After a long wait of more than a year, it was time to kickstart Encircling the Earth, and by visiting Prashar Lake, the start couldn’t have been better!!! All that we understood before starting out was that this place sits in the lap of the Dhauladhar mountain range and is a well-kept secret in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. Once we were here, the best way we would like to describe this place is by calling it ‘The Mystical eye of nature with a moving eyeball’.
Base Village- BAGI
Day 0: 22.01.2021
After having spent our half day in offices, we started from Delhi towards Ropar (Rupnagar) where we stayed over for a night at my in-laws place.
Day 1: 23.01.2021
Ropar (Rupnagar) -> Bharatgarh -> Kiratpur Sahib -> Swarghat -> Bilaspur -> SunderNagar -> Mandi -> Bagi
Distance: 196 kms
Time: 6 hours
We packed our stuff and started from Ropar (Rupnagar), Punjab in our car, Hyundai i20. We started at 6 AM and reached Bagi at 11:35 without taking any break in between. Just to let you know we are a family of three with our lovely 6-year-old daughter, Sara!
Few important things to note:
- Google Maps says to take right from Bharatgarh and take the following route:
Bharatgarh -> Raipur -> Swarghat route. Google suggested route has road conditions really bad, off the highway and full of heavy traffic. We strongly advise avoiding this route as suggested by Google.
- There is another place named Baggi in Himachal Pradesh near Sundernagar. Please note this isn’t the place you are intending to go to!!! The actual ‘Bagi’ one would need to visit is: https://goo.gl/maps/3UzgscvvuT42bYNw8
After reaching Bagi, we parked at Kishna Café and met Kishna, owner of the Café. We had aloo paranthas with butter and it was quite a feast for the entire family.
Kishna introduced us to Raj who was going to be our guide for this trek to Prashar Lake and be with us for the day and next.
Final Destination – Trek to Prashar Lake
There are multiple routes to reach Prashar Lake from Bagi with 2 trekking routes:
- Route 1 is generally taken by villagers and follows the riverbed and so is an easier route with a gradual ascent.
- Route 2 is to start from Bagi, and after about 2 kms trekking, there is a diversion from Bara and you head straight into the jungle and reach the Prashar Lake after trekking for another 5.5 kms, see the red line on the map below (total 7.5 kms).
- Route 3 is from Bagi to Krishna Campsite, which is situated around 2 kms ahead of Prashar Lake. This is a moderate level trek and shown on the map below with a total trekking distance of 8.3 kms. This route is more suited to the families like us travelling with kids and would like to start exploring the world of trekking!
- Route 4 is by road; you can drive from Bagi to Prashar Lake. The total distance is 19 kms and shall take you around 1.5 hours considering the steep accent and curvy path on the hills.
We took Route 3 as described above and shown below:
The trek is broken into three parts:
Part 1 (0 – 2.7 kms) -Easy
The first 2 kms of the trek are easy. You would mainly move along on a well-laid mud road with few shallow water crossings. Another 700m of easy stony path and you reach Bagi School where you get to refill your water bottles. This is the only water station throughout the trek, so please bear in mind, to refill your bottles here for further ascent. And to say the least, the water in the mountains is tantalizing, pure and very tasty!
Part 2 (2.7 kms – 6.3 kms) – Moderate
This is a part of the trek where you start using the trekking sticks/poles considering the steep ascent and you will find yourself on all fours couple of times. You’ll be walking in the jungle throughout, on loose rocks, steep trails, but as you move higher, the views are not just panoramic but awesome! You will find yourself stopping often to catch your breath. But one look at the valley behind will surely make you feel proud and timid at the same instance. Sara did find it a little challenging, but a hint of having covered ‘x’ kms would pump her up and dump all the exhaustion.
