It is was my first ever travel journey to the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. I have always been a sucker for solo journeys but never thought leading a trip for six individuals would be this much fun.
The journey from Delhi to Prashar Lake
An overnight journey from Delhi to Mandi in our Innova was full of heat, sweat and dust, adjectives which are now synonymous to Delhi. I was woken up by some unadulterated air from the fresh atmosphere of Mandi.
Mandi town is a central location to catch various buses going to Tirthan Valley, Parvati valley, Dharamshala, Kullu Manali, and the village Baggi from where the Prashar Lake trek starts.
Mandi onwards, the road became traffic free and the views breathtaking.
Mandi has a treasure, Lake Prashar is that treasure.
As soon as we reached our campsite, this is what our view was. A man-made lake which is made for the fisheries looked mesmerizing while reflecting heavy clouds at the same time.
Currently, we were 3 km away from Prashar Lake.
And just by the side, there was this unbelievably India`s map-like-shaped SUKHASAR LAKE. It actually was cardinally set that way because the sun was rising from the west of this lake which pointed towards Gujarat`s direction.
I got into my hippie attire and with a plate full of local lunch, everything suddenly felt homely. And trust me, more than Maggi, Rajma chawal or Daal chawal tastes the better in the mountains.Also, get your Maggie wrappers along with you from the mountains to cities due to better waste management in the cities.
Drive to Prashar Lake
It has been two years now since this hidden gem has come to full light in the tourism sector. So much so that one can even take their vehicle up to some kilometres before the lake but only in summer months.
The lake is a historical spot a per the legend that goes around it. It is flanked by Prashar Rishi Temple which is just by the side of it. Located at a height of 2,730 meters, it is considered holy by the locals and the people visiting it.
The Prashar Temple is a Pagoda styled temple constructed in Deodar wood. I was stunned to see how three stories were balanced on 12 wooden pillars and it`s been years now that the temple has been standing without any damage. The temple is dedicated to sage Prashara who came here centuries ago to mediate. The king of the valley, Raja Ban Sen, got this temple made in the 13th century.
It is a thing of utmost happiness and fascination at the same time that how this lake is still surrounded by thick cedar forests and snow-capped mountains. The view becomes absolutely clear in summer months. Big thanks to the strict government rules and regulations regarding camping around the lake.
We climbed these hills to view the scenic beauty from high above. We could see Dhauladhar, Kinnaur and Pir Pinjal mountain ranges from here.
A trip in the month of April gave such clear and magical views.
Our devices were too low on signals near the Prashar lake and at the campsite, there were 2 to 3 signal bars, enough to make phone calls.
Trek to Prashar Lake
Prashar Lake trek starts from Baggi village which is actually 7 to 8 kms before the lake. The route is a well-defined trail which goes via the forest area. One takes anywhere between 3 to 5 hours depending on their fitness level and the amount of snow, basically it is season dependent.
Trek Level: Easy/Beginner
Winter trek to Prashar looks magical to me.
Pic credits: Jony Jindal from Go4Explore Community
We hiked for 10 minutes till Madhya Majhauli to spot this colourful sunset. On the way to this spot, we were shown important plants like Ajwain (Bishop’s Weed), a plant with which one can brush teeth and another plant with which once can clean oils off the surface of utensils.All of this just reminded of how simple and natural solutions are present all around us in the form of flora. We are all just the victims of capitalization.
This another goodbye-sunset was spotted at a café which is a few Kms before Prashar Lake. The café is located at a favourable spot which literally gives a 360-degree view.
Hike to Majhali Top
We hiked for 1:30 hour to spot an aerial view of the Prashar Lake but without a drone. We wanted to be human drones for once. The feeling was amazing.
Trek Level: Easy/Beginner
From Majhali top, we could see many villages of the Mandi region, regions of Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Kangra and Kullu. Everything looked super tiny. Had to! We were at a height of 14000 ft.
No camping is allowed here due to the presence of an ecologically sensitive surrounding.
While returning we also spotted a cave, which was actually brown bear`s home. I could feel my whole body shaking though the beast wasn’t even home at that moment. Thank god is all I can say then and now.
Legends around Prashar Lake
Isn’t it fascinating to think that how historically eventful or uneventful places have come up as famous trekking or touristy points?
A lake that is dedicated to the guru of Vedic age, Sage Prashara, is now the most visited place in the Mandi district.
Also read my snow trek experience to Bhrigu Lake here
The reason behind the formation of the lake
It is believed that the lake was formed by the Pandavas when they were returning from the Kurukshetra war with Lord Kamrunag. One of the Pandavas then, Bheema, pushed his elbow onto the ground and magically the void that we see as a lake now, was formed. It was created on the request of Dev Kumrunag since they needed a source of water. Thereafter he decided to spend the rest of his life there.
As per history, Sage Prashara used to meditate by the lakeside. Thus, the temple that was, as per legends, built by a baby out of a single Deodar tree, was dedicated to Rishi Prashara.
Later in the 13th century, the King of the valley administrated the re-construction and expansion of the three-storied temple with slate tiles on the roof and the wooden carvings.
