It had been a while since me & my family had gone on a summer break, so came end of May’16 when my adventure spirit, which was overloaded by office routines and ultimate boredom, took charge and forced by my Kid’s summer holidays and my wife’s constant push to move out of the city’s heat for a while, I decided to break free from office atrocities for a while, and traveled to a trip to Palampur-Barot – Parashar Lake, thanks to the expert advice given by my friend and colleague, Vijay Chauhan from PBC (Palampur Bikers Club) who did the honor of planning our trip and helping us in every way possible, all the way from UK. Using his expert advice, we planned a week trip to Delhi-McLeodGanj-Dharamshala-Palampur-Barot-Parashar Lake-Bir-Delhi. Before the start of the trip, all the arrangements were done by PBC and I was handed over all the travel tickets, hotel reservations and Taxi contact details which made our trip an effortless wonderful trip.
Yes, it looks like a long trip but where the 7 days went, nobody knew. Now back in the city, I thought of writing this blog, as I promised to Vijay I will do after I come back from the trip, and also to refresh my memories and relive the moments once again, I am sharing the details of my wonderful trip with you:
Day 1: Packed all the bags, checked food items and DSLR, we started from Delhi on Saturday evening to board Delhi-McLeodganj bus from ISBT. Bus started at 7:30pm from Delhi and 2 hours later, stopped at Haveli for dinner. The sudden realization of the cold breezes flowing gently brought us to the reality that we are going away from Delhi’s scorching 48 degrees heat. After dinner, the bus started for McLeodganj once again. After watching movie in the bus, we quickly fell asleep in the bus.
Day 2: Early morning next day, our sleep was broken by the narrow roads & sharp turns of the bus. We had already entered Himachal Pradesh (HP) and was about to reach our first destination McLeodganj when the early showers welcomed us to HP. We reached McLeodganj around 5:30am and took a taxi to Dharamkot where our hotel, Dev Cottages, was. We were warmly welcomed by the hotel members and was given an excellent room with fabulous outside view. After tea, we decided to sleep a little, only to wake up at 11am. After having breakfast, it was time to visit local attractions like Bhagsu Temple, waterfall and the Dalai Lama temple and buy local mementos. It was a really hot day in Dharamshala and by the time we were back to hotel, we were so very exhausted. But nature mother did a favor on us. The moment we reached back hotel, it started raining heavily with hailstorms and suddenly the temperature dropped to near 20 degrees. We ordered Pakodas with tea from hotels kitchen and enjoyed our tea sitting in balcony enjoying our first rain of the summer. It was a exhausting day but the rain brought much relief. After having dinner we quickly fall asleep.
Day 3: We woke up early to continue our trip the next day and after breakfast, started to Palampur for Maa Chamunda Temple where the rain again followed us. After a quick visit to the temple, we visited tea Gardens in Palampur. All the way, my kid enjoyed to the fullest. After lunch break, we started for our next destination JJH (Jungle Jerry Huts) in Palampur. JJH is around 200 meters from the main road and you have to cross a river stream or go around 1/2 km to the hotel premises. It was quite a distance, but the hotel staff met us at the main road and carried our luggage. We trekked along and took a 20min trek to reach the hotel. To our surprise, the JJH was setup in a very beautiful environment with all rooms beautifully made of wood. This was definitely a jungle hut and was our one of the best stay in this entire trip. All natural and setup on a hillside near a constantly flowing river stream, what else can you ask for? You can easily hear the sound of river flowing in your hut. Being close to nature, there were lots of lizards & chameleons outside the hut, and my wife is big scared of lizards (which I enjoy), but to our surprise, the inside of the hut was very clean without even a fly or any insects. We settled down and ordered tea. The staff was very cordial and brought us tea and asked us what we want for the dinner. They have an indoor garden where they grow their own vegetables and the lady owner herself prepared a fantastic & tasty dinner for us. We were really glad to come to JJH and would recommend it to anyone coming this way. After dinner, we roam a bit, took some snaps and went to bed. In night it again started raining and made the climate chilly, but thanks to JJH we already had everything we needed in place.
