Sarahan – How to Plan your Trip and Explore?

by Vargis.Khan

The entire state of Himachal is blessed with ethereal beauty. Some of its towns are very well known and famous among travelers like Shimla or Manali; and receive thousands of tourists each year. A lot many others however have remained concealed in its remoteness; places that are highly scenic but only a handful of people known about. One such place that I want to talk about in this article is the small sleepy town of Sarahan.

It was quite by accident that I reached Sarahan for the first time about a decade ago. I was going to Spiti and took a wrong turn at Jeori; thinking of it as the road to Chitkul. I did not reach Chitkul that day of course; but because of that wrong turn, ended up exploring a completely new place; a small amazingly scenic town that I was not even aware of. It was Sarahan that I stayed at for that day and since then; every time I am on Spiti circuit or headed towards Kinnaur; I always ensure that I spend at least one night at Sarahan. Views from up here are mind-blowing and the peace and tranquility is like none other. There is not much to do at Sarahan but the quality time you will spend here doing nothing will remain etched in your memories for long.

sarahanImage Credit: Wikipedia

Sarahan

For a brief introduction, Sarahan is a small village in Himachal Pradesh; located about 100 kilometers from Narkanda and 165 kilometers from Shimla. It is often referred to as the “gateway of Kinnaur”; and was once the summer capital of Bushahr kingdom. Apart from its scenic location, it is also known for the Bhimakali Temple, originally known as Bhimadevi Temple; one of 51 Shakti Peethas. It is a quiet peaceful place that not many people visit; and is perfect for someone who wants to head to an offbeat destination, without going too remote. How you can plan a trip to Sarahan is what I will provide details on in this article.

How to reach Sarahan

Sarahan is 564 kilometers from New Delhi and 170 kilometers from Shimla. One can travel by train to Kalka or by air to Chandigarh and then travel by road to Sarahan. People also opt for the train ride from Kalka to Shimla. Taxis and jeeps too can be hired to reach to Sarahan. Bus services are also available from Chandigarh, Shimla, Rampur and Jeori. It takes approximately 6 to 8 hours by road to reach Sarahan from Shimla and 9 to 11 hours from Chandigarh.

Airport Near Sarahan

The nearest airport to Sarahan is the Shimla airport located in Jubbarhatti. After Shimla, the next nearest airport is the Bhuntar airport between Chandigarh and Manali. These are however small airports and flights to both these places are limited. The nearest major airport is at Chandigarh which is connected with several flights from all over the country.

How to reach Sarahan by Train

The nearest train station also is at Shimla but like the airfield, this train station also is a small one; connected to Kalka by the famous Kalka – Shimla toy train. The nearest major railway station is at Chandigarh; trains to which are available from all major cities in the country.

Also Read: 7 Short and Easy Winter Treks in Uttarakhand

How to reach Sarahan by Road

Assuming Chandigarh as the starting point, you will first drive all the way to Shimla and then continue further uphill to Narkanda. This journey can take you about 6 hours easily. After a short break at Narkanda, you will then drive downhill to the banks of Sutlej River. Driving along the river, you will first reach Rampur and then the small town of Jeori. At Jeori main chowk, there is a narrow steep road climbing up to your right. This is the one that you would have to turn on in order to reach Sarahan. It is a drive of about 15 kilometers and the road can get quite narrow and steep at some places. Route will be as mentioned below.

Chandigarh – Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur – Jeori – Sarahan

How to reach Sarahan from Shimla by Bus

If you were traveling by public transport, then the first step  would be to board a bus to Shimla which should not be a problem. There are buses to Shimla from almost every major town nearby. Next step would then be to reach Jeori for which, you will have multiple choices. You can board any of the buses headed for Reckong Peo, Kaza, Pooh or Sangla from Shimla. All these buses cross Jeori on the way.

Buses ply between Sarahan and Jeori at periodic intervals; which then you will board to arrive at your destination. If not a bus, then you can try to find  a shared cab from Jeori.  By bus it will take you about an hour to get to Sarahan from Jeori.

From Shimla, you can also board any of the buses headed to Rampur. Buses, shared taxi, public carriers are frequent between Rampur and Jeori as well; so you can then look for a different mode of travel for the final leg of the journey.

There is in fact a direct also a direct bus from Shimla to Sarahan. But it makes more sense to take any of the frequent buses between Shimla and Reckong Peo and get off at Jeori on the main road (NH 22).

