Barot : The Peaceful Getaway

Summer in India is all about heat, exams and vacations. My share of the heat and examination was what I received all May and June ( almost ) and it was finally time for me to have a taste of the last phase of the Indian summer.

Now, deciding a place to pitch my holiday tents was Step number 2. Uttrakhand had been ruled out, because monsoon was already playing dirty games with the tourists ( Prayers for the people who lost their lives and families ). Shimla and Manali was out of the scenario ( Too much crowded ). We were looking for a peaceful yet adventurous place; plus proximity to Chandigarh was also a concern.

After all the mapping and plotting, Finally we decided to hit a small village in Himachal Pradesh; Barot, it is. We had been accompanied by another family ( Family Friends). They had been to this place twice already and thought it would be  perfect place keeping all the concerns in mind. The idea of going to this place did not make me jump ( Internet clearly said: ” Barot is a lonely and secluded village”).  I just wanted a break from this monotonous cacophony and thus, I too agreed upon visiting Barot for a short 3-day holiday.

Map
Map

Tuesday, June 18, 2013: Day 1:

We started our journey at 10 in the morning. A clear and sunny day, you could see seven happy faces packed in one taxi, all set to begin a happy vacation. The journey went smooth and it was all fun. Barot is at a distance of 285 kilometers from Chandigarh. You cannot even find it on the map of Himachal with a microscope. The last ‘heard-of’ city near this place is Mandi, H.P. * I’m a ‘hill-lover’, so heights and travelling for long hours do not affect me that much*, this is what I always thought, but once we crossed Mandi, the notion diminished. Barot is 66 kilometers from Mandi and these 66 kilometers are the scariest 66 I’ve ever seen or known about. ( Not the heights, but the roads; narrow, very narrow). After an hour towards Barot, the villages and people start leaving your sight and all you see is the river, the gorge, the huge mountains, the narrow road..getting even narrower, one or two vehicles every half an hour,maybe. For once, all I could think of was that this road will lead us to nothing but dark, dense and cold forest. After a long eye-popping wait..Finally..we were there, Barot!! More than I had expected, B for Barot and B for Beautiful is enough to explain that one moment when I saw it. It was 8 PM when we reached and you could still see sunlight dancing and saying goodbye to the valley. We found ourselves a comfortable and decent home stay guest house, lodged in, had dinner and just slept like a baby ( Travelling took all our energy: we needed to rest for the next two days ).

The first look : PWD Rest House, Barot
The first look : PWD Rest House, Barot

Wednesday, June 19, 2013: Day 2:

We opened our doors and windows the next morning and this is how Barot greeted us.

Barot saying Good Morning
Barot saying Good Morning

Yes, the weather was bright, clear and sunny. No one could have guessed that monsoons were going berserk all over the rest of the country. We were all ready by 10 AM and all set to pay a day trip to a village which was at another 16 kilometers from this place, the village called Bada Gram (Bada Gaun). So Barot was like a base camp and we were moving deeper into this natural super beauty. We stopped at a few places.

Already into the wild, all set to explore the deepest setups of the mankind.
Already into the wild, all set to explore the deepest setups of the humanity.

Our first spot was a small road side waterfall which ended into a muddle. Towards the foot of the waterfall you could see a natural rainbow. Science does not leave you alone anywhere. This amalgam of science and nature is spellbinding.

Rainbow, Water and Sun
Rainbow, Water and Sun

This was just one of nature’s best panorama that  we were going to see. The roads were getting even worse now..scary..narrow. Only one car could pass at a time. Trucks were nowhere to be seen. We did see a few local buses on our way and it took me by surprise that how Himachal Government had made it a point to connect the smallest villages by road and how good they were at providing the basic transport facilities to the people.

Taking us to Bada Gram
Taking us to Bada Gram

On our way, we saw a few small farms. The heights were…I am short of words..My heart would jump out everytime I saw another vehicle approaching us from the opposite direction.

Finally we reached our destination, after witnessing all the eye-popping and heart-blasting scenario. Bada Gram, to reach this place you have to travel 16 kms by road, Walk for few hundred meters, cross a small bridge and take a few stairs..all this brings you to a small..very small..village. Village,itself is a big word to describe this place. It is actually a cluster of 10-15 wooden houses on a hill-top. As Barot falls under the district Kangra, Bada Gram is the last ‘village’ under this district and in this area of H.P. This is the point beyond which no human civilization exists in this direction.

Bada Gram taught me a lot of things, It actually changed the way I look at a lot of things. I came across things and people who never existed in my opinion. The houses were very small, ancient Himachali wooden houses. A few people..few..as in 10 in totality were doing there daily chores. Three women carried wooden stacks on their backs. Men were busy with their sheep. This is a place were you receive no cellphone reception and guess what..every house..every house has a dish TV connection. *Technology can never leave you alone in this age.*

People were living in such a small places. There were no locks. No one locked their house. Every house had an electricity meter ( Just like in the cities, you least expect this to be here, another commendable job by the HP Govt.) They had a small temple where they worship their deity.

