Many years passed since my first encounter with Himachal Pradesh. It was the next day after my arrival in India. That time I was working for a consulting company in Delhi. Since one of the company’s clients was in Shimla, it was a great idea to take a drive to Himalaya after a 25-hour long flight (sarcasm! yet Himachal is always a better idea in May than Delhi).
I still remember my head whirling the whole day after a crazy night drive on the serpentine roads; an altitude was pulsating in my head. Now it’s funny to talk about Shimla altitude (2300m) after I’ve crossed numerous 5000+ meter passes. At that time, my biggest achievement was climbing a 200m high neighboring hill in my grandmom’s village. So yeah, I felt the altitude!
Shimla was the first place where I’ve seen mountains for real, yet it’s a crowded city filled with local people and tourists. I’m more into villages and smaller towns (*cough* tells a girl who spent a few years living in the most populated cities in India).
Himachal Pradesh has numerous charming villages which I’ve discovered independently throughout the year. In this post, I put a practical travel guide to Jibhi and what type of travelers will definitely enjoy this experience.
Reasons to visit Jibhi
Jibhi and its neighboring villages were a hidden paradise for me after Manali. I have to confess, I dislike most of the popular destinations in India because there is high traffic, noise pollution, constructions and overpriced charges for many basic services. Hill stations like Manali are beautiful, but in my humble opinion mass tourism has killed it.
Jibhi is so far less explored destination and, in my opinion, this town and its neighboring villages will not become a “hit”, because these places target a certain audience. I could relate it somehow to Aru Village in Kashmir – very beautiful, remote and not for everyone.
Being a part of Banjar Valley, Jibhi is a hill station with, mainly, homestays, a few guesthouses (ran by families) and cafes which are managed basically by the same homestays. It’s a great destination to come and settle for a few days/weeks, go for trekking, but there are no trendy crowd-attracting activities like in Shimla or Manali. Also, there are no souvenir shops to cater to mass tourism needs.
The lack of commercialization makes this place a beautiful retreat from the big city life into a natural ambiance with picturesque views.
Best time to visit Jibhi – weather and tips
It purely depends on your Goals. The peak season is from March to May. It’s time when summer comes to some parts of India and people are looking to escape the heat. The weather stays chilly during the night and pleasant during the daytime.
March to May is the best time to visit Jibhi weather wise. If you are planning an active stay with day treks, visiting neighboring villages and some adventure activities this is the time to choose.
If you are looking to escape travelers and rather do a “workation”, visit Jibhi during monsoons from June to September. It’s one of the places you can sit in a warm blanket and socks on a balcony with a cup of tea watching rainy green mountains and breathing fresh chilly air. Like on those seasonal instagram accounts.
Despite I adore Himalaya during monsoons, it’s the most unstable weather, when floods and landslides might occur. While you will encounter seasonal fruit, natural beauty and authentic stay due to the offseason, you need to be ready to miss some of the adventurous activities.
Jibhi in Autumn opens to you a warm color scheme and sunny fresh mornings. If you are looking to experience autumn colors, October and beginning of November is your time. Nevertheless, the weather gets colder day by day, so pack accordingly.
If you are looking to experience morning frost and snowfall – winter is your season. Visit Jibhi from December to February. Though winter is a special experience in Himalaya, keep in mind, there is no central heating in India. Take all the warm clothes with you and savor local hot chai.
What to do in Jibhi?
Enjoy nature. Jibhi is a slow travel destination, where you can sit for hours near the river listening to the water flow. The air is clean and there is no traffic disrupting peaceful life of the villagers. There is just one road passing through the village with handful buses and cars going to Jalori pass.
Trek – you can climb to the neighboring village Gada Gushaini which looks even more offbeat than Jibhi. Since it is uphill, you will get a picturesque view from there. There is also a waterfall 2 hours walk from Jibhi, which you can visit in the monsoon season or right after it.
Are you fond of trekking in the hill areas? Experience Dzukou Valley trek 😉
Visit Jalori Pass. The pass is 13 km away from the village. There is also a day trek to the serene Serolsar lake from the Pass.
Visit neighboring villages. For more natural delight, explore the neighboring villages – Shoja with its step-like mountain fields, Ghiyagi for the grey roof houses surrounded by wheat fields, Tandi with small waterfalls within the river, Chaini which has one of the best representations of wooden architecture in Himachal – all these villages are small and picturesque.
