Driving through the Jaunsar heartland Mori, Netwar and Tons…….!!!

23rd Feb 2015, Monday……..Day(7) Tuini-Hanol-Netwar-Mori-Purola-Barkot 126 km

Got up early and fresh after a nice sleep inside the car parked in Tiuni bazaar. It was still dark and tea shop nearby was already buzzing with activity. Two of cups of tea and I was ready for the day, from now onwards, the drive was going to be on unfamiliar territory.

View of Tiuni market, bridge and river Tons from the road to Mori
Beautiful Tuni-Mori Road
Beautiful Tiuni-Mori road

Early morning drive through pine forest along the Tons river and fragrance of numerous flowers, plants and trees was like a dream. The road was narrow but butter smooth.

Devladi Mata Temple

Stopped at Devladi Mata Temple for a while. There was a tea shop with a running water tap nearby. Freshened up. Took another cup of tea, visited the temple and moved on.

Mahasu Devta Temple, Hanol

Soon reached Hanol, famous Mahasu Devta Temple was just half a kilometer diversion to the left. Not very well maintained GMVN rest house was right near the gate.

The temple is dedicated to Mahasu Devta, the chief deity of the area and who is worshiped by the people of Hanol and nearby villages. It was built in the 9th century and is included in the Archeological Survey of india list of ancient temples.

Parked the car near the market and walked down few steps to the main temple area. The temple premises was large and well maintained. The priest at the temple took me inside the temple and explained the importance of the temple and rituals related with it.

Beautiful village on the way to Mori
A beautiful village on the way to Mori

Pretty soon I was on the road again. I was now driving through the Jaunsar-Bawar region. The route all along the Tons River passed through beautiful villages and amazing landscape. The people looked very simple, friendly and helpful.

Tons and the beautiful landscape
On the way to Mori
Beautiful Pine forest near Lunagarh (Mori)
Pine forest near Lunagad (Mori)

Just before Mori, in between Lunagad and Khooni Gad, the forest department has erected a memorial in the memory of the tallest pine tree in Asia, believed to be 220 years old, 60.65 metres tall and had a circumference of 2.7 metres.

The tree was recognised as Maha Vriksha, a giant tree in 1997 which was uprooted by a fierce storm in 2007.

Memorial of the tallest pine tree in Asia
Memorial of the tallest pine tree in Asia
Landscape before Mori
Tons and the bridge……near Mori
Camp before Mori
A Camp on the banks of Tons near Mori
Tea pakoda on the road to Mori.

I was feeling a little hungry and was looking for something to eat when the aroma of fried, veg and egg pakoda hit my tastebuds. The place looked nice too. The man behind the rehri was very friendly.

While enjoying pakodas with hot cup of tea, I asked the man, who was speaking clear hindi and did not look like a local, few questions.

He told me that he belonged to UP and used to come to the place to sell ladies suit. One fine day he met a beautiful local girl while selling dresses in the village and fell in love.

The next time he came with a different intent, rented a room in the village and sent a proposal to the family for marrying the girl. After few hiccups, the family agreed. He married the girl and ever since living at the place with her happily.

On the way to Mori
Meandering River Tons…..on the way to Mori
Near Mori
Near Mori
Tribals near Mori
Huts on the banks of Tons River near Mori

Contrary to my imagination, Mori was a bustling place. Bazaar was full with people, shops and fast food joints. Share taxis were hurrying through, overloaded with animals, goods and people. Most of the men were wearing traditional caps, a plant tucked into it. I was told that it was given to them by their devta. Most of the women were smoking bidis and were reluctant to get photographed while smoking.

People looked very rustic, alive and innocent. They were attracted to the red colour of my car and were very curious to see me travelling solo. Everyone wanted to know where I was from. When I told them that I was from Amritsar, Punjab, most of them were ignorant about where Punjab or Amritsar was.

Mori Bazaar
Mori Bazaar
People of Mori
People of Mori……..Jaunsari or Bawar

This was in Jaunsar-Bawar heartland. The Jaunsari live on the lower areas while the Bawaris live on the high mountains.

While Jaunsari claim to be descendants of the Pandavas, the Bawaris are from the Kauravas clan. The two cultures usually do not mix, and it is a rare occurrence to see the two cultures mix in terms of marriage or social custom.

The people of the Jaunsar Bawar region used to practice polyandry/polygamy as the custom owes its origins to the Pandavas who shared Draupadi amongst the 5 brothers. Another unique custom which is followed here is the concept of bride price, which owes its origin to some strong logic.

The parents spend a substantial amount on raising, educating and making the life of the girl as good as they can make it. In return the girl is an asset to the family as she cooks, cleans, works on the farms etc. When a boy wants to marry the girl, he is taking away an asset of the family and must pay the fair price of the asset known as the bride price.

