An ideal tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh is a combination of not just the scenic beauty of the Himalayas that you’d expect from this gorgeous state but also a place that is steeped in pre-colonial history and ancient myth. This would be a place rather like Shimla -- but without the capital city’s hustle and mainstream crowdedness during the vacation season. This would be a place containing all usual the magic of Himachal while also offering its own blend of uniqueness and wonder. Well, such a place does exist, and it’s called Barog!
Situated at a height of about 1560 m, Barog is a town in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. In case you’re visiting Shimla during the monsoons and are looking to trek, camp, and visit nearby spots, Barog should be on your bucket list! This little town has so much to offer to those visiting that you can’t afford to miss the opportunity to hop on to a bus and explore.
Nature and Trekking
Located as it is in the Himalayas, Barog offers countless pockets of nature where you can trek to, relax, click pictures, and enjoy the serene view with family and friends:
1. Choor Chandini Peak
At an altitude of about 3650 m above sea level, this peak is a favourite amongst those looking to trek in the Shivaliks. The name of the peak derives from how the mountain appears to have silver bangles all over it on moonlit nights. The peak itself is at a distance of 72 kms from Barog, so one has to first travel to Solan from where one reaches the Nauradhar base. The distance and duration of the trek about is 15-16 kms and 2-5 hours, respectively, with the latter number depending on your pace and the weather. During monsoons, the trail tends to be misty so much so that visibility plummets down to a mere two metres! Upon reaching the top, one can locate and visit the famous Churdhar temple. There’s also shops at the summit run by villagers where you can grab a light snack.
2. Barog Camping Grounds
A registered camping site in Barog, this is an ideal getaway from the hectic nature of city life. If you’re looking for an idyllic place close to nature, lodging in one of these camps is a great deal! Gazing upon a view of Solan valley and Choor Chandini Peak while reclining on a hammock with a warm beverage outdoors makes for a wonderful and therapeutic way to spend your afternoon. These camps are equipped with food, water, electricity, and more recently even wi-fi. For those interested in shopping for souvenirs, shawls, and other items of interest, there’s a Tibetan market nearby.
3. Karol Tibba
About a distance of 16 kms from Barog lies the ridge of Karol, there’s a famous temple at the top, but the landmark especially popular among tourists is a cave called Pandav cave. Legend has it that the Pandav brothers from Mahabharatha resided in these caves for a matter of days. Fiction aside, an interesting fact about this cave is that it is recognised to be the longest of its kind in Himachal Pradesh: it connects Karol with the outskirts of Pinjore. To reach, one has to trek uphill. The trail is lined with pine trees and rocks and lasts for about 2-3 hours. The ridge top provides one a wholesome view of the Solan village, which makes for quite a photographic experience!
Mountains and camping grounds aside, Barog itself is abundant in local sights and chances for excursion that cannot be missed:
One of the oldest cantonment towns in India, Dagshai is at a distance of about 10 km from Barog. Under colonial rule, prisoners would be sent to the central jail in this time, In fact, the place gets its name from the imprint upon that was marked on prisoners’ head before they were sent to this village. Presently, the Central Jail building still exists and serves as a memorial. There’s also an old church for those interested in historical exploration.
2. Grave of Barog
Where it all started: the grave of Colonel Barog is place of interest and the burial site of the engineer after whom the town itself is named. It is said that Barog committed suicide out of humiliation and sadness here when his project of constructing a tunnel for the British failed due to miscalculation. A new tunnel was then constructed to substitute the failed project. The actual grave is 1.5 km off into the forests. Presently, the site is a memorial for the unfortunate colonel and is visited by curious tourists as part of local sightseeing.
3. Railway Station
Taking after Scottish architecture, this railway station built during the colonial era is truly a marvel to behold. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Kalka-Shimla railways. Hop on the toy train in case you’re seeking some fun, great scenic view of the hills
Barog, like the rest of Himachal, is not lacking in religious sites that are at once wondrous, old, and charming:
1. Dolanji Bon Monastery
Established in 1969 by Abbott Luntog Tengpai Nyima, this monastery is a haven for Tibetan culture in Barog. Set up as a small cultural heritage site at its inception, this monastery has now developed to house 120 monks. At a distance of about 5 km away from the town, it now stands as a veritable centre of Tibetan traditions and practices. Its famous for performances of the Bon dances during New Year’s and other auspicious occasions. With its manicured gardens and polite monks, it is quite the pocket of peace and solemnity in Barog -- a site to not be missed when visiting the place.
2. Sholoni Devi Temple
At a distance of about 8 kms from the main town of Barog, Sholoni Devi Temple is situated in the village of Solan. A shrine to an incarnation of Goddess Durga, this pious site attracts devotees from all over. It boasts of an annual Sholoni festival that’s quite popular with tourists. Devotees cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity of visiting this ancient temple.
3. Jatoli Shiva Temple
At a distance of about 16 kms from Barog and on the way to Salon there lies the village of Jatoli. Tourists and devotees from all across recognise the village of Jatoli for its Vishal Shiva temple. It’s known to be one of the oldest Shiva temples, containing in its walls easily among the most ancient Shiva Linga. The temple also has fair claim in being called the highest temple in Asia because of its altitude. Whether religious or not, visiting Jatoli for its ancient Shiva temple is a sight to behold!
Food and Shopping
If you get the urge to grab a quick meal during your exploration and travelling, then Barog has you covered. With a wide array of restaurants and cafes, you can’t go wrong with paying them a visit and getting the cuisine of your choice. There’s not only Indian but also delicious continental and Tibetan dishes to be had.
By no means a shopping destination, Barog still has markets where you can buy trinkets, garments, and souvenirs for cheap. The Tibetan markets close to the camping grounds make for the preferred destination in this regard.
Whether seeking a fun trek amidst misty hills, an idyllic trip through the lower Shivaliks, or a simple escapade into Himalayan towns, Barog’s got it all!
The best time to visit Barog is during the months of April - September. The monsoon season is especially favoured by tourists: during this time, the trek trails at nearby ridges are misty and the town has a more picaresque, greener feel to it. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rains and the maximum temperature doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t rise above a breezy 23 degrees. Winters tend to be harsh and rather unsuitable for travelling.
Tips For Visiting Barog
1. Dress adequately for the trek. 2. Make sure to carry enough water during the trek. 3. Stay close to your friends while trekking. 4. Don't forget to carry a mosquito repellent if you're planning on camping. 5. Do not litter in either nature or near urban areas. 6. The people of Himachal are mostly friendly with tourists, so extend the same courtesy.
How to Reach Barog
Via Air: The nearest airport is Jubarhatti Airport in Shimla. At a distance of about 58 km from Shimla, those getting off at Shimla airport can then reach Barog via rail or road. Via Rail: With a robust railway station that falls on the famous Kalka-Shimla line, Barog is quite accessible through trains. The popular choices of trains of tourists reaching Barog are Amritsar Shatabdi, Swarna Shatabdi, Garib Rath Express, etc. Most of these trains can be boarded at either Shimla or Chandigarh. Via Road: Barog is well-connected via road to major cities and destinations in and around Himachal Pradesh. It?s at a distance of about 300 km from Delhi, 21 km from Kasauli, 8 km from Solan, 60 km from Chandigarh, 54 km from Chail, and 58 km from Shimla. Those visiting can either hire a cab or hop on to any of the buses plying on this network of roads to reach Barog! Such services are even readily available online.