Looking for more unusual experiences in Himalaya? Visit a sustainable school in Ladakh.
Jibhi homestay and hotels – where to stay?
There are plenty of homestays and guesthouses with a common price 500-700 INR. You can find cheaper if you are ready to compromise on some conditions as well as luxury options if you are looking for a proper retreat. There are also plenty of camps in Jibhi if you are into this thing.
I’m a huge fan of balconies and terraces in the mountains because I often have to live in my laptop. I’ve stayed in Rana Homestay in Jibhi. The family running this place is very lovely, you can expect plenty of homey yummy local food and I swear, this lady makes the best ajwain(it’s a spice) parathas I’ve ever tried.
I liked my working place in the homestay overlooking the river and forest. It’s close to the bridge and bus stop which was convenient for me in the side-trips. Note, if you come here for a silent one-place retreat and don’t intend to travel too much, you can check the neighboring village of Gada Gushaini (it doesn’t have the access to the main road, so even less transport goes there) or choose more remote accommodation options in Jibhi far away from the road. I shared my logic behind choosing this homestay.
I’ve also visited a few more options (all quite a good walk from the bus stop):
- Jibhi Inn (they charge less for accommodation, but more for food)
- Shivang Guesthouse – uphill walk from the river
On the way to Jibhi Inn, there is another homestay in the field of wheat and apple trees. The lady was very lovely there offering tea for the visitors. I don’t recall the name of the guesthouse unfortunately and it’s not online.
Read also: How to find accommodation in India?
These are all mid-range options within 1000 INR + – budget. If you don’t care much about location, view and a few other conditions, you can find a place to crash for 500 INR within the season, but it will not be online of course and it will take a good walk around the village to find this.
Where to eat in Jibhi?
There are many eating spots, but most of them are part of the guesthouses/homestays. In my opinion, the most practical solution is to take food in your homestay. I’ve seen just a few “independent” cafes in the town – one local café near the bridge and another one at the roof of Asha Homestay. The last one has nice ambient music, a hilly view and reasonable prices.
As mentioned previously, Jibhi is not a trendy tourist spot comparing to some neighboring towns and that’s why some of you may like it.
How to reach from Manali and Delhi to Jibhi?
Jibhi lies somewhere between Manali and Delhi (though not on the highway). You can also reach it from Shimla, Chandigarh and other bigger cities of Punjab state. If you start from Manali or Delhi, take a bus to Aut Village (Aut Tunnel). There are regular local buses and it costs 103 INR from Manali to Aut.
From Aut you need to take another local bus to Banjar – this is a big town in Kullu district which also serves as a starting point to numerous destinations in Tirthan Valley.
There are hourly buses starting from Aut Village. It takes 1 hour to reach from Aut village to Banjar and costs 35 INR. From Banjar, there are also a few buses towards Jibhi and neighboring villages. The journey takes around 1 hour and costs 20 INR.
If you travel by local bus from Manali to Jibhi it takes overall 6 hours to reach and costs 160 INR. You can find as well Volvo buses, but the price will be significantly higher.
If you start from Delhi or cities in Panjab, you might find direct local transport to Aut or arrive up till Mandi – it’s a big hill city in Himachal. From there you can get regular buses to Aut throughout the day. The bus ticket costs 60 INR and it takes one hour to reach from Mandi to Aut.
Other useful Jibhi travel tips:
- There is airtel 4G network in Jibhi, but you can find it only close to the road and outside the homes. Inside the homestays I rarely got a connection, thus if you plan to work, choose places with balconies and/or terraces.
- I recommend spending at least three days in the area. In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to come here on one day off, because you would rather exhaust yourself. The road is quite long, plus it’s hard to understand much of this place during a short stay.
- Buy local fruits and veggies when you are in Jibhi. There will be products imported from other states of India, but local is always the best. E.g. tomatoes, cucumber, cherries, strawberries, apples – depending on the season.
- Are you getting well with technology? Help genuinely good homestays to register on Booking and similar platforms so more people find out about them.
Here you have a quick guide to Jibhi which can give you an idea about this offbeat gem in Himachal. What about you? Do you have your favorite villages in Himalaya?