Friday, 8 July 2016

Shangarh Is Picture Perfect

Introduction

Shangarh is a small village nestled amidst the mountains on the left bank of the Sainj. It is also the most picturesque human settlement I've seen till date. :)

 
The defining image of Shangarh

Shangarh's calling card is the beautiful alpine meadow surrounded by a fringe of tall pines and the old temple of Sangchul Mahadev at its corner. But our not-so-perfect planning and lack of detailed information meant that we got a chance to see the real extent of beauty that a quaint and untouched Himalayan village could offer.

Oh yes, we were the only tourists in the village for that period.

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Getting In

The Sainj valley is a non-touristy place spoiled by the many hydel projects. However, there are some places of interest located higher in the mountains - like Shangarh on the left bank and Shenshar on the right.

 Shangarh on the map

The highway to Kullu-Manali has an iconic tunnel just before Aut. One has to skip this tunnel on the left and head straight towards Larji. One the way one sees the confluence of the Beas and the Sainj. Again head straight at Larji, continuing on the right bank of the Sainj. The bridge to the right branches off to the Tirthan Valley. Larji is where the Tirthan meets the Sainj.

 
The Himalayan road-shrine was here too

About 18km from this point, one reaches Ropa on the left bank of the Sainj. A 6km dirt track (4x4 only) leads up to Shangarh from this point. Very few vehicles ply this route and hiking is the usual option. We were lucky to hitch a ride - there was a mela (fair) being held in the village and hence quite a few vehicles were plying the route.

 
The dirt track up to Shangarh

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The Meadow Of Shangarh

The maidan (meadow) is the main draw of Shangarh village. I'll let the pics do the description here:

 
The shed at the near-corner had the village-horn and a small shrine

 
The village from the meadow
The tower-like structure is the new temple of Sangchul Mahadev

  
The cattle graze and the people laze
The children and the wise play

  
A view from the village

  
The old temple of Sangchul Mahadev

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The Village Fair

The fair of Sangchu Mahadev was a smallish affair. Four stalls selling sweets-treats and assorted stuff were put up by enterprising locals. Many people who consider Shangarh their native had turned up. People from Shenshar (across the Sainj) had also turned up along with their devta Manu Rishi.

 
The wafts rise from the food stalls

 
The halwa and pakoras - both made of besan 

The devta was brought from the new temple on a palanquin to the meadow at a place where the ceremonial horn was placed. The people danced along with th e heavy palanquin and someone proceeded to beat himself up with iron chains to ask for forgiveness on behalf of the village.

 
The palanquin of Sangchul Mahadev

Local kids, oblivious to this were busy with their game of cricket. The elder ones were practicing volleyball to prepare for a match against the team from Shenshar. It started raining, so we had to skip the ceremony half-way.

 
The cricket and the spectators

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A Night At The FRH

By some weird twist of fate we were destined to stay at the Forest Rest House (FRH) in Shanghar. We had booked, then cancelled then booked that place again. Once we reached Shangarh though, we were invited to stay at a home-stay by the local priest, but we had booked the FRH, so politely declined. On enquiring the whereabouts of the FRH we were pointed to property a further 20min uphill hike away at the very periphery of the village, just before the pines.

 
The FRH is on the right-background

 
The FRH living room had a sun-roof too

The FRH seems like a colonial era bungalow, has two bedrooms, one living/dining room and a separated kitchen. The bedrooms have fireplaces too. We were the only ones there. The chowkidar got us food from his house down in the village and left us for the night. And ... it was raining outside and the power was out - somehow the fuse had blown after our arrival.

By the time we tucked ourselves in at 8pm, it was pouring outside and we had very well spooked ourselves. The blankets did ensure a cozy sleep though. We woke up at about 5am to this view:

 Not a cloud in the sky, Kheerganga range visible in the distance
Shenshar lies on the ridge seen in the left-middle section
And a pair of long-tailed magpies I couldn't click

We soon left the village and descended to Ropa to conclude this chapter of Shangarh.

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Random Shots From Shangarh

 
Random image #1 - Mill

 
Random image #2 - Train to FRH 

 
Random image #3 - Watercourse

 
Random image #4 - The Kheerganga vista

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The Parting Shot

Shangarh has gained visibility on the offbeat travel circuit. As the road develops further, this place will see more tourists coming in. All I pray is for the growth of tourism here be sustainable. All the best Shangarh & Shenshar - Jai Sangchul Mahadev, Jai Manu Rishi!

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Other Places Nearby

Jibhi || Chehni Kothi || Raghupur Garh

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© One Of The Road

7 comments:

  1. I want to call u pls give me it mob no. My no 7878702727

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  2. Hello Jayesh, please drop an email or connect on any other social media network. Thanks.

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  3. Very beautiful pictures . I never heard about this place . Possibly will visit in our next move to Himachal.

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    1. The place is beautiful and is slowly gaining access. Have a good and responsible trip :)

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  4. This place looks so surreal! Those mountains, green meadows all look so mesmerizing!

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    1. The place is really perfect ... everywhere you see there are images that delight the eye!

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