Prashar Lake-The floating Gem of Himalayas

PRASHAR LAKE:

Prashar lake is a beautiful natural high altitude lake situated north of Mandi district of hill state of Himachal Pradesh, India. The lake is glacial high mountain lake and also known as Kamrunag Lake.

While visiting the Prashar lake I remembered an old country song I heard long ago.

Prashar lake and temple view from top.
View of Prashar Lake from top with temple on Right.

 

GREAT LAKES of Love- by John Smith.

I get into the car, drive away from the life

Suddenly certain she won’t be my wife

And the jewellery I gave her

Remains in the bottom of a draw

In Some room I won’t enter

With a cold unchristened floor

The man she is leaving, he stands by the door

Weeping at words

Hey brother, she said them before

So I go to the water, it is time that I need

Oh my hearts wears a fancy dress, burst at the seams

All that had mattered and all that I’ve seen

Diving into the great lakes of love

It was foolish resistance ’til I heard in the distance

The drums of the band, they were beating persistently

Letting me know it’s nothing but time to move on

Perhaps I’ll see her around, hair up top down

And I could watch silently, making no sound

It would soften the blow to leave without saying Hello

So I go to the water, it is time that I need

Love is nothing, love is everything, it’s never in between

All that had mattered and all that I’ve seen

Diving into the great lakes of love

The willow will bend and the wind it will bellow

Straight, straight to the shore

The lake is deception

She waits in the shallows

Swim, swim out for more

So I go to the water, it is time that I need

Oh my heart wears a fancy dress, burst at the seams

All that had mattered and that I’ve seen

Diving into the great lakes of love

I’m falling into the great lakes of love.

Prashar Lake is full of emotions and poetry to me. The above lyrics I shared on Like hummed in my ears while driving toward the beautiful Prashar lake.

INTRODUCTION:

The Prashar Lake has mythology and the history attach to it. Mesmerises visitor with it’s beauty. Situated in hill region of north India in Mandi district of himachal Pradesh. It is one of the best all season weekend destination from major town of north India. The Prashar Lake offer stories , scenery, mythology, suspense and trek to visitors making it an ideal weekend offbeat getaway.

Holy Prashar lake temple
Holy Prashar lake temple

The Prashar lake is at altitude of 2740 meters above the sea level. The region around the lake is popularily known as Kamrunag valley. The Lake has three stories Pagoda style wooden temple at one side with blue water Prashar Lake at the right. It is said that Maharishi Prashar meditated at this point. The Lake is considered to be auspicious for hindus in the region with its depth unknown.

The Prashar lake is surrounding by snow clad mountains on two sides with river Beas flowing on the southern side. The Prashar lake is middle of lush green meadow with depth unknown. It is said that a 30 meter pine tree once fell into the lake and got disappeared, hinting the depth to be a mystery. One can take a holy dip in the lake and visit the temple.

THE TEMPLE:

Prashar lake wooden temple
View of Temple at Prashar lake.

 

The Prashar Lake has three stories wooden pagodas type temple with wooden carving all around it. It is considered to be a holy place for people in hills. The priest present here is a rajput not a brahmin. Probably the story goes that the King was not happy with the priest and appointed his Rajput priest to show his power over the temple. The Temple has old images of god displayed and saint Prashar took his divinity from this point. The temple is beautifully made with wooden pillars and typical Kullu style carvings on its wall and pillar.

Prashar temple wooden walls carving.
Prashar temple wooden walls carving.

One can pay his respect and ask for wish to come true. The unique part I liked about the temple is the priest gave me raw strands of rice. I was asked to make a wish and then count the rice in my hand. If the count is even my wish will be granted else the wish is not granted. The priest gave offer prayer on your behalf to saint Prashar and perform small ritual of Tilak. The prasad is baked sweet rice and the kids are quite excited to have them.

THE LAKE:

View of Prashar lake and temple
View of Holy Prashar lake and stone mounds of faith around it.

 

Prashar lake is a beautiful blue water lake ,beside the ancient temple. The lake is oval in size with its depth unknown. The lake has a floating grass island which keep on changing its position. In summer the floating grass body is at different end and in winter it is in different end. One can take a holy dip in the freezing water of lake. Many local performs the ritual of having dip and then visit the temple. The depth is not known as there was a 30 meter pine tree disappeared in the lake and is considered to be a deep water body. The lake is frozen in winter and can be explored on its circumference.

The primary source of water is through rains and Glacial ice which melts into the lake. The lake water does not have a out source. The water is clean and full of minerals. the fishes can be seen at one end of the lake while walking along the periphery of the lake.

there is an popular act of faith in the area. The visitor aspiring to make their house visit the temple for wish. If they react the stone pebble structure as shown above their wish will come true. India is full of acts of faith and this one is a sweet one to know. The lake attract people from all faiths. As an offering visitors put coins, silver and coins into lake to pay their homage to Saint Prashar.

