Jalsu Pass (Himachal Pradesh) trek

Jalsu pass is an outlier in the Dhauladhar mountain range. Most mountain passes in the Dhauladhars are craggy, slate covered with a steep and difficult approach. Jalsu Pass, on the other hand, is a lush green meadow with a gentle approach. Jalsu is also the westernmost pass in the Dhauladhars that connects Kangra with Chamba valley.

Table Of Contents

Trek Detail

One can approach Jalsu Pass from either Utrala in Kangra or from Laake Wali Mata in Chamba. Both these approaches have almost the same difficulty and grade level, with the one from Kangra a tad steeper. The walking distance between Binwa Nagar and Laake Wali Mata is 37.5 kilometres. Some locals are known to cover this distance in one day. However, take two or more days to complete this trek - it is worth the time. If you are starting from Kangra, Jhumpi’s tea shop in Parai Gothe is the natural overnight stay. However, if you start from Chamba then I recommend an overnight stop at Bhikkhan’s tea shop in Yada Gothe. Both Parai and Yada are beautiful grazing grounds and it is difficult to choose one over the other. Yada has beautiful views of Mani-Mahesh and Kuja peaks whereas Parai has an untouched sylvan beauty to it. You can read more about these places in my [3 part trek log]({% post_url 2016-09-24-Utrala-To-Bakluddu-Jalsu-Pass-Trek %}).

Irrespective of the trekking direction you choose, you will start or finish either at Binwa Nagar or at Laake Wali Mata. Binwa Nagar is well connected by bus with Baijnath. It has a Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB) rest house and three teashops that dish out simple yet palatable fare. The last bus from Binwa Nagar to Baijnath leaves at 1700 hours.

Laake Wali Mata has been recently road connected to Naya Graon and Holi. The place is a famous temple that has rooms for overnight stay and a tea shop. Three HPTDC buses ply every day between Laake Wali Mata and Holi and from Holi there are numerous buses to Bharmour and Chamba.

Trek Summary

  • Type - Overnight. Moderate (3-season) and difficult (winter snow).
  • Difficulty - Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Scale - T2.
  • Trek Duration - Two days, with overnight halt at Parai Gothe or Yada Gothe.
  • Trek Distance - 37.4 kilometres between Binwa Nagar bus stand (Kangra) and Laake Wali Mata bus stand (Chamba).
  • Maximum Altitude - 3450m.
  • Average Grade - 12.2% (From Utrala).
  • Start Point - Binwa Nagar bus stand.
  • Finish Point - Laake Wali Mata bus stand.
  • Getting to Utrala and Holi - Binwa Nagar bus stand is 13 kilometres from Baijnath. Regular buses ply between Baijnath and Utrala/Binwa Nagar via Paprola. The last bus from Binwa Nagar to Baijnath leaves at 1700 hours. Three HRTC buses ply daily from Laake Wali Mata to Holi and beyond. They leave at 0900, 1200 and 1500 hours from Laake Wali Mata. Regular taxis are not available at Laake Wali Mata. Nevertheless, the shop next to the temple has phone numbers for a few taxi operators.
  • Hotel and Stay - Utrala/Binwa Nagar has an HPSEB rest house which rents out rooms. There are no hotels at Laake Wali Mata. However, the temple has a few open rooms where you can stay overnight. Holi is the nearest town with overnight accommodation and it is 16 kilometres away from Laake Wali Mata. Holi has a Public Works Department (PWD) rest house and a Himachal Pradesh Forest Department rest house, that may rent out rooms. Holi also has a hotel but as of September 2016, it has been leased out to GMR Bajoli Power Project.
  • Recommended Tea Shops - Krishan’s tea shop at Bakluddu. Jhumpi’s tea shop in Parai Gothe. Bhikkhan’s tea shop in Yada Gothe.
  • Overnight Stay - If you’re starting from Utrala, I recommend a stay at Parai Gothe and if you’re starting from Laake Wali Mata I recommend an overnight stay at Yada Gothe.
  • Weather - Chamba valley lies on the leeward side of the Dhauladhars and receives much less rain than Kangra Valley.
  • Mobile Phone Connectivity - Gaddi report that BSNL has a spotty coverage at Jalsu Temple, although it didn’t work for me. BSNL has coverage at Laake Wali Mata. Other networks are not available between Utrala and Naya Graon
  • Caution - The route from Utrala to Jalsu is notorious for bear and leopard sightings. Avoid straying off the trail and prefer tea shops for camping overnight. Not only does living in a tea shop help the local economy but it also means you can forego the weight of a tent and sleeping gear.

Essential Gear

  • I recommend carrying trekking poles for grip, stream crossing and [shooing away snakes]({% post_url 2016-10-15-Jalsu-Gothe-To-Laake-Wali-Mata-Jalsu-Pass-Trek %}) from the trail.
  • A litre of water between Jalsu Gothe and Parai Gothe as there is no potable water source at the mountain pass.
  • A sleeping bag liner. Though tea shops will provide you with mattress and blankets, I prefer using a silk/cotton sleeping bag liner as the inner layer. It is hygienic and protects from bed bugs.
  • A fleece jacket from April to October. Essential for late evenings and early mornings, especially at and around the pass.
  • A poncho. The Kangra valley from Utrala to Parai Gothe is notorious for heavy thunderstorms.

Downloads and GPS Logs

  • Panorama from Jalsu Pass ([video]({% post_url 2016-10-18-Jalsu-Pass-Panorama-Video %})).
  • My [trek diary]({% post_url 2016-09-24-Utrala-To-Bakluddu-Jalsu-Pass-Trek %}) as I journey over Jalsu Pass in 3 parts.