Driving from Delhi to Shimla : Update July 2012

Managed to make a quick trip up and down earlier this month and thought i would share an update with everyone on the road condition between Delhi and Shimla ,  given that its one of the more popular posts.

The driving has clearly become much easier!

Exit from Delhi is now very smooth thanks to the completion of the flyovers / new tarmac which NHAI was laying down. We managed to get from Central Delhi to Murthal in about 45 minutes , nothing very aggressive with the respect to speeds – the time saving came through the fact that a healty 80kmph could be maintained for most of the time given the quality of the roads – and this at 615 AM in the morning when traffic was starting to build up , leaving earlier say 5-530 AM might shave off another 10 minutes or so.

The entire stretch to Panipat remains as nice and speedy as it has been for the last few years. Disappointed to note that the Panipat flyover (bypass) is clearly not being maintained as well as it should be , while there are no potholes on the road , the surface is not as smooth as it used to be and given that the toll is still operational it should be in a better state.

Panipat onwards is where the speeds start to slow down and traffic starts to build up , there is significant construction taking place and there continue to be many diversions , slip lanes and overall bad roads. This lasts till past Karnal and what earlier used to be a fast stretch has become quite slow.  Add to this the fact that buses etc stop on the slip lanes to pick up/drop off people , it can be quite frustrating.

We crossed Karna at approximately 830 AM, this could have easily be 8 AM if not for the construction. Post a quick break left from outside Karnal towards Ambala by 9:15. This stretch is more or less fine although there is some work taking place.  Hit Ambala at 10 :15 AM , an hour for this stretch which is quite good.

At this point I was hoping to be in Shimla by 12:30-1 PM , but unfortunately owing to heavy traffic conditions it took us substantially longer by the time we took the turn off towards Shimla from Zirakpur. The road is perfectly fine, it was only traffic which slowed us down.

Post Zirakpur it’s open road. Thanks to the expressway crossing the likes of Panchkula and hitting Pinjore is now a 15-20 minute process which earlier could take upwards of 45 minutes. What I was really looking forward to was the new bypass which starts from Pinjore to Timber Trail thus avoiding the likes of Pinjore , Kalka and Parwanoo.

Till March 2012 these 3 small towns could totally ruin your drive unless you passed through them early in the morning. But during peak hours passing these 3 could take 45 minutes or so again with an additional 10-15 minutes being wasted at the Shimla entry toll point – BUT all this has changed with the Pinjore bypass!

The bypass starts just a little short of hitting Pinjore Gardens, in fact the way it has been designed has left Pinjore as a small exit on the left while the main highway continues straight.

The road is really lovely right now, its brand new, smooth as velvet. We timed ourselves and we hit Timber trail in 8 minutes!!! That’s a saving of about 35 minutes straight out!! There is a little work which is still carrying on but does not bother driving too much; there is a small entry tax collection point as well (the same as present at Kalka) where one needs to pay 23 INR. Very badly manned, with only 1 person present to collect the tax – fortunately we were the only car on the road at that point and it took us all of 30 seconds to cross it (however on the way back there was a substantial line of cars stretching for about 100 meters)

The end of the bypass is just short of Timber Trail and there is a traffic light now present to regulate and keep the flow organized a bit. By the time we were here it was about 11:15 AM (thanks to the time wasted in traffic as mentioned earlier) so hitting Shimla by 1230 was a little tight.

I was in for another surprise however at this point, its no secret that the road leading upto Shimla, including the Solan bypass etc are maintained very poorly. I was expecting the drive post hitting Timber trail to be relatively slower than what the car or I could manage but a few Km’s into the drive we realized that the road has been fixed recently – and as a result there is a smooth tarmac now available all the way upto Tara Devi , just short of Shimla ; making the drive really comfortable and saving a good amount of time in the process as well.  Even the Solan Bypass road has been fixed and no matter what one takes now upto Shimla, the condition is excellent.

We hit Shimla by 1:15 or so which is fair given where we were at 11:15 (and we made a 15 minute stop on the way as well) , post hitting Shimla , everything went to the dogs because of traffic and it took us almost 45 minutes to cross the town , by the time we made it home it was about 2:15 PM.

Total time taken was thus from 6:15 AM to 2: 30 PM was approximately 8 hours 15 minutes , with about 45 minutes worth of stops in it , thus effective driving time was 7:30 hours , not bad but not quick either given that one save 35 minutes because of the Pinjore bypass and the overall road condition to Shimla.

I must mention however, that on the way back, our total time was reduced by 1:30 Hours. Managed to save 1 hour between Shimla and Pinjore itself , and another 30 minutes between Panipat and Delhi ( primarily owing to driving faster than usual) thus we effectively took only 6: 45 hours , max 7 to get back to Delhi.

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