Himachal Pradesh has always been on my bucket-list and I finally decided to do something about it. I thought of doing some research and finding a place that is quiet and undisturbed which is a luxury in our hectic lives. I eventually came across Shoja which seemed beautiful and boy did it turn out magical when I was there!
Summer was suggested as the best time to visit Shoja since the weather is ideal for camping or simply strolling about. I simply fell in love with the place just after seeing the pictures and the actual place itself did not fail to mesmerize me!
Some Required Technicalities While Visiting Shoja
I learnt that for aspiring travelers, there are several ways to reach Shoja in Himachal Pradesh. I had the option of driving from Manali or Chandigarh or reaching the nearest airport of Bhuntar at Kullu-Manali which is 56 km away from Shoja. I could also reach Chandigarh and then hire/rent a cab to access this destination.
Train rides were also an option with the nearest railway station being located at Shimla. Shoja is well connected by several roads and while the village in itself is small, there are several key roads that help you access the nearest airport and railway station. I decided to indulge in a romantic train ride to Shimla from where I hired a cab to reach Shoja.
Even though I prefer winter, I chose summer to experience the new place with less hindrances and crowds. Also, for accommodation, I had a choice between renting rooms at the guest house nearby or simply camping out here. There were no high-end restaurants although the local dhabas prepared some really lip-smacking dishes.
Shoja – A Hidden Gem
It felt like I stepped into one of my favorite books with meadows and colorful wild flowers blooming and peeping from every nook and cranny. I actually thought of doing my own Bollywood song and dance sequence here! Call me crazy but I was head over heels for the place! Being a small village, the list of things to do in Shoja is limited to just trekking around, camping and clicking pictures or checking out the exotic flora and fauna or just breathing and being (which is why I chose this place – to relax and be myself again, even if it is for a few days).
The mild weather actually helped me see and live in the beauty of this quaint place and to check out the Places to Visit in Shoja. As I said, it is a really small village and part of the Great Himalayan National Park which means that there is ample scope for a stroll to see the beautiful musk deer or brown bear. Some beautiful birds like monal, Indian Blue Robin and the white throated tit can be sighted too. I heard that those who go higher can also spot snow leopards at times!
5 Offbeat Places To Explore In Shoja
- Waterfall Point
- Jalori Pass
- Serolsar Lake
- Tirthan Valley
- Raghupur Fort
1. Waterfall Point
It is just a kilometer from Shoja although I felt that miles have passed. The rushing sound of water as it traverses the steep and rocky surface of the mountain is a sight that never failed to enthrall me. One of the reasons mountains always have a hold on me is because of the waterfalls. There is just something magical about this especially early in the morning. With a cold breeze hitting me gently and the sound of water playing a guide during the trek, the whole experience is beautiful.
2. Jalori Pass
It is just 5 kms away from the Shoja hamlet and trust me, the trek is worth every bit of sweat. Want more help to understand? Well, Naina and Kabir did share a few heartfelt moments here while trekking. Naina and Kabir!? Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani! Now it rings a bell. But, this trek is not to be taken by someone who cannot tolerate some steep walking and carrying backpacks.
3. Serolsar Lake
This place should be next on the list. Upon reaching the Jalori Pass, another 5 km leads to the lake and I loved relaxing beside the crystal clear water. I was told to not miss the Budhi Nagin Temple by the locals at the nearby dhaba where I stopped to refuel. Little did I know that the lake was itself the temple and I spent an hour looking for the latter. But thanks to another local I learnt the truth. Legend says that budhi nagin is the mother of all snakes and her abode is at the bottom of the lake and the lake is very deep and cannot be charted accurately.
4. Tirthan Valley
This one is for the people who love wildlife (ME!) and this is where the National Park resides.
5. Raghupur Fort
This completes the historic part of Shoja. While there is nothing much left to see of the fort except some walls and barriers, the trek to the fort is the best part. 3 km from Jalori Pass is where the Mandi rulers built this historic fort and as I trekked along the path, it became steeper. However, I loved the oaks and rhododendrons for company alongside. I also lost myself in the amazing view of the inner Himalayas on top.
Gear up and go
The list of Places to Visit in Shoja might be few but the thrill these few places offer is worth the travel. However, what makes this trip be more precious is the silence, the view and the comfy smell. It makes you want to reconnect with your inner self and just be. The hectic urban life takes a toll on us and our inner creativity takes a long nap as a result.
Being creative is so essential to live. To be who you are, you need to take a break from what you are doing at present and find offbeat and quaint places like Shoja to go on some soul searching. After all, being a wanderer is what makes life beautiful.
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