Situated at an altitude of around 6000 feet (1,829 metres) above sea level is the tiny town of Barot in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh. Barot has plenty of natural beauty all around and has a V-shaded valley due to the Uhl River which flows on either sides of the town and has hence been dubbed by locals all around Himachal Pradesh to be the next big adventure and backpacker hub in the state.
The town of Barot is located at a distance of around 486 km from New Delhi and 66 km from the town of Mandi the district capital. The best way to reach Barot is to take an over night bus from New Delhi to Mandi which takes around 12 hours and then hop onto a local bus from Mandi to Barot which takes around 4 hours since the roads are narrow and have plenty of uphill climbs.
The road to Barot branches off at Jogindernagar-Mandi highway and from Jogindernagar the distance is 40 km. The journey includes passing through terraced fields and thick cedar forests, rising to Jhatingri at the hilltop. The remains of the summer palace of the former rulers of Mandi are located enroute to Barot.
Barot has a range of outdoor activities, including a trout breeding centre from where fish are released into the Uhl River. A 30 km section of the river is used for angling. The town also forms the gateway to the Nargu Wildlife Sanctuary which lies across the Uhl River. The sanctuary is home to the Himalayan monal, black bear and ghoral. Within it are forest rest houses at Thaltuckhod and Silbandhwari. Through woods of cedar and pine a trek route cuts across the sanctuary to Kullu. It is important to note that the sanctuary in Barot does not have any safaris and one would need a local guide to explore the forest on foot.
The town is now an upcoming backpacker destination with plenty of trekking trails that pass through Barot, including trails to Bada Bhangal, Manali and Kullu. Most of the day travellers are attracted by the serene surroundings and pleasant weather. the town is now also developing into an angling destination (fishing). The Uhl River supports trout breeding and the town has a few fish farms across the River Uhl and three artificial man made fish breeding ponds.
An old fountain channelising the waters of Uhl erupting at regular intervals is another source of attraction. Just opposite the fountain, two centeres of religious faith are situated. One is the temple of Dev Pashakot, the local deity of rain whereas the other is old temple which have been the witness to majority of the couples of the valley getting tied in marital bonds.
Accommodation in the town of Barot is in plenty with a number of guest houses and home stays. The home stays across the Uhl River are a better option for backpackers even though one would need to cross over two very tatchy wooden bridges. The home stays are very affordable and extremely clean.
Eating options in Barot limited to a handful of dhabas which have a very limited menu card and barely any non-veg. It is better to request the home stay owners to cook you a meal, since all the dhabas shut early.
The best time to visit Barot is during the summer months from March to May and from mid-August to September. Light woollens are recommend even during the summers.
Barot is a really nice place to chill and unwind for a couple of days there are plenty of short hikes which after climbing to the top will leave you breathless. The town of Barot is a place more for the backpackers and less for tourists.