The temple
The temple
Idols: No grand temple like setup and yet it feels so holy.
Idols: No grand temple like setup and yet it feels so holy.

Walking deeper into the village, we came to know that the village ( cluster ) has its own Aaganwaadi Center and a Primary School.

I was least expecting to see this
I was least expecting to see this

And next the school;

Welcome to the School
Welcome to the School
The Primary School
The Primary School
The classroom and the students
The classroom and the students

When I entered the classroom, I just could not believe what I saw. There were children, I could have never thought of existed. In this era, where we want new bags and water-bottles for every new session, there are children who are struggling to buy new books and uniforms. The smiles you see on their sweet faces is priceless. It makes you realize that how unhappy and superficial you are and how satisfied and happy their lives are. For these children, Facebook and Justin Bieber  isn’t the world instead receiving candies from strange visitors is what makes them the happiest.

Spending some time with these children brought us a lot of peace.
Spending some time with these children brought us a lot of peace.

Those tough 16 kms feel worth it now. After spending an hour or so in this village, we moved back to our base. On reaching Barot, we stopped for lunch at a small café and then proceeded to another village, Loharidi.

Loharidi was on the other side of Barot. It is the shopping mall for the people living in the nearby villages. This village has lesser houses and more shops. We saw a weaving center, a few  general stores, a small clinic and a few vendors. This was all Loharidi was about.

River Ulah: The bridge connecting Loharidi to the forest.
River Ulah: The view from the bridge that connects Loharidi to the forest.

A small walk here and we were back to Barot, the base. The evening was event-less.  It was all about a little rest, spending time by the river, food, gossiping and playing cards.

Thursday, June 20, 2013: Day 3:

Day 3 was the Barot day. Barot was to be explored today. River Uhl flows through this village which has an old reservoir connected to it. Barot is also famous for Trout Fish. It has a fish farm also.

We first took a walk to the fishery. This trout fish farm has a special hatchery.

Trout fish farm: You can buy fresh and healthy fish here.
Trout fish farm: You can buy fresh and healthy fish here.
The fishes!!
The fishes!!

After this, we decided to trek for 2-3 kms to a guest house which was located at the hill-top.

The view from the top was exuberant. It took my heart away. I could stand in this place all day.

A view from the top
A view from the top

The guest house was at a very nice site. You had to make your way through the forest to reach this place.

The guest house
The guest house

After returning from this short trek, we decided to take a look at the historical evidences of Barot. The reservoir exists since the time the British ruled India. They made a special railway track via which they used to bring raw material for the construction. The track is at an unbelievable elevation. It almost makes a 90 degree angle with the  Dhauladhar hills of the Himalayas. The reservoir is a key-feature of this valley.

The Shanan Power House is another important modern setup of Barot.

Tents pitched for the backpackers who stop by at Barot
Tents pitched for the backpackers who stop by at Barot
The railway track
The railway track
Reservoir Details
Reservoir Details

After taking a walk around the valley, we spent out last evening here by the riverside. It was just magnificent.

Riverside
Riverside

Thursday, 21st June, 2013. Day 4:

The short vacation ended on Day 4. We planned to leave for Chandigarh at 9 A.M and by 6 P.M we were all back in our beds.

****

Barot, is a beautiful place. It is a place for people who want a crowd-free and noise-free vacation with their families. It is best suited for those who look out for new destinations to quench their wander-lust. Barot makes you forget that you come from a modern land. It’s scenic beauty grips you and brings you to a new land where the tall Deodars replace the lofty sky-scrapping apartments and the sweet birdie melodies replace the loud music and the horns. It’s peaceful and serene.

You can instantly fall in love with this place. The people are warm and friendly. The place has cheap and decent home stay rest houses. A tourist does not have to crib about food here.

****

If you’re planning a vacation and you feel that Barot is your summer-getaway, make sure that you keep a few things in mind.

  • The roads are not easy. Make sure you a skilled enough to drive. It is advisable to use the local transport or hire a cab and make sure the driver knows what kind of roads he has to drive on.
  • You may not find an ATM here. Keep cash in hand.
  • The weather isn’t hot but the sun is usually overhead. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses.
  • In case, you’re the trekking kinds, make sure you have all the necessary items. Talk to the locals before you set out on the exploration.

****

Barot made my vacation a success. It was like an energy drink.  I have so much to put in but I’m really short of words. The more I try explaining about the lovely place, the more I get stuck into day-dreaming about visiting it again. This valley is an explored, hidden treasure. You must visit this place soon.

Teesha

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