#60DaysOfSummer Travelogues

Shoja to Jalori Pass: Slopes of Iris

Jitaditya Narzary

Is a traveller disillusioned by the familiar and fascinated with the unknown... and of course the founder of this blog.

The day started well. As I was waiting for the bus, I finally got an opportunity to click a yellow-billed blue magpie that has been eluding me since the start of this summer trip. The picture wasn’t clear as my basic lens was too slow to capture a bird in flight. But I knew that this will be a day of visual orgasms.

Shoja to Jalori (1)

Also, this was the day of the HRTC strike. So, not HRTC buses were running that day and the private buses were overcrowded. I got into one of them at Jibhi but left it at Shoja. The distance was around 8 kms but the bus negotiated some steep ascents at every turn and climbed from 1800 metres to 2600 metres. Jalori Pass was 5 kms away and I thought I could manage the rest on my own and got down at Shoja.

I have always felt that I missed out on a lot of good views while commuting from one place to another. Since I travel on public transport, I cannot stop them at will. I spot some great frames but the vehicles pass by quickly and the points where they stop turn out to be invariably disappointing. That is why over the years I have formed a habit of leaving the bus a few kms before the destination, and walking those stretches in search of better views. Such decisions have served me well before at diverse places such as Sangla and Satara.

Coming back to the present trip, I’d been noticing these shrubs of Iris around Jibhi and Cheni Kothi. The flowers had dried up already and so I was wondering if I’d mistimed the trip. However, the same flowers were in full bloom near Shoja, a few hundred meters higher up. I saw them as soon as I left the bus.

Shoja to Jalori (4)

Shoja to Jalori (24)

As I walked past Shoja, more and more of them became visible. Entire slopes of the mountain on both sides of the road were witnessing a violet avalanche. I spent the next couple of hours slowly moving forward and clicking pictures. Forgive me if these ones seem repetitive, but I could not decide which one to post.

DSC_0425

Shoja to Jalori (2)

Shoja to Jalori (3)

Shoja to Jalori (5)

Shoja to Jalori (8)

Shoja to Jalori (10)

Interestingly, this stretch of Iris lasts only for a couple of Kilometres, as you can see from these milestones. Ferns and wild roses take over after that. Shoja is around 5 kms from Jalori Pass and in the Iris season, even the milestones looked photogenic, except the last one which for some reasons was defaced and uprooted.

Shoja to Jalori (9)

Shoja to Jalori (11)

Shoja to Jalori (12)

Shoja to Jalori

Shoja to Jalori (13)

Shoja to Jalori (14)

Shoja to Jalori (15)

It took around two and a half hour for me to reach Jalori. There was temple and a few dhabas. Way too many visitors had gathered around them and it did not look to appealing to me at all. I was already satisfied with the previous stretch and due to the strike, I was more or less sure that I’ll have to walk back the whole 12.5 kms back to my homestay in Jibhi.

Shoja to Jalori (16)

There were two short detours from Jalori top, Serolsar Lake (5 Kms) and Raghupur Fort (3 Kms). However, after various permutations and combinations I felt that I will not be able to cover them that day. But I wanted to do something more before returning. So, I started climbing the faint trail along the rolling hill behind the temple. The hills were pretty smooth, bereft of big trees but full of tiny wildflowers. After climbing for a while, I noticed a small shrine at a distance.

Shoja to Jalori (17)

Shoja to Jalori (18)

Shoja to Jalori (19)

Some local visitors were returning from the same shrine. They waved at me and pointed me towards another shrine higher up. I kept walking for a while and reached another unmanned shrine. But after that point, the trail was going noiwhere. The weather had also worsened and it was threatening to rain. I clicked as many pictures as I can and started returning slowly and reluctantly.

Shoja to Jalori (20)

Shoja to Jalori (21)

The lower hill had turned into a cowtopia by the time I returned. The cattle here looked much healthier than those in the towns, grazing on the wild herbs and flowers. I also noticed some Rhododendron trees (if I wasn’t mistaken). So, I guess in spring, these hills would be having a reddish hue.

Shoja to Jalori (22)

Shoja to Jalori (23)

While returning, I did get a bus, apparently the same one that left me at Shoja. However, by that time I’d made up my mind to test my endurance to its fullest extent. So, I ignored it and kept walking. It was around 5.30 by the time I reached Shoja and the sun had reappeared. Vast fields of cauliflower, wheat, potatoes, and other vegetables along the slopes looked pretty colourful and they seamlessly coexisted with dense, coniferous forests just beyond their boundaries.

