District Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
Position - N32 02.294 E76 50.753
Altitude – 1829 Metres
Part of Treks:
I have a bias for Barot, which I do not think is unjustified. After all, what is wrong with having a bias for a village nestled in mountains with lush jungles, on the banks of a small, fresh stream which is a trout breeding ground, trails from where lead to deeper mountains, including the promised land of my dreams, Bada Bhangal. A village has existed along the banks of Uhl for ages. Legend has it that people migrated up towards these mountains from Indian plains centuries back to escape floods. In more recent past, Barot has been known to exist as a village definitely from British times. The old Barot village still exists a little upstream and up-hill from modern Barot. Currently part of the administrative district of Mandi, during the British times, Barot was under the king of Mandi and on the mule trail to Kullu. The king used to visit Barot as part of his kingdom tour and had a small palace, which was later converted into a rest house for British officers and is currently a rest house of the State owned Electricity Board.
The British, realizing the hydroelectric potential of the Uhl river, tapped the river and constructed a reservoir. Pipes were then used to send the water crashing down to run turbines at Shanan power station near Jogindernagar. This reservoir and powerhouse still exist and are functional. Apart from this, a must see in Barot is the Khooni Ghati. This also has its origins in the hydroelectric project. The road to Barot is relatively new. At the time of constructing the reservoir, all the material was transported to Barot via a haulage trolley running on rails. The haulage trolley's stop closest to Barot is called Khooni Ghati, as a reference to a tragic accident which killed a trolley full of passengers because of a rope snap. The trolley is still functional but like most things state owned, not maintained well and in a sad state of disrepair. If you can get a ride on the trolley up to Winch Point, nothing like it.
The current economy of Barot runs partly on tourism, partly on farming, partly on government jobs and the last partly on the old hydroelectric project. It is a budding tourist destination which seems to have been budding for quite sometime. In the absence of concerted efforts from the government, it is likely to remain budding for sometime, which is not bad, given that it will stay clean and unspoilt. The part modernization of Barot has meant a lot of culture has already been lost. Up until the time Barot was not 'civilized', the local populace never wore synthetic shoes. The 'shoes' were made of fibre from the Cannabis plant. Shoes covering half the foot for summers and high ankle shoes for winter with a sock made of goat wool. In fact this was characteristic of a lot of the cold areas in Himachal. There are no traces of this to be seen any more in the era of suede leather, mass produced shoes. I promise to buy one, photograph and put them on this page whenever I find one during my travels.
A taste of trout is a must if you are in Barot. The best season is between the monsoon and the winter i.e. September and October. A freshly caught trout from the Uhl or the fish farms tastes better than any other fish I have ever had.
Meanwhile, if you are looking for a quiet holiday in the lap of Himalayas, a shot at your angling skills, a quiet cup of tea, a fresh clean walk amidst the nature, some casual or serious trekking, a peek at the village culture of Himachal, Barot is the place.