Prashar Lake Trek in Winter

It was a cold winter’s day at around 8 O clock on 24th of January when I walked inside the Maharana Pratap Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT). Vipin along with one of his friend was waiting for me there. We had just missed the deluxe bus that we had planned to catch to go to Mandi and on wards on our winter trek to Prashar Lake. We take a Haryana state transport bus, the only option that’s left. The journey began around 9 PM.

Winter Trek to Prashar Lake

Towards Prashar Lake

The bus is well it’s a state bus with government written all over it. The rattling noise of window glasses, the torn seats, the cool wind that could not be stopped from coming inside from so many gaps and cracks and soon I am freezing cold. I take out my blanket and cover myself up. I try to sleep but the bus is rocking and its hard as it is even to sit still. The journey is adventurous too. It’s too foggy outside. I couldn’t see anything outside the window and I am scared. I wonder how the driver is managing to keep us on track. I leave my front seat and walk back to the rear. The rear seats are empty. I take my seat there. It’s like closing your eyes when you see danger approach but well I’ll take it. It’s comforting anyway as long as you don’t have to see it. Somehow time passes and after a long arduous journey we reach Mandi.

In Mandi we were joined by yet another acquaintance of Vipin. He is a teacher and a traveler too. He has walked…yes walked all the way to cross Rohtang Pass and he has done numerous trekking. We catch yet another bus from Mandi and drive toward the nearest road head that will lead us to Prashar Lake Trek. It’s a winding road that we are on and the scenery is magnificent. We are literally riding above the cloud. There are gurgling water streams, undulating mountains and lush valleys that I behold as we near the base of our trek.

Around 10 O clock in the morning we arrive at the base from where we began our winter trek to Prashar Lake. A lot of snow was expected on the trail and it will soon grow tiresome, trying, arduous, cold, wet but ultimately breathtaking, awe inspiring and mentally and spiritually uplifting.

Prashar lake Trek

A Scenic View near Prashar Lake

To be honest, the trail to Prashar Lake is tough. The gradient is quite steep and there’s fair chance that you may lose your way if you are finding your way easy. The trail is always on your right and it seldom appears like trail but it is. Just keep moving up and you are well on your way. After walking for around an hour we leave behind greenery and white sheet of snow greet us. It’s thrilling to witness that much snow. I mean it’s the first time I am doing a winter trek with this much of snow to negotiate. To make the matter worse I am wearing my woodland riding shoe which soon is wet as I negotiate knee deep snow. A word of caution: Please be very selective about the shoe that you wear if you are going on a trek. I learned on this trek how much difference they can make. I was literally unable to walk as I was going down the trail and it was painful and took quite a few days to recover.

Coming back to the trail, the fun was beginning. The entire landscape – as far as my eye could see – was carpeted with snow. There were no sign of habitations anywhere. It was tranquil and even the walk was like meditation; a different perspective. It’s amazing how traveling to new places could be so liberating, and transforming. The thoughts that they induce, the euphoria of such sights and the thoughtlessness within the thoughts. The things that you think of. The way in which you think of them. Well you gotta be traveling to understand this jabberwocky of mine.

Soon I am walking a treacherous trail. We are the first batch of trekker this day so we are making our own trail. We don’t have sticks or pole so our leg is the only thing to gauge the depth of snow. On one side there’s snow and on the other is steep gorge. It’s scary and adventurous at the same time. I could feel the adrenaline rush take over. My shoes, socks and the lower portion of denim are all soaked wet but I hardly feel the numbing cold. I am just too preoccupied in taking in the magnificent beauty of Mother Nature. What a sight it is. Surely this must what have made Kipling write “No man can live here; this place belong to gods”. There’s 180 degrees view of the snow laden Himalayan peaks as we reach the top of the trail.