End of the Earth?
As per scientific calculations, the wet area of the lake is 79% and the dry area is 21% which matches the anatomy of our Earth. There is this floating island which both revolves on its own axis and rotates/changes its position in the lake as per seasonal seasons. Will the island of the Prashar lake ever sink? Well, the priests say, if it does, it would mark the end of the world. Or maybe the island is already sinking! Global anatomy is already changing rapidly.
Keep reading to know the scientific reason behind this.
Trust me, I wasn’t trying to be Sage Prashara!
Lesser known facts about Prashar Lake
• The lake gets its inflow from rainwater and glacial snow melt but the outflow remains zero except evaporation.
• There is absolutely nothing to do around the lake except temple visit which is actually possibly the best thing. One can be here for hours in the most relaxed mode.
• The island that keeps floating on the holy lake, is technically known as Phumdi island. It is a kind of nature vegetation mass comprising of matted vegetation, organic debris, and soil. The amazing thing to know about this is that in the rainy season it floats away but in the dry season phumdi touches the lake bed to extract nutrients.This scientific fact is in perfect sync with global warming since as global water level rises due to the melting of snow, the island`s movement of touching the lake bed is highly disturbed. This way it fails to extract required nutrients and tends to shrink each year.Isn’t this syncing with the theory of Earth`s end perfectly, which I stated above?
• Saranhuli Mela/Prashar Mela happens every year near Prashar lake. It goes on for 3 days and the villagers camp in a large number near the lake. 50 gods and goddesses are made to come at the Prashar Temple. It is now a district fair.
Place and Date: Chachiyot, 14th June- 16th June
• Kashi Mela also takes place near the lake. Rishi Prashar`s Rath comes to the lake after a trek from Bandhi village. It stays at the temple for 2 days and then is taken back to the village.
Date: During Baisakhi in April
• The priest of the temple isn’t Brahmin but a Rajput. As per the locals, the king of the Kamrunag valley, in order to show his powers, appointed Rajput priests for the temple.
Stay Options around Prashar Lake
This was our majestic, under the cloudy sky, full of greens-campsite
- Forest Department Guest House is by Prashar Lake side and takes only prior booking. One can book the stay online on their website before leaving.
Contacts: DFO office Mandi 01905235360
RFO Kataula 01905269469
Caretaker Mr. Roop Singh 94184 11746
- PWD rest house is also by the lake side and takes only prior bookings
01905225145/ 01905-222151 (1000 INR/night)
- Accommodation in Prashar Temple
One can directly go to the temple ask and ask for a room. (30 INR/night)
This isn’t the most convenient option to stay. As per sources, the rooms and blankets stay dirty and the locals don’t let you use their toilets. One must ask nearby dhaba walas for toilet usage.
- Accommodation in Camps
All the campsites are a few kilometres before the Prashar Lake.
Krishna Campsite 7807090086
- Hotel Accommodation
All the hotels are located a few kilometres before the Baggi Village.
Prashar Guest House 9816669256
Sri Prashar Home Stay 9805371061
Hill View Home Stay 9418044003, 9816244003
How to reach Prashar Lake?
- Route Overview
Delhi to Mandi= 415 km
Mandi to Prashar= 50 km
The route from Mandi onwards is Bijani – Kamand – Baggi – Prashar Lake. This route becomes slushy at various points in monsoons so travel with caution.
- Delhi to Mandi in HRTC or Volvo
There are a lot of local HRTC buses and AC Volvos that are available for this route. It will be an overnight journey. From Mandi one can take a private taxi for 1000-1200 INR till Prashar Lake or the only bus which goes from Mandi bus stand till the lake.
- Local Bus to Prashar
Bus departure: 7:30 am from Mandi Bus stand
Mandi to Prashar lake Bus stand arrival by: 11:15 am
Bus stand to Lake distance: 1.5 km
Bus departure from Prashar lake bus stand: 1 pm
Reaches Mandi by 3:30 pm
Please note that there is only one bus which plies between Mandi and Prashar lake.
The bus service stops in the snow season. And if it does plies in case of light snow on the roads, then it goes only till Baggi village from where ultimately one has to trek up to the lake.
- How to reach Prashar Lake from Delhi by Train
Kalka is the nearest railway station to Mandi. Private taxis and buses are available from Kalka station till Mandi. From Mandi, buses and private taxis ply till the lake.
- How to reach Prashar Lake from Delhi by Flight
The nearest airport to Mandi is Kullu which is at a distance of 75 km. The flights are available from Delhi to Kullu. From Kullu onwards, buses and private taxis ply till Mandi.
Best seasons to visit Prashar Lake
Jan to March: Snowfall covers the whole landscape and makes it milky white. One, if given a chance, should definitely visit the lake during winter months.
April to July: It is probably the best season to spot lush green meadows and clear mountain views. This is also the season for Prashar Mela.
Mid-July to Sep: This season is full of rainfall thus even greener valleys but also the time for landslides and slushy roads.
Oct to Dec: This is also a great season to visit which is just the onset of winters.