Chauhar/Chuhar Valley (चुहार घाटी) is in district Mandi. In the International Festival of Mandi Shivratri, three major deities from this valley come to meet the theocratic King of Mandi, Lord Radha Madhav (राधा माधव ). For the first time I saw the proceedings of this festival and [now] I believe it surely does have a divine significance. I like names and numbers and the name of Dev Hurang Narayan (देव हुरंग नारायण) caught my attention. Now I wanted to go to the Chauhar valley.
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The Himalayas are mesmerizing, mysterious, provocative, and calm at the same time. As long as you keep climbing, they will always offer you new heights. The Kangra, Mandi, and Kullu districts in Himachal Pradesh belong to the Himalayas. The Dhauladhar Range of Himalayas stands tall in the Kangra District and subsides gradually as it enters the Kullu Valley. In the remote villages of the above-mentioned districts, the Himalayas enable people to commute from one district to another, in the primitive yet effective way, i.e., on foot. There are many low and high passes that connect Mandi to Kullu in the Chuhar Valley, we chose the Bhubhu Jot at 2850 meters that launches you in the beautiful Lagg Valley in Kullu District. Even in 2012, people prefer to walk in the mountains. Walking continuously for hours in mountains is a part of life. Chuhar to Kullu and back is a matter of 8 hours for the local people. Kids have to walk 5-6 kilometers to reach school.
Life is hard there, by my, and your standards, yet the Pahadi people treat each other with respect. Guests, like me are considered incarnation of God and they very well know the meaning of “Atithi Devo Bhava” even if they are uneducated, by our standards.
The first step is easy, take a bus, reach Jogindernagar, take another bus, reach Tikken, and start walking towards the Moolsthan of Dev Pashakot, popularly known as Barot Devta. Buses are frequent, getting a bus is not a problem, however getting a seat in the bus can surely be a problem. You need to walk not more than 2 k.m from Tikken to reach the moolsthan of Pashakot Devta. The temple is located at Naldehra, near a water reservoir which is considerably large in size. Leather items, cigarettes, alcohol, shoes are strictly prohibited inside the temple premises, which is clearly mentioned outside the gate of the temple. Then we met the temple preist (I assume he was the priest) and he asked us to sit with him and have some fun. There was a party going on and people were singing, dancing, and drinking too. Life is strange, isn’t it?It is believed that locals can drink inside the temple premises while outsiders cannot. Life is mysterious, I think.
Anyways, we got to know that the real and ancient temple of Devta lies somewhere up in the mountains in the Devgarh Village. The deity is considered as the Pahadi Wajeer and villagers still believe in his justice system. They are constructing a new temple, which includes a great amount of wood work and wooden carvings. From the temple, we get to see the beautiful Chuhar Valley. These villages are spread over a large area and yet the justice system of Devta supposedly works perfectly.
To reach Hurang Village, one has to reach Dharmed (धर्मेड) Village, which is 5-6 kilometers (on foot) from Devgarh (देवगढ़). From Dharmed, one has to go to the Silh-Budhani Rest House, which is at least 10 kilometers by road. If you are lucky, you can get a state transport bus or a shared cab, which will cost you not more than INR 50 (maximum). If you are not-so-lucky, you will have to spend INR 400-500 to hire an alto, which is usually found there waiting for passengers. If you are unlucky, you will find nothing, you will have to spend a night in Dharmed itself, which may or may not be an easy thing to do because the school building and Panchayat Bhawan are the only accommodation options available there. We found a cab, paid him INR 500 and finally reached at the rest house.
From the rest house, you get a glimpse of Hurang Village. Hurang is actually name of the village and Dev Narayan is the theocratic ruler of that village. We spent one night in the rest house, ate delicious Barot Rajmah (बरोट राजमाह) and left early in the morning for Hurang Narayan Temple. The Hurang Village is 2-3 KM from the rest house and from there starts the climb to the Bhubhu Jot. Hurang Temple is a huge building made of wood and it says the same thing; drinks, leather, and shoes not allowed inside the temple. They were taking the Palaki (पालकी) of Devta to the Jogindernagar Fair and it was an amazing scene inside the temple. They were preparing the Palaki and hundreds of people had gathered to pay homage to the deity.
Hurang sounds powerful and dominating, doesn’t it?
As we started to climb, we asked many people for directions and every one of them told us not to go. They feared that snow would not have melted and considering the gradient of the slope, we would end up either hurting ourselves or dying. My companion has climbed many Kailash Parvats, so I had faith in him, and he had faith in himself. We decided to go, the terrain was moderate and it was only 2-3 kilometer climb uphill at 60-70 degree gradient. There is not much chance of getting lost in the jungle but in case you lose the trail, follow the water body, which takes you to the top of the Jot.
Reaching the top was difficult, getting down to the other side was very difficult. It was all snow and gradient was close to 80 degrees. At the very first sight, I said NO! While I was busy overcoming my fear, my friend had already devised a plan. He asked me to follow him and gradually we started our mission-descent-in hard-snow. One guy had climbed the pass before us and we were trying to locate his footsteps so that we get hard ground. That guy walked alone in the snow and that too in 40-45 minutes, aone. We took almost 2 hours to get down and the most difficult part was yet to come. The gradient became even steeper, the snowline had disappeared but the problems had not. We were now behaving like monkeys, holding branches, leaves, grass, and jumping from one cliff to another. It was not possible to click any photograph because there was not enough room to stand, photography was out of question. Finding a way out was becoming difficult as it was getting dark.
In such situations, one realizes the importance of human company, someone to assure you, someone to show you the path. Making your own path is difficult for sure. Then we saw a guy walking casually towards the top of the Jot. He guided us properly and when I asked how long would it take him to reach at the top, he simply said not more than 45 minutes, and I believed him.
After few minutes, human beings appeared. There were two villages in the vicinity and when I asked name of the village from a lady, I got an astonishing answer. The lady said that specifically there is no name of this village. Those who come from Kullu [Town] call it “Kalapaani”. The next village after “Kalapaani” is Kadon (कड़ओन) followed by Dalighat (दलीघट्ट). There is an ancient temple of Narayan Ji and interestingly no one visits that temple except the priest and his family. The deity guards the Devdaar Trees and it is believed that those trees are as old as 1,000 years. The temple is strictly out of bounds for tourists. Kullu is 14 kilometers from Dalighat and getting a vehicle to Kullu is easy.
In brief, this is how you we reached Bhubhujot from Jogindernagar
(Jogindernagar(bus)-Tikken-Naldehra Mool Sthan Pashakot-Devgarh Village– Dharmed(taxi)-Silh Budhani Rest House)—(Hurang Narayan Temple-Budhani School-Bhubhjot-Lagg Valley). Approximate walking distance was 20-25 kilometers in two days.
P.S. There is a lake up in the mountains near Barot. Circumference of that lake is approximately 800 meters. Humongous is the word.