Jibhi – A Refreshing Getaway in Banjar Valley

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Don’t we always want to run away from the madding city crowd and look for seclusion in the hills? This desire drives us city folks to settle for nothing less than a place sans any fellow travelers jostling for the same space. One such gem of a destination is Jibhi, a pastoral hamlet situated in Banjar Valley of Himachal Pradesh.

Jibhi is a scenic, unpretentious and old Himalayan village settled on the banks of the gurgling Tirthan river which is a tributary of Beas river. The architecture of the place speaks for itself. Constructed in an ancient Himalayan way, most of the houses at Jibhi are made of stone and wood. Apple orchards and Galgal trees adorn the backyard of every house in this Himalayan village.

Galgal trees at houses in Jibhi village are a common sight

A Galgal tree at a house in Jibhi

Serenity descends on you when you are at Jibhi because all you can hear is the sound of the gurgling river down your window and bird songs. And all you have got to do is cherish the lush green mountains loaded with pines and cedars. Or walk away on any of the numerous beautiful nature trails which are present around Jibhi in almost every direction.

Houses at Jibhi are made of wood and stone

Wood and Stone houses and meadows of Jibhi

Jibhi Travel Guide

Jibhi has become fairly popular among Indian travelers in recent years. However, tourists from other countries discovered this treasure more than two decades ago. During that time there were hardly any guest houses, hotels or infrastructure to support tourism here. The village is still not too commercialized and only accommodation options you would find here are home-stays run by locals.

Wood and stone houses at Jibhi

Wood and Stone Houses

Around the Jibhi Village

Jibhi is one of the nearest villages to the famed Jalori pass, Sirlosar lake, Chehni Fort and the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP). In addition to exploring all of these places, one can also indulge in angling in the Tirthan river or simply enjoy the beauty of the village and hospitality of residents. You can either make a dedicated trip to Jibhi or club your trip to Tirthan Valley with Jibhi.

The ambiance of Jibhi relaxes you and the most instinctive thing that you would want to do there is Nothing! You would want to sit at the banks of the river, read a book, soak in the peace around you and relish the views. But the wanderer in me couldn’t resist the temptation of walking through the forest. I set off with our host Hansraj, a professional mountaineer on nearby trails.

Hiking in and around Jibhi can be categorized as easy to moderate. There are many defined tracks carved by earlier travelers but Some of the trails are still virgin.

A house that we found near a trail somewhere on the outskirts of Jibhi

A house that we found near a trail somewhere on the outskirts of Jibhi

Chehni Kothi and Shringa Rishi Temple

Chehni village is 7 km away from Jibhi and major part of the stretch is driveable, the road ends almost 1.5 km from the Chehni tower. We chose to walk the entire trail which passes through thick forest cover of cedars and pines, dotted with apple orchards.

The trek is panoramic and enjoyable by all age groups. Enroute you would pass Shringa Rishi temple, which is located at Bagi village, below Chehni. This temple is again built in the similar architecture as that of the Chehni fort but renovated recently and looks quite livid. Shringa Rishi is the presiding deity of Banjar valley.

Chehni fort tower

Chehni Tower and neighboring buildings at Chehni village

Chehni Kothi is a watch-tower or garrison for neighboring Chehni village, which has been built in ancient Himalayan style architecture. The tall structure has been resilient to the environmental factors for more than 300 years and lost only upper two stories in the earthquake of 1905. It is a part of the Chehni fort, the remnants of which can still be seen around the tower.

Sheshnag Temple

A short trail of within Jibhi takes you to the Sheshnag temple, which is situated in the middle of a picturesque meadow. Sheshnaag is supposedly another presiding deity of Banjar, besides Shringa Rishi. Both of them enjoy their respective devotee following.

Hansraj claimed the temple to be more than 500 years old. The wooden architecture seemed ancient, but the actual age of the temple is still undefined. Go there to enjoy the trail and green meadows. Spending some time at the place is sure to calm your senses.

Sheshnag temple near Jibhi

Sheshnag Temple Jibhi

Jibhi's basketball court

A basketball court near the temple. Kids from nearby school lay here.

