Prashar Lake – A Hidden Gem

Summers are already in, cities are heating up, school are closed for summer vacations, children are craving for an outing, isn’t it enough to drive you to take a relieving soujourn somewhere in the mountainside. So here we go on a stroll to such a refreshingly beautiful and serene lake in the lap of the majestic Himachal hills.

It was the end of March and I had taken a long break from my work to wander in the mountains. When it comes to choosing a destination, a detailed map does come really handy along with some google searches. Since I have an inclination towards hilly lakes, it was almost sure to be a place covering a lake. I had been hearing about Prashar Lake (approx. 2600 mtr) a lot in the recent past and it was near to the place (Mandi) where I had been a couple of times, so it was an obvious choice. A couple of years back, I had seen some photos of one of my friend who went to Prashar Lake sometime in March and was lucky to find himself surrounded with a whole lot of snow. They had gone there on their bikes and the amount of snow was such that they had to leave their bikes much before the lake and had to walk upto the lake. Since then, I had this ambition of visiting this place when it is a bit snowy. While I was planning to set out on this wandering, I shared the thought with a couple of friends who might have liked the idea of exploring this place and finally one of my friends (Bibhuti) showed his interest in joining me.

As always, we took an overnight bus to Mandi from ISBT Delhi which took us to Mandi via Chandigarh, Bilaspur, Sunder Nagar on Delhi – Manali Highway. We reached Mandi the next day early morning and it was good for us as there are very few timely scheduled buses to reach Prashar and we were lucky to get onto a bus taking us towards our destination. The distance between Mandi and Prashar is approx. 45 kms which can be covered by local buses to nearly 35 kms till Bagi via Kataula and it normally takes approx. 2 hours to reach Bagi. Though there is a motorable road till Prashar Lake, but the public buses run till Bagi only after which one has the option of either hiking or to take private vehicles. Our motive was of course to choose the hiking which provides splendid views of the valley passing through jungle and some open meadows at times. It is an easy enjoyable hike (approx. 8 km) to Prashar Lake from Bagi which takes between 3 to 5 hours depending on your speed and stamina. Before we would start our hike uphill, we thought it was good to pick up some stuff to eat on the way and then we proceeded. One of the major reasons that we do not plan much and let the surprises come our way is to rely on locals for their expert advice on where to stay, how to reach etc. which always proves pretty economical. We were trying the same this time too and were chatting up with a village girl who was on her way to home, she told us that we should not worry about accommodation near Lake as there are a few options available (Forest Rest House, PWD Guest House, Temple premises etc). But then, she thought for a while and said that it might be a bit difficult to get accommodation today as there is a big puja ceremony going on in the temple and we might not get space to stay at temple. While bidding us bye, she offered to come and stay in her village in case we did not find any place to spend night at the lake…I was pondering how large hearted  and welcoming the people in hills are, their hearts surely are much more spacious than their homes…

Traversing through jungle

Traversing through jungle

While we were proceeding enjoying our gossips and the gifts of mother nature, Bibhuti felt a bit hungry as always. He is such a brilliant companion in the hills who is ready to step up with you however demanding the walk is untill he is fed well. So I make sure to keep enough supply with me whenever travelling with him, the food is his power…whenever I see he is getting a bit slow, I just give him something to munch and he is back on track after a few bites. So we chatted, passed through jungles, took short breaks, clicked some pictures, ate some food.

Junglee in the jungle…

Junglee in the jungle…

 

After all this we were nearing a place which seemed pretty open and some surrounding hills were now in sight. It was an indication that now we were at some height and were about to reach the lake. It was feeling good to be out in the open sky after a long trail of the poorly lit jungle.

