Janjehli, finally


Sandeep Kaul
The idea of a visit to Janjehli dates to around 2 or 3 BC.

A trip to Prashar Lake by bus in 4 BC makes us consider the possibility of making it to Janjehli by bus. Saves time, you see. Catch a bus from Delhi in the evening and one can get off at Dadour really early in the morning, say 5:30 am or so. From there one can catch the morning bus coming in from Mandi and reach Janjehli.

However, like a zillion other plans that we make, Janjehli remains beyond reach. The closest we get to it is in 2 BC when, after a bumpy ride to Spanidhar top at one end of Thachi valley, we are told that there in the distance, beyond that ridge, and the one after that, in the blue summer haze lies Janjehli valley.

Oh, a clarification is required. BC = Before Covid.

Years pass, and once the second wave of Covid has passed, we still haven’t even set our feet in the direction of Janjehli.

It is time to change this state of being.

So, in end-May of 2023, we make a definitive plan for Janjehli. Doc P and his better half and yours truly and another better half. The Bol-hero is long gone, replaced by a Venoo (Hyundai Venue) and the itoonty serves its last days out in Bangalore and there’s a Sont (Kia Sonet) in its place.

I pore over Google Maps. Dates are looked at. Accommodation poses a challenge since Paradise Home Stay may not have rooms on the dates we want. We find Hotel Golden Valley on YouTube and the rooms look nice. The resident Mandi district expert – Deepak Chadha – confirms that the hotel is okay. The better half does the negotiations and books us three rooms. A nominal advance is paid and we are all set.

So, with that build up the Sont moves out on a Friday morning. It is May 26 and our first port of call is Chandigarh. Doc P will leave later in the day and join us. The icing on the cake is that our mothers-in-law are travelling with us!

The journey to Chandigarh is uneventful and we are home after lunch at Punjabi Dhaba in Sector 35-D. Doc and his team reach later in the evening and the trip proper begins the next day.

Janjehli, here we come.


Sandeep Kaul
May 27, 2023 – Day 1

I am dreading the Swarghat-Bilaspur-Ghagas-Barmana stretch. The slow-moving trucks with cars behind them, waiting for a gap in the road to overtake. Plus, there is always an idiot or two who wants to overtake when you are in the process of overtaking. However, this nightmare does not prevent me from falling asleep. After all, what cannot be avoided cannot be avoided.

The travellers are up in time, ready in time and after a cup of tea we manage to hit the road around 6:30 am or so. The early bird catches the worm and the early car misses city traffic.

From Chandigarh to Mohali to the road to Ropar and just before the T-point towards Ludhiana/Jalandhar on the left and Ropar, or Rupnanagar, straight ahead, the aunty at Google Maps throws a challenge.

“Turn left”, she says!

But, why should I take the road to Ludhiana when all I want to do is get on the flyover that takes me towards Kiratpur?

But again, Google aunty knows better than you, doesn’t she? She’s tracking so many people on the road; she knows the average speed possible; she knows where the road is blocked (the phones aren’t moving there, you see); she knows where there is a jam; she knows things that you don’t know about yourself.

But, but, there is an autorick parked on the side. With a person sitting, presumably the driver. Time to revert to times before Google Maps.

The person in the auto tells us to disregard Google wali aunty and carry on straight. There’s a bit of a diversion on the slip road and nothing more.

We do as he says.

And, fly through to Kiratpur, take the flyover towards Swarghat… Good times are coming to an end.

Or, are they?

We pay the Himachal cess and next we know, after a bit of driving on the wrong side, we are through tunnel 1 on the spanking new highway towards Manali!

So spanking new that even the tolls are not operational!

Just one more small diversion on the way and we literally zoom past the traffic mess of Swarghat-Bilaspur-Barmana fame.

Time to celebrate with a longish break at a dhaba at Jarol, a little before Sundernagar. Breakfast is a relaxed affair, and we lose track of time.

We move on after almost an aeon and find that the Sundernagar stretch brings you back to the erstwhile era but it is still early and the town is still in the process of getting ready for the day. We zip through (by Sundernagar standards) and reach the Dadour turn off.

A right turn and we are on the final stretch. From a multi-lane highway, we are down to single lane track, but it is tarred and traffic not heavy. Then we reach the part where it is being tarred and a bit bumpy but what’s a few bumps on a mountain road?

We stop a few times to take in the scenery.
1 sundernagar.jpg

Can you spot the canal? There's a road that comes along its side to join up at Baggi.

2 on the way.jpg

We are getting closer.

3 a bend in the road.jpg

Another bend in the road.

4 out of focus yellow.jpg

Lots of green and some out of focus yellow.

5 apple tree.jpg

I think this is an apple tree. Or not.

6 the real stuff.jpg

We are getting high!

In the end, we reach Janjehli.

It is a large-ish place, much larger than what I had expected. There is some political heavyweight around so lot of police presence and flags and buntings.

As we near our destination – Hotel Golden Valley – the political heavyweight decides to move out and his cavalcade gets on the road. I am in lead and even though there is much waving of hands from the pilot jeep I carry on merrily. It’s a democracy and I will not be waved away like this.

Golden Valley comes into view. There is parking within the compound. The Sont gets in first followed by the Venoo. The day’s drive has ended and Janjehli welcomes us with lovely views of apple orchards all around.

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The front view. Rather, the view from the front of the hotel.

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The view at the back.

We are neither here nor there as far as lunch is concerned but we manage somehow. And, after a siesta and some tea, ready to explore at bit.

So, we go for a walk.

9 yellow.jpg

Van Gogh yellow.

10 random bridge.jpg

A random bridge just off the beaten road.

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Water powered atta chakki or, flour mill, in English.

12 Deem.jpg

We are actually out of Janjehli but it is Deem-ed to be in Janjehli only.

Later that evening, we decide to walk up to Budha Kedar the next morning and ask Gagan, the front-office/F&B/everything else manager to get us a guide.

Then, dinner followed by some more chit chat, and we turn in.

It’s been a long day.