SHOJA near GHNP in HIMACHAL

INTRODUCTION : Shoja is a beautiful village situated in the relatively lesser explored regions of Himachal Pradesh called the Seraj Valley/ Great Himalayan National Park. Its very green and the plus is that it is away from all the traffic that lines up the popular hill stations. Added attraction is that you can cover the places like Gushaini & Bathad on the Tirthan river in the same trip which are not very far but are very beautiful. Please read through the lines to get a better picture.

LOCATION/ HOW TO REACH : Shoja is located about 500 kms from Delhi. The place is on the periphery of the Great Himlayan National Park and is 5 kms from Jalori Pass which forms the boundary between Shimla Hills and Kullu Hills. There are two routes to reach Shoja – 1st is from Delhi – Chandigarh – Ropar – Bilaspur – Mandi – Aut – Banjar – Shoja.

The 2nd route which is shorter but is more prone to disturbances due to landslides etc. is from Delhi – Panchkula – Shimla – Narkanda – Saini – Ani – Jalori Pass – Shoja. I would recommend the 1st one as its more reliable and the roads till Aut are very good and after Aut, they are very beautiful. Frum Aut to Banjar is about 28 kms where you follow the energetic Tirthan river. From Banjar, the road towards left follows the Tirthan river and goes to Gushaini and Bathad whereas the right goes to Shoja. After Banjar, its an uphill drive among thick forest passing enroute through Jibhi village. However due to adverse weather conditions at this height, this road is not very well maintained. Another contributing factor was that we went in mid August – so roads were always wet. Total time taken is about 12-13 hours. From Aut it is about 2 hours and from Mandi is about 3 hours.

THINGS TO DO : The place is an idyllic retreat and is best to sit down and relax and watch the lush green forests. Other options are jungle walks, visit to the Jalori Pass from where you can take 2 walks – one to the Serolsar Lake is longer but less strenuous and the one to Raghupur Fort which though shorter is very difficult. There are picture book chai shops and a small temple at the Jalori Pass. Other better or rather must do option is to visit Gushaini village at the banks on the Tirthan river which is about 1 hour drive from Shoja. Its good to visit in June when the IRIS flowers are in full bloom and the whole valley turns blue. But still, the place is very forested, green and is soothing to the eye. Add the cold, crisp air at the elevation of about 2600 metres above sea level.

PLACES TO STAY : We stayed at the Banjara Retreat in Shoja. This place is much hyped by the Banjara people and we went expecting a lot but we were disappointed to be there due to the following reasons – 1) A house with steel roof has come up in front of the retreat which virtually destroys the splendid views in front of the resort. 2) The retreat is about 200 meter downhill walk from the road which is steep and is difficult to climb up esp. for elderly ppl. or for ppl with small kids. 3) There is no flat ground for kids to play and your life is constricted to a 6 ft wide alley/ balcony where you can sit/ dine/ play board games. 4) Its situated in the village only and hence does not offer proper seclusion for people who want complete peace in natural surroundings. However the quality of food and service was good.
The second option is the PWD rest house which has an excellent location and well maintained lawns. Only if it had some better facilities like good food and entertainment, it would have been one of the best places to stay.

BOTTOMLINE : The better option to visit this area would be to stay at Gushaini at Raju’s cottage or at the Himalayan Trout House – both at the bank of Tirthan river. One can plan a visit to this place for a day from there. However I must add one more point. On our return journey, we decided to bypass Mandi and go to Shimla via Karsog, Chindi, Naldehra route. I must say that this route through tribal Himachal is very, very beautiful. Especially the drive from Karsog to Chindi. Would definitely like to plan a trip there in the Karsog valley.

(Note – Would be adding some snaps shortly)

12 Comments

  • JATINDER SETHI says:

    Its pity,Anand, that after all that description, you almost suceed to disuade people ,with all the negative points, to visit Shoja.As far as Rajus Cottage at Gushaini is concerned ,it is almost impossible to get a room as it is always full– being only 4 rooms. I have been trying for last 3 years, but always full.
    Can you let us know about The Himalyan Trout House, as I am not aware of it. Would love to go there if its locatiob is as beautiful as Rajus for trout fishing. Will be grateful.( Dont mind my remark about SHOJA/

  • nandanjha says:

    I have heard few times about Raju’s cotttage, in Outlook Travelers and the fact is that he accepts money through money-order for booking and all that. When you read this in a magazine, it sounds a little non-authentic then when you read from someone, say at Ghumakkar. Dont know whether I am able to express it well, a boxed features in a magazine sounds more like a news ..anyway

    great write-up. I think you should go slow :) because in no time I went to Shoja, had a look and came back.

    And when you say, steel roof, you mean asbestos and not steel right ? :) Steel roof would mean one hell lot of money.

  • Anand says:

    I had been to the Himalayan Trout house once in October 2004. At that time it was relatively unknown and had only 4 tents apart from the main building where the owners – Christopher and Shefali Mitra stay with their son Kabir. In the main building, they had 2 rooms for guests on ground floor + a small library with a good collection of books.

    The location is nice though not as good as Raju’s cottage. The river is across the raod. The people are expert in fishing and have variety of fishermen coming from all over the world. I met a French fisherman during my stay who was expert in fly fishing.

    They also have telescopes, mountain bikes and there are other interesting activities like a hike to a nice waterfall. All this makes for a good 2-3 night stay at the Trout House even for those who are not into fishing.

    But when I went there 2 years back, the place has really grown. They have added many more rooms and the offbeat feature seemed to have been over. However I still highly recommend it.

    Note : Regarding Shoja, the place itself is very beautiful. My negative points were for the Banjara Retreat which is highly promoted but is not as good as expected.

    • Manish Mahajan says:

      Its really wonderful to explore new places in Himalayan region but it is not advisable to travel to such places with familly and kids where there is a uncertainity of boarding and lodging. Banjara’s are damn expensive…..

  • sameersharma says:

    Very nice write up. Thanks to you, I know another beautiful place in our beautiful and splendid backyard. This definitely goes into my list of places to visit.

    Well done and look forwrad to more write ups from you.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Anand,

    Thanks for sharing this experience. After reading it I too felt that there are so many lesser known places in Himachal, about which I have not even heard of.

    Thanks for it and also thanks for your unbiased feedback with all + & – on various hotel options around. It will surely help …

    What about snaps ? It seems you forgot the promise that you did while posting it …

  • Supriya says:

    This is really nice write up and inspring to visit Shoja/Jibhali..does any one has contact for Raju’s cottage or Himalayan Trout house ? If so please give me

  • ajay setia says:

    Dear friends

    I went to Sojha in 1998 first, than after that allmost five times.

    It is very easy to get permit for PWD rest house from Kullu PWD CE office.

    2nd option is forest rest house, any body can get permit from forest department.

    Ajay Setia

  • radhika says:

    ajay,
    would you please give contact info for the Kullu PWD CE office and for the forest house? by the way where is the PWD rest house and forest rest house located?

    radhika

  • jatinderpalchadha says:

    there are pwd and forest rest houses and the booking can be made by writing to Ex. Engineer PWD, Banjar/kullu and to the forest officer, Kullu,
    shojha is realy heaven on earth

  • Manish Mahajan says:

    jatinder can you give full address of the forest department pwd kullu…with thier ph. no.’s….?

  • ADARSH BAGHLA says:

    i have been to gussaini number of times and enjoyed the nature at its closest while relishing trout during the evenings.

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