I first heard of Jalori from Kaushik. Jalori by its sheer steepness was his litmus test for his Yamaha rx100 to be able to conquer Gatta loops and Tanglangla for Leh. He would proudly tell me the pass gains 5000 feet in just 15 kms or was it 7. Anyway, the hype is what caught my attention. And since I keep a Leh drive ambition in my heart as well, I did Jalori twice this time within 6 months. The routine remains the same, start Friday night 2 am, reach by Saturday afternoon. Settle, roam around. Sunday explore adjoining areas, start by 5pm , reach delhi by monday morning 7.Trip hangovers are part of my monday blues. There are two routes for this pass (d’oh), one goes from Shimla kufri fagu theog narkanda ani, the other from Aut (kullu) Bali Banjar jibhi ghiagi shoja. In favour of the first route, you have the hatu hotel and hatu peak at narkanda as a major attraction and later the muddy sutlej as your companion. And also I think the road from this side is steeper. The second route from Aut has a few dams ( 3 starting with pandoh). For this route you don’t take the tunnel just before aut but the road on the right of the tunnel. After the Largi dam, tirthan river will accompany your drive.
This route to jalori also has these beatific hamlets of jibhi, ghiagi and shoja with small time hotels( less than 5 rooms) with good facilities in natural settings. If you ask me to recommend a place away from the hustle and bustle of commercialized hill stations, I would not recommend these because then everyone would flock here and convert it to nuther kullumanali. I was particularly envious of this guy who lives in the US , has built a cottage at a very scenic spot at ghiagi, close to a stream and view of a peak. He comes here for 2-3 months during summer. Somebody has got his passions and priorities well sorted.
The snow started early this year. Our initial plan of going for the frozen serelosar lake at Jalori was killed by the news of 5-6 feet deep snowfall in the area. When I had called up Ajit, one of RahulV’s contacts in the tirthan valley, and told him about my plan he asked me if I was cuckoo in the head, which i assured him i was. The resort guys had left for less cold places and we would have problems if we were looking for a place to stay at Nagni which is 15 kms off on the jalori road. So we had decided to stay at shoja on the way to jalori which is run by locals. The usp of Nagni is that it is quite close to the entry of the GHNP(Ghushaini), it is a peaceful place and u get to do nothing here in style, trout fishing in the tirthan river.Ajit gave me a few fone numbers at banjar and ghiagi. The contact at banjar, mr pal a taxi operator was quite helpful and if it werent for him, the locals at bali would have sent me to thatchi, which according to them was accessible, would have snow but didn’t have a guest house so i would have to return to bali to stay for the night. Pal told me the snow till jalori had been cleared because of the elections and he had returned from shoja in the afternoon. In the evening it was a different story though. The incline and black ice got the better of us and i had to decide to go no further. It was going to be good for us because we got back to ghiagi and stayed at the shringi hotel which is a sexy place to stay because of reasons i will tell you. It is run by this sweet couple (luv merij n all ok) who don’t employ any help and do all cleaning, maintenance, restraunt cooking themselves. The owner is a goor for the village (Messenger for lord Shringi. Shringi rishi was the one who gave king dashrath the magic prasadam that made his queens give birth. Rama was born and the rest is religion). Every evening at 6 , goor uncle makes a bonfire in the hotel’s garden for the house members or guests, if any- after october guests have been dwindling in number. I will share the warmth with you.
Uncle’s built the whole guest house on his own. It involves a hydel power house for the house. There is also a meditation room made inside a huge rock.
Night we had a good time around the bonfire with thodi whisky and rum and lot of funny talk of aaj hum dost-dost khelengey (hindi version of truth or dare) and nirbhay gujjar bandit who’s abandoned his horse for a cycle so that it is less obvious that he is a bandit. You wouldn’t believe the night sky, it was scary. It didnt have one empty inch like in the cities. It was suddenly so huge and full. The dinner had soups, pasta, mashed potatoes among other stuff. So you can imagine the kind of restraunt they run.
The next day we did go upto shoja and then further till we were 3 kms from jalori where the car began to skid again on ice and we had to take help of a gang of 10 ppl jammed in one maruti 800 for election purposes who moved our car aside with ease and then pushed their’s upto jalori. Good for us, we had a 3 kms trek in peace and could enjoy the snow.
Mad people above. Jalori Tea shop and Jalori jot temple below.
Dec 21st to Jan 2nd ( called as the shutdown in adobe) will see us in goa-gowkarna trying to get over the himalayas, after all man is a social animal.