Roadtrip to Jibhi—A Lesser Known Hamlet near Jalori Pass

Tripoto
8th Oct 2016
Photo of Roadtrip to Jibhi—A Lesser Known Hamlet near Jalori Pass 1/1 by Athena Mondal
Day 1

As darkness descended at 10800 ft, a little scarlet Swift hurtled up the mountain road to Jalori Pass. It was a night where the half the moon lit up the pine trees and the stars twinkled mischievously at the four souls making their way to some peace.

Long weekends in Delhi mean heading to the hills for most people. Some rush to the bustle of Shimla, Dharamshala or Nainitaal, while others strive a little longer to go to places devoid of people. Hence with the Dusshera weekend, it made sense to run away to a remote place in Himachal instead of trying to brave the traffic in the capital. As with most Himachal road trips, our first stop was Murthal for paranthas and chai and emptying bladders. The next stop was Zirakpur at 5:30 a.m. for a quick McDonald's breakfast to fuel us for a while. By 10:30 a.m. we had reached Sadhupul, where we encountered puppies, Naga sadhus and our last proper CLEAN toilet for hours to come. We were keeping decent time till then. It was only in the next few hours where we lost time due to a few expected and unexpected situations. After about 20 hours of driving, many pee/sutta/food breaks, a sudden scare of failed brakes, our faithful zesty little car stopped for a breather at Jalori Pass. It was 8:30 p.m. and the main marketplace looked like a ghost town. Those who are familiar with Jalori Pass will know how absolutely challenging the uphill road is. Now imagine tackling the same with brakes that were temperamental. So when we did reach the top, it wasn't a surprise that the four of us tumbled out of the car only to have the cold wind lash out at us. And it was then that it struck us that we were experiencing what we had set out to find. Cold, crisp mountain air, starry sky, pin-drop silence...perfection. But then again, Jalori was not our destination, it was a pit stop. And once again, with silent prayers, we set out for Jibhi, 10-14 kms away. The adventurous lot that we are, accommodation for the night was left up to luck and we really, really hoped that we wouldn't have to spend the night in the car. A slow and scary drive, we finally saw light at the end of the tunnel. We were still a few kilometres short of Jibhi but it looked like civilisation. We had arrived upon Ghiyagi. While Vodafone decided we were too remote to grace us with their presence, Airtel jumped to life and we began making calls to find shelter for the night. And luck was not favouring us. After being turned down by 3-4 places, one homestay agreed to give us a cottage. The challenge was to locate it. As with most of Himachal Pradesh, after sun down, it is unlikely to find people on the roads. The ghost-town feeling was not what we wanted at the time. We stopped to ask for directions and a lovely old lady came forward to help us and she turned out to be our guardian angel. She ran a homestay as well, called Shringi Vatika and had rooms to spare. 2 rooms for Rs. 2500 seemed like a decent bargain when all we had was the hope of a cottage for 3500. The wooden rooms smelt so inviting and warm that we agreed in an instant. After a very satisfying dinner of homemade chicken curry, dal, rice and conversation with our host, sleep rushed forth to embrace us.

Day 2
Photo of Jibhi, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Day 1
Photo of Sadhupul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Photo of Sadhupul, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Day 2

The plan was to head to Chitkul as soon as the sun rose, but considering the long journey already undertaken, our designated drivers surfaced only near mid-day and so we abandoned that plan and figured we would explore Jibhi and its surrounding towns. Nestled in the forest, near a stream, where the road suddenly breaks away, Jibhi wakes up to many tea shops, fluffy dogs and smiling children. The sky greyed and drops of rain peppered the road and we canned the plan of Chitkul. To go hunting for some yummy trout became the next plan. We set out for Raju's Cottage in Gushaini, which is known for its location, log cabins and good food. The road to Gushaini was beautiful; it warranted stopping often to take pictures. On the way we crossed The Riverside Resort of Tirthan Valley. An ambling river over rocks and a black dog called Sima won our hearts. We took a rather treacherous path down the rocks and sat there with our new friend. The brave ones dipped their feet in the ice-cold water while the not-s0-brave one slipped and fell in even though he tried his best to avoid the water.

Photo of River Side Resort & Adventures, Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Photo of Pekhri, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal

Once we reached Raju's Cottage in Gushaini, we were in for a surprise. To get there, you have to cross the river in full local style on a ropeway! Now for the newly initiated, this can be a little daunting. Especially if you are concerned that the plywood will give way and you will end up in the river below. But, once you climb on and go zooming for about 15 seconds, the sheer thrill of dangling mid-air overpowers everything. And you work up quite a sweat hauling yourself to the otherside once gravity gives up on you. After all the hard work and screaming, we bounced up the rocky path for some trout only to be told they do not serve walk-ins. So that is a tip to remember. You could just put up there and enjoy the perks. Now famished, we drove around trying to find food. The winding roads, with the smell of oranges in the air, make the heart blissful. But not a rumbling stomach! After wandering for about an hour, we concluded that finding food anywhere in that district was going to be tough. So we headed back to Jibhi hoping to find something there. En route we saw a couple of ladies shearing a sheep. Being the useless city bums that we are, we got off the car fascinated. It was quite a humbling sight when you realise that that wool would end up around some human. Respect and thanks, dear Sheep! Finally we found a restaurant that was willing to serve us...but only tea, pakoras and Maggi. And that was perfect! The sun was setting, the jackets were on and the cold wind whistled past our ears as we tucked into our steaming cups of chai and an impromptu game of carrom! When we reached the homestay, it was already dark and the ghost-town feeling have set upon the sleepy village. We got quite an earful from Pammi Aunty who ran the homestay. Apparently she had been trying our numbers and couldn't get through and had started to worry. Such a warm feeling to find a complete stranger looking out for us. I am convinced it is the mountain air! We ended the evening with a lovely dinner of chicken roast and rice and a long walk staring at the stars. Sleep would be beautiful.

Photo of Gushaini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Photo of Gushaini, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Photo of Banjar, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Day 3

The next morning saw us packing and wolfing down aloo paranthas, omelettes, and endless cups of tea. Our stay at the quiet village was over. After a mini photoshoot with Uncle and Aunty, we said our goodbyes and headed to Manali. Leaving is always hard but we left with promises of coming back. But for the moment, there was Manali to be reached, newer memories to be made and a beautiful journey to be undertaken. The playlist was made and soon the little red Swift took to the mountain roads with a new zeal to life, aiming to reach Manali in time for lunch.

Photo of SHRINGI VATIKA HOME STAY, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Photo of Larji Dam Reservoir, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
Photo of Aut, Himachal Pradesh, India by Athena Mondal
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