Janjehli, the hidden paradise

I am lost, completely in Janjehli. My camera refuses to stop clicking. My eyes refuse even to blink. The sound in my throat is choked. I am feeling like embraced only by nature’s beauty. Janjheli – a place that I have missed till now. I don’t know, why I didn’t come here earlier. The place is still away from the real touch of the internet. Mobile phones definitely have found a space in everyone’s hands but the traditions have yet not said goodbye to this place. Modern vehicles like motorbikes are the favorite of a few young boys, who run them at high speed, without wearing helmets. No policeman stops them. But not everyone can afford to have one. The young girls in their traditional attires steal a glimpse of the boys. Holding their books in their hands, close to their bosom, they walk to their homes before it is dark.

Janjehli – a lost paradise

Perhaps, Shahjahan did not come to Janjheli before he went to Kashmir. Otherwise, he must have said the same words that he said for Kashmir – If there is Paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here. Janjheli is one of those places where not many tourists have reached yet, thank God. Apart from a few locals who go to visit the Shikari Devi Temple located on the top of the mountain and a few tourists from the plains of North India, there is not much movement. It would be better if it remains away from the tourists’ touch otherwise the days are not far when it will be another Tirthan. But no one can stop it as tourism has already started crawling into this valley.

How to reach Janjehli

Janjheli is a valley that is tucked between two mountains. To its south is the Karsog region and further south is Shimla whereas to its north, on the other side of the mountain is Banjar valley. A narrow uphill road bifurcates two kilometers from Pandoh, ahead of Mandi on Kullu Manali highway, to its northeastern headquarters direction, leading to Kanda, for twenty-four kilometers, on the hilltop. From here it then dips down to Thunag, the headquarters of the valley. There is yet another route for those coming from Chandigarh. From Ner Chowk, you can take a right turn to Chail Chowk and continue to Kanda. Further on the route is the same as to Thunag and then to Janjheli.

What to see in Janjehli

Nature. It’s all nature and nothing else in Janjhehli. Just pick up your camera and walk in any direction and you will be astounded by the landscape. Fruit orchards, primarily apple dominate the area. The best place to see hill life. Inhale fresh mountain air and leave your footprints behind. The bazaar still has the age-old wooden shacks, in which some of the locals run their shops, selling all sorts of local material, locally grown vegetables, tea shops, dress fabrics, hair-cutting saloons, daily needs, and basic meals. They don’t mind gazing at you when you, as an outsider pass their shops. Soon you may become the talk of the town.

Bhulah Meadow Janjehli

Bhulah Meadow in Jahjehli

A natural place located above Janjheli to its east, on Shikari Devi Road is a vast grassy meadow that attracts everyone. The area offers lovely views of the surroundings and some nature walks that you can explore on your own. A day out here with a packed lunch is recommended. Further, you may continue to visit Shikari Devi Temple. This is one place that everyone talks about in Janjheli. The Goddess has such an influence on the locals that even for changing their clothes they like to seek her permission. The road becomes narrower from Bhula Meadow onwards and winds up to Raigarh for another five kilometers. From Raigarh to its left, it dips to Sanarali and then to Karsog. This is a narrow dust road with uncountable potholes that continues to its right and winds up to Shikari Devi Temple.

Shikari Devi Temple

Surprisingly, in Janjehli, the local drivers do not mind bringing mini buses to the temple. The locals travel by luggage vans, all stuffed in the open chamber of it, behind the driver. The chamber has no roof but high railings to which some of the extra passengers can be seen hanging. The actual shrine of the Goddess is located on the top of the hill to which, after leaving your vehicle you are convinced to climb up a flight of nearly five hundred stairs. Many, have set up tented shops at the bottom of the hill and similar shops are also found around the temple, above the stairs. The Goddess does not agree to the rooftop so the temple is built in an open courtyard in which many stone-carved figures have been kept. Here people burn incense sticks, offer goats, and seek blessings of the goddess.

Shikari Mata in Janjehli

The animal sacrifice

Later the heads of the goats are chopped with the help of a sickle behind the temple, where no one can see them doing so. Here the poor animal pays at the cost of his life for the orthodox minds. This is a common practice in Janjehli. The climb up to the temple and the views of the surrounding pastures from the temple, both are breathtaking. During winter the area remains snow-covered but the locals are surprised that the snow does not fall on the idols. They do not understand the scientific reason of it that the ghee, the clarified butter that is rubbed on the idols does not allow the snowflake to stay on the stone idols.