When we started, Raj, our guide mentioned that usually the trek would take 4-4.5 hours with adults but with kids, it may take 6-6.5 hrs to reach the campsite. We started at 12:30 and the weather was predicted to be bad in the evening, we took only 1 major break after 5 kms, where Sara had her lunch around 3 PM. We were in no rush right from the beginning as Raj had remarked that starting at 12:30 was quite decent.
Enroute, Raj also encouraged her, and a real boost came when he made a video mentioning that in his last 4 years of working as a guide, he had never seen any 6-year-old kid doing so well at trekking. Subsequently, we did not take any major breaks but rested for a couple of minutes at few points to catch some breath.
Part 3 (6.3 kms – 8.1 kms) – Easy
This part is easy, and the views here are quite awesome. You get to see not just the Prashar forest all around, but also the mountain where the ‘Mystical Eye’ rests, yes, the Prashar Lake! We stopped for around 5-10 mins to take few pics and have a quick break to snack up a little. This part of the trek is on a well-laid road. Sara was tired by now, but luckily a dog accompanied us and she got to feed the dog the leftover paranthas on the go!
Part 4 (Last 150 m)- Difficult
The last 10 mins of the trek were quite difficult and scary! We had two options – either to continue doing moderate hiking which would take long or take the steep path to cut on time. Based on how Sara was trekking, we, in discussion with Raj decided to take the steep path. And we were glad we made the right choice. Once we reached at the top, the feeling, the advent was quite exhilarating.
We saw a beautiful, levelled ground with 2 campsites. The whole set up was awesome.
Point to note: There are no shops or eating joints whatsoever during the entire trek for refreshments!
There were mainly two kinds of tents – 4 people tents/family tents and 2 people tents/couple tents. They also have 3 rooms available at the campsite out of which one room is reserved for the staff/guide. We asked Raj about the rooms and he informed us that both the options to choose from are available and in case if someone is discomforted by the tent idea (first timers) after having reached, they can be shifted to the rooms. There was a kitchen where the staff would cook food for the tourists and a place in the open and outside the kitchen for the bonfire.
We reached Campsite at 5 PM and Raj did mention that it was a commendable job for a kid to complete the entire trek in 4.5hrs. Once here, the staff (Devender and Raj) immediately lit the bonfire for us outside the kitchen. Fortunately, we were the only tourists for the day at Camp. In another 30 mins, the wind started blowing fiercely and by 6 PM it started snowing. Raj had predicted that it would snow in the evening and he was spot on!
We had Maggi/pakora/tea while sitting around the bonfire. The temperature quickly dropped and became very cold, but Sara was thrilled to see snow and walked around in snow enjoying it to the fullest.
We were given the family tent with sleeping bags and 4 blankets. They had mattresses tucked inside the tent for the visitors. Considering we had never slept in sleeping bags, we asked Raj for more blankets instead of sleeping bags. He gave us a total of 7 blankets and opened one of the rooms in case we would like to shift any time. Trekking does not come with niceties of the city life, so we decided to stay inside the tent for the night. We huddled & cuddled together like puppies, wore all woollens we had but still we couldn’t evade the cold! Sadly, we could not get a sound sleep the entire night. The decision to give away sleeping bags was actually a bad decision. Sara also complained about the pain in her feet and right leg, so we took turns to comfort her, press her feet and left leg couple of times. If it were discomforting for us, we knew it would be a lot more difficult for Sara, so we decided to comfort her the most entire night.
Point to note:
- Do make use of the Sleeping bags! They really prove handy.
- Do carry Crocin/Paracetamol for kids as SOS.
- Do carry a hot water bottle to keep yourself warm at night!
Day 2: 24.01.2021
I woke up at 6:30 in the morning and ventured out to see the most beautiful view ever, ‘Winter Wonderland’ of India. Everything was White! The purest form of White! I woke up Raghav, and he quickly put on his jacket & shoes and came out while Sara was peacefully sleeping at last!
We did not feel cold, in fact, with luck favoring us, we felt blessed to see snow all around us. We took as many photographs as we could click, played in the snow, and let nature romanticize with us.
