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Shoja Camp

Located in Seraj valley, Shoja is a breathtakingly beautiful place. The mornings in Shoja are particularly invigorating. One can just stroll around, walk up to the meadows or perhaps take the pathway into the jungle. Nature lovers can enjoy thick wooded hill slopes starting from bottom as far down or up or sideways or deep as one can look.

From Sojha, one can drive up to Jalori Pass. The metal road from Jalori pass leads down to Sainj and Shimla. The place abounds in hypnotic ambience. The lake is small but in a beautiful location. Cradled by rolling- meadows on all sides, high up in the mountains, it is an idyllic location for a private cottage. A small quaint little dhaba is run at the lake that can offer hot food and roof overhead for overnight campers.

Best time to visit: April- October

Temperature: The Weather is pleasant through the season. Pleasant days (light woolens) and mildly cold nights. Shoja gets its share of rainfall during July and August and snow fall end December onwards.

Banjara Retreat: 4 bedrooms and 2 suites (suite has 2 bedrooms, one bath and no living room)
Banjara cottage: 6 bedrooms .

How to get there:
By Air: Daily flight from Delhi- Kullu- Delhi
Daily flight from Delhi/ Mumbai- Chandigarh- Delhi/ Mumbai
By Train: Daily morning and evening Shatabdi from Delhi- Chandigarh
Daily overnight train (Himachal Express) from Delhi- Kiratpur Sahib- Delhi
By Road: Delhi- Sojha: 480 kms/ 12 hrs
Chandigarh- Sojha: 240 kms/ 8 hrs
Kiratpur Sahib- Sojha 190 kms/ 6 hrs
Kullu airport- Sojha 50 kms/ 2 hrs


A walk to the waterfall Duration: 2 hours Level: Easy

This is an easy walk of around 45 minutes to an hour from the retreat. It is a good way to refresh yourself on your arrival at the camp and flex those muscles tired of sitting in the vehicle. From the road head, there is a slight uphill walk towards Jalori Pass. Few hundred meters up the road, one takes the right fork in to the forest that leads to the waterfall.

The trail winds its way through a wide variety of pine and many wide leaved higher Himalayan species. The sunlight filtering through the forest, birds chirping and the gentle cold breeze makes it quite a romantic affair. To quote Mr. Chikkara who was with us in Shoja in the summer of 2005, "The breathtaking trek through the Cedars, the Spruces and the Pines to the water fall was adventurous as well as rewarding."

You are welcome to take a towel and a change of clothes in case you think you might be tempted to take a shower in the cold - really cold, waterfall. Many do. Else there is always an option to chill your beer bottle in the ice- cold water while you patiently wait while soaking in the mild sun. Again, many

Raghupur Fort meadows Duration: Half a day Level: Medium

In the mountains, if you want to be rewarded well by nature in its full glory, have must make an early morning start. The same is true of this hike to Raghupur Fort meadows that overlook the Tirthan Valley in Kulu district in the West and Shimla district in the East.

This five kms uphill drive will test your car as well as your mountain driving skills! From Jalori, it is a level walk in the open for about hundred meters towards Satluj Valley before it heads straight into the forest on a well-defined trail. Half a kilometer later, a short steep climb takes one to a small meadow that offers a photo-op. A short rest and off you go into the Oaks and Rhododendrons forest slowly climbing up and then shifting gear for a final steep climb of 15 to 20 minutes. Here the tree line finishes and we move into a lush green meadow. A little up and we are rewarded with a 360 degrees view of The Himalayas, Dhauladhar and Kinnaur ranges, all of them in one sweeping glance. All around you are swathes of lush green meadows that gently descend into the oak and blue fir forests.

Keep strolling and in a while we end up at the dilapidated Raghupur Fort. The local people believe that an erstwhile king of Mandi province got this fort constructed hundred of years ago. Theories abound as to why this fort was constructed on a ridge where scarcity of water was a perennial issue. One of them will have us believe that this retreat was made in case the king had to retreat in to the mountains in case his kingdom was attacked by the enemy forces from the plains. Yet another popular belief is that the fort was constructed for the pleasure of the king away from the prying eyes of his family and subjects. Whatever the truth, the King could not have chosen a better location. One look and you would not want to go back.

The meadows also happen to be the favourite ground of local shepherds. It is a sight to behold with hundreds of sheep and goats munching around with not a worry in the world, with at least couple of shepherd dogs in attendance. An early start, especially if you are a photography buff, is recommended.

Serolser Lake Duration: Half a day Level: Medium

Himachal Pradesh, with most of it lying in the lap of Himalayas, has an abundance of lakes. One such lake is in Tirthan valley (Kulu District). Located 11 kms (5 kms by car from our retreat to Jalori Pass and 6 kms on foot from there to the lake) from Banjara Retreat in Shoja, it is one of the better hikes for the families.

A drive to Jalori pass will take 15-20 minutes from the retreat. From there, a well-defined trail takes one to the lake. Few hundred meters on the trail and then you get in to the Oak forest. The sun rays filtering through the tree cover, the blue of the sky through the foliage, the up and down of the trail, an occasional sight of a bird, a clearing showing the huge green vistas cascading down to the Sutluj valley, all of this and more will keep you an enchanting company all the way to the lake.

The lake makes up in crystal clear clarity what it lacks in size. The local belief is that no one has ever found a leaf floating in the lake though leafy trees surround the lake itself. You will certainly not find a leaf floating in the lake.

Nearby is a small temple beyond which the meadows start. A couple of teashops regularly come up between April-October. They have also some local sweets and savories- worth trying. During summer a lot of Gujjars come with their buffaloes and cows to these pastures. It won't be unusual if you bump into some carrying Khowa and paneer to the local market.

An early start will get you back to the retreat for the hot lunch. For people who would like to spend more time with the chirping birds, we will be too happy to provide you with a lunch hamper for you to enjoy an al fresco lunch on the banks of the lake. .

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