Why Go To Jalori Pass:
Nearest Pass, Open almost throughout the year, Accessible from both Shimla and Mandi, Very close to Great Himalayan National Park, Tirthan Valley Nearby, Serolsar Lake Trek, Raghupur Fort Trek, Shringa Rishi Temple, Shoja, Ghiyagi, Jibi, Banjar!!!
Distance from Mandi: 78 km
Distance from Narkanda: 88 km
Elevation: 3120m (10800 ft) Above Sea Level
Date of Travel: 31st December 2012
It was hush of the night. Temperature outside was below freezing point. Hard black ice was scattered all along the pitch dark muddy road. Shadows of giant coniferous trees were looking like huge prowling monsters. There was an abandoned sign board mentioning availability of tented accommodation in the middle of the jungle 750 meters away. We were standing at a height of 3120 meters above sea level. My red car had just arrived here after climbing a steep muddy road, huffing and puffing, barely at first gear. We were staring at a ghost like place with closed, abandoned shops. No sign of living soul nearby and this board cautioning the driver of steepest gradient and most dangerous curves along the road.
This was not the kind of place I had promised my wife on the eve of new year 2013. While most of my friends were partying at best of the nightclubs and hotels of city, eating at the most delicious and wholesome cuisine with beer and whisky, we were here at an abandoned place, freezing cold, no electricity and no soul around.. I had lured my wife into it. I had told her that our new year eve will be different. I would take her to a long and beautiful drive and to a place, which she would remember throughout her life.
My wife loves pets. Initially we mistook took this sleeping white beauty as some white bear resting after wholesome meal. On close look we found him to be a Gaddi Kutta, a mastiff type mountain dog found in northern India, especially states in the western Himalayan region, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Kashmir. The multi-talented Gaddi Kutta is widely used by local shepherds, mostly Gaddis (a mountain tribe) and are reputed to be strong enough to repulse attacks by snow leopards, and to have the intelligence to herd stray sheep and goat back to their pens. At Least there was some solace for me as I saw my wife come out and play with this giant dog in the middle of a jungle. To my surprise he reciprocated with a solemn look and wagging tail.
Early on in the morning, we began our journey at around 9am from Ludhiana for new year eve drive to some unknown place. My wife had packed breakfast of aloo ka paratha and achar alongwith some other stuff in our lalpari. My son has now grown up and does things as per his liking. He chose to stay back and spend time with his friends and computer.
We drove along sidhwan canal till Neelon. Thereon we turned right to Kurali and then on newly laid road through Siswan-Baddi to Pinjore. At Pinjore we joined NH-22 which connects Chandigarh-Shimla-Kalpa. There was a bit of a traffic at Pinjore and Kalka till Parwanoo. From Parwanoo onwards the drive was wonderful. At Kandaghat we turned right towards Chail-Kufri, my favorite road.
The road from Kandaghat to Chail-Kufri passes through Chail Sanctuary which has plenty of wild citizens like ghoral, kakkar, sambar, red jungle fowl, khalij and cheer pheasants. The road is surrounded by chir pine and gigantic deodars. There are a number of famous resorts on this road.
As usual, there was huge rush at Kufri, a potato research centre, picnic spot and famous venue for winter sports like skiing. Shimla is close by. So most of tourist come here for a days picnic and pony ride. A woman approach us for a photo with her python for Rs.20- which we politely refused.
Kufri till Luhri through Fagu, Theog, Narkanda, Kumarsain the drive was very pleasant with wonderful views of snow clad mountains. From Kumarsain there is a steep pleasant descent into Sutlej valley. Fruit laden Thanedar and Kotgarh slops look wonderful here. At Sainj the road branches off to the left. After crossing river Sutlej we entered outer Seraj region of Great Himalayan National Park.
We had not pre booked our stay for the night. More so because I am always looking to stay at a new place every time and also as per my mood at that moment . Having been with me for the last 22 years, my wife has also become use to it. Till the time we stopped for a while at Jalori Pass we did not discuss about our stay. As soon as we reached Jalori Pass and came out of the car to check the surroundings, we began thinking as to what to do next. Inspite of the warning sign board and no electricity we drove further for about 5 km on a steep descending road, in first gear, to Sojha. Stopped the car at a square near few houses, we thought it must be Sojha. There was no electricity. I kept the light of my car on and got out to check as to whether any help was available.
No one was around. It looked as if it was midnight and the entire village was fast asleep. Got into the car again. Drove a little further and was happy to see the signboard of a guest house. Got out of the car again to see if somebody was there. Got into the guest house, got onto the roof, got around everywhere, no one was present. Noticed a phone number on the board of the guest house. Called the number. Somebody picked up. Requested him for room. The gentleman on the phone was owner of the guest house at Shoja…Raja Guest House. He told us that he was not available in Shoja at that time. That the guest house was closed due to winters. That we should go further down and check at Jibhi. That if we didn’t find any accommodation there…should call him again…he would make some arrangements……such a nice gesture.
Drove down further few kilometers and saw a closed shop. There was some light and sound coming from it. Knocked at the door. The door was opened by a tall handsome gentleman. On being asked about food and stay…he smiled and said….come in.
Had great time thereafter. The name of the place was Shringi Vatika Ghiyagi and the gentleman who opened the door with a smile was Mr Manohar Lal…owner of the place. Rest of the things were taken care of by his wonderful wife Ms Pammi.
There were only two of us in the entire cosy wooden guest house besides the hosts. After drinks, food and bone fire…the murmuring sound of the stream flowing in the backyard was the only audible sound in the silent dark night other than the creaking of frail wooden bed we were on.
We will never forget this new year eve of 31st Dec 2012 for the rest of our life. Luckily, I was able to keep my promise.
1st January, 2013…..What a morning it was!!!
Got up to a beautiful morning, the 1st of new year 2013. The wooden room was glowing with the warmth of Sunlight peeking through the pink curtains. Chirping of birds and murmuring sound of little stream in the backyard was a sweet music to the ears. Looking lovingly at me with a pinkish glow on her face and twinkle in her eyes, my wife seemed to thank me for bringing her to the place.
The sound of hosts moving and chatting on the upper floor of the guest house was clearly audible. Before I could ask for the tea, I heard a voice asking me to remain in bed.That she would make tea in a few moments and then I could go up and bring tea into the room.
Two cups of tea and little morning chat later…we were ready to explore the area. Went down to the vatika and had a nice time.
After spending some time in the Vatika, photos and breakfast….drove past Shoja on a steep road to Jalori. It was still quite early, cold and offseason. The shops were closed. Nobody was there. Spent some time walking around, taking pictures. We felt good paying prayers at the temple, the Jalori Mata temple, on the very first day of new year 2013..
After spending some time at the Pass, temple and tea, we decided to drive back home.
And boy, what a drive it was. Beautiful scenery, snow clad mountains, fresh snow on the road, gurgling streams and beautiful people. We passed through some beautiful villages like Shoja, Jibi, Banjar and Gushaini.
At Aut we joined main Mandi-Manali highway. The rest of the time was spent chatting about life to come, listening to music and stopping at eating joints.
We reached back home Ludhiana late at night.
This was an amazing start to the year……………2013!!!