If you are looking for a place in the wilderness away from the hustle of routine hill station. Jibhi, Tirthan, Shangarh in GHNP area are the places what you are looking for, The number of tourists visiting Himachal have increased immensely in recent years. As a result most the hill stations have become over crowded. Places like Manali and Shimla remain packed with tourists. What you find there are people, vehicles, traffic jams and noise in tourist season. One coming to the hills for solitude and peace have to look for some alternative places. Then Jibhi and Shangarh like places came for rescue.
Jibhi is located in Banjar valley of Kullu district. It is 9 kms from Banjar on Kullu-Anni-Rampur state highway. The magical sound of a small water stream, Deodar trees, lonely roads are enough to refresh your mind and soul.
The waterfall is the main attraction in Jibhi. The natural waterfall and stairway downstream with small wooden bridges make this place exotic. People can also enjoy fishing in the stream. There are quite enough guest houses and camps for accommodations.
For trekkers Serolsar Lake trek is a fine option. The trek start from Jalori Pass, which is situated 12 kms away from Jibhi on Banjar Anni road. Jalori Pass too is a nice place to hang out. Serolsar trek is a 5km long trek and it would take one to one and half hours depending on your fitness level and walking speed. The trek trail passing through a thick oak forests is very beautiful. This trek is a easy one with moderate ascent and descent.
Serolsar Lake is a beautiful lake which is circular in shape and is surrounded by tall trees and hills on each side. There is a proper railing around the lake. There is the temple of Goddess Budhi Nagin. A large number of pilgrims visit the temple to offer prayers to their Kul Devi. There is this strange ritual of performing circumambulation by the ladies with Desi Ghee. You will experiences scent of Desi Ghee all around the path besides the lake. People also offer prayers on a rock on the side of the lake. On a fine day when their will be community prayers. You can see pilgrims cooking Halwa for prasad and listen Shehnayi and Nagaras playing folk songs. If you go behind the Temple or some heights upward you will find scenic views of valley and hills around.
Shangarh is a small village in Great Himalayan National Park area in the Sainj Valley on the other side of Banjar Valley. The ways split up at Larji. The diversion on the right side goes to Banjar and to Sainj on the left side. The rout for Shangarh is Larji-> Sainj->Ropa->Shangarh.
Sainj is 14 kms from Larji and Ropa is 8 kms from Sainj. There are enough buses for Sainj but very few to Ropa from Sainj. Alternatively you can hire a shared taxi if you are not travelling in your own vehicle. Shangarh is another 8-9 kms from Ropa with only one bus per day.
Shangarh is surrounded by mountains on each side and has tall Deodar trees enhancing the beauty of the place to thousand folds. The lush green lawn of Shangarh ground is just unimaginably beautiful. The ground is surrounded by Deodar trees on the boundary. There are two temple of Devta Shangchul Maharaj also known as Kamru Maharaj on the two opposite corners of the ground. Both the temples are built in different architecture. The Shangchul maharaj is said to be migrated from Kamru Killa Kinnaur. There is another temple of local Devta named Shangri which the village is named after. You will find traditional houses in the village.
There are many treks in GHNP area ranging from day hike to week long treks. You can also see variety of wild species and flora here. For accommodation there are few guest houses and camping can also be arranged on pre request.
My Travel Experience
One day I got a call from one of my friend Pankaj, the founder of Proud to be Himachalis Facebook Page. He is currently settled in Chandigarh but his love for mountains bring him to the mountains once or twice in a month. It was wednesday and he said ‘ I am coming to you and we are going for a trip. I said ‘Ok but where’. Let’s go to Tirthan and Jibhi. So we set up to meet at Mandi on saturday morning and proceed to the trip thereafter. We have just places finalised on the name of the trip planning. But after this trip I learned that If you travelling with a proper plan you’ll be good and safe but If you go unplanned, it might be risky but it can be a mindblowing experience.
I was waiting for Pankaj since 1100 hours but courtesy a first timer driver of Delhi in Himachal roads and a traffic jam in Sunder Nagar he arrived by 1400 hours. As soon as he arrived we took the bus for aut. The idea was a economical trip so buses would be our transportation for the trip.
Journey to Jibhi
At Aut we asked for the bus towards Tirthan and boarded the bus for Banjar. Where we had to change the bus for Tirthan. During the journey we thought to shuffle our schedule. Pankaj had a talk with Roshan Bhaiya, owner of Om Guest house in Jibhi and we decided to visit Jibhi that day and Tirthan next day. We reached Banjar at 1730 hours.
On enquiring we got to know that the bus for Jibhi is at 1815. So we explorers, instead of waiting at bus stand, decided to walk towards Jibhi and explore Banjar market at least. We bought some snacks and kept walking clicking some photos midway. We had travelled about 4km when we saw a bus. The bus stopped but it was not going to Jibhi. So we kept moving ahead. Few minutes later the bus going towards Jibhi came. We got in the bus which dropped us Jibhi few minutes later.
