As someone from a touristy hub like Goa who lives in a quiet little village, away from the cacophony of the beach belt, I can sense why Jibhi would appeal to off-beat travelers.
Apart from a winding road running straight through this mountain village, there is almost no sign of commercialization here – just the raw appeal of nature and tiny mud and wooden houses interspersed so deep in the forest that they’re invisible. It is in a little hamlet like Jibhi where one gets a true sense of living like a local in Himachal Pradesh; to experience the stillness and the hardships that come with it.
I spent a few days at OffBeat Footprints, an eco-stay that, like most houses here, requires one to trek downhill, right to the lap of undisturbed Mother Nature, from where the occasional car passing on the road above can’t be heard, let alone seen. From there, a 10 minute walk through nature trails led me to the next house, and further on, to the next.
Surrounded by tiny patches of cucumber plants and spinach, it was amazing to see how nature provides everything they need to survive. Houses made from mud, cow dung and wood keep them warm or cool, depending on the season; crystal-clear water from the mountains to drink, healthy grass-fed cows for milk, an abundance of fruits and vegetables straight off the vine, and even a wheat-mill, housed in a tiny wooden shed that one needs to bend over double to enter. Smart engineering sees the wheel of the mill spinning with the force of the stream, thus providing them with flour for rotis, too! I’m told that most of the villagers living here haven’t even traveled 100 kms out of their valley to Manali – they’ve never felt the need to.
Be still in Jibhi for only a moment and you’ll tune in to its rhythm. If I had to describe it all in a word, ‘hypnotizing’ would be it. The constant gushing of ice cold water as it hurls down through the rocky stream, the rapturous call of birds as they flit through the trees, the shimmer of sunlight filtering down massive pine and deodar branches, the shadows on hills as clouds glide overhead. Words do little justice to the scenic charm of Jibhi. And just stepping into this lush green beauty will make the most tiring of journeys worth it.
THINGS TO DO IN JIBHI
JALORI PASS – If you aren’t an experienced, confident driver or have one at the wheel, don’t even attempt driving here. Known as one of India’s most dangerous roads, Jalori is a mountain pass located 10,280 feet above sea level with steep 45 degree inclines, U-pin curves, rocky terrain and loose gravel+stones that cause vehicles to slip and slide, with an endless valley inches away. While I bet your heart will be thumping wildly, the panoramic views here are unlike any I’ve ever seen before – of surrounding peaks with pine and rhododendron forests for as far as your eyes can see. Keep your eyes on the road at ALL times and don’t even attempt touching the music volume button!
A little area where the road widens out has a few shops and old stalls where you can relish a steaming cup of chai in blissfully cold weather. When I was at this spot, it started to rain, and I happened to enter one of the tiny tea-dhabas, it’s wooden countenance turning black with age. On heading to the back of the stall, I was met with one of the most picturesque views I’ve ever seen. Serendipity, as they say!
One may think that there aren’t many things to do in Jibhi, but to be honest, I spent 3 days there and couldn’t see it all, possibly because everything involves a trek of some sort and I was always exhausted with the trek to my accommodation to think of waking any further, hahaha!
JIBHI WATERFALL should definitely be on your itinerary as this is one of the most picturesque waterfalls you’ll find in these parts. SEROLSAR LAKE has many legends connected to it, one of which says that the lake is kept in pristine condition by a bird who takes away even leaves from its surface. RAGHUPUR FORT, small and pretty was built by the Mandi rulers while CHAINI FORT is well known for its 1500 year old brick watch-tower. Needless to say, wherever you go, you will be greeted with verdant views.
See you soon!