Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Baru Sahib in Sirmaur, Himachal

Gurudwara Baru Sahib, Sirmaur

On the Solan to Nahan road hidden deep in the Sirmaur valley of Himachal Pradesh lies Baru Sahib. I had heard of it when I had gone to Rajgarh in 2008 but due to time constraint could not go that time. But this time I decided to go and see the place. I had not done any research on it before going and the place was a complete surprise for me.

River Giri close to Baru Sahib

From Rajgarh Baru Sahib is about 30 km and first it is all downhill till you reach the river Giri (a tributary of river Yamuna) and then uphill for a few km.

Baru Sahib, Sirmaur

I thought by the name that Baru Sahib will have a Gurudwara and maybe a township or village but when I reached there I saw that besides the Gurudwara there was no village or town but almost an exclusive educational township managed by the Kalgidhar Trust under which there is an Akal Academy, an IB School and a private University. Basically it is a venture of NRI Sikhs, mainly from Canada. The Trust runs Eternal University here and the Akal University in Damdama Sahib in Punjab. Most students seem to be from Himachal or Punjab. Some NRI students are also present. The main focus of the studies in Baru Sahib is theology but there are the usual professional courses as well. The undergraduate programmes specially are only for the women. There are several hostel blocks and all seemed full. The place had its own vibrancy.

Baru Sahib Gurudwara & the education township

The place is also called land of meditation or Tapobhumi. Baru Sahib valley is also known as 'Valley of Divine Peace' (and probably that is why the name of the University as Eternal). Baru Sahib was ‘discovered’ by Sant Teja Singh, a disciple of Sant Attar Singh, with the help of Bhai Iqbal Singh in 1956. It is said that Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, had also visited the holy site of Baru Sahib.

Darbar Sahib of Baru Sahib is huge

When I entered the Gurudwara I was amazed to see the size of the hall. It is the biggest that I have seen till now but otherwise very simple and not gaudy. The work on the outside is yet to be finished.

Girls singing hymns at Baru Sahib
Another big change was that there were girls who were doing the recitation from the Guru Granth Sahib. In another room I saw several girls taking lessons in the recitation of the sacred texts. There is a huge music drum (nagara) to accompany the prayers. There is a non-stop Langar in the basement which I also partook. The Darbar Sahib building is 6-7 storey high and has various rooms for various activities of the Gurudwara. The place has made special efforts to tap the solar energy and I could see several solar panels on the hills nearby.

Nagara (drum) used during prayers

The way from Rajgarh to Baru Sahin and back was laden with wild flowers and there were plenty of birds to see.

Wild flowers on way to Baru Sahib, Sirmaur

Also read:
Hidden Himachal: Rajgarh
Rajgarh: Pretty as a Peach?
Around Rajgarh in Himachal Pradesh
Wild Flowers of Rajgarh
Wildlife in Rajgarh

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Hidden Himachal: Rajgarh

There are so many places in Himachal that the mainstream tourists do not visit or are not aware of.

Sheeps & Goats grazing in the fog covered forests near Rajgarh

One such place is Rajgarh, a small town located at an altitude of 1555 metres in the Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The town in itself has nothing to boast about but it is the surrounding areas that are bountiful in their nature and beauty. 

A fruit laden tree near Rajgarh in Sirmaur

Economically the area grows lots of peaches and in fact is also sometimes called the Peach country. 

Resin being extracted from the pine trees

There are wood and wood products like the resin and turpentine oil extracted from the pine trees. See the cone shaped receptacles attached to the trees in the above picture. Cuts are made on the bark of the tree and the resin that flows from it is collected in these receptacles.

A farmer carrying a tomatoes laden basket from the field

Also some commercial vegetables are grown in plenty like the tomatoes. 

A misty path near Bhuira village beckons you to its secrets

One can make Rajgarh a base for some beautiful treks including the Churdhar Wildlife Sanctuary. If you are with family and do not have the skills or options for a longer trek then you can do small day treks for which the area has plenty of options like going to the Bhuira area (Yes the famous Himachal jam maker Bhuira is from this region) or the Bhat-ka-Saina with beautiful meadows all around. 

A fairy tale picture? This is Rajgarh in Sirmaur

As the altitude is such that the pines are in plenty but the deodars have also started (though not big ones) the effect in the mist is beautiful.

A beautiful meadow near Rajgarh, Sirmaur

I went to Rajgarh close to Monsoon, 1st July. It was drizzling mildly and thus it was perfect weather. The other advantage was that we got Off-Season discount in the HPTDC hotel. 

A plant with multi-coloured stem

One could see all kinds of vegetation growing in the wild like the multi-coloured stem of this plant trying to camouflage itself in the surrounding area. The area was full of wild flowers. 

Wild Blue Berries near Rajgarh

I also saw several berries including the blue and black berries. Sometimes I felt as if I was walking in the clouds and at other times as if I was walking above the clouds. 

Wild flowering plant with water droplets 

The fog and the mist added to the surreal beauty of the place. The water droplets on the leaves after the rains were shimmering like diamonds. 

A fairy tale house?

However, in terms of food joints Rajgarh is not the right place. There are few eateries in town. The town has practically nothing interesting to offer. The Tourist Inn run by Himachal Tourism is located at a height. It has decent rooms with view of the nearby hills. It serves decent food. On the positive side, its rates are much less than the more popular tourist destinations in Himachal.

How to reach Rajgarh: Rajgarh is about 340 kms from Delhi, 100 kms from Chandigarh and 39 kms from Solan. One has to leave the Chandigarh - Shimla national highway 22 at Solan and take a State Highway road for Rajgarh via Ochhghat and Giripul.

Also read:
Rajgarh: Pretty as a Peach?
Around Rajgarh in Himachal Pradesh
Wild Flowers of Rajgarh
Wildlife in Rajgarh