Backpacking Trip to Jibhi - Jalori Pass & Narkanda in less than 2500 Rupees.
The month of May marks as the soaring temperature for entire north India and especially for the Delhi NCR. This becomes a big reason for a summer vacation to escape the heat. I and my friend Atindra Mahadevan was looking to make our summers chilling and adventurous with the best Himalayan treks reaching the amazing heights. One of the most unexplored and less known treks is Serolsar Peak, Baja Peak & Hatu Peak Trek in Himachal Pradesh. So we decided to pack our bags and head towards the Himalayas to escape the heat and explore the unexplored.
Here are my three days Itinerary to Himachal Pradesh:
Day 1 – Delhi to Jibhi: Jibhi is a small village nestled in the laps of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh. This village offers you one of the most enthralling scenic views of Himalayas. Most the other cities and towns of Himachal are highly commercialised and overcrowded like Kasol, Bir, Dharamshala etc. but if you are looking to a calm and peaceful place away from the crowd then head towards Jibhi. My journey started from New Delhi, I booked my ticket from Himachal Road Transport Corporation (Click Here to book) of INR 645 from Kashmere Gate ISBT, Delhi to Aut tunnel as there is no direct connectivity to Jibhi Village. Delhi to Aut is an 11 hours journey. Its always better to take an overnight bus from Delhi. I reached around 9 am in the morning at Aut Tunnel.
Aut Tunnel also known as Eerie Tunnel which is built on Chandigarh Manali Highway connecting Mandi to Manali, This tunnel is infamous as one of the deadliest tunnels in Asia. From Aut Bus Stand take the next local bus to Banjar – 20 INR bus fare. Banjar is just 60 mins away from Aut. After reaching Banjar you can get a bus to Jibhi heading towards Aanni however the bus service from Banjar is not so frequent so I booked a taxi from Banjar to Jibhi for which I paid 250 INR.
Jibhi has got plenty of hotels, Campsites and Homestays however it’s still a challenge if you are looking for a Hostel apart from Mudhouse Hostel (unnecessarily overhyped) there is another hostel where we stayed – Om Shanti Hostel & Homestay. Located in the Jibhi Village on the way to Shoja from Banjar. They offer Dormitory at 300 INR.
This hostel is run by Bhup Singh and Rahul. The hostel is situated near the Seraj river, they have an open lawn, a volleyball and badminton playing area attached. The hostel has its own cafe in the premises – The Bhai Log Cafe you will find all types of foods starting from local Himachali to Israeli to Chinese are just an order away. Most importantly one cannot miss the famous Trout Fish Dish as this place is known to serve delicious trout fish.
Himachal Pradesh is also known as the fruit bowl of the country. From Apple to Cherry you will find the endless number of fruits. When in Himachal you should certainly try Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing & Processing Corporation (HPMC) fruit juices. They specialise in Apple Juice Concentrate and Other Processed Products. There is a local shop in front of the Hostel which sells HPMC Juice, Prices 25 INR for 450 ml & 50 INR for 750ml apple juice and other products. The best part is you can mix it with Whisky, Rum or Brandi your taste will get doubled.
Places to Explore in Jibhi:
Jibhi Waterfall: Jibhi Waterfall isn’t very well-known to travellers. The cool water flowing down a from natural rocky in the midst of dense green forest cliffs tempts the travellers to take a cool dip in the narrow stream. Fall is located in the middle of pine and cedar lush forest which is just 2km from the main market Jibhi. You can sit for hours near the fall listening to the water flow.
Day 2 Jibhi to Jalori Pass: Jalori Pass located just 12 km from Jibhi it is one of the nearest mountain passes from Delhi. We left our hostel early morning around 6 am. Local Bus is scheduled at 8 am from Jibhi to Jalori Pass next bus comes around 9:15 am, 11:00 pm and 12:30 pm. We didn’t want to waste our time waiting for the bus so we decided to hitchhike to Jalori Pass. Luckily, we got a lift from Mr Ram who was heading towards Rampur via Jalori Pass. You will find plenty of vehicles heading towards Jalori Pass from Jibhi, hitchhiking is another option available with you. It is located in the Kullu Valley at an elevation of 10,500 ft. The stunning and steeply inclined twelve-kilometre drive to the Pass, winding through treacherous twists, is an adventure in itself. It is advisable to drive through this way only if you are an experienced driver.
