My recent weekend trip to village Shangarh, located in the Sainj Valley in the beautiful Himachal, has changed my perspective on travel. The trip was filled with magical peaceful vibes and stunning views of mountains and green valleys. We spent 3 wonderful days in the lap of nature. But, this trip was a whole different experience for me that changed my mindset about traveling and exploring new places. This short trip was not just full of nature’s surprises but some great information too. I met a young YouTuber and travel vlogger Pamela Mukherjee on this trip and she shared some very valuable knowledge about all the places we visited. She shared some information about some rituals and beliefs of the people living there. Traveling with understanding the place and people and their values was a whole different experience than traveling just to relax and see the different places and their beauty. Adding up some context and knowledge about the places we visited, made this trip far more better than any of my previous trips. All thanks goes to Pamela Mukherjee. Sharing her youtube channel link below please do subscribe, full vlog of this trip will be out soon.
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!
“Unplanned trips are the best because planned trips never happened.” Don’t know who said this but it said very true. Similar to our previous trips, this trip was also absolutely unexpected. Saturday evening, 9th of Feb, 2019. I visited my cousins’ home as they called me there for just hanging around together. It was between 6 and 7 in the evening and we all were chattering like mad but funny when somewhen changed the whole conversation to the reminiscences of the trips that we had in the past together and that’s how the whole idea bumped our mind to go on another trip. It was not any other but Aman, who started this first. Aman is my cousin’s sister. She is younger than me, but she has that liveliness that can control anyone she wants. Aman is so vivacious and enthusiastic to travel and enjoy every moment of life. So basically, she is our group leader too. We started to look for places to go very excitedly! We thought of Manali, Auli, Shimla, Vaishno Devi, and so on, and finally stopped at Mcleod Ganj. But it was Saturday evening and some of us have an office on Monday including me, so I urged to postpone the plan to next week. So technically, it was just false effort and excitement that we just put into planning this trip.
A single spark is enough to make a blast. right? And that happened to us at that moment. While all were trying to convince me to take a leave for 2 days and give this plan a little hope, my aunt and all others allowed us to go as they were assuming that I will drop out of this plan because of my office. But that worked here as a spark to me and I decided to take a leave on Monday and Tuesday and brought a smile to everyone’s faces. Now we are not going to listen to anyone however our parents now started to stop us, but we were already sitting on the rocket, launching to the moon.
It was around 7:30 or 8 pm when we all finally agreed to the plan and started running to pack our bags. I came back to my home and told my parents that we just made this plan and going to McLeod Ganj, Himachal tonight. And yes, you are thinking right, all those questions were started to rain on me. What? When? Whom did you ask? Can’t you plan well in advance? What about your office? And so on. But yes, I managed to convince them, and later my mother helped me to pack my bag. Mother is always a Mother after all😊.
We had no idea about bus timings, and, had no idea where we can take the bus for Dharmshala. All we knew was that we are finally going to enjoy ourselves like Freebirds. It was almost 11 o’clock when left home in search of Cab to ISBT but later someone suggested to go Majnu Ka Tila to take a bus to Dharmshala as buses are easily available there. And here our suffering began.
We left the home and hired an auto-rickshaw for the bus terminal. Our one friend Swarn was meeting us directly at the bus terminal. Swarn is one of our friends and he is very close to our family, so more likely he is like a family member to us. He is taller than all of us and he also likes to travel and enjoy freedom. He came by metro, so he reached there on time as we decided, but on another side, we were now stuck in a traffic jam. It was the season of weddings and some banquet hall was there on our way so the roads were blocked. Somehow our auto-rickshaw driver took another route which was obviously long but the fastest available at that time. It took more than half an hour for us to reach the bus terminal, in the meantime, Swarn was looking for the bus availability to Dharmshala. Finally, we all reached the bus terminal and found that all direct buses to Dharamshala were already left and we had the only option to take a bus to Jalandhar then change there for Dharamshala. As soon as we reached Jalandhar, we again found that there is no direct bus available to Dharamshala. One of the bus drivers suggested going to Hoshiarpur and said that we can get the bus to Dharamshala from there every 10 minutes. We did the same went to Hoshiarpur then took the bus to Dharamshala then took another bus to Mcleod Ganj and that’s how we reached our destiny the next day around 5:30 or 6 in the evening. We suffered a lot in changing buses one after one but that all seems a lot of fun and memorable as we were on the trip to McLeod Ganj.
