Manali-Manikaran Chronicles: Am I Going to be a Gypsy?


*Finally, I’ve fished out some time to write. I’m suddenly a changed person; a changed perspective! I’ve always written about my love for writing and travel. I’m sure by this time you’ve all understood that when I start writing a blog with how I’m evolving as a person, it is either about writing or traveling. It’s been a while now and I haven’t really shared a travel-story. Obviously, it is because I did not have enough time to get my backpack to use!* 

**Drum Rolls**

*Get your reading glasses ready! I’m taking you to Manali. On a journey that I started with soul-searching as the only thing on mind.*

I would call November the most eventful month of the year. Just before lying on its deathbed, 2014 gave me memories for life!

Writing down a few last mails of the day, I rushed  past the office door early that evening. With a child-like excitement, I drove across the honking cars and traffic signals knowing that in next 10 hours I would be staring at the glorious mountains! *4 days, 3 friends and the lap of mountains, P E A C E*

Departure: 5th November 2014, 6:30 PM: Our cab was waiting for us! After a few hugs to the families and we three left our  homes for a vacation *a much-needed vacation*. After a 40-minute drive from Panchkula to Sector 22 Chandigarh and then another 15-minute hop to a dark and spooky spot (waiting there for a few minutes), we sat in our bus around 8 PM. This is that time of the year when Manali attracts a lesser number of tourists. So, the bus just had us, a few honeymooners and a few groups of students, heading back to their hometowns for the weekend. The bus left Chandigarh at 8:30 and thus, began a journey, I’m never going to forget. It was bumpy yet peaceful. The stars shone above our heads, the nip in the air slowly turned into spine-chilling cold as we slowly moved towards our destination. The bus only stopped twice or thrice  on its way to Manali; once for dinner and the next for a breather ( as I call it). While the other two slept for a while, I spent a good part of the traveling just gazing at the stars. They just made me forget everything about the stress, the work, the studies et al. I did sleep for good 3 hours curled up in my seat. And, when I woke up, we had almost reached Manali. The river, the mountains, the forest; I fell in love with the place the moment I opened eyes that day. *It was the third time, I falling in love with Manali, had visited the place twice back in the year 2007 and 2008. It was the same; even more beautiful. Maybe, November made it look even more fresh!*

Day 1: 6th November 2014, 6:30 AM: Exactly 12 hours later, we jumped out of our bus; looking no less than backpackers this time. We came across a nosey taxi-driver who had some real plans to spoil our good mood. He spoiled good two hours of the day by taking us from one hotel to another. *Lesson to be learned: Pre-book your hotel, even if it is off-season!*  Finally at 8:30 AM, we checked into our hotel, Hotel Chichoga Holiday Inn Manali. Decent, Good Service, Clean Rooms, Good View: In Short, Value for Money.

A View from the Hotel: Manali
A View from the Hotel: Manali

We freshened up a little a got ready for the second eventful and thrilling journey of the day. Rohtang and Solang were calling. We hopped into a cab; the hotel manager had arranged one for us. 12:30 and we left for the beautiful and enthralling journey. The weather was in our favor; it was a sunny, bright day. *I’m a lover of sunny days.*

Sunny Manali Days
Sunny Manali Days

Though, this was my second trip to Rohtang, it was even more beautiful around this time. Warm yet chilly, every inch of the mountains was glistening under the November sun. Just  B E A U T I F U L! We reached Rohtang around 2 PM, climbed up the mountain to find some snow.* Excruciating and breathtaking ’twas!* And, then, there at one spot, you could see the mighty mountains smiling at you and the sky trying to hug you. This one moment, that I heard the winds whistling; I can never forget it. Pious and cleansing! I had forgotten the world and just wanted to sit there on the stone for hours altogether. *Though, the altitude was killing me.*  Some pictures:

On the way to Rohtang
On the way to Rohtang
Almost at the Top, Rohtang Pass
Almost at the Top, Rohtang Pass
View from the Top
View from the Top

After spending a few hours in Rohtang, we moved towards Solang. The valley wasn’t was that eventful this time around; off-season to be blamed. Sipping some coffee and soup, we returned to our base in Manali around 7PM. We were tired of all the traveling, so had dinner at hotel and slept tight!

