Travelling drafts stories and so does my recent trip to Jibhi in Himachal Pradesh this recent Christmas ended up with one such startling and unforgettable story filled with fun.
Jibhi is a small village sitting at the foothills of the Himalayas surrounded by lush forests of pine, cedar, and other alpine trees. It is famous among backpackers, hikers, and trekkers. Since the covid thing dropped a little around all the places in India and restrictions started to lift off, I started looking for the options to travel and someone to accompany me but I couldn’t find any. So, I decided to experience solo travel this time as always I wanted to, but never got a chance or can say never got the guts because travelling solo sounds boring and lonely but also at the same time it sounds interesting to me, so this time I had convinced myself to at least take a chance to add some new and different experience in my life and I started looking for a date to book my solo trip.
The destination was already decided and so was the travel company. Some of my friends had been there before and they had suggested visiting Jibhi- Tirthan valley. They had been there with the Go4Explore travel community which is one of the best travel communities and now I can say the same with great conviction. Most of the things were already decided. I had to just choose the perfect weekend for my vacation. After considering a few other dates in the beginning of December I finally chose the Christmas weekend because there is no other best way to celebrate Christmas than trekking up in snow-capped mountains and relishing the hypnotic views of another Himalayan gem.
[24th December 2021] Trip begins:
The Bags are packed with all warm clothes. All preparations are done. The day has arrived to start my first solo trip. I was so excited but kind of nervous too. I didn’t know what other people would be like, might be friendly and kind or might be self-involved. I reached the boarding place around 7:20 pm and the bus moved around 8 pm. When I reached the bus was almost full. There were around 35- 40 people on the bus. Some came in a group of 10, some like 3-4 people, some couples, and only I and one more girl were travelling solo. Sachin Dhaka, Prabodh Balyan, Bhanu Pratap, and Ritvik were leading the trip. They had a good experience as a traveller, and had led so many trips for Go4explore and other travel companies. Prabodh was visiting Jibhi for the first time. While talking to them we reached Sonipat where we stopped for dinner. Post dinner, we started an overnight journey to Aut. For the next few hours, we all were enjoying songs, some were dancing crazily and others were just talking and laughing and so I was. And then we fell asleep one by one.
[25th December 2021] Next morning we reached Aut around 12 or 12:30 pm. The early morning was all foggy and freezy but by the time then, the sun started to peek behind the clouds. We had breakfast in one of the hotels there. Behind the hotel, there was a beautiful jewel-blue river named Beas flowing soundlessly. The way to Jibhi from Aut goes through narrow roads, some markets, and small towns and big buses can’t go through those roads. So, we split into 4 groups and boarded 4 different small Traveller’s buses for further travel toward Jibhi. We went straight to Jibhi Waterfall which was kind of on the way to the hotel. 30km drive from Aut to Jibhi Waterfall took one and a half hours. Jibhi Waterfall is hidden inside a lush green forest. A beautiful pathway with small wooden bridges and the gushing of water makes the entire place enchanting and picture-perfect. The whole place was really attractive and soothing. It brought a piece of delight to all of us who were tired of a long journey. Everyone took a lot of pictures, selfies, and big group pics and enjoyed the moment. Around 4 o’clock we arrived at our hotel named No Society Cafe And Homestay in Shoja. Homely and comfortable rooms with wooden flooring give a traditional feel. One can enjoy a beautiful view of snow-capped mountains and a river stream that flows through the hotel. After having hi-tea we moved to our rooms for some rest and refreshments.
In the evening we gathered up for a bonfire around 7:30 after enjoying flavourful snacks and tea/coffee. The weather was so pleasing and the stars were so shining. The cold breezed evening, hot dancing flames, soothing music from guitar, and people singing together made the evening more beautiful. Sachin played guitar and sang beautiful songs and we all joined him with our blessed voices. There we blended a bit with a little introduction session to get to know each other. A group of 10 people, friends from college in Delhi. Three girls, friends and worked together in the fashion industry. The other 2 girls together, one of them had a birthday that day. Few other couples of people came with each other. And then me who was solo on this trip. All were good-natured and fun-loving. Later we had a delightful dinner. Diced-Chicken, Black Gram Lentils (Kali Dal), Mixed fried Veg, Rice, Salad, Bread, and Sweets. The Food was incredibly delicious. I never had that much tasty food on any of my trips ever before. Then I joined Reema and Astha (the birthday girl) with Prabodh and Sachin and celebrated with some drinks, dance, a very nice music playlist of Reema, and some madness before going to bed. The first day of the trip was great and I really enjoyed the company of fellow travellers, and had made some friends by then.
