Prashar Lake again, but This time, I was the Co-Organizer. My job was just to show the way. My friend Swati (not Swathi, mind you) was the Organizer. Joining along were her friends Dhruva, Sukrati, Taran, Charan, Alka, Vikas and Nisha.
Delhi was touching 45 degrees and super humid the day we started the Journey from ISBT. Sharing sweets, Teasing each other, story telling made the journey fast forwarded. At Mandi, we freshened up, got our lunch packed and hired a jeep to take us to Baggi. Having hired normal cars previously, the jeep felt agonizingly slow, but to our delight the music started blaring here, people taking turns to claim their DJ rights on Swati’s Bluetooth speaker.
As we neared Baggi, the sun took its position directly overhead mercilessly making us sweat as we started towards the Trail head through the criss-crossing streams. When i was here in March, the streams were powerful enough to knock a person down, but now it was feeble. The valley also showed considerable differences, The green was much more darker, the canopy more thicker. We were counting on the canopy to protect us from the sun. Loading up water, we reached the Trail head. For some their eyes bulged seeing the steep path ahead.
It was a tough climb for some, but Even after being offered to be relieved of their bag for sometime, everyone hanged on to their bags and climbed on. Taranjeet was performing spectacularly as compared to the last trek and took us by surprise. With occasional short breaks, we reached the lunch spot. Aloo Parathas with Dahi and pickle was the on the menu. Lunch was followed by a short half an hour nap. But wait, We want photos, Nap less, photos more seems to be the policy. I have to say Sukrati’s poses was attracting the camera lens. A well branched tree was a perfect prop to lean on and pose. Hundreds of clicks later, we resumed our climbing though the thickets that kept being more thicker as we progressed.
Hail Stones with Popcorns
There is an gentle sloped open area about 450m below Prashar lake. As we reached this point, Swati pointed out that Dark clouds were gaining on us and into the distance i can see that rain was falling. It was a matter of minutes before we were hit by rain. So we took the decision to pitch two of the three tents we had for temporary shelter. Just as we were done pitching, A white ball, the size of a small marble landed upon the red tent and rolled off it.
“Olayyyy” was the cry. Seconds later, more followed and each jumped into the tent that was nearest to them. There was confusion, Me, Dhruv, Swati and Vikas were in one tent and the rest in the other. Even though it was arms length that separated the two tents, we couldn’t communicate as the sound of ever increasing hail battering the tents was very loud. Dhruv and Swati suggested that we move the bags to one tent so that everyone can cozy up in one tent. Swiftly both of them jumped out and started taking the bags from one and putting into the other. Now everyone was in one tent.
The place was not very flat and so there was places where the hail stones started accumulating under the tent and making the floor cold. To ward off the cold, A soup packet was opened, cooked and shared with those who preferred tangy tomato. For others, we cooked Popcorn inside the tent using the butane cans. They started popping before we could find the lid and so, couple of them jumped right out of the vessel and hit people randomly. The hail meanwhile grew stronger and noise was too loud that Dhruv thought that the tent might rip apart anytime. As the popcorn got over, the hail got replaced with rain which kept on for half an hour. As soon as the rain faded off, there was a 2nd round of photo sessions.
Sun was coming down fast but the dark clouds did not seem to be going anywhere , so me and Swati faced a decision. To spend the night at the same place or trek ahead and risk the rain. We decided to go with the latter. We packed the tent but kept it’s rain cover accessible so that we can use it to keep ourselves dry in case it rained again. But thankfully it did not.
Now, questions started arising, “How much more to climb?”. To which i answered “You see that tree there?, thats where the steep climb ends. From there, it’s only 20mins”. But as we climbed on, the tree did not seem to get closer nudging the same question to be asked again. We came across a herd of buffalo and each one of them stopped grazing and stared at us as if we were unexpected guests. I heard someone ask if they are gonna come and meet us head on. A shepherd came into view and he made the buffalo move to a farther distance as if he heard us say that. We climbed and ahead and soon we were seeing a roof a building far away. It was painted white with green borders. I knew it was the PWD Guest house and shouted that Prashar lake is only half an hour away. More groans but they all stopped when all of a sudden a hut came into view. It was the animal shelter and there were women tending to them. We had a brief break there and we ate the last of my favorite Raw Mango flavored jelly candy.
