Nature gifted humans all the powers but to fly. We can run like tigers, climb on trees like monkeys, swim like fishes, evolve like apes but we cannot fly. Humans held a desire since his origin to rise above and watch the beautiful earth from the top. We even sometimes curse nature for depriving us of this ability. We forget that nature has gifted humans everything in her mysterious ways and so is the ability to fly. Surprised?
Let me explain and you will agree.
She gave us Sea but made it salty so that we don’t consume it all and deprive other creatures of their rights but then she made clouds to convert that salty water into drinkable water and pour into rivers and those rivers flow throughout the earth to distribute the the sweet water on earth like a postman and merge back into the sea to keep replenishing it.
Isn’t all this linked and planned to support us? So, next time when you wonder, why Sea is salty, why clouds pour rain and why rivers exist on earth, you know the answer.
Let’s come back to the point of flying. How did nature bless us the ability to fly? How did nature ensure that we observe the beauty of earth from top and appreciate it?
The answer is mountains, yes the mighty mountains who rise thousands of feet above the sea level and have been spread on earth at almost every beautiful location. Nature created mountains so that, by holding his finger, we climb on his shoulder and holding his head, we can reach up to heights which we could only imagine. Yes, nature didn’t give us wings but gave us limbs. Our legs and hands are the means to rise above the clouds and watch the beauty of nature from the top.
Let me take you to one of such journey where you will believe my words. During this journey, I left the land far below and rose above the clouds with the help of my hands and legs.
During one of my hiking trip, I reached a peak called Shali Tibba. Tibba means a raised land (hill) and Shali comes from the name of the local deity “Shyamla Devi”.
From this peak, you can spot 5 out of 12 districts and several important towns of Himachal Pradesh. Sitting in the lap of Northern Himalayas (Indian part), Himachal Pradesh needs no introduction. It is said to be the second heaven on earth (first undoubtedly is Kashmir).
The Temple and its importance: The peak is primarily dedicated to the Bhimakali Temple. The statue was brought and established from Sarahan. the king of Faridkot developed the path and the temple during Pre-independent India. During Navratri grand worship festival is held in the temple and people from surrounding districts flock to get the glimpse of the Goddess Kali. A priest has been staying here alone for last 25years. Though he has a house and family at the foothill, he stays here unless there is a call from home or temple is closed due to snowfall.
Some known peaks visible from Shali Tibba – Chanshal, Churdhaar, Banderpoonch (Uttrakhand), swargarohini(Uttrakhand)
Shalli Tibba is located in Shimla District near Mashobra which is famous for its Pinewoods and an idle destination for relaxed vacations if you are tired of the crowd of Shimla.
The closest village to reach by car/bus is Khatnol and the rest of the journey can be covered by a jungle hike/trek for 2 hours.
Shimla is one of the most beautiful hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. Four-lane highway and less travel time from Chandigarh, Delhi and several major cities of Punjab and Haryana make it the most favorite hill stations for tourists. Thousands of tourists visit Shimla from India as well as foreign countries, who visit India for the love of Himalayas.
How to Reach
Delhi/Chandigarh – Shimla – Khatnol (only 1 bus in the morning)
You can also take a bus to Mashobra and board sharing taxis for Khatnol.
Note: If you travel solo or in pair, hitchhiking is also an option from Baldeyan on Mashobra highway.
The distance of Khatnol from Shimla City – 30 KM
The distance of Khatnol from Mashobra – 40 KM
Self Drive Routes
Delhi – Zirakpur- Kalka – Solan- Shimla – Mashobra -Naldera- Khatnol (10 hours)
Chandigarh – Kalka – Solan – Shimla – Mashobra – Naldera- Khatnol (6 hours)
The road till Kalka is a 4 lane highway which includes 8km stretch of the best mountain road in India.
The 4-lane highway from Kalka to Solan is under construction and completed in parts.
Solan to Shimla is a 2-way narrow highway but with beautiful views. Enjoy the slow drive.
Take the left turn for tunnel just before the Shimla city and follow the route for Mashobra.
Don’t enter mail Mashobra town, you need to follow the road towards Baldeyan.
Note: Google map may show you a shortcut for Khatnol few km before Baldeyan but don’t take that road (it’s not in good condition and remains closed most of the time)
Stay on the same road until you reach Baldeya
From Baldeyan market, take a narrow road on your right and follow it for 1.5hours to reach Khatnol
From Khatnol there is mud track of 3 km leading towards the Shali temple
There’s space to park the car at the end of the mud track and nobody in the mountains touch your car if you don’t block the road
The path ahead is a trek of 2-3hours (depending upon your capacity)
Trek from Khatnol to Shali Tibba
Level of Trek – Easy
Trail Path – Yes
Time – 2 to 3 hours
Refreshment on the way – No
Water source – Only after the midway ( a water tank along with a small temple)
The entire stretch is a brick path coiled like a still Python lying lazily amid the jungle, covered with pinewoods. The shrill sound of insects will make you feel that the python wakes up time to time and hisses at you. For me, it created an orchestra band playing live. Initially, you may find it loud but with every step you move deep inside the jungle, your brain gets accustomed to the sound and peace settles on your brain as morning dew drops resting on leaves.
