Solo Budget trip to Prashar lake(Mandi,Himachal Pradesh) from Delhi:A scary trek.


During my college days, the only thing that I had heard about the place called Mandi in Himachal Pradesh was IIT(Indian Institute of Technology) Mandi,since I was also in a technical course,so I had some awareness.It was only sometime later when I developed my interest in traveling, specifically to the mountains, I got to know about this very beautiful place in Mandi called the Prashar Lake or in Hindi ‘Prashar zheel’ .It is a place about 49Km from Mandi towards its east and Mandi which is again around 427 Km from Delhi, the place where I started from.To give you a little brief it is one of those great places to be with your family or friends over a weekend or a one or two-day trip which would give you an ample amount of solace and disconnect from the hustle-bustle of the city.The place has a prestigious temple,a mysterious lake with numerous stories about it and a long treck passing through the woods where it really felt scary,all this in one short trip over a weekend from Delhi.So Yes ill be sharing my adventurous journey to the place all by myself with all the relevant details and tour guide in the article from time to time.

What is the story of Prashar Lake?

So the story of the lake dates back to the times of the Indian epic Mahabharata.It is believed that sage Prashar meditated on the sides of the lake which gave the name Prashar to the lake. From Mahabharata Bhima second among the Pandavas is believed to be the creator of the lake. After the great war of Mahabharata in Kurukshetra Pandavas were returning with Lord Kamrunag,as they reached this place lord fell in love with the peace and serenity of the place and decided to stay there for the rest of his life.Bhima who was the strongest of all his brothers hit one the mountains here and created a dent which became the Prashar lake.

Mysterious Floating island of Prashar lake

So as it would be clear to you till now that the place has some great religious significance and mostly all religious places have some unsolved hidden mystery with them.So also in the case of Prashar lake the mystery is about the small island that floats in the lake as you can see in the picture.So this island when seen from close would seem static and fixed,only if you visit or see it at different durations you could notice the change in the position. Some say it is the wind and some belief it to be the mystical powers of Sage Prashar still being there.
One more interesting fact that is famous is that the ratio of land and water on the lake is 29% and 71% respectively which is the same ratio for our planet.Hence many believe the movement of the island is an impersonation of the earth’s movement.

How deep is the Prashar lake?

So during my stay, I spoke to few locals and the priest of the temple they told me that many years back there was an attempt to measure the depth of the lake .There were two divers who had come,do not remember the country but some outside place.They dived to measure the depth but were not successful it it.The temple administration then felt that it is a sacred place and measuring its dimensions would break the sanctity of the place ,since then its prohibited to dive in the lake .

Prashar lake location, elevation,temperature and weather.

One of the aspects that totally fascinated me was the positioning of the lake.The lake is surrounded by  small hills and it provides a 180 degree view of Pir Panjal,Dhauladhar and Kinnaur mountain ranges.The lake is at a height of 2,730 m (8,960 ft) above sea level and spreads across an area of 1.5 Km,mostly fed by rain  and some glacial water.The temperature at the lake is mostly low and one can feel the chill winds blowing across .If you try hiking the hills around you can feel the breeze more prominently.For all the snow lovers I would say it is a must visit in winters as the views and 360 degree scenery is just breathtaking.I have written a bit about this separately in the later parts.

How to reach Prashar lake?

Reaching Prashar Lake from Delhi

After knowing about this very beautiful place I decided to plan a solo trip from Delhi.To reach this place from Delhi you need to arrive at Mandi from Delhi for which you can take a bus or there is a by air option also available If you choose to.The distance between Delhi to Mandi is about 427Km and it takes around 12 hours to reach Mandi.

Read about another beautiful hill station close to Delhi ,Hartola

Reaching Mandi by Bus

I boarded a bus from ISBT Kashmiri Gate ,all the busses that are going to Manali and Kullu would take you to Mandi, so that is the route you need to check.I choose a government bus that is the HRTC bus since I wanted to travel on a budget and the ticket costed me around Rs550 ,it takes you around 12 hours to reach Mandi.You can also choose a semi-sleeper or a sleeper bus which can cost you somewhere between Rs800 and Rs1500 respectively.The private busses take a one or two hour less(their drivers though habitual but drive like crazy).

Reaching Mandi by air

The closest airport to reach Mandi is at Bhuntar from where Mandi is around 57km and it would take close to 2 hours via this way.At the airport one can easily get taxis and cab that would take you over.

