Trekking Manimahesh Lake: Being submissive to Himalayas

How much do you gain when you accomplish the summit of a mountain defeating all the odds… and how much you lose… These are the moments you relish through-out your life and love to talk about. It’s a profound feeling of achievement and boosts your self-confidence and finally gives you something to feel good about yourself. I successfully accomplished many treks and in many I failed too and receded back with a frowning curiosity. Personally I relish both kind of experiences and I find the unsuccessful ones more enticing and enriching. Here I am unfolding a journey where we reached to a point which was life threatening and compelled us to recede back. It also taught us an important lesson of life that even people who desperately wants to die does not want to risk their life to unknown in the danger of getting stranded.
Snow clad Himalayas from Hadsar
                                    
Snow clad Himalayas from Hadsar
In the month of May, Scorching sun and heat waves make life extremely sullen in the northern plane of India. In an attempt of escaping from harsh summers, I decided to pick an easy trek in Himachal Pradesh along with a friend.  After weighing different options, we settled to trek Manimahesh Lake which lies at a moderate altitude (4080 meter) and quoted as an easy trek. We studied the trek thoroughly to avoid any last time blunders but still we were missing something which we realized in next couple of days. Manimahesh Lake lies at the bottom of Mount Kailash which is believed as a home of Lord Shiva. Its inscription in Holy Scriptures of Hindu religion makes Manimahesh Lake a highly revered pilgrimage site. Despite of its challenging geographic settings, thousands of pilgrims visits Manimahesh Lake every year during August/September which is also popular as Manimahesh Yatra. Sadly for us, piles of plastic bottles scattered all over the trail were the only reminiscence from last year Yatra.
Breath-taking trail before Manimahesh Lake
                                      
Breath-taking trail before Manimahesh Lake
* It’s my sincere request to everyone who is planning to visit divine and pristine Lake Manimahesh not to throw plastic in bushes, scrubs, water channels around the trek. Just like your memories, these bottles remain here with none as garbage collector. If we will continue with same attitude, our next generation will have to hike a plastic mountain to reach Manimahesh Lake.
Chamera lake and reservoir near Chamba
                                
Chamera lake and reservoir near Chamba
Leaving Delhi was exciting as always but sleeper busses to Pathankot trimmed down our excitement. It is really very difficult to get a train ticket to Pathankot during summers. There is something terribly wrong with IRCTC or something fishy is going on under the ground. How come all the Taltak tickets (Including all the train and all type of coaches) from Delhi to Pathankot got booked in just 15 minutes.  Failing which, we had to compromise with sleeper bus tickets from a private bus operator. For so many reasons I will not recommend these busses to our fellow travelers. I will rather recommend you to pay extra money to ticket agents for train tickets.
Route to High Himalayas
                                     
Route to High Himalayas
After overnight journey in a pseudo sleeper bus, we touched down to Pathankoth which is one of the popular gateways to Himalayas. Without wasting much time in the city, we caught the first bus going towards Dalhousi and got down at Baniketh which is some 70 km from Pathankot (6 km before Dalhousi) to catch connecting bus to Chamba (46 km). Chamba is the district city of Himachal Pradesh and very well organized. From Chamba, a road goes further east towards higher ranges of Himalayas often referred as Pir Panjal range. This route goes parallel to river Ravi and its tributaries crossing high Himalayas and gaining elevation eventually. We took the bus following the same route till Bharmour (70 km). Known for hydro power plant and dam, Bharmour is the last town with basic facilities in this part of Himalayas.
Town of Bharmour
                                                 
Town of Bharmour
Surrounded by snow-capped Himalayas and alpine meadows, Bharmour is quite a picturesque countryside. Coming from Delhi, temperature at Bharmour was quite appeasing to our parched souls. We were also fortunate to catch the last bus to Hadsar on the same day (There are generally 2 busses in a day on this route except during Yatra season). After changing so many private busses on those curvy roads of Himalayas, we made it to our destination, Hadsar, a very small village on the bank of river Budhil surrounded by High Himalayas.
Map of Manimahesh Trek
                                        
Map of Manimahesh Trek

How to reach ManiMahesh Lake: There are 3 trekking routes to Manimahesh Lake but the one starting from Hadsar village is the most popular and offers basic tourist facilities along the way. Hadsar village can be reached from Pathankot via Chamba and Bharmour. The other two routes (one from Kugti village and another from Kangra valley) get open for few months during summers and generally taken by pilgrims from Himachal during Yatra season.

