In Hang-Gliding Country: Jogindernagar to Bir

Easily accessible, To feed is located in the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary, deep in the valley of Uhl (a tributary of the right bank of the river Beas). Favored by anglers, the Uhl and its tributary, the Lamadug, are rich in rainbow trout. Barot is also the site of the Shannon Hydel Power Project inlet reservoir, designed and executed by Colonel Betty in 1925. The hills are densely forested with deodar, oak, blue pine and spruce. Small villages, located along fast-flowing mountain streams and small terraced fields, present a charming picture to the visitor. This is a four day trek, which can be customized to suit your convenience. A two day hike takes you to Barot from where it is possible to take a bus/taxi back to Jogindernagar. Extending your stay in Barot for a day or two allows you to explore the surrounding Chhota Bhangal region.

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Uhl Valley (Photo by Rajesh)

Several one-day treks are also possible from Barot. You can visit the temple of Bardharni Devi, or take a trip to Billing, the hang glider’s paradise. You can also explore the villages of Polang, Bhujling, Kothi Kohr and Baragaon in the surrounding Chhota Bhangal region. It is also possible to take an easy walk along the pine slopes along the trolley. Other walks include visiting the villages of Baragaon (14 km) in Rajgunda (18 km), the Uhl river up, down Lohardi (6 km), Polish (13 km) in Bhujling (13 km), up the Lamadug stream. These villages retain the beautiful, traditional wooden houses of yesteryear, as opposed to the concrete monstrosities that have overrun more accessible areas. If you are interested in more rigorous walking and some great views, it is possible to trek up to the base camps of the Thamsar in Kori pass on that link Chhota in Bara Bengal areas. Palachak, Panihardu and Bherpal Got on their way to the Thamsar Passand Nanwani Got and Thangkar Got on their way to the Makori-pasare picturesque meadows where one can set up camp.





Walk from Joginder Nagar to Hara Bag (5 km) on National Highway 20, heading south to Mandi. Alternatively, take a bus to this small village of terraced fields. There is a tea stall here where one can have a decent breakfast before starting the trek. Find the way of the villagers and follow a well-trodden path that heads north to the Winch Camp (6km). The path is moderately steep and climbs up the hill in a series of zigzags. Winch Camp (2000 m) offers a panoramic view on the south side, where small villages of Kangra in Mandi districts dot the Beas Valley below.

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Jogindernagar (Photo by Rajesh)
Jogindernagar (Photo by Rajesh)

Views to the north are limited. From Winch Camp, a flat 3 km walk parallels the trolley track to the left of the Ghoghar Dhar ridgeline. The northern Barot side is covered with a dense forest of deodar and oak. The trail heads northeast through a mixed forest of deodar, oak and chir pine. It is a comfortable descent on a clearly marked path to the Uhl valley. Alternatively, one can choose to stay in the neck of the ridgeline. There are many places to pitch tents here.

From Jogindernagar it is also possible to take a ride in the transport cart up to the neck (2,250 m). Prior permission must be obtained from the Resident Engineer (Jogindernagar Tel: +91-1908-222085) or Sr Engineer (Tel: +91-1908-222068) of the Shannon Project, at Jogindernagar. If you like, enjoy this thrilling ride. Photography is not allowed on the project sites and the rule also applies to the trolley. An extra day on the Barot PWD Rest House is highly recommended. You can take one of the beautiful day hikes mentioned in the introduction above. In addition, the chowkidar is a great chef and his rajma, masala aloo curry and the locally available fresh trout are worth trying.





Barot (Baraolt) [foto door Rokarudi]
Barot (Baraolt) [foto door Rokarudi]

To feed lies on the northern edge of Mandi District bordering the Chhota Bhangal region of Kangra just above the confluence of the Uhl with the Lamadug. The Lamadug divides the two districts in Barot with the Uhl completely in Kangra District at this point. Across a bridge over the Lamadug, on a road to the northwest of Barot, is the Multhan village in Kangra. There are a few offices and a Forest Rest House here. On the other side of Multhan flows the Uhl. Kothi Kohr Village, further northwest above the Uhl, is connected by a motor road continuing to Baragaon (14 km). This road is part of the Barot-Billing Road which is currently under construction. A walk along this road, which runs upstream through a densely wooded conifer forest on the left bank of the Uhl, is truly superior to a vehicle journey on it. Kothi Kohr is a small village with a few teahouses, which double as provisions stores. There is enough space to place tents here.

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Billing (photo by Okorok)
Billing (photo by Okorok)

Follow the road upstream along the river Uhl until Baragaon (6km). The road ends at a point where the connection to Rajgunda is still under construction. From Baragaon, a bridle path descends to the left to cross the Uhl River, flowing from Thamsar Pass, which is far to the right (north). After crossing a wooden bridge, the path turns left, leaving the Uhl below and climbing up to reach the large village Rajgunda (2,625 m / 3 km from Baragaon). From this village the route follows the road to the south Billing (2,800m) climbs gently high above the Uhl right bank until it reaches the Slater Ridge junction in the Beas Valley. From here it’s a gentle descent to Billing. It takes about 2 hours to cover this stretch through a mixed forest. Billing, a world famous paragliding site, has a Forest Rest House with impressive views. The surrounding green carpet-like grass is ideal for camping. There is no habitation at Billing, although seasonal tea houses/dhabas spring up in the summer to cater to the itinerant traveller.





Paragliding in Bir (Photo by Himachal tourism)
Paragliding in Bir (Photo by Himachal tourism)

There are two options to achieve Onewhich lies at 1,525 m on the edge of the Dhauladhar, rising sharply from the road from Baijnath.


Follow the road (14 km) southwest downhill. This is a leisurely hike with great views of the Kangra valley.

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The old route, a shortcut, passes through a mixed forest and is very steep, reducing the distance by about 6km. To take the shortcut, follow the jeep road between Billing and Bir to the first bend from where the footpath drops south. It is easily recognizable. The tour ends at Bir market, which meets the jeep road. Bir is a Tibetan settlement with a monastery and a bazaar, where Tibetan handicrafts are available. You will also encounter people from the Bara Bhangal area as most of them migrate to Bir in winter. It is also known for its tea gardens and hang gliding. Stay overnight at Bir or return to Mandi.

Van Deepak Sanan and Minakshi Chaudhry

About the Authors: Deepak Sanan is an IAS officer, Himachal Pradesh cadre, who has toured extensively in the state. His writings include a book on exploring Kinnaur and Spiti as well as numerous articles on Himachal in magazines and books.

Minakshi Chaudhry has been touring Himachal for the past decade and has written two books: Verkenning van Pangi Himalaya: A World Beyonf Civillisation in A guide to trekking in Himachal. Her interest in studying nature and people’s lifestyle grew in Nigeria, West Africa, where Sge spent her formative years. This was nurtured upon her return to Himachal Pradesh, where she traveled extensively as a correspondent from De Indian Express.

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