Tuesday, April 26, 2016

(Trekking and camping) Joginder Nagar  Winch Camp  Barot  Badagram  RajGundha  Billing (Part 2)

Continued from part1..       
                       [Barot to Bada-Gram/Badagaran]

Crossing a fallen tree on the trail Winch camp to Barot after leaving the haulage track.

In last post I covered the story of our trekking from Joginder Nagar up to Winch Camp and then down to Barot. This was almost 1:00 PM when we reached Barot. We skipped the trek along the Khooni Ghati (Blood Valley), instead we took the trail that diverges from the ridge line of the mountain. It meets the Barot at the old reservoir. It was illogical to rent a room, when we carried the tents and sleeping bags with us. But we inquired about the room rents, which they said to be 500 rupees. We wanted the hot bath, and recharging of our cell-phone batteries etc.  
They told that camping site was available on the right bank of the Uhl River, only about two hundred metres upstream from Barot reservoir. Both the ideas were dismissed and instead we planned to walk along the road up to Kothi-Kohar and camp or hire a room there for night stay.
Reason was the twelve kilometres of distance from Barot up to Kothi-Kohar and then another four to five kilometres up to Rajgundha, both combined would make a large distance for the next day. From Winch camp to Barot was an easy descent, but these next seventeen kilometres would all be ascent. We bought other packets of bread, butter and milks.

Barot to (Nalhota) Bada-Gram – Parallel with Uhl River.
As we started from Barot, sky was getting darker with clouds. ATM was available at Multhan, perhaps the only one in Barot region. Multhan is the first station that comes in Kangra district; it is only at metres distance from Barot which is in district Mandi.  Multhan has bigger market and rooms were available, but the owning lady said ‘it would be ‘only 1000/- to 1500/- rupees per room,’ and it was not ‘only’ for us, so we kept walking. A fast wind had starting to blow; I insisted that the clouds would disappear in about half an hour. 
From right - Anand, Sai and Deepak , Diversion towards Luhardi and Badagram at Multhan, Kangra.

With each step that we walked on the road towards Kothi-Kohar, Uhl River gets down inches by inches. Had it rained, it would not be possible to walk down to the river bank and pitch our tents there, because first we saw rarely any trails to walk down to the bank, second- river bank was wild and got no good sites for camping.  Clouds sprinkled a feeble shower, but it was not enough to stop us.
Weather is fickle in mountains, and it is your choice to get happy or sad about it. Soon the clouds got scattered up from our heads, but they gathered at the place towards where we were headed. We could tell that it was pouring down dense rain drops near to the higher reaches of Uhl, somewhere at Rajgundha. But the fast wind gave us the hope, because it takes away the clouds. As we walked about six to seven kilometres along the road, Sun showed its shine, but we were near to exhaustion. As this road ends at Badagram, only very few private cars or bikes crossed the road and we met only two buses in our whole of the foot journey of about three hours. 
Uhl vs the road

Rhododendron trees covered fully with pink and another mixed colors could be seen almost everywhere on the slanted faces of the mountains.  River and road both continuously got elevated, but their mutual elevation difference increased further. River was now almost at a very steep (almost 90 degrees) two hundred metres of distance from road. At 3-4 kilometres back from Kothi-Kohar, we met the second and last bus running towards our very own destination of the day. It was about 5:30 PM, our legs were paining, and we were not sure about what we would get at Kothi-Kohar, so we hitched this last bus. We reached Kothi-Kohar – a small mountain village settled on the left bank of the Uhl River with a small mountain brook running beside it that stretches its length from the mountain ridge to Uhl River.

Beside the brook and below the road, a small plain ground with a greenish tinge seemed good for the camping. Momentarily, more than ten mules were grazing this plain ground.  As we stepped down from the bus, one person offered us this other advice to go further to Bada-gram. ‘Room would be available there for rent, and also trek up to Rajgundha would be short from there,’ advised he. I felt very much exhausted to walk any further, and there was no bus or cab available, but once we sipped cups of tea inside the only available tea hut there, I felt re-charged. Four tea glasses for thirty rupees, but it was worth in that physical state of our bodies.

At Nalhota (Badagaran/Badagram)
That's Nalhota and fields, Badagram, Chota Bhangal, Kangra.

