BAROG – A picture perfect destination

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    Few days back, while going through the old pictures, moment’s long-forgotten zoom back into my mind. I still remember it was Saturday, looking to escape the scorching Delhi summer, I along with my three friends set off around 7 in the morning.  It was a wonderful road trip and self-drive made it memorable.

    Pinjore Garden
    Solan/Shimla Highway

    Barog – a beautiful destination, around 290 km from Delhi is the ideal place for both peace lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. It is located in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh, so the journey includes driving on national highway along with mountain road. We drove nonstop till Murthal, where we had our breakfast, and then continued our journey. After Zirakpur, there is much to explore in this route than just the scenic beauty. This includes Pinjore Garden, Himalayan Mountain Rail, quaint Himachali villages, local delicacies, and much more. We stopped and spend around an hour to visit Pinjore Garden basically know as Yadavindra Garden. It is a 17th-century garden located in Pinjore city of Panchkula district in Haryana. After this, we continue on the main Shimla highway. For those who love road trips with hairpin bends, picturesque view, the Solan region is certainly a no miss. It’s a magnificent drive and for the budget traveler, there is a public bus service that runs daily.  

    After crossing Kumarhatti, we continue on the main highway and soon reached our hotel, situated near the main road overlooking lush green vegetation. The location makes it a perfect spot to unwind after a long road trip. The rooms are packed with comfortable beds, coffee table along with chairs, and other basic amenities. Being tired, we all had early dinner and later fall asleep quickly. The next morning we start with a cup of masala tea, breathing in the fresh morning air and listening to the sweet chirping of birds in the lap of nature. After leisurely breakfast, we searched and came to known about the other highlights of the region which includes Dolanji Bon Monastery, Jatoli village – famous for its Shiva temple and Dagshai – an old cantonment town founded by East India Company in 1847. However, after discussion, we decided to stick with the original plan of visiting the famous Barog railway station, which lies on the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kalka-Shimla Railway.

    Valley view from Hotel
    Sign Board
    Station area
    A walk on narrow gauge

    We took the Kumarhatti – Barog – Solan Road and reached the point where we have to trek. There were just a sigh board and no parking or any counter or person for information. A local person suggests us to park the vehicle nearby and show us the direction further. We reached the station in around 10 minutes via trek down the valley. The station (Code: BFO) consists of the main building apart from other small buildings and Victorian-style Shivalik cottage in which one can also stay and experience living in the Victorian period. The main building also has few rooms facing a water stream. The entire station area was calm, clean, and uncrowded. We stroll around the platform area, further from the far edge; one can see the low hills of the Shivalik range, delineated with cloudy sky. Later we enter the main building and also purchased the ticket to enjoy the train ride, downside till Kumarhatti. The place is best for explorers and folks who love being around nature.

    There is also a tunnel known as Barog tunnel, longest on the rail line (1.14 km), and numbered”33” out of the total 103 tunnels. We captured some beautiful pictures and also interact with station staff, who shared with us the information related to the historic rail line and the station. As per the findings, Barog is named after a British Colonel Barog, who committed suicide because the British Government fined him for an error in construction during the first attempt of building the tunnel. Later in the second attempt, the tunnel was completed under Chief Engineer H.S. Harrington in 1903. But it is said that he completed this only after the advice of Baba Bhalku, a spiritual and diviner from Chail. The Shimla Railway museum records, in fact, mention his contribution.   

    Tunnel no. 33

    A gentle curve
    Track view

    Soon a train from Solan gently rolls into the station and halt at the platform. It’s a passenger train packed with the maximum local public. The food vendors become active in selling hot pakodas, cutlets, tea/coffee, and other refreshments to passengers. After some time, the clang of the wheels as the train gets in motion and we hop on for an exciting short journey. The train was fully occupied but I appreciate it, the local passengers were really friendly and they offered us two seats. As the train left the tunnel no. 33, we were in a different world.  Now, we were not in the mood to view the beauty from the window and hence chose to stand, popping the head out of the door, enjoying those endless curves in the hills. The train was running slowly, whistling on each sharp turn and offering a panoramic view of the Shivalik range. We took plenty of pictures during the ride and really fortunate to captured some memorable shots. It took us around 20 minutes to reach Kumarhatti, deboarding station. The entire experience was remarkable and that’s why it attracts people more to its nostalgic value rather than speed.           

    After exploring the local market and a cup of tea at a local restaurant, we took a local bus to reach the starting point, where our car was parked. Thereafter, we came back to our hotel and enjoyed our supper consist of local delicacies with fruit beer. Solan is also famous for one of the oldest alcohol companies named as Mohan Meakin Limited. It was established by the British man Meakin that’s why it is known as Mohan Meakin. This is Himachal Pradesh’s first company which produces alcohol in the state and was built in the year 1855. The next morning it’s time to drive back, so after breakfast, we left the place by around 10 am with long-lasting memories.

    Dinner Time
    View during the drive

    And though it was almost more than two years, I still feel the station in white and blue surrounded by pines and oaks. It’s a traveler’s paradise – a blend of scenic beauty.  

    Click here to read my previous articles on Flavor of South Goa.