Bharmour, a small town located at about 8,000 feet between the picturesque Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges, was the old capital of Chamba state.
It is 60 km away from Chamba town and is mostly inhabited by Gaddi tribals and migrant businessmen from the plains. However, the tourism potential of the area still remains unexploited. Known for the famous Mani Mahesh pilgrimage, the town witnesses a large number of devotees during the month of September. The beautiful Mani Mahesh lake is located at a height of about 16,000 feet amid snow-laden peaks of the Himalayas and Bharmour acts as a base camp for pilgrims going to Mani Mahesh. Vehicles are generally parked in Bharmour and pilgrims walk for about 18 km, which is an arduous trek.
The road to Bharmour is single, but in a fare condition. However, two sliding zones in the stretch need constant clearance, especially in the rainy season. The road to Bharmour goes along the Ravi. Deep and steep valleys of the mountains, along which the road passes, can give jitters to those who fear height.
However, there are very limited facilities available here to retain pilgrims, which can help in boosting the economy of the area. There is just one PWD Rest House and that, too, is generally occupied during the pilgrimage days.
People have not adopted home-stay scheme of the government so far. Most of the residents have given up their migratory life patterns. Earlier, many of them used to migrate to the mountains with their goats. But now, they have taken to farming. Apple plantations have come up in the entire Bharmour sub-division. People now sell apples to traders from the lower areas. Besides apple, rajmah and other pulses are also grown in the region. Bharmour’s rajmah have a unique Geographical Indicator (GI) tag and are famous. Agriculture experts of the area say it is easy to cook and has a unique taste as well. Apart from selling it to tourists, it is available in the local market or Chamba’s famous Minjar fair as well.
There are many challenging hilly treks in the region. Officials of the local mountaineering institute said a few Indian and foreign mountaineers come to the region for trekking. While the treks in Pir Panjal range are for mountaineering experts, those in the Dhauladhar range can be explored even by amateurs.
However, the number can increase to a great extent in case the area is promoted as a trekking site. Rajkumar, a resident of Bharmour, said arduous journey by road was a major bottleneck for the promotion of tourism in the region. In case a heli-taxi service was started to the region, it can bring in adventure tourism lovers and trekkers to the area, he said.
Surjeet Kumar said: “The condition of the roads in the tribal region is very poor. Many roads have been damaged since the last monsoon and have not been repaired by the authorities. Even the local fear travelling on many roads of the region what to talk of tourists?”
- Trek from Bharmour through Indrahar pass to reach Dharamsala
- Trek from Bharmour through Jalsu pass to reach Baijnath in Kangra
- Trek from Bharmour through Jot pass to reach Baijnath in Kangra
Chaurasi temple — an ASI protected site
Bharmour also has a lot to offer to archaeologists. The famous Chaurasi temple of Bharmour is a site protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The Chaurasi temple is a group of 84 small temples that depict the old art of temple construction in India. The temples have ancient brass idols. They also have a temple of ‘Dharamraj’, a mythical god who keeps the account of sins and good deeds of humans. It is the only temple of Dharamraj in the entire country, locals claim. However, in order to exploit the tourism potential of Bharmour region, people would have to be encouraged to adopt home-stay scheme so that board and lodging facilities can be provided to tourists.