Day 4: Early morning we were greeted by the lady owner with a wonderful breakfast and we bid farewell to her. We trekked back to the main road again but again the hotel staff helped us. We would have stayed there for couple of more days if we would have known JJH earlier. But having a plan already in place, we started to our next destination Barot. On the way, we visited Saurav Van vihar where we did boating & spent around 2 hours. Barot was a long ride from Palampur, we started in our taxi, took lunch at Joginder Nagar, and continued to Barot. For reaching Barot, we kept on travelling on the hillsides with narrow roads and mountain ranges in our range, moving up & down on the hillside for around 2 hours and ultimately reached Barot at around 4pm. The route was long but also very scenic with long trees and waterfalls on the way and we hardly felt exhausted on our way up. Barot is a very small town with very less population but the moment we reached there we were greeted with the river Dam and the white daisies all along the way. The white daisies on both sides of the road was such a lovely view to see. We checked in to our hotel Roshan and rested a while. Then in evening, we made a quick tour of the town and were glad that we chose Barot.
Day 5: Today our roadmap was just to explore Barot and stay there in the night. We went to the Dam, took photos (though restricted by govt officials), but then you can’t resist yourself because Barot is such a beautiful place to be at. We took pics with the daisies, visited the local temple, had wonderful breakfast at a nearby restaurant and then started to nearby village Lohardy, which is famous for its tea gardens and is a very beautiful hillside village. On our way back, we visited few waterfalls and went to the end of rail line (also known as Khooni Ghaat). This rail line is very famous as it’s very steep and it goes upto 45degree. Due to a misfortunate event in the past, this rail line is now closed, but a rail line at 45 degree steep is worth a see. In the evening, we walked around the local dam and spent some more picturesque moment. Glad that Barot was on our trip.
Day 6: Next morning after breakfast, we bid farewell to Barot and started our journey towards Parashar lake. Parashar lake is a lake on top of a mountain, and known to be the ashram for Rishi Parasher. In the lake, there is a large patch of land which floats and keep on changing its position in the lake. The road to parashar was difficult with steep roads passing through forest area and the roads were rocky and very difficult to drive. We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant and reached Parasher around 4pm. First thing we checked into the government guest house that we booked (not very good with very little facilities. Also there was no power in our room due to some short-circut, but there is no other option of stay in parasher, the nearest village is around 15kms, passing through the forest area, which is not advisable in evening). Anyway, we settled down and trekked to Parashar lake walking. To our relief, we found Parasher lake very beautiful and soothing. It is a perfect setup for a lake – a lake in between with temple on it’s side, and all surrounded with mountains. and the best part – the floating land in the lake. We visited Rishi Parashar temple and did another round of photoshoots near the lake. Being on the top of the mountain, it was really cold there, around 15 deg). After spending around 2 hours there, we took our dinner at a nearby shop (a well-deserved Rajma-chawal at that place), only to come back to our guest house where we just dropped down on the bed and slept.
Day 7: Got up early, we did a quick revisit to Parashar lake and came back to Guest house. Since Parashar was the farthest point on our trip, we started from Parashar soon and begin our way down to Palampur. Long drive on the way back, it took around 4-5 hours to reach Palampur. On our way back we visited Bhatu monastery, Bijnath temple, the Bir Paragliding site and the beautiful Bir Monastery. Checked into Palampur Hotel Suryadev, a good hotel and spent the day resting.
Day 8: Our last day on the trip, we checked out of the hotel at 12pm and visited Jakhani mata temple and planned to revisit Saurav Van vihar(SVV). But being our last day, rain suddenly came to give us a farewell. With heavy downpours and hailstorms for more than a hour, we discarded the thought of SVV, and had lunch at Neugal Cafe. It was 3pm and our bus to way back was at 5pm, so we spent our one hour at CCD in Palampur, with awesome cold coffees. Bus was late due to heavy rains but it was a very comfortable ride back to home.
I’m attaching pictures of my fantastic trip, perfectly planned by PBC, and I am really glad that we took some time off and came on this trip. My wife had great relief from Delhi heat and household work, my kid had a great time and also that he can tell his teacher all the places he visited and activities he did but I’m just happy that I kept my adventure spirit alive, only to go on another trip perfectly planned by PBC.
Thanks PBC for making our trip a roaring awesome trip and helping us all the way. Cheers!!
Barot is a place which people from lower Himachal choose as an offbeat destination for their vacations. One can imagine if people who are living in mountains and choose this destination as the offbeat spot for themselves what people coming from plains will feel here. This used to be and is my favorite spot for short vacations.
Barot Village is a small village located in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, India. The small village comes under Chauhar Valley and is located at approx 1800 meters above sea level. This is a nice off beat location away from maddening crowds at popular tourist destinations of Himachal. The entire Barot village lies on the banks of Uhl River and there are two reservoirs under Shanan Power Project. UHL River adds charm to the village and also allows for trout breeding. The road to Barot village bifurcates from Ghatasni (place on Mandi – Pathankot Highway) 35 KMs from Joginder nagar. From Ghatasni; Barot is 25 KMs ; the road is narrow and metaled but expect lot of potholes on this road. The route includes terraced fields and thick cedar forests, rising to Jhatingri at the hilltop. The remains of the summer palace of the former rulers of Mandi are located here. Through the little village of Tikkan, the road carries on to Barot. The town has a range of outdoor activities, including a trout breeding Centre from where fish are released into the Uhl river.
