(4 nights 5 days)
Enjoy this long weekend in Seraj valley near Kullu. The thickly wooded mountainside, densely populated with conifers, deodars and toosh characterize the beauty and uniqueness of Shoja. With unending slopes of emerald forests, verdant and pristine, nature is at its most alluring. Located in Seraj valley, Sojha at 8700 ft. is a breathtakingly beautiful place. Nature lovers can enjoy thick wooded hill slopes starting from bottom as far down or up or sideways or deep as one can look. From Sojha, one can drive up to Jalori Pass. The metal road from Jalori pass leads down to Sainj and Shimla. The place abounds in hypnotic ambience. The lake is small but in a beautiful location. Cradled by rolling- meadows on all sides, high up in the mountains, it is an idyllic location for a private cottage.
- Day 1: Chandigarh- Sojha- 8-9 hrs drive Reach Chandigarh by 1100 hrs by train/ flight or bus. We pick you up from Chandigarh and drive to Sojha. Reach Sojha a little late in the evening for a late dinner. Settle into your rooms. Evening around bonfire.
- Day 2: Sojha
Raghupur fort hike- 10 kms drive and 3.5 hrs hike
In the mountains, if you want to be rewarded well by nature in its full glory, have must make an early morning start. The same is true of this hike to Raghupur Fort meadows that overlook the Tirthan Valley in Kulu district in the West and Shimla district in the East. This five kms uphill drive will test your car as well as your mountain driving skills! From Jalori, it is a level walk in the open for about hundred meters towards Sutlej Valley before it heads straight into the forest on a well-defined trail. Half a kilometer later, a short steep climb takes one to a small meadow that offers a photo-op. A short rest and off you go into the Oaks and Rhododendrons forest slowly climbing up and then shifting gear for a final steep climb of 15 to 20 minutes. Here the tree line finishes and we move into a lush green meadow. A little up and we are rewarded with a 360 degrees view of The Himalayas, Dhauladhar and Kinnaur ranges, all of them in one sweeping glance. All around you are swathes of lush green meadows that gently descend into the oak and blue fir forests.
Keep strolling and in a while we end up at the dilapidated Raghupur Fort. The local people believe that an erstwhile king of Mandi province got this fort constructed hundreds of years ago. Theories abound as to why this fort was constructed on a ridge where scarcity of water was a perennial issue. One of them will have us believe that this retreat was made in case the king had to retreat in to the mountains in case his kingdom was attacked by the enemy forces from the plains. Yet another popular belief is that the fort was constructed for the pleasure of the king away from the prying eyes of his family and subjects. Whatever the truth, the King could not have chosen a better location. One look and you would not want to go back.
Back to retreat in the afternoon. The more adventurous ones can also hike up to a small waterfall in the afternoon if they wish. Evening around a bonfire. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 3: Sojha - Spend the day in village The most leisurely day of your trip. Spend the day in Sojha village. The locals make colourful shawls and Puleh (a kind of footwear). Watch them weave these. Lunch in a local house. Back to retreat by late afternoon. Local dance in the evening. Rest of the evening around a bonfire. Night stay in retreat.
- Day 4: Sojha - Serolser lake hike- 10 kms drive- 12 kms hike
Himachal Pradesh, with most of it lying in the lap of Himalayas, has an abundance of lakes. One such lake is in Tirthan valley (Kulu District). Located 11 kms (5 by car from our retreat to Jalori Pass and 6 kms from there to the lake) from Banjara Retreat in Shoja, it is one of the better hikes for the families. A drive to Jalori pass will take 15-20 minutes from the retreat. From there a well defined trail takes one to the lake. Few hundred meters on the trail and then you get in to the Oak forest. The sun rays filtering through the tree cover, the blue of the sky through the foliage, the up and down of the trail, an occasional sight of a bird, a clearing showing the huge green vistas cascading down to the Sutlej valley, all of this and more will keep you an enchanting company all the way to the lake. The lake makes up in crystal clear clarity what it lacks in size. The local belief is that no one has ever found a leaf floating in the lake though leafy trees surround the lake itself. Nearby is a small temple beyond which the meadows start. A couple of teashops regularly come up between April-October. They have also some local sweets and savories- worth trying. During summer a lot of Gujjars come with their buffaloes and cows to these pastures. It won’t be unusual if you bump into some carrying Khowa and paneer to the local market.
To spend more time with the chirping birds, we carry a lunch hamper for you to enjoy an al fresco lunch on the banks of the lake. Back to retreat early evening. Evening around bonfire.
- Day 5: Sojha- Chandigarh- 8-9 hrs Wake up early in the morning. We leave for Chandigarh after an early breakfast. Reach Chandigarh between 4 and 5 pm. Catch evening train/ flight to onward destination.