It was day's last two or three kilometres of gentle walk along the road to reach Nalhota. Main Bada-gram village- the end of the motor-able road was only at about two-three hundred metres of a road distance from Nalhota. A small room with wooden flooring was available for rent at Nalhota. “De Dena Jo dena hoga, is room ke liye kya denge aap?!” means -give whatever amount you wish to give, said Sh. Amar Singh- the owner of the room.  As I write this, there are no hotels at Nalhota or Bada-gram. It was almost dark; we put our socks outside, and engaged ourselves with a deck of cards, that was put on the table in the room. Including some of their personal items, a double bed and one single bed was available.  

Room was in bad condition, but all we needed was the blankets, quilts and mattresses. A tasty Dinner meal of chapattis and brinjal etc. was provided.
I didn’t get a very good sleep, might be the mattresses and quilts were colonized by the bed bugs, and guess what? - This would be their big feast night, Cheers!(for them). 

It was irritating to try to reach the body parts where I wouldn't reach. It was disturbing, but the warmth of the blankets and cushioning of the mattresses wouldn’t be available outside the room. Also there was no good camping site available, only ploughed fields everywhere around the village.

I woke up at 1:00 AM to take a piss outside. Fear of leopard etc. stroked me for a moment, but as Deepak was awake so we both went. Sky was all clear, full of stars now, and looked really wonderful. It would be hard to believe to see what it had turned into when the morning arrived. People were already in the fields, some walked behind with their yoked oxen, and some just with their farming tools. Sky had turned into dark with dense and heavy clouds. 

Bathroom facility was not available, and therefore after inquiring for the suitable place outside. I went to a small mountain brook which was far away from village and at edge of the fields. Temperature was very low; while walking along the road, I was almost shivering even inside the sweater. Soon it started to rain; thankfully the job was done. I almost ran back along a trail in between the fields towards village.

I smiled and waved to an old man. Holding the plough behind the yoked pair of oxen, he was having a child like happiness on his face.  On the same trail two school going girl children giggled their faces when this old man scolded the lazy oxen with a loud shout, and they didn’t pay much of heed. It was entertaining, even I couldn’t resist.
 We had tea, breads, milk and butter as the morning break-fast.  It rained continuously till 12:00 PM, and then it stopped. It matched with the weather forecast that I had Googled earlier. It was the time for us to leave for Rajgundha. 

Inside the Nalhota village, Badagram, Kangra. -April 2016

Before leaving I went up to village, found the temple of Ajiyapal- the deity of the village in between small wooden hut like houses of the village.

 It seemed closed, and I was in a hurry, so I didn’t try to go inside just clicked myself with the temple and came back. Amar Singh- the owner of the room asked to pay around 600/- rupees for our stay, four persons’ dinner, 10 cups of tea and perhaps one or two biscuit packets. It was the least that we could pay for such a nice dinner and a night’s stay.

Bada-gram/Badagaran to Rajgundha – Crossing Uhl in her teenage

River Uhl starts somewhere up in Bada-Bhangal and merges with river Beas somewhere between Mandi and Pandoh. Perhaps it would be right to say that at Badagram Uhl is in her teenage. A bird’s eye view of the river from Badagram looks like a beautiful imagination of a scenery painter. It emerges out of a mountain valley and flows down in a serpentine fashion. The valley is very steep and big, it reminded me of the Parvati River in its teenage near to Kheerganga in Kullu. 

Crossing Uhl in her teenage in between Badagram and Rajgundha, Chota Bhangal, Kangra.

We took a steep descent of about two hundred meters to reach a somewhat safe river crossing. Width was not more than eight to ten meters, and water was ice cold, shallow but fast. Sun was hinting to come out of the clouds soon so Sai and Anand put their courage to take few dips. 

Deepak and I tried to get some good clicks. Midst the big Deodar and rhododendron trees trail on the other side of the river rose very steeply for about another two hundred meters and then we would reach the terraced fields of the Rajgundha. Parshuram, a thirty two years old farmer (as he told) had joined us on this ascent. He told us about the Potato farms, the private and govt. rest houses and also gave us the information about the trail that goes to Palachak and further to Bada-Bhangal. There were not more than five to ten houses in Rajgundha. 

to be continued in part 3...