Kareri Lake: The hidden charm in Himalayas

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Kareri Lake:

Kareri lake is one of the most beautiful high altitude lakes of Himachal Pradesh near Dharamshala. It is known for its serene surroundings and magnificent view of Dhauladhar ranges.

Kareri lake
Kareri Lake

Introduction:

The Kareri Lake is fresh water high altitude lake north west of Dharamshala town of Himachal Pradesh, India. The lake and the Kareri village is known for its tranquility and the pictureques landscape it offers to the visitors. The altitude of the lake is 9625 Ft above the sea level. We went for a camping excursion to the lake from Amritsar in month of April and were enchanted with its beauty and serene landscape it offered. The place is less visited and is short weekend trek in the region of Dharamshala. The trek starts from village Kareri and goes upto the lake with steep ascent and lots of water body along the trail. The trek further ahead of Kareri Lake leads to Chamba Valley. Kareri lake offer a base camp for trekkers heading towards Minkiani pass north of the lake. The main inflow of water into the lake  is from the Minkiani peak.

My Journey:

Kareri Lake sun set

We visited Kareri Lake in month of April 2017. We were getting bored in our urban life sitting in Delhi in our Air conditioned offices. The mundane work and 9 to 5 routines was gripping our nerves. The negativity of a modern life style had started taking its toll on us. It was time to break free and recharge our energies. Kareri lake was already on my bucket list and I started planning the trek to this forbidden land in Himachal Pradesh. I decided to visit my home town Amritsar and start the excursion via Amritsar Pathankot route. The weekend was set and the preparation was on.

Finally the day arrived and we were all set to start our exploration journey from Amritsar to Kareri Lake via Pathankot Dharamshala and Kareri village.

We started in the morning by 7am. Drove our car towards Amritsar Pathankot toll road. The newly built highway was beautiful along with wheat fields and country side farms. The students were hurrying to go to school and the farmers were analysing the days work. We reached Pathankot in two and half hour and halted at Pathankot cant railway station as one of our friend was supposed to join us from here to our onward journey. We had our breakfast at the local shop and continued our journey on Pathankot Dharamshala highway.

Kareri lake trek

We entered Himachal Pradesh and traversed through the zig zag foothills via Nurpur and Chakki River.

The road was well built and took us around another two hours to reach Dharamshala. We were supposed to visit the district forest office, we went inside Dharamshala otherwise the road divert before Dharamshala towards left to reach Kareri village. We took our necessary dry ration and started driving towards the Kareri village as we had planned our overnight halt at the village. The road got narrow and we traversed further up. The road at one end was blocked by boulders as JCB land mover was clearing the patch of land slide. We waited for an hour for road to get cleared.

By late afternoon we were at Kareri village and decided to rest for the day. We made our self comfortable in an old forest rest house and went for a small stroll in the village. The kids and the locals were very curious of our presence and were wondering what these urban guys are upto. The village has few vegetable and ration shops. We could get hold of eatables and handed over to the rest house cook to prepare food for us.

The village was quite and scenic with step plantation all around the place. The fresh wheat crop was giving a beautiful texture to the landscape. I could hear a water stream sound nearby and was curious to know about it. The local told me it’s a stream flowing down from higher mountains with it origin around Kareri Lake. It gave me an idea about the water mass to expect at the top on reaching the Kareri Lake.

After the dark I could lay my hand on the camera and tried to shot some night pictures. Though the light from the village electrified houses dint gave much exciting results.

Kareri village forest rest house

After having the dinner we all retired in our respective bed. The day was fulfilling and rest to spine was very welcoming after the day long car journey.

Trek to Kareri Lake

Next day morning we all got ready after the breakfast. The camping gear was packed and the ruck sacks were set for the climb. On discussion with other members we got hold of a guide for the trek, though it was not required. We started towards the back side of the rest house and headed towards the trail going upwards. The short trail lead us to a semi metalled unfinished road. We took a left turn and  kept walking till we hit a bridge over a stream. From here the trails towards right upwards  leaving the road starts. The main trek start from here. The trails was clearly marked and was full of pebbles and dirt. The ascend started from here along the stream towards the left side of the trail. The trail was simple and the stream upwards was leading us to its origin. The trail was too rocky and at some area too steep.

