Journey to “The Floating Island” – A trip to Prashar Lake
It was mid summers. Sun was bright, almost blinding. Trapped in sweltering days and dehydrated body, I was too lazy to get out of my home. With no plans to go anywhere, I called my cousin at my place for a sleep over. We were revisiting childhood by looking at our old photographs. Some embarrassing, some funny but mostly joyful. We were so lost in the childhood pictures that I don’t remember how much time we must have spent laughing on those.
Suddenly I got a call from my friend, he asked us out. So from a dull evening, this was surely turning into an eventful one.
We sneaked out carefully around 12 a.m, went to North Campus and met two more friends. We were mocking each other, cracking jokes until our stomachs gave up laughing. From there on, we left for a drive, no nowhere but just following the night breeze. And trust me, when we boys meet we talk just random. We discuss from sweat in the arm pits, break ups (of course) to nicknaming lizard on our wall.
The drive was smooth, rarely any traffic on roads which is rare if you have seen this part of Delhi. With Bollywood music in the background, we were driving through beautiful roads of North Campus. One road connects to the other in a way that it feels like you have stepped into a different locality altogether.
In the morning you see students rush around walking in groups, cycling, practically hijacking entire Kamla Nagar but in the night you see the real beauty of these streets where friends walk out of their hostels for Sutta and Chai. You only hear laughter around.
Out of nowhere, one of the friends sitting in the car who never stepped out of the city uttered three words, “Pahad pe chale?”
That’s it, pindrop silence.
The smile on our faces was the answer.
We booked the tickets early morning, got ready with our bagpacks and boarded a bus at night around 9 p.m. One of the four backed out, of course, no plan is a plan without this happening. But with zeal to explore, three of us were ready with our kits packed to climb The Prashar Lake trek.
It was a full night journey, we were wide awake and active. None of us slept or even closed the eyes for a nap. Entire night we kept talking with fellow passengers, listened to their stories shared our experiences and never realised when the sun came out. We reached Mandi around 7 AM. It was surprisingly still cold in summers. In this chill, it dawned upon us that in excitement we forgot the basic of all, A Route Map to Prashar Lake !
We, naive of all, were completely unaware of the transport facility in hills so asked people at the bus stop about how to reach to Bagi. That one name we remembered thankfully.
We were told that we have taken the wrong route and now have to go back a few miles.Not a good start, this is not the adventure we planned now !
But you can’t blame anyone, we never planned or read about it properly. So there was no point being angry. Though the excitement came down a bit. We were not driving ourselves that a U-turn would have saved time. We were travelling on a bus, and they have a time schedule. Never felt so wasted in life. Sigh !
Its always a good idea to think with your stomach full. And that’s what we did. Sipping a cup of tea and drooling over Maggi (you cannot not do this in mountains) we were sitting at a tea stall and exactly there we found our saviour, a bus conductor. He patiently listened to our flop plan but alas showed us the right way.
He corrected our pronunciation to call the place as ‘Buggee’ and guided us the route to Prashar Lake but also helped us in locating the bus going to Baggi. Now this is the most beautiful thing about Himachal, people genuinely care.
It took us approximately 3 hours to reach Baggi(Buggee) via Kataula which was just 60 kms away.
Well, the bus stopped. The dropping point was not alluring. Is it the right place? This question was still nudging my brain.
The flood had devastated the whole place. We were completely unaware of the news. (The bridge was broken from the starting point itself). We found two small shops open. We enquired the owner about the incident.
It was already 2.30 pm and we had no plans to look back. Call it adrenaline or madness or anger that we were real stupid people. We also got to know from him that a few people trekked there and are stuck at the lake now since they were unable to come back. We could see the trekking trail to Prashar Lake from that shop. In our hearts we wanted to go, of course we wanted to go. What is adventure without risk after all? But on second thoughts, we knew this could be inviting trouble. We could see it in front of us.
We thought for sometime and decided to climb it. Unexpectedly, a vehicle came and stopped by, it was a champion carrying vegetables and other essential commodities to go to the mountain. We were observing how they will set the way for a vehicle as big to pass.
Local lads started looking for the options available, we also kept our luggage at the shop and searched for ways to help them. We borrowed metal sheets from the nearby construction site and set them for the champion so it could cross the bridge.
And it worked!
Driver of the champion happily called us and offered us a lift. We were late for trekking and couldn’t miss this chance and the three gypsies were all set for an adventurous roller coaster drive.
