A pet-friendly cross country journey to Himachal Pradesh, India

June 30, 2019

by Shwetha Jois

I enjoy escaping from the mundane city life to a more adventurous lifestyle elsewhere. Travelling with pet dogs can be fun as long as you plan in advance. Most pet-owners are sceptical to leave their pets behind while they travel. It is important to understand your dog’s needs and the signs that they are using to express themselves. Dogs are the best travel buddies. I have a male white retriever named Caesar who also enjoys adventures and road trips.

For our trip, we planned the distance per day based on the availability of pet-friendly hotels. Here’s a guide to travelling by road with your furry friends from Bangalore to Himachal Pradesh:

1. Hotel Haripriya Grand, Kolhapur, Maharashtra

The drive to Kolhapur is filled with lush farmlands consisting of rice, barley and sugarcane. The roads are smooth and pleasant. This hotel is located in the Haripriya Plaza. The staff is friendly and the ambience is simple. Hotel Haripriya Grand is in the heart of Kolhapur, bustling with sounds, sights and flavours. There are plenty of food stalls and grocery stores available around the plaza at inexpensive prices.

Hotel Haripriya is a pet-friendly establishment and did not ask for an extra charge for Caesar. They also have a patio which is necessary when you are travelling with your dog. 

2. Hotel Sunrise, Vadodara, Gujarat.

The roads through Maharashtra are breathtaking as you cross the Lonavala region before entering Mumbai. However, it is noteworthy that the toll rate in Maharashtra is slightly higher than in other states. The drive to Vadodara was quite long in comparison to the distance we were covering on other days as I could not find any pet-friendly hotels in Surat. I would recommend an early start at around 5 am on this day. The roads were toll-free and petrol was cheaper compared to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Chandigarh.

The rooms at Hotel Sunrise were spacious and air-conditioned. The staff was accommodating and hospitable. The hotel has an accessible terrace to cater to the needs of dogs. In case you were hoping for something spicy during this portion of your trip, here’s a heads up that the food in Gujarat is made with sugar or jaggery. We had to pick up biryani from another hotel on the way to Hotel Sunrise.

We were travelling during Navratri, an auspicious Hindu Festival. ‘Nava’ means nine and ‘Ratri’ means night. During the nine-night long festival of Navratri, the supreme female cosmic power or Goddess Shakti is worshipped in her variously manifested forms as Durga, Laxmi and Saraswati. We were lucky to see how different states celebrated the same festival.

3. Hotel Sahil, Ajmer, Rajasthan.

As we travelled higher up north, the temperature began rising drastically. Caesar was feeling extremely hot and would only sleep if we turned the AC on in the car. He had a loss of appetite due to the intense heat. I would recommend buying a 25-litre water dispenser before entering Rajasthan as each bottle of water is twice the price there.

By the time we reached Ajmer, we were exhausted from the heat. We had to give Caesar a bath as soon as we reached because his body was not cooling down despite the AC. As this room is located in the hub of the marketplace, it does not have an easily accessible terrace and the roads are very narrow and crowded. As there was no place to take Caesar for bio-breaks, we had to take him to the parking lot of the hotel. To our surprise, the streets of Ajmer were filled with stray pigs which can be very dangerous for dogs. Although the food was delicious, I would suggest booking a hotel elsewhere.

4. The Diamond Ring, Chandigarh.

The road from Ajmer to Chandigarh was under construction with multiple diversions and slow moving traffic. We were exhausted by mid-day from the intense heat and stressful drive. It was a dusty and bumpy ride. The food on the highway was sweet but not satisfying.

Luckily, we reached Chandigarh before sunset. We were extremely relieved that the rooms were good. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The Diamond Ring also has an open terrace which makes it easy to take your dog for a walk. I would recommend using Swiggy or Zomato for food as they have plenty of options. Also, this point would be the last time you could order food before you reached the mountains.

5. Makan No. 124, Shoja, Himachal Pradesh.

The traffic in Chandigarh city was mayhem in the morning. We regretted starting our journey later than we should have. There is only one road from Chandigarh to Aut Tunnel in Himachal Pradesh. The topsy-turvy roads were beautiful yet can be lethal for those who are not careful. Local drivers judge the roads by a half-inch gap. Once we entered Himachal Pradesh, they offered us ‘prasad’ or the food that is blessed by God. Even though Navratri was happening all over India, we did not receive such a heartening welcome in any other state. After we reached Aut, we could refill our water bottles with fresh mountain water. Also, the petrol rates were cheapest in this state.

Caesar was thrilled to have finally reached the destination after 5 long days of travelling. His head remained stuck out the window as he soaked in the fresh mountain air on our way up to Makan No. 124. He only stopped panting once we entered the mountain range.

Makan No. 124 is our cosy homestay at the altitude of 2368 ft above sea level. It is a rustic wooden home located 3 miles before Jalori Pass with a great view of Raghupur Fort and the Dhauladhar Mountain range. It felt extravagant to call the mountains home for the next 6 months. We were most delighted to have had a safe and fun journey all the way from the south to the north of India.

In my opinion, living in such terrain can be difficult but also teaches how to adapt to the harsh winter and strengthens one’s survival skills. A cross country road trip had been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I feel blessed that it was a safe journey without any hurdles along the way. I hope this motivates more pet-owners to travel with their pets. Anything is Pawsibble!


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