Desi jugaad in an open meadow

Desi jugaad in an open meadow

This was a place where we enjoyed some beautiful views and rolled on some slanting meadows. Further walk brought us to a larger meadow where a bunch of horses were grazing and when we came near to them, they were throwing tantrums as if they were some royal horses…though some of them were really looking royal. It was here, we could spot a forest rest house. We crossed some mud huts, some cattle houses (gaushalas) and here we were on the road that connects Bagi to Prashar and we could see some private vehicles on the road who probably belonged to the devotees who came to offer prayers to the deities.

Grazing horses and FRH in the background

Grazing horses and FRH in the background

 

But among all this, one thing was strangely missing that we were trying hard to find and that was ‘snow’…’hey not a single patch of snow’, was I befooled by my friend who came here during the same time witnessing tons of snow?…and here we were trying to look for imaginary snow that we had visualized all through the hike…even the search for snow made us forget Prashar Lake for a while, but then we realized it was not the snow mainly that we were here, it was the lake…so let us relish this hidden gem.

Roadhead to Prashar from Bagi…

Roadhead to Prashar from Bagi…

 

Just above the roadhead towards the lake

Just above the roadhead towards the lake

 

A rhododendron hanging on the fence

A rhododendron hanging on the fence

 

We further started climbing up towards a barbed wired boundary and the lake was supposed to be across this boundary downwards surrounded by small hills as seen in the photos. Seeing a place in photos and seeing it revealing itself in front of your eyes are completely two different things, the second one is surely an experience that one cherishes forever, it gets captured forever in your memory by the best lense that the almighty has given us. When we reached at the top, we were stunned at its majestic beauty. Surrounded by beautiful small hills it was looking like a small gem in the middle and a pagoda styled temple was all adding charm to this serene lake. We kept sitting on a small hillside for a while silently enjoying this marvel.

Here comes the lake with temple…

Here comes the lake with temple…

Then we saw some locals passing by and thought to visit the temple. As the name suggests, this temple and the lake is dedicated to Rishi Prashar who meditated here on this place. It’s a 3 storey pagoda styled temple constructed by King Bansen in 14th century. When we reached near the temple, a big feast was going on in the backyard of the temple. First we went inside the temple leaving our lather stuff outside which is not permitted in any temple in himachal and paid obeisance to the deities. The temple structure and carvings were pretty impressive. When we came out, we first checked about staying options, but since there was a small gathering of locals there, so we were not hoping to get any accommodation in the temple premises. But they asked us to come a bit later to see how many devotees were staying back and how many were leaving. So we started exploring the lake from different angles and different view points.

Prashar Lake from a different hill

Prashar Lake from a different hill

After a while, Bibhuti was a bit hungry and a bit tired too, so we came back to the shop near the temple and ordered 2 plateful of maggi. While we were waiting for our maggi lunch, we met a guy from UK who was travelling alone and had come with his entire camping gears…I was hoping that someday, we will do the same. We chatted for a while and enjoyed our maggi from the lakeview dhaba.  We again started our exploration this time towards the road going ahead of Prashar, here we could get to see some small patches of melting snow. We were getting ourselves clicked in such poses so that it looked as if we had a lot of snow around us. Since we had clouds all over us, we could faintly see the majestically scattered Himalayan ranges which were filling us with awe on closer examination. We kept loitering around for some time and when the sun was about to set, I asked Bibhuti if he wanted to come up and try to see the sunset (which was seeming to be almost impossible with such cloudy weather). He was tired by now and his straight answer was ‘NO’. So I asked him to check out the staying option near the temple while I was going up to try my luck with the weather.

Prashar Lake & Temple from a higher view point…

Prashar Lake & Temple from a higher view point…

 

Posing on a rock

Posing on a rock

 

At such a place, the higher you go, the better the views are. I kept following a long ridge in the parallel direction of the sunset, but except few sunrays, everything else was covered by dark clouds. I kept walking along the ridge for nearly an hour and it was getting dark now, so I decided to move back. Though I could not witness sunset, but the views of the deep valleys were amazing from atop.

