Eager to attract lakhs of tourists to Himachal with luxury modes of transport, the state government is neglecting those looking for luxury buses between the hill resorts of Himachal.
It is strange that thousands of tourists travel between Manali, Shimla, Dharamshala and Dalhousie every day, but there is no luxury bus service available between these routes. Tourists, including regular commuters, are forced to travel by ordinary or semi-deluxe buses that stop at domestic bus stops and take long time to cover small distances. Hiring a private taxi is the only option to reduce timing and avail luxury on local routes but the cheapest taxi for nearest hill resort comes for not less than Rs 4,000. The fastest bus service between Manali and Shimla takes minimum 8 hours to cover 265 km.
When Discover Kullu Manali tried to ascertain experience of travellers reaching Manali by deluxe buses from Shimla, everyone had bitter memories. A backpacker from England, Joshua, who was looking fully exhausted, said, “I inquired about luxury bus or Volvo to Manali at tourist information centre and government bus stop in Shimla, but it was the only bus which they said would be comfortable on this route. Locks of sliding glasses were not working and I spend a horrible night in cold. Bus was picking up domestic travellers. The stingy seats were uncomfortable to sleep.”
Nilambari and Anmol, tourists from Gujarat, who had estimated it 4-5 hour-long journey between Shimla and Manali were upset when they reached here after 9 hours. “When hundreds of tourists travel between Manali and Shimla every day, then why government is not taking interest providing luxury service in this route. We cannot dare to travel in such buses again in future. Now we have decided to complete our onward journey only by car,” they said.
Himachal roadways transport corporation (HRTC) vice chairman Rajiv Bhardwaj said a fleet of luxury buses is to be added to the corporation soon and they are planning to run luxury buses on Manali-Shimla, Shimla-Dharamshala routes. “We are collecting stats that how many tourists want luxury buses within tourist spots of Himachal. We are starting a luxury bus service between Pathankot and Manali,” he said.
Himachal Pradesh tourism development corporation (HPTDC) officials said they do not have a route permit and they run their buses on contract permit depending on the number of tourists. Shimla marketing officer Prakash Thakur said, “HPTDC buses provide service to tourists in season time. However, if there is special demand of tourists, we can provide them a bus for special route any time. No regular Volvo or luxury bus service is available on routes within Himachal.”