Banjar Valley - The Seraj Region

by SumitVashisht /
SumitVashisht's picture
Jan 24, 2010 / 1 comments

Mr. B. S. Rana – owner of Doli Guest House in Jibhi, recommends Chaini fort
the most, for half day’s hike, to his guests. Chaini Fort – locally
known as Chaini Kothi, is the highest tower in that area. These types
of towers were made in the ancient times to place soldiers on the
top floor and keep a watch around.

Chaini Fort

A day’s visit to Seolsar lake is also
not a bad idea. One just has to drive to Jalori Pass(3500 m) from Jibhi and walk
for five kilometers through the dense Himalayan Oak forest. Almost a
leveled walk takes you to a small circular shaped holy lake. There is a
small temple of ‘Boodhi Nagin’ – an old female snake, at the banks of
the lake and before that a shepherd serves tea and biscuits to the
visitors at a reasonable cost. He has created a small hut with stones
and wood. This hut has a small charcoal stove in the middle of the room
with a pipe taking its fumes out. A sitting place has also been
created with slate stones covered with rags of gunny bags. Outside he has
placed a few benches around his shop but he does not mind if on a rainy
day you enter his shop and get warmth from his charcoal stove.


visit this sacred lake and the temple frequently. This trek does not
end here. One can also walk down to village Ghiyagi near through
some villages located away from the main road, pastures, fields, waterfalls and a small
rivulet. The trek end at Ghiyagi at road head. From here Jibhi is 2 km which a
small hamlet in Banjar valley, district Kullu in Himachal Pradesh in
the North of India and Mr. Rana, a native of valley has converted his small village house, at
the bank of a small rivulet, to a guest house.

View on the way to Chaini Village


Originally this
traditional house was built by his ancestors. Every winter they would come to
live in this house and returned to their native village located on the mountain
top during summer. Rana spent few years of his life in Germany where he
learnt to deal with foreigners and when he returned to his native
village his vision had widened enough to introduce tourism in the
valley. He became the first one to take initiative and proceeded to
convert his traditional house to a guest house.

Doli Guest House

It was not an easy
job as he had to face the strong objections of his family and village
fellows. No one from his area favored him, but Rana had taken a step
ahead to complete his mission and there was no looking back for him. He
kept the structure in its original style and added western style
bathrooms and toilets to every room. Along with geysers he also added
showers and covered the walls of bathrooms with modern tiles. In small
cozy rooms he kept the mud walls, traditional ceiling, white washed
them, fitted them with basic electricity bulbs and switches and
decorated rooms with soft beddings and clean linen. He kept the wooden
doors as originally they were but overhauled them up to the better

He was already rich with the knowledge of the historical
and natural places in the valley so he did not have to bother about
what his guests would do in that region. He collected information about
the history, accessibility and treks so that he could keep his guests

He named his place as Doli Guest House and spread awareness
about his place to some of his old friends in Shimla who were deeply
involved in tourism business. His vision worked and he was able to open
gates of Banjar Valley for budget class foreign travelers. Banjar
valley gained the name as a new tourist destination.

Many times
people have suggested him to dismantle the original house and erect a
new building but Rana has decided to maintain the real ambience of the
house. “Frankly speaking I am not very keen to advertise my place,
as would like to keep the valley secret for special people and for
myself at large”says he.


This Hut is a part of Dolly Guest House

Banjar, one of the greenest valleys in
Himalayas, is famous for Himalayan architecture, temples, forts, remote
villages, smiling faces, hospitable villagers and thick Himalayan
forest. There are waterfalls, rivulets, streams, lakes, an old fort a
kilometer above Jalori Pass, a vertical 11 story watch tower called
Chaini and peace.

I walked down to the stream next to the guest house
and stretched my legs on a rock. The murmuring sound of jade blue water
of stream slightly bothers the silence around. Behind me there is a
small traditional Himalayan house where I stay every time I come to
Jibhi. There are a few European young boys and girls staying in the
house. They are back packers and spend along time of their travel here,
in Rana’s guest house. They read, meditate, walk around, paint, write
or just stay here and sometimes return to this place after visiting
other places in Himalayas.


Behna Temple

When You come out of Banjar valley across Jalori Pass you happen to cross a village called Behna. This marvelous temple is located in that village.

For more detail you may contact me at [email protected]


Sumit Vashisht is the Astounding Himalayas Editor for Wandering Educators


Comments (1)

  • Dr. Jessie Voigts

    14 years 6 months ago

    sumit - thanks for this great recommendation. i LOVE supporting small businesses - and, finding out the insider's secrets!


    Jessie Voigts, PhD


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