Divorce is not taboo in the culture and divorced women are not ostracized from society.

However, if the woman comes back to the parent’s home after a divorce, the family must pay back the bride price to the man’s family. If the woman divorces her husband to marry another man, the second man must pay (a higher) bride price to the first man’s family.

In Mori
In a Jaunsari cap at Mori
Towards Netwar
Towards Netwar

Besides being a Jaunsar-Bawar tribal area, this route is also famous for Har Ki Doon (Valley of Gods) trek.

Har Ki Doon lies in the valley of majestic Swargarohini Peak. It is believed that Yudhisthira went to heaven with a dog from this peak. Buses ply till Sankri and there is a jeepable road from Sankri to Taluka from where actual trek starts.

The valley falls within the Govind Pashu Vihar wildlife sanctuary and is very close to Himachal Pradesh. A trek route through Barasu Peak ends in chitkul (Baspa Valley).

Curious to see more of this route, drove further. The road was in very bad shape. Lot of damage to the road network was done in 2013 flash floods. The drive was becoming very lonely. I could barely drive till Netwar. Spent some time in the Netwar market.

Like Mori it was a very busy town. Lot of people, lot of shops, lot of Taxis. I could go no further. Har Ki Doon trek was not on as well. So there was no fun going any further.

Coming back from Netwar
Bridge on the Tons in between Mori and Netwar
Coming back from Netwar
Tons valley and a village enroute Netwar
Coming back from Netwar
Can you spot a Gujjar hut upstream?
Who needs a pill to sleep
Who needs a pill to sleep?
Left to Mori......right to Purola
Left to Mori……right to Purola

Came back to Mori and drove towards Purola. Still not sure about my destination for the day. This road, to Purola, was in much better shape. The landscape was different as well. Instead of Tons, I was driving through a pine forest with a valley on the left, dotted with villages and snowclad mountains in the background.

On the way to Purola
On the way to Purola
On the way to Purola
On the way to Purola

I thought I would stay at Purola but there was some political rally going on and the bazaar was jampacked with people and vehicles, hardly any place for parking and breathing. Did not like the place, so drove on.

Soon I was in Naugaon, it became dark, came out the car, walked a little, liked the place and was thinking of spending the night there but a gentleman advised me to drive further to Barkot which was a better place for me.


Stayed here in Barkot....the 7th night of IN THE CAR ON THE CAR trip.
Stayed here in Barkot….the 7th night of IN THE CAR ON THE CAR trip.

Barkot had lot of hotels and dhabas. Its an important place on the route to Yamunotri and Gangotri. Lot of tourists break their journey at the place.

Spent the next two hours walking and chatting with people. Parked the car in front of police station, took few drinks and went into a dhaba and had nice food.

Walked back to the car, slipped in, pulled the cover over, locked the car from inside, pushed myself into the sleeping bag and was fast asleep.

By then, my body and mind was fully acclimatised and my lalpari was as good as home…………….!!!


3 thoughts on “Driving through the Jaunsar heartland Mori, Netwar and Tons…….!!!

  1. Beautiful. Not only you have a flare for driving, you also watch and enjoy the plants, trees, vallies etc and mix up with the locals and try to understand them and their culture. Good.

    Unfortunately, from our history, calling ourselves as descendants of Pandavas and Kauravas, we derive wrong traditions– like polygamy/ polandry– practice them in our lives, make Draupadi and Pandavas shield of our wrong doings. Make woman a comodity available for sale or purchase.

    Unfortunately, we distort the face of religion, faith and community. To begin with, we make a memorial then a Samadhi and later-on accept it as a deity and start worshipping it and our true religion goes in oblivion.

    I have also been to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, Yamnotri, Badrinath- thrice, Kedarnath-twice and once each Gangotri and Yamnotri.As far as I know, Pandavas took the root via, Mana the last village of India ( 2 Kms from Badrinath ) for Swargarohini. Only Yudhisthir with his Dog, who joined them in this area only ( was none else than Dhararmraj himself, indisguise, for testing Yudhistir) could reach the place, other Pandavas and Draupadi) left their bodies in between Mana and Swargarohini. Is this place Netawar around this area ?.

    Could you see stones rolling down the peaks on to the roads in this area.?

    All the best.

    Vijay Gupta

    • You are very right Gupta ji. I travel for joy and like meeting people besides appreciating whatever Nature has bestowed on us. As far as these stories are concerned I just incorporate them in my posts as per popular belief or whatever is generally available on the net or told to me by people of the area. Personally I don’t have much interest or knowledge about them. Gupta ji I have not come across any stones rolling down the peaks on the roads in this area.

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