Trek to Serolsar Lake and Peak: Trek to Serolsar Lake start from the Jalori Mata Temple. Himachal Pradesh is a land of several famous religious deities including many Devi’s and Devta’s. Jalori Mata Temple is just one among those many. This temple located in a scenic location in the middle of the pass. We stopped at Jalori and first went to the Mahakali temple, to pay our respects to Goddess Shakti.
This Trek is full of twist and twirls, and for sure will take you through some of the most dramatic high altitude landscapes in the beautiful Himalayas. Trek to Serolsar Lake is 7 km long from Jalori Pass and to Serolsar Peak it’s 10 Km which almost take 6 hours to complete the trek depending upon your physical strength. When trekking in the summer, the trek is quite easy for those who have already been to some other trek however in winters the picture here is completely different, trails will be covered in snow and will become quite challenging to reach the peak.
While trekking on the terrain you will feel like stopping at every single time to capture the pictures of the breathtaking views. After 2 hours of the hard climb, you will reach the Serolsar Lake engulfed in thick forests of Deodar and Kharsu Oaks. This beautiful lake is not less than a heaven in the middle of Himalayas. Located at one of the ends of Tirthan valley in Himachal Pradesh, Serolsar Lake at 3200 metres has some interesting facts and stories associated with it. Even though the lake is engulfed in the dense forest you won’t find even a single leaf in the lake. The locals believe that the moment a leaf falls on the surface of the lake, birds take the leaf out of the lake. This lake has also got some medicinal benefits, local villagers use the water for drinking purposes and even we filled our water bottle from the lake and the taste was not less than any packaged mineral water bottle.
Right in front of the lake, there is a famous Temple of Budhi Naagin Mata it is believed that she is the mother of all the Naag Devta’s and the protectors of the lake. Another famous tales associated with this temple and the lake is the “Brahmin’s story”. It is believed that once a Brahmin was drowning in the lake and the Budhi Naagin Mata who resides under the lake in here Golden Palace saved the brahmin from drowning. It is believed that this temple has been in existence even before The Pandavas.
We were extremely lucky that by the time we reached Bhudhi Naagin Temple we got the opportunity to watch the Devta Pooja and Nati-Folk Dance. In Himachal, Nati Dance is performed by people dancing in the form of circles, or sometimes in rows.
After spending some time with local villagers and near the temple and lake area. We decided to head towards the Serolasar Peak and Baja Peak located at 3450 m and 3600 m respectively when we started our trek we didn’t know about these peaks after reaching the lake while having a sip of tea Mr Shivram, a small tea stall owner in the village suggested us to try these peaks. Mr Shivram also provides camping and trekking facilities for these peaks, charges are 1000 INR per day which includes camping trekking and food.
From Serolsar lake to Peak it was another 90 mins treks. These peaks are unknown to many adventure seekers and trekkers. It is not advisable to trek to these mountain peaks if you are inexperienced or amateur trekker. Fortunately one of the local villagers family was heading towards those peaks for collecting some herbs. They offered us help and took us to those peaks we were lucky to meet such nice and kind people. There are no proper trails for Serolsar and Baja Peak, you will need to go through the dense forest area so hiking on these peaks are quite risky however you can always find villagers so It is always advisable to take a localite along with you.
After climbing Serolsar and Baja Peak we came back to Jalori Pass to take our next bus to Narkanda. Every day around 1:15 pm you’ll find a local bus heading towards Jibhi from one way and another way towards Aanni village. At Jalori pass you will find plenty of Dhaba’s where you can try Rajma Chawal & Kadhi Chawal at 70 INR per plate. While having our lunch at the Dhaba we met a person Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta. Mr Ashok is a 70 Years Old retired Govt. Official. He wishes to travel in entire India and want to explore the unexplored and beautiful places in India. At this age, he has already done several hard treks including Siachen Base Camp, Valley of Flowers, Serolsar Peak and many others. From last 2 months, he is in Himachal Pradesh and now he is heading south to explore Kerala. His passion for travelling is what inspired us.