Route: PathankotBanikhetChambaBharmourHadsar (202 km)

* There are frequent busses (once in an hour) from Pathankot to Banikhet (76 km, 70 INR, 2 hours 30 minutes) during day time.  The first bus starts at 7:00 AM morning from Pathankot bus stand. Most of the busses going towards Dalhousie will drop you.  There are few direct busses to Chamba and one direct bus to Bharmour (9:00 AM) from Pathankot.
* There are busses (once in an hour) from Banikhet to Chamba during day time (45 km, 2 hours, 45 INR).
* There are few busses (once in 2 hour) from Chamba to Bharmour (68 km, 70 INR, 3 hours)
* Few busses (2 in a day) and shared jeeps (Depending upon tourists) ply between Bharmour to Hadsar (13 km, 30 minutes, 20/30 INR). It is very difficult to catch a ride between from to Hadsar during non-Yatra season. Private taxi will cost you 250 INR.
* In most of the routes, Public transport (Busses) stops after 6:00 PM and start at 8:00 AM morning.

*** During Yatra season, there are special busses, Jeeps till Hadsar and even you can get a helicopter (7000 INR) from Bharmour to Manimahesh Lake.

Alpine meadows and Budhil river Hadsar
                                     Alpine meadows and Budhil River, Hadsar

 

This part of Himalayas witness heavy snow-fall during winters hence remains disconnected for a long time from other world. Hadsar is quite a lazy village with couple of restaurants and cheap accommodation options. Most of the tourist facilities in Hadsar are built to support heavy pilgrim inflow during Yatra season. Due to our visit in low season, we could get a decent room in cheaper rate (250 INR per night). In that evening, we strolled along the river side shadowed with alpine trees, crossed bridges, visited small temples, chit chatted with shepherds and enjoyed the absolute tranquility of Himalayas.  Hadsar is a serene, picturesque and laid back village. During non-Yatra season, Hadsar is the perfect escapade for those seeking sheer isolation and affordable hide out. I believe Hadsar is quite vibrant during yatra season.
Trishula and Himalayas
                                           Trishula and Himalayas

Like everyone else in Himalayas, Our hotel owner was really a nice person. He helped us with the key information about the trek and warned us about the snow covered glacier near the peak. He was the second person (The first one we met in the bus) who doubted about planning to trek Manimahesh during May.  Most of the people warned us about the heavy snow after Dhancho and recommended us to contact mountaineering institute at Bharmour. Along with delicious dinner, we took everyone’s advice into consideration and surrendered to sleep in that colder night of May.
Ghoi nala on the way to Dhancho
                                     Ghoi Nala: Beginning of the trek

As per plan, we started our trek early in the morning in a hope of making all the way till Manimahesh Lake in one day. The initial patch of the trek passes through dense meadows of Himalayan alpine. It was a gentle slope parallel to a water channel (often known as Ghoi Nala). Later it was a steep hike uphill which examined our stamina rigorously. We were also gaining elevation and its affect was now quite evident on us. Thin air was making us lethargic after every 100 meter hike. Just after long and harsh winters, trek was not well outlined so we had to make tough calls about the route. Luckily we met a shepherd on the way who helped us with the directions. So finally 3.5 hours of exhaustive climb, we reached Dhancho (7 km from Hadsar). Dhancho is the nearest human settlement to Manimahesh Lake. Dancho only exist during summers (from May to October end) and everyone recedes back during winters.  We were very lucky to get a restaurant and tent (with sleeping bags) at Dhancho. They have recently arrived from Bharmour and will be staying there till October end. As summers will approach, there will be more and more dabbas and tourists facilities at Dhancho. Dhancho is blessed with a picturesque backdrop with river emerging from a glacier surrounded by snow-peaked Himalayas. There were just 5 of us at Dhancho including a cook and a care taker.  
Snow capped Himalayas
                                           Snow capped Himalayas