ORIENTATION:

Prashar lake is 49 Kms from hill town of Mandi. The road leading towards Jogindernager from Mandi divert towards right side to Baggi village. Road leading towards famous IIT campus Mandi further goes upto Prashar Lake. From Baggi the road is narrow and muddy. The road is built right up to Prashar lake temple premises. The aspiring trekkers can trek from starting from Baggi village to Prashar Lake. The trail goes with the river stream upstream and traverse through pine forest and finally opens into meadows of Kamrup valley.

AIRPORT: Nearest Airport is Bhuntar. Nearest commercial airport is Chandigarh. One can take bus ride or Taxi towards Kullu Manali and divert from Mandi towards Prashar lake.

Rail Head: Nearest broad gauge is Ropar and Chandigarh. On narrow gauge Jogindernagar is the closest. I would recomend Chandigarh to reach Prashar by rail and then take a taxi or a Bus to Mandi.

Road: The Prashar can be easily reached by road and it is the most practical and convenient way to explore the region. All buses going towards Kullu/Manali from major towns of north India croses Mandi. One can get down at Mandi and can take a bus, jeep or Taxi towards Baggi village.

If travelling by personal car/ transport one can drive right upto Prashar lake and the drive is easy with lots of sight seeing enroute.

Google Map of Prashar lake:

Driving Directions from Delhi to Prashar Lake:

Prashar lake it at distance of 500km from Delhi and it takes around 11 hours to reach. The road condition is good with major town of Kurukshetra, Ambala,Ropar, Bilaspur,Sundernagar and Mandi enroute.

Below is the Google map direction of Prashar lake.

Driving direction to Prashar Lake from Chandigarh:

The Prashar lake is at distance of 315 km and it takes around 7 hours 45 mins to reach from Chandigarh.

Driving directions from Amritsar to Prashar Lake:

The distance from Amritsar to Prashar Lake is 347 km and drive time is around 8 hours 50 mins.

MY JOURNEY:

My journey to Prashar lake started from Amritsar being my home town.

Stone pebbles around Prashar lake
View of Stone pebbles mounds around Prashar Lake

 

To visit Prashar Lake by car or by trek was in my mind for quite some time. Each time I used to cross Mandi to go to Manali or Kullu area I used look at the hills around Mandi figuring out here some where would lie the holy Prashar Lake.

It was last year in April I got the opportunity to travel upto the lake while returning from Tirthan Valley.

We started early in the morning and drove towards Mandi from Tirthan valley and Great Himalayan national park GHNP in Kullu. We crossed Tirthan river to reach Aut on Manali highway.Hitting River Beas along the highway we crossed Pandoh dam and reached Mandi. As we returning from Tirthan valley the route reversed. At first river Tirthan was giving us the company and finally replaced by River Beas. We left river Beas at mandi and took the road towards Pathankot/ Palampur from here crossing the bridge over the river. After driving for 15 mins we took a right turn leaving Mandi Pathankot national highway towards IIT campus, Mandi. The road further ahead from Campus leads to village Baggi. We reached the village and stopped for some snacks and tea. The place offered last point to fill the ration and utilities as there was no shop ahead. After having our tea and getting oriented with the area we continued our tourney up towards Prashar lake. The trek route starts from Baggi and follows a more linear trail.

We had decided to reach Prashar by car and continued driving upwards. the road became muddy and narrow from here. The climb was gradual and picturesque. The valley was going down and the snow clad mountain were getting closer to us. The pir panjal range and dhauladhar ranges was getting more visible as we headed up. The route was full of dense pine forest and himalayan flora. We came across shepherd huts enroute and finally the roads opened into lush green meadows. The first concrete building just before Prashar lake was PWD guest house on left and forest rest house on right. We drove further ahead and parked our vehicle on the road. There was a small trail going right upto Prashar lake and the temple which we followed.

OUR WELCOME TO THE TEMPLE:

On reaching temple we came across a group of young boys and girls who had come from neighbouring town to pay homage to Rishi Prashar Muni. They were dancing in a group on a local folk song. We excited to see them and were welcome by them to dance with them. The dance was simple leg movements in a line with hands on each other shoulder. the dance was rhythmic and sweet. We joined the group and tried copying the steps. This was our welcome a warm one and innocent.

Prashar Temple wooden carvings
Wooden carvings on ancient Prashar temple.

 

We went to the temple and sat with the priest. His name was Tilak Raj and we asked about the genesis of the temple. The priest was full of stories and ancient folk. He gave us the prasad made of baked sweet rice. An interesting thing we witness here was random Prasad of uncooked rice granules. The priest hands over the rice pieces on your palm and if the total count of rice pieces are 3,5,7 it is considered lucky and ashirwad of Rishi Prashar. Luckily I got count of 5.