Boodha Kedar

The place in Janjehli has its association with the Hindu Epic, Mahabharata. Boodha Kedar, is actually a spring where the water emerges from hard rock. It further flows down to join river Bhekhali and then river Beas. This place is approachable by a seven-kilometer footpath. The legend says that Pandawa brother saw Nandi, a bull and the main follower of Lord Shiva, and tried to catch him. To escape the five brothers the bull banged his head to the rock casing a hole in it and disappeared in the hole. Pandawas entered the hole but could never catch him. Finally, they emerged in Kedarnath in the Garhwal region. So, the water that comes from the hole has a great regard for the locals. Past Janjheli there is a village called Kataaroo. The dust path leaves the road from here and continues to wind up to the hilltop of Bodha Kedar.

Pandaw shila

This is a large-sized rock in Janjehli, a circular-shaped rock that moves with the touch of a finger. You may try to push it with both your hands and it does not move but a finger touch makes it shake, scaring you it may roll downhill. It is believed that it was placed here by Bhim, the strongest Pandawa brother.

Walk to Gada Gushaini

From the Bazaar, near the bus station a narrow trail hangs down to stream Bhekhali, and then over a short bridge leads you a gradual uphill to village Bayla, through the vegetable fields. Beyond Bayla the valley continues for another three kilometers. The walk begins from here and takes about 4 hours to reach Gada Gushaini from where you can hire a taxi to Banjar or Kullu. The head of the Village a young man but with no vision is trying to carve out a rod from here to Gada Gushaini. God knows why? The road is going to be beneficial to none as there are no villages on the way, rather it would be a destruction to the ecology.

Fair of Tungasi Devta

Tungasi is the most important deities in this valley. He resides on a hilltop to the north of Jajheli. Once upon a time some part of the hill also belonged to the royal family. It is said that in order to give punishment to the culprits, they were thrown down the cliff from there for nearly one thousand feet. The venue of the fair is the courtyard of the temple of Deity Tungasi and the ground around it. In the olden days whenever the traders stopped here, the next morning one person was found missing. Then the deity came down from the hilltop and asked them to build a temple dedicated to him and a fair should be held in his name. So still the tradition is being followed and every year in the month of June the fair is held.

Janjheli at Dawn

This is the best time to walk through the lanes of Janjheli. Just leave your room when the sun is still struggling to peep from behind the mountain. At the end of the bazaar, the road bifurcates to Mata Shikari Devi Temple to its right and to Village Boong to its left. Take either of them. People working in the fields, feeding the cows, or just walking to their fields is a common site. You may be attracted by the sound of Haaakk… haak, as someone is trying to draw his cattle to the meadow.  This is the best time to listen to the sounds of some Himalayan birds. Partridge, thrush, golden finch, or a house sparrow can be seen hopping around. A yellow-billed magpie also may glide across the stream and if lucky a fox can be spotted quenching his thirst from the flowing water.


Till a few years ago the only accommodation in Janjheli was the PWD Guest House but in the recent past, some Homestays have come up. Some of them are offering very basic accommodation. Rooms with and without facilities. The best among them is Mata Shikari Devi Home Stay owned by a local family. Mr. Thakur, the owner also runs a daily needs shop here and his rooms are cleaner than others.

Food in Jahjehli

Till a few years ago this was a big problem. Apart from a few roadside dhabas in the bazaar, there was no better food joint in Janjheli. Some sweetmeat sellers claim to be offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner but very basic meals. Lunch, generally here is dal-chawal (lentils and rice) and before it is too dark the bazaar gets shut off so for dinner you have to depend upon your host.

Janjheli is a way from hustle

Janjheli is still a virgin place and is away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The life here is peaceful and charming. The claws of modernity are crawling into life but at a very gradual pace. The locals are not very happy with the policies of the government as there is no promotion of tourism in this region. They are just waiting for the road from Karsog to get tarred and then hopefully more tourists will come. They do not understand the quantity of destruction that arrives with development. If it happens, I don’t think that I would be able to recognize and admire Janjheli as I am doing today.

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By . . . . . . . . . Sumit Raj

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