Travel Diaries: A Weekend Trip To Shoja, Himachal Pradesh

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Travel Diaries: A Weekend Trip To Shoja, Himachal Pradesh

A few months back I took a weekend break and headed off to a little town called Shoja in Himachal Pradesh, India. Shoja is off the beaten path and still untouched by touristy crowds.

I was with a group of friends and we booked a tempo traveler from Delhi to Shoja. There are other options that you can take. The nearest railhead is Chandigarh. If you are going by road then there are two routes. You can drive upto Chandigarh and from there you can follow NH21 to a place called Aut. This route goes via Mandi. From Aut its a further 35 Km drive to Gushaini via a place called Banjar.

There are buses that run from Delhi to Shoja and take the route via Shimla. Our driver decided it was shorter to take the Shimla route.

The best time to go is April to June and September to November. Beyond this the weather becomes too cold.

The journey is pretty comfortable up until Kullu - once you cross this point be prepared for a humpy drive. The roads get narrower and road construction midway makes them seem all the more treacherous.

There is nothing much to do in Shoja except relaxation. You can trek the untrodden paths or you can follow a trek that starts at Jalori pass upto a temple which is worshipped religiously by the locals.

Himachal Pradesh, trek
The Valley Of Trees Enroute Shoja

After twelve hours of travel we reached Jalori Pass. This is the point where the trek begins. Jalori Pass is at a height of 3125m. There were a lot of cars and tourists who had reached this point to begin their trek that day. There is a temple at the beginning of the trek as well and a few shops which sell basic food and maggi. There are no restrooms so come prepared.

Shoja, Himachal Pradesh
Amidst The Trees - Shoja

We did not trek the same day. We moved ahead towards our guest house in Shoja which is another 5km from Jalori Pass. This stretch of five kilometres will surely scare the faint hearted. The road is narrow and valley on one side quite steep. But the beautiful trees flocking the valley make the journey worthwhile!

Once we reached the guest house, the tempo traveller was parked on the roof of the kitchen. Yes parking is usually done on roof tops in the hills. Quite amuzing for anyone visiting for the first time.

Shoja, Himalayas
Rooftop Parking At Guest House

We checked into our rooms which were very basic, a bed and attached bathroom. The room does have a table and a chair and a tiny dresser. Overall it was comfortable with no frills. The guest house has a restaurant where all meals are served. The staff is very accommodating and can cook dishes based on what you need (depending on availability of ingredients).

Since Shoja is a small village, there aren't too many lodging options. For food you are restricted to the place you are staying in. We stayed at the Raja Guest House which we had booked over the phone.

We all went into our rooms to rest a bit. In the evening we came out into the lawns, asked the staff to prepare a bonfire and serve us dinner outside. After several fun games of dumb charades and general chit chatting, we enjoyed our food under the stars along with the cool chilly breeze.

guest house, Shoja, red roses
Posing Next To The Big Red Roses, Shoja, Himachal Pradesh

The next morning we woke up early, enjoyed the sunrise behind the mountains (you cannot view the sunrise directly from this point and would have to trek up back to Jalori Pass. If you wish to view the sunrise plan to start around 5am) The view in the morning is sure to take away all your tiredness. The Himalayas around you fill you with calm and bliss. If you go there early March or around November you can see snow capped mountains all around. Our guest house also had these big roses and several other flowers that make the place all the more prettier.

After relishing our breakfast we took our tempo traveller to Jalori Pass. The view from this place is breathtaking. The cool breeze with the sun shining gently made it a great day to trek. This place is known for surprise rainfall and so each one of us was prepared with our raincoats. Umbrellas won't help because they can blow away in the wind and it becomes difficult to manage them on the narrow tracks of the trek.
Jalori Pass, Himachal Pradesh
Jalori Pass
 For the trek ensure that you are wearing comfortable cotton clothing that can allow your skin to breathe. Your shoes must have a good grip - regular sport shoes might not work specially the ones that you use for flat road running. Carry a bottle of water and a raincoat in your back pack. If you are carrying your camera make sure you have a waterproof casing for it. Don't forget your sunscreen and sunglasses.

The trek begins on an almost flat land but slowly the road gets narrow - getting down to less than 2 feet wide in some places. When we started the trek we asked the locals how long is the trek to the final lake. We were told that there is a temple at the end and the lake is mostly dried out but the place is beautiful. We were also told that it takes an hour to cover the trek. That sounded perfect. An hour to go up and an hour to come down, I was already planning on what all we could do with so much time left on our hands once we completed the trek.