At 8 we woke up Sara and once she saw the outside view, she got very excited and hurriedly looked for her gloves, shoes, and sweater to see the fairyland coming to life from her books. She asked Raghav to take her photographs in various poses. We played in the snow, made snowballs, and hit each other. With the entire staff and Raj sleeping, the whole place belonged to us!
Later, Raj mentioned that we need to start latest by 9:30 AM to reach Prashar Lake. With every drop frozen, the only water available is in 10-litre water containers that are refilled by staff, and water is extremely cold that it would numb your fingers in a second and after a while, they would start paining. It was quite a task to use the washrooms, clean the bum, etc. I stuck to using wet wipes. We had delicious aloo paranthas with tea before starting towards Prashar Lake, which was an easy 2km trek.
We thanked Almighty for how lucky we are to see the place in brown & green on one day and crystal white on another!
Enroute, we saw the Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal range. And it was a sight to behold. We stopped at multiple places to take pictures and play with snow. We covered the easy 2 kms trek in 1 hour as we stopped multiple times to take pics. Enroute, we also witnessed the paws of the snow leopard!
Time to gaze into the Eye – Prashar Lake
It is believed that Sage/Rishi Prashar meditated on the banks of this lake, hence it is named Prashar Lake. As per Wikipedia, Bhima, one of the Pandava brothers, had created the lake. After the Mahabharat war, the Pandavas were returning with Lord Kamrunag. When they reached this place, Kamrunag loved the tranquil surroundings and decided to live here forever. So, Bheem (the strongest of the lot) rammed his elbow on one of the mountains and created a big dent in the land. This dent became Prashar Lake.
Raj informed us that the floating island inside the lake never touches the edges of the lake. Only when Lord Ganesha idol is supposed to be placed on the island as a ritual, the island meets the edges and once the entire Puja/prayer is completed by the local Pundits, it moves and goes back. For us, the island looked like an eyeball moving all over the white part of the eye, Sclera!
We visited the Prashar Rishi Temple. It’s a beautiful temple and the architecture is quite stunning. After paying homage, we felt hungry and decided to have lunch at one of the local shops at top of the lake. We had freshly made Rajma/Red kidney beans rice and tea there. The dhabas serve the basic food of rajma rice/dal rice/Maggi and tea!
Raj was kind enough to make the snowman for Sara here.
After enjoying the weather and the scenic views of the Pir Panjal/Dhauladhar range for few hours, we decided to trek down. Considering it snowed last night and the whole path was slippery, so Raj advised us not to trek through the jungle, but to hit the road and walk down for 6kms where we would be able to catch a Government operating bus which shall take us back to our starting point – Bagi! The buses would generally come to the top, but since the path was slippery owing to snow, it stopped at the stop 6kms downhill only. We trekked down for 6 kms (easy downhill road), to catch the bus at 1:30 PM Another bus leaves at 3:30 P.M. The bus dropped us at Bagi at 2:40 PM.
We had lunch at Krishna Café (Rajma – Roti), paid for the stay and guide, and bid goodbye with happy hearts to start our journey to the next destination – Tirthan Valley.
We incurred a total expenditure of Rs. 10,190 for 2 days one night camping in Prashar/Bagi as detailed below:
|Cost Incurred (Delhi-Prashar-Delhi)||Amount|
|Petrol/fuel for 972 kms (486 one way from Delhi)||4,930|
|Stay at Prashar Camp including lunch dinner breakfast||2,500|
|Guide Cost 1000*2 days||2,000|
|Food at Prashar Lake||160|
|Poncho and Stick Rent 50 each*3 people *2 days||600|
Do carry cash as mobile network/interest is intermitted and irregular and locals prefer cash.
You can contact Krishna (in Bagi: +91-7807090086) and Raj (+91-8219641220). You can also find Raj on Instagram with the username ‘prashar_lake_trekking_camp_raj’).
Written by Minal, edited by Raghav