It was an all boys trip, also my first true hiking trip in Himalayas. Plan was to go Aut by bus and then this small place called Shoja by anything we get and hike to Jalori Pass and then depending of situation hike upto either the Raghupur fort or Serolsar lake. We were excited about the whole trip and making sure to make every arrangement in advance. After some R & D, it was decided that Shoja will be the best place for night’s stay. There are few options there to stay likely, Raja Guest House and Banjara Retreat. As we were tight on budget, Banjara Retreat was not an option, so Raja Guest House was contacted. June is sort of off season, so we got room easily and reasonably priced too.
The Shoja village and Raja Guest House
Let me tell you about the village Shoja; it is a small village located between Banjar town and Jalori pass on highway joining Aut to Rampur. There are few Himachal tourism buses that ply between Aut and Rampur, you can use them. It was our original plan to take a bus to reach Shoja, but I changed that at last moment. Raja guest house is just below the road and only the top floor is visible from there. Like other homes in the area, this guest house is also constructed on slopes & most of the construction is on slopes and below the level of road.
The guest house is relatively bigger than houses around. Three floors, where top floor consists of reception area, a big dining area(and well decorated too) and a couple of rooms on other side facing slopes. You can stand on any corner of the corridors and click perfect postcard photos of pine covered mountains and slopes around. Rooms are spacious and neat & tidy. We had booking in advance, so reached there and crashed into bed to give us must needed rest after 14 plus hours of bus journey to Aut(from Delhi).
What to eat here?
Seems scrambled eggs(egg bhurji) is the specialty of this place. It is tasty, by that I mean the taste of scrambled eggs is exceptional here. Order parathas with egg bhurji, and you will eat your fingers with the food. Also try the beans pickle, another tasty item they have(I liked it).
One more thing to remember is, you have to inform them in advance if you want non-veg items (they will ask by themselves) or anything not available, as they buy it daily from Banjar. We ordered chicken for dinner at night, but the taste was not that good. My suggestions is, stick with vegetarian food only. Another recommended thing is pakodas, they serve tasty hot pakodas on demand. Give it a try. Other items were more or less same as an average dhaba in Delhi.
The size and comfort of room vs price ratio is very good. We got a double bedroom for 1200 and overall bill of lunch, evening snacks(pakodas), evening tea, dinner and morning breakfast was only 2000. For 3 persons, this is way too less than expected.
The owner is a friendly person and he did his best to make us comfortable. Other staffs are also friendly and polite. We had an overall good experience though a bit disappointed about the chicken thing. You will not be disappointed by the environment and surroundings. Also, do not forget to get up early in the morning and adore the natural beauty. If lucky, you can enjoy the small flower garden and bonfire/group activities in the tent also.
Please call the owner on given numbers(09418550549, 09459017591, 09459017592) to book your room in advance, as advance booking is a must in these small hilly areas. Without booking you may land in trouble because there are chances you will not get any rooms in Shoja, as there are very few options to stay here.