Shoja to Jalori (25)

Shoja to Jalori (26)

Shoja to Jalori (27)

Shoja to Jalori (28)

Shoja to Jalori (29)

Shoja to Jalori (30)

It was around 7 pm by the time I reached Jibhi. I was still feeling upbeat however the next morning I realised the extent of stress that I’d put myself into. Also, I learnt from the locals that this route is being upgraded to a National Highway, I wonder if this will remain the same after a few years! But let us keep the mood upbeat for the time being and not get into those depressing parts. And what about that bird? Yes, I finally managed to get less disappointing pictures the next day!

Shoja to Jalori (31)

Shoja to Jalori (32)

24 Comments

  • 2016/06/21 - 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful captures.

  • Jayanti Pandey
    2016/06/21 - 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Some very nice shots.

  • 2016/06/21 - 9:34 pm | Permalink

    beautiful pictures indeed.. keep it up!

  • 2016/06/22 - 5:25 am | Permalink

    Those are some of the greenest greens, huh?! And the flowers sure add to the prettiness. Such captivating landscapes! Great pictures, as always.

  • 2016/06/22 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    Though the place is good but your pictures made it the most beautiful place. Amazing 🙂

  • 2016/06/22 - 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Amazing place , Beautiful photos.
    Keep sharing 🙂

  • 2016/11/30 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful photographs!! What a beauty of a place!

  • 2016/12/02 - 12:01 am | Permalink

    You took amazing pictures, especially the first 3! Thanks for sharing it and keep following! 😀

  • 2016/12/03 - 4:11 pm | Permalink

    This is such a lucid account of your travel. That picture of magpie is a winner even though it’s not clear. It’s a tragedy that being a North Indian I have not seen much of North India. Your blogs inspires me to do more of that. 2017 I should be doing more of North India.

  • 2016/12/03 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    I love your wildlife photography! It’s interesting to see there are such diverse country in India. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • 2016/12/03 - 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Woww…I really love you shots 🙂 I’ve never imagined to see this kind of landscape in India…hope to see one day this part of the country…many thanks for sharing your experience with us

  • 2016/12/04 - 5:48 pm | Permalink

    These are such beautiful photos! It must be even more amazing in person. That’s really good advice about getting off the bus early so that you don’t miss the scenery! We’ve got to try that on our next adventure.

  • 2016/12/04 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Your pictures are fascinating, thank you for sharing them with us. I literally felt as I went on a hike myself. The lush greenery, the purple flowers, the birds, the never-ending nature – all of it gives a great feeling of a tranquility in that place.

  • 2016/12/05 - 6:57 pm | Permalink

    You got some really nice photos, which you wouldn’t of if you had taken the bus. We often opt for walking over driving as well. Everything is so lush and green in all your photos. It looked like a lovely peaceful walk.

  • 2016/12/05 - 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Nice post! Amazing photos! Those were really fascinating iris fields…😊

  • 2016/12/05 - 10:48 pm | Permalink

    This place is so surreal, it’s so hard for me to think that it’s in India, after visiting the North 3 times now. It looks so beautiful and I don’t blame you for wanting to continue your hike to your homestay and not take the bus. I would have done the same. I do hope that the new road will not spoil the beauty of the area. It would be such a shame.

  • 2016/12/05 - 10:56 pm | Permalink

    It really looks amazing on your photos. So green! Would be really nice to go to a place like that one day. 🙂

  • 2016/12/05 - 11:35 pm | Permalink

    What a breathtaking landscape, so lush! Here you can feel what the green is 🙂 Fantastic pictures and really nice post. I wanna be there now! 🙂

  • 2016/12/06 - 1:09 am | Permalink

    These pictures are great! Love your narrative with the greens and the lovely nuances of nature captured and expressed through your photos! Absolutely stunning 🙂

    Parampara-Parichay
    http://awaradiaries.com
    India

  • 2016/12/06 - 5:54 am | Permalink

    Wow this looks amazing. The nature shots are so beautiful and give a good idea of how pretty it must look like over there:)

  • 2016/12/06 - 8:21 am | Permalink

    You seriously go on some wonderful adventures! These pictures are by far my favorite yet! The landscapes look flawless and peaceful and the Iris’ were stunningly beautiful I can see why you had a hard time choosing which photos to publish. I am really glad you decided to post them all!

  • Indrani
    2016/12/07 - 7:16 am | Permalink

    These are mesmerizing captures from your trip. It is a great idea to walk the final couple of kms to your destination in search of better sights. And wow you got that bird too. 🙂

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