8 Days road trip to 4 main Hill stations in Himachal Pradesh

Recently Sourav sent us a message - ‘ Hi VJ, i am planing to visit Himachal Pradesh in this January with my friends. We are planing to visit in 4 places. Dalhousie, Dharmashala/Mcleodganj, Manali, Shimla. We have total 7 days in our bucket so can you please tell how we can split 7 days among this 4 places....Thanks in advance….’ and frankly it’s never recommended to plan for 4 places in 7 days and here we are talking about 3 corners of Himachal Pradesh. So I would recommend to skip one of the destination if you only have 7 days.
Recently Sourav sent us a message - ‘ Hi VJ, i am planing to visit Himachal Pradesh in this January with my friends. We are planing to visit in 4 places. Dalhousie, Dharmashala/Mcleodganj, Manali, Shimla. We have total 7 days in our bucket so can you please tell how we can split 7 days among this 4 places....Thanks in advance….’ and frankly it’s never recommended to plan for 4 places in 7 days and here we are talking about 3 corners of Himachal Pradesh. So I would recommend to skip one of the destination if you only have 7 days. 

Although you can tightly fit 4 of these popular destinations in 8 days to get a flavor of these places in Himalayan State of India. Now you have 2 options here - Do overnight journey from one place to other and make full of days :). Sounds impractical by looking at the distances between 2 destinations and hectic nature. Have your own car for the trip or hire a taxi for all 8 days. - I would prefer this to make best use to time and considering the comfort of travel while experiencing wonderful roads of Himachal Pradesh. So this post talks about #2, which is more practical and efficient. Roads in Himachal are pretty good, unless you are planning this trip in monsoons.

Although you can tightly fit 4 of these popular destinations in 8 days to get a flavor of these places in Himalayan State of India. Now you have 2 options here -
  1. Do overnight journey from one place to other and make full of days :). Sounds impractical by looking at the distances between 2 destinations and hectic nature.
  2. Have your own car for the trip or hire a taxi for all 8 days. - I would prefer this to make best use to time and considering the comfort of travel while experiencing wonderful roads of Himachal Pradesh.
So this post talks about #2, which is more practical and efficient. Roads in Himachal are pretty good, unless you are planning this trip in monsoons.

Next thing you need to decide – What is the logical starting destination of this trip. Geographically you have only 2 options – Shimla or Dalhousie. One of these can be your first destination and the other would be the last place to conclude the journey in Himalayas. Here I recommend Shimla as starting point. Mainly because of 2 reasons – Shimla is easily approachable from Delhi/Chandigarh as compared to Dalhousie. Other reason is that Dalhousie/Khajjiar are places to relax and you need such destination to conclude your hectic trip in hills :).

Next thing you need to decide – What is the logical starting destination of this trip. Geographically you have only 2 options – Shimla or Dalhousie. One of these can be your first destination and the other would be the last place to conclude the journey in Himalayas. Here I recommend Shimla as starting point. Mainly because of 2 reasons – Shimla is easily approachable from Delhi/Chandigarh as compared to Dalhousie. Other reason is that Dalhousie/Khajjiar are places to relax and you need such destination to conclude your hectic trip in hills :).

From Shimla you can start early morning on 3rd day and drive towards Manali. There are 2 routes to reach Manali and recommended one is one through Bilaspur. You need to hit Bilaspur town through Totu, Shalaghat, Darlaghat and Brahmpukhar. You need to take right after crossing Binaspur town and now you will hit NH 21. Mandi is next big town you will hit, after driving 50 kms.After Mandi you will start seeing different terrains and views. This route will make you stop for refreshments/breakfast and click some photographs of Pandoh dam and beas river. Going further you will hit Bhuntar. Now, you can go towards Manikaran/Kasol or towards Manali. Check this post about main places to explore around Kullu Manali to prioritize your destinations and decide the route. You can stay at 2 different places around Manali. If you ask me, I would spend one night at Kasol and other at Naggar. During day, I can explore Manalai, Rohtang Pass, Solang etc.

So you can reach Shimla first spend 2 nights and explore some of the main places around Shimla. Do check out the link mentioned to know about places to explore, trek, eat and walk around Shimla and drop a message if you come across any specific question. 

From Shimla you can start early morning on 3rd day and drive towards Manali. There are 2 routes to reach Manali and recommended one is one through Bilaspur. You need to hit Bilaspur town through Totu, Shalaghat, Darlaghat and Brahmpukhar. You need to take right after crossing Binaspur town and now you will hit NH 21. Mandi is next big town you will hit, after driving 50 kms.After Mandi you will start seeing different terrains and views. This route will make you stop for refreshments/breakfast and click some photographs of Pandoh dam and beas river. Going further you will hit Bhuntar. Now, you can go towards Manikaran/Kasol or towards Manali. Check this post about main places to explore around Kullu Manali to prioritize your destinations and decide the route. You can stay at 2 different places around Manali. If you ask me, I would spend one night at Kasol and other at Naggar. During day, I can explore Manalai, Rohtang Pass, Solang etc.

From Manali you can head towards Mcleodganj. So route back to Kullu, Jogindernagar, Baijnath, Palampur, Dharmshala and Mcleodganj. The drive is beautiful with different landscapes, so it's ok even if you reach your hotel late in the evening. Take breaks on your way at one of the monasteries around Bir Billing or Chauntra, Shiva temple in Baijnath, Tea gardens on the way etc. You may also plan to stay in Palampur. And the next morning go to Mcledoganj and explore main places to visit around Mcledoganj. A night can be spent in Mcledoganj. Ensure that you enjoy food served in streets of Mcleodganj. Next morning you can drive from Mcleodganj to Dalhousie.
From Manali you can head towards Mcleodganj. So route back to Kullu, Jogindernagar, Baijnath, Palampur, Dharmshala and Mcleodganj. The drive is beautiful with different landscapes, so it's ok even if you reach your hotel late in the evening. Take breaks on your way at one of the monasteries around Bir Billing or Chauntra, Shiva temple in Baijnath, Tea gardens on the way etc. You may also plan to stay in Palampur. And the next morning go to Mcledoganj and explore main places to visit around Mcledoganj. A night can be spent in Mcledoganj. Ensure that you enjoy food served in streets of Mcleodganj. Next morning you can drive from Mcleodganj to Dalhousie. 

It shouldn't take more than 5 hrs to reach Dalhsouie and it's recommended that you roam around the town, it's churches, mall road, Panchpula etc. Stay in the town and on last day of you trip, you can go to Khajjiar and relax in this green valley before heading back home. Check out more about main places to explore around Dalhousie to better plan your trip.   I have tried to keep it short to give a broader idea about the plan and for more, I would encourage you to check out the links shared in this post. For further queries, drop a comment below and we shall try to respond ASAP.

It shouldn't take more than 5 hrs to reach Dalhsouie and it's recommended that you roam around the town, it's churches, mall road, Panchpula etc. Stay in the town and on last day of you trip, you can go to Khajjiar and relax in this green valley before heading back home. Check out more about main places to explore around Dalhousie to better plan your trip. 

I have tried to keep it short to give a broader idea about the plan and for more, I would encourage you to check out the links shared in this post. For further queries, drop a comment below and we shall try to respond ASAP. 

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