Rising of the day
Good Morning to the beautiful mountains covered with snow on the top. February 11, 2019, my 27th birthday. The previous day was pretty good, we arrived at Mcleod Ganj in the evening and after some rest, we get down to the street to explore here and there. Had some food, tea, coffee, and talked to strangers fellow curious to find more things to explore in Mcleod Ganj. Midnight we celebrated my birthday on a hotel rooftop with some strange fellows enjoying a bonfire with music and drinks and I cut a small cupcake. We all took a bite of that cupcake and enjoyed the dance on Punjabi song for a while. Even we celebrate that moment for just 20 minutes but that 20 minutes are memorable for always. As by habitual, I woke up early in the morning around 6 am, and my cousins were still asleep. It was a really cold morning. I got down from the bed and walked out to another room of the hotel just opposite our room which was untenanted and opened. We saw this room yesterday while checking in to the hotel, the view from the window was straight to the mountains which were covered with snow on the top. But this room was small with only 2 single beds, so we didn’t pick this. Another room we stayed in was a little big and had a view of the market area and the Buddhist Temple which looks more beautiful at the night.
I entered the room and sat near the window enjoying the view of a snowy mountain and fresh cold air. The light was still low, but snow on the mountain edges was started to glow. I spend almost an hour admiring non-artificial beauty, the beauty that was real and natural. No mankind can create a single inch of that artistic magical scenery that nature has built itself around us. The sound of wind and birds in that silence was one of the best music ones can imagine. I almost lost myself at that moment when my cousin’s brother Gurpreet came to the room to find me. Gurpreet is younger than Aman and me. He loves to sleep a lot, and he is a little penny pincher. As he saw the view outside the window, his eyes popped out with the shine admiring the beauty he was seeing, and we sat together for a while and capture some beautiful pictures of the rising of the day.
This morning we were waiting for Jaspreet and Harpreet (Lavy) to arrive, Jaspreet is another cousin who was not ready to come along with us when we left home. But later, he decided to come and got accompanied by Lavy. They both arrived early in the morning before breakfast. They both took some rest for the moment and got ready while we ordered some breakfast and tea. Ooh.. from tea I just got remembered to introduce one more cousin sister Harpreet. She is a tea lover or better I can say “tea addicted”. She is the youngest one in our group and chatty too. After having a pleasant breakfast, we moved out on the road to Gallu Temple. Essentially, we planned to go to the Triund top, but the byway to Triund was cut off by heavy snowfall so, as far as we could reach was till Gallu Temple. We started to trek to Gallu Temple via Dharamkot straight from the Mcleod Ganj market.
The weather was nice, and the sky was clear and blue. The trek is around 2.5 Km long from Mcleod Ganj to Gallu Temple, which took us nearly 2 hours to reach the top. As we were heading up close to the destination the stunning valley view was coming to appear. The down valley was covered with greenery and behind the valley, the snow-capped mountains were peeking up.
Our excitement around Dharamkot started increasing as we started to see snow laid on the side of the trek now. Almost all of us were witnessing this for the first time. As we moved forward the snow started to cover the road. It started melting in that season, so most of it was mixed with dirt but somewhere around the corners, clean snow was laid in excess and it was dry too. We started to play with snowballs flinging on each other. We were heading up having full of fun and excitement that we were not feeling weary. As we were reaching close to the top the snow was filling our ways. Our shoes started getting sunk. The wind started getting chilled. our excitement was reaching to peak but still, we were not at the destination yet.
Finally, we reached the top we could possibly reach. Further from here, the trek was closed due to heavy snowfall which was around 4-5 feet at that time. Anyway, where we were stood it was also more than 1feet. It was the first time we are witnessing such mesmerizing view. White snow covered the ground like a giant white carpet.
We played around with snow like; snow fights, jumping in the snow, sledding, and making a snowman. Our hands were frozen from playing like we could not feel any more.
Such a refreshing and fun trip it was. The trip ends but memories always stay in our hearts. Whenever we will see the time in the past it will make us laugh for sure.
I hope you enjoyed the journey with us. If yes, please tell me in the comment.