A bus at 10 a.m plies directly from Sarahan to Jeori and Rampur that you can board to travel back from Sarahan.

Weather of Sarahan

Sarahan has an average elevation of 2,313 meters (7,589 feet). Due to its height, Sarahan experiences a cold climate throughout the year which is suitable for apple farming. The apples grown here and the nearby Kinnaur are considered to be the best among the world.

Weather during summer remains cool and pleasant with temperature fluctuating between 10 to 30 degrees Celsius; depending on time of the day and the month. At an average though, day temperature during summer is around a comfortable 20 degree Celsius.

Come July and the monsoon arrives in the hills of Himachal. It continues to rain here throughout August and sometimes even in first half of September. During this time, the hills and valleys get covered under a a carpet of green grass with flowers of numerous colors all around. Monsoon however also bring risk of cloudbursts and landslides caused by incessant rains.

After November, it can snow at Sarahan at any time. Winter temperature here ranges between 5 Degrees to -10 Degrees Celsius. At times, during the months of January and February, it can snow so much that even the road from Jeori to Sarahan can get blocked.

Best time to visit Sarahan

So when is the best time to visit Sarahan?  It would be either the months from April till June; or the months of September and October. My personal favorite is September though. This is the time when monsoon has just passed. Chances of rain and resulting risks are long gone but the green of the valley and freshness still remain. In general, it is the months of monsoon that bring life to the hills of Himachal and you can get to see plenty of it left in September.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Prashar Lake

You can also plan a trip here in the months of April, May, June and October. Of these 4, April and October will be slightly colder than May and June.

The months of late July and August is usually not considered to be suitable for a trip to Sarahan. We already talked about cloudbursts and landslides; but even if that did not happen, it can still rain non-stop up here. You will be forced to remain indoors at your hotel all the time with little or no sightseeing involved at all in your trip.

Clothes to Pack for Sarahan Trip

This will completely depend on the month of the year you arrived here. A heavy, windproof jacket will however be required irrespective of the time. Along with the jacket, in summer months, just carry your regular cottons, a few light woolens and that will suffice. To cope with the freezing temperatures of winter though, you must bring all your heavy woolens and thermals. For a winter trip, you also need to ensure that you have a pair of  good quality gloves and warm socks. Your jacket should also have a hood that can be helpful in protecting your neck, face, ears and head.

If you were traveling during monsoon, then pack clothes that can dry fast, polyester for example. Keep a pair of rubber sandals handy for walking or riding around in the rain; like Crocs for example. You definitely do not want to get your shoes wet because that will take ages to dry and will be a great hassle. If you were traveling by then keeping an Umbrella with rest of your luggage can prove to be a good idea.

What to see in Sarahan

Which then brings us to our next question of what do you see in Sarahan? Natural and scenic beauty if of course a given. The 16 kilometers drive from Jeori is quite steep and will bring you to a great height from where, you will get an amazing view of the mountain ranges around. Apart from its vistas, below is a list of a few places that you should see while visiting Sarahan.

Also read: How to Plan a Trip to Chanshal Pass

Bhimakali Temple

The Bhimakali Temple remains to be the prime attraction of Sarahan. Originally known as Bhimadevi Temple (Bhima Kali), dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali; this temple is one of 51 Shakti Peethas.

sarahanImage Credit: Wikipedia

Royal Palace

The Palace of the royal family is located right next to the temple though they do not live here any longer. Tourists are not really allowed to enter the palace; but you are free to take some shots from outside.

Bird Sanctuary

There is also a bird sanctuary in Sarahan that is worth visiting. It remains closed during monsoon season though due to bird mating season. This sanctuary caters to breeding of some local species of birds.

Hawa-Ghar

It is a small sitting area built under a canopy. Once upon a time you could get some amazing views of the peaks and valley around from this spot. Tall trees have grown around it now though and have obstructed the views.

Things to do in Sarahan

To be honest, there is not much to do in Sarahan except to just relax and enjoy the natural calm of the place. There are no adventure activities here; and no long list of tourist attractions. You can visit the temple and the bird sanctuary; but most of your time at Sarahan will be spent doing nothing; and that is what you should really come here for.