Prashar Winter Trek

Prashar Lake and the Temple

Soon we reach a guest house which is abandoned at this time of the year as tourists seldom come. During winters the lake is connected via road so that one could ride all the way. But come winters and the road close down due to snowfall and thankfully so. Only travelers come around here at this time and no tourists which is why Prashar Lake trek is best undertaken in winter. And also if you are a working professional in Delhi like me trek to Prashar Lake is a weekend getaway from Delhi meaning you don’t have to take a leave to do this one.

After the first guesthouse we arrive at another one which is unoccupied but there’s a caretaker meaning we will have a warm shelter and food to eat in the cozy interiors. If you are traveling to Prashar Lake in winter make sure that you call and book the guesthouse in advance. There is nowhere else to stay unless you are camping on your own. There’s no provisions for food and water and you’ll be on your own during winters due to snow.

Prashar Lake and Temple

The Lake and the Temple: A PoV

It was upon arrival in the guesthouse that I feel the first pangs of cold. My feet are numb and my boot seems to weigh 10 kilos. Socks are wet and with snow all around it will remain so. We stuff our shoes with newspaper to dry them as best as they could. The caretaker comes with tea and it is delicious. A tea at place like that, surrounded by snow all around and teeth chattering is just wonderful. After tea and a little rest, we leave for the lake which is about 500 meters from the guest house.

We walk the snowy trail and lo and behold there’s the lake with a floating island and a temple and a few structures. It is a sight to behold. The entire place is covered with snow and devoid of people. We make the descent towards temple. It’s a beautiful temple much similar to other temples in Himachal Pradesh in terms of architecture. After spending some time at the temple we ascend towards yet another view point. The sun is out and there’s chance that we might get to dry our shoe in the sunlight.

As we reach the other top, we are blessed with yet another splendid view of the mighty Himalayas. There are distant peaks, so many, so far and so near. I just sit down, trying to take it all in. The feeling as I sit there is just indescribable. I mean words won’t justify that. It is for moments like this that you travel. A moment of joy; of bliss. A moment when you leave all your worries behind. There’s nothingness, a lightness of being, the moment when you are you and just you and nothing else matters because in this moment nothing else exist, you are just so alive.

Prashar Lake Trail

Making way towards the top of cliff at Prashar Lake

After spending something like an hour which felt like eternity we turn back. The sun is going down now and we need to make it back before it gets dark. The horizon is gold and yellow, a sight that will stay forever with me. We reach the guesthouse and have our dinner. In the night the stars are out shining brightly. It’s incredible how night appears so shiny and sparkling when you are out in the mountains. Stars might have abandoned the polluted sky of Delhi but in this abode of gods, the entire cosmos come out sparkling to pay reverence to gods and brighten their night. If only I had a tripod I could have captured Milky Way and the star trail but alas I couldn’t.

Prashar Trek

Distant Peaks of Himalayas

After a fulfilling day, it is time to sleep for tomorrow is another day. And it will be painful and most tiresome walk of my life till now for we have decided to take the path less travelled and descend from another side of the trail which is rarely taken by trekkers to Prashar Lake and the reason was obvious the other day when I had to literally drag myself for last few kilometers down the trail. But that is another tale.

Practical Information about Prashar Lake Trek in Winter

Prashar Lake lies 50 km north of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India. Along the lake is a three storied pagoda-like temple dedicated to sage Prashar. Built in the thirteenth century, legend has it that the temple was built by a baby from a single tree. The starting point in winter for the Parashar Lake trek is Thakur Hotel at Suda village, a couple of kilometers uphill from Baagi Village. The trail from here winds through a series of switchbacks through densely forested hill. This also happens to be the toughest section of the Parashar trek. After you break through the woods, a ridge leads you along due east to Prashar Lake. The ridge has majestic view of snowcapped Dhauladhar, Pir Pinjal and Kinnaur mountain ranges of Himalayas. Follow the ridge for the next two kilometers to reach the Trekkers Hut and then on to Prashar Lake.