Mandi to Baggi village

So I started my trip from ISBT at around 8 pm and reached Mandi in the morning around 7.30 a.m.You can use public toilets to freshen up yourself and then get ready to reach Baggi village from where the trek to Prashar would start.Private Taxis and cab regularly ferry from Mandi ,there are government busses also but the frequency is less.The distance between Mandi and Baggi is around 18 Km and it is an up climb mostly that would easily take you around 2 hours plus.You can mention to the driver that you need to go to Prashar lake and they would drop you at a V section point from where you need to pick the downward going road.From there it is a 2-3 Km walk to the start of the trekking point.

How long is Prashar Lake Trek?

initial path to trek

So after walking inside the village for 2-3 km you would notice a way up into the wood that is the exact point where the trek starts.The total distance is around 7 Km and would take 4-5 hours depending on your fitness.It is steep in starting followed by level meadows then again gradual slope.For people who choose not trek don’t worry there is a proper road that goes till the Lake and would hardly take around half hour to 40 mins.The former option is only for people who are looking for some adventure.

My Prashar lake trek through the woods-The adventure begins

I reached Baggi around 10 a.m which I later realized was a little late to reach.So this was my first visit to Prashar lake and all solo ,so the only information I had about the forest to be trekked was whatever my friend had briefed me who suggested me the place.So to enter into the forest there is a small trail that starts you can ask somebody around in case you miss it.

Read about some of my water adventure stories here

I was undertaking this trek in the monsoon however I would suggest that trekking through the forest during the monsoon isn’t a great idea. Firstly the land is filled with fallen leaves and forest debris and moist in the weather makes it quite slippery.Hence you have to place your feet quite carefully. Secondly, the major concern is leaches,they become quite active in this season and the dreadful thing about them is that they can easily stick to your legs and you won’t be able to know.So the key here is to not take too much break in the woods and sit around casually as you might end up catching a leach on you.These leaches feed on human blood and once they have sucked up quite some blood is when you start feeling some pain.So remember to keep walking in case you are in a similar scenario.

So I started with great rigor, initially there is a little steep climb and if you would see back you can easily see the road where you started from.Now after some time as you start entering the forest,the main road disappears and there is all forest around you.As I kept following the initial trail I could maintain my pace and was steadily moving ahead. Suddenly I saw the trails that I have been following started getting lighter and at a point the trails disappeared.

Now that was the moment that brought some worry to me and now I remembered my friend why he wasn’t comfortable me taking the forest route solo the first time.So after a point there aren’t any trails and you have this huge forest in front of you and all around you,you have to figure your way all alone.

So I took a pause thought it over as the direction I needed to go wasn’t clear anymore as there weren’t any trails to follow.So I decided that I should keep climbing in the forward direction and that too as straight as possible. Because trying out in some different direction could lead me somewhere else as the forest is vast and too many confusing routes had started to appear.So I started trekking straight to the top in a straight direction.At times there were blockages in the straight path and I remember to take a diversion and then quickly I used to return to the direction that I was following.

Getting lost in the forest was already hovering my head when suddenly I also heard some screams and that was the time when I started having goosebumps and rethinking my decision to trek alone.But as I looked back I saw some unique birds flying through who were making those noises.I was relieved a little, drank some water.So after walking for about one and a half hour I started seeing some edge at the top ,I took a breath of relief as I was close to the end.

I stepped my pace and thought ill quickly reach at the top to finish it.As I reached the edge and crossed over I saw a small meadow plane in front and there wasn’t any lake or the temple that was visible.As I looked a little ahead, the forest again was continuing.So the trek was on to go but now another challenge in front of me was choosing again an entrance point as the forest lay wide in front of me and the weather was all foggy with very little clear visibility.I intuitively choose a point straight in front of me and started again.

Now it was already past 1 p.m and as I mentioned it was all misty, foggy  due to the monsoon season.I had to rush now as it gets dark a little early in the mountain and with those conditions in the forest things had started to concern me now. Again after some trekking a similar edge started to show up but now I wasn’t that excited and yes it again was a meadow.It was a clean area so I decided to take a break of 5 minutes.

While starting again I saw a guy coming down which gave some hope as this was the first time I saw someone on the route. Seeing me in a confused and clueless state the person enquired himself if I was going to the lake. With a surprised stare, he muttered that the route wasn’t that clear ahead as well but gave me a clue to follow on. So there were electric poles at some distances and wire ran through those poles. He told me to follow them whenever I got confused.

So that was the trick that helped a lot and I  kept following those lines on the poles. I started seeing some structures or homes and I began to believe that I was close enough. Soon to my delight, I saw another local sprinting down(later i learned that these locals covered that distance in half the time I took).He not only told me that you are close but also complimented me for doing it all alone the first time. Those compliments comforted me a lot and gave a sense of self-pride moment. Though it wasn’t a big feat but certainly a piece of accomplishment of me.