The trek has few shop in between for quick eating. Serves Maggi, tea and biscuits. Though the items are too expensive but they are worth paying for after the strenuous trek and climbing steep boulders on way.

The vegetation starts to change with each passing kilometre and the total trek should be around 13 km one side. It is highly advisable to take interim breaks and rejuvenate for the climb. Believe me the trek is not as simple as it appears in he beginning as each passing mile add to its roughness and difficulty level. The trail Criss cross the stream at multiple points and you won’t find any human inhabitation on the route. The make shift huts are for shop and halt and are only available during the season time. Taking along biscuits and energy drink like Gluon D is highly advisable.

After climbing for more than 6 hours we finally reached the Kareri Lake. The first glimpse of the lake took away all the tiredness and the fatigue out of us. We realised the strength of the energy field of a place and thats too in Himalayas.

The lake was massive in size and realised the stream we followed from Kareri village to the lake actually originate from the Kareri Lake.

Kareri lake and temple
Kareri Lake and temple

Camping at Kareri Lake.

The Kareri Lake offer excellent camping opportunity for all. One can carry their own camping gear from the base or can hire the stuff from the local shop at Kareri Lake on rental basis. We opted to carry our stuff. The lake has a Shiva temple towards its southern side along with the shelter made for the travellers. We took 15 mins to cite our camp site and decided to pitch our tent near to Temple at a plain surface. We unpacked our four men tent from the bag and started pitching fast as the sun was going down and the wind was started to blow faster. If you decide to camp and pitch your own tent it is highly recommended that you should have prior knowledge and experience of camping. Else there are few shops along the temple to offer night shelter and in some cases also offer tent and sleeping bag. One can easily hire from the shop and ask them to make the arrangements for you.

The tent was Up and ready to be occupied with firmly pitched to handle the wind.

Kareri lake camping.
Kareri lake camping.
Tenting at kareri lake
Tenting at kareri lake

 

After settling down we decided to take a small stroll around the lake with our cameras to know the lake better. I took my DSLR and the tripod and tried to shoot the sun set over the lake.

The sun and the mountain pass on the back drop of lake gave a very pictureques view. One can sit of hours and just wonder the creation of God at this point and feel blissful being the part of this beautiful earth. The spiritual energy started to flow out and one realise how small we are on this earth. Mother earth and nature is full of bountiful and amaze us with its creation and we human take it for granted and feel powerful. The gods most beautiful creation was in front of my eyes and each of my body part could feel the energy levels of this mystic lake. The wind was adding to the glory of the Kareri Lake and in some time it started to drizzle. The tiny droplets on the lake was making beautiful ripples. On closer look the droplets were actually disturbing the calmness of the water surface and were dancing with it. I  tried to capture the moment in my camera but it was to be experiences with our senses and the mind the god has gifted us with. I thanked god for all his blessing to me. Thanked him for giving me this opportunity to experience his best creation. Truly how many of us get to experience a place like this. Welcome to Kareri Lake.

Kareri lake waters

Minkiani pass back of kareri lake
Minkiani pass back of kareri lake

 

After the overwhelming welcome experience at the lake we rested for a while and decided to take an early dinner. The dinner was prepared by the local small shop adjoining the temple. The simple vegetarian rice dal was so enriching that it could give complex to any fine dinning we do in our urban cities.

We realised there was small group of youngster also arrived to the lake. The young boys and girl were full of energy. Rightfully our age 40+ and 20s do make a mark difference in endurance and strength to climb.

The night at the lake was windy. The wind was making sound pattern leaving ones imagination to think what it is. The night was cold and the sleeping bags was giving us enough of insulation to keep our self warm and cozy. The night was even more exciting and was giving a perfect spot to click photos with lake at its foreground.

Kareri lake temple Flag

We got up early in the morning. After a while we headed for the tea shop and manage a hot cup of daily morning fluids for our body. After getting fresh up we decided to descent as my stomach developed infection due to bad water enroute. We packed our tents and headed downwards towards the Kareri village saying good bye to the high Himalayas.

The descent was fast and we were wondering how did we manage to climb that steep on our way up as the trail was full of rock and stones. As they always say the road towards Home is always short and faster, we reached Kareri village by early afternoon and decided to drive back to Amritsar the same day.

