When you are lucky enough and blessed with the mighty mountains, then you have friends who are always ready to accompany you in your travelling plans, doesn’t matter how unplanned your trips are, those friends are always up for travelling. One of those lucky ones with a bunch of travel freaks by my side.
So, on a random day, me and my friend planned a trek to the Prashar Lake, which is approximately 45 kms from Mandi and 70 kms from Kullu in Himachal Pradesh. The Lake is located at a height of 2730 m (9000 ft) above sea level.
We decided to leave in the end of February, the time when Delhi had almost packed its winter clothes, but the mountains were still witnessing cold and freezing winds.
We had packed our bags and bid adios to our city to corroborate one of the beautiful places of Himachal Pradesh. We reached Mandi at dawn around 3 am and decided to stroll leisurely at the streets and get a hang of the cold out here.
Strangers become friends!
You can go to Prashar directly from Mandi in HRTC bus which is the only bus that runs to Prashar during the entire day and it starts at 8 am, but we got down at the Bagi village from where the trek to Prashar Lake begins. You can’t get hold of any public transport to Bagi there after till late afternoon. So, we reached there around 11 am and had our breakfast.
You can also book tents and other camping equipment from there at a very minimal cost of 600 bucks per person or simply pay 1200 for tent, two sleeping bags, mat and bonfire.) There, we happened to meet a couple of folks who were about to embark on the same trek. So, we decided to head together, the more the merrier after all!
Hence, the journey for the six of us begins! Now, did I mention about the beautiful small stream across the road few meters ahead of a place from where we got down from the bus? So, he had to cross this stream after which we encountered an earthy road leading across inside the forest valley.
As we moved ahead, the stream was now towards our left as we were following the road trail. After 25 minutes on the trail, we came across a mountain stream at the right side of the road. Again, we pursued the trail for another 30 minutes where we find another little stream approaching downside from the right. Finally, we get off the jeep trail to take a right and hike the first ridge.
Into the Wild!
We started following the jungle trail which passes through a dense forest; the trail splits at numerous points, we began to follow the well defined trail (folks advise you to take the less travelled road in life; but in the midst of mountains, it surely isn’t a good idea, unless you are truly the daring kind and are okay with unplanned adventure.
After another uphill climb, the dense forest seemed less dense than before. In the middle of this climb, we had our first rendezvous with the Dhauladhar range. We continue walking further for another 10-15 minutes uphill, where we find few stones stacked together inside the jungle.
Another 15 minutes trail, we reached a make shift water pipe from the Prashar lake to the village. After forty minutes of climbing and walking, we finally found our first clearing.
Grumpy Grubby Us!
There we find an electric post and began following the electric wires that led us upwards. To our surprise, we were lead to another forest just when we thought we were almost there; however, after trudging for 15-20 minutes, we reached at another clearing.
In winter, the whole area is generously covered with a blanket of snow. The time of the year that we reached, we were lucky enough to witness traces of snow here and here.
Now again, another 40-50 minutes of plodding, we reached an open source where we found a Shepherd hut to the uphill.
Now, after crossing few shepherd huts, our eyes feel blessed with the sight of snow all around us, and we felt that all that trudging was worth it!
And, now, comes the final trail, a challenging one too, wrapped in snow! And with a heavy sigh lifted with excitement, we began lumbering the steep trails through the snow very carefully so as to slip away. We intended to mount up to the PWD guest house through the snowy path, and once we reached we took a left to find another ridge crossing which would lead us to our final destination.
Half an hour into the trek, our happiness knew no bounds because we could now see the perimeter fence of the Prashar Lake. Perched at an altitude of approximately 9000 ft. above sea level, pristine Prashar lake boasts of a stunning 180 degree view of the mighty Dhauladhar, Kinnaur and the Pir Panjal ranges of the greater Himalayas. In winters, surrounded by snowcapped mountains, this place turns into what looks no less than a winter wonderland. Summers don’t dissapoint you either, as the meadows are in full bloom with wild flowers galore.
Perimeter fence of the Prashar Lake!
The moment we entered the fenced region and climbed the ridge, we were totally taken away by the grand view of the lake with the surreal floating island in it.
The temple by the lake side was a pure reflection of the indigenous Himachali architecture. Its three storey pagoda-like structure is the proof of the ancient Kath-Khuni styled building prevalent in Himachal Pradesh. There were many wooden huts inside the temple premises apparently belonging to the local shepherds. These huts are also used in religious ceremonies.
Interestingly, the floating island in the lake keeps changing its direction with time. According to the legends, this stunning island was, once, the seat of the great sage Parashara, on which he sat and meditated for centuries; unbelievably, the island keeps moving even when the lake is fully frozen. To top it all, its depth is still unclear with many divers returning unsuccessfully from underwater.
We spent a beautiful clear night in our cozy little tents under millions of twinkling stars. And frankly enough, that night, none of us missed the comfort of a five star resort; laying under the wide open universe beaming at you was a picture that I gladly added to my travel diaries.
Thinking of the highly adventurous journey to this gem of a place, we decided to return to Baghi village next morning. Each of us giggled and knew that all of us will have a story to tell to our folks back home!
Accommodation and Food
There are PWD rest house, Forest rest house and Camping options are available easily. For food, there are 4-5 dhabas from where one can have lunch, dinner and breakfast without any problem. Just equip yourself with enough food and water for the trek for 4-5 hours from Bagi to the lake and you are all set!