Jibhi Waterfall

Our next trail took us to a waterfall which is located in the middle of the forest. You can choose to drive but the vehicle will have to park almost a kilometer away and then you would have to walk into the forest to reach the fall.

Jibhi waterfall

The pool at the bottom of the fall

Bridge at Jibhi waterfall

Wooden bridges enhance the aesthetic beauty of the place

It is one of those rare places which has been gracefully beautified by the man without spoiling its natural aura. There are wooden bridges, streams and a cemented pool around the fall. But none of this interferes with the magic of this place. It is as serene as it should be, with dense forest all around.

It is a good spot to spend some time with friends and chill in the middle of nowhere. You would hardly find any fellow travelers here, we had the whole place to ourselves for almost four hours. Splashing in the pool and later a little bonfire arranged impromptu by our host near the fall turned it into a very pleasant experience.

Jalori Pass

Jalori is the nearest mountain pass from Delhi, located in Kullu valley at an elevation of 10,500 ft. From Jibhi till Shoja village the roads are in a decent shape by the valley’s standards but after Shoja the climb gets very steep. It is not recommended to drive on this road unless you have some good experience in driving in the mountains.

The pass closes in peak winters, depending on snow conditions. If you are going to visit the pass in winters, do check the road conditions first.

The drive from Jibhi to Jalori is spectacular.

Near Jalori pass

Enroute Jalori Pass

Near the Jalori top, there is a Jalori Mata temple and a few small restaurants

Temple and restaurants near the Jalori top

Temple and restaurants near the Jalori top

Trout Fishing

The pristine waters of Tirthan stream flowing down the valley are too tempting to stay away from. If you happen to visit Jibhi anytime except monsoon season, do try your hand at angling. The waters here are famous for rainbow trout and brown trout.

Rainbow trouts are in abundance, but you still need a fair amount of patience and a good angler with you to land at a catch. You would also need a license for fly-fishing which can be obtained at INR 100 per day from local authorities. Most of the home-stay owners arrange for the fishing license and equipment for their guests. Acquiring the basics will not be a problem here.

The entire Tirthan river and its tributaries are government curated waters for angling. To develop this into a fishing stream, Himachal government has taken some special measures which include keeping dams and hydropower projects away from the stream. The stream is also supplemented each year by fresh broods of trout to preserve the biodiversity.

Location

Yet unspoiled settlement of Jibhi is located in Banjar valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is located on the Manali to Shimla route that goes through Jalori Pass, 8 km away from main Banjar valley (also known as sometimes referred to as Tirthan valley).

How To Reach

From Delhi, the best way to reach Jibhi is to either drive up-to-the place or board an overnight bus for Manali. Luxury Volvos and state transport buses ply from Delhi regularly on this route (Delhi-Manali), which you can board in the evening and will reach Aut early next morning.

Guest houses or accommodations in Jibhi easily provide for the transport from Aut. If you are going by bus, de-board at Aut and cover the rest of the journey by taxi, it costs 1000 – 1200 rs. If you are driving by yourself, it is almost 500 km / 12 hrs drive from Delhi. The roads are decent and the route is scenic especially. If you are coming from any other city, follow the routes mentioned below:

By Air

The nearest airport is Bhuntar, Kullu which is 50 km or almost a couple of hours’ drive away from Jibhi.

By Train

The nearest railway station is Shimla, which is over 160 km or 5-6 hrs of a drive away. Shimla doesn’t connect with many cities directly via train. Chandigarh is the closest major railway station which is 265 kms away. Private buses are available from Chandigarh which will take you till Aut but in a much longer time as compared to a cab.

Once you reach Aut, you will have the option of either waiting for a connecting bus to Jibhi (there aren’t frequent buses on this route) or hire a private taxi.

Stay Options at Jibhi

This impromptu visit to Jibhi turned into absolute delight when we landed at Jibhi Inn Cottage, a humble 2 bedroom home-stay right in the middle of the village. It is located on the bank of the river and has a beautiful backyard full of apple trees.

view from the home-stay at Jibhi village

view from the home-stay

From the terrace and balcony of the house, one can see the entire valley stretched leisurely. Besides the tranquil surroundings and a splendid view, Jibhi Inn Cottage offers a very comfortable stay along with basic amenities. The rooms are clean, decently furnished, with hot water geyser, a room heater, and very warm beddings – befitting the climate. Our host, Hansraj, and his family were extremely hospitable and took care of everything that we needed.

