Family trek Day1 – Jalori Pass to Serolsar lake

Every summer, during the kids’ vacation, I plan a long trip to somewhere I have never been before. Summer of 2017, I also wanted to do something I have never done before. With the sole aim to escape the heat in the South of India (yes, I can almost hear friends residing in the North scoffing!), I chose to make a trip to Himachal Pradesh. While I will publish my itinerary soon, I want to relive the 4 amazing days of trekking and camping , both my first, from Jalori Pass to Lambri Hills.

Jalori Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3120m above sea level. Located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, it is known for its stunning views and winding roads.

Lambri is mountain with a a few villages on its sides but the top is held in great reverence by the local villagers, who believe it to be the abode of the most powerful and merciful Gods. At about 3600m, it stands like a guard of the higher Himalayas. From the top you can enjoy a stunning view of the whole Himalayan range from the Dhauladhar range to Kinnaur.

I was super excited about my 4-day trek when we started from Gushaini in Tirthan Valley around 10.30 am on 4-May-2017.

Our guide for the trek , Tara Chand (aka TC) and his team met us in front of Raju guest house, with the vehicle that was to take us to Jalori pass. We made a quick stopover at the office of Himalayan Ecotourism in Banjaar, through whom I had booked this trek, to deposit our suitcases. For the next 4 days, all our needs were packed in 2 hiking bags.

Oh btw, did I tell you that we were traveling as a family – my husband, I and our 2 kids aged 6 and 11.

Day 1 – And the trek begins. Jalori pass —> Serol Sar lake

I took my seat, securing a window to capture the glorious view and the famed winding roads during the 1 hour drive from Banjaar. Crossing the Banjaar market, we started our ascent towards Jalori pass. I gazed out of the window, breathing in the fresh air of the mountains.

The cloud covered peaks of coniferous mountains on the way to Jalori pass

The winding roads of Jalori pass

We encountered adventurers on bikes and Harleys on the road. I also sent a small prayer to the Gods listening and thanked them for a bright day – you see it rained the night before and I was a little apprehensive about the next 4 days.

On reaching Jalori pass, we explored the area while the trekking crew of 6 unloaded their bags from the vehicle. There are small shops where we had some tea.My daughter was intrigued by a sheep she saw with this person. Little did we know then of a much closer encounter which awaited us.

A chance meeting with a sheep at Jalori pass

There is Mahakali temple known as Jalori Mata, which is visited by devotees from nearby villages.

This Mahakali temple, aka Jalori Mata, is visited by devotees from nearby villages

We were handed our trekking poles (which we would appreciate more on day 2 😉 ), lunch for the day and we were ready to officially start towards Serol Sar lake. As per our guide, we would reach there in 3-4 hours.

Team for the next 4 days

And we start the trek – ready , steady, GO !

But we do pause for pictures !

The trek was relatively easy with few ascends and descends. This was good as we were getting used to the weight of our hiking bags on our shoulders. The weather was pleasant, the view brilliant as we crossed the jungle with rhododendron blooms.

Rhododendron on the trail

Red rhododendron

A little tidbit about rhododendron as we continue our trek. This is the state flower of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal in India and the National flower of Nepal. Apparently, Mumtaz Mahal, the queen of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, was so in love with this flower that every Friday she would get a batch from Shimla !

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After about 1.5 hours of walking, we took our first designated break. As we lay on earth’s lush green carpet, the tall towering trees along the hills and white fluffy cloud above made for a few great captures. We had some juices and water and were ready to move in 10 mins.

Ah, finally we get to rest. Let’s lie down on nature’s green carpet

Family selfie at our first official rest point

Oh that view

We came across this herd of sheep and horses. This looked like a small gathering and we were told could be some local ritual, which we observed from a distance before we moved on.

Sheep and horses grazing

A group out for an event ?

My 6 year old’s enthusiasm was most inspiring , always leading the way with our guide. She would get excited about the many ladybird she spotted all along the way.

The leader of the trek group – our guide TC does not count 😉

Spotted – a ladybird. My daughter would walk oh so carefully so as to not hurt these pretty ladies

Soon we reached another meadow which had some visitors we could touch and play with. Shepherds come with their flock and the sheep are adorable. I held one up for the first time and they felt like wool ! It was a pleasure stopping there to watch the kids try to catch a sheep :).

Dining place with a view – overheard one sheep say to the other

Excited to finally hold one

Me and my friend

There was this abandoned hut under the rocks. Probably some shepherd who might have used it before.

