A backpacking tour over 3 Passes in Himachal Pradesh  ... using Local Buses & Share-Maxx'es. A non-touristy route from South of GNHP (Great Himalayan National Park) over Jalori-Pass, then crossing Rohtang-La to Keylong in Lahaul and then West into Pangi Valley, almost to J&K border ... and then south crossing over the rarely used Sach-Pass to Chamba and Dalhousie. 

In this page: 
Day-1 Shimla > Narkanda 
Day-2 Narkanada > Sainj > Ani > Jalori-Pass > Shoja
Day-3 Shoja > Ani > Banjara > Aut > Bhuntar > Kullu > Manali

 
26th July 2011: After breakfast at Gulmarg Residency at Shimla, I packed my bags and at 8:00AM hired a porter from the street outside to carry my bag and walk with me to the Lakkad Bus Stand. There found a Harayana RTC bus going my way and got on and bought a ticket for Narkanda. we left at 9:00AM. Soon we were out of Shimla traffic and passing through some nice forest roads along curving mountain roads. We reached Narkanda at 11:30AM and i got off there at the Bazaar. 

Asked for direction to The Hatu, the HPTDC hotel there and was pointed to the short-cut trail climbing up on the opposite of the road. Just 10 mins to walk up to the nicely located and wonderful setting of The Hatu. Hatu is nearby peak and hence the name of the this hotel. I got a nice front lawn facing double room at Rs 1000/- per day. Weather was a nice 18*C but the views were misty-cloudy  everywhere and none of the paeks were visible but the forest-covered lower mountain views were nice from my room. 

Later in the afternoon walked down to the market and then attempted to go on the road heading towards Hatu peak trail. But soon gave up seeing the heavy mist; would not have got any any views even if I manged to walk all the way to the top. So returned back through the mist filled trails and bought some fruits in the market and went back to my room. 

Valley view from HPTDC 'Hatu' lawns 

In the evening, some 15 Motor-bike riders, all on Enfield Bullets, came in noisyly and stayed in this hotel. They were on a Himalayan ride to Leh, with first leg along NH22 to Kinnar and Spiti valleys and then on to Keylong and then up all the way to Leh. Talked to some of them.

28th July 2011: Asked The Hatu staff best way to get to Jalori Pass. They suggested that I take any bus to Sainj and from there board any other bus going to Kullu Via Shoja. 
So after a nice breakfast packed and walked down to the bazaar area and waited for a bus.

Narkanda Bus stop and bazaar


After waiting for 30 mins got a bus at 8:45AM going to Rampur. 
It was full and I had to go standing till Sainj 9:45AM. Was dropped off at the NH22 junction with the Jalori-Pass road.

After an hour's wait here got HPTDC bus going to Kullu but it was full. The friendly conductor said I cannot manage 4 hours standing on the mountain roads all the way to Jalori. So he suggested I got off after crossing the Sarayu bridge, into Luhri town and wait there for a KTC bus to take me further. 

Luhri was a small town with very narrow streets and a massive grid-lock traffic jam that took an hour to clear with several policemen furiously whistling away! I got off here and waited for the KTC bus that came at 11:30AM. But that too was full and jam-packed with many standing in the aisles. But being a private bus the conductor was happy to 'cut' my ticket before I decided to get off and wait for another bus. 

Then followed a horrendous 1.5 hours of crazy fast-driving by this KTC bus driver along the Sarayu river on beautiful scenic but curving narrow roads. I managed somehow to stay upright holding on to the straps without crashing down; but swinging wildly like a money all the time till we reached Ani at 1:00PM where I managed to grab a window seat from a pax getting off here.

After Ani the bus the route became more scenic and our bus started climbing steadily. Around the 3:30PM we reached Jalori-Pass (3005M) in cloudy-misty weather and I was looking for some hotels but visibility was low and could see only some run-down places by the roadside. So waited for Shoja that came soon enough at 3:45PM. 

Go down at Shoja and had a look at a few Guest Houses. And found one good one right by the roadside called "Raja Guesthouse" and took a DBL room there at Rs 750/- This GH was on the side of a steep ridge, with a nice valley view from the rear balcony! Greenery everywhere.

The Raja-GH just below Jalori Pass and the road I came down from; in misty clouds!
     
A Shoja bird outside my bedroom window

29th July 2011: The GH-boy said I could catch the 8:30AM bus going down to Kullu via Banjara.  So after a nice breakfast was packed and waiting outside on the road for the bus. Came more or less on time and was full with no seats. The GH-Boy, who also got on the bus with me, as he had some shopping to do in Banjar, talked to some other Pax and moved me in front of a row of seat where someone was getting off in a lower village. So I got a seat within 15 minutes! Again the ride was scenic and with twists and turns through green valleys. 

I was in not sure if I should go to Kullu directly or get off at Banjar and do the side valley trip up the Tirthan Valley and stay one night at the famous Raju-GH at Gushaini. But I was not sure if I would get a room there without booking. had heard it is usually fully-booked in advance.  Wish I had carried their phone number. In the end decided to skip Gushaini and continue on to Kullu directly. At Banjar, 9:45AM, said bye to the helpful Raja-GH-boy and waited in the same bus to continue on to Kullu.

Tirthan river flows alongside as we leave Banjar

We continued and turned North through a very long tunnel to emerge at Aut; and continue along Beas past some very scenic and green Beas valley views, past Bhuntar and the airport and reached Kullu at Noon. 

From Kullu at 1:00PM took a local bus to Manali Bus-stand and arrived at 2:15PM. Immediately, I walked to the nearby HP Tourism Hotel Kunzam and checked into a DBL room for 1300/- and had lunch at their restaurant by 3:00PM and went to relax in room.  At 5:00PM went back to the bus-stand and booked myself a seat on the next day's early morning first bus at 5:00AM to Keylang via Rohtang-La.
 


Click to see all pics as Flickriver: Jalori-Pass



Narkanda view as I climb upto The Hatu


HPTDC's The Hatu hotel where I stayed 

View from my room of Hatu lawn and beyond

View from my room of Hatu lawn

At Sainj -junction of NH-22 and Jalori Road

The bus-stand at Ani

Our Bus, stopped at Ani, with most passengers  gone off the bus for a quick lunch

Green valley view from Raja-GH rear balcony

Another view of Raja-GH viewed from Road coming down from Jalori. I stayed in teh corner room on top floor above signboard next to the valley and rear-facing balcony.

Another cloudy view from rear balcony 

An flaming-orange orchid in the Raja GH garden

My HPRTC bus (R) stopped at Banjar bus-stand

By 10:30AM we had entered the Beas valley