Day 2: 7th November 2014, 10:30 AM: We woke up a little late and rushed out of the hotel after a scrumptious breakfast. Manali sight-seeing was the plan! The weather showed us its cold side on the second with absolutely no sun. Our first stop was at Van Vihar. It was funny how Manali had been left to its solitude with very less tourists. Although, no rush and traffic jams; it totally worked for us. Here, we sat at the banks of River Beas. A photo-session and then rushed to Hadibma Temple which was at a distance of 3 kilometers from the main Manali Mall Road area.

Van Vihar (Children Park Area)
Van Vihar (Children Park Area)
That's my favorite picture
That’s my favorite picture

At first, we decided to walk but then these street dogs din’t left us alone and we took a short auto-ride. Just as beautiful as ever. The temple premises were so peaceful and tranquil. The pictures have everything to say!

Hadimba Temple, Manali
Hadimba Temple, Manali

After an hour or so, we headed towards the Old Manali. Roamed around in the streets here and shopped a little for the families. After stopping for dinner at a cafe in the vicinity, we headed back to our hotel early. The next day, we knew was going to one hell of a journey!

Day 3: 8th November 2014, 11:30 AM: That is when we checked out of the hotel. Where were we headed? Into the magical valley; the Parvati Valley. We boarded a bus from the Manali Bus Stand for Kasol, a townlet near the pilgrimage area Manikaran Sahab. This is where we had decided to pitch our base for the next two days of our journey.  The day was cold but slowly as we took the turn towards the valley, the smiling sun welcomed us. The mountains and the gradient, all singing joyous welcome songs for us. River Parvati flowing on the side, was just amazing. The lush green trees, the narrow curvy roads, soaring mountains and the turquoise blue river; what more could I have asked for. It was thrilling, scary and gorgeous. We reached Kasol around 4:00 PM and got comfy in a hotel. This was one called Deep Forest; and hell! Deep in the forest it almost was.

View from the hotel room, Kasol
View from the hotel room, Kasol

The best part about Kasol was that it was silent and enticing in every form. The food, the people, the gorgeous mountains- it was all crazily beautiful. Food was a main highlight. We tried some yummy street food and then gorged onto the delightful Israeli cuisine for dinner, and my goodness, wasn’t it some tasty meal! I’m big time foodie and am always a game for trying new food. If you’re visiting Kasol soon, try stopping at the Evergreen for a meal. They’ve got a wonderful ambiance, soulful music and super-yummy food. Italian, Spanish, Israeli, India- Everything!

Cherry on the top, Candle-light dinner at Evergreen!
Cherry on the top, Candle-light dinner at Evergreen!

*I’m quickly jumping to day four: this is the best part*

Day 4: 9th November 2014, 11:30 AM: After night watching the stars and mountains, we woke up around 10 that morning. Food was of course, the first thing that came to our minds and we headed to Little Italy. This is where the testament came into play. They say, you ought to save the best for the last and thus, the last day of our vacation started with a platter of awesomely deliciously scrumptiously yummmmmmyyy food. Italian breakfast! Goddddd, what more could you ask for! Good food, favorite people and mountains: I was falling in love with my life.

After stuffing up our tummies, we moved further to Manikaran Sahab. I have my faith vested in Gurdwaras and so visiting Manikaran was really important for me. The vacation would have been incomplete. River Parvati was at its melodious flow here; steamy yet soft. Another part of the trip that brought peace to me!

River Parvati, Manikaran
River Parvati, Manikaran
Let's bring in some peace
Let’s bring in some peace
Manikaran Sahab
Manikaran Sahab

A few peaceful moments here and then we moved to Kasol Camps. A place where you can sit near the beautifully flowing river just bask in the nature’s bounties. This was the best part of the vacation. Just the river, the mountains, the winds and us. This is where my soul-searching ended. I knew I was taking back a lot of sanity, peace and calm. In those two hours of my stay there, the river, the mountains gave me so much about life. I noticed how the river started from a source and moved along with its course, romancing with the boulders, seducing the rocks and flirting with its banks; covering a journey towards a destination unknown. So much like our lives.

Peace, Calm and Tranquility
Peace, Calm and Tranquility

The towering mountains picked up my dampened spirits and said, “Look, don’t be weak and stressed! You can do this.” I was going back a changed person that day.

