Sunday morning woke up to dark clouds hovering above Kotgarh sky. There was scent of snow in the air! The Hatu peak just across the house was all covered with snow. In the afternoon got a call from friends that they had landed in Shimla from Gurgaon and wanted me to come to Shimla. A phone call to Narkanda confirmed the traffic had shut down due to snow. It was time to take the winter route to Shimla.
I started from Kotgarh and took the horticulture road to Bitthal past Bhutti. Bhutti to Bitthal is 14 km pleasant drive across apple, cherry and baadam orchards till you touch the NH at Bitthal. After tanking up at the Indian Oil fuel station at Bitthal, I started my journey. Left the highway at Sainj and took the road towards Luhri. This is a single bumpy road along the river Satluj. Luhri is the gateway to Kullu Valley when entering from Shimla side. One bypasses Luhri and remain on the left bank of the river. The road is full of potholes and landslides. Entire traffic to and from Shimla was moving on this road. It was nice to see the green kyars all around. This is one place where locals do till there land. Otherwise in Kotgarh and Rampur areas the kyars have gone barren. Other than this the main thrill is traveling along the Satluj. This winter season there is not much water in the river.. See the pictures! At places you can just cross the river on foot. Found a bailey bridge on way and a lone Bholenath temple.
My next destination was Sunni which is at a distance of 40 km from Luhri. Ideally it should have been an hours drive but it takes 2 hours on this 40 km stretch. This road connects the Shimla – Tatapani road just 3 km before Sunni and then you are off to Basantpur, Naldehra and Shimla. After a brief stop at Basanatpur, enjoyed a warm cup of tea and some hot pakoras and much needed rest to my back, started for Shimla. In-fact there is another road from Basantpur to Kingal which is known as the military road and is in a much better condition but here the catch is you travel 85 km from Basantpur to Kingal. That is more than twice the distance between Luhri and Sunni. So you get to make the choice. Either a 40 km potholed road or the 85 km metalled road. I chose the former. Basantpur to Shimla is a listless drive, nothing much to write about. You get to see the Summerhill lights just before Durgapur and then it is just you want to reach Shimla.
Reached Shimla at around 7 pm and located my friends on the Mall. They were busy shopping at the Allen Solly showroom as there is currently winter sale going on. Leaving all those big malls at Gurgaon behind and shopping in Shimla! Caught up with the friends over a cup of coffee at Barista… It was pretty late in the evening when we said goodbyes.. Guys had to catch a bus in the morning to Delhi.
Satluj winding its way down the hills
Green fields across the river at Behna, after Luhri
The wooden bailey bridge
Bholenath’s temple on way