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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Also Read: Complete Guide to Jalori Pass
48 thoughts on “Shoja to Jalori Pass: Slopes of Iris”
Some very nice shots.
beautiful pictures indeed.. keep it up!
Those are some of the greenest greens, huh?! And the flowers sure add to the prettiness. Such captivating landscapes! Great pictures, as always.
Though the place is good but your pictures made it the most beautiful place. Amazing 🙂
Amazing place , Beautiful photos.
Keep sharing 🙂
Beautiful photographs!! What a beauty of a place!
You took amazing pictures, especially the first 3! Thanks for sharing it and keep following! 😀
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.
I love your wildlife photography! It’s interesting to see there are such diverse country in India. Thanks for sharing 🙂
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
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.
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.
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.
Nice post! Amazing photos! Those were really fascinating iris fields…?
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.
It really looks amazing on your photos. So green! Would be really nice to go to a place like that one day. 🙂
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! 🙂
These pictures are great! Love your narrative with the greens and the lovely nuances of nature captured and expressed through your photos! Absolutely stunning 🙂
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!
Wow this looks amazing. The nature shots are so beautiful and give a good idea of how pretty it must look like over there:)
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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Love that you made your decision to visit here based on glimpses from your public transport during the work commute. The views you have captured really show that you were rewarded for your efforts in walking, the purple Iris and the meadows of white flowers are both stunning, and you saw cows, temple, natural vistas, all marvellous.
Some beautiful pictures you have taken here, really inspiring me to visit the Indian Himalayas! Very glad you managed to get your photo of the yellow-billed magpie – the second one is a beauty! We also love to walk around when we travel – you are right that you can miss so much when trapped on buses and trains. Thanks for sharing.
It looks a really beautiful region and as already pointed out, there are some great photographs which illustrate it really well.
Wonderful pictures of your hike. I know how it is to wait for the bird in flight and then the disappointment: the lens is to slow. I had the same when I had the best opportunity of a Marshal Eagle flying from the ground up towards me. It was early morning and the light just not enough. grrrrrrrrrrr!
Love the untouched beauty of this place. So much greenery around. Could be the perfect break away from the cities.
Love your idea of leaving the bus a couple of stops before hand to walk so you don’t miss the scenery. That is a draw back of public transportation – not being able to stop them when you spot a great photo opp. You got some truly beautiful Iris shots – they’re so stunning in full bloom! And congrats on finally getting your shot of the magpie! We ave many of them here in Australia but I’ve never seen a yellow billed blue magpie before – beautiful!
Such a great way to bond with nature. Great scenery and interesting people and things that you can see along the way. The photos are really good and amusing. I hope I’ll get to visit this place someday. 🙂
I really like reading your narrations and experience. Your pictures are beautiful especially the last one of Magpie bird on the tree. The idea of walking few kilometers before the destinations is really cool and it helps one to explore so much.
I love the countryside! Its so beautiful and peaceful! Awesome pictures as well. You captured the essence of this region. It felt like I was there too.
Beautiful shots! I also find it hard to select photos for blog posts (especially when I feel like me and my husband has taken a lot of lovely photos on a specific trip). 🙂 Such a lovely walk with plenty of great photo opportunity! You’ve definitely captured a great side of India!
Lovely pictures of the flowers, the birds and just the plain, green, beautiful nature! The Himalayas have such amazing gems, divine spots, would love to explore more. Hiking here is a dream!
What a good idea to leave the bus early to get some good photos. I know exactly what you mean about traffic and movement messing up a good shot. The Iris are lovely and I’m glad you got some good shots of the bird!
You have an eye for appreciating nature, be it pretty flowers by the roadside or birds in trees. That’s a nice trait.
I like how you capture photos thru your lenses it gives more impact and story to the article.
The Rhododendron Trees which are part of the captured photos was so appealing to visit as well.
I wonder what’s the normal weather in the area? Hope to see it the same way as the flowers and trees were all green and abundant.
Good to know we should be prepared for strikes too! Great info for those depending on public transport.
“But I knew that this will be a day of visual orgasms.” Great way to put to describe photography!!! I like the idea of leaving the bus a few kms before the destination, and walking the rest of the way. Like taking pictures some time filming can be tricky too on a moving bus. Your pictures are beautiful and I absolutely love the rolling hills of green. Gorgeous.
Wow. This place is so green. Love the untouched wilderness. Cool photography as well. The one with the magpie looks stunning.
I would have spent so much time just staying on the lower hill portion taking photos and observing the cows. Your entire trip looked very relaxing. It’s a good thing the strike didn’t discourage you from continuing your trip.
Oh my god! The pictures swept me off my feet! Loved this article! Instantly sparked wanderlust within me! 🙂
Insanely beautiful pictures! WOAH…
such an informative article.