Himalayan Hill Stations Ride - 15 days
Mountain bike through India’s Himalayan foothills, visiting picturesque hill stations, seeing ancient temples, learning about the local culture and enjoying the spectacular scenery, on this off the beaten track cycling holiday. Starting in Amritsar, home to the amazing gilded Golden Temple, and ending in Delhi, India’s bustling capital, this is an adventure of a lifetime.
The Golden Temple
This morning we return to the ethereal Golden Temple, to see it bathed in the in the early morning light and reflected beautifully in the surrounding pool. In the afternoon we drive to Kangra in the Kangra Valley. Here we set up our bikes, check out the hire bikes and going for a short introductory ride through fields and farmland on the outskirts of the town.
Overnight: Kangra | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride to McLeod Ganj
Kangra - Dharamsala - McLeod Ganj. Early this morning we set out, riding through the upper Kangra Valley to Dharamsala, enjoying wonderful views of of the Dhaula Dhar (White Mountains) en route. Today's ride does involve a lot of ascent, with a series of long hair pins. There’s no rush, you can bike at your own pace and anyone who wants to can take a ride in the support vehicle.
Dharamsala is one of the most famous of British Raj ‘hill-stations’ and is spread across the foothills for several hundreds of vertical metres. Passing through the main streets of Dharamsala, we continue our ride to the upper suburbs of McLeod Ganj at around 2000 metres, where we will spend the night. McLeod Ganj was a British Colonial Settlement and it has been home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile for many years. It has a distinctly Tibetan vibe with bazaars, prayer flags, handicrafts and traditional Tibetan food. Spend the evening at leisure.
Overnight: McLeod Ganj | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Explore McLeod Ganj
McLeod Ganj - Andretta. After breakfast there's some free time to explore McLeod Ganj and buy souvenirs, before setting off on the day’s ride. We can visit the Residence of the Dalai Lama and stroll through the bustling market. Our ride starts with an easy descent through Dharamsala, then we travel east on a series of country roads, passing through a number of tranquil villages and tea plantations and stopping off for lunch en route. We spend the night in the small village of Andretta, which is known as a ‘Kala Gram’ or Village of Art and has an ongoing art and culture movement, with several galleries and pottery workshops. This afternoon there's free time to explore.
Overnight: Andretta | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Andretta - Jogindernagar. Today we ride through lots of picturesque, lush-green tea plantations, laid out in neat rows. To the north we have spectacular views of the Himalayan ranges and nearer to hand we can enjoy the spectacle of rural India going about its daily life. A highlight of today's ride is a stop at the beautiful 13th century temple at Baijnath, dedicated to the Lord Shiva. We continue our ride to Jogindernagar (1220m) where we spend the night. Jogindernagar is the eastern terminus of the narrow gauge Kangra Railway.
Overnight: Jogindernagar | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Cycle to Mandi
Jogindernagar - Mandi. Today we follow the long ridge of the Dhaula Dhar as it turns towards the south. Although most of the ride is downhill there are a number of hills to negotiate along the way. We follow the Uhl River towards its confluence with the Beas River and our overnight stop in the town of Mandi (800m). Mandi is our gateway to the Kulu Valley and it's the main town in the region. The afternoon is free to relax or explore. Mandi has dozens of old stone temples, featuring many fine carvings, it is sometimes referred to as the 'Varanasi of the Hills'. The temples of Bhutnath, Trilokinath, Panchvaktra and Shyamakali are among the more famous.
Overnight: Mandi | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The Kulu Valley
Mandi - Larji. We follow the Beas River through the first of the Himalayan ranges into the southern end of the Kulu Valley. Although the road twists and turns, we gain height only very gradually, considering the mountainous terrain on both sides of the river. The lowest slopes in many places are terraced and covered in apple orchards, whilst 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) where we're free to relax this afternoon.