[26th December 2021] Clouds hiding the sun made our morning cold. It was quite predictive to witness a snowfall today for which we all were excited and praying the whole time. Today we were going trekking to Serolsar lake. The trek starts from Jalori Pass about 8 km away from the hotel. After breakfast, we took our seats in our vehicles and headed toward that. The wind started to freeze and snow patches can be seen near the edges of the road as soon as we reached the Jalori pass. A 5 km trek from here to Serolsar Lake was an easy and enjoyable trek with few ascents and descends on the way. We all were having fun, enjoying each other’s company, taking photos, enjoying majestic views, and laughing while hiking up. It took around 2 hours to reach the lake. Serolsar lake is hidden amidst dense forests covered with pine trees, located at an altitude of 3199 m. It was one of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. Such a refreshing treat to the eyes. The lake was frozen, shining like a crystal in the middle of a magical place surrounded by tall trees and snow-covered land. A mild snowfall started as soon as we reached the lake. On the other side of the lake, I could see the blanket of fresh white snow where we all played a bit and captured such beautiful moments in our galleries. Soon the snowfall started to get heavy. It was such a magical experience like someone is showering us with soft cotton candy. I never experienced that kind of snowfall before so for me it was fascinating. We took a big group picture and then rushed off to walk down the trek. Snowfall was getting heavy and we had to reach the vehicle before it covers the road. It would be impractical to drive any vehicle on it once it is covered with snow. We started to walk down after enjoying the best time for about an hour and so I guess. Snowflakes started to cover our shoulders in white, we all were owning the moment with shine in our eyes and smiles on our faces. We got the experience that we had wished for. The trail which was all brown with the dust before was now covered in white. A few minutes later, we were informed that our vehicles have moved down around 4Km because of the heavy snowfall and we have to walk an extra 4km. It was surprising for some of us and shocking for others because no one has expected this to happen. But we had no other option to choose so we kept walking. It took less time to walk down the trek and by the time I reached the Jalori pass, the snowfall had turned into a snowstorm. Everything got covered in white and became less visible. I was seeing people appearing from nowhere like some magic. While waiting for others to arrive, I had a cup of tea in one of the tea stalls there and I am sure the glasses were hot and so was the tea but seriously I didn’t feel anything. Doesn’t it feel even colder when we stop moving or sit down in that situation? I was sitting inside the tea stall all freezing and trying to feel my hands and nose until everyone arrived.
Do you remember we have to walk 4km more from here? Well, it turned out that now we had to walk all the way back to the hotel which was 8km far from this point. Another surprise. But it was more of a shock for everyone this time. The road was all covered in snow so the drivers had no other option but to drive back to the hotel before they got stuck. As we started to move down the road the snow was thick and soft so it was easy to walk on that but ahead we found it mild melted, wet, and crushed with tyres and foot’s print, and walking on that was tough. It was so slippery, especially on the slopes. We were walking like penguins, taking small steps carefully, holding each other’s hands or the railing on the edge of the road. There was a moat on one side of the road and a mountain on the other. We slipped, fell many times. Were trying balancing, and laughing while trekking down. No doubt a good company can make a difficult time fun too. Soon the daylight dimmed out and It became dark as blind. No lights, no public convenience, all deserted around and we still had many kilometers to walk. We turned on our phone’s flashlights to navigate our path and kept moving slowly holding each other. It was scary as it was all a deserted and wild area. After walking for thousands of steps, we reached Shoja village where we rested a while and had a cup of tea. The hotel was still a kilometer away from here. Around 8:40 pm we reached the hotel. I remember we left the lake around 2:30 in the afternoon, it took more than 6 hours and great courage to walk on the slippery roads of dark wild mountains with pain in feet. We rested in the dining area and had finger-licking dinner then played Uno cards for fun and went to the bedrooms with all the tiredness of the long day. It was an unexpected day and quite an unforgettable adventure though.
[27th December 2021] It was a fresh warm morning. Sun was peeking in the room through the window. Prabodh opened the curtains and I felt the warmness of the early morning sun. Last night, we asked to meet at breakfast by 10 am with backpacks ready. Today we were going to another soul-freshener waterfall located in Nagini village approximately 19km from our hotel. After an appetizing breakfast, we loaded our backpacks to our travellers and left the hotel for a 1-hour journey to Gushaini. The weather was truly nice with blue sky and the shining sun. I sat in Sumo with Asine, Gauri, Payal, Reema, Jigyasa, Ayush, Nidhi, Anirudh, Aastha, and our trip captain Sachin. Swaying along with songs we reached Nagini village where the trek to Chhoie waterfall starts. It is a small trek that takes 30-45 minutes having some steep stairs at the beginning, some steep rocky ups and downs, a narrow trail, and dense forests to reach. While the trek was awesome, the destination looked like a scene from the Jumanji movie. I loved the vibe of that whole place. Steep ascents were taking our breath out but together with all the fun and frolic we reached the waterfall. Green bushes surrounded the pristine roaring water. The sound of the Chhoie waterfall’s crystal clear stream falling on the rocks was so relaxing and a complete meditation to mind and soul. After enjoying the vibe and capturing a perfect group moment in our gallery we headed back down for lunch. Post lunch we took our seats back in Sumo and moved toward Aut where our bus was waiting for us to take us back to our homes.
Trip ended here with unlimited fun and memories like singing together on bonfire night, dancing in the dining hall with the birthday girl Aastha, playing in the snow with Simran, Gunjan, and all SGGSCC gang, slipping on a snowy road and posing for dance, playing UNO with no understanding of rules that Prabhodh made, song made out of phone call (996854..), our favorite buffer time Asine, and motivator Anirudh ( Chalein?..), DJ Nidhi, commanding captains Sachin, Bhanu and Prabodh and all crazy fellows. ♥
I really enjoyed my time with all these beautiful and fun-loving souls. A solo trip wasn’t that solo I guess.
Until the next trip, the memory remains alive as if all of this happened yesterday!