After chatting with restaurant guy, we realized that we need to hire a guide if we want to make it to Lake and fortunately we found a cook from Himalayan Mountaineering institute. After initial hesitation, he was ready to come with us for the remaining trek (400 INR). Dancho is at some 3000 meter and Manimahesh Lake is another 6 km hike uphill from Dhancho. After a bowl of Maggie, I was ready to hit the trail again. We started again at around 10:00 AM. The trekking route was much steeper than what it was before Dhancho and all we were mesmerized to see our Guide flowing on the same trek indefatigably. Finally after 3 hours of trek, we reached to a point 2 km before Manimahesh Lake. From now onwards, the route was completely covered with snow and slopes were not gentle anymore.
Steep glacier on the way to Gauri kund near Mani mahesh lake
                                   Steep Glacier after Dhancho

During our journey so far from Dhancho, we already crossed some segments of snow covered glaciers with the help of our Guide. Guide was carrying an ice-axe and He assured us that he jump to save us if we slip down the slope. There was very long stretch of snow ahead so our guide suggested us to wait till the time he cuts the snow and outline the trail. It was quite steep slope as well. In case of slipping, one will slide on the snow and fall in the deep and ruthless white valley where a frozen river flows through the glacier. It was quite stimulating and intimidating view at the same time. We still did not call it a quit.  
Our Guide outlining the route
                                       Our Guide outlining the route

It was about 2:00 PM and clouds started enveloping the peaks. Our Guide looked at the sky quite meticulously and studied the situation. He receded back towards us from half of the segment and suggested us to descend back to Dhancho because weather was getting worse on the peaks. There was a bright chance of getting stuck in snow storming if we decide to go further. We waited for a moment and suddenly strong cold wind captured the whole valley. Soon afterwards snowflakes surrounded the vision and we were receding back in the midst of snowing.
Tents at Dhancho
                                            Tents at Dhancho

We stopped at Baba’s hut (Hut of Sadhus) and enjoyed the black tea at their place. Wind was too strong for their fragile hut but still nothing much was happening to their little abode (quite magical, isn’t it). Descending down, finally we landed back to Dhancho and were very exhausted and shriveled. I was disappointed a bit not a make all the way till Lake but I was also enjoying the bad weather of Himalayas. Moreover drinking freezing water from the melted snow had a soar impact on my throat. Few days back, I was suffered and sweating so badly with heat and tonight couple of blankets with sleeping bag were not sufficient. Again an admirable job by Dabba guy who served us delicious dinner along with hot water for me to gargle my throat. At an elevation of 3000 meter, Night was challenging at Dhancho and AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) attacked my friend.
Trek from Dhancho to ManiMahesh Lake
                                           Trek from Dhancho to ManiMahesh Lake

Despite of a sleepless night, my friend was ready to give another try to Manimahesh Lake next morning and I really appreciate his mental strength and determination. We started off at 5:00 AM in the morning and asked our guide to catch us near the glacier point. Unlike last evening, morning trek was much difficult not just because our legs were paining but it was also very cold outside. We were not wearing gloves, proper shoes, shocks or woolen jacket while trekking in sub zero temperature. My fingers were jammed and frozen. I was rubbing my both hands to produce some heat yet we both kept walking to cover maximum distance before sun light catches us. Along the way we could see the evidence of heavy snow fall which occurred last evening when we were receding back. The evening snowfall wiped out the outlined trek which we created yesterday. Our guide had to cut the snow again to outline the trail.
Snow covered valley behind
                                         Snow covered valley behind

