It’s said Scenery without Solace is meaningless; that why I always search for Nature’s lap. This time my lap was a mesmerizing village that lies on the bank of river Uhl named Barot. I have been travelling in the Himalayas over a period now in the hope of discovering every beauty God has created. I have the niche to find places that are raw unique & less intervened by social media or human.
Barot was our official team trip, so we all were excited to un-reveal this peaceful & beautiful valley in Himachal Pradesh. Barot is a small village at a distance of 66 km from Mandi, and Jogindernagar is at a distance of 40km (closest railway station). We started our journey from Gurgaon, a long & tiring drive of 523.8km ahead. We took the Gurgaon -Ambala-Chandigarh -Mandi-Barot route, and we started at 4.30 pm from our office at Gurgaon. Considering the long journey ahead and rainfall, I was quite anxious. And my anxiety was on peak thinking of road conditions & sudden downpours. We took a few breaks, as we wanted to reach Sundernagar early morning, which we manage it by 5 am. On reaching Sundernagar, we stopped at the edge of a turning road, where the clouds came floating inside in our car window. The view was breathtaking wide valley covered with clouds, rains droplets on tall cedar & sunrays colouring the sky in deep red to orange. It was a canvas of Nature; we stood amazed at the view. We decided to halt, have a cup to tea & watch the sunrise.
We moved towards Bilaspur when a sudden downpour hit us, so we had to wait for till the showers lighten. Then we moved on to Mandi and took the Mandi – Pathankot Highway for Barot, the road was passable but narrow in places. We continued our drive towards Tikkan from where the route to Barot forks. As we drove towards Jhatingiri, the sun was up & the sky was clear.
We halted for a Pahari maggie & a hot cuppa of tea. The photographer within me was up to explore the beauty of my lens. Ahead the journey roads were terrible and with a steep ascend. The streets were dangerous, which slowed down our pace. Finally, we reached The Heimat Resort, beautiful deluxe tents. Though I prefer Forest Lodges, PWD rest houses, or state Tourism Lodging accommodation, I tried it here too, but all were booked. So we decided on The Heimat Resort. It was a bright sunny morning, and after a drive of 537 Kms and 13.5 Hrs, we reached Barot from Gurgaon at 10.30 am.
It was a sigh of relief on seeing the Resort, which was a river-facing with all necessary amenities. The Heimat Resort is 1 Km before Barot, Near Shanan Reservoirs. The rooms were decent enough to stay, so we quickly ordered tea with pakoras. Since Barot is small village hotels or lodges are lesser in number. But you have government guest houses, & homestay along with few deluxe tents for a comfortable stay, prices starting as low as Rs 320/per night and goes up to 1500/per night. Post our tea session, asked the cook of the Resort to cook local cuisine chicken, rice & chapati. Meanwhile, we all decided to take a nap to recharge ourselves. Barot was quite cold in July too, as it’s surrounded by thick Cedar & Himalayan Oak forest, & also heavy rainfall.
Talking about Barot developed initially in 1920 for the Shanan Hydel Project. It is the inlet point of the tunnel that diverts a water of the Uhl river to the Shanan Power House in Jogindernagar. The township has a diversion dam that was commissioned in 1932. Barot was not accessible, until 1975 when a road was opened. The funicular trolley system was established during construction to connect Barot with Jogindernagar. The gateway to the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary starts from Barot, which lies across the Uhl. The refuge is home to the Monal, black bear, and ghoral. Inside the forest rest houses can be found at Thaltuckhod and Silbandhwari. And through the woods of cedar and pine, a trek route cuts across the sanctuary to Kullu.
It was calm around; the only sound we could hear was of the river flowing beside. It was late afternoon when our doors were knocked with delicious cooked food. Post our lunch, we decided to explore, but showers started to pour in. So the afternoon passed soaking in the silence of the forest, with a touch of old Hindi songs. Evening we planned to try our luck for sunset, and locals suggested Hilltop of Jhatingri, the experience is unmatched from the point. And it was Fabulous, as we were lucky to see the sunset. However, the night was chilly, but our tiredness engulfed us in a deep sleep once we hit the bed after our dinner.
It was a bright Saturday, sunny day. We hit the road after breakfast to explore the village, & decided to walk. First, we visited an old fountain channelizing the waters of Uhl erupting at regular intervals, its a beautiful hydraulic attraction. Right opposite the fountain, two centres of religious faith are situated. Ace is the temple of Dev Pashakot, the local deity of rain, whereas the other is an old temple which has been the witness to the majority of couples of valley getting tied in marital bonds. We visited the Dev Pashakot to seek blessings.
There are also three artificial lakes, including one reservoir on the Uhl river. On the way, we saw many trekker camps were organized, on the Thandi Golai ground of Barot. Trekking is organized from Barot as its the resting point of the Kullu– all trekking routes start from here. The treks pass through dense forests of tall Deodar and Chile trees, which once been the busiest Sheperd route in & around Kangra.
Barot is also called as a heaven for anglers, as Trout fishing is one of the usual activities performed by the people in clear blue water of Uhl River. But we were unfortunate to try out angling, as it was not the season of Trouts.
So we moved towards Luhardi village, about 6 KM away from Barot. We drove to the destination, the road was in average condition, but the views were lovely as part of snow-capped Dhauladhar range of the Himalayas could be seen. It’s a treat for photographers, the overwhelming scenic beauty, chipping birds clear sky, and flowing Uhl.
We decided to walk until to the zero points later in the evening, where the haulage trolly system was installed used for transportation. The peace, calmness, and serenity around the Barot village with the musical sound of the Uhl River flowing beside is the USP of the place. The night ended with a bonfire, & delicious food.
It’s said silence isn’t empty, and it’s full of answers. Barot is one such valley whose silence answers you, makes you relaxed & you fall in love with the serenity of the Himalayas. The thick Cedar & Himalayan Oak trees, free-flowing Uhl, make Barot a most settled village. Barot can be visited around May – June due to the pleasant climate and temperature, which ranges around 17-27 degrees. But if you enjoy the forest in the monsoon & snow, you can visit from July-April also.
We started our journey back on Sunday morning, & along with us, we carried around a million feelings, thousand thoughts, and a hundred memories to cherish.
How to reach:
By Air: The closest airport is in Gaggal (Dharamshala). It is at a distance of 90km from Barot. You can take a flight to Gaggal and then book a cab or taxi to Barot.
By Train: The nearest railway station, which is connected by the narrow-gauge railway line to Pathankot is Jogindernagar. Further, Pathankot can be reached by various significant stations in India. Hire a cab or take a bus to Barot once you arrive at Jogindernagar.
By Road: The best method to reach Barot is by road. Barot is at a distance of 295 km from Chandigarh. You can drive either by Gurgaon>Chandigarh> Bilaspur> Sundernagar> Mandi> Barot or if you are coming from Pathankot or Punjab you can take the route Pathankot>Shahpur>Kangra> Palampur>Jogindernagar> Barot