It was a usual day in my college. Boring lecture was going on and it was making everyone sleepy. I pulled out my phone from my pocket and saw a pdf file on one of my whatsapp groups. It was some new year trip in the Himachal. I read it and thought that it would be great if I could go there. Some days later, to my surprise, few of my classmates were actually interested and asked me to join them. In no time, I gave a thumbs up! It was a 10 days new year trip to Manali in Himachal Pradesh for just ₹10000.

There were many tour agencies that offered these tours in Mumbai. It was much cheaper because they had a lot of people on the trip, which made it cost effective. We preplanned and 10 of us booked the trip and packed our bags for the new year bash.

Day 1

Finally, it was D-day! As usual I reached the train station which was Bandra Terminus, met my group and boarded the train for Chandigarh (Paschim Express) at 12 pm. This time it was much relaxing for me as it was a planned trip by the tour agency and everything was taken care of by them. I sat on my seat and took a deep breathe….what a relaxation. Usually when I go on travelling by myself, I have to look for everything myself. Don’t get me wrong, I am a traveller and I enjoy doing those things a lot. Infact, I was missing them. Being with large group of friend was a benefit. We played games, chit-chatted, sang songs. It was  Yeh Jawani Hai Dewani thing!!! Not me miss the thing that I eat on trains, dominos pizza, the only good food on Indian trains. 

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Day 2

It was humid in Mumbai and I hadn’t worn a sweatshirt or sweater. Around 2 am, it suddenly started getting cold, I was freezing. I quickly took my jacket from my backpack which gave me some warmth. I hardly slept for 3 hours. The whole day went chilling with friends on the train. Around 5pm in the evening, we reached Ambala Cant. Station in Chandigarh. It was cold.

Our tour bus was waiting for us outside the railway station. We quickly picked our best seats for the entire trip as we had to spend most of the time on the bus. Reached our hotel, it was decorated and was ready for the night as it was new year’s eve. We selected our rooms and dressed up for the party. There was dance, cake cutting and a lot more. Finally around 1am we left the party and came to our room. We chilled in our room the entire night. 

Day 3

Lake Sukhna

After a long night, slept a lot. Got up around 9 am. I was surprised to see the trip organizer was not trying to hurry the trip which was a good thing. We were given plenty of time for rest. Finally after lunch, we left to explore the city. Chandigarh is a well planned city, just like those European cities you see in movies. It was surprisingly very clean. We explored few places, went to an iconic rock garden and boated in the nearby Sukhna lake. We had a night to spend in the bus for an overnight journey to Manali. In between, there was dinner served in one of the restaurants. And man, the food made me realize I was in north India. Those tandori rotis and paneer curries are damn delicious. 

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Day 4

The overnight journey was okish. Roads were good and the driver was experienced. Around 8 am, we reached a Shawl factory near the city which was on the way. Some of them purchased some warm clothes as it was very cold and it was going to be freezing for the next few days. Then we headed to our hotel. The hotel was very neat and was one the best hotels on this trip. It was made of wood and the staff was adorable. The food was amazing too.  We spent a few hours in the hotel relaxing after a tiring night journey, then headed to the main market. Transportation for this was not included in the trip, so we asked the locals about local buses and travelled by a local bus to the main market. It was crowded!

Being one of the main market in Himachal Pradesh, it is a famous tourist spot. We roamed around. Some of us did some shopping. I just sat near a warm fireplace and watched people. Usually I don’t like to shop. I am a traveller and like to keep it that way! On our way back, I got a chance to sit next to the bus driver and we talked for about 10 minutes. He told me his story, wayback when he used to live in Mumbai and so on. Those 10 minutes made this trip, my way of travelling. It makes us realize, there are so many good people in this world. We reached the hotel, had dinner and slept? NO….do you think you can sleep when on a trip with college friends? Whole night was just fun. 

Day 5

The main day of the entire trip. It was the day for what we came to this trip. To have fun in the snow. As it was not the peak winter, there was no snow in the Manali town. So we had to go to Solang valley to do adventure activities and enjoy snow. Private buses are not allowed to operate locally in Manali. So, we were shifted to local jeeps for the day. On the way, we stopped at some snow clothes renting shops and snow clothes were provided by the tours. We then headed to Solang valley and were so happy finally seeing a layer of snow on the ground. Everyone was excited. In no time, we were throwing snowballs on each other.

