One of the most alluring treks I have been to!
Blue lake, green mountain ranges and mystic valley; as soon as I arrived at Prashar the heart was filled with a very warm feeling despite the cold weather. The lake is so beautiful and the trek is equally breathtaking. We passed through the forest and several villages to reach here and while the trek is not that difficult, but we did face some challenges which I will talk about below.
The name Prashar is there for a reason. It has been said that the sage Prashar used to meditate here. Due to which the lake is considered as sacred and there is a temple as well dedicated the Prashar Rishi. The lake is surrounded with fence and there is a tiny door from where you have to enter to camp here. Further, right in the middle of the Prashar lake, you will also find a small island that floats. Read along to find about all the details to reach here.
Prashar lake lies near the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh from where you can see the Dhauladhar ranges. The Lake lies almost 50 KMs North of Mandi at an altitude of 8,900 feet. It is one of the most picturesque sites to be found near Mandi to which one can reach by either trekking through the forest, or taking a bus that leaves from Mandi to Prashar lake at the specific time.
Best Time to Go
Prashar is an all season trek and can be done in any weather. Depending on what you want to witness and how much cold you can bear, plan the trek accordingly.
During summers and monsoons, you will find greenery all around the lake with flowers blooming, however, during the winter season the entire lake is surrounded with dense snow and in fact, the temperature goes to a minimum which makes the lake freeze as well.
You can see snow starting December that lasts till mid of March. The lake freezes during these months but dazzles in the others.
How to Reach
You need to reach Mandi first to reach Prashar lake. There are many buses from Delhi that leaves for Mandi. You can either take private buses or government ones (HRTC), that can be easily booked online or you can directly book it from ISBT Kashmiri Gate.
The distance between Delhi and Mandi is about 400 KMs and takes about 10 hours. Try to reach Mandi by 7 AM so that you can catch the bus that leaves directly to Prashar if you do not want to trek.
The bus that leaves from Mandi to Prashar is at 7.45 AM via Bagi, however, if you prefer trekking to the place, you can get down at Bagi village from where you can start by going to the forest area to reach the lake.
The trek is moderate and would take about three to four hours to cover the entire distance of 7.5 KMs. Remember, that the trails are not clearly marked. In such cases, consult the villagers to show you the path.
Day 1 – Mandi to Prashar
Reach Bhagsu village first which is an hour ride. From here, you need to trek for another 7.5 KMs or 5 hours. You will cross many steep patches through the forest.
Reach Mandi early in the morning and take a cab or a bus to Bhagsu Village. Have breakfast here and pack some food and necessary items here as you will not be able to find any shops or eating outlets. Talking about the trail, you would first have to walk in an open ground that will lead you to the forest area. The trail inside the forest is quite steep and after a while of trekking, you will reach an open ground from where you will be able to see the Dhauladhar ranges.
Further, from here you will again enter an oak forest where the trail becomes steep again for almost a KM. Post this, you will enter an open ground again from where you will be able to see the motorable road that leads till Prashar Lake.
At most, you will reach the lake by 2 PM. Rest and have lunch here. There are tiny shops that serve food and water here. Further, you can find camping grounds right next to the lake. The views are outstanding and you will be able to see many mountain ranges such as Mukar Beh, Manali peak, Friendship peak up here.
After reaching, soak in the view and relax. You can also go to the top of the lake to see the sunset today which is really beautiful as you are able to see the mountains at a distance with a bird’s eye view of the lake.
Day 2 – Prashar to Mandi
Today, you would have to trek down to Mandi using the same route or you can also take a bus that will drop you off to Mandi directly. If you are planning to descend on foot, it will take about 3 hours till Bhagsu village from where you would have to catch the bus or a cab to Mandi. The bus from Prashar for Mandi leaves at 1.30 PM.
The cost of the bus from Delhi to Mandi varies between INR 600 to INR 1,700. Depending upon your comfort and budget you can opt the buses between these amounts. Volvo’s cost will be higher than the cost of ordinary HRTC buses.
Further, if you have to reach Bhagsu village the bus will cost only INR 30. However, the cab will cost about INR 600 that can be shared depending on the number of people travelling with you.
Cost of the Camp
Now, you can either carry your own tents that will reduce the cost to the minimum, or take a tent on rent from Mandi itself.
The cost of the tent is somewhere about INR 300-500 per person. However, if you choose to stay in the guesthouse instead, which is near the Prashar lake, it will cost you INR 500 bucks.
Things to Pack
Since the path is very steep and if you plan to come here during winters you would have to trek in the snow. Hence, it is necessary to have good trekking shoes with you! If you are planning to trek in winters or monsoons, do carry waterproof shoes with you.
The trek to Prashar lake is through meadows and forest areas and thus, you will not be able to find any water sources on the way. It is of utmost importance to carry at least two litres of water with you while on the trek.
Do check the temperature before leaving for Prashar and carry jackets in accordance to that. If you are trekking here during the winters, have a fleece jacket, along with a warm jacket with you. The temperature at night drops largely and is always better to have an extra pair of layers to keep yourself warm.
Backpack (20-30 litres)
Since Prashar Lake is a weekend trek, a 20-30 litres’ backpack will suffice. Also, do make sure the straps are sturdy and the backpack has a rain cover with it.
Challenges That We Faced
Yep! You will find many leeches if you are trekking here during the monsoon season. Since you would have to cross the forest area and mud is wet due to which leeches and earthworms are a prominent site. You can avoid them either by taking a bus or carrying salt with you to pluck them out.
Cold During the Night
The temperature drops to a large extent during the night. It is essential to have yourself layered up in warm clothes and have a good sleeping bag to ensure a good night sleep. During the trek and day time you will not feel cold at all for that matter, but at night a jacket won’t suffice.
Finding the Trail
The trail to Prashar Lake is not clearly defined and there are no guiding points to reach till here. So the challenge of walking on the correct path is tricky, but with the help of a few villagers who guided us and showed the path, we were able to complete the trek in time. So make sure to keep asking the locals on what route to take to be on the correct trail.
The mobile network is very poor, especially during the trek. You might be able to get signal in between near the mobile towers, but beyond that it is very difficult. Once you reach Prashar Lake the mobile connectivity is next to none, except for BSNL network.
If you have a BSNL network connection, connectivity won’t be an issue.
Prashar is the best weekend escape. It is one of the most picturesque sites one get to see and also seeing the distant ranges of mountains make everything worthwhile! If you are unsure about going here, do not be! The place is worthwhile.