Bada Bhangal is a tribal village situated in the middle of borders of Kangra, Chamba, Lahaul, Mandi and Kullu districts of Himachal Pradesh with its population of over 750 is an important centre for the Gaddi shepherds who visit the surrounding valleys of Bara Bhangal with their huge live stock of sheep and goats mostly protected by Gaddi Dogs. Legend has it, that some of the Alexander’s army settled here marrying the local shepherds. Similar to people of Malanis inhabitants here have pale skin, sharp and blue eyes in common.
The village is located at the height of 2800 meters above sea level and can be reached from Bir-Billing, Manali, Chamba and a lost route from Lahaul negotiating high altitude passes and mountains.
Bada Bhangal village is the remotest village of Himachal without any basic necessities like Electricity, Road or medical facility. Village has a “gifted” mini Hyde power unit which broke down couple of years back and Government provided satellite telephone which operates for 2 hours as it need to be charge by Solar Panels, but to our surprise it has a primary school with only one teacher of all classes and subjects.
We started from Bir billing and crossed over Thamsar Pass, while Kalihani Pass is the gateway from Manali side. It’s one of the most difficult treks in Himachal but most beautiful as well.
Bhedpal, the last campsite before Thamsar Pass. We met this father-son duo who were gracious enough to share their food and fresh goat milk with us. Vikram (son) is graduate but still loves the nomadic and adventurous Gaddi life and often helps his father during live stock migration. They did not have any tent like us and preferred to sleep in this temporary stone made settlement.
We started early from Bhedpal as we had to cross Thamsar Pass today which is the longest day on the trek, It started snowing for a while and as soon we crossed the pass the sun came out again we continued our journey walking, sliding and enjoying the nature around us without any other soul. We followed the trail of Goat droppings which had already crossed pass before us. You can see Thamsar Pass in backdrop. We walked for 13 hours and finally reached a small temporary Dhaba who served us fresh mutton on arrival also met few local people who were going to Baijnath. We pitched our tent next to Dhaba and were glad to see more Haman faces. Had loads of conversation before we went to sleep.
The Hidden Hamlet
Today Trek was easy as it was all descend till the village. The village thrives beside river Ravi which is also known as Iravati in ancient times. We were invited for food and tea by locals and we stayed in Govt Guest house for 3 days, being guests of a local family who offered to provide food. We met people and Gaddis and explored the village and surroundings as the route was closed because of continuous land slide on the route to Chamba.