Apart from the brick path, there are shortcut mud paths too, intersecting the main path at several places but avoid them. These are short but tiring so you end up reaching by the almost same time. WAlk like you are in a garden and strolling for your morning walk.
A solo trek is highly recommended. when you talk less, you observe more and when you observe more, you will feel every creature joining in your journey (even if you are in a group, talk less and observe more)
The old and kind trees will offer you a seat to rest and listen to their stories. The insects will sing for you to keep engaged and entertained. The kingdom of spiders will hold an exhibition of all the tiny resident of this jungle for you in the form of carcasses. The birds will follow you from a distance and keep an eye throughout your journey like a guarding angel.
Important: Don’t trek at night
Stay Options :
Khatnol is a tiny village with a few houses, a primary school, 3 Dhabas and a wine shop. No hotel, no hostel and no camp stays. Neither Shali tibba has any such facility. In Khatnol, there is one home stay but it isn’t operational throughout the year so call before your plan to travel. freak.
In the temple premises, there is a Sarai built by authorities for the villagers who sometimes spend a night there for local festivals. There are mattresses and quilts available in usable condition if you are not too hygiene
Generally, people trek and return the same day (as they are locals and don’t have to travel for long like you and me).
My suggestion: This place is a heaven and a sunset here is beyond any words to describe the farewell of Sun by the earth. When you will stand at the peak, the 360-degree open view around it will leave you mesmerised and believe my words which I told you at the beginning of this blog. Nature didn’t give us wings to fly but limps to climb and rise high. So, stay at least 1 night and feel the silence, peace and calmness.
Though, you can carry your tent too and pitch it near the Sarai (Don’t dare to stay in the jungle as it is said to be visited by mountain tiger who has often targetted the cows of locals.
Note: Some locals take trek groups to Shali tibba. They arrange pickup drop from Delhi/Chandigarh, a guide, stay and food. Usually a 2 days trip. I can connect you to them through Instagram @himalayandrives (link at my home page)
If you decide to travel on your own (like me).
You have 2 options :
- Get packed lunch from the Dhaba in Khatnol village (which will be only Paratha, Samosa or some other basic items)
- Carry raw material and cook in the temple kitchen which is open for all. It has Desi Chulha, wood and utensils to cook
I know both choices are difficult but good things and good views don’t come easily.
If it’s your lucky day and the temple priest is happy with you, he will gladly share his food with you. Be kind to him and carry some gifts for him. I spent 3 days here and the simple food cooked by him is amazingly tasty.
Weather and climate
Winters: Shali tibba experiences heavy snowfall and gets covered with snow and temple remains closed
Monsoon: Experience heavy rainfall and remain covered with mist/clouds whole day but clouds settle by the evening and present you a beautiful sunset
Rest of the season: The height of the peak (9,423 feet) makes it colder than all the nearby region. Even on a warm summer day, you will need warm clothes in the evening.
Best time to visit: September to November are the best months to visit this peak thanks to the dry air and clear views.
Things to Do
Nothing. Yes, you heard me right. This place has nothing to do or better say distract you.
An idle place to meditate, read a book, enjoy the peace, take blessings from the Shali Diety and treat your eyes with beautiful views.
In the morning, if you can rise before the sun rises, you will see a sea of clouds settled down in the valley and Shali temple rising like a small mountain amid the sea.
The afternoon is the game time when valley and jungle play hide and seek with you. The mist and clods keep covering and revealing the beauty of the valley. On a clear day, you can see as far as Shikari Devi meadows in Mandi.
Evening: Cannot be defined in words. Check out the picture.
At night, surrounding towns – Shimla, Kufri, Bilaspur, Fagu, theog etc present an astonishingly beautiful view as if stars stepped down on earth and sleeping peacefully.
- Data and phone network is available but limited to certain points
- Music and liquor is prohibited in temple premises (Please let this place be peaceful)
- Please carry some ration or donate some money to the priest for maintaining the place and keeping it habitable
- Things to Carry: Water, snack munching, packed food, mosquito creams, lighter/matchbox, first aid kit, an umbrella or Poncho and a Camera with the tripod (must-have for cloud time lapses). TORCH
All villages of Himalayas are plastic-free. I request you to keep the Himalayas clean and green.
Some easy steps to keep Himalayas plastic-free :
- Reusable Water bottle/thermos – Freshwater is available in abundance and better than any packed mineral water bottle
- No Chips and Cold Drinks Please – These are the luxuries of cities, so let’s keep it in cities only. With the fresh air, enjoy the fresh snacks – fruits, salads, paneer snacks, pakodas and grains.
Note: The garbage you throw in dustbins are not recycled on mountains but burnt due to fewer resources which anyways harm the ecology.
Let’s Leave only memories behind not garbage.