Somehow, I have developed a fetish for adventurous Himalayan roads and high passes as they push me to stretch my limits. Adrenalin rush refreshes me to live mundane life for sometime before i could find another reason to hit the Himalayan roads. In 2017, Jalori Pass happened to us and we experienced another surprise in the lap of Himalaya. It is one of the toughest pass to cross in High Himalayan region and I must add it is one of the closest pass from Delhi that calls out for road trip freak like me.
If the road is easy, you’re likely going the wrong way ~ Terry Goodkind
Jalori Pass, at 10800 feet from sea level, falls on NH 305 connecting Shimla Valley & Kullu Valley. NH 305 is the life line of the Himachal Pradesh – the real artillery, which passes thru and connects important valleys – Kullu Valley, Shimla Valley, Tirthan Valley and Kinnaur Valley through Jalori Pass. This makes Jalori Pass one of the most important passes of Himalayas – the nodal point between these high Himalayan valleys.
After Spiti Valley trip in 2015, we could not take any road trips to Himalayas and thus this trip to Jalori is special as this was first trip to Himalayas for my little one. We completed complete circuit, Delhi – Shimla – Jalori – Tirthan- Mandi – Delhi, in exact 40 hours which includes a 12 hours stop over at Shimla. On last day, I drove for 24 hours continuously from Shimla to Jalori to Tirthan to Delhi. We know,it was not a sound decision and we should not have done this, however, due to some urgency we had to come back by shortening our trip by one day. We had an option either to come back from Shimla or to complete the circuit by driving for 24 hours at a stretch. My love for mountain driving and desire to cross Jalori made me to opt for second option. So, at last, after Kunzum and Rohtang Passes, I crossed over Jalori pass also with a record-breaking drive of 24 hours at a stretch. Earlier I drove for 20 hours continuously while coming back from Munisyari in Uttranchal to Delhi.
After crossing Kunzum Top, this is the highest pass that i have driven through. Unlike rusty Kunzum Top, Jalori is deep in the verdant forest bordering Great Himalayan National park. Kunjum with gradual inclination was a show of perseverance while Jalori with steep inclination is about stretching limits and testing skills. It is ferocious, it is steep and it is delightful.
Our 2 days Itinerary from Delhi to Jalori Pass
Delhi – Shimla with a night stay at Shimla. As per our initial plan we wanted to stay at Narkanda but due to heavy weekend rush, we got stuck in Shimla for good 4 hours and finally decided to stay at Shimla for the night.
Started at 4 AM and we took following route:
Shimla – Narkand – Matiana – Kumarsain – Sainj – Luhri – Anni – Khanag – Jalori – Shoja – Gushaini in Tirthan Valley – Jibhi – Aut – Mandi – Sundernagar – Karnal – Delhi. From Sainj to Aut it is called NH 305 which is the erstwhile Old British route with many British era guest houses.
The road less taken – Shimla to Jalori Pass
From Shimla to Sainj, road is good on NH22 and after Sainj upto Tirthan Valley, it was a single lane road. After Sainj, we found solace in driving along Satluj for it had been our constant companion to many trips to Kinnaur and Spiti Valley. Till Luhri, it is a left bank driving along Satluj and after Luhri Bridge, we took left towards Jalori Pass and were on right bank. Right turn from Luhri Bridge will take you on Luhri-Neether Road. It was a scenic drive of 10 KM up to Behna where we bid adieu to Satluj and went deep into verdant valleys, deep gorges along many tributaries of Satluj – known as Khad or Nalla in local dialect.
Right before Jalori Jot from Khanag, road literally disappeared and real adventure started on pebbled-rocky no-tarmac road. It was a steep elevation after Khanag and real adventure began from here as we ascended 2500-3000 feet in last 5-6 KM. This patch and further up to Shoja after Jalori, ride is bumpy and required extreme care while driving.
We were really running late and due to drizzling at Jalori Jot, we didn’t stop there. Stretch from Jalori to Tirthan Valley was no different and we enjoyed the descend while passing thru Shoja, Ghiyagi, Banjar before reaching crossroad to decide whether to take right up to Gushaini or left to Aut. We took a right to Gusaaini with an aim to have lunch somewhere in Tirthan Valley and before hitting road to Delhi.
As expected, drive along the cascading Tirthan River all along was a sheer delight. We drove up to Gushaini in search of a restaurant but in vain as lunch time was over. So, it was 3 PM and we were still in Gushaini and Delhi was around 500 KM drive. At this moment we took the audacious decision to give it a try to reach Delhi before sunrise. Looks difficult, but WE DID IT!!
Highlights of our road trip from Delhi to Tirthan Valley via Jalori Pass
Highlights – Drive through famed Apple Orchard of Himachal Pradesh
Highlights – Drive along our beloved Satluj River
Highlights – Gorges and verdant landscapes up to Jalori Pass
Highlights – Crossing numerous rivulets
Highlights – Beginning of real adventures few miles before Jalori Top
Highlights – Cascading Tirthan River
Highlights – First Himalayan road trip of my Little One
Travel Tips for driving across Jalori Pass
- You have to don the hat of skilled and patient driver while chucking the hat of an adventurous soul. It may not be the highest, however, narrow road, step ascend makes it one of the toughest to cross. Do not try to conquer it, as many have done it since time immortal, instead try to live the experience and feel good about your humble accomplishment.
- Always drive in first gear when climbing up or down Jalori pass. Let your engine control your speed not your breaks.
- Keep extra memory cards and battery for your camera as you would definitely take many stops to capture amazing landscapes.
- Keep some food items and water in stock to meet any unfortunate eventualities.
- Check tyre pressure both at Sainj and Jibhi from either side.
- Keep talking to locals to know the road conditions so that you do not face any sudden surprise.
Best time for a road trip to Jalori Pass
- Before Monsoon – May and June
- After Monsoon – September and October
- You may go during Monsoon as then it achieves its glory, however less advisable. During rainy months, you got be careful of landslides and deteriorating road conditions. Avoid climbing pass while Rain is forecasted so keep checking with locals on weather and road condition.
Though it was a road trip in hurry, however, I achieved my goal of experiencing legendary Jalori pass. Driving continuously for 24 hours was soul elevating. Tirthan River took us by surprise and we would definitely go back there soon. We know, 48 hours are not justified, and hence we promised ourselves to go back to this part of Himachal again for relishing its true glory. Road trip to Himachal always fills our heart with much of love for nature and this trip was no different. We went to a different world this time which was all green. Today while flipping through trip’s photograph, I feel, Heaven’s color must be green, for this was the heaven.
I have seen people boasting about their Himlayan trips by posting online that they conquer the Himalaya or a pass after crossing it. I don’t see a merit in such claims as many have done this in so many last centuries. They achieved this in far too worst conditions and made it possible for us to access Himalaya so comfortably. We should feel good that we are capable of living and experiencing Himalaya for it is the mightiest and most perilous wonder of nature. Himalaya stands there inspiring every human soul for more extreme quests. “Know thyself” was a dictum of ancient and after every trip to imposing terrain of Himalaya, I come back knowing myself better. This is the far-reaching impact that Himalaya has on me. It makes me humble and gives me reason to respect everything in the world.
I conclude by reaching out to every adventure seeking road tripper with an open shout out to skip Rohtang for Jalori & Maniali for Tirthan.
Jalori pass – Dont give it a Pass!!
If you feel motivated, please share this blog post with your loved ones so that they can break the mundane cycle of everyday life and explore the world.