If you are a bit on the adventurous side though; and fit enough to do some trekking; then the trek to Bashal Peak is the one to lookout for from Sarahan. This trek starts from Sarahan and can be done in a day. But please make sure that you are not attempting it on your own. It involves some steep ascents through a dense forest with wild animals present. Hire a local guide from Sarahan to take you to the peak and bring back safely.

Also read: Places Less Visited in Himachal

Where to stay in Sarahan

There are a few hotels in Sarahan; both luxury and budget. HPTDC Hotel Shrikhand is a good place to stay if within budget. If not, then just take a walk around and you will easily find another hotel; either near the temple itself or on the way to the temple; or while driving up from Jeori. The temple too provides the facility of night stay, like a Dharamshala, and could be a great choice for someone traveling on limited budget.

ATM/Banks

I am not really sure about any of the private banks but there are branches of both SBI and HP State Co-Operative banks here at Sarahan. Both these banks provide ATM facilities and you will be able to withdraw cash. If not Sarahan then you will also find ATMs at Jeori, Rampur and other places on the route.

Mechanics / Petrol Pump in Sarahan

Like ATMs, petrol pumps and mechanics on this route too are in ample amount. You will keep coming across gas stations at regular intervals. Mechanics for small fixes too are available at several places along the highway and in Sarahan as well. Towns like Shimla, Narkanda and Rampur actually have authorized service stations for some known car and motorcycle brands.

Medical Facilities

Medical facility for small ailments and dispensary is available at Sarahan. For anything serious however, you will have to either go to Reckong Peo, Rampur or Shimla.

Also read: Top Offbeat Tourist Places in Uttarakhand

Mobile Network in Sarahan

No matter which network you are on, your phone will be working fine in Sarahan. Reception will be strong and voice clarity good. Data connectivity too is good here. The last time I visited here, I was using Airtel, another person from group was on Vodafone and a third person on Jio. Of these three, service in terms of call clarity and data connectivity was best for Jio.

Itinerary for Sarahan

Mostly Sarahan gets included in itineraries for people either visiting Spiti valley or Kinnaur. You will however find a lot of tourists here only visiting Sarahan. How many places you want to cover will entirely depend on the number of days you have in hand but I will suggest a few itineraries as example. For the sake of this article, I will assume that you are starting from Delhi. If you were coming from a different city, then only the journey for 1st and last day will be different. Rest of the details will still apply.

Sarahan Itinerary

  • Delhi to Narkanda – Day 1
  • Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 2
  • Sarahan – Day 3
  • Sarahan to Chail – Day 4
  • Chail to Delhi – Day 5

The itinerary above is a simple one where you arrive at Sarahan, stay for a day and head back home. As a matter of fact, if you started by 2 AM from Delhi, you can actually make it to Sarahan on the same day without needing to stay at Narkanda.

If however you wanted your travel a little broader with more places included, then you can plan something like below.

Kinnaur Itinerary

  • Delhi to Narkanda – Day 1
  • Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 2
  • Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3
  • Chitkul to Kalpa – Day 4
  • Kalpa to Chail – Day 5
  • Chail to Delhi – Day 6

Spiti Itinerary

If you wanted to travel on the entire Spiti circuit, then you van plan like this.

  • Delhi to Narkanda – Day 1
  • Narkanda to Sarahan – Day 2
  • Sarahan to Chitkul – Day 3
  • Chitkul to Kalpa – Day 4
  • Kalpa to Kaza – Day 5
  • Kaza to Chandratal – Day 6
  • Chandratal to Manali – Day 7
  • Manali to Delhi – Day 8

Sarahan Road Conditions

Starting from Delhi, roads are mostly smooth all the way till Sarahan. There is some road widening work going on between Chandigarh and Shimla where you may hit some bad patches and slow traffic. A bridge on Jeori to Sarahan road collapsed in 2017 after which a narrow dirt road was put in place as a temporary road. This 6 to 7 kilometers long road was a badly broken dirt trail and was still in use until 2018. Once the repair work on main road is completed and bridge is functional again, the Jeori to Sarahan stretch too will be smooth.

Also read: 10 Offbeat Places in Himachal

If you were however traveling to other areas like Kinnaur and Spiti as well then the stretch between Kalpa to Kaza will be a mix of good, bad and average. From Kaza to Losar is bad; Losar to Batal is very bad; Batal to Gramphoo is extremely bad; and Gramphoo to Manali is a mix of good, bad and average.