 Walking on the ridge…

Walking on the ridge…

 

Clouds playing hide & seek…

Clouds playing hide & seek…

 

When I reached near the lake, I saw Bibhuti seating on a rock waiting for me. He told me he was tired and did not go to temple to check about accommodation. While we were enquiring about the stay at the shop, the caretaker of a Forest Rest House (FRH) had come to shop to buy some supplies and said if you want you can stay at FRH. Bibhuti was tired, so we thought let’s check out the FRH. The caretaker told us that normally he doesn’t allow people without booking, but since it was empty he would let us stay there. When we checked about the rates, he said it was for Rs. 500 for two of us which was a bit high for us at that time. So we started negotiating with him for a lower price and our constant request did help and he finally agreed to give us room for Rs. 350 including a good dinner to our fill. Since it was a bit cold there at that time, he also arranged for hot water for us, it was not a bad deal at all. After dinner, we came out in open to stare at the star studded sky for a while and then went back to sleep with a promise to witness a sunrise early morning. I guess we took a good decision to spend night at FRH as it was cold during night at this height and we were not sure if would get blankets/quilts at temple premises. Before sleeping, we checked with the caretaker about the timing of the bus that would get us to Mandi as we had to get back to Delhi the next day. My faint memory says that the bus was supposed to be leaving perhaps at around 9/10 am.

 

The next morning when we woke up after freshening up, we dropped the idea of going uphill as the sky was still not clear and we had high chances of missing our bus to Mandi. So we bade a goodbye to Prashar with a promise to come again sometime in future. The night’s sleep helped us get refreshed and we were rushing downwards like the hilly goats. We reached Bagi on time, the local folks were waiting for the bus. It was a good opportunity to grab some light breakfast, we picked up a cup of tea with some biscuits. In the meantime, we heard the bus coming and here it was. Since there were very few locals at Bagi, we were not in rush to get onto the bus to get seats. We boarded the bus, got a seat with good views and reached Mandi enjoying the enchanting views enroute. We did not want to be in Mandi for long, so hopped on a bus which was destined for Bilaspur as soon as we arrived Mandi. When we reached Bilaspur, we had enough time here as the bus to Delhi was leaving in the night at around 8/9 pm. So we thought to walk around Gobind Sagar Lake and explore nearby areas which was again a good decision. We walked along the lake and were enjoying to see people trying to catch fishes and waiting for the boats to cross the lake. All these sights were forcing us to discuss some silly things among ourselves.

On the bank of Gobind Sagar Lake…

On the bank of Gobind Sagar Lake…

 

We came up from the lake side and visited a small temple nearby. We did a good use of our leisure time in Bilaspur, we had our dinner at a local dhaba before we boarded the bus to Delhi and reached Delhi the next morning. This trip was a short weekend getaway, very much recommended to city dwellers who wish to go out on weekend with family or kids to some destination far away from crowd in the peaceful and awe inspiring mountains…so what are you waiting for?

28 Comments

  • Harish Bhatt says:

    Another hidden gem by my beloved friend. Vipin, you are such a great traveller and have the real spirit of ghumakkari. Let me know when you decide to go there again and I would love to accompany you A picture of your foodie friend Bibhuti would have been nice to see :-)

    Thanks for sharing

    • Vipin says:

      Thank you for your encouraging words, Harish bhai!…It’s just a weekend trip…so let me know any weekend (Friday night till Sunday night or Monday morning) when you are free & we will set out…regarding the pics of Bibhuti, actually my laptop was stolen recently containing all my photos trip photos…these were the only pics that were available on my fb account & i could write this story…so will have to travel more to write more more stories here….

  • Amitava Chatterjee says:

    Really a hidden gem…pictures are stunning, so as the lake…I had seen the pictures of snow covered peaks and frozen lake…and it looks so beautiful…how I wish to be there too.

    agreed with Harish, a picture of your friend would have been good…by the way, who has taken the pictures…Tx for the post.

