Nawalgarh to Narkanda by road

Nawalgarh to Narkanda by road

Narkanda is 590KMS by road from Nawalgarh. As per Google maps this takes 12 hours to cover. This is largely due to the last 150KMS being mountainous roads.

By 0430Hrs we were all bundled up and loaded into the Yeti, set for our expedition of going to Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh, by road. As I moved slowly along, the temperature guage read 4 degrees. Even with the fog lamps on I could barely see beyond the bonnet of the car. When I'd planned the trip, the Nawalgarh to Narkanda journey by road of 596Kms was to be covered in 10 hours via NH709 & NH5. We planned on reaching Chandigarh around 1100Hrs for brunch and then continuing towards Kandaghat, Shimla and Narkanda.

Given the fog situation, we crawled along NH709 at about 25KMPH. The roads were deserted. Or at least we could not see or hear anyone in the 10 feet radius that was visible to us. It was freezing cold, and we could see absolutely nothing. Talk about poor planning!

After struggling for around 30 minutes, I could make out the tail lights of what sounded like a truck ahead of me. In the interest of safety, I went up behind the truck and started driving in it's wake. I suppose that must've been great for safety, but it halved our speed. So after about 15 minutes of this I mustered the courage to overtake the truck. This helped marginally and I now continued crawling at what now seemed like a pretty fast 25KMPH.

Soon another car came up behind us. He started doing to us what we were doing to the truck. Except, this genius had his high beam lights on. The lights from his car seemed distorted and amplified in the mist pooling around in front of my eyes. I tried signalling him to go on ahead, but he doggedly stuck to my tail.

Eventually, I pulled over, hoping he'd come alongside. Unfortunately our friend dutifully pulled over behind me. Not wanting to get out of the comfort and safety of the car (the aircon was by now merrily humming along at full blast, with the thermostat set at 28 degrees!), I drove on for 10 more minutes. Our loyal follower mirrored every small twist and turn of the steering that I made. Seeing that things weren't improving, I slowed to crawl. Yes, you can crawl slower than 25KMPH.

Rolling down the window, I waved to the other driver to come alongside. After much reluctance, he came up beside me and rolled down his passenger side window. There was some bhangra rap blasting in his car at 0530Hrs in the morning!!!! The 20 something chap seemed pretty thrilled with his lot in life. He grinned at me, as if to say "You and I are the only morons out on these roads at this unearthly hour'.

I politely told him that I had no problem with him following me, if only he'd turn off his high beam. He just grinned back at me like an imbecile. So I told him that YOUR headlights are blinding me, and I am likely to crash the car. Given how closely YOU are following ME, it is very likely that YOU will crash into ME if I stop suddenly. The only solution is either YOU go ahead and I follow you, or you turn your bleeding lights down.

He seemed to get it this time and nodded vigorously, grinning from ear to ear. Or maybe he was just moving in time to the music in his car. Either way, I drove ahead and he'd turned his high beam off. After about an hour, he blasted his horn, came alongside, rolled down the window and leaned over. As I rolled down my window to see what he wanted now, he waved vigorously, grinning and nodding his head all the time and turned right at the intersection that had just come up. That was fun while it lasted.

The 10AM fog made it look like it was 7PM as we headed to Narkanda by road
View from the car @0945Hrs in the morning!


We continued on towards Rohtak. By this time it was nearing 0700Hrs and there was a hazy twilight, although the fog hadn't dissipated yet. Still, visibility had improved and we were doing around 60KMPH. Somewhere between Rohtak and Panipat there was a police roadblock on the highway. Apparently a week back a child had been run over by a bus on the highway due to the fog. The agitating villagers had blockaded the roads. The cops asked us to turn around and take a detour to Chandigarh.

Left with no choice, we turned around and headed back almost 30Kms to Bhiwani. From there we cut across to Hisar and took NH52 to Patiala. Our plan of reaching Narkanda by road at a decent hour seemed to be unravelling pretty fast. This had added around 90Kms to our journey. Given the fog situation, that meant a minimum of 2 hours time overrun.

Soon it was 1000Hrs and the fog still hadn't dissipated. Thankfully though, visibility had improved to the extent that the headlights, especially the fog lamps, were effective. We had stocked up with plain cheese and butter sandwiches from the resort (Ritika thinks of everything!). Other than loo breaks, we sped along non stop at a healthy speed of 80 to 90KMPH.

Short break en route from Nawalgarh to Narkanda
One of the few breaks we took to stretch our legs!


If the fog had slowed us down, it had also done us the favour of keeping the roads nearly empty. By 1300Hrs we crossed Patiala. Around this time the fog had completely dissipated & in another hour or so we reached Chandigarh. We halted at a brand new hotel. Only the restaurant was operational. The name board was being put up as we drove in!

The lady who owns the joint regretfully announced that she was still in the process of planning the restaurant menu. For now she could only serve Butter chicken, Tandoori chicken, Naan and rice. For dessert we'd have to make do with gulab jamuns. I still can't figure out what she was so apologetic about! We ate to our hearts content. By 1500HRS we left for Shimla, the next milestone on our expedition to Narkanda by road.

The Chandigarh - Shimla highway had very sparse traffic and we made good time. Zipping through the roads, we reached Shimla by around 1730Hrs. Our only stop was one refuelling break for the car. It took us a further 45 minutes to cross Shimla town, which is a veritable nightmare!

Entire mountainsides have ugly manmade structures clinging to them. There is an overflow of vehicles and humanity clogging the roads. As far as the eye can see, there are no mountains or trees visible. All you can see are ugly buildings attached to one another. Not unlike a mismatched Leggo set covering the mountains. On our entire journey by road to Narkanda, this was easily the ugliest stretch.

Finally we managed to get out after battling traffic for the better part of an hour and climbed further up to Narkanda. It was dark by now and the outside temperature read -1 degrees. Thankfully there was no fog and the only thing slowing us down was the fact that we were navigating through mountain roads. We continued on NH5 and quickly crossed the beautiful Shimla reserve forest, Kufri and Theog. BY 1945Hrs we had crossed Narkand town, where a helpful shopkeeper told us that our destination, The Tethys Ski Resort was just a couple kilometres away.

A little out of town we turned left further into the mountains for the resort. This road is at an incline of around 30 degrees and about 2Kms long. As soon as we turned onto this road, the car went into a skid. As I fought the steering, the rear end swayed towards the passenger side. Luckily for us the Yeti's all time 4WD kicked in and I managed to get the car back on the road.

For a moment there though we were truly terrified. Neither of us had ever driven on snow or ice before! I drove on gamely, although to be truthful, I could feel the odd tyre spinning freely. The car seemed to be gliding with a mind of its own. We finally made it up to the resort parking lot, where the manager himself waited to greet us. We'd called in from the Narkand village that we'd be reaching soon. After nearly 17 hours on the road, we had finally made it to our destination!

The manager told us that unless it's an emergency, they never venture down or up this road after 6PM during the winters. Apparently, the temperature plunges below freezing, and the slush on the road freezes to black ice, which is treacherous for driving. That explained the skid we went into as soon as we got onto the last stretch of the road!

Tethys Ski Resort Narkanda. a WELCOME BREAK AFTER the journey by road
What you look like after 17 straight hours on the road. One of us still looks good for another 17 hours though!


As we got up to the room, the rest of the evening is a bit of a haze. I remember downing a few large ones, and at some point calling it a day. And what a day it was! Nevertheless, here we were, at the Tethys Ski resort, with 5 days of snow, skiing and trekking to look forward to!




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