The sight of the vast mountain ranges gave everyone the burst of energy they needed. Within what seemed to be minutes, we jumped and walked across the muddy trail to reach the Fence that encompassed Prashar lake and the temple. We were no longer the only visitors. A biker gang was seen putting up tents just outside the fence. It seemed as if they did not get the permission to pitch them near the Lake. Me and Swati advised that rest of our group stay here till we talk to the caretaker of the temple and get the permission.
“Sure, You’ll have to donate 100Rs to the Temple but NO ALCOHOL ALLOWED, I see a lot of people coming here just to drink, I shall check your bags” said the caretaker Mr. RajKumar. We were delighted . We quickly went back and took them to the lake, pitched our tents near the lake and rested for a some time. A little later we had dal chawal from the cafe before we realized a small mistake we made.
We had two sleeping bags less. It was my idea to get warm blankets from the temple for the night but in the mad frenzy, we forgot. Now it was around 10pm. There was no lamp, no lights at the temple. Swati had hope and she took off, Knocking on doors till she finally found a guy who rented us a sleeping bag. Along with a blanket she brought, this one sleeping bag was enough to ensure everyone had a decent sleep.
Mighty Yellow sun is back
We did not wake up at 7 as planned. When we woke up, the tent was glowing red and it was 9.30am.
Morning rituals, Tea coffee, Upma, Popcorn passed by in a flash and at around 11, the landscaped was soon riddled with hundreds of visitors who came to pray at the temple and take a customary circumambulation around the lake. There were kids playing around , people wante photo of their kids posing inside our tents.
The playful mood was soon in our group too, It all started with Swati’s request to have a photo of her while jumping. This apparently was contagious, everyone followed and I was taking photos of the group jumping. Next, it was competition between Swati and Vikas to find out who stays longer during a headstand. Before you take a guess, I will tell you that the organizer of this trek lost. We finally wrapped up our stay at Prashar lake by visiting the temple, circumambulating the lake, packing and taking the road route down.
We started our hike along the road route at around 1pm. It was a snaking 19Km route back to baggi. The only time we saw people on the road was when they crossed us on vehicles and gave us a look that made us feel that we were show pieces. At one Point we managed to take a short cut though a village that led to a Thakur’s Cafe which was couple of Kms from Baggi. Whomsoever we asked, Baggi was just 4km away. It was 4Km an hour before, It is 4km to Baggi even now. The only relief is that we were in some village. There were kids selling “lingudu”, a local vegetable along the road. At this point everyone apart from Dhruv, Nisha and Swati were nowhere to be seen, but moments later we saw them passing on a vehicle. Hey hitched a ride. We kept walking till we realized we are getting late for the Bus journey back to Delhi and that’s when we also hitched a ride on the next available vehicle and took the jeep which was waiting for us at Baggi back to Mandi.
The bus leaves at 8.15. We started from Baggi at around 6.30 and was supposed to reach Mandi at 8pm. The journey downhill was no faster than the uphill one. In a moment, Bad luck struck as the rear right tyre became flat. Tensions started growing along with the darkness. 7.45pm. The driver was changed the tyres as fast as he could. I and Vikas assisted him to save seconds. 7.55. We were all back inside, the Jeep’s engine roared and we were moving, but something was not right. It was the tyre again. The replacement tyre did not have enough air pressure to take the weight of our group. It was 8.05pm now. Without a word, the driver fled leaving us clueless.
Swati shouted, ask for ride on the next vehicle that passed us. There was no vehicles that was going towards mandi, but she spotted one coming from mandi, She threw open her arms. The white Maruti Omni screeched to a halt. She explained the situation and the driver agreed to take us to Mandi for 500. We had no option, She agreed, the driver spun his car around, and within next eyeblink we were in and speeding towards Mandi ISBT. Discussions regarding consequences of missing the bus arose. “Team leader” was the concern of Dhruva, Sukrati and Taran, “miss flight to hyderabad” was Charan’s. The clock ticked past 8.15 and ISBT was nowhere in sight, but the driver kept skilfully negotiating turns and soon our destination popped into view. Opening the door, I ran inside and found the bus was just about to leave. Everyone gave a sigh of relief at the news. We boarded the bus and bid farewell to Mandi.