Sarahan Altitude

Sarahan is located at a height of 7,589 feet above sea level

Shopping in Sarahan

Some items that you can consider buying are Kinnauri Caps, shawls, Nehru jackets and socks. All these items are available at the main market near temple complex. Apart from clothes, some locals jams made from apples and apricots too remain on sale and are a good buy. If you were visiting the temple, then you may choose to buy some religious items as well like puja thali and prayer bells.

Where and what to eat

There are numerous local dhabas here that serve some Himachali dishes like Thupka and all other north Indian dishes as well. You can chose to either eat at any of these dhabas or at the hotel that you were staying at.

Sarahan in Winter

Sarahan receives a lot of snow in winter season and even the road from Jeori till here can sometimes get blocked. If you were planning to arrive here in winter, then be prepared for freezing temperatures. Ensure that you are bringing in all your woolens and keep at least a couple of days as buffer in your itinerary. In case the weather turned extreme and you had to stay back because of roadblocks, then you should be ready to afford to do so.

Conclusion

I hope the information above on visiting Sarahan was of help. If you have any other questions; or need any further details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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14 comments

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Ashok Kumar Gupta April 25, 2020 - 12:15 pm

Very well written and quite informative.Thanks.

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Vargis.Khan July 13, 2020 - 7:39 pm

Thank you !!!

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Subrata Mukherjee January 22, 2020 - 3:00 pm

Well written . All information are included. I am planning to travel Kinnaur in April 2020. I will follow your instruction . Kalka to Narkanda to Sarahan to Chitkul to Kalpa to Chail to Shimla to Kalka. Please tell , if i will get HRTC buses from each place . Thank you .

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Vargis.Khan January 23, 2020 - 4:36 pm

Thanks Subrata and yes, you will get buses or shared cabs easily

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Arun Mukherjee October 28, 2019 - 12:24 pm

Nice description provided by Mr Vargis Khan.

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Vargis.Khan October 30, 2019 - 10:00 pm

Thank you Mr. Mukherjee

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Swarnendu September 14, 2019 - 12:44 pm

Is it suitable for my 2 years old daughter? She has never been to such altitude before, though she has been to multiple hill station earlier.

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Vargis.Khan September 14, 2019 - 2:04 pm

Sarahan should be fine for kids as well. It is almost the same altitude as Shimla.

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Anil थापर August 27, 2019 - 2:09 pm

धन्यवाद आपका अत्यंत लाभकारी जानकारी देने के लिए वर्गीज जी। मैं एकबार यहां जा चुका हूं अपने दोस्तो के साथ 2015में अब दोबारा अपने परिवार के साथ जाने का विचार है , लेकिन मुझे इस मंदिर का नाम तथा सहर का नाम नहीं पता था क्योंकि 2015 में हमें इस मंदिर के बारे जानकारी नहीं थी सिर्फ रात को सोने के लिए किसी ने हमें इस मंदिर के बारे में बताया था बस्तव में हम लोग सांगला जा रहे थे रात बहुत हो चुकी थी इसलिए यहां रात्रि बिताने के लिए रुके थे फिर सुबह मा काली के दर्शन किए और कुछ मनत मांगी थी मा काली से जो उसी बर्ष पूर्ण हो गई थी और मैं अब इसलिए एकबार मा के दर्शन करने और सबपरीबर धन्यवाद करने यहां जाना चाहता हूं।

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Vargis.Khan August 27, 2019 - 11:56 pm

Mujhe khushi hai Anil ji ke aapki manokamna poori hui aur jo jaankari maine yahan di hai vo aapke kaam aayi. Bahut bahut dhanyawad ke aapke comment ke liye.

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Kanchan Bose July 13, 2019 - 10:03 am

Extremely well written. I am planning to go Sarahan with my family on October 2019 . I must follow your instructions all the way as per your guidance.
Thanks
Kanchan Bose, Kolkata

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Vargis.Khan July 13, 2019 - 3:37 pm

Thank you Kanchan

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Sunetra Mitra December 10, 2018 - 8:35 am

extremely well written and informatiove. I am planning a trip in March as I will be in Shimla then. Any suggestion about the month of March?

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Vargis.Khan December 10, 2018 - 1:08 pm

Thanks Sunetra. It is doable definitely with chances of finding snow as well if you were planning to go in early March.

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