One of the best things about Delhi is that you can leave its urban sprawl any minute and suddenly find yourself in the lap of the towering mountains of Himachal Pradesh. 

Every now and then, Delhiites — or for that matter — any city-goers, love to break the monotonous homeostatic ambiance and drive to the hills of Himachal. 

Due to its proximity and good road connectivity (which is getting better steadily), Himachal offers a quintessential Himalayan experience to the city folks of Delhi. 

Regardless of seasons — summer or winter — Himachal has plenty of unparalleled experiences to offer. Road tripping is the best experience for busy city folks due to a host of reasons like: 

  • Flexibility — No fixed itinerary, stop where you feel like. 
  • Time-saving — Visit most places in the least possible days. 
  • Prospect of exploring remotest and less-visited places.  

Why should you consider traveling to Himachal in winter?

Himachal Pradesh is often quoted as the Shangri-La of Northern India. It has earned this moniker for the pristine beauty of snow-laden Himalayan peaks and the tranquil environment of the valleys below.  

Over the last decade or so, the improved road connectivity has resulted in heavy traffic influx — mostly in summers — on its major highways and subsequent crowding of the tourist hotspots like Shimla, Dharamshala and Manali.  

During winters, the highways and connecting roads of Himachal stay relatively free from traffic snarls, and finding accommodation becomes easier. This is the reason why the true experience of driving on highways like the Kalka-Shimla highway can only be felt during the winter months. 

How to prepare for a winter road trip to Himachal?

Before driving to Himachal, it is extremely important to prepare your car and yourself to bear the freezing sub-zero temperatures, super slippery icy roads, and erratic winter weather that can bring moderate to heavy snowfall in a matter of a few hours. 

Here are some tips to prepare your car for the long haul: 

  • Install LED or HID headlights.
  • Carry a tool-kit (screwdrivers, wrench, pliers, etc.)  
  • Carry jumper cables.
  • Carry a first-aid kit. 
  • Inspect your tires for any cuts or bruises. Consider replacing or repairing old tires.
  • Use snow-chains for icy or snowy road stretches. 
  • Choose a car with good ground clearance. 
  • Ask your mechanic to check the car battery, brakes, heater, ignition system, headlights, coolant/antifreeze, thermostat, wipers, windshield washer fluid, and pump before hitting the road. 

Packing List for Winter Road Trip to Himachal

The numbing cold temperatures of high altitude regions like Kinnaur and Lahaul can only be overpowered by layered clothing. Here is the packing list for a winter road trip to Himachal:    

  • A pair of good quality hiking boots. 
  • Two pairs of thermal (lower and top). 
  • 2-3 pairs of cotton socks. 
  • Heavy woolen sweaters. 
  • 2 pairs of fleece jackets. 
  • Headgear (cap, buff, or beanie). 
  • A down jacket. 
  • A pair of trousers. 
  • A windcheater or rain jacket. 

5 Best Winter Road Trips from Delhi to Himachal

 

#1 Delhi-Shimla-Narkanda-Baghi Drive

Shimla-Narkanda stretch of the national highway 5 is best known among the Delhiites as the weekend getaway destination. All the places on the Kalka-Shimla-Narkanda traverse are within two/three day weekend reach from Delhi. 

Narkanda serves as a base to visit nearby places like: 

  • Baghi (15 km from Narkanda) — about 20 minutes drive away
  • Hatu peak (7 km from Narkanda)  — about 10 minutes drive away. 
  • Khadrala (40 km from Narkanda) — about 40 minutes drive away. 
  • Ratnari village (20 km from Narkanda) — about 30 minutes drive away. 
  • Sungri village (40km from Narkanda)  — about 40 minutes drive away. 
  • Kotgarh (15 km from Narkanda)  — about 20 minutes drive away.

Common Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi – Narkanda.

Day 2: Drive to Baghi and Ratnari. Visit Hatu peak while returning from Baghi. 

Day 3: Narkanda – Delhi return drive.    

#2 Delhi-Narkanda-Baga Sarahan-Sangla-Chitkul Road Trip

This winter road trip drive is for the seasoned road trippers and people who like to explore the least visited places like Baga Sarahan and Baspa valley. The road conditions on this trip alternates between okay and poor (on the Narkanda-Baga Sarahan section). Driving back from Chitkul to Sangla

Common Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi – Narkanda.

Day 2: Narkanda – Baga Sarahan.

Day 3: Baga Sarahan – Sangla. 

Day 4: Sangla – Chitkul – Return drive to Narkanda.

Day 5: Narkanda – Delhi return trip. 

Trip Highlights

  • Narkanda forest trail. 
  • Baspa valley.
  • Chitkul 
  • Baga Sarahan meadows and village. 

#3 Delhi-Narkanda-Sangla-Jalori Pass-Manali Circuit Trip

This road trip is a circuit of Shimla, Baspa and Kullu valley of Himachal. The route meanders through Narkanda, Baspa valley of Kinnaur, Jalori pass, and Manali town of Kullu valley. The return drive from Manali to Delhi completes the circuit.

Common Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi – Narkanda.

Day 2: Narkanda – Baga Sarahan. 

Day 3: Baga Sarahan – Baspa valley. 

Day 4: Sangla – Chitkul – Jalori pass – Shoja in Tirthan valley. 

Day 5: Shoja – Manali. 

Day 6: Manali – Delhi.  

Trip Highlights

  • Chitkul — the last village on the Indo-Tibet border.
  • Sainj – Jalori pass – Shoja snow drive.
  • Tirthan valley.  

Read More: Narkanda-Sangla-Manali Snow Drive Expedition

#4  Delhi-Manali-Chandra Taal lake-Jispa-Shinku(Shingo)-La-Pangi-Sach Pass-Dalhausie Road Trip

The best road trip itinerary for the long haul road-trippers. This seven nights and eight days trip encompasses a Himalayan pass of over 16K meters high, high altitude wetlands, Atal tunnel — the 21st-century engineering marvel, and British era hill stations like Manali and Dalhousie.      Atal tunnel first gate

Common Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi – Manali. 

Day 2: Manali – Chandra Taal lake.

Day 3: Chandra Taal lake – Jispa. 

Day 4: Jispa – Shinku(Shingo)-La. 

Day 5: Shinku-La – Pangi. 

Day 6: Pangi – Sach Pass. 

Day 7: Sach Pass – Dalhousie. 

Day 8: Dalhousie – Delhi.

Read More: Shinku La Road Trip Expedition (with Chandrataal lake)

Trip Highlights

  • Chandra Taal — The wetland of international importance. 
  • Jispa village of Lahual 
  • Chandrabhaga river. 
  • Lahaul valley. 
  • Shinkul-La (16,703 feet AMSL). 
  • Pangi valley. 
  • Sach Pass. 
  • Manali and Dalhousie town. 

 #5  Delhi-Narkanda-Darang Ghati-Sangla-Chitkul Trip 

Darang Ghati is a wildlife sanctuary located in one of the lesser Himalayan valleys of Shimla.  A 2-hour drive on the connecting road leading from Rampur Bushahr town takes you to the Daran village in the heart of Darang valley. 

Common Itinerary

Day 1: Delhi – Narkanda.

Day 2: Narkanda – Daran Ghati.

Day 3: Daran Ghati – Sangla. 

Day 4: Sangla – Chitkul – Return drive to Narkanda.

Day 5: Narkanda – Delhi return trip. 

Trip Highlights

  • Daranghati Sanctuary.
  • Padam Palace, Rampur Bushahr. 
  • Baspa valley.

Read More: Narkanda-Daran Ghati-Sangla Snow Drive Expedition