Our next stop was a cafe hidden in the mountains. You can to take a scary suspension bridge to reach this one. Concluding the trip, we shopped a little in the town market and then started the packing spree back in the hotel.

Back Home: We checked out of our hotels on 10th November and took a bus from Kasol to Bhuntar. The vacation had not yet ended. River Parvati flowing back with us, was bidding us adieu and telling us its life stories all the way. We jumped off our bus in Bhuntar and took another bus to Chandigarh!

*November 11, 11 AM: Sitting at the office desks, creating the songs and chatters with our keywords. And thus, the saga came to an end. Indeed, it left us enriched with stories and memories for life. I did find the peace. Also, this journey left me with a question, the soul that I was searching for; was that of a gypsy! Eversince, I’ve come back to Chandigarh, all I have thought about is going back again! Am I turning into a Gypsy?*

Teesha

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Mcleodganj- The Monsoon Madness


The-Barot Hangover faded away too fast and in 10 days post-vacation number 1, I was badly in the need of vacation number 2. This one had to be different and it was mandatory. All the examination blues and graduation hues were pushing me towards another vacation. Barot was about family so number 2 had to be about friends.

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Before we could begin this crazy journey, we had to face a few obstacles. ( Actually, one major obstacle)….

Monso0n – the maniac driving India crazy. ( Everyone who plans to travel during late June to early July has to face this)

So keeping safety and monsoon in mind, our darts finally hit Mcleodganj on the map of Himachal and thus, began a mad monsoon vacation.

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DAY 1: July 5, 2013

To reach Mcleodganj, we  ( A group of 5 ) took the early morning bus from Chandigarh. 04:30 AM and we were all packed in this crowded HRTC bus..Yes HRTC..!!!! The beginning was as pretty as i thought it would be. 7 hours ride to Dharamshala was bumpy and sleepy..both!! The weather was pleasant..so the heat wasn’t the issue at all. At 11 AM, We reached Dharamshala. Mcleodganj is  9 kms away from Dharamshala. The bus from Chandigarh dropped us here and then another half an hour local bus ride from this lower town took us to Mcleodganj. 11:30 AM and then finally, the destination!!

First look of the beautiful town and I was all..speechless and breathless ( the altitude and the walking). Mcleo ( That’s what everyone calls it ) was just magnificent. It is also known as the upper Dharamshala. This aesthetically set up town houses the Tibetan community. In this place you can see a beautiful amalgam of India and Tibet. Every other person who walks by has a Rosary ( Buddhist praying beads ) in their hand. The entire atmosphere is chirpy, fun-filled and peaceful at the same time. The 7 hours and bus ride was like a time machine that took us to a different world.

On reaching Mcleo, the next issue was to find a good budget hotel and settle in.

Once you start moving into the bazaar you will find several hotels and guest houses. Finding a place to stay is no problem at all.

After having a look at a few hotels we found our perfect place near the Tsuglagkhang i.e the Dalai Lama’s temple.

We spent the first day at Mcleo lazing around and staying packed in our rooms, We were just so tired from the day’s travel and hotel-hunting. the Also we were in the need of conserving our energies for the next 5 days.

DAY 2: July 6, 2013

Tired from the previous day’s exertion, we woke up a little late. As the curtains rose, this is what Mcleo morning greeted us with.

Monsoon Mcleodganj Morning
Monsoon Mcleodganj Morning

10:30 AM and there Mcleodganj was all draped in fog and clouds. It was cold. We just couldn’t let the blankets go. After getting ready for the day and stopping for a brunch at a local Tibetan restaurant, Drumsticks. We decided to take short walk and explore the nature. Little did we know, that the more we walked..the more we would want to walk. We took the westward turn from the Mcleo main square which put us on the way to Dal Lake ( Not Kashmir- Dal Lake).

We decided to take a 3 km walk-trek-walk to this lake. These were the most beautiful 3 km of Mcleodganj. The scenic beauty was just spell-binding. Had we not decided to take this walk, we would have missed a lot of things.

We came across a number of small waterfall and riverlets on the roadsides
We came across a number of small waterfall and riverlets on the roadsides

Let the pictures do the talking for me..!!

