EP 11 Bharmour to Chamba, Himachal Pradesh Tourism
Namaskar Friends! Welcome to Visa2explore! This is your host, Harish Bali! Right now, I am at Bharmour, Himachal Pradesh. This place is 65 km from Chamba town. We reached here last night.
We had booked ourselves accommodation in a guest house of Himachal Pradesh Tourism. The building that you see is our hotel, Gauri Kund, where we spent the night. We paid a tariff of Rs 2200 for a room on double occupancy basis. Right now, Himachal Tourism is offering a discount of 40% on tariff. We paid 40% of Rs. 2200.
The primary objective of most of the tourists who come here is the Manimahesh Yatra. This pilgrimage is open between "Janmashtami" and "Radha-Ashtami" - a duration of 16 days. However, the yatra goes on for about a month.
Right opposite to the Guest House is a large plot of land, that serves as a helipad. During the duration of yatra, helicopter services operate from here to Gaurikund and back. This return journey costs Rs. 5700 per person. Now we are going to walk down to the "Chaurasi (84) Temple". After that, we will do local sightseeing in Bharmour and show you around as well. We've reached the Chaurasi Temple, which is revered since ancient times.
The temple as you see today was constructed in the 7th century on the orders of Raja Meru Varman. Right now, the Head Priest of this temple, of the Yamraj Temple to be precise, is not available. His son, Mr. Karan, is with us today. Karan, please show us around the temple and also tell us a bit about its history. This is the ancient Manimahesh Temple, built in the 7th century.
It is also written here on the board. This is the inner sanctum of the temple. This place is called Chaurasi Temple because of the 84 (Chaurasi in Hindi) temples around here. It is believed that Lord Shankar had visited this place centuries ago and also spent a night here. This temple is dedicated to "Dharmaraj Brahma Ji" and is world-famous....
...just like the one in Pushkar, Rajasthan. Right opposite to this temple is another one dedicated to Chitrakoot Maharaj.... ....where, it is believed, that our souls come once our bodies are cremated. These are the symbolic 4 Vedas. It is believed that the after-life portal to heaven or hell opens for a soul here, according to its Karma. Just like I showed you the Chitragupta Temple and the 4 Vedas, these are the stairs to heaven! It has been propagated to us by our elders, that these 2 and a half stairs take the souls to heaven. Right opposite to Chitragupta's temple is one dedicated to Lord Vishnu, in his 'Narsingh' avatar (reincarnation). As part of the Manimahesh Yatra, the pilgrims visit the Chaurasi Temple first and foremost.
Then they go to visit the temple of Bharmani Mata. If you go trekking, the path is 2.5 km long and it is 6 km long if you by road. The way to this temple is steep in both cases. Now we are also going to the Bharmani Mata Temple. Our car cannot travel on such steep road, so we've hired a local jeep, which can.
The charge for this to and fro journey is Rs. 1000. So, we're going to call for the Jeep and proceed to the temple. Thank you! The road to Bharmani Mata Temple is so steep that only a local driver can drive on it. And it is this Bolero that is climbing this steep path, it would have been difficult for any other car.
Where is the temple? The temple is in that direction. So, it is 500 metres away and we will walk that distance! During the Manimahesh Yatra, when you bring up the pilgrims on a sharing basis in your vehicle... ...what do you charge then? We charge Rs. 100 per person. Rs. 100 per person for this journey! Okay! Let us go! According to legend, Bharmani Mata used to live in Bharmour earlier. One day, Lord Shankar was going to Manimahesh Kailash Mountain.
And he came across this beautiful place, where he felt like staying awhile. Mata was out for a stroll at that time. When she came back, she found that someone had lighted a fire at her place of meditation. She wondered as to who was the visitor in her absence. Mata encountered Lord Shankar and asked him what he was doing at her place.
Lord Shankar told her that he was a sage on his way to the Manimahesh Kailash. He asked her for a place to stay for a day. Mata allowed him to stay for a day. In the morning, Lord Shankar had established his followers at the place, which angered Mata. She accused Shankar Ji of betrayal. She said that she could not stay in that place now and where would she go.
Then Lord Shankar told Mata to stay where she wanted to... ...but in the coming times, whenever the Manimahesh Yatra would begin,.... ....pilgrims would first come for your darshan and, thereafter, they would come for mine. That is why the pilgrims come to this place first and then go on to Manimahesh Yatra. So the yatra route goes through Hadsar? Yes, first to Bharmour from here and then to Hadsar, 13 km away. Thereafter, it is a further 13 km trek to the destination. So, this whole yatra, from Bharmour onwards, is of 4 days? Yes Sir. Okay, thanks a lot! The pilgrims coming for Manimahesh Yatra visit Bharmani Mata Temple first.