Overnight: Larji | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Larji - Shoja. To the north and to the east the terrain rises up towards the high Himalayas and we continue through the foothills towards the south. It's an uphill ride today, however, as we follow State Highway 11 alongside the River Tirthan, we have regular stops to admire the views and to take a breather. This is a wild and seldom-visited part of the Indian Himalaya, cloaked in forest of pine and oak. We pass through the village of Banjar and take a break at the attractive, pyramidal Murlidhar Temple, dedicated to Krishna. The last leg of the ride to Shoja (2600m) is steeper and there is the option to travel in the support vehicle if you're tired. We spend the night at a charming guesthouse in Shoja, with great views over the valley.
Overnight: Shoja | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The Jalori Pass
Shoja - Luhri. We have two rather tough days ahead of us, with lots of climbing and many zig-zags to negotiate. There is a short and steep ascent above Shoja to the Jalori Pass (3135m) where we can look beyond the nearest ridges to an unbroken crest of snow-capped peaks, the Pir Panjal. From here, it’s all downhill into a sub-alpine world with stunted birch trees and closely-cropped grassland. Finally, we reach the Sutlej River and shortly thereafter our rest house accommodation in Luhri (800m).
Overnight: Luhri | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Scenic ride to Narkanda
Luhri - Narkanda. What goes down, must go up! Almost 2000 metres in this case. After breakfast we set off on the long climb out of the Sutlej Valley. The road meanders amongst the trees and gains height gradually. We will take a break every hour or so to give the bikers the chance to regroup, take a drink and a bite to eat. The magnificence of the scenery will take some of the sting out of the day’s exertions and will certainly give us plenty of excuse for stopping to take photographs. Our overnight guesthouse 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.
Overnight: Narkanda | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Narkanda - Shimla. The hard work is behind us now and today we enjoy a delightful, high-level ride through Himalayan foothills to Shimla, the 'Queen of the Hills'. The road twists and turns, contouring around ridges and we find ourselves generally free-wheeling. Mixed forest of pine and oak covers most of the valley sides and we have occasional glimpses westwards into the Sutlej Valley, far below us. After several stops en route, we cross a final low crest and ride down into the charming settlement of Shimla (2400m), another former British Raj hill-station. This evening there's time to look around and wander along the ‘Mall’.
Overnight: Shimla | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Free time in Shimla
Shimla - Delhi. The day is free to explore Shimla, which was once the summer capital of the British Raj and is now the capital city of Himachal Pradesh. Built on a series of interconnecting ridges, its 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. In the early evening we 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 kilometre run meanders through forest and foothills and has more than 100 tunnels. At Kalka, we connect with the overnight sleeper train to Delhi.
Overnight: Sleeper train | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
We arrive into Delhi this morning and transfer to our hotel in time for lunch. The afternoon is free independently sightsee or relax at the hotel. There is a lot to see, both in Old Delhi and in New Delhi, which are completely different in character to one another. The busy bazaars of Chandni Chowk and the Moghul Red Fort are highlights. This evening we enjoy a celebratory final meal together.
Overnight: Delhi | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Our cycling adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. An airport transfer is included if you are departing today.
Is This Holiday For You?
ADVENTURE CYCLING. This is a reasonably challenging Adventure Cycling holiday with 10 days of cycling, averaging 45 kilometres each day. On the toughest day to Narkanda, there is a total of approximately 1800 metres of ascent. However, an average day will involve around 800 metres of ascent. This is not intended to be a tough ride, but this is the Himalaya and the terrain is best described as undulating, with some long, steady climbs and equally long downhill blasts. The altitudes we encounter should not cause us any problems and the support vehicle is always available. Your choice of tyres for this holiday will depend on your experience and preference. Semi-slick tyres with good tread on the edges for cornering work well for experienced riders on the country roads and long sections of unsurfaced roads that we encounter at the higher points of the trip. However, some riders may feel more comfortable with knobbly, cross-country tyres and these are the tyres fitted to the locally available Merida hire bikes. BIKE HIRE AVAILABLE LOCALLY. Please read the Trip Notes for further information about this trip including the distance and duration that you'll be cycling each day, bike requirements and bike hire.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who would like their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price.Read More