aside from the yummy food and scenic lush surrounding, also has extremely clean washrooms! Trust me when I say this.. my opinion on any place automatically rises a few notches up if the place can boast of a clean washroom/toilet.
So a double thumbs up to Heritage Haveli!
Anyway after a filling lunch, we set out on the remaining journey which was no less than a roller coaster ride with narrow winding roads and hairpin bends at every turn. All of us sat firmly fixed to our seats, jaw-dropped in awe of our driver who maneuvered the vehicle along those edgy routes with such deftness and ease!
We reached the hotel after the thrilling ride at about 6.15 in the evening. We were greeted by warm welcoming staff who treated us to hot chocolate and herbal tea as welcome drinks.
The hotel which was tucked away from the hustle bustle of the city with fresh and green surrounding felt cosy and more homely than ‘hotely’ ( had to coin this term for want of a better word..forgive me all you guardians of the English language :D).
We were then guided to our rooms with balconies looking out to the most beautiful views of the Himalayas! As my father in law remarked, “We are literally in the midst of clouds!”
Right there and then we fell in love with the place. We couldn’t have asked for a better sight to kick start our holiday. A sight that we were to wake up to every morning for the next 3 days..
The weather was heavenly too with Namnam & my favourite season in town…the monsoon 🙂
We turned in for the day after a long overwhelming ride with an amazing sense of calm listening to the pitter patter of rains…
To be continued…