Into the WILDERNESS - Nomadic Escapes @ Bir Billing, Himachal Pradesh, India | By Karan

It was a lifetime experience to visit the Nomadic Escapes camp site, a trek from world famous paragliding site Billing. The trip was planned by me with my colleagues. A total of six persons embarked on a journey which is never to be forgotten.

We started early morning from Ludhiana to reach in time at Billing to assure that we complete the trek in time to reach the campsite. After driving for a whooping 250 km we reached Billing at 2:30 pm. We joined Mr Saurabh Mahajan over there who was our host during our two day stay.

After loading luggage on the mules the porters left as weather had changed unpredictably and rain showers were expected. Starting at 3:30 pm, we had to climb uphill for almost half an hour after which it was a level walk. The rain had started pouring by now which restricted me from pulling my camera out and click pictures. Soon we were walking admist Rhododendron and Pine trees. Numerous dried rhododhendron flowers covered the way for us.

It was raining continuously which forced us to take shelter of rocks and wait for a while when it poured heavily. In no time a hailstorm started. The pellets were much bigger and heavier in size than what I had ever seen. But that was the moment everyone lives for I guess, walking in rains in a dense forest and only sound you hear is of wind curling the forests. 

The rain won’t stop and our decision of not waiting for the rain to stop proved wise as we continued walking. The only target in mind was to reach the lone shop some 6 kms from start point so that we could have some hot tea to freshen up.

We kept maneuvering curve after curve, as fast as we could to reach the tea shop asap. At times we had to face broken trees and rocks en route the sanctuary road, which were quiet slippery. At exactly 7:10 pm when it had just started getting dark we reached the lonely shop. We were quiet relieved to notice fire smoke emitting from the roof top of an old structure. The shop owner was aged around 70 years. There were 4 nomads present in the shop when we reached. All were quiet happy to see us and made space for us around the fire so that we could warm up.

Soon Maggi cooked on wood fire was served to us along with tea. I find maggi prepared on wood fire more tasty than one cooked on LPG. It was enough for us to gear up for remaining two km trek while it was raining outside and was completely dark by now. Also as the slope was bit downhill we had to take all precautions. It took us other 40 minutes to cover remaining distance to reach the camp site.

Once there we were welcomed with steaming hot tea. The rain stopped by then and we were allotted our respective tents, torches and sleeping bags. It was completely dark and to add to woes there was no electricity. The caretaker, Mr Bhag Singh was very confident that electricity would be restored by 10 a.m. next morning when the village electrician would leave home for work. The only concern everyone had was to charge the cellphones.

After changing the wet clothes we all gathered in open air restaurant outside the kitchen for a bonfire. That moment was splendid too. After spending some quality time and dinner we all retired to our respective tents.

Next morning was a bright sunny day. I got up at 8 am when sunlight had warmed the tent and I was sweating inside the sleeping bags. That time I realized the technology humans have developed to manufacture such things for survival in toughest conditions.

After I stepped out of the tent, I rushed back immediately to get my camera as I couldn’t resist clicking some pictures at that very moment of the picturesque valley I was in. What a treat to eyes it was!!! 

On one side was snow capped Thamsar Pass, opposite side was Badagran village and to one side was beautiful Barot valley mountains. That moment I was proud to be born in Himachal Pradesh.

I rushed up to the kitchen to meet our host Mr Saurabh, who had already erected a tent so that we could have breakfast under some shade as the sun rays were quite direct at that altitude. I enquired I could a spare toothbrush as I had forgotten to carry one. But then nature has its ways to delight you. I was offered “DATUN”, which I remember having used some 15 years ago. 

The campsite had arrangements for hot water through solar geysers. 

After that we had our breakfast and then headed towards the hammocks suitably placed in open area under areas to rest upon. There were certain other games like Chess, Ludo etc and archery to keep the visitors busy.

The lunch included the most delicious local rajmah, curry and local Lingar vegetable.  After taking some rest after lunch, we stuck to our plan of exploring nearby Rajgundha village. There is a potato research institute in Rajgundha which had almost twenty houses with a population of around 150 folks. Locals usually stay in lower areas of Baijnath and Kangra during winters when the village is snow clad. They return in summers for farming and gazing their flocks of sheep. After visiting the village we spent some time by the stream flowing nearby. It was quite blissful feeling.

After returning to the camp we again gathered around bonfire for dinner and then went to sleep. Next morning after breakfast we started our journey back to Billing. We again stopped by the shop on way back for tea. There was a small temple of Saptbhagini Mata, and the legend says that seven different roots conjoin to form the main temple on top of a hill. Dev Bhoomi Himachal I thought to myself. 

It took us three hours to reach Billing as the weather was fine. 

It was an altogether a very unique experience for all of us. As a tourist we often get off the vehicle and comfort ourselves in the lavish hotel rooms, watching TV and doing all those things which we do back home. But this concept of trekking to a place up in mountains, spending time without cell phones, without TV’s, miles away from noise and pollution of civilized cities is unique in itself. As the name says Nomadic Escapes- Recharging Human Cells. 

If you ask me whether I got my cells recharged or not? I would only say REJUVNATED I feel. Thanks.  Anyone interested to go up there can contact Mr Saurabh Mahajan at 09418001300.   

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