An unexplored, offbeat destination, nestled in the beautiful Chauhar Valley of mandi District. "Barot", is a perfect place to relax, if one decides to spend his quality time away from other crowded hill stations. Barot is situated on the banks of a small river named ‘Uhl’ and is surrounded by thick Deodar forests in the Dhauladhar ranges of Himalaya.
The number of travellers visiting different tourist places of Himachal Pradesh is increasing day by day, which has turned once 'peaceful places', 'overcrowded'. This leaves people, looking for solitude with no option. So the right idea would be, to head towards some offbeat place. Barot serves as a good alternative for such travellers. Barot has one advantage, that it is not very far from Delhi-Manali and Dharamshala Manali route. It is just 68 km away from Mandi(Delhi Manali route) and 26 km from Ghatasani which is on Dharamshala-Manali route. One visiting Manali from Delhi or travelling between Dharmshala and Manali can easily go to Barot, taking extra one or two days in the plan.
On-Road Journey to Barot
Road journey to Barot itself is very pleasant. As you pass a few km towards Jhatingari, the narrow road passes through the dense forests of Deodar. The road is very narrow, having deep gorge on one side, so one must drive very carefully. After descent of few kms you reach Tikken village crossing the Uhl River. There is a beautiful Temple of Dev Pashakot at Naldehra near Tikken. Afterwards the road runs parallel to Uhl river. There are many small villages on the way, which give an insight to the life in the Valley. As you reach Barot you can see a big reservoir of water on the left side across the river.
In Barot, you can first have a walk on the left bank on beautiful grass lawns, observe water channels and water reservoirs, Sit down on riverside and relax. You can also find some beautiful wild flowers here and there.
Barot is having a small market spread over both the banks of Uhl river and, a few villages, having traditionally built houses. There is another adjoining place called Multhan, separated by only a stream which is tributary of Uhl River. Multhan is technically a part of Kangra district but in general both the places are considered one as a tourism point of view. Also there is no difference in the culture of both places. The Multhan market, which is spread along a road on right side of the Uhl has few restaurants and Hotels on both sides of the road. This road goes to a village Badagram. There are some beautiful spots on the way to Badagram. A bridge is also proposed to which will connect Badagram with Bir Billing. This will boost the tourism in the valley.
There are a lot of activities which can be done here. Trekking, angling and camping are some of them. You can ask locals for some good angling spots. There are many options for stay including Guest houses, Hotels and camps. But spending a night in a camp enjoying bonfire can be a special experience.
There are few trekking options available. If you are looking for a long trek you can opt for Bara Bhangal or Dehnasar lake trek. Both of these have a difficult terrain, thus it is suggested to have a guide with you.
Trek through Haulage Trolley Track
There is another trek which can take you directly to Joginder Nagar via Winch Camp. Barot came up on the world map in the year 1920 when the British Govt. planned to build a hydropower station at Shanan near Joginder Nagar. Col. B.C. Betty was the mastermind of the project. For this power station water was to be supplied from Uhl river through tunneled pipes. Thus a barrage and reservoir to store the water was constructed at Barot. Later another reservoir was constructed. Both these water reservoirs make a magnificent view of the place, when seen from a height.
To transport Building material, heavy machineries and men needed for the construction, a narrow gauge railway line was laid from Pathankot to Joginder Nagar. Transportation further to Barot from Joginder Nagar was more challenging task as the place was inaccessible by roads. To overcome this, they constructed India’s highest Funicular railway that goes from 1200 meters to up to 2500 meters using cable wire and runs on railway track. Nowadays Haulage Trolley runs only on one side from Shanan to Winch Camp.
Half of the trek is a steep ascent from 1820m to about 2500m, while the other half is exactly opposite, a descent from 2500m to 1250m. It takes 5-7 hours to reach Bridge Mandi from Barot. There are multiple paths to start; one is just besides the govt. school. Take enough water and refreshment with you, as it may be hard to find water until Winch Camp. As you start climbing you will see different type of vegetation and flowers. By looking back, beautiful view of Barot and Uhl river can be seen.
In the beginning of trek, you will find some houses. Then starts the dense forest of Deodar. But as you move higher, and if it is winter,you ll find the trees of rhododendron laden with pink rhododendron flowers. Keep following the trail until you find the rail track. It is almost a narrow gauge track once used to carry material and machinery between top points of Haulage trolley on both side. The track is not in use for a large time but the track and small bridges made with wood logs are still intact on most of the places. This track is an example of fine British engineering.
Once you find the track take left and keep following the track, it will take you to the Winch camp, the last point of Haulage trolley.
Winch Camp is a beautiful point on the top with lush green lawns, some abandoned machineries and a rail station. You can also see the control room where rotors pull up or let go down the trolley, with a metallic rope. The fields of Harabag and Joginder Nagar town are visible from there. You usually see a Trolley stationed unless it is not in transit. And if you are lucky you can have the pleasure of a ride on the Haulage trolley to Shanan.
On the way down you can either follow the routine path or just follow the trolley track. But the latter one is not recommended as the slopes at some places are very steep and it can be dangerous to get down from there. Keep walking until you reach the National Highway, where you can take bus to either direction.
Alternative Travel Plan to Barot:
If you are visiting Manali or Manali to Dharamshala and you have an extra day or two, you must look forward to Barot. If you want to visit Barot from Manali, I recommend, to not to follow the common route via Mandi. From Manali reach Bajaura and then take right, a link road towards Kamand. You can have a wonderfull experience of driving on this road. You will find your way through beautiful forests of pine and deodar. Near Kandhi village on the way, there is a link road to Aadi Bhramha Temple, which is built in Himalayan Architecture.
And on the way you get another option to visit the "Prashar Lake". You will see sign board for Prashar at Segli at 26km from Bajaura. Prashar Lake is just 23 km from Segli. If you leave early from Manali you can reach Prashar Lake by noon. After spending 2-3 hours you can head back to Barot.
You ll find the villages, Kamand and kataula on your way. Indian Institute of Technology Mandi campus is also at Kamand. Then by driving up to 9 km, you will reach Katindhi. The road then bifurcates for Mandi and Drang. Take right turn towards road and keep moving for another 4.5 km and then again turn right towards Diana Park. It will take another half an hour to reach Diana Park. AT Diana Park take the road to Jhatingari, which is 11 km away. There are many beautiful and small villages, which you'll find along the way. Badhaun Dhar, Futakhal, are some such beautiful places having dense forests, farms and offers the view of Himalayan peaks around.
At Jhatingari take right on the Ghatasani-Barot Road, which is the common route for Barot. Barot is about 20 km away from Jhatingari.