Probably the coldest place yet easily reachable from Delhi and Chandigarh. Here you may need Jackets in the hottest day of year. I remember during school days when I used to go to Rampur (Nathpa Jhakri Project) where my father was working, I used to shiver in Narkand when bus takes halt for tea break. On the same day when bus starts from Shimla I used to sweeten because of heat and when it takes halt at Narkanda the feelings were of shivering. I love this place since then and that’s why I suggest it to everyone who wants break from the heat of plain in the peak of Indian summer.
Narkanda is a beautiful and isolated place in Himachal Pradesh. It is situated at an altitude of 8600 feet and surrounded by Shivalik Ranges that span a large part of Himachal Pradesh. It is about 65 KMs from Shimla on Hindustan Tibet Road. It connects Shimla with Rampur and is the highest point in this connection. The popular Apple belt of Himachal Pradesh is connected to Narkanda and Kotgarh the place famous for Apple orchards is just 16 KMs from here. Because of its proximity to Shimla and located on the National Highway, visitors can easily reach here.
Palampur is a hill station situated in the foot hills of Dhauladhar mountain ranges. Palampur is famous for tea gardens and its pleasant climate throughout the year. Because of its proximity to Dhauladhar mountain ranges a lot of water streams flowing from mountains to plains pass through Palampur. Palampur is surrounded by tea gardens, pine trees and water streams, and the combination of all these gives a beautiful and distinctive look to Palampur.
Palampur is at the end of valley merging into the hills so the scenery shows plains on one side and the snow covered hills on the other side. Behind Palampur stands high ranges of Dhauladhar Mountains whose top remain snow-covered for most of the year. Palampur is one of the most preferable residential towns of Himachal Pradesh. People from all around wish to settle here.
4. Tirthan Valley
Tirthan valley is one of the hidden treasures of Himachal and is also the gateway to the Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP).The valley is located at an altitude of approx 1600 mts on the banks of Tirthan river. A long walk through the rugged woods next to the river whispering with the meddling fog is what makes this place so charming. Bonfires, camping and music will only elicit your already developed bias for this place. Follow the lazy roads through the forests and unwind into tiny hamlets of Nagini, Ghushaini, Banjar and Shoja. These are equally beautiful and you would be charmed by their serenity. The valley is known for trout fishing and if you spend some time here and you might just get lucky with a trout.
5. Prashar Lake
Prashar Lake lies 49 km from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India. The lake is located at a height of 2700 meters above sea level. The lake with it’s deep blue waters is held sacred to the sage Prashar and he is regarded to have meditated there. The lake is surrounded by snow-covered peaks whereas deep down in the valley river Beas flows.
There is a three storied pagoda-like temple dedicated to the sage Prashar. The temple was built in the thirteenth century and as per the legend it was built by a baby from a single tree. Every year in the month of June, famous traditional fair is held here. The lake also has a floating island in it and it is said to be unclear how deep it is, with a diver not being able to determine its depth. During winters (December, January, February) the lake and the surrounding area is covered under snow. Adventure seekers do winter trek from Drang village during this time.
Best OFF BEAT extended weekend destinations in Himachal Pradesh
Barot: Barot Village is a small village located in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, India. The small village comes under Chauhar Valley and is located at aprox 1800 mtrs above sea level. This is a nice off beat location away from maddening crowds at popular tourist destinations of Himachal. The entire Barot village lies on the banks of Uhl River and there are two reservoirs under Shanan Power Project. UHL River adds charm to the village and also allows for trout breeding. The road to Barot village bifurcates from Ghatasni (place on Mandi – Pathankot Highway) 35 kms from Joginder nagar. From Ghatasni; Barot is 25 kms ; the road is narrow and metaled but expect lot of potholes on this road. The route includes terraced fields and thick cedar forests, rising to Jhatingri at the hilltop. The remains of the summer palace of the former rulers of Mandi are located here. Through the little village of Tikkan, the road carries on to Barot. The town has a range of outdoor activities, including a trout breeding Centre from where fish are released into the uhl river.
What to do:
Angling: Barot is also developing into an angling destination. The Uhl river supports Trout breeding and Barot has a few fish farms.
