For those who have been to Manali, ‘How to reach Manali by train’ title may be a little shocking and hilarious but this is the most asked question on the internet forums. So I decided to do a post on how to reach Manali, Delhi to Manali by train and Shimla to Manali distance.
Train services are almost negligent in Himachal Pradesh. With just two narrow gauge railway tracks left by the British, Himachal Pradesh has not received a single inch of railway track in Independent India. The two narrow gauge tracks in the state are:
Kalka – Shimla track
Pathankot – Kangra – Baijnath track.
I have written in detail about the Kalka – Shimla trains on my other blog which has the train timings and fare details.
The last broad gauge station enroute to Shimla and Manali is Kalka. Kalka is situated 20 km up-north of Chandigarh on the route to Shimla. Presently Kalka is well connected with trains from New Delhi, Rajasthan, Kolkata and Mumbai. While coming from New Delhi, one can travel only till Kalka by broad gauge trains. One has to change trains at Kalka and then take the narrow gauge railway to reach Shimla. Again, the Kalka – Shimla journey has been covered in detail in the above mentioned link.
Manali, the most popular tourist destination in the state is not connected by train services. So, how to reach Manali if one is traveling by train from New Delhi. Following are the options which one can undertake.
Reaching Manali via Shimla
This is the most comfortable and the easiest way to travel to Manali. Take a morning train from New Delhi to Kalka and then change trains at Kalka for the narrow gauge track to Shimla. Most of the trains coming from New Delhi connect the ‘toy trains’ on Kalka – Shimla track. These toy trains take an average of 4-6 hours to reach Shimla. If one is in a hurry or not able to get train tickets, taxis can be hired from Kalka Railway Station. There is a taxi stand at Kalka railway station and average fare for dropping is Rs. 1200 – 2000 depending on the vehicle. Please click on the map for a detailed route map from Chandigarh / Kalka.
Paschim Express, arriving from Mumbai to Kalka is the only train which is not connected by any ‘toy train’ to Shimla. Pashim Express arrives Kalka at 1620 hours in the evening.
Upon reaching Shimla, stay for a night or two and explore local Shimla. One can travel only by road further to Manali. Shimla to Manali is a 265 km journey and is a 8-9 hours journey time. There are plenty of options available to travel to Manali. The most comfortable is to hire a taxi / cab from Shimla. Buses are also available on this route. Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) runs a 2×2 Non AC Deluxe bus on this route. This bus leaves at 8.30 am from Shimla and reaches Manali by 6 in the evening. Fare is Rs. 480/ per seat and tickets can be booked online on HPTDC website.
Apart from HPTDC, the state transport (HRTC) also runs bus services on Shimla – Manali route. There are two buses in the morning and three buses in the night. Non AC Deluxe buses leave at 8 am and 8.20 pm from Shimla. Please see the time table of buses on HRTC website. HRTC buses on this route are not available for online booking but can be booked in Shimla at the reservation counter at the bus terminal (ISBT) or on Scandel Point counter at the Mall Road. Presently only VOLVO and TATA AC buses called Him Suta and Him Gaurav can be booked online on HRTC website.
Reaching Manali from Chandigarh
In case one wishes to travel to Manali straight without traveling to Shimla, the journey is again by road only. Distance covered is 320 km and takes approximately 9 hours. The route is Chandigarh – Ropar – Bilaspur – Mandi – Kullu – Manali. This highway is called NH 21. There is another route via Nalagarh – Swarghat – Bilaspur and on to Manali and is called the NH 21A route. This route is best avoided as the road condition is extremely bad and the road is full of pot holes. In order to avoid the Punjab tax some operators take this route.
Buses are available from Chandigarh at regular intervals in morning and evenings. Apart from Himachal state buses, Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab buses are also available to Manali. If one is looking for VOLVO buses then only the HRTC VOLVO buses are available which arrive from Delhi and leave at 2 am in the night. Getting a seat is a problem as these get normally full in Delhi itself. HRTC runs TATA Ac buses from Chandigarh to Manali. The morning bus leaves at 8.30 am and the night bus leaves at 8.40 pm. Fare per seat is Rs. 840/ and can be booked online on HRTC website.
Please note that all buses for Himachal leave from Sector 43 bus station. There are two bus stations in Chandigarh and creates quite a confusion for the first time traveller.
Chandigarh has quite a few flights from Mumbai. If one is arriving by flight then the best option is to hire a cab or wait till evening to catch the night buses.
If one is reaching Chandigarh by train then do not take the train till Kalka but get down at Chandigarh to catch further transport to Manali. Chandigarh to Manali and Chandigarh to Shimla are different routes where Kalka lies on Shimla route.
Reaching Manali from Delhi
Manali is well connected by VOLVO buses and is the most popular way to reach Manali. There is a service of over 10 VOLVO buses from New Delhi. Distance covered from New Delhi to Manali is 570 km, a journey of 14 hours. VOLVO buses leave in evening from Delhi. HRTC and HPTDC also operates VOLVO buses and can be booked online. HPTDC charges Rs. 1190/ per seat. Private operators also charge the same amount in season but there prices are a bit lower in off season. Please note the private operators charge a higher fare if traveling on Manali – New Delhi route. HRTC and HPTDC charges the same fare though for Manali – Delhi route.
While HRTC VOLVO makes this journey via Chandigarh the HPTDC and other private operators skip Chandigarh at all. Apart from the VOLVO buses normal HRTC buses are also available on this route. There are some private operators who run sleeper coaches on this route.
Please note that sleeper buses are banned in Himachal Pradesh due to the hilly route and these buses ply illegally. Better to stay away from these sleeper buses.
I hope you will find the post helpful to plan your journey. If you are planning to travel to Kullu Manali and need taxi from Chandigarh to Shimla, Kalka to Shimla, Chandigarh to Manali or taxi services in Manali please contact us with your query. We offer safe and reliable taxi services in the region.
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