It was the time of the month when I decided to take a week off from my monotonous routine and travel to Himachal Pradesh but still I had to figure out the place. This time I wanted to experience the local lifestyle of the mountains and after a lot of researching I zeroed down on Banjar Valley-Jibhi and Shoja considering them to be the offbeat places.
Jibhi and Shoja both are scenic hamlet in the Banjar Valley of Himachal Pradesh and not much popular among tourists. Shoja is 5 kms before of Jalori Pass, which connects Shimla with Kullu Valley. Tourists use it as a base location for trekking to Jalori Pass and Serolsar lake.
To my luck, it didn’t turn out to be a much-crowded place and I actually got to witness the real village life in the mountains. Those village people have touched my heart. They are so simple yet so inspiring. Back here in the cities, we have urban lifestyle and we take things for granted and I only realized it after seeing the hard work they put in the things. Be it kids, adults, women or the elders, people in mountains are damn hard-working.
My real inspirations were the women and kids, which inspired me to pen down my experience of how life in the mountains actually is!
For a local experience opted homestays and ditched the hotels.
There are so many things which were totally different from living in the cities that caught my attention and taught me a lot of things. Read on!
People in the Mountains
Obviously, wherever you decide to live, it’s the people who make it worth living in that particular place. I found mountain people sweet without any self-interest, they absolutely have nothing to do with the social status of a person, unlike in the cities where we tend to judge people by their social status. They treat everyone in the same way. They helped me a lot when I asked them about the different routes for hiking.
I was curious to know about the daily routine of people in mountains especially women, so wherever I got a chance to interact with the women of different villages I did not miss it. Oh man the kind of work they do, I can’t even imagine doing one-third of it.
Typically, their daily chores include cooking, cleaning the entire house, weaving, taking care of the kids and looking after the apple orchards, taking their cows and herd of sheep to the jungles for gazing, etc.
Back in the cities, we have maids for cleaning, cooking, taking care of the household chores and it was only at the mountains that I realized a contrasting difference between both lifestyles and how we take all these mundane tasks forgranted.
The women in hilly regions inspired me a lot and they are no less than a superwoman for me.
During my entire journey, in the evenings, I used to take a walk down the beautiful roads and indulge in conversations with local people. During the conversation with kids, I got to know that the school in most of the villages are far away and there is only one primary government school in Jibhi and no schools in Shoja.
The kids in Shoja walk around 14 km uphill, downhill to go the school and most of the secondary/private schools were in Banjar which meant more walking.
No school bus service is available for the kids. Walking to school is the only way out and guess what still they wear a broad smile on their faces.
The Online World We Live In
We can literally order anything from groceries, clothes, food, appliances in a hassle-free manner. No such world exists in the mountains, forget about online shopping sites most of them haven’t even heard of McDonald’s, Dominos, Pizza Hut (all the junk food we rely on our fast-paced life). For buying major stuff they have to go down till Banjar or Kullu (Kullu is 36 kms away from the village).
It was during my journey that I realized how easy life is in the cities and with the boom in technology, everything has become justa click away.
People in the mountains are so relaxed and spare time out for chit-chat over a cup of tea, nobody is in rush. It was during this trip that I relaised how nice the life is in the mountains where people survive without cell phones. I too did not use my cellphone much as after a very long time I was in conversation with people face-to-face and not relying getting much tempted to go for social media conversations.
I saw a flip side of life, a life without heads dug in the cell phones, a world without social media, a world where everyone knows everyone, a world full of real chit-chat, a world where people genuinely offer help. I understood how little we need to feel contented and lead a happy life.
Pollution Free Fresh Air and the Food
Imagine yourself waking up to postcard style vistas, lush green mountain meadows, perching of birds, quiet and calm environment. Doesn’t it sound like straight from a fairytale? You get to experience such lovely morning every day in the mountains, the air carrying the scent of forests and the tall oak and deodar trees make you feel fresh.
This is the place where you feel like slowly sipping your favourite beverage against the backdrop of snow-clad mountains with a good book in your hand.
Every time you decide to take a walk, you are going to be surrounded by forests, meadows, trees, mountains, flowing water stream and at night a sky full of stars.
If we talk about the food you get in the mountains. It comes straight from the farms with no hints of chemicals, artificial colors or pesticides.
Each time, I was hiking in the jungles and felt hungry, I simply plucked the apples from the apple orchards and had them.
It was altogether a different feeling to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and other organic food. The fruits, vegetables, milk in the mountains are way too cheaper than in the cities. When I came to know the price these products were sold at, I was in a state of shock. How we tend to pay higher prices still the quality is no match?
This is all about life in the mountains, about women working the entire day, kids going miles away from their school. There is a remarkable difference in lives of people in mountains and plains.
People in the mountains are content with whatever little they have and you will never see them complaining about things in life.
During my long week trip, I learned how much we need to take some time off from the chaos of life and make time to do things we love. How much we need to learn generosity and not only preach it.
I truly got to live in the Himalayan village life and would love to go back again for new experiences.
This post is written by Anu Seth, a solo traveler. You can follow her travel journey on Instagram.