Finally after 2-3 hours of trek, we reached to the same glacier point. Our guide started to cut the snow using his ice axe and asked us to wait. We kept crossing the segment of glaciers with the help of our guide but we both were really not very positive about the last segment which was a steep hike uphill on the snow without any support. We reached very close to that segment of trek which was some 60-70 meter high rock (snow covered). It was quite steep and there was no support. We were supposed to create staircases on the snow and climb that segment. Without a rope it was certainly not a promising call to go ahead. Down below was the valley of snow opening to some partially frozen river flowing under the glacier. Along with our Guide we analyzed the situation thoroughly and here is conclusion we arrived at
Our Guide cutting the snow with axe
                                          Our Guide cutting the snow with axe
- If one of us fall, our guide may save that person with his ice axe. But if both of us fall, he will not be able to save both.
- There may be minor or major injury if we fall down till the bottom but we would have been completely snow drenched in that case. Possibility of getting wet was very high as we both were not wearing wind cheater or proper shoes. In such situation, getting hit by hypothermia at this temperature was quite obvious. The nearest medical facility was at Bharmour.
- Falling in the river would have been worse. Certainly life terminating. Hitting a rock while slipping would also have been really harsh.
- Chances of slipping (Without a rope) was really high as we already fumbled (Can’t expect more with floaters and rented shoes) while crossing small snow patches. Chances are more when you descend back on a snow covered trail.
Lake lies behind this mountain
                                        
Lake lies behind this mountain

I remember quite vividly that we both were shivering badly in the midst of snow covered mountains… and snow all around us… However half way through the trek to Manimahesh Lake (Just 1.5 km before).. I was thinking dangerously yet prudently… there was a bleak hope but very bright danger ahead… Sun started shining on the peaks… and we all decided to call it a quit and receded back… I stared at the vertical patch of snow for the last time and then never looked back till I descended down to Hadsar (After 7 hours of trekking)

** we could have given a try If we would have been having a rope, proper shoes and Wind cheater.
Ghoi Nala near Dhancho
                                           
Ghoi Nala near Dhancho

Staying overnight in Hadsar was not in our plan so we decided to leave Hadsar as early as we arrived there.  The indolence of Hadsar enticed me significantly. Even in the afternoon, all the shops of hadsar were shut down and there was none in the streets. We packed our belongings from the hotel room and hit the road to catch a transport from Hadsar (There are just 2 busses from Hadsar to Bharmour during non-Yatra season).  There was no public bus or shared jeep so we tried hitch hiking but sadly there were not many vehicles on that route.  Finally we had to hire a private Jeep (250 INR) so that we don’t miss the last bus (5:30 PM) to Chamba from Bharmour.  Chamba was our hope to get better tourist facilities, food and sleep. Bus was running down hill following the same route in reverse.. We were going with the flow of the rivers.. And I felt that memories of white snow started melting slowly and slowly….
First Glacier Point of the trek
                                         First Glacier Point of the trek

Travel Tips/Information:
* June to October end is the best time for independent trekkers. Adventure seekers and mountaineers must try their luck during May.
* Accommodation/Food facilities at Dhancho are available only from 1st May to 15th October.
* Nearest ATM is at Bharmour.

Special Thanks: Alok Sheoran for being my fellow traveler.

Dear Friend  i am planning to

Dear Friend  i am planning to visit shrikhand in july second week, please advise

 

Hello Sekar, I had never been

Hello Sekar,

I had never been to Srikhand Mahadev trek so can not give you any suggestion on the same.

+- Vishnu

Hi we 5 five friends planning

Hi we 5 five friends planning to trek to manimahesh from June 24th to 28thjune is this time is good for trek, also suggest me that we will find snow in this on the trek 

Yes, there is a lof of snow

Yes, there is a lof of snow at Manimahesh trek in June.. It is not a bad time to trek there. I hope you enjoyed your trip

Dear friend, how about

Dear friend, how about visiting during first week of July

To manimahesh.

