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.
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.
There is Mahakali temple known as Jalori Mata, which 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.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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 :).
There was this abandoned hut under the rocks. Probably some shepherd who might have used it before.
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.
We also had time to play cricket with an ingenious ball made of cloth, which the guide knew the shopkeeper had.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- They helped with choosing the right trek and customized it as per my needs (we had 2 children aged 6 and 11)
- They were very professional throughout the planning and execution
- 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
- Profit is shared with local community and promotes sustainable development of the region