Wandering In The Himalayas : 50 Days In Spiti, Jibhi and Shimla

serolsar lake

What is it about ‘a month’ of time, that makes it really exciting to spend ‘a month’ in a place? Wandering in the Himalayas for a month had been on my mind since a long time. Now that it has happened, I am thinking of spending a few more months next time around. 😀 I think a year seems more of consequence as it allows us to see the place in all its seasons and festivals.

Lesser Known Places in the Himachal

This June – July 2017, I spent over a month and half in the Himalayas. I covered a lovely, fairly offbeat route in the mountains. And there are many of you out there who are looking to move outside of the tourist circuit. Well, kudos on looking around for different places to explore. It simply doesn’t make sense to keep to tourist hot spots, especially with the problems of high prices, ecological sustainability, crowds, noise and so on. But keeping these problems of the tourist hot spots in mind, it becomes our responsibility that when we move off the tourist track, we ensure that we don’t become a cause of these problems ourselves. We will definitely impact the places we land up in as travellers. But the question is how will we impact them?

Please be mindful of your impact in these places – social and ecological. Opt for eco-friendly, local, sustainable initiatives as much as possible. And most importantly, let’s keep our noise down and specifically our feeling of entitlement – to the land, to quality services, to basic infrastructure and so on. It would be more worth our while to understand the places, people and situations better rather than getting miffed when our expectations are not met.

The route as you can see in the map, is a lesser known Shimla – Manali circuit. Shimla and Manali are major tourist hot spots but as usual this tourist crowd doesn’t venture out into the lesser known regions which are not very far at all.

Shoghi, Shimla

This was my first Himalayan stop for this journey. My Delhi – Shimla volvo ride with Himachal Tourism passed off quickly with interesting chit chat with the Himachali conductor and driver. And they dropped me right outside my roadside inn at Shoghi – a small town 15 km from Shimla. I had 3 days to work (remote) and wait explore before the start of my Spiti road trip. I would have liked to stay in Shimla, but the super tourist hot spot that it was, every place was packed and prices were sky high! So, I took a roadside inn called Vardaan here in Shoghi. It was overall a nice place, not really worth the money but it was a Shimla suburb. Anyway, the important thing was that the people were good and they served me vegetarian food. 🙂

Glad that I chatted with the owner of this place because she suggested me a cycling route that was really beautiful. And so this route from Shoghi became my first cycling ride in the Himalayas. 🙂 And the views were really beautiful.

wandering in the himalayas - Shoghi

wandering in the himalayas on a cycle , shoghi, shimla
Wandering in the himalayas on cycle 😉

Spiti Road Trip: 8 days and 7 nights

Typically when I am planning a longer trip a few close family and friends are always looking to piggy back for a few days. And I am also quite okay with this, as long as it doesn’t hijack a large part of my SOLO trip. So this is how the Spiti road trip with my mother, cousin sister and family friend aunty happened. We 4 women had a lovely time @ Shimla – Kalpa – Tabo – Kaza – Kunzum, Chandrataal, Rohtang – Manali. Here’s a comprehensive travel guide I wrote on travelling Spiti.

wandering in the himalayas - key monastery, spiti
at Key monastery, Spiti

The pristine and awe-inspiring ambience of Spiti was a powerful start to the trip. I wondered whether being in the no-so-high Himalayas later on would leave me a little disgruntled.

But it didn’t…. 😀

A Month in Jibhi

Jibhi was so lush green that every where I looked I was left a little shocked. I couldn’t remember another place that was so green. And so Spiti became a fond, very joyful memory, while I explored and enjoyed in Jibhi. As I was planning for this trip, I wanted to stay for a month in some small Himalayan town and Jibhi was the one. 😉

It was a very enriching experience and not just due to the mountain magic. It was also the people, the culture, the conversations and just the natural flow of life that brought me to this place in life. Did that sound esoteric? Well, it was a very deep experience and I find myself unsure of how to start writing about it. This typically happens when there is too much to write about, and also lots to ponder on. And from what I have found, the best way to get around this is to have many more such deep experiences. Then articulation becomes simpler and natural. 😀

valley view in the himalayas

wandering in the himalayas - jibhi river

Shimla

And the inevitable happened, the time to return to home base (Mumbai). I usually keep a few days buffer before returning from longer trips. A lesson learnt after the heartbreak when I returned from my first solo cycling trip in Europe. So now I always plan a slow return. So 5 days in Shimla served as the buffer. With it’s crowded, urban environment set amidst spectacular mountain scenery, it actually became a good buffer. I didn’t explore much of Shimla, because I was working remotely. Which means that most of the time I am sitting somewhere (scenic?) and working. But I do get a few hours every day to explore the shops or nearby places. Apart from this, I got half a day to explore this huge mountain city and I spent it at Jakhoo temple – an outing that I really enjoyed. 🙂

shimla city view from jakhoo ropeway
Shimla city view from the Jakhoo temple ropeway

All in all this Himalayan trip was super. And I made some amazing bunch of friends. Most importantly, my earlier experience with Himachal people’s hospitality has only deepened to a dearer and familiar one.

Much love to all the lovely people that make my travels not just friendly and safe but heartwarming-ly dear.