At Jibhi we first went Roshan Bhaiya’s homestay and then went to Leena’s homestay to meet her up. We had a short conversation with homestay owners Leena and Lalit. The couple is running the homestay for few years for now. What we found unique about that place is that they don’t allow every walk in guest. They only entertain their regular clients and others recommended by them only. This place is suitable and recommended for families but only if they allow you.
We then returned to Om Guest House had a delicious Dal Chawal and prepared our tent in the lawn.
First thing in the morning next day was to visit Jibhi waterfall, The first light of rising sun, filtering out from trees and the fresh air made our morning more refreshing.
We had the plan to visit Tirthan next, there had to be a drift in our plan. We enquired about Jalori Pass, bus timings and time to travel etc., and decided to visit Jalori and Serolsar lake instead of Tirthan. It was 0800 in the morning and we had the enough time to visit Serolsar Lake and reach Shangarh in the evening. We boarded the bus to Jalori. Pass.
2 kms ahead bus stopped for breakfast. People were having normal food like lunch in the morning. We were looking for breakfast and asked Paranthas at a dhaba Ravel food Corner. He offered us the tanduri parantha. As the parantha was served, we got amazed on seeing the size of the parantha. It was covering almost entire plate. The home made curd was delicious too. It took us quite a time to finish these giant paranthas. You should pay a visit to the Dhaba for tasty meal if you are around Jibhi.
Jalori to Serolsar lake Trek
An hour long drive in the private bus after resuming the journey post brakfast, we reached Jalori Pass. We start trekking to serolsar soon after reaching Jalori. The groups of women wearing traditional dresses were also on the way to their Kul Devi Budhi Nagin temple at serolsar. We were walking really fast as we were tight on timing. As we have had covered nearly half the way we heard some voices above in the forests and following those voices we took the shortcut.
There we saw some people and a path going upward which we followed. Soon we reached at the top of the hill. There were meadows and we can see snow covered himalayan ranges. We saw a little temple and few people who were there to worship. It took us few minutes to figure out that we traversed the wrong path. An uncle told us that Serolsar lake was 3-4 kms away in another direction. That was the another lesson for us “If you are not sure do not take a shortcut”. A men there showed us the directions for Serolsar. Following his inputs we fortunately found the right path. But we had wasted about half an hour in this unnecessary act.
Again following the trail, we met many travellers and pilgrims going to and returning from Serolsar lake. After 15-20 minutes later we reached a shop near the lake where we bought a water bottle to conquer our the thirst. You can have food, snacks, cold drinks etc. in this shop. There were also few tents for night stay and some abandoned houses. Finally we reached the lake. The place was full of travellers and pilgrims that day.
People were busy in their prayers. The traditional songs were being played on the folk instruments. We laid down for a while in the grassy slopes and enjoyed the sun. As we didn’t have ]much time so we left for Jalori Pass to catch the bus in time.
We walked really fast and covered the trek exactly in an hour. But it was not going smooth at all. At Jalori Pass, road metalling work was on progress resulted in a long jam on the both ends. Nearly an hour later the work stopped and traffic started moving slowly. We took an HRTC bus and it was one of the best bus journey on the narrow curvy road. We had to reach larji by 1800 hours but as I said it was not going smooth for us. At Banjar market 4 HRTC buses two on each side stuck almost in a bottleneck. Somehow our bus driver manage to resolve the situation and get everyone out of the jam.
Journey to Shangarh
We finally reached Larji in time and found an private bus for Sainj. The conductor told us the we would find a bus to next stop Ropa from Sainj. But when we reached the bus had left already. Somehow we made a deal along with some fellow travellers on Rs. 50 per person in a taxi.
Our next host Ramesh bhai would be coming to pick us from Ropa. He told us wait for him in Great Himalayan National Park Training Complex. He arrived almost half an hour later. It was getting dark at that time. Shangarh is 9 kms from Ropa but the road was in very bad shape. We reached Shangarh at 2000 hours. Ramesh Bhai took us to a under renovation guest house. He offered us tea with biscuits and had a chit chat with him.The dinner got ready after 2200. The delicious chicken rice and India Vs Pakistan Cricket match, It was a really great dinner.
We were going for a camp stay here too. So in the midnight, we picked the tents and went to the place we were to camp at. It was almost 0100 in the night as we erected the tent. That was the end of an adventurous day.
We woke up early next morning and waited for some shots during the sunrise but cloudy weather didn’t allow us the opportunity. We got back to the guest house had breakfast and caught a taxi for Sainj. Last lap of this adventurous trip was the on roof journey on that bumpy road. The taxi dropped us at Sainj where we took the bus for our journey back to our respective homes.