SERENE VALLEYS, UNDULATING TRAILS
After traditional welcome in Delhi, we head towards the holy city of Amritsar, home to the fabled Golden Temple – spiritual heart of the Sikh Faith. From here we travel by road to Pragpur – the only village in India declared a world heritage site. We start cycling from here, through the lush and scenic Kangra Valley onto the foothills of Kullu. Zipping through verdant pine forests, winding streets and cobbled paths lined by tall conifers rising above the paddy fields, we pass via remote villages and ancient Buddhist Shrines, experiencing the rich culture and natural charm of this picturesque region.
Next, we wind our way up to McLeod Ganj and Dharamsala, a thriving Buddhist centre and home to the Dalai Lama. Cycling further along the back roads under the shadows of magnificent Dhaula Dhar range we reach the beautiful hill town of Andretta followed by Mandi, an important market town of the old Hindustan Tibet highway. Next we climb the Jalori pass (3,135m), following the beautiful Tirthan Valley on the edge of the great Himalayan National Park.
Our tour ends in Shimla, a colonial hill station and summer capital of the British Raj. We spend a day relaxing and exploring this beautiful town and early next morning, we take the narrow gauge rail to Kalka followed by an overnight train to Delhi.
- Golden Temple Amritsar – Heart of the Sikh Faith
- Picturesque western Himalayan landscape and culture
- Pragpur, traditional village and a world heritage site
- Charming hill station towns of Kangra, Dharamsala, Shimla, Andretta, McLeod Ganj, Mandi and more
- McLeod Ganj, a thriving Tibetan settlement and home of H.H Dalai Lama
Day 2Delhi - Amritsar by train
Delhi - Amritsar
Today, we will be transferred to the Railway station to board the train destined to Amritsar.
On arrival, we would be welcome and received by driver and transfer to Hotel. Amritsar is the spiritual centre of the Sikh religion and its name means ‘sacred lake of nectar’. Late afternoon, we head for a guided visit to the fabulous Golden Temple. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3Amritsar - Pragpur
Amritsar - Pragpur
Morning visit of the Golden Temple before we depart for Paragpur. We will try to make an early start and get to the Temple as the morning light reflects (in the surrounding pool) from the gold-plated central dome, presenting a magical impression. We will have time to freshen up before we drive to Pragpur in the Kangra Valley. Arriving early evening, we check in at our hotel and have time to look around this fascinating settlement. The Himachal Pradesh Government has bestowed Heritage Village status on Pragpur, on account of its well preserved and colourfully painted houses. The village itself is built around a central square courtyard and pool, known as the Taal.
Day 4Pragpur - Kangra (Cycling - 47kms)
Pragpur - Kangra Village
We have the breakfast at our hotel, before we start this first day of biking as we get on our bikes for the first time and ride out of Pragpur (600m) and down to the bridge that crosses the Beas River. Today’s ride is on quiet back roads and takes us through fields, mixed forest and several villages in the Kangra Valley. And the route is quite comfortable as there are few shorts ascents and descents. We reach Kangra in the afternoon. Thereafter, we have a chance to explore the surrounding and Kangra Fort which traces its origins to ancient Trigarta Kingdom, mentioned in the Mahabharata epic, is the largest fort in the Himalayas and probably the oldest dated fort in India.
Day 5Kangra - Dharamsala - Mcleodganj (Cycling - 47kms)
Kangra Village - Mcleod Ganj
We begin the day a bit early, as today’s ride, although quite short, does involve a lot of ascent. To start with, the road through the upper Kangra Valley is very unequivocal, the condition of route changes after the raod junction at Gaggal, from here, we come across a series of long hairpins that need to be climbed. And these hairpins bends are well marked. Route is free from hustle-bustle and we can bike at our own rhythm and anyone not wishing to do ride can board the support vehicle and follow the same route. We will have panoramic views of Dhuala Dhar (White mountains). Dharamsala came on the world map in 1959 with the arrival of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile. Currently, it is a very popular hang-out for foreigners, backpackers and students of Buddhism.
Navigating the main streets of holy town, we continue to paddle till we arrive Mcleodganj situated at 2000 metres and we will enough time to explore the region. The village is named after Lord David McLeod, the English lieutenant governor of Punjab, who founded it in 1848 as a retreat from the heat of the plains. It is predominantly inhabited by a hill tribe, the Gaddis
Day 6Dharamshala- Andretta (Cycling 55 kms)
Mcleod Ganj - Andretta
Day begin with an easy descent through Dharamshala, where we follow the network of quiet country road. This route take us eastwards just above the valley floor. Passing through field of tea plantations and villages with basis amenities, we take a halt en route for lunch. After the lunch, we resume our biking to Modern artist village Andretta where we have a night stay. This antique village is known for its Norah's Centre for Arts, Andretta Pottery and Craft Society , Norah's Mud House and Sir Sobha Singh Art Gallery. Moreover, it is recognised as connoisseur of arts across India.
Day 7Andretta- Joginder Nagar (Cycling - 38 kms)
Andretta - Joginder Nagar
This morning ride would be an unique experience as we paddle through Tea-growing plantations and route will offer us a lots of charming, Emerald-green plantations, outlayed in orderly rows. In North, we will have some beautiful views of the Himalayan ranges and observe the spectacle of Rural India. Enroute, we will stop at Baijnath temple dating to 13th century and dedicated to the Lord Shiva. Thereafter, we will continue our ride on quite back roads and finally will arrive at Joginder Nagar (1220m),a scenic place enveloped with a beautiful blanket of natural beauty. Overnight in a Guest House.