After talking to the priest and taking a look around the Prashar temple we decided to retire in our booked Forest rest house. On closer look we realised there were wooden rooms right next to the temple and lake and enquired about them. We found the rooms can be taken with permission of the priest and we decided to stay right with the temple.

THE EVENING STROLL AROUND THE TEMPLE:

We decided for a stroll around the Prashar lake and the temple . The walk was enthralling and gave us a better idea of the area around and the landscape around the Lake and the Temple. While taking the walk we realised the golden hours( sunset) has started. The atmosphere got lit up with golden light and fine aura of sun and the mountain with temple and lake at our back. We decided to capture the sun into the camera and laid our tripod . After few minutes i started playing with the settings on my DSLR camera. The sun, clouds, mountains and sky were giving a perfect composition of photograph. The results are below.

Photography at Prashar Lake and Temple:

Clouds and Sky at Prashar Lake Temple
Evening sky at Prashar Lake
Photography at Prashar Lake Temple
Photography at Prashar Lake
Sunset at Prashar Lake Temple
Sunset at Prashar Lake Temple
Twilight sky at Prashar lake temple photography
Twilight sky at Prashar lake temple photography

Dancing clouds on Prashar Lake
Dancing clouds on Prashar Lake

NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY AT PRASHAR LAKE TEMPLE:

It was getting dark and we decided to look for shop around Prashar lake for having dinner. We were carrying our tents aswell but did not pitched it as wind was hard and the room we got in temple offered to us was a better option. We decided to rest in comfort instead of tent. While walking around we found a tent already pitched by some traveller. The campsite at dark was exciting thing to watch.

Campite at Prashar Lake during night
Our Tent camp site at Prashar lake at night

The Tent at night was glowing in the dark with the backdrop of Sky and Stars. Seeing the stars and tent the idea of Night photography came in my mind. I asked my friend to go inside the tent and light the torch meanwhile I set my camera tripod. I placed my camera on the tripod and started fidling with the setting on my DSLR. The result of the camera was too exciting. Night Photography at Himalayas is always my favourite activity. The Himalayas, the tent, the night sky, the stars and the Prashar lake what a deadly composition of night photography.

I started playing with my camera shutter to get the desired results. Though the time was right to capture the milky way or the galactic plane at the backdrop but the Stars were giving a serene cover to the composition.

Night Sky at Prashar lake
Night Sky at Prashar lake
Twilight sky at Prashar lake camp site
Twilight sky at Prashar lake camp site

After the fulfilling shoot of the tent and night sky at Prashar lake we went for our Dinner. The dinner was made by a local shop and had basic food to offer. After the long day drive and trek the rice dal and chapati was so fulfilling as if we had three course meal.

The Camp Bonfire:

After our meal we came across a young group from Delhi having a bon fire and joined them for some warmth and fun. The gathering was young and full of josh. At first, we being middle aged were skeptical to join the group but the youngsters really welcomed us with open heart. This what mountain does to us. we all become one , no boundaries and inhibitions just the nature and humans.

We started talking about the mountains and end up singing some good old songs from Bollywood. The evevining got charged up with music, bonfire and chit chats, reminded me of our college outings and fun. We talked to youngsters and were trying to understand how does the young guys and girls think about the life and aspirations these days. We made a good friend called Nitin Ahuja and his cousin from Delhi. It was a marvellous evening full of josh and music with participation from all levels.

For the night we came down to Temple premises and settled in the room adjoining the temple. Day has come to an end we retired immediately as tiredness was felt by our middle aged bodies.

THE STORY:

Every time I visit a town or mountain in Himalayas a question always crops in my mind. How beautifully human co exist with nature with minimal requirements and desires. We coming from Urban cities can barely imagine how despite all odds human can be happy and contended in hills and live a peaceful healthy life. The quality of life these guy live is far better and pure with no glamour and show off. These guys in hills eat good, breath good and spend good time with co mates and humility is very much part of their routine behaviour. God and beliefs are integral part of their life style and they get energy to keep moving from the same. The question comes What is the right way? Ours the urbanities or the Basic mountain life? This question would always be difficult to answer and may vary person to person.

Does modernisation of life is the right way forward? if you have any opinion on the same do comment below. I ll be happy to read your views and share mine with you.

THE LEGEND:

The legend of Prashar lake temple says lots of interestings mythical stories. On asking from locals and priest there were different stories we came across.

One legend says the Rishi Prashar muni use to meditated under a small tree here. On seeing this the avatar of god on earth was impressed and the wooden structured temple was created for him. The place got popular with passing time and people started visiting the Rishi Prashar Muni to seek his blessings. The place has miraculous powers and soon got famous among the locals.

