An Unforgettable 2 Week Travel Itinerary for Northern India
Anamika, a fellow hubber from Mumbai India, asked me a question at Facebook: I am planning to take a 2-week long trip along with a friend from abroad. Can you suggest me some natural beauty places in India we can cover in 2 weeks or max 3 weeks?
My answer: If you both are adventurous type and love visiting beautiful natural places, then covering the Northern Parts of India, especially Shimla, Manali, Leh, and Srinagar in two weeks is the best option. I bet you will never forget this vacation in your lifetime and you will enjoy every part of your journey, but before starting I would like to tell you that this trip is not meant for small kids, pregnant women, and old people. This is just for die‑hard adventure and nature lovers.
Important Point: If you are starting your travel from Mumbai, then first of all book your tickets for Mumbai to Chandigarh for day 1 of your trip and from Srinagar to Mumbai for day 14 of your trip. All other days will be covered by road.
Now fly to Chandigarh. In Chandigarh, you will find a lot of tour operators but I have found a trustable site for you and that is Grand Travel Planners in Chandigarh, India (http://www.grandtravelplanners.com/). Just call them first and ask them to arrange a package tour for you, first ask for two pax and if you have more friends, then ask for more pax and get more discounts for the trip. Remember to travel via road for maximum enjoyment, and do not forget to carry one or two good digital camera with extra memory cards as you will find loads of opportunities to click pictures. Ifthe tour operator has made a package tour for you, then it is fine but if he wants to only give you a car and driver on hire, then remember to hire vehicles on a per km basis. You can hire a Tata Indica for two people but for more people like 4 to 8, you can hire a Sumo, Safari, Innova, or Qualis. As a general idea for Indica, they can charge you anywhere between 7 to 8 Indian rupees per km and Innova, they can charge you 11 to 12 INR per km. Also, you will need to pay approximately 200 to 300 INR to the driver on a daily basis. Do some bargain for the INR per km. Bargaining is prevalent in India and if you are a woman that’s a plus point. This is an option for people who want to save money on travel or looking for a budget vacation. For people who want to be convenient and don’t have any problems in paying any amount can go for a package tour. If the company cannot give a package tour, you can arrange others. Just search for “tour operators in Chandigarh” or wherever you want in google search.
Now here is your Northern India travel itinerary
Day 1: Chandigarh to Shimla will be little fun, just like experience for beginners. It will take 4 to 5 hours for covering 117 kilometers. After you reach Parmanu, you will start enjoying natural beauty. Take one-day rest in Shimla and enjoy walking on the mall road of Shimla and buy some items for your family or friends.
Day 2: Wake up in the morning and start your travel from Shimla to Manali. The route is approximately 260 kilometers and it will take you approximately 7 to 8 hours to complete this route. The views on the way will be breathtaking as you can see in the photographs. Take a break for two days in Manali and enjoy local sightseeing on the first day including Van Vihar, Vashist Hot Springs, Hadimba Devi Temple, Manu Temple to name a few.
Day 3: A visit to Manikaran Gurudrwara (located on white waters of River Parvati) from Manali (85 kms). On the way coming back from Manikaran to Manali, you can do river rafting in Beas River in Kullu and then get back to your accommodation in Manali.
Day 4: Wakeup early and start your travel from Manali to Leh. Read this hub where I have written most things about traveling from Manali to Leh: Tips For Travelers to Leh: Leh via Manali Budget | Sightseeing Package
Day 5: Though everything regarding visiting places in Leh is mentioned in the above hub, still I am writing a few things for your information to complete the 2 week itinerary here. Manali to Leh distance is approximately 260 kilometers but on day 5 you will not reach Leh but will reach Sarchu in 10 hours.
Day 6: You will reach Leh,give yourself a break, and take rest in your hotel. You need to give your body one day to acclimatize to the weather of Leh. You need to leave your hired car here and do all the visits in Leh on cars having Leh License Plate. Most people forget to share these things but these are very important. If you have taken a package tour and this part is included, that is totally fine. If not and you are going by kilometers, take the reading of km before moving ahead.
Day 7: Wake upearly and do local sightseeing in Leh including Stakna, Matho, and Stok.
Day 8: Take a trip to Khardung La Pass - here you will encounter ultimate views of nature and mountains, all waiting for you to show their beauty and love.
Day 9: On this day, enjoy your visit to Leh Palace, Shankar, and Shanti Stupa. Do some river rafting in Leh if you want. Don’t forget to click pictures which will serve as your long-lasting memories of this beautiful and scenic place.
Day 10: Start your journey to visit Srinagar, heaven on earth. Confirm with your driver that he has filled extra cans of fuel, as there are only two petrol pumps in between. Actually this route is meant for people with strong hearts who want to have fun and adventure. You will need to drive from Leh to Srinagar for approximately 440 kilometers and it will take you around one and a half days to reach Srinagar, it’s a bumpy ride at a few places only. On this day, you will find places like Lumayaru, Kargil, Dras.
Day 11: Next day, you will go through Zoji La Pass, Sonamarg, and then finally Srinagar. Now coming to Srinagar city, drive towards Dal Lake. Over there, you will find loads of houseboats and surrounding them, you will find hotels and restaurants. If your tour operator at Chandigarh has not booked a hotel room for you in Srinagar, then you can book a hotel or houseboat according to your wishes. I have stayed in Ahdoos Hotel in Srinagar and it is a good option for travelers but as it is far from Dal Lake and other centers of attraction, I will not recommend it to you. Now after finding your accommodation, take complete rest.
Day 12: Wake up early and plan you journey to visit the famous hill resort of JK Pahalgam. It will take you approximately 3 hours to cover this distance of 96 kilometers. Honestly speaking, I missed this place on my visit to Srinagar but I would recommend it to anyone who wants to enjoy the actual beauty of Kashmir.
Day 13: Leave Sonamarg and plan to visit Yusmarg. Sonamarg is full of ice and you have already covered plenty of these scenes in Leh, also you have come directly from this place when coming from Leh. Also, I have been to Sonamarg. It is good but it is not a good as Yusmarg as told by several of my friends who have visited this beautiful place. The most interesting part is that this place is just one- to two-hour drive from Srinagar city. This place is a local picnic spot and is popular for the famous Doodh Ganga River. If you get free early from here and you have time, you can also visit Sonamarg, but do it with caution.
Day 14: This is the last day of your 2-week long tour of Northern India. You can now fly from Srinagar Airport directly to Mumbai.
The above was a 2 week travel itinerary for visiting Northern India. I hope you will enjoy this unforgettable and beautiful vacation. Next time, I will cover some natural places of Southern India presenting again a two week long vacation tour of Southern India.