Aani to Sainj: Sainj is a small village in Kullu district of Himachal. You can find all the modern facilities like ATM, Restaurants, Hotels, Bike/Car Repair shops etc. There are plenty of bus services from Aani to Sainj apart from this, shared taxi services are also available which takes 50 INR per person and will drop you at the Sainj Bus Station.
Sainj to Narkanda: The moment we stepped out of the taxi. We immediately looked out for another bus, just wanted to reach Narkanda before sunset. Bus fare from Sainj to Narkanda is 50 INR per person however this time we want to hitchhike to Narkanda and luckily a local villager offered us ride to Narkanda and we reached in next 90 mins.
Narkanda – A perfect Offbeat Location near Delhi
Narkanda is a small town located in Shimla District. Narkanda is just two hours away from Shimla and nine hours away from Delhi. This town is located at 9000ft which makes it one of the highest settlements in Shimla Districts. Weather in summers is chilling with the temperature close to 7 degrees at night and 23 degrees in the morning. This town is well known among the bikers and travellers community. The reason is its roads connecting to Lahual – Spiti, Kaza and Reckong Peo. Most of the bikers stopped at Narkanda to take rest before heading towards Kaza. It is challenging to find budget stay in Narkanda during summers as the town is flooded with bikers and tourists. However, I found a dormitory Narkanda Bus Stand – Highlands Adventure Hostels and Hotel. This hostel is run by Mr Roshan who works for Himachal Pradesh rescue team and is associated with various schools for organising adventure activities. If luxury is not a priority for you then I would highly recommend Mr Roshan’s hostel, which offers all the basic amenities with a mountain facing balcony in just 200 INR per bed. You can enjoy your sip of whisky with breathtaking views of the mountains. For inquiry contact Mr Roshan 9816577991.
Hatu Temple & Peak: Hatu Peak is a steep elevation of 8 km from Narkanda Main Market, located at an altitude of 11,000 ft, it is the highest point in Shimla District where one can have a view of snow cladding Himalayan range. If you are looking for some short one day hike, Hatu Peak in Narkanda is the best option available. Trek takes you to the top through thick Pine, Spruce, rhododendron forests and sprawling meadows and a beautiful pond. This is an easy trek, you can either trek or can hire a private taxi for 800 INR which can directly drop you at Hatu Temple, roads are very well maintained. However, it is advisable to trek to the peak in this way you won’t miss the fun, thrill and picturised beauty of Himalayas.
We didn’t wish to walk on the roads so we looked out for hiking trails. There is no clear trail but if you start making your way up the side of the mountain you will be able to find broken trails along the way. The problem of getting lost in the jungle is not an issue as you will be meet the meandering road every now and then.
Finally, after 3hours of a hard trek, we reached the Hatu Peak. From here, on a clear day, one can get fantastic views of the Himalayan ranges around.
It took almost 5 hours to complete the entire trek to Hatu Peak. We started early in the morning and returned back to Narkanda around 10:30. Now is the time to explore some of the famous Himachali cuisines and we found a small Dhaba in Narkanda Main Market which is run by Sunita and her Daughter. They offer super delicious Pahadhi Murg (Chicken Curry) in just 100 Rupees with Unlimited Roti and Rice.
Sunita was really helpful she and her daughter helped me to figure out the way to reach Hatu Peak and Bus to Delhi. If you are in Narkanda do visit her Dhaba and try some Pahadi Murg. They also offer delicious veg thali just 70 Rupees. They do not have any name or hoarding of the Dhaba but yeah you can find them in the main market Narkanda main Market area is small. The Dhaba is just adjacent to Snow Flakes Hotel National Highway 5 Narkanda.
After exploring Hatu Peak and Narkanda, our journey was going to end we decided to head back to Delhi. You can get a direct bus from Narkanda to Delhi for 1000 INR at 7 pm, otherwise, you can take HRTC bus to Shimla which will cost you around 128 INR and from Shimla. From Shimla, you will find plenty of bus service to Delhi for 440 INR.
Overall, our experience was superb, Jibhi, Jalori Pass and Narkanda are one of the non-commercialised and best offbeat locations to visit in summers. Our total budget for this trip was 3000 INR however we spend 2400 INR. Thanks to the generous people of Himachal who offered help to us numerous time.