Intersting Photos at Kareri lake:

Below are some interesting photographs we took during our visit to Kareri Lake. Though all above photos are taken by me, sharing some more with you.

kareri lake during sunset
kareri lake during sunset

 

Kareri Lake gave me an opportunity to click vast night sky along with the camping site. I tried my cameras exposure to capture the camp site and sky using my DSLR camera mounted on a TRIPOD and got some interesting results.

Kareri lake Campsite at Sunset
Kareri Lake Campsite at Sunset
Kareri lake site at midnight
Kareri Lake site at midnight
Night Sk at kareri lake
Night Sk at kareri lake
Night Sk at kareri lake
Night Sk at kareri lake

History and Mythology:

Trishul placed at Kareri lake temple premises.
Trishul placed at Kareri Lake temple premises.

 

Generally all peaks and lake in mountain are associated with some legend or mythology behind the origin. Especially in Himalayas tall lakes and peak have a story dated back to Mahabharata time. Surprising the Kareri Lake could not offer any such story. We could find a shiva temple built on the lake side but no mention of lakes origin or mythology aspect.

Orientation:

Map of Kareri Lake:

Below is the Google map of Kareri Lake.

Driving Directions:

The Kareri Lake can be reached from Pathankot or Dharamshala.

We started our journey from Amritsar to Kareri Lake. Sharing the driving directions we followed during our visit to Kareri Lake.

AMRITSAR To KARERI LAKE:
DHARAMSHALA-KARERI LAKE:

Kareri Lake can be reached from Dharamshala as well. The directions to drive from Dharamshala to Kareri Lake is as follows.

NEW DELHI – KARERI LAKE:
Kareri lake is a good weekend destination from Delhi. I am sharing driving direction to reach the same using google maps.
PATHANKOT to KARERI LAKE:

Pathankot cant is the closest rail head on broad gauge to reach Kareri Lake. It lies on main Delhi-Jammu tavi railway line. One can take Taxi or Bus towards Dharamshala to reach Kareri Lake. Sharing with you the Google maps driving directions from Pathankot to Kareri Lake.

Alternatively you can set Google maps to reach the lake from your place of origin

Story:

Often coming from the urban cities we realises meaning of our existence and how small we are in front of mother earth. The nature mammoth power and magnanimity leaves one self to wonder our existence on the planet earth. We humans with inflated egos has high notion about self and the work we do. Mistaking ourselves for a powerful being. Fact is if nature do a small whiff and we are gone. We stand not even a speck of dust on this planet and we feel self to be the most powerful creation on the planet. Probably we forget the nature power and strength while living in our cozy homes and cities. Every time I visit the Himalayas I experiences the same feeling of being tiny and selfless.

Kareri lake also forced me to think on the same lines. Who we are what are we doing in our life and why are we here on earth. What is our purpose of being on this planet earth and how sensitively the nature is keeping us alive by keeping all forces in balanced. One misbalance can lead to devastating results and we hardly do our bit to thank our mother nature in return for all the good bounties she give us.

Ahh… enough of self exploration and introspections.

 

Videos:

Sharing some videos I shot at Kareri Lake summit with friends. The video gives a 360 degree view of the place and the idea how the mountain look like from Kareri Lake.

Myths and facts:

Kareri lake and temple
Myths of Kareri Lake

 

Surprisingly the Kareri Lake does not hold any mythical story with it. The lake gets its water from the nearby mountains peak and Minkiani pass. The lake is shallow and holds clear water body.

The trek to Kareri Lake is tiring and strenuous but at the same time exciting as the water stream is always traversing along with you.

The lake is open for the trek from March to November and it is frozen during winters. The best time to visit is summer and springs as it offers variety of flora on the way up.

 

Climate and Clothing for Kareri Lake

Kareri lake and temple
Kareri Lake water and climate

 

The Kareri village has pleasant weather as any other hill station in North India. The lake gets colder and windy during the evening and morning time as the height attracts wind chill as well the altitude chill.

While travelling to Kareri Lake do carry your winter clothing including jacket and warm inner wear. Covering head with cap or woollen cloth is must as the wind is quite cold and one should avoid any exposure to the wind.