I could now hear voices of people at a distance and was almost certain that I had reached. Finally, after another 20 minutes, I could see the road and I had reached the destination.It was around 4 p.m when I made to the main road and the entrance of the lake. There were taxis and cars queuing on the road reflecting the popularity of the destination.I decided to take a break and sip some water before entering the compound.

For anyone who wants to undertake the trek I would definitely encourage as it would give you a different experience and a sense of accomplishment for sure. Just remember to start a little early and avoid the monsoons if possible. These were my learnings. Also, there is an option to hire a local guide that would take you up and you would just have to trek with him . Though for someone who seeks a little adventure I would suggest going alone. The forest is safe in terms of wild animal habitat so no worries on that front.

Read about my accidental discovery of another beautiful gem in Uttrakhand

Where to stay at Prashar lake?

As you enter the compound it felt like a new world altogether. The amazing views of the ranges,the centrally located temple with people around in smaller groups,the magnificent lake which draws your attention instantly and misty clouds circling around the small hills all looked amazing.I was completely spellbound, staring at the view for a while.

1.Dormetry at the temple compound

I was a little tired and felt the need to find a place to fresh myself up . There is a perfect option to stay in the temple compound in case you aren’t looking for a very luxurious stay.The temple compound provides for Dharamshala which is nothing but a dormitory type set up.I spoke to the priest there and he was kind enough to open a room for me also they provide blankets and beddings and you have a charging point as well.It is a highly economical option and would cost you less than Rs500 .The room was clean and made of old stones, I could feel the spiritual vibe staying in a temple compound. Needless to say that since it is maintained by the temple staff and doesn’t have any business aspect attached,it isn’t very luxurious and doesn’t have a personally attached washroom.Also in case if the travelers are more they can request you to share the space with fellow travelers.

Read why homestay provide a better stay option than a hotel or a guesthouse

2.Other guest house option

There are two other options available for people looking for a more comfortable stay with more personal amenities.They are not in the temple compound but a little away from it ,on the way towards the temple on the connecting road.

2.1Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department Guesthouse

It is a guest house not far from the lake and would take less than 10 minutes to reach.It is spacious and all the rooms have an attached washroom.
Booking Details: 01905-222151 or email at [email protected]

2.2Forest Department guest house

This is also close by and has all basic amenities including parking and other facilities.
Booking Details: contact DFO office Mandi at 01905 – 235360 or RFO Kataula at Tel: 01905 – 269469 or
Contact the caretaker, Mr. Roop Singh at 94184 11746        

3.Camping at Prashar lake

There are also some camping sites close to the lake around 1.5-2 Km away. Inside the compound, it is prohibited but surely you can speak to few agencies which can arrange a camp for you.They have makeshift arrangements for washrooms as expected in a camp.
Some camping sites details:Krishna camps,Ph:7807090086.

Where to eat at Prashar lake?

After arranging my bed and placing my luggage I quickly came out as it was already evening by then and the views around were just breathtaking.The next move was obviously having some food as I did not eat much all this while and was quite hungry.So the compound had small dhabas and little canteens which serve you basic meals and snacks.The canteen had an outer seating just next to the lake and you can enjoy your meal while absorbing these magnificent views around you.I ordered a simple veg Maggie with some extra seasonings and trust me that was one of the best Maggie I had ever had, maybe the beautiful environment had a little to add 🙂.

Spending the rest of the evening and the next day

All my chores were done and believe me all through it I could not stop myself from staring around at these magnificent sceneries.The adjacent hills around the lake and the temple are not that steep and one can climb them with little effort.Even though I was quite tired by now and it was about to get dark as well but still I decided to make a quick hike to a nearby hill just to get a top view and experience that ecstasy. Soon after some climbing as you look back you realize you have covered quite some distance and the temple and lake become like minute elements of the overall scenery. Sitting alone on the hill staring towards the temple I watched the dawn glooming down.A day before I was in this hectic metro where life is fast and you barely get time to think back and now you sit idle in this vast space around you.

The next morning was fresh and I was really excited to explore the place around.The washroom was a little walk from the dormitory and as I made my way for it,I could see the sun gently climbing over the mountains and the sunrays slowly taking over the darkness.I quickly got ready and went to have some breakfast and some coffee to get started.

The lake looked beautiful in the middle and the small island always makes you curious about the stories that they have. Patches of smooth grasses slowly entering the lake and at places, you could also see some small fishes swimming. The steady breeze created gentle waves at the surface which started from the middle and slowly collided at the edge of the lake.
After spending some time near the lake and observing its beauty I decided to make some hikes to the hills around and just to see how the view from the top looks. As I mentioned earlier the surrounding hills of Prashar have a gentle slope and if you choose to make some effort you would get some million-dollar views.I started climbing from one side and since mostly the slope is gentle you soon cover a good distance and height as you look back.The weather was cloudy and I could see the ranges partially.