    • Vipin says:

      Thank you dada for going through the post & leaving your words…. yes the place looks amazing under snow cover…will try to do it in winters sometime when i learn to walk over snow….the pics have been taken by me….except mine (courtesy Bibhuti)….

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Vipin,

    Prashar Laker indeed is a hidden gem and beautiful too. Of course, the landscape would be entirely different during winter snow. So the downhill trek took you much less time.

    Any mythological links to the lake and how it got its name?

    I can see you were training for Ranthambore machan climbing by climbing trees here!

    The photos, description and scenery are all pretty good.

    • Vipin says:

      Thank you Nirdesh bhai for reading the story and leaving your comment. This lake is named after Prashar Rishi who meditated here…i actually had written an interesting part of Rishi Prashar’s life…but then since the post was getting too long…i had to remove it…

      Here it is in brief…they say that Rishi Prashar was a very learned sage. Once he was in a boat crossing the river Yamuna where a fisherman’s daughter was rowing the boat…he fell in love with her…she was smelling of fishes & was called Matsygandha (one whose smell is like fish), but she said you are a brahmin & i belong to a low cast…Rishi Prashar using his powers turned her into a beautiful girl with a very sweet fragrance coming out of her now…when she said that Sun is looking on us & water too…he hid them under clouds & mist cover…and on that very auspicious event, they gave birth to a very learned son, Vyas (also known as Dwaipayana meaning Island born)…who is popularly known as Rishi Ved Vyas and is said to have authored the epic Mahabharta & documented the Vedas & Puranas…

      Climbing trees is every child’s favorite activity, am sure you must have done that many a times….takes us back in our childhood…:)

  • Saurabh Gupta says:

    Asusual a very good post. Pictures are equally good.

    It looks a very peaceful place.

    Waiting for the post on Ranthambore Census from you & Harish Ji.

    • Vipin says:

      Thank you, Saurabh Ji for liking the post.

      I can understand your eagerness about the post on Ranthambore census, but I would prefer Harish bhai to write a story on this as he got a wonderful surprise this year…& finally encountered tigers this year in a dramatic way after a long chase of so many years…Are you listening Harish bhai, people are waiting here?…:)

  • Stone says:

    Very nice fluent narration Vipin.
    This was totally my kind of trip, hope to visit this place sometime.

  • Biswajit Ganguly says:

    Dear Vipin, What a write up!! Without adding any extra flavour of heroics, adventurism, uncommon achievements still holding the nerves of the reader, it is something most fascinating that I found in this narration. You connect with every individual reader so well with your simple universally common character which is easily felt through your posts. While going through the post I was almost carried to the place and found so much of commonality with your activities that it seemed as if I am myself writing the post. I have been following your post quite regularly and enjoyed them thoroughly although I could not comment on every post but had sincere desire to follow the way you travel. Keep writing keep encouraging people like me who loves simplicity and easy going characters.

    • Vipin says:

      Dear Biswajit Ji, it’s so good to hear from you……you have always showered your blessings and love on all of us…through your encouraging & poetic comments…hope we meet someday and travel together! Thank you for coming to the post & leaving your kind words…

  • Giriraj Shekhawat says:

    Dear Vipin
    Enjoyed reading your account of this obscure natural gem. I wonder why did u not accept the proposal given by the generous girl to stay at her village ….. he he he he .. The local jugaad of an electricity pole surely testifies the fact that wood is a bad conductor of electricity …The pictures of the lake are stunning yet serene and peaceful ..i wish i could buy some land near the temple and start living here endlessly.The island between the lake can be suffice for my staying here …he he he … Vipin you are surely a junglee ..For me jungle and woods are the places where we humans return to our basics …return to age of innocence when god created all of us …return to the times when ignorance was bliss…
    Write more and remain the junglee that we all love.