They also take a dip in the holy pool here. After that, they continue the rest of their pilgrimage. Now we are going to drive down about 6-7 km to Bharmour. I've already called ahead at the guest house to keep our lunch ready. After that, we are going to travel to Hadsar, 13 km away. Between the Bharmani Mata Temple and Bharmour, there is a place named Gharadu.
We've stopped here. This place has a Forest Rest House. So we are going there to find out whether it is open for tourists or not. Please tell us something about this accommodation facility.
We have two rooms here, which you can book online. The charges for a room are Rs. 800. It feels good standing here. There are mountains all around us. Yes, of course, this location can be called the most beautiful in Bharmour. You can see the most beautiful, snow-capped peak from here, it is called Mount Kailash.
You can have the darshan of Bholenath from this spot. Really great! Thank you so much! Okay Sir. We've reached the Himachal Tourism Guest House and are having our lunch.
White Chana Curry, Bhindi-Aloo and rice for lunch. I really felt like spending a night at the Forest Rest House that we saw on our way back here. But there, I found out that one needs to wait for at least 2 months in queue for the booking.
This means that you will need to book the accommodation at least 2 to 2.5 months in advance. But that location was good. So, let us finish lunch and then we would leave for Hadsar. The food is simple.
The staff here will cook whatever you ask it to cook. The main thing is the food is fresh. That is because the staff cooks food in a customized way for your.
I will join you back in a short while. Our jeep driver has gone back to his place for lunch. He will also be back in some more time.
Ankush, how much time will it take to reach Hadsar? About half an hour. It is what, 13 km away? Yes, 13 km! Okay! So, turn the jeep around. We've reached Hadsar. The place where we've reached is surrounded by mountains, with this small stream flowing in the middle. This stream is flowing down from the Manimahesh lake. I don't have words to explain this place and my feeling on being here.
This is a totally unexplored region. You can see this path here, it will take you to Manimahesh, which is a journey of 13 km in all. Tell me one thing, there is a Buddal river too around here? Yes Sir, it is about a kilometer away from here. So can we go to the river? Yes? On foot or in car? In car. You will be able to see it from there as well.
Let us go then. We've reached near the river. We crossed this iron bridge to reach here. We are watching a beautiful view of the Budhil river in front of us and this view is amazing. Wow! Very nice! Ankush, where does this river flow from? This river originates in Kugti.
How far is that? It is 13 km up in the mountains. I can see this board here, Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary. So the area beyond this gate is wildlife sanctuary. If we want to visit Lahaul-Spiti, we need to go till Kugti by road and from there onwards, to Lahaul-Spiti. How long is the trek? It takes about 3-4 days.
It was fun visiting this place. In fact, I cannot express my happiness at being able to visit here. So beautiful! Completely unexplored! There is nobody here except us.
You must visit here if you are in Bharmour. You can easily spend a couple of hours here and walk right upto the spot where you can see some people walking. I can guarantee that you won't feel like going back from here. The air is fresh and crisp. I don't have words left anymore to appreciate this location.
Ankush, it was a good thing that you brought us here. If we had time, we would have gone upto Kugti but we have to leave for Chamba today. We will spend 15-20 minutes more here, then to Bharmour and on to Chamba from there. From Buddhal river, we came back half a kilometer to the Hadsar market. Though there are no other tourists here, but we could see a couple of locals here. If you climb these stairs for upto a kilometer, you will reach the path that I had showed you earlier.
From there you can begin your 13-km trek to Manimahesh. If you've got good stamina, you can finish this 13-km trek and come back in a single day. You live here? So tell me, can we finish this yatra in a day. Yes, one can go and come back the same day, but one needs to be strong and healthy. You mean we can cover 13-km trek and return the same day. Yes, but one needs to start early in the morning.
Ohh, you guys can do it because your stamina is better than us. For us it would be difficult. Okay great! Now we shall leave for Bharmour. We've just stopped our car here. Brother, tell me one thing, where do you live? Chamba is 60 km from here and my village is 100 km from Chamba.
