Although our Prime Minister has launched UDAN ( Ude Desh ka Har Nagrik which means every citizen of the country can fly) with introductory short distance flight from Delhi to Shimla, a road trip on the same route is worth the experience.Shimla is approximately 360 km from Delhi by road via Panipat- Karnal- Ludhiana-Panchkula- Solan. It takes about six to eight hours depending upon how much time you want to spend by stopping over en route.

Highway Breakfast

One will have to cross Haryana and a little patch of Punjab to reach Himachal Pradesh. Feel the rustic dusty highways, lush green sunflower fields and aroma of sugar while crossing sugar factories, via usual treat of green mountains and valleys and lip-smacking highway food. It is advisable to leave Delhi early morning say around 6 am to break at Panipat- Karnal for the yummiest breakfast. There are many Dhabas on either side of highways offering authentic Punjabi- Haryanvi cuisines.

These Dhabas are no longer roadside open airs rather are converted into posh air-conditioned restaurants keeping the extreme climate in mind. Though these Dhabas have lost their authentic look they but they still serve most authentic food of the region.

The most preferred breakfast is varieties of Paranthas like Gobhi, Aloo, Paneer, Pyaaz served with curd, dal makhani, pickle, and warmth. No meal is complete without sweet lassi or tea based on your preference. You can’t leave the place without having  Kheer not just for people having sweet tooth but for everyone.  To complete the meal, the bill is presented with a dash of local jaggeryJ. For young travelers, there is chana bhatura, south Indian breakfast like Idli –sambhar, dosa, uthappam, ice-creams, candies, corn etc. The list is endless.

NH 22

Once you leave Karnal your stomach and you can relax for the next 2-3 hours and can enjoy the rustic villages and towns as you cross by. Touching NH 22 you will start seeing misty green mountains which will make you feel to reach there faster. And there you enter the pristine and enchanting Himachal Pradesh. The road up will take you through mountains and valleys on both the sides as you move up.

The tall and green pine trees set a beautiful setting for a nature lover as well as for honeymooners. Even the young old couples will fall in love all over again, millennial will look for prospects of trekking. There is everything for everyone.

Stopover 

It’s time for next stop over at Solan. The Hotel Apple Cart Inn by HPTDC is the perfect place to have hot masala chai with some piping hot onion, potato, and cottage cheese pakoras. The hotel has decent accommodation also which can be booked in advance. The view from this place is breathtaking and a good place to capture beautiful scenic mountains and your profile or cover picture for social media as I did .

After this there is no stopping over, that’s what I thought. Since I am a foodie and always crave for local food, seeing Chana Kulcha, the very basic and locally cooked took my heart away and gobbled 2 plates right there. These Chana Kulchas are available with a number of roadside hawkers who have been making these since generations. You will also find Corn cooked on slow fire tempered with the right amount of salt and lemon.

With all these stops it took us nearly 8 hours to reach Shimla. The British Summer Capital or Queen of Hills is a perfect gateway for not just nature lovers and honeymooners but for all age group to enjoy a retreat in a quaint setting surrounded by beautiful mountains.

When we reached Shimla it was pouring heavily and green mountains looked ultra beautiful with silver clouds all over. I lived a hundred lives in that surrounding forgetting to capture in my camera. The usual touristy place like Mall Road, temples, The Ridge, etc is must to do even if you have done it before. Though I have been to Shimla couple to times, this time I made it Indian Institute of Advanced Studies. It’s about 4 km from Mall Road.

If you love walking walk through the narrow roads, cloudy mountains to reach the place. Local HPTDC taxies are also available. IIAS also was known as Viceregal Lodge and was President’s residence during summer capital. Peep into the British era of superb architecture is a must for History enthusiast and children. The Building has now been converted into IIAS for scholars for postdoctoral research.

The trip to Shimla will be incomplete if you do not have tikkis, samosa, chana bhatura, ice-cream, espresso coffee, and loads of bakery stuff. I use to wonder why there are so many bakeries and the majority of them are quite ancient in a hill station. This is because Britishers used to live in hill stations in summers and varieties of Bread, cakes, and cookies were cooked for them.