    Life ke maze le ….Bye

    • Vipin says:

      Thank you, Giri bhai for going through the post & commenting…we would have surely come down if we wouldn’t have found anything to stay there…but lucky we were to stay near lake…buying a land near lake is not a bad idea, i can come over again & again & stay at my friend’s house…:)….

      I completely agree with your views about jungles…every place on earth once was a jungle…the increasing materialism & our priorities in life has now turned some of it into concrete jungles (some people just love it this way, but still they wish to return to their original habitat once in a while…)…i feel pained when i see jungles depleting from the cities (which are the lunges of the city ) due to our increasing needs…but we forget that our utmost need to survive on this earth is to take breath in fresh air which is possible only if we have jungles protecting & covering us like our mother…& not only we create trouble for us by diminishing jungles, but also for a huge variety of wildlife for whom it’s still their home majorly…it is further resulting in extinction of birdlife from cities…the earlier we understand it, the better it is for all of us…

  • Thanks Vipin for sharing such a nice post. Pictures are also very beautiful. Keep writing…

  • Hi Vipin. Thanks for sharing the post, it was an interesting read.

  • Nandan Jha says:

    So Bhatt Jee finally meets the King/Queen of the Jungle. :-) A lot more fans are now waiting for the census-part 2 and hopefully this time with no broken bones.

    @ Vipin – Enough has been said in the ‘Comments’ and I echo most of them. I had the same feelings as Mr. Ganguli who articulated it so well, no heroics, no superlatives, plain honest real travel. Thank you. I have not been to HP, for probably 2 years now. Am getting an opportunity to attend a friend’s marriage in Hamirpur, hopefully I would make it. Thank you Vipin.

  • Vipin says:

    Thank you Nandan for your encouraging words.

    Yes, Bhattsaab could make it this time in a very interesting and dramatic way…but i will keep this a suspense and let his pen speak instead…but sadly this time too he had injury on his leg & he has still not recovered well…pray that he runs & writes soon!

    Wishes for your himachal hunting after a long time!

  • SilentSoul says:

    Thanks Vipin for showing this magnificent lake… last time we missed it but surely in our next visit we will go.

    Which seasons would be best for going there?

    • Vipin says:

      Thank you SS Ji for liking the post…if you love snow (which i doubt as you remain under snow most time of the year i guess), winters must be a good time (i would perhaps be making a winter visit to this place sometime soon) & it also allows better views of the surrounding snow covered peaks (which we could only get a glimpse of through the clouds)…for me, it’s difficult to define ‘best’ time to go as every season has it’s own flavour & i would love to go there in every season…for a ghumakkar, any time is the best time i believe…:)…your comment reminded me of Karib (chori chori jab nazarein mili)…& revived memories of Rewalsar too…thank you!

  • INDER says:

    “Wandering in the hills energises and refreshes me, gives me an opportunity to discover and understand myself……”

    ahh love this lines same like me will love to travel with u oneday ….

    • Vipin says:

      Thanks Inder bhai, sure will be pleasure wandering with you…seems like you are a die hard ghumakkar like all of us…would love to hear your wonderful tales here on ghumakkar…your experiences will surely help fellows…do let me know on my email (vipingaur.2008@gmail.com) whenever you plan something of this sort…just came back from another little known lake in Himachal, will write it here soon…

  • INDER says:

    yup m also frm delhi let me know if u planning for other tour (inder_6467@yahoo.co.in)

  • usha negi says:

    Hi I read ur blog it’s nicely written and photographs are very nice too. Actually I have a query me and my friends are planning to visit prashar lake during june end or July starting as u have mentioned that you had visited there around March end so I wanted to ask which time will b suitable to visit there? And plz tell about places to stay there.

  • Manoj Makker says:

    Dear Vipin, thanx for sharing such a nice travelogue. In fact, we are planning to visit Parashar lake in the coming march and i wanted the information about the climate at lake during march. Your narration about the trek is commendable.

  • Deepanshu says:

    Dear Vipin,

    Do you plan trips ??

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