Your home is 160 km away! You've come this far while herding your goats and sheep. Yes! Where do you stay at night? Wherever the night falls. We don't spend the night in a jungle, instead we come down to be by the roadside. Just by the road! Yes! And these goats also stay put by the roadside? Yes! Where are you headed to? We are going to Punjab. We are going to Kamai Devi, 30 km from Phagwara. How much time will it take for you to reach there? About a month.
So for a month, you will keep walking by the roadside like this? Yes! That is very courageous! How many of you are there? We are 3 men. But you are alone here. Yes, I am alone on this road. But there will be more sheep coming down from the mountainside...
...once they reach the road, we will be three persons. We are herding a total of 300 sheep. So, you are 3 men taking care of 300 sheep. From what I've understood, in winters, you come down from the mountains to Punjab and....
...in summer season, you go back to your village. Yes! And what time do you spend at home? Not much! We just keep wandering around like this. You mean you keep wandering around with the sheep, etc throughout the year? Yes! That is very courageous of you guys! You just sit by the roadside at night, cook your food out in the open, and spend you days like this along with your herd. I salute you guys, seriously! So, I had this question on my mind as to where do you spend the night, how do you cook your food? So, you told me, you carry your utensils with you.
We carry every essential item with us. Alright. Thank you guys! It was nice meeting you. Bye! We've had to stop 2 km short of Bharmour because of the road construction work.
It will probably take 30 minutes more to complete. We've reached Bharmour. The staff at the Guest House had told me to buy Rajma (Kidney Beans) from the shop of Mr. Shastri.
So, that's where I am going now. What is the weight of this packet? A Kilo, 1 kg. What is its cost? Rs. 150!
I will take four kgs of rajma. Okay Ankush! Bye-bye! Namaste! How much time will it take to reach Chamba? About 3 hours! Now we will finish the rest of the journey in our own vehicle. Bye-bye! We reached Chamba at 9 pm. As you can see, the whole market is closed by now.
We are standing outside a dhaba, which is located near the local Lakshmi-Narayan Temple. We had contacted them 2 hours ago, while we were enroute to Chamba.... ...and had asked them to prepare dinner for us. Therefore, they have prepared something for us, let me find out. Brother, have you prepared something for our dinner? Yes? Great! The food is served. Madra 1-Madra 2! This means one is Rajma curry and the other is Chana (chickpeas) curry. Chashni (sugar syrup) with dry fruits in it! Moong Dal, Black Urad Dal! Kadhi & rice! Whenever you come to Himachal Pradesh and want to eat Dham....
...it involves rice, no chapati. So, I am okay with eating rice. Let me tell you one more thing about Dham in Himachal Pradesh... ...it is cooked without the use of onion, garlic and tomatoes! For the past few days, that we've been travelling in Himachal Pradesh... ...I've been noticing that the flavors of garam masala in the food here are exotic! I've been noticing this feature in the food everywhere, whether it is this chana.... . ...which has a beautiful flavor of cinnamon or... ...Cardamom. Very tasty! This Rajma madra is also cooked well, tasty, but again, loaded with ghee! That goes without saying! In fact, this dish has so much ghee in it that you can feel ghee spreading over your tongue while eating. And I like this kind of taste.
This is called "Chashni" here and it is filled with dry fruits, jaggery and tamarind flavors. I will taste it just like that. This is the first time in my life that I am eating this combination. It is sweet, sour, and filled with the flavors of multiple dry fruits. Wow! On top of the Kadhi, you can see vermicelli made of besan (chickpea flour).
The two things that I enjoyed the most in dinner today are Chana Madra and Sweet 'n Sour Chashni. Though all the dishes are good, but these two are the star dishes of this dinner for me. Wheat Halwa is called "Tarkire Ka Halwa" locally and its cooked through an elaborate process. Wheat grains are soaked, peeled and then through an elaborate, long process, this halwa is prepared. This is a new taste for me and I will need to eat it for a couple of times before I can develop a taste for it.
As for Sweet rice, I personally like it very much. This dish is loaded with ghee, sugar, of course and lots of dry fruits. As for our further programme, we are going to spend the night at a Himachal Tourism Guest House nearby. Tomorrow morning, during the first half, we will visit local Chamba. After that, we will go to Khajiar After that, we will spend the night in Dalhousie.
Tomorrow's programme will be available to viewers in the next episode. In the next episode, I will also show you the property where we will be staying. Now I am going to finish this food and say bye-bye to you right here. We will meet soon. For now, it is goodbye! Thanks for your time!