Difficulty level

Moderate

Trek Duration

4.5 hour ascent from Thakur Hotel in Suda village a few kilometres uphill from Baagi village

Trek Distance

7.5 kilometers one way

Maximum Altitude

2655 meters

Starting Point of Trek

Thakur Hotel in Suda village a few kilometres uphill from Baagi village

Getting There

Buses ply regularly from Mandi (H.P.) to Baagi village. The last Himachal Roadways Transport Corporation (HRTC) bus stops overnight at Suda village, a few kilometers uphill from Baagi village. In winters, this is the closest you can get to the lake by public transport. Taxis to Prashar may be rented from Mandi and Kataula

Accommodation

There is a Forest Rest House and a Trekker Hut near Prashar Lake which are open in winter. These can be booked by D.F.O Mandi (+91-01905-235360) and R.F.O. Mandi (+91-01905-269485). The temple complex has a dormitary, but as of 2015 January it was in a semi completed state. However, you can ask the temple priest for a free stay at the dormitory and bedding. If you catch the last bus from Mandi to Baagi, then Thakur hotel at Suda village is your best bet. Homestay can be arranged at Baagi village

Weather

Cold during the day. Under -9 degree C at night in December and January. Could go as low as -14 with windchill

Travel Tips for Prashar Lake Trek

Carry enough water as the only water source is available at the starting of trail and water will only be found once you reach the lake.

Carry dry fruits, chocolates and eatables with you. There are no shops around selling goods.

Book your stay in advance if you are not camping or the rooms are very limited and mostly booked in advance.

Be selective about the shoes you are wearing and carry sunglasses and sun screen lotion if you are doing winter trek to Parashar Lake.

Cost of Prashar Lake Trek

Parashar Lake could be done in as less as a 1000 bucks if you are traveling from bus from Delhi and camping by yourself. Tour operators charge as much as 5K to 7K for Parashar Lake trek. Even if you are traveling by bus from Delhi to Parashar Lake and staying in the guest house which costs 500-700 per night and which could easily accommodate 3-4 person, the cost won’t go above 2000 per person including food.

Weekend Trek to Prashar Lake

Prashar Lake trek is a weekend trek from Delhi. It means that if you have a Saturday off, you could easily do the trek by catching a bus from Delhi on Friday night, start the trek on Saturday morning and be back by Monday morning to join your office as I did.

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13 thoughts on “Prashar Lake Trek in Winter

  1. Amit Chopra

    Hi Nikhil

    Nice information. I with my 3 other friends are planning for Parashar Lake on weekend of 26-27-28 Jan 2018. Please suggest as this is all of our’s first trekking experience. I have travelled a lot driving through SANGLA, CHITKUL etc, but trek will be first time.

    Please let me know about Snow conditions and things to take in the end of January. Rest all is very good explained in your article.

  2. Mickey Agarwalla

    Hi Nikhil

    Me and 4 of my other friend s will be at Mandi during New Year time. Would request you to acknowledge us if it will be possible for us to visit Pashar lake at that point of time & what all be required by us.

  3. Anoop Singh

    Hey Nikhil,

    We are also going to Parashar Lake on 4th Feb. I am assuming the weather would be harsh. We are 3 adults and a Max(Which is Dog-Labrador). This would be on Maxs’ first trek and snow trip so we are more worried about him cause its a jungle and all sort of animals roam around.

    I tried calling up DFO Mandi on the no. you mentioned above, they responded they are not taking any bookings up till Apr, 17.

    Are there any alternate places to stay nearby. I will also be carrying tents just to save our day in case anything goes wrong.

    Would love to hear your inputs on this.

    Thanks

    1. Nikhil Chandra Post author

      Man I must tell you that it is a very risky proposition with the kind of weather pattern that we are seeing this year. There won’t be any water readily available for drinking and you’d also need to carry the food provision with you. If the caretaker is there at the DFO may be he may cook for you and provide you with the rooms but that is not guaranteed. At least ask the DFO if the caretaker will be there or not. In such extreme weather may be even temple’s caretaker won’t be there which means you won’t get blankets and all. But if no body is there, you can pitch your tent inside temple complex coz it will be thick blanket of snow elsewhere. Not that I am saying that you can’t pitch your tent there. You can obviously do that if you have proper tent and sleeping bag to counter sub zero temperature.

