Have you ever dreamed of a trip to Shimla & Manali? I've heard a lot about these two destinations and hoping that I will be able to explore them once we can travel around again one fine day. Here's a story from one of my guest writers.  

In November 2015, we went on a one-week visit to Shimla (and Manali). Half of us had been to Manali and Shimla before, so a week was not enough. Instead of wandering from one site to another, we sought a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle. 

Image sources: Yatra, Tripsavvy, & Tribune India
We planned our one-week trip to Shimla, Manali, as a large family group. The trip was as much a family event as it was a touristic adventure. Before embarking on our one-week trip, we made a list of the top places we wanted to see in Shimla and included it in our Shimla Manali Tour Package. Thanks to our slow indulgence, we had a memorable and pleasant time with our family.



Best time to visit Shimla and Manali

Manali and Shimla are both open all year. The best time to visit Shimla or Manali will depend on your expectations of these destinations. For those who want to escape from the heat and humidity that India experiences, the best time to visit is March-May. If you want to truly enjoy the chilling cold snowfall (which I do), then visit in March-May. The winter months between October and February are the best time to visit. The possibility of landslides can make it difficult to avoid this place during the monsoon period of June-September.



One week Shimla/Manali trip by Commute

We had planned our trip to Shimla/Manali for almost 33.5 months. When we made the decision to travel to Shimla and Manali for a week, we booked our flight tickets. Next, we booked flights from Bangalore to Chandigarh. For the duration of the week, we booked two cabs from Chandigarh. These cabs were to take us around the trip of Chandigarh-> Shimla, and Manali-> Chandigarh. If you want, AC buses can be used to take you from Delhi back to Shimla. You can also use local taxis to go sightseeing around the area.



Manali and Shimla Hotels

The next step was finding suitable accommodation at each of these places. However, this took considerable research and time. The places were already full, and it was early winter vacation season. However, we had to do some research before we could make a decision. We recommend that you book your Shimla or Manali trip well in advance. You can check out the many options at agoda.com and booking.com. You can also get discounts or cancel anytime you like on these websites.

In fact, we found a great resort in Manali just before we made our decision on Shimla because Manali had a lower tourist season than Shimla. Manali is at a higher elevation, which makes it more popular for tourists to go to Shimla first and then return to Manali. Manali is much more peaceful than Shimla during peak season and the beginning of tourist season. Actually. When we finally found the perfect homestay in Shimla, we almost gave up looking for a place that would meet our needs. We had completed all of our bookings for the Shimla and Manali one-week trip about two months ahead.

Finally, the journey began.



Day1: Bangalore - Chandigarh - Shimla

It's day 1! We counted down the days since we finalized the tour and booked the flights to Chandigarh. The result was that we arrived at Chandigarh in the early morning. Our extended family joined us in Chandigarh at the domestic terminal. (Delhi-Chandigarh has excellent road and rail connectivity. Our family chose to travel by Shatabdi Express train in the morning. It took them 3 hours to reach Chandigarh. We started our journey towards Shimla from here. When we left Chandigarh's airport, the cabs were already waiting. We were on our route to Shimla when we got in the taxis. The drive from Chandigarh up to Shimla has beautiful scenery. We stopped at a rest stop in the middle to eat lunch.

Finally, we arrived in Shimla at 7 in. We had booked the entire house stay. The host showed us the place and was extremely helpful. After a guided tour, we were able to choose our rooms and settled into them. We enjoyed a lovely home-cooked dinner, which was prepared by the host. We spoke to him during the dinner and sought his advice on how to best plan our next day. He was generous enough with his information to provide us with lots of details about places and things to see. After dinner, we had some chit-chat and retired for the evening.



Day 2: Naldehra Ridge and Mall

Naldehra Trek

The next morning, we began our day with a home-cooked meal. After that, we took some time to relax on the enormous terrace of the homestay. It was a beautiful spot with lots of sunlight and a warm winter feeling. Then, we set out to explore the town. 

We were familiar with the main attractions of Shimla. On the recommendation of our taxi drivers, we headed straight for the Naldehra trekking track. Our parents accompanied us on the ponies provided at the start of our trek as we walked. We walked slowly, taking breaks, relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery around us.

We finally reached the narrow stream, then the golf courses ahead. From there, we continued along the same path, returning to our starting point. By the time we reached the end, it was almost lunch. We had lunch at an excellent small restaurant. The views from this spot were spectacular. It was already past three in the afternoon by the time we left. It was 3:00 pm. We decided that we would head to the ridge and mall road.



Ridge and Mall

After lunch, we set off on the Naldehra trekking to get to the ridge. After lunch, we sat down on the rustic benches to chat merrily and relaxed at the ridge. The ridge was the perfect place for some photo sessions. Evening snacks were available here. Some people had hot momos, while others enjoyed ice creams. It is always a pleasure to enjoy ice cream in the frigid cold. When it's cold outside, the ice cream doesn't melt.

From there, we began to walk down the mall, stopping at shops between to grab a few souvenirs. We continued our walk until we found the government-installed lift. (The lift is located at the mall's end. Walking straight across the mall will take you to the lift. You can also get directions from the locals or shopkeepers. You can find a board at the lift to point you in the right direction. We reached the lower bazaar by taking the lift. There was a waiting cab for us. We were able to return to our home from this point.



Day 3: Tara Devi Temple, Sankat Mochan Temple

On the owner's advice, we set off today to Sankat Mochan Temple, shortly after having breakfast. Here, we had a good time offering prayers to different gods. We also took time to relax in the courtyard and marvel at the breathtaking views.