Carrying multiple T-shirt for layering is a good idea along with extra pair of socks.

 

Places around Kareri Lake.

The Kareri Lake is in Dhauladhar ranges and popular hill stations like Dharamshala and Mcleod guns are very close to it. One can also visit Triund while visiting Kareri Lake though it another steep trek to TRIUND and your endurance and age will decide your ability to climb the same.

  1. Dharamshala
  2. TRIUND 
  3. McLeod Gunj.
  4. Kangra
  5. Minkiani pass
  6. Indrahar pass.
  7. Bir Billing

Itinerary.

Itinerary for Kareri Lake can be designed in many ways as per personal preferences. We visited Kareri Lake from Amritsar and I am sharing the same with you.

Day1: Amritsar-Kareri Village: Start early in the morning and head towards Pathankot to reach Kareri village ( Base camp for Kareri trek). Over night stay at Village.

Day 2: Kareri Village – Kareri Lake: Start early in the morning after break fast and try reaching lake by late afternoon. The slow pace trek can be done in one day. We do came across people who halted in between for night stay but I would recommend to complete the trek in one day. Night stay at Lake in tents.

Day 3: Kareri Lake  Originally we decided to stay for a day at Kareri Lake and explore the area around. One can make an attempt to climb Minkiani pass. But due to stomach infection we decided to descent back to avoid any complications.

Day 4: Kareri Lake – Kareri Village-Amritsar  One can start early in the morning and can reach base camp at Kareri village by afternoon. Further the journey can be continued back to Amritsar on the same day else you can visit Dharamshala.

Facts and Tips about Kareri Lake:

Accommodation:

The Kareri village offer good amount of guest house run by locals. Besides the guest house you also have make shift camping ground on paid basis run by a local travel agent.

Kareri lake has only option of camping. One can camp with your own equipments or can hire from the local two shops at the lake for sleeping over night. Visiting kareri lake fully equipped is highly recommended if hygiene and cleanliness is your priority else you do have option to stay in make shift arrangements by local shop owner.

Food:

You get basic Dal, Roti and Rice at both location Kareri Lake and village. Do not expect more in mountains. You can pamper yourself with Maggi noodles or eggs at the most.

HOW TO REACH:

One can reach Kareri Lake in numerous ways.

Railway: Nearest railway station is Pathankot on broad gauge. From Pathankot one can take taxi or bus to Dharamshala and further upto Kareri village.

Road: Nearest bus stand is in Kareri Village and is well connected with Dharamshala. On can also take a shared taxi or bus from Dharamshala or McLeodGanj to reach Kareri village.

Air: Nearest Airport is Gagal/Dharamshala. The airport is connected with Delhi and further one can take taxi or bus to Kareri village via Dharamshala town.

USEFULL LINKS:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kareri_Lake
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himachal_Pradesh
  3. http://himachal.nic.in/index.php?lang=1&dpt_id=219
  4. http://himachaltourism.gov.in

Final Thoughts:

Final thoughts about Kareri lake Veren

Kareri lake is good weekend getaway from Delhi and other major towns of North India. One can plan a weekend day trek to Kareri Lake without much of prior planning and bookings. It is must visit place for nature enthusiast.

For any outdoor activity it is important to follow discipline and caution as it can lead you into tricky situations. My advise is always travel with like minded group and follow a strict discipline. Travel safe and enjoy the nature.

Follow Veren Mitter:

A relentless Traveler and a Landscape photographer, has many interest in ambit of Exploration and finding Happiness: A Short Walk down the trail, A night lying on the barren Helipad and counting stars, A car drive with friends down the Muddy road, Coal Burnt hot corn in rain under a thatched hut, A paraglide from the world’s second highest jumping spot, or finding his own Cleopatra while walking through the mummies, are only some of the recreational activities, I indulge in. A keen explorer, with tadka of Adventure, I am a foodie at heart and passionate about Photography. I live in Amritsar. I hail from Army family and have gone through the rigours of Army Officer training myself. Travelling and meeting people have been always a part of life, which I thoroughly enjoy. A keen adventurer myself, I have been organizing adventure tours for friends. As I always say its a long road and exploration should never stop.

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