      The only alternate to staying at Prashar is Thakur Hotel in Suda Village which by the way is the starting point of the trek. Prashar is a kind of trek that is very difficult to do in a day as trails are hard to find, scarcity of water enroute and no supply of food at the lake itself.

      You might want to check if indiahikes or other such trekking companies are organizing a trip around that time. It would really help if you find mates along the trail especially if you are a first timer. Don’t forget to carry sunglasses and walking stick while you trek.

      I hope this helps.

      Let me know if you have any more questions or need any clarification.

      I did the trek on 26th January but that time of year, weather was quite favorable. Only thing I missed was sunglasses as it made me colorblind. Too much reflection of sun rays from snow. Keep it in mind.

      All the best!
      Nikhil

  4. Paras turaya

    Hi Nikhil,
    How was that site for self camping? Is there any place without snow for camping or we have to camp on snow only?
    Is there any setted camps near the lake or not?

    1. Nikhil Chandra Post author

      There’s a temple by the lake. This time of the year with weather so extreme I suppose you will have to camp on snow only. Or pitch your tent inside the temple complex if the caretaker allow you to.

  5. Munish Singla

    Hi Nikhil

    I am going solo on this trek.i called to Guest house they said it’s close due to water problems so they are not taking any booking right now. I am little worry where i am gonna stay.
    Is that confirm temple will allow me to stay there , and provide proper blanket and things ??
    And is there any shop near lake where i can have some food in winter ?
    Is the trek difficult do i need carry anything else like stick or something ??
    Let me know soon, as i am going today.

    Thanks,
    Munish

    1. Nikhil Chandra Post author

      Sorry for replying late.

      Temple caretaker do provide blanket and things but weather is too extreme this year so can’t be sure about it.

      There are no shop around so whatever provision you have to buy, do so in Mandi itself.

      You need not carry any stick or so. Trek is moderate at best. Water would be very scarce so carry ample water with you.

  6. Garima

    hi Nikhil,
    Can you please tell me what kind of shoes are preferred in snow there and how to contact the guest house there.

    Thanks,
    Garima

    1. Nikhil Chandra Post author

      Any regular sport shoe will do for Prashar Trek. Rely on what you wear the most and comfortable in. If you are looking for professional shoes, try Quechua Forclaz 400 or above. But according to my experience, the sport shoe that you wear regularly is the best. I use Adidas for treks and it has not failed me. I tried Woodland boots once and I regret it always.

      You can book the rest house directly by calling D.F.O. Mandi – 01905-235360. Make sure that you pick up the relevant paper when you arrive in Mandi from the DFO office. Let me know if you require any further assistance.

      1. Vikas

        Hi Nikhil,

        Four of us are planning to go to Prashar next week.I am aware that the guest houses are not taking any travellers in during this time.We are still determined to go and plan to stay at Thakur Hotel in Suda Village if nothing works out.How scenic is the village?Are there any other alternative to stay?

        Thanks in advance,
        Vikas

        1. Nikhil Chandra Post author

          Hi Vikas,
          The thing is that you may even find Thakur Hotel in Suda Village not in operation if weather is too extreme. But yes, you will definitely find a homestay in Baggi Village. As for scenic, well the entire ride from Mandi to Baggi Village was quite scenic so was the ride from Baggi to Suda Village. However, it may happen that your bus from Mandi will drop you to Baggi Village only, from there you will have to make your own way after consulting the locals how far you can go or if Thakur hotel is operating or not. Provisions should be bought either in Mandi or Baggi itself.

          The only alternative is pitching tent and carry a sleeping bag that could get you through sub zero temperature through the night. Given the weather forecast today about snowfall in Himachal, I’d advise you to double check with local contact if any or from weather forecasting sites about the state of weather.

          I hope this help. Let me know if you require any further assistance.

          All the best,
          Nikhil

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