The Roadtrip to Nandpur Bhatoli
Departure from Gurgaon with the Objectives
Destination Nandpur Bhatoli – Just last week, I visited my super-junior from college, Ankur Guleria’s family home in Himachal Pradesh.
This road trip was a rather twisty circuitous & long drive of almost 510 km from Gurgaon in Haryana to the Kangra district of the state of Himachal Pradesh.
The primary objective of this visit was to assess the opportunity of operating a homestay at their magnificent property nestled in the foothills of the Dhauladhar range (The White Range).
For the uninitiated, Dhauladhar is a mountain range which is part of a lesser Himalayan chain of mountains. It rises from the Shivalik hills to the north of Kangra and Mandi.
The secondary objective was to explore the area like a tourist does and figure out the nuances of the place with a local for which Ankur Guleria and his beautiful soft-spoken wife Puja Guleria were significantly instrumental.
This involved eating like and with locals, listening to their tales and visiting places that a new tourist out for adventure would like to experience and capture the essence of the destination.
Nandpur Bhatoli’s neighbourhood offers the Pong Dam or Maharana Pratap Sagar and several highly revered temples like Jawalamukhi Shaktipeeth, Bagalamukhi Sidhpeeth & Bala Sundari Devi (The Kul Devi of Guleria clan) temples to its visitors.
There are many more temples in Kangra including Shaktipeeth Chintpurni in Una, however, the ones mentioned in the paragraph above are a few that I managed to visit on this trip.
To break the journey I started from my home in Gurgaon, I decided to stop for the night at my home (that I offer as a Kumarhatti homestay as well) in Bohli, Kumarhatti, to break the Kangra segment down to 200 odd kilometres.
This came as a relief as rains were forthcoming & forecasted, plus I wanted to rest as well.
Mata Mansa Devi & Onwards to Kangra
Sampled All Kinds of Highways - Bad to Worse to No Roads
I deployed the route map on Google Maps & started for Kangra the next day in the late morning.
On the map, the NH-503 route seemed to be clear without much traffic and seemed it would take me to the location (229 km away) shared by Ankur in 6 hours and 30 minutes.
I reached Kalka within a few minutes from home and visited the Kalka Mata mandir before embarking on the next lap of my journey to Nandpur Bhatoli.
After offering my obeisances to Mata Mansa Devi, I drove and turned left from Pinjore from where I got on to the National Highway 503 (NH 503) leading to Nalagarh – Baddi.
This highway is in tatters. The carpet deployment on the highway is going on at a speed that is slower than a snail’s pace. So, please keep checking your bones which will rattle vigorously on this underconstruction & overcrowded industrial patch that is also called a road.
For breakfast or almost lunch, I managed to find a huge multi-floored restaurant called Shimla Sweets. It was fine dining by the standards of the location and the food was quite decent but the service was nothing to write home about.
Moving ahead the National Highway which had a faint semblance of a road, totally evaporated and I had to cross a muddy river bed over which a bridge that once existed had collapsed because of heavy rains in 2023. I survived and so did my TATA Safari Storme, fondly called TATA ka chota truck.
I think the state Government conveniently forgot that a road or a makeshift bridge had to be installed here for a smooth flow of traffic. But then our thoughts don’t have much to be of a Sarkari value so I proceeded.
The state highway of Himachal Pradesh finally connected me to NH 5, which led me to Rupnagar & from there I moved onwards to Anandpur Sahib.
The drive now was quite comfortable and finally, I reached Nangal in Punjab and managed to breathe in peace and one piece not knowing what lay ahead upwards.
By now I had crossed Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh & Punjab and was about to re-enter Himachal Pradesh once again.
From Haripur Guler to Nandpur Bhatoli
From River Bed to Road to Maybe a Road Someday
Winding on from the villages after Una, I reached Haripur Guler. Haripur Guler are twin township carrying the heritage of Guler Riyasat.
After going on the wrong road suggested by Google, I retraced the route & eventually found my way to Nandpur Bhatoli.
As I drove the road gave way to another river bed, that was part of the Pong Dam or Maharana Pratap Sagar wetlands and recovered after a kilometre or so of track made of dried mud and stones of all shapes and sizes.
Kangra narrow gauge toy train (Kangra Valley Railway) tracks connecting Joginder Nagar and Pathankot were travelling parallel to me. The train wasn’t since it is shut currently.
The train service on the Pathankot – Jogindernagar railway line was suspended in July last year following the collapse of two pillars of the railway bridge on the Chakki River near Pathankot.
I stopped at a shop called Dhiman Store where Ankur Guleria was waiting for me. By this time night had fallen and I wasn’t at the destination still.
Ankur, upon jumping into the TATA Ka Chota truck assumed the navigational duties and guided me along the road to a right turn that had no road ahead.
This was just before the narrow gauge Nandpur Bhatoli railway station used for the toy train only.
So the no road ahead was a village path where someday a road may come to exist, however, today it was just stones and mud providing a track of sorts.
So, we went or rather climbed this inclined path to reach a turn that was hardly 6 feet in width. As we struggled to move the path turned into a narrow passage.
The car inched but moved on and after two more turns, it came across a path again. The path-passage-path rigmarole was a welcome evolution and we were grateful to the gods for their small mercies.
Again this path may become a road someday feeling that I moved up and suddenly Ankur pointed out his massive home ahead, jumped out and opened the gate to his paradise to which I had finally reached.
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