19th March, 2012, Monday……Day (3) Sungal-Barot 70 km
Woke up to a beautiful morning at Osho hotel in Sungal (Palampur). Had tea, washed the car and drove towards Barot. Drive from Palampur to Barot was amazing. The road passed through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery, snow clad Dhauladhar range on the left and vast beautiful Kangra valley on the right
Palampur town is famous for Kangra tea, pleasant weather and a number of water streams flowing down from the slopes of Dhauladhar mountains into the Kangra valley. The road passed through Baijnath, a town famous for ancient 12th century Shiva temple.
Crisscrossing Kangra valley rail is a another interesting feature of the area. Joginder Nagar, famous for 3 hydroelectric power stations, also known as ‘The City of Powerhouses’, is a terminal point of 163 km long Kangra Valley Rail.
Ten km from Baijnath at Ahju, the road branches to the left to the World famous paragliding site Bir and Billing. While the landing ground at Bir is just 4 kilometers away, take off site at Billing is further 14 km.
Enjoyed himachali thali at a dhaba near Jogindernagar. All over himachal, local dhabas serve veg/non veg thali at Rs.40/60- approx. While veg thali mostly comprise dal/rajma, kadhi, sabzi, rice, chutney and salad, the non veg has chicken curry in place of sabzi.
Fourteen kilometers from Jogindernagar at Ghatasani on NH 20 a bend to the left having huge gate mentioning Barot 25 kilometer welcomes the tourists. From here on the road passes through small towns of Jhatingri and Tikan. From Tikan the road joins River Uhl and runs along it till Barot.
From Mandi side, barot is just 35 kilometers via NH 20. Buses for Kothikodh, Bada Gran, Lohardi pass through Barot.
There was a marked change in the landscape and the behaviour of the people. The people looked simple, rustic, traditionally dresses and more beautiful. A group of children lined along the road offered red rhododendron flowers in exchange for money.
Situated at a height of 6000 feet ASL, Barot is famous for its pleasant weather, Uhl River, Trout Breeding, Power Project, Haulage Trolley and treks to Bada Bhangal.
The town was established in 1920’s for Shanan Power Project. There was no road till 1975 and a haulage trolley was set up to transport men and material to the project site. The trolley is under the control of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited and was in operation till recently.
I was awestruck at the very first sight of Barot. It was so beautiful, I was wondering how I missed the place so far. I have passed through this highway (NH 20) so many times and the place was just 25 kilometers away.
Maybe due to the road or other infrastructure it has escaped the horde of tourist rush so far. I thought it won’t be long when the place would be swarmed by the merry making picnickers and might lose it’s rustic charm.
This little wooden bridge on the Uhl river connects Barot to Multhan and is used by pedestrians in routine. I also used it number of times while commuting from my homestay to the market in Multhan.
There is yet another unique feature about the place.
When one enter the town, the initial part and the part after crossing the main barrage, on the left of River Uhl is the town of Barot (Mandi District) while a little further away on the main road, after crossing another, but smaller bridge on the stream coming from Lohardi side, is the village Multhan (Kangra District).
Barot, and that includes Multhan as well, is a charming little sleepy place with abundant natural beauty. Gushing waters from Uhl river full of trout flows right through the valley into Uhl barrage and reservoir for the Shanan Power House.
Since I was with Punjab National Bank for over 28 years and recently retired (VRS), its sight was comforting. I knew someone in the branch would recognise me and help in case I of need. Went into the branch, met the staff and told them that I have driven to the place solo, which was a kind of surprise for them.
There were number of homestay in Barot. I roamed around the market and enquired, everyone seemed to suggest KK Negi home stay. On checking, I found it to be suitable for me so decided to stay for the night at the place. There was ample parking for the car too.
The homestay was on the left bank of Uhl river, in Barot. Food was not available but tea was provided on request. While the rooms were on the first floor, a provision store was on the ground floor. The family also stayed on the ground floor.
The area, the surroundings, the environment, the people, everything was in harmony. I spent most of the time walking around the market, nearby forest and along the Uhl river. Also spent some time with Negis and PNB parivar.
In the evening I had wonderful time sitting quietly near the river enjoying few drinks, thinking about how life had been so far and how it’s shaping up after retirement. Missed my better half, children and some of my close friends. How in the din of the cities, we are missing on these amazing moments.
…it is the time away from the world that allows us to lead a fulfilling life.