Day 8Joginder Nagar – Mandi (Cycling - 54kms)
Joginder Nagar - Mandi
Today's ride is a bit long but it is in descent. Leaving Kangra valley behind, we will head towards Mandi traversing a number of hills on this scenic ride, since road crosses minors spurs running down from the main ridge. We will be following the path of Uhl river towards its confluence with the Beas River. Thereafter, we will have a long descent on a slightly busier section of the
ride into the market town of Mandi. The comfortable weather, the scenic views of the snow clad mountains and the well developed tourist facilities make Mandi a favorite among tourists. Various religious sites in and around Mandi have made the region sacred for Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists alike.
Day 9Mandi – Larji (Cycling - 49 kms)
Mandi - Larji
Today, we will ride through the Beas River that cuts through the outer Himalayan ranges and provides us with a comfortable route into the southern end of the Kullu Valley. Although the route is undulating offering the charming sceneries but the level of difficulty remains average. The lowest slopes in many places are terraced and covered in apple orchards, whereas beyond the dam and hydro-electric plant at Pandoh, we find ourselves riding above an extensive Reservoir. Our overnight stop is in a lodge in the small hamlet of Larji (960m), close to the point where the Beas River makes a dog-leg turn towards the west. Afternoon check in at the Guest house and free time to explore the beauty on your own.
Day 10Larji – Shoja (Cycling - 32 kms)
Larji - Shoja
Today, the route is elevated as we move towards the high Himalayas and the reasonable way would be to pedal through the foothills, towards the South. Despite the fact that we follow the state highway adjoining the River Tirthan, this day remains to be ascending day. We take it steadily with regular stops to admire the views and to regain the energy. This is a wild and seldom-visited part of the Indian Himalaya, cloaked in forest of pine and oak. At the village of Banjar, after approximately 10 kilometres, paddling through a main street lined with wooden-fronted shops, we arrive
at the Pyramidal Murlidhar Temple, dedicated to Krishna. The last portion of the ride to Shoja (2600m) is steeper if anything and there is always the option to take a ride in the support vehicle. On arrival, check-in at the Guest House. Then, we will have enough time to walk around this charming village and to meet the villagers who are not used to seeing many foreign visitors.
Day 11Shoja - Luhri (Cycling - 60 kms)
Shoja - Luhri
Today is a challenging day as there are lots of climbing and many zig-zags to experience. As we paddle through the steady ascent above Shoja, we would be biking at tree-line. Leaving the forest of pine behind, we find ourselves in a sub-alpine world with stunted birch trees and closely-cropped grassland. The condition of route deteriorates as it is often affected by winter freeze-thaw. As we approach Jalori Pass (3135m), steady climb turns into a rather steep final ascent. From the vintage point, we can look beyond the nearest ridges to an unbroken crest of snow-capped peaks, the Pir Panjal. Thereafter, it’s all downhill and we need to ride carefully, keeping our speed under control, particularly on the many bends. Finally, we reach the Sutlej River and shortly thereafter our accommodation in Luhri (800m).
Day 12Luhri – Narkhanda (Cycling - 37 kms)
After the breakfast at our lodge, we head for long climb out of the Sutlej Valley. Once again, there is an option for anyone who doesn’t wish to the climb to use the support vehicle for all or a part of the day’s ride. But for those, wishing to go for ride, route of cycling is full of challenges. We gain the height gradually. We will be taking a halt after each hours so that we can relax and get assembled to resume the journey further. The magnificence of the scenery will helps us to forget the tiredness and will certainly offers us many occasions to take photographs. Our overnight accommodation is at Narkanda (2708m) on the ridge-top and has great views of the Pir Panjal and perhaps even of peaks further north in Tibet’s Ngari Province.
Day 13Narkhanda – Shimla (Cycling - 64 kms)
Narkhanda - Shimla
Last day of cycling with high-level ride through Himalayan foothills to Shimla. The route is tricky being full of turn and twists, contouring around ridges. Valley sides are covered with mixed forest of pine and oak and have an occasional glimpses westwards into the Sutlej Valley. After several stops, including a lunch stop in a village en route, we cross a small col at 2450m before descending to the sprawl of Shimla another former British Raj hill-station. We will have time to look around in the evening and to walk along the pedestrian main street, known as the ‘Mall’.
Day 14Shimla – Pinjore ( Toy train upto Kalka)
Shimla - Kalka
Shimla was once the summer capital of the British Raj, Shimla is nowadays the capital city of Himachal Pradesh and sometimes referred as the ‘Queen of the Hills’. Built on a series of interconnecting ridges, it's houses are strewn across the hillsides in a riot of coloured roofs. Parts of the old town have a faded charm that dates back to the late 19th century and we will spend the morning sightseeing. Then after lunch, we will take the narrow gauge Railway to Kalka, where the mountains meet the North Indian plains. One of the world’s great train journeys, this exciting 100 kilometres run has more than 100 tunnels.
Today, we will be transferred to the Railway station to board the 'Toy Train. This train passes by beautiful landscape and offers you sceneries to capture in Camera.
Day 15Panjore- Delhi ( By morning train from Kalka to Delhi)
Pinjore - Kalka
We will have a transfer to the Railway Station in Kalka, from where we take an early morning train to Delhi.
Kalka - Delhi
On arrival at Kalka Railway station, we would board the next train departing to Delhi. On arrival, we would be received by representative and transfer to the Hotel.