From here, we moved to Tara Devi temple. Tara Devi Temple is located at a higher elevation than the rest. We arrived at this location as the weather was changing and it was getting cloudy. We offered our prayers and spent some time here relaxing before deciding to go back to our home. It seemed like the clouds were going to get denser and that it would eventually rain.

We stopped for lunch on the way and returned to our hotel at around 4 pm. I went straight to my homestay's roof. It was beautiful to see the black clouds hovering high above the mountains. Many people call this type of weather "gloomy", but I am a sucker for hovering clouds. We also decided to let our parents and child relax for the day because of this. While sitting on the terrace, we watched the formation and rain of black clouds above the mountains. We then returned to our rooms to have some hot coffee.



Day 4: Shimla - Manali road trip

The next day, we began quietly in Manali at 7:30 am. The Shimla-Manali road trip takes about 7-8 hours. It would be difficult to keep up with the speed of the road due to the steep climbs. It is, without a doubt, one of the most scenic roads we have taken in India. We stopped at Kullu to look through their collection of woolen clothes and shawls. It was lovely. A few of us even bought a few. From there, we moved straight to our hotel. Finally, we reached our hotel at 5 pm in the evening. Next, we checked in, got refreshed, had dinner before falling asleep.



Day 5: Hidimba Temple & Manu Temple Mall Road Monastery Monastery Monastery and Clubhouse

Hidimba Temple

Our resort was quite near Hidimba Devi temple. After breakfast, we set out for the temple. The Manu temple can be found adjacent to this temple. Both temples were our places of worship. The temple's premise is huge. We can walk around the temple premises to enjoy some quiet time. All around the temple are large green fields with tall deodars. In any direction you go, fresh air is available. At the temple's entrance, you will find beautiful small shops selling Puja products. The temple is beautiful and extremely ancient. We spent some time here. Then, we went on to our next destination, the Mall Road in Manali.



Mall Road & Monastery

Next, we drove to Mall road, Manali. This is Manali's main shopping area. After wandering from one end and looking at the offerings, we came to a decision to have lunch at one of the restaurants. After lunch, we headed to the monastery that was just next to the mall. This tiny, colourful monastery is just next to Manali's Mall road. For directions, ask the locals. The Monastery is marked by wires and threads when you get close to it. These wires have several coloured papers hanging from them, which is a sign of a Monastery. After visiting the Monastery, our next stop was the mall road. This time we headed towards the Manali clubhouse. We stopped in a few shops along the way. The market's woollen garments are worth it. Material is affordable while quality is good.



Club House

Next, we went to the Manali clubhouse on the banks. The clubhouse houses a shopping mall and has seating near the river bank. Our time was mostly spent on the grounds. Some also did some shopping in the complex. However, I was not happy with the commercialization. This place was home to my parents and me for almost 15 years. It was so much more charming when I visited. You could even go to the bank of the magnificent river and sit on the rocks. But now, the river is a trickle, and it's impossible to get up its banks. There are many vendors around, and it looks more like an enormous shopping complex than anything else.

We returned to the resort when it began to drizzle. We decided to make coffee in the colder rooms of our parents and gathered together. Through every room's full glass windows, the resort offered a stunning view of snow-clad mountains. We were talking and noticed that snow was falling slowly on the hill's upper slopes. All of the areas were slowly getting covered with a new blanket of snow. It was amazing to witness. It was so beautiful to watch.



Day 6: Solang Valley and Rohtang Pass

It was clear and sunny again this morning. Today we drove to Solang Valley. The drive to the valley is spectacularly beautiful, with snow-covered mountains visible all around. They were even more beautiful after receiving a good amount of snow last night. The stunning view of the valley is enhanced by the green mountains covered in white caps that you can also review. We strolled around the valley and stopped to take photos and admire the beauty of nature. Sometimes we just sat there and did nothing. I could not help but imagine this vast expanse in the winter months, December and January. The valley seems like it gets a lot more snow in the winter months. The valley becomes a major hub for snow sports, and tourists travel from all parts of the world to enjoy it.

From here, we set out to reach Rohtang Pass. We were unable to get to Rohtang Pass because of the snow that fell the day before. We hiked uphill until we reached the clearing of snow. Gulaba, the highest peak accessible, was our final destination. It was absolutely worth it. The grass was softened by the fresh snow that had fallen the night before. We took many beautiful pictures and played in the snow. Our 1.5-year-old daughter was more concerned than we were, and he looked at the snow and thought there was lots of milk all over it. We were back at our hotel by the afternoon, and then we relaxed for the rest of the day. The next day we would be returning to Chandigarh.

If you have time to spare, we highly recommend that you take a road trip to Ladakh by Manali. This can be done from Srinagar, and you can return to Manali.



Day 7: Manali to Chandigarh

Our amazing trip was over. Today was a quiet morning as we set off for Chandigarh. After crossing Kullu, we stopped for breakfast in one of our roadside dhabas (small restaurants). We'll never forget this breakfast. Here we enjoyed the most incredible alloo parathas, teas, coffees, and toast. As we drove onwards, we captured memories of amazing natural beauty and ascents, then drove onwards. We arrived in Chandigarh at four in the evening. At 6 in. the evening, our train took us to Chandigarh. At 10 pm, we reached Delhi.


We conclude our week-long trip to Shimla, Manali

Conclusion: Our Shimla Manali trip was unforgettable and very dear to our hearts. We were accompanied by our entire family on this trip. We are looking forward to more trips like these in the future, and we look forward to sharing with you interesting stories and information. If you are thinking of a trip to Shimla-Manali, and have any questions, you can contact us or leave comments for us. We'll get back to you as soon as possible.