As you walk the hills you get to explore the different kinds of flowers growing randomly around the hills and each of them unique in a way adding beauty to the place. There are rigid rocks placed in haphazard positions looking so firm and steady.As you reach at the top you can continue on that and can comfortably encircle around the temple ,watching it from different angles .I spent around 2-3 hours walking on the hills and exploring the whole place bit by bit foot by foot.

Exploring the Prashar temple

After exploring the hills around,I came down to take a coffee break and my eyes could not walk past the beautiful architecture of the temple. The temple is supposed to be a 14th-century architecture, built in a Pagoda style.As you move around the temple you can see carvings on the deodar wood, small designs of animals, and serpents revealing folklores from the 14th century.I also went inside the temple took some blessings and experienced the divine vibe that the place had.

Things to carry for Prashar lake trek

Though u need to keep your backpack light as possible if you are carrying it up the forest,but there would be some essentials that you should definitely have.

  • Some energy bars and water
  • First aid
  • Fly repellant cream
  • Extra pair of clothes and socks
  • Mini umbrella
  • Rain cover for bag
  • Mobile power bank
  • Sufficient cash

Prashar lake in December/Winters

Though monsoons bring out the lush green vegetation of the place to life,the magnificent views of the winters takes the imagery of the place to another level.The whole place is covered in white and the lake is frozen.The place receives good amount of snow starting from December itself.The connecting road is also covered with snow and people traveling by car are suggested to be careful as the road is narrow and slippery.

Taking the forest trek during this season can be a little challenging as walking on the snow isn’t that easy and temperatures are really low.At places, there is complete snow cover and you might not be aware of the underlying pit,so you have to be really careful.So some experience and guidance is suggested on this one.You can also plan your trek through some good agencies like India Hikes,they provide the complete package.

Though it is bit of an effort reaching the lake, the trek is all worthwhile.The views that you get are heavenly and the white fresh snow will offer you a refreshingly breathtaking experience.

What is the Network Availability in Parashar lake

The place is remote and hilly hence the network connectivity is poor. You won’t see signals from major operators,BSNL works here at some places. Though I had a Jio network which was showing some network intermittently.But all in all be prepared for a total disconnect at most parts of the trip especially if you plan to trek your way through the forest.

Where can you find ATMs in Prashar lake trip?

As mentioned above following through Baggi the area becomes remote,hence you hardly see any modern amenities.The last ATM that you would find is in Mandi . Remember to withdraw sufficient cash.I was on a budget trip and could easily complete my one-night stay trip from Delhi in around Rs3500.

What is the best time to visit Prashar?

Summers
Prashar lake is open throughout the year and also the beauty of the place is unique at all seasons.If you are looking for cool getaway during the summers it is a great destination. Just keep in mind that you could face a little crowd as the place is swarmed by local visitors and nearby metros like Delhi and Chandigarh.

Monsoons

If you are someone who loves green lush surroundings and isn’t irritated by some slippery earthy grounds, then it is a perfect time for you.The place is fresh with new vegetation and the aroma will charge you up. Also at the lake the beautiful misty clouds will give you an amazing experience.

Winters

This is obviously the time for snow lovers.As mentioned above Prashar lake has a different beauty altogether in this season. The whole place encapsulated in white with patches of brown will give you a perfect picturesque experience. Just remember the temperatures would be quite low so don’t forget to get proper woolen coverings.

My return from Prashar lake

Although it was a very short trip just over a weekend but it was like a rollercoaster ride for me. From portions of confusion,fear, tiredness, accomplishment, heavenly views it offered a taste of all.I got to learn how to figure your way out of nowhere,how even budget trips can offer you a complete enjoyable experience, learned a bit about the culture and history of the place, and was returning back with some additional discovories.Often at times places which you haven’t heard of or isnt in people’s radar,end up giving you experiences and memories that you can cherish for your life. Prashar lake was one such place for me.

 


Hope you found my story interesting and the information insightful. Do leave your comments below on how you found Solo budget trip to the mysterious Prashar lake in Himachal”

 

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Solo Budget trip to Prashar lake(Mandi,Himachal Pradesh) from Delhi:A scary trek.”

  1. Utkarsh this article gave me the jitters. I could feel myself in your shoes when you were trying to find your way to the lake. For a moment, I thought that you may have to spend the night in the forest. Loved the article. Very detailed and you brought out all the aspects very well. I would love to visit it sometime for sure.

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