We tried some of the activities like riding ATV, zipline etc. After a few hours, we had pahadi maggi there as our lunch. Sadly the snow went in my boots and my foot was wet and freezing. Finally around 4 pm, we took the jeeps to our next destination Madhi Vashisth Kund, a natural hot water spring near a temple. Then we went to the famous Hidimba temple in Manali town and finally reached the hotel around 8:30pm. We had a delicious, heart filling dinner and the same night routine continued. It was a tiring day.

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Day 6

It was the day to leave the beautiful hotel of Manali and spend the night in tents at camps near Kullu. We left the hotel after our lunch and proceeded towards Kullu. Around 4 pm, we stopped for river rafting. This activity was included in our package by the tours company. With heavy hearts, I had to skip this as the water was super freezing. Some of us waited in the bus at the end point of river rafting. As our friends came, everyone was shivering due to the cold and we laughed our hearts out! We reached our camp a bit late and did not get a tent. But we got a large room which accommodates all 10 of us. 

Day 7

We woke up in our beautiful camp surrounded by mountains on both sides. The most interesting part of this camp was the fact that we had to cross a river to reach here. Not by bus… the camp was on the other side of the road with a river in between. There was an electric lift which took us across the river. Had a typical breakfast of puri-bhaji and then had some activities like zip lining. Then we had our lunch and proceeded towards our next destination- Kasol.

Electric lift at campsite

On the way, we got to know that the road towards Kasol was blocked due to landslides and we had no chance to reach there. We were sad, but then we had to spend a few hours somewhere, so the driver stopped at a good spot near a river, where we experienced the beauty of nature. After spending 2 hours, we started our journey towards our final destination of the trip- Amritsar. This was our second overnight journey in the bus. For this time, the roads were not good. There was construction work going on. We stopped at a small restaurant for our dinner which was great. Oh boy, I miss the food of this trip! And then again started our journey.

Day 8

We woke up in the beautiful city of Amritsar. The city of Golden Temple! Our hotel had a rooftop dining area. We had our breakfast overlooking the city views. Then we rested for a while to fulfill sleep of our overnight journey. Then we headed towards Wagah Border. Wagah Border is the border between India and Pakistan and every evening there is a border closing ceremony here. We reached bit late, but still managed to see the ceremony. The energy of the people here is at the top level.

Wagha border ceremony

After the ceremony, we went to the Golden Temple. One of the beautiful temple in India. It is the holy place for the Sikhs. We visited the temple and explored the premises. We decided to have our dinner here as gurudwara provide free food for everyone and it is so good! Reached our hotel late and since it was the last night of our trip, we carried our tradition of not sleeping! 

Golden Temple, Amritsar

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Day 9

The trip was over. The fun was over. The excitement was over. It was time to head back home. We had an early morning 8am train back to Mumbai (Paschim Express). So we woke up from our hotel beds and slept on our train seats. The disappointing part was some of our seats were not confirmed. As we had printed tickets we could board the train. We somehow managed to accommodate everyone. The tour organizers should have booked in advance. This is where they lost points. Return journey was not that exciting and was full of tiredness. 

Day 10

The train was fully booked as most of the people were returning back from their trips. We somehow slept at night and started our morning with chai. Again for lunch we had ordered dominos pizza, but unfortunately, it did not reach us. As there were so many orders, the delivery guy could not reach most of them. We had to order some parathas and puri bhaji from irctc website. The food was okish, better than train food. We finally reached Mumbai around 4 pm and had our last group hug. Bid goodbye and separated our ways. The trip was over, but the memories will forever stay in our hearts. Indeed it was a good trip.

The Gang

Cost breakdown:

  • Mumbai to Chandigarh train- Paschim Express (12925)
  • Amritsar to Mumbai train- Paschim Express (12926)

Hotels

Here’s a glimpse of my trip:

There are many travel agencies that offer such trips. Most of them follow the same itinerary. You can choose the one you trust and have experience.

Share your new year stories in the comments below! Would love to hear them!

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