Mountain Walking

Off the grid at Barot

Tucked away into a valley off the National Highway 20, Barot (District Mandi, Himachal Pradesh) is a serene destination which provides the traveler with beautiful landscapes, fresh local food and laid-back environs perfect for a peaceful getaway. Located on the banks of the Uhl river, this village has attracted The Mountain Walker quite a few times.

I first heard of Barot way back in my college days in 2001; however, it wasn’t until March 2014 that I got around to making my first trip there. Initially I had planned a one-night visit to Barot, but upon reaching the village, I ended up staying for two nights. Since then, I have visited Barot a total of four times, thrice in 2014 itself.

Barot is a typical mountain village, whose history dates back to the early 1900’s and the old village folk have numerous stories to tell. On coming here, I somewhat relate Barot to, and think about, Manali – maybe Manali was like this some 50 odd years ago, a quiet village situated at the banks of a beautiful river. At the same time, it also scares me when I think about Barot ending up heavily commercialized like Manali. For me, the time spent and the routine followed in Barot is similar to a Sunday of a typical working week. There is no specific agenda and small walks around the village provide glimpses of the history and culture that the place has to offer. Barot does not offer any luxurious staying options – on the contrary it has the luxury of nature and the small and cosy homestays here become the suites for me in this natural resort.

Each of my trips to Barot has had its ups and downs similar to the narrow road that climbs up from Ghatasani to Jhatingri and then down the other side to the banks of the river Uhl. But usually in the end, the overall experience has always been as relaxed as the final drive from Tikan to Barot. The sound of the river, warm and sunny days, silent and cold nights, view of the snow clad mountains and green fields, and the different delicacies prepared using fresh trout from the local breeding farms are some of the reasons that have always drawn me back to Barot.

And now Barot has become one of my favourite places for friendly getaways. My most recent trip was in December 2015, when Ameen and I along with our childhood buddies endured some strenuous journeys spread over long days and hours just because we wanted to make the most of our time together at Barot. The peaceful environment here gives me a chance to introspect and retrospect with those who have seen me since childhood. And the serene surrounding here gives us the opportunity to further bond with each other, be it by walking through the fields and the jungle, or just sitting next to the river Uhl. In Ameen’s words, “At Barot, the calmness and tranquility immediately relaxes the mind. After the initial rounds of catching up, there are phases of complete silence, totally unwinding the mind and body, connecting with the basics, just looking around, watching the Uhl river playfully jump around the boulders, listening to birds and insects, feeling the earth we’re walking on rather than just taking one step after the other, smelling the freshness of flowers and trees… It’s all magically rejuvenating”.

While, the memories of all my trips to Barot are strongly etched in my mind, I figured a few photographs might give a clue as to why I am already planning my next trip to this idyllic place in Himachal.

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