While popular tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh, like Manali, Shimla, Dharamsala, etc. are too much crowded and urbanized, Barot Valley still remains somewhat a hidden destination with pure taste of rural landscape and habitation in Himalayas. Located in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, it’s full of refreshing surprises in form of rivulets, old wooden houses and small treks surrounded by greenery comprising of oak and deodar trees.
History of Barot Valley
The village came into existence during 1920s for Shanan Hydel Project. Barot was one of the most difficult places to reach before 1975 when a road connected it to Jogindernagar. The village is located near a diversion of river water of Uhl River to Shanan Power House. The diversion dam was commissioned in 1932. A funicular trolley system was also introduced during that time to transport construction material to Power House from Jogindernagar. Barot was part of Mandi riyasat during British times, ruled by King of Mandi. Before independence, Barot was an important route on mule trail connecting Kullu valley.
Tourism and activities in Barot
Barot is a mysteriously remote village that lacks usual signboards or the usual trapping of a holiday destination. You’ll wonder whether you have reached the right place because it’s just a small helmet of cottage-like houses, a few small shops where you can buy groceries and essentials. There are some eateries and bank branch. Rest, it’s surrounded by serene wilderness that enchants with the sound of flowing Uhl river. You’ll find it amusing to witness local people in their traditional attires performing routine tasks. The people are generous and greet tourists with smile. Also, the village has some good home-stays as there are no hotels. The stay at Barot village is a refreshing experience in itself.
Barot Valley landscape
At an elevation of over 6000 feet, this small valley, carved by the Uhl Himalayan stream, offers stunning views of Dhauladhar Ranges of the Himalayas on both sides. Most of the habitation is settled along the banks of the river with Ulh barrage and reservoir for the Shanan Power House as major geographic attraction.
Barot is fast earning status of a frequent backpacker as it offers a number of trekking trails that pass through the valley, Bada Bhangal, Manali and Kullu. Even the one that starts at Kullu or Jogindernagar passes through this valley. There is a 4-6 hour Barot-Kothi Kohr trek, while another trek, Barot-Billing would take an entire day. The treks take you through sweet silence of wooded forests with a rhythmic sound of waterfalls.
Nagru Wildlife Sanctuary
Barot is a gateway to the Nagru Wildlife Sanctuary, which is home to the black bear, ghoral, monal, and a variety of pheasants. With the help of a local guide, you might spot wild animals if you are lucky.
You can also enjoy camping at the Thandi Golai ground, which is one the routes to old Mayot road. Camp sites are organized by various trek organizers.
Trout farms and fishing
Barot is a nice attraction for anglers as the clear waters of the river supports growth of trout fish. Barot Trout Farm, which is just 10-15-minutes walk from Uhl barrage, was commissioned in 1959. Watching trout swimming in fish ponds and storage tanks is another phenomenon worth experiencing.
Haulage Trolley System
It was constructed in 1920 by the British to connect Barot with Jogindernagar. Most of the stations are no longer functional, but still you can take a walk to have a look at it. There was a time that this trolley system was the only medium to reach Barot.
Where to stay
This tiny village has a couple of rest houses and home stays. The home stays provide real time experience with native people and traditional meals that they serve with warmth and generosity. The home-cooked meals are simple, delicious and include fresh fish from the river nearby. However, if you are looking for comforts of luxury hotels, then Jogindernagar the only option for you.
How to reach Barot
The closest airport is about 110 km at Bhuntar, Kullu. Some selected airlines provide services from Delhi and Mumbai to this airport. From here, public transport or cab can take you to Jogindernagar, which is only 40 km from Barot. A cab will take to you the village.
Jogindernagar narrow gauge railway line is the nearest railway station that connects Jogindernagar to Pathankot. Pathankot is well connected to other cities of India through railway. From here, public transport or hired cab can easily drop you at Barot.
Barot is located just 25 km off NH 20. On the Mandi-Jogindernagar road, there is a diversion at the Ghatasani village. Once you reach Jogindernagar, which is well connected by road to other districts of Himachal, a cab or bus can take you to Barot.