I am continuously asked about tips/information on driving to Shimla by friends and acquaintances all the time and being the destination that it is thought there might be many of you out there who might find this information useful as well so penning it down. You can always get in touch with me for more specific details! Let’s talk of all the other things except finances first. TIME: If you are driving to Shimla for the first time then give yourself about 10 hours. roughly broken up into 8 hours driving and about 2 hours of stops. When u leave Delhi can play a big role in how much time you take. I just went up recently in a Zen. Left at 4:30 in the morning and reached Shimla at 10:30…a straight 6 hours (a record even by my standards) with a half an hour stop for breakfast and another half an hour for tea. But getting out of Delhi can be a very time consuming process in itself. I went up again and left in fact at 330 but got caught in a jam and reached Shimla at 1130…so it affected my entire time by an hour.
ROAD: The over all road condition is pretty good. I break it into 3 Segments. Primarily Delhi to Ambala , Ambala to Kalka and Kalka to Shimla. After u have left behind the normal bumps and potholes of Delhi roads u can sit back and cruise. It’s an excellent road, sometimes 2 laned sometimes 4 all the way to Ambala. Ambala to Kalka is congested. It’s a single road with no divider (be careful while overtaking here) and lasts a good 45-50 Kms to Kalka. Once you have hit Kalka then again, sit and enjoy the drive. The road has just been done up and contrary to a lot of fears driving in the hills is not bad at all. The road is sufficiently wide, level, just look out at corners for oncoming vehicles and ull be fine.
TRAFFIC: this of curse depends on when u leave. Ideally leave early and you will avoid messes at Sonipat and Panipat , 2 of the most crowded places and Ambala to Kalka depends on a little luck as well. From Kalka to Shimla traffic is not too much. Kalka will be crowded, then Solan and that’s about it.
STOPS: more than enough choices on the way. What i personally do is to stop at a Dhaba called ’’jhilmil’’ at Karnal, most amazing lassi and paneer ka parathan….then no stops still about Dharampur, which is roughly an hour from Kalka. But if u can’t wait that long then like i said there are enough choices.
TOLL: While driving to Shimla u have 3 toll stops One at Karnal (50) One near Ambala (11) and one at Kalka (30), on the way back the same tolls apply except the one for entering Himachal (30)
FINANCES: I will have to make certain assumptions here i.e that one would travel ,otherwise, in a train (shatabdi AC chair car) , Taxi, or A deluxe Bus.
As far as one person driving up goes it’s not economical. But the minute 2 are involved it’s cheaper to drive up.
1000-1200 Rs for fuel, 200 for stops, 90 for tolls = 1300.
1300= total cost one way (the more the number of persons coming the lower the cost per head)
Train : 550 for one AC Chair car ticket to chandi, then either a Taxi which is 1500-1800 or a bus which will be about 250. So total cost one way =2000/ 800
Taxi from Delhi: obviously close to about 3000.
Plane roughly 6000 one way
Bus: a normal deluxe bus (Volvo) which the Himachal govt runs costs 550 per ticket which would have gone up now because of the hike in petrol.
Hence it is economically quite a viable option as well.
The best part of course is getting there at your own pace.