The way to the lake
The way to the lake
A roadside water tank built by 1st Gorkha Rifles. It was renovated by 2/1st Gorkha Rifles in 1960.
A roadside water tank built by 1st Gorkha Rifles. Renovated by 2/1st Gorkha Rifles in 1960.
Tibetan paintings on the roadside rocks.
Tibetan paintings on the roadside rocks.
Did this just take your breathe away??!!
Did this just take your breathe away??!!

We reached our destination, the lake, which is beautifully situated and is surrounded by the Himalayan Cedar trees ( Deodars). The Dal Lake is considered sacred. A fest is held here every September and the devotees here take a holy dip.

Dal Lake - surrounded by the deodars, is at an elevation of 1900 meters.
Dal Lake – surrounded by the deodars, is at an elevation of 1900 meters.

The lake has suffered human atrocities and was subjected to pollution. It is however a magnificent piece of nature.

'Hawa Ghar' at the lake
‘Hawa Ghar’ at the lake

The day at the lake was fun-filled. We walked our way down to Mcleo again. To reach our hotel we had to rush past the Bazaar. So exploring it was going to be an everyday task.

The night went by playing cards, chatting and eating. I must say, the food you get here is just lovely. Food and accommodation is just no problem at all.

DAY 3: July 7, 2013

Walking can really drain all your energy and thus it took us an 8-hour sleep to replenish our walking souls. The third day and the plan was to visit the Bhagsunag temple and the waterfall.

Making our way through the busy market we headed towards the temple. The temple was at a distance of another 3.5 km from the square and again we decided to walk. Walking was a choice, various modes of transportation were available.

The view to the north of Mcleo was even more beautiful. You could see the Dharamsala Stadium and the two hill-stations from a particular point.

View from the top
View from the top

One reaching Bhagsu, we took the left turn and after walking a kilometer we realized that we were heading in the wrong direction. Here we saw a number of cafe and more foreigners than localities. This way was actually the source point to those who trekked upto Triund. We had no plans to trek to Triund as the weather was not favorable. The best to do at this point of time was to return to the small town of Bhagsu.

Another 600 meter walk from the market brought us to the Bhagsunag temple. This temple is an ancient Hindu temple. Lord Shiva and the God of Snake, Bhagsu Nag are the deitys worshiped here. There is a fresh spring attached to a pool in the temple premises, where a lot of devotees take a dip. The temple amidst the small market and the huge hills is just a wonderful worshiping place. At a walk of another 1.5 km is the Bhagsunag waterfall. This was were we headed to after making our offerings at the temple. A small cemented path took us to the way that reaches to the falls and as soon as we got to this way…it is all just magical. The hills suddenly touch the sky all doled up by the mist.

What you see while on your way to the waterfall.
What you see while on your way to the waterfall.
The way taking us to the waterfall
The way taking us to the waterfall

The Bhagsu fall is the one of the most spectacular waterfall in India. We reached here around 5:30 PM and there was this little chill in the air. The water was cold..icy cold..!!

***There are a few small tea shops near the waterfall. So maggi+ tea+ waterfall = Relaxing moments.***

We couldn’t stay here for more than half an hour as the sun was about to leave our sight.

On heading back from the falls
On heading back from the falls

This time our walking spirits were drained and so we took a short and bumpy auto-ride to Mcleo from Bhagsu. After enjoying dinner at a nice café, we headed back to our rooms.

DAY 4: July 8, 2013

After all the Mcleo exploration, we planned to visit the Dalai Lama’s temple, the Dharamshala stadium and a church nearby on the fourth day.

The temple was at a walking distance from our hotel. Cameras and mobile phones are not allowed in the temple premises. Every person was physically frisked at the entrance to keep up a high-level secure atmosphere.

The temple was just beautiful. There were a few gardens and worshiping areas on the ground floor. The main temple area is on the first floor. You may witness a number of monks here, praying and doing their daily chores. The temple also has a hostel for monks attached to it.

The main temple hall was peaceful. There were several interesting paintings and cravings on the walls. A holy silence filled the temple. Visiting the temple felt amazing. It gave us this self-cleansing feel.

Next we headed to the stadium,

So to reach Dharamshala we took a cab from the Mcleo bus stand. The cab dropped us near the Dharamshala bus stand in 20 minutes. From here, to reach the stadium we took a short bus ride. Walking a few meters from the main road, brought us here.