Trecking: Barot is a frequent backpacker and day tourist destination. Few treks worth to mention are – Barot to Kullu via Denasar lake , Barot to Kullu via Bhubhu pass , Barot to Manali via Thamsar pass , Bara Bhangal , Barot to Bir Biling via Rajgundha , Barot to JoginderNagar via Winch camp (Haulage trolley station). Barot also forms the gateway to the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary which lies across the Uhl. The sanctuary is home to the monal, black bear and ghoral. Within it are forest rest house s at Thaltuckhod and Silbandhwari. Through woods of cedar and pine a trek route cuts across the sanctuary to Kullu.
Adventure sports : Barot valley is a nice place for adventure lovers. In high mountains and rivers of Barot valley you can enjoy river crossing, rappelling , rock climbing , swimming etc.
Nature Walks: There are three artificial lakes including one reservoir on Uhl river enhance the beauty of this magnificent hidden treasure as one enters the Barot village near Dhrangan. An old fountain channelizing the waters of Uhl erupting at regular intervals is another source of attraction. You can enjoy walks on the banks of Uhl river and admire the mother nature here.
Haulage Trolley: A haulage trolley of the British times which connects Barot to Jogindernagar is another point of attraction. This trolley link was set up to facilitate transport of construction material to Barot for a reservoir on Uhl river for Shanan Power House. The trolley was also sparingly used as a means of transport since Barot was not linked to a road till 1975. The haulage trolley built here is unique in world as is passes through mountains and thick cedar forests. A three kms horizontal track also made at top of mountain to connect both the stations of Haulage trolley which are “Winch camp” and “Head Gear”
It is a unique type of trolley based on pulley system as one trolley goes up the other trolley goes down simultaneously .To operate this a control room is at top of hill and uses a huge motor to operate it. However, once the road connection was established, the trolley fell into a state of disrepair. It is currently owned and maintained by the Punjab State Electricity Board. Currently, the trolley is not in use and is only operated for occasional inspections of the project pipelines. You can still walk up to see the remains of haulage tracks via Thandi Golai ground on the way to old Mayot road (aprox 2.5 kms) till the point where you see the haulage trolley tracks.
Bada Gran: A small but beautiful vilagge lies in Chhota Bhangal region on Kangra district , Himachal Pradesh (16 kms from Barot).The narrow / unmetalled but relatively good road traverses thru beautiful valley and the views are just amazing. It lies near the Dhauladhar range dividing district Kangra and Chamba, on Kangra side. It’s a beautiful and relatively unexplored region and there are many easy/moderate treks in this region in the lap of Dhauladhar range. The village is literally hub of range of vegetables and all around the valley you can see different vegetables grown by local farmers. Cabbage , Cauliflower , Broccoli , Lattuce , Reddish and many more. Bhangal red beans (Rajmah) are quite famous for their excellent taste.
Avg. summer temperature : 34 °C (93 °F)
Avg. winter temperature : −4 °C (25 °F)
For current weather conditions you can also refer to https://in.weather.yahoo.com/india/himachal-pradesh/barot-29195055/
How to get there:
By Air : Barot is 125 kms from Bhuntar Airport (Kullu) and 100 kms from Gaggal Airport (Kangra).Please be advised that due to weather and other issues Delhi – Gaggal and Delhi – Bhuntar flights are often canceled at the last minute. It will be better to have an alternative plan ready just in case this happens..
By Train : Delhi – Pathankot (480 kms) and then narrow gauge track from Pathankot –Joginder Nagar (153 kms). From Joginder Nagar to Ghatasni (35 kms) and then to Barot (25 kms) by road.
By Bus : Delhi to Barot is about 12-14 hours journey. Daily Volvo bus service by Himachal Roadways is available from ISBT Kashmiri Gate till Mandi (66 kms from Barot).You can then hop on to any bus bound to Jogindernagar , Palampur , Dharamshala , Pathankot and reach Ghatasni (frequency of buses is good on this route so you should not have any problems). From Ghatasni you can then take another bus till Barot (Bus frequency will be limited) in that case taxi is the only option from here on till Barot.
From Dharamshala – Bir : Although regular buses ply on this route but a direct bus will be less frequent. You can hop on to any bus bound for Palampur and continue from Palampur to Ghatasini.. Since Dharamshala is not on National Highway 20 route (Pathankot – Mandi) hence long route buses which pass thru Ghatasni are less frequent from Dharamshala. From Ghatasni you can then take another bus till Barot (Bus frequency will be limited) in that case taxi is the only option from here on till Barot.
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