The distance between Shimla and Manali is 250 km. It takes a little more than six hours to reach Manali from Shimla, by car, with couple of breaks in between. Take the Shimla bypass out of Shimla, which connects to NH 88. Follow Nh88 to Bilaspur via Jutogh, Sallaghat, Darlaghat and Brahmpukhar. After crossing Bilaspur, take a right turn to reach NH 21. Drive 50km on NH 21 to reach Mandi. From Mandi, 41 km away is Aut, with Pandoh in between. And from Aut, Manali is just 68 km away. It is an excellent road and there are many places to stop, for refreshment and refuelling.
Transport options from Shimla to Manali
Shimla to Manali By Car: Hire a cab or take a car from Shimla to Manali, which takes a little more than 6 hours. The cost of cab ranges from INR9 to INR160 per kilometre, depending upon the type of car. Travelling by car is suitable for kids, seniors and group travellers.
Shimla to Manali By Bus: Take a direct bus from Shimla to Manali, which takes about 9 hours. Manali bus stand is located in the city centre. Not recommended as it is uncomfortable.
It was an unforgettable journey for us. We booked the bus operated by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) for our journey from Shimla to Manali. We boarded the bus at Shimla at 08:30 hours as scheduled. As per schedule we were to reach Manali at 16:30 hours.
It was on 30th December 2010. The day started with drizzling when we left our hotel in Shimla for the bus boarding point at Victory tunnel. By the time we reached Victory tunnel, the rain started coming down heavily. We were waiting for the bus in a bus shelter nearby. Bus came as scheduled, all the passengers boarded and bus started as scheduled. It was thrilling at that time itself as we never expected rain during that part of year, that too in winter.
Things were going well till around 12:30 hours, when the bus started to slow down with some abnormal noises. Still the driver managed to keep moving without stopping anywhere. Bus conductor told us that there is some problem in the rear wheel and it can be repaired only when we can find some place where there is someone to set right the problem.
Around, 13:30 hours, the bus passed through a town like place with lots of lorries parked on both sides. Our bus was stopped there to set right the problem, as that place was a resting and repairing place for lorries. Bus crew found out some mechanic who started his work. It was like God was testing our patience, the work kept going without any idea for anyone, including bus crew, when it will be finished.
Most of the passengers got down got down already and were roaming around the area, without knowing what to do. Some went to nearby shops to buy eatables. Others were lazing around the bus and watching the work done by mechanic. All this was happening amidst rains, which was an entirely different experience.
Probably around 15:30 hours, after about 2 hours of repairing work, the bus started. By that time we were nearing Kullu, we got information that it has been snowing heavily in Manali since previous night and entering Manali may be difficult, as roads were covered with snow and traffic has been halted by administration.
After crossing Kullu, we started seeing snow everywhere around and on tops of four wheelers and buses coming in opposite direction. It was the first time we saw snow. It was around 19:00 hours and people inside bus started speculating about the situation in Manali. They started calling the hotel where they have booked accommodation or their contacts there to ascertain the situation. Everyone who spoke to someone in Manali got the same information. It is difficult to enter Manali as there is traffic jam due to heavy snow fall. Already our bus was inching forward due to traffic jam.
We were in a state of shock and confusion as to what is to be done. We contacted our hotel manager, who told the same thing and asked us to stay outside for that night and try to reach the hotel next day. The D-hour came at around 22:00 hours when the bus was around 5 km outside Manali. Bus was crawling in the traffic and was just outside a hotel, when the bus crew announced that whoever wanted to get down there itself can do so, as the possibility of reaching hotels in Manali seemed to be bleak due to the prevailing situation.
We and another family, decided to not to take risk as we had kids with us. We went to that hotel and found out that only two rooms are available. Without wasting time, we unloaded our luggages and checked into the hotel. There was no power at that time. Even in that darkness, with the help of torch lights and candles we occupied our rooms. Due to the odd time, nothing was available to eat there. But, the hotel manager arranged to prepare some rotis only without side dish. Only pickle for side dish and some vegetable slices were were available. Due to power cut, they kept candles on the table for us two families. It was the first candle light dinner for us.
We had a simple yet sumptuous dinner and went to bed, only to see snow around us everywhere next day morning, with river Beas flowing just on the other side of the road. Sound of the river flowing on a calm morning and sight of snow formed on the rocks in the river, was an unforgettable experience. Only then we realised that we had passed the previous night at a temperature below freezing point.
We started early in morning at around 8 o clock. The view on the way was awesome and breathtaking. On the way stopped at multiple points to take snaps. We had lunch at a dhaba on the way. We visited Sunder Nagar Lake and we stopped by a dam. The river Beas was very photogenic. We stopped for an amazing rafting experience near Kullu. The journey was one of the best I have done in recent times.
This route has:
National Highway 22, National Highway 305 and National Highway 21
Road was so good that we enjoyed the whole trip from Shimla to Manali. We started early by 8 in the morning from our hotel, on the way we did the white water rafting at Kullu. That was really breath taking. Since they had a separate cloak room for changing we had no difficulties and enjoyed a lot.
The group who took us for rafting (introduced to us by our driver) was very friendly, decent helpful, kind with presence of mind. So the rafting was very much joyful. There are restaurant's along the way but we didnít stop anywhere as we didn't felt hungry.
If you are interested you can try one or more of them. Vaishnav Devi Temple at Kullu is one more place that is very special due to the wood work inside the temple and its a must see temple here.
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