I chose to sit on the roof. Clean Roads, lush green trees, fresh wind, flooded pits, sharp turns brought some pain in my bumps but that experience was to be beheld. It just took 30 minutes to reach the destination. We thanked the driver who did not take a penny from us he was genuinely a humble person. We wished each other and proceeded our own ways.
After walking about 100 meters in a beautiful small village we reached the temple. It was already evening by then. We kept our bags down, tired we laid down for on the beautiful green grass which almost felt like a puffy carpet for a few minutes.
The temple was an old three storied pagoda shaped building. Pandit ji saw us from a distance and called us inside, he greeted us very affectionately. We offered our prayers to the deity and Pandit Ji gave us Prasad to eat.
The interior of temple was capped with a roof of slate tiles and had a wealth of wood carvings and which looked like as if it was giving us some message through the words engraved in it.
On seeing our curious expressions, Pandit Ji narrated us the history of this temple. It took King Ban Sen 12 years to complete the temple construction. It was constructed in the 14th century with deodar tree wood and was dedicated to Sage Parashar (Father of Vedvyas).
It was already dark by now, we were so tired that we couldn’t move a leg anymore. We had to decide a place where we could place our camp and spend the night. Just adjacent to temple there was a small daily needs shop from where we bought biscuits and some chocolates for the night. That’s all we could manage for dinner. Alongside temple, there lay the scenic Prashar lake but we preferred to go next morning.
We met the caretaker of temple and asked him where we can set our camps. He looked at us in amusement, instead gave us an option to go inside the temple and stay in any room we want.
Woah!!! Really?? What else one could have asked at this moment.
The moment he gave us the keys we rushed towards the rooms.
Our room was just next to a group of French trekkers. They got stuck back there because of the flood. We took a nap for 2 hours and then went upstairs to a small kitchen restaurant for the dinner. Almost entire village was closed because of the tragic incident. The night was quiet and calm. We sat there with the fellow trekkers, listened to their survival stories, shared our journey, later went to our rooms and slept.
The sun came out at 5 AM, so did our alarms. We were out of our sleeping bags after a peaceful night sleep. It was freezing outside. We got ready for the Parashar Lake, the beauty we came to see all the way.
Prashar Lake is situated at height of 2730 mt. Surrounded with Dhauladhar ranges and sloppy meadows, this lake gives you the feel of heaven. The floating island in the lake keeps on revolving and changes its position in different seasons which is quite unique. The lake depth is unclear as of now, not a single diver could determine it so far. But you need special permission for a dive as it’s a fenced lake and you can’t just jump inside for fun.
Every year there is a festival in which Saints/Sadhus/Rishis from all over the country come here and meditate on the little island. There is still a descendant of Prashar family who is taking care of that stick with which Sage Prashar struck the deep hole in the lake and he can be approached at the nearby peak. It is also said the level of lake remains the same, constant, even in heavy monsoons.
We further trekked to the top of valley which was more like walking on the clouds. On the trek we found some bones, probably wild animal’s, black mushrooms ( they look beautiful ) and cows ! ( You find them everywhere). There came a point just after climbing for 20 minutes, at the top, where we sat for almost 3-4 hours in silence, meditating.
In that time we realized that the beauty of nature that you see around, it cannot be expressed in discussions. It can only be felt, experienced, be grateful and thankful for. Untouched, unexplored, hidden away from human greed. It heals you, makes you but never breaks you. It speaks a language of love, compassion and never of hate. The nature is mother to every single living being on this planet, not just humans who have barred their territories.
Those few hours of silence and admiration, decoded a lot inside. We went to the top seeking adventure, we trekked down as obliged.
A day well spent in the valley, we were back at the temple roaming on lush green grass without shoes. We had dinner with the French group and planned for the next day together.
We woke up at 6 AM sharp next morning. All of us got our breakfast packed and trekked to the Tunga Mata temple. The trek follows the charming trails through a dense forest. There wasn’t any designed route at that time.
So for help, we took a local village person along.
We started at 10 AM and It took us 4 hours to reach the temple.
We were there for a good number of hours listening to the folk tales and admiring the architecture of the temple and scenic views around. We sat, talked, clicked photographs and continuously lived every single moment we breathed.
We reached back around 6 pm and spent the evening laid on silent green capped peaks, gazing at stars.
We left next morning after saying goodbye to Panditji and the caretaker. The group also trekked down with us till Baggi.
We said goodbyes one more time and went our separate way.A visit to Prashar Lake was a perfect blend of a spiritual journey and exploration of the serene Himalayan Range