Prashar Lake in India: A Tranquil Beauty
When I first saw a picture of Prashar Lake I just knew I had to visit the place. And what a trip it has been! Prashar Lake is situated at the height of 2730 meters (nearly 9000 feet) in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. The lake and the temple on it are devoted to the sage by the same name. However, for us the attraction was nature.
Delhi to Mandi
Since we do not drive ourselves in the hills, the most logical thing to do was to take a bus to the town of Mandi (on the way to the popular but crowded hill station Manali) and stay there for the day. ISBT (Inter-state Bus Terminus) Kashmiri Gate, New Delhi is where we usually take a bus. The government run buses are available from inside the terminus.
One should ignore the touts who try to tell that there is some problem with the particular route you want to take and theirs’ is the only bus available.
Being summer and Indian school holidays, we could not find a seat on a Manali bus and we had to go to Chandigrah first and from there take a bus to Mandi. We started from ISBT at 10:15 p.m. and we reached Mandi at around 11:00 the next morning.
Mandi is a small town where we checked into a random hotel (called Standard Hotel). It was somewhat clean and cost us Rupees 300 (nearly 7.5 dollars) per day.
We also checked out later the bus timings for Bagi (ask for ‘Bagi near Prashar Lake’ as there is another similar sounding place called Baggi in opposite direction) and the first bus would leave at 6:00 a.m. We intended to take that bus and then trek the rest of way to the forest department guesthouse at Prashar Lake.
Booking the Guesthouse
We tried booking the forest department guesthouse at the lake from New Delhi itself by calling the office in Mandi (91-1905-235360, the number is listed on HP tourism website).
They gave us the mobile number of the DFO and said we could request him to grant us the permission. We did the needful and finally the Mandi office told us that the reservation is done or so we thought.
Mandi to Prashar via Bagi
So, the next day, we took our seats by the window at the 6:00 a.m. bus that goes via Bagi. The bus started at 6:30 and deposited us at Bagi by 8:30 in the morning. There is a Dhaba (road side food joint) where we ate bun-omelette for breakfast with tea. Right in front of it was a board pointing to the trek route to the Prashar Lake.
So, off we went after the breakfast on the trek route. We crossed a tiny stream and then the path started moving uphill. For the next 20 minutes it went gradually uphill and then for the next four hours it went steeply uphill.
Thus trudging for the next four hours we could finally see a structure that looked like a guesthouse. A few people nearby confirmed our opinion.
And now I know the reason. We started from Mandi at an altitude of 750 meters (2461 Fft.) and reached at an altitude of 2730 meters (8957 ft.) the same day at Prashar. I cannot find out the altitude of Bagi but the nearest town of Kataula is at 1380 meters (4527 ft.). Bagi must be slightly above it but not by much.
But We Booked the Guesthouse!
When we finally landed at the forest department guesthouse we had to wait for the person in-charge. We told him we had booked a room and he flatly refused it saying he had no information about it.
Part of his problem was that I do not ‘look’ married according to the Hindu tradition.
The guesthouse looks quite good in the picture and I must say the rooms (including the bathroom) are huge and largely clean. But we did not have a light in our room; only the bathroom light worked. And it took me one day (finally when the caretaker was convinced that we are married and ‘respectable’) to tell this to him.
The food was cooked on wood. And the gentleman who cooked the food would either make Curry (Dal) and rice or Chapatti and vegetables and we were OK with it, after all, it is not easy to cook on wood.
The next day I woke up early and went to the lake. Come Monday and the place was almost empty apart from the priest, canteen people and one family from a nearby village. The family asked me to take a few photographs of them and I became their unofficial photographer for the next 45 minutes!
After the photo session, for an hour or so I had the lake almost to myself and I clicked its photographs to my heart's content. One can walk around the inner circle of the lake but as it is of religious significance, one has to take off the shoes. Outside the fence one can walk with the shoes on.
Later, Sesha and I both came to the lake and enjoyed the peace and the vast open spaces around the lake. Later in the evening we climbed higher and caught the sun setting in the lake. The next day, we were turning back and we decided to hire a jeep rather than take that steep climb downwards.
On our way back we booked seats in a private Volvo bus from Mandi to Delhi and mid-way the AC broke down. The weather was quite pleasant early in the morning but the driver wanted to get the AC repaired and in the process we had reached nowhere by the time we should have been in Delhi.
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