If you plan to stay at Tirthan Valley, then there is nothing like staying with Raju Bharti Guest House

Food Delight Nearby

Almost all of the accommodations in Jibhi are run by local families. If you are a food enthusiast, request your hosts to make some of the regional dishes. My fondest memory of Jibhi is staying with our hosts and eating local delicacies with their family. Sitting by the riverside in sub-zero temperature we enjoyed some authentic Himachali dishes prepared by the lady of the house.

On our request, she readily agreed to cook Siddu, which is a stuffed bread, native to Himachal and popular in the northern and eastern Himachal region. It tastes best when served with homemade ghee or clarified butter, dal or lentil soup and green chutney.

Himachali food, Siddu, Trout and Jungli Chicken

Siddu, Jungli Chicken and Fresh Trout for Dinner

Next dish on the platter was Jungli Chicken or Forest Fowl. Travelers who are not used eating this variety of chicken should consume it in small quantities at first because it gets a little difficult to digest. Thanks to our host who warned us in advance about this. Going to this part of Himachal and not eating Himalayan Trout is sacrilege.

A fresh catch was made during the day by an accomplice of our host, which was later cooked to perfection in Himachali style for dinner. Calling it delicious will be an understatement. You have got to experience it to know how heavenly it was.

Local lunch of Rajma Rice

A Simple yet delicious lunch on the terrace

Ecotourism at Jibhi

Jibhi’s residents have been promoting ecotourism since the village has been on the map of explorers. Though many home-stays have mushroomed in the village, most of the residents are taking special measures to keep their operations green. Jibhi’s travel ecosystem is still nascent, the residents’ hope for a better economy which largely depends on tourism.

Despite this, Jibhi’s people and their associates in tourism are extremely vigilant of the practices they follow. GHNP was declared the World Heritage Site in 2014 and since then Indian tourists have started trickling to Jibhi but not in great numbers. This is a good thing for the ecology but Jibhi’s economy demands more.

The only way to balance both is sustainable tourism, ecotourism or adoption of green practices, causing minimal harm to this ecologically sensitive area. I request you to follow these tips on responsible tourism while visiting places in the Himalayas like Jibhi.

Jibhi''s lanes

Streets of Jibhi

Some Other Tips

Being inside the periphery of the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), Jibhi falls under an eco-sensitive zone. GHNP has rich wildlife and abundant variety of flora. You are likely to have an encounter with a Himalayan black bear (known as Reechh in Hindi) here especially during winter months.

They use orchards, agricultural fields, and human habitation to move between forest patches. Because of this reason, it is advisable to not go on unknown treks without a local guide. Winter months in Jibhi get really chilly, carry ample woolens with you.

You should check out the list of things to carry on a Himachal trip. If you want to see Jibhi at its best, go there in spring or summer. You will witness lush green mountains, apple orchards and a variety of Himalayan flowers.

Conclusion

Jibhi is a place to completely unwind and indulge in relaxing activities like book reading, fishing and nature walk. For the restless souls, there are more arduous treks like Jalori pass and the whole lot of Great Himalayan National Park to explore.

Do you still have any questions or suggestions or need any help in planning your trip to Jibhi? If yes, please feel free to post them either in the comments section of this article below or in the “Ask a Travel Question” section of the website. You can also take guidance from many travel experts in our DoW Community Forums and discuss your upcoming travel plans for Jibhi or Tirthan Valley.

If you like the article, please feel free to share it with any of your family or friends who are planning a trip to Jibhi or Tirthan Valley. Happy traveling to you!!!

Do follow @soulful_worldview on Instagram for updates on her next family adventure.

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About Author

Anchal is an avid road-tripper, a travel writer by passion and a public relations professional at work. She loves to explore the tiniest of treasures found during her travels. Besides traveling and planning for her next adventures she loves to read, cook and go for long walks or drives. The Himalayas hold a special place in her sojourns and she keeps going back to the mountains through her writings, readings, and journeys to find bliss!

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