Himalayas, Trek,
Somewhere Up In The Hills During The Trek 

 The trek started getting steeper with only a little respite at places that had little hilly areas where one could rest on a huge rock or the grass. The other side of the road had a deep valley with beautiful trees. All through the trek you will be mesmerised with the variety of plants and trees and their sheer beauty.

In some places the road gets replaced with only rocks. These places are difficult to tread but when you look at the local kids running across you wonder what's wrong with your feet!

Himalayas, Jalori Pass, Trek
Locals Running Their Way Up The Trek


Himachal Pradesh, Jalori Pass
Overcase Mountains 

After around 1 hour of trek and no end in sight we again asked a passerby how far away were we, "oh you're almost there, hardly 15 minutes". Great, we continued to walk as the rain started to pour. We decided to brave the slippery path and continue on. The rain seemed to slow down and another person passing by told us we were still an hour away. Now the rain started pouring and there was a hail storm with it. We stopped at one of the lookout places trying to take shed under a big tree. Soon the land below our feet started to slide away with the rain water. This is when I decided to start back.

Jalori Pass, Himachal Pradesh
Jalori Pass, Himachal Pradesh

The entire way back to Jalori Pass had us braving hail. We were drenched and had to walk very carefully. This time I decided to time myself. It took us 3 hours to reach back. A few of the people in my group had gone ahead and I later found out I was only about half an hour away from the actual end point of the trek. But overall we realised the trek for first timers like us is definitely not an hour long. Even if its not raining it would take you more than 2 hours one side!

Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed myself as the journey itself was quite thrilling, fun and tiring all at the same time. Once we reached back to Jalori Pass I decided to have some hot maggi followed by a local ice cream. The ice cream there is not that creamy but is still fun eating in the cold!

Shoja, Indian Travel Blog, Weekend getaway
Early Morning At Shoja
Once everyone was back from the trek we headed back to the guest house. We had called up the owners before hand to ask them to make us hot lunch and tea when we arrived. After a quick shower we enjoyed our food and then relaxed outside in the lawns under the sun.


It was one person's birthday in the group so we asked the staff if they could make a cake. They did not have the ingredients but they decided to make halwa for the birthday boy. They were really sweet and actually got us halwa moulded like a cake with candles and also prepared a special local delicacy for us to eat for dinner.

Himalayas, Shoja
View From The Guest House
Next day early morning we started back. This time we took the route that goes through Aut. This route is not that smooth either. From Shoja to Banjar the road is quite rocky. Once you cross Aut you will feel safer as the road begins to widen. Somewhere after Mandi you will see a river flowing alongside the road. This is a stream of the Sutlej River. You can walk down from the road and go to the riverside, sit on the rocks and enjoy the cool water on your feet. But do be careful as there are no life guards.

aut to chandigarh, weekend getaway
River On The Way Back

The route back was quite hot, specially after enjoying the lovely weather at Shoja. We ate at a punjabi dhaba on our way back and played a lot of dumb charades.

If you want to escape the city for a long weekend then do consider Shoja, its not a well known place and hence still untouched by touristy madness.

Other things you can do in Shoja is a visit to the waterfall and fishing in Tirthan Valley. Ask your hotel for directions on how to get there. Even if you just sit in your hotel and relax the trip would be worth the effort and surely a great respite from the summer heat.

And on the way to Shoja if you spot a seller with plums - do try them out. I had the most delicious plums on the way.

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36 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a beautiful trip! I usually go trekking in the Western Ghats just after the rains but haven't gone for the last two years because of my schedule.

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    Replies
    1. Renu this was my first trek in India and I surely loved it

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  2. Looks like a beautiful place! I am amused by parking the car on the roof.

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    Replies
    1. It is a pretty place, great getaway from the city

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  3. Wow!!!!! Gorgeous shots!!! Looks like a stunning place to visit. <3

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Nina. A phone camera isn't too bad during the day 😉

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  4. I love these photos! You got to see some beautiful places. :) I'd love to see this in person!

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    Replies
    1. Plan a trip to India, this little town is pretty

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  5. Oh this looks like fun! What an adventure!

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  6. This looks amazing - I didn't realize India had all these beautiful backdrops! Thank you for opening up my eyes to this! <3

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  7. Wow - gorgeous!! Looks like a great way to get away for a while :)

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  10. Hey, one question on thr route. I checked google maps and as per that the Kullu & Manali areas are beyond Sojha, and not between Chandigarh-Sojha

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