The meadow where we found these abandoned houses but lovely sheep

Our destination was close and we stopped at a small clearing for lunch. It was close to 4.30 pm and we needed refueling. There was a small shop which sold water, snacks and yessss, tea ! All the ingredients needed to run the shop is brought from far-away villages, which is real hard work for these people. Considering the effort, the charges were very reasonable.

The shop owners near Serolsar lake

The shop near Serolsar lake where we stopped for lunch

We also had time to play cricket with an ingenious ball made of cloth, which the guide knew the shopkeeper had.

Food and cricket – what else do I want ?

We will play cricket whenever half an opportunity presents itself

Our first glimpse of Serolsar lake. It looked like a huge mirror with its clear water. It is believed that the birds pick out any leaves that fall into the lake to keep it clear 🙂 . While that may be unbelievable, it was surprising to see the lake this clean despite being surrounded by tall Deodar and Kharshu oak trees.

Reflection in Serolsar Lake, Don’t you agree it looks like a big mirror ?

Just near the Serolsar lake, there is the temple of goddess ‘Buddhi Nagin’, made as per the local architecture in complete wood. It is believed that goddess ‘Buddhi Nagin’, mother to 60 “Nag Devtas’ of Himachal, resides inside the Serolsar lake. There is a link to the Mahabharat  as well. It is said that Pandavas visited Serolsar during their exile and planted rice here.

Temple of goddess ‘Buddhi Nagin’ at Serolsar lake

Our campsite was just ahead of the temple in a small meadow which also had a shop for basic needs. Water was sourced directly from the lake. Apart from the shop owner, we were the only souls around.

View from our campsite on Day1

Pitching our tent

It was decided that a game was cricket was on the card after the tents were pitched. We sourced the bat and ball from the shop we stopped at earlier.

Cricket again after the tent is pitched

By 5 pm it had started to get cold and we put on layers. We were provided with a spacious tent with 2 sleeping rooms, sleeping bags, a warm blanket and a chargeable lantern. We also had 4 small stools to sit on 🙂 . Luxury I would say !

Then it was time for soup ! The food pattern that followed was – Soup with bread in the warm confines of the tent followed with dinner by the bonfire. Our cook Inder was amazing and could cook up the most delicious meals.

So after a good heavy dinner by 8 pm, we were happy to call it a day. The first night took some getting used to and I slept poorly. I was especially worried for my daughter as it was really cold at night. I learned the art of layering her and tucking her into the sleeping bag !

Things you may want to know before the travel (Travel tips)

  • Invest in good hiking shoes and hiking rucksacks. You can get a porter to carry your bags for a cost but that takes away the experience of  trekking, doesn’t it 😉 ?
  • Hiking clothes need to be layered yet light, to account for sudden change of weather in the mountains
  • You will realize that you need lesser things than you would have imagined !
  • Carry water proof jackets / windcheaters for any unplanned rain
  • This trek is best undertaken in summer for ease of passage to the lake
  • Trek to Serolsar lake can be done as a day trip from Jalori pass
  • Temperature in Serolsar is very cool all round the year and in winters Serolsar experiences snowfall up to 5-8 feet !
  • You are advised to carry food and necessary woolen clothing
  • There are a couple of shops that keep water but it is advised you carry your own and stay hydrated throughout the trek
  • If you are camping, take precautions against the cold as evening sets in. My son did not cover his head and ears, as he was busy with cricket  and ended up with a bad headache by night

I booked this trek with Himalayan Ecotourism. They are a co-operative and have partnered with members of community living in the ecozone of Great Himalayan National Park, who are beneficiaries of this enterprise. They also run a women empowerment program at Life Lovers café. This was one of my main reason for going ahead with them, to support sustainable development in the region. Hema and Stephan Marchal were really accommodating and supportive all through our planning phase and we had a great experience with them

  1. They helped with choosing the right trek and customized it as per my needs (we had 2 children aged 6 and 11)
  2. They were very professional throughout the planning and execution
  3. The quality of the equipment was really good for our comfort for this first outing, the team provided was excellent and the food spread and quality was outstanding
  4. Profit is shared with local community and promotes sustainable development of the region

 

A daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, IT professional and now – a travel blogger. I just love traveling, exploring new places and this inspired me to share travel experiences and memories with others.

admin

A daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, IT professional and now - a travel blogger. I just love traveling, exploring new places and this inspired me to share travel experiences and memories with others.

39 Responses

  1. Ambuj says:

    I have heard so much about Jalori Pass. This blog is a true eye opener! However, I liked the travel tips the most in the post!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Ambuj. It was a fun trip and I am glad we did this. Tips are straight from my travel, hopefully you can use it someday – soon !