The second legend says Pandawas were crossing this place after Mahabharata along with there deity Kamrunag. They stopped at the mountain peak for a while. The Kamrunag deity liked the place for its isolation and peace that he decided to stay here for rest of his life. The Bheem one of the Pandawas hit the mountain peek with his elbow and the Lake was appeared. The lake serve the water requirements for the Deity. The valley today is known as KAMRUNAG Valley.

Interestingly as all our Indian mythology are full of imagination and inspiration. Prashar lake temple also live upto to the excitement and mythical journey into the past.

 

PLACES AROUND:

The Prahar Lake is at height and their are few places around it.

TUNGA MATA TEMPLE:

There is a day trek from Prashar lake to Tunga Mata which one can do in a day. You can start early in the morning and return the same day back to Prashar lake. The view of mountains and ridges are breathtaking and entice trekkers with its magnificent surroundings.

MANDI:

A big commercial town of Himachal on banks of river Beas. It is the centre point of Himachal and all regions of Himachal pradesh can be reached from this point.

BAROT:

A small ancient town towards Jogindernagar highway. The Kullu valley in ancient times was reached from this place on mules and on foot due to absence of highway/ road. Now the town has lost its glory with time. The place is famous for Trout fish farming and river valley.

KULLU:

The district headquarter Kullu is few kms away from Mandi and can be reached in two to three hours. The place is commercial town of Himachal and gateway point to ancient and forbidden places of  Himachal Pradesh.

IIT MANDI:

Recently the campus of Indian Institute of Technology has come up in Mandi. The campus lies on way to Prashar lake from Mandi town. The campus is beautifully made in lap of nature with river stream flowing along the campus.

ITINERARY:

The itinerary we followed for Prashar Lake Temple was as per our route back from Tirthan valley and back to Amritsar.

One can replace the same with their own as per your convenience.

  1. DAY 1: Tirthan valley to Prashar lake temple: We started early from Tirhan and drove towards Mandi. Reaching Prashar lake by Late afternoon. Stayed overnight at Prashar lake.

2. Day 2: Prashar lake to Amritsar. We started by 10 in the morning and reached Amritsar by evening.

 

On another trip exclusive trip to Prashar I followed the below Itinerary.

  1. Day 1: New Delhi to Prashar lake Temple: Started early at 6 am from New Dlhi by car. Reached Prashar Lake by evening . Stayed over night at Prashar At our camp site.

2. Day 2: Prashar lake: Had a  leisure morning and explored area around Prashar Lake. One can go to Tunga Mata Temple trek and can come back the same day to Prashar Lake. The trek is 4-5 hours one side.

3. Day 3: Prashar lake to New Delhi: We started early in the morning from Prashar Lake and reached Delhi by 7 pm in the evening.

CLIMATE & CLOTHING:

The climate is very exciting at Prashar Lake. The night are cold and day is pleasant in summer. The phenomenon of wind chill can be experienced all year round. Wind chill make you feel chilly while no drop in the temperature.

Prashar lake receive good rains in monsoons and the place become even more exciting in monsoon with green mountains and clouds all around. The Prashar temple becomes a temple in the clouds during monsoon months.

Winter are cold and snowy. The place receive snowfall in December and January which last till March. The place become inaccessible in month of January due to snow. One can take a winter trek to reach this place during the winter months.

You need to carry a wind cheater and a jacket whenever you are visiting the place. Carrying a rain cover and protection for self and equipment is highly recommended as the weather is usually unpredictable in hills.

FACTS:

Few facts about Prashar Lake trek and temple.

The place is now accessible by motor able road right upto the lake. One can optionally take a trek from Baghi village to reach the lake on foot.

The place has gives you a 360 degree view of the valley and mountains around and offer a serene peaceful destination to stay and pay homage to Rishi Prashar Muni. One can plan a weekend trip from Delhi or from any other place in north India.

Accommodation is easily available in the temple and the shops around the Lake with basic bedding.

No attach toilet is present in any of the rooms around the Lake. The place has a public toilet for Men and women which is generally clean and hygienic.

PWD and forest rest house offer rooms for traveller only if pre booked from Mandi. The rest house are clean and do provide attach toilets.

USEFUL LINKS:

  1. Prashar lake Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prashar_Lake
  2. Himachal Pradesh: http://himachal.nic.in/en-IN/
  3. Mandi: http://himachal.nic.in/index.php?lang=1&dpt_id=199

 

FINAL WORDS:

The serenity and peace one experience at Prashar lake can not be scribbled in words. The place positivity and aura can only be experienced. The ideal place for weekend getaways and connecting with nature along with blessings of Rishi prashar muni.

Few of the rare place to offer Mountains, trees, Water and Blessing at the same point.

I will definitely like to revisit this place with my friends and family again.

A must visit place in mountains of Himachal pradesh.

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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