Leading us there
Leading us there
Entrance : Gate No. 2
Entrance : Gate No. 2

The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association has made it a point to keep the stadium clean. The very entrance of the stadium gives you an adrenaline rush. For the cricket-lovers, a stadium smack in the middle of the hills.. what more could one ask for!!

HPCA STADIUM, DHARAMSHALA.
HPCA STADIUM, DHARAMSHALA.

After having some photography sessions and subjecting our senses to the cricket’ing’ environment we took another bus ride back to Mcleo.

2 kms before the town is the St. John’s Church. This was where we were heading to.

About the Church
About the Church

St. John’s church in the Wilderness is what it is known as. And this is how it looks in the evening with all the wilderness playing company.

This church is beautifully built and has a very peaceful and serene atmosphere. This is what is looks like on the inside.

The church in the wilderness
The church in the wilderness
Praying area
Praying area

Late evening

Pretty evening lights
Pretty evening lights

To reach back to Mcleo we had to take a 2 km short walk. The hills look even more pretty during the late evening hours.

We reached the main square around 7 PM and were all set to hit our rooms. Got our dinner packed and returned to the rooms by 8:30 PM. It was one of our friend’s birthday the next day and it was going be the last day of our trip, so to make the most of it we got to our beds early..of course after a small 12:00 AM Birthday Party. 😛

DAY 5: July 9, 2013

5th and the last day, we were heading back home on 10th, so hence, it was the shopping day. Also we had very less of the waterfall the other day so we decided to pay a visit to the temple and the spring bathing area once again. The day just flew by. We spent most of the time with the reminiscences of the past 5-days. Shopping remained the main focus of this day. We had to buy unique things and few gifts for our near and dear one’s.

I must bring to your notice that during the first four days of our stay at Mcleodganj, the sun played hide and seek with ous. It was drizzling most of the time and so we were almost everyday suited up with our umbrellas.

It was on this last day that the sun shone to its fullest, it was like bidding us adieu.

Sunlight dancing on the hills and bidding us adieu.
Sunlight dancing on the hills and bidding us adieu.

After all the shopping we got back to our rooms early and packed all our luggage. We had to take the 2 PM bus to Chandigarh on July 10, 2013.

DAY 6: July 10, 2013

Checking out of the hotel, having a last meal at Mcleodganj, buying necessities for the 7-hour travel back home were the main events of the day. We waited a while at the bus stand and then at 2 PM hopped into the HPTC bus that brought us back to Chandigarh.

11:00 AM and Home Sweet Home..!!!

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This entire week of my life was purely dedicated to Mcleodganj, monsoon and friendship. It is a memory that will always stay fresh with me. Everything about the hills and spending time with my crazy friends here will always stay intact. I had forgotten everything about home, Chandigarh and  the heat, of course.

Mcleodganj was magical. It was an epic  ‘ Graduation Trip ‘…as we say it.

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Things you must know:

If you’re planning to visit Mcleodganj anytime soon, keep the following things in mind:

  • Hotel and food is just no problem here. You can find premium to budget hotels here very easily.
  • Avoid staying out late after 9 PM. It gets a little spooky. The bazaar shuts down by 8. ( Mcleo believes in going to bed early).
  • There are various buses from Chandigarh ( and other parts of the country ) to Mcleo. Choose the one you’re comfortable with.
  • Driving yourself to Mcleo is no problem at all. The roads are well-connected and there are paid as well as non-paid parking available.
  • If you’re a nature lover and are in Mcleodganj to enjoy nature, avoid taking cabs or taxi to various tourist spots around the city. Trust me what you can experience by foot, you may miss while on wheels.

Food Stops:

You will find a number of eating places in Mcleo. I am listing a few which we tried during our stay. These places did not disappoint us.

  • Drumsticks ( Few meters from the main square, opposite to the Punjab National Bank )
  • Palsang Cafe ( Few meters from Drumsticks)
  • Jimmy’s Italian ( Lovely place for Italian food. Few meters to the left of the main square. It is on the first floor. )
  • Punjab Barbeque Cafe ( Further into the main bazaar next to the Tibetan Mandala Cafe.)
  • Pehlwaan’s Dhaba ( Few meters from the Dalai Lama temple. Must visit for typical Punjabi food.)

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** Picture Courtesy : Arun Chauhan **

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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