Late February, I decided I didn’t want to go home for my mid-semester break. The hot weather back home in Tamil Nadu wasn’t a very welcoming thought. I decided to head to Himachal instead, an overnight journey away from my college in Sonipat, Haryana. My first action was to book a bus, redBus gave me a host of options to choose from. For a long time, I had been following the traveller, Abhinav Chandel on Instagram. He had documented the Tirthan valley area well and so I decided to head to Banjar in Tirthan Valley.
As no buses directly went to Banjar from Delhi, I had to catch a bus from Delhi to Aut, a small town about an hour to the south of Kullu. From Aut I caught a local Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus to Banjar to get to my hostel, The Blue Sheep. Another hostel that I came to know about through Instagram handle, operated by the proprietor, Sheena Thakur. The hostel is situated amid a flowery grove, surrounded by the imposing Dhauladhars with several interesting walking trails around the property.
On my first day in Banjar, I decided to take Sheena’s advice and take a trail into the nearby village of Sheel. On the trail nestled between the might Dhauladhars and with the glassy Tirthan river flowing in the valley, the winds and the soothing scents of the pear trees growing by the sides, made the next three hours just float by. On the way, I took a seat by a temple and the caretaker without a second thought offered me some steaming chai. The caretaker then showed me around the beautiful temple with aesthetic carvings of several Hindu Gods.
I woke up early the next morning with the bright rays of the sun rising between the Dhauladhars on my face. I had absolutely no plans in mind of what to do that day. Talking to the other residents at breakfast, the popular opinion seemed that we should go to Gada Gushaini, about an hour’s bus ride away from our hostel. Gada Gushaini to our surprise was completely snowed in. It felt I was in the middle of dreamy white clouds. Next followed an arduous three-hour trek, filled with black ice and swamps to the Baloo Gad temple. The temple is said to be thousands of years old. At this time though, it was completely abandoned. Upon talking to a few locals, I was told that the only activity around the temple was during Rishi Panchami when a festival called Panjo is celebrated. It is a huge celebration with events like bullfights being conducted, a festival of merriment.
The next day we left Jibhi, located higher up among the Dhauladhars. Here we decided to stay at the Mudhouse Hostel, an e-living project. The place was more of a co-working space than just a rest stop for the night. The people staying there were avid travellers and ready to help others out. In one such instance, I bumped into a biker, Shubham from Ludhiana. This was his third visit to Jibhi. For the next two days, I hitchhiked with him.
On the first day in Jibhi, we decided to head out to Jalori Pass without even bothering to check weather reports. The place was buried under 5ft of snow, but somehow, we gathered the strength to scale it. It did not seem so difficult since my co-traveller treaded along with me. The view from the top was scintillating. I was surprised by how rewarding going out on a limb was. The unknown now did not seem so scary.
The next couple of days in Jibhi flew past. New company every day and new experiences and adventures gave me an adrenaline high like nothing else. Soon it was my last day there. The dismal feeling that usually accompanies at the end of a holiday surprisingly wasn’t there. I just felt happy. The experiences had left me richer and the people, happier. The initial plan of having nothing planned and leaving it all up to fate had really worked out for me. What motivated me into doing something of this kind was the fact that when we have a checklist we always end up leaving something unchecked. Going in without a checklist, we learn to embrace people and changes as they happen and let us dictate what we want to do. This does not leave us hanging, rather giving us a feeling of accomplishment for what you found.