  2. Emily says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing trip, these photos dont even look lie what i imagine india to be! So interesting to see another side of this diverse landscape

    • admin says:

      Thanks Emily. India has such diverse landscape, I am myself surprised sometimes. Expect deserts, beautiful beaches, rolling greens, snow capped mountains, heritage buildings…I could just go on 🙂 Do visit sometime

  3. Excellent idea for family-outdoors. Thank you posting this. And what a treat to catch the flowering season

    • admin says:

      Thanks Abhijeet.Yes, I went a little overboard clicking these beautifully colored flowers (and many other wild ones) !

  4. Tushit Jain says:

    Pretty cool. At what age did you start your kids on trekking??

    • admin says:

      Thanks Tushit. This was their first major trek. I realized my daughter could really walk when I took her to Hyderabad (2 years back – she scaled Golconda fort) and Hampi (Dec 2016). She is 6 now. Son is older, so he was fine

  5. Cassandra says:

    This looks like a beautiful hike. I really liked the travel tips you included.

  6. The Landscapes on the way to Jalori pass are really stunning. The pictures have captured the beauty so vividly. The place revels in the Himalayan spirit and nature seems to be at its best.

  7. Erica says:

    Himalayan Ecotourism sounds like a great agency to consult with for a himalayan trek… I’ve always wanted to trek with my 6 yr old son… I learned a lot from this post! Thank you for sharing!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Erica. You should try trekking with your son. He will love the exposure to nature. The ecotourism company, yes they are quite good

  8. Ilana says:

    Hiking with kids is a very good lesson, sometimes more valuable than one week of traditional classroom!

  9. Suruchi says:

    I have been looking to take up this trek since last two years but couldn’t. Now your post and pictures have pushed me to plan this route for sure this year. The meadows look awesome and the smile on your children’s face clearly depicts how much fun they had!

    • admin says:

      Thanks Suruchi. Glad this motivates you to take this trek. It was an amazing fun time with family. I would love to hear back about your experience

  10. neha says:

    I had not heard about Himalayan Ecotourism. Looks like a great initiative. Will help people like us plan our trekking. Yours was indeed an interesting and beautiful one. This being a family trek, I am interested to take it as well.

    • admin says:

      Yes, they are a good group. Our trip was amazing and I would highly recommend you visit. I would love to hear your travel stories too

  11. Johna says:

    Interesting!!! First time to hear about this looks. Looks like such an adventure, maybe I can trek this one day too! ☺☺☺

  12. Tanya says:

    I like the idea of doing something you’ve never done before. It fills your life with memorable experiences!

  13. Fumiko says:

    Nice trekking ! I want to camp here! And the flowers you saw on the way is really beautiful and the sheep is so cute! I love this kind of adventure!

  14. Alexandria says:

    Hi there! I love your blog and nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award!

    http://www.thecloudtraveler.com/blogger-recognition-award/

    Congrats!

  15. Karie says:

    The beauty of Himachal Pradesh is so amazing. I had been last year to Dalhousie and Dharamshala. Those views of the meadows and the lake is so surreal!

    • admin says:

      That is so cool Karie. I am yet to visit Dalhousie and Dharmshala. Maybe soon :). Did you like the visit ? What is your recommendation of things to do ?

  16. Marge says:

    I know that carrying a bag is part of the trekking experience but I think, if I have the means and I happen to be with a heavy load I would rather have a porter carry it for me hahaha..

    Anyway, Serolsar looks like a beautiful lake and I love the mirror effect of the water, makes for an Instagram worthy photo. Seems like you guys had a lot of fun, you even got to play with the sheep and saw a lady bug, that lady bug is so cute!

  17. Keoshia says:

    Wow what an amazing trip! I would love to do this one day, but my kids are not going camping, lol! I just my have to leave them and find me a travel partner! Thanks for sharing your amazing photos as well!

  18. Jane says:

    That looks like a great family adventure . I love the pictures and the experiences you’ve described . Full of culture

  19. Shannon says:

    I love that you explore new places with your family every year! Being an outdoors person, Serolsar Lake seems right up my alley. So beautiful!! I’m adding this place to my India bucket list.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Shannon. I enjoy exploring new places with family. Serolsar Lake is really pretty in any season. I have heard that in winter it freezes and is quite a lovely sight. You must plan a visit when in India

  20. Jerny says:

    family outdoors, hmmm.. interesting! How cold was it when you were there? I agree too that you have to pack light as you will be trekking and the longer you walk, the heavier your pack gets ..

    • admin says:

      It was close to -5 degree C by night. During the day there was enough wind chill. These temperatures are not something we deal with regularly, so I had to take extra precautions for the kids. As for me, bring on the cold !

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