July is not good time to

July is not good time to travel to mountains as its monsoon time..

Hi Friend,  I am planning

Hi Friend, 

I am planning this trek by mid of june and this is my first trek... I really wanna go there ... Can we two girls go for it? Shall we need to see a guide? Please advise , am very confused. As we are 2 girls only .... 

 

Ashi

Yes, 2 girls can go there.

Yes, 2 girls can go there. You can find guide easily at Hadsar if you need. June is starting of trekking season so you might see many fellow trekkers on this trail.

Hi Vishnu I have got an idea

Hi Vishnu I have got an idea about a trek to Manimahesh from your blog.I have planned Manimahesh trek in the mid June.My planning from Bharmour is following.

Day1- Chamba to Bharmour &a trek to Bharamani mata templ

Day2-Bharmour-Hadsar-Dhanchi

Day3-Dhancho-Manimahesh-Dhancho

Day4-Dhancho-Bharmour-Chamba.

Please suggest,is my planning appropriate?

How can I manage a hotel or tent in Dhancho?

Where can I manage a guide?

Hi Pritam, June is not a bad

Hi Pritam,

June is not a bad time for this trek. You can easily get a tent in Dhancho. Its not possible to book in advance and also not needed. Itinerary looks perfect and doable. Actually you do not need a guide for this trek. if you still feel, you can get one easily in Dhancho.

+- Vishnu

Pl suggest good tour operator

Pl suggest good tour operator for manimahesh trek , i am beginner but very much interested. 

 

Though you do not need any

Though you do not need any trek operator for Manimahesh trek but still you can find plenty of options in Chamba or Bharmour.

Hii  I am planning to go

Hii 

I am planning to go manimahesh in June 16th 2017. we are 3, me,my wife and my 6 years old son. is it possible to treak manimahesh with my family?

Please advise me a plan for the treak . I am from West Bengal. thanks 

Hi, I think Manimahesh will

Hi,

I think Manimahesh will be very difficult if you want to go with your 6 year old kid. It's quite a steep and long walk. June is not the bad time but considering the long walk for few days up there in mountains, I would not recommend you to go with Family.

+- Vishnu

Hi, Am planning to visit Mani

Hi, Am planning to visit Mani Mahesh in the second week of september along with one of my friend. it would be great if you would tell me what I should carry (necessary ) for trek, like the rope, medicines etc.

Ropes are not required. trail

Ropes are not required. trail will be well outlined till September and you will see many pilgrims there. medicines as per your health situation. can not suggest anything specific.

Hi Vishnu,Thanks ..I am quite

Hi Vishnu,Thanks ..I am quite thrilled to learn your experience of Manimahesh lake trek.By chance I found your post and it inspired me to take this beautiful trip. Your experience will really help me while going in this month of August.May god bless you.

Thanks for your comment. I am

Thanks for your comment. I am glad that my blogs are helpful to others. Keep dropping by.

+- Vishnu

Dear Vishnu, I am 51 and

Dear Vishnu,

I am 51 and planned to pilgrimage to ManiMahesh from 14 august to 16 August. I will reach Chamba on 14 August and return tickets are booked from chamba at 6.15 pm on 16 August. we two families of same age group alongwith our sons are going for trekking. any advice for us?

Dear Sir, I think you would

Dear Sir,

I think you would need more days for trekking. I believe you can reach Hadsar on 14th. start 15th morning from there and you will be halting for at least 2 night enroute. You can not complete the entire trek in one day.

you would need more days.

+- Vishnu

Thanks a lo bro for sharing

Thanks a lo bro for sharing your journey in detail. i am planning to go for manimahesh yatra on 14th august from pathankot. Can you plz let me know if transport food and tents will be available at that time. i have return ticket from pathankot to delhi on 17th late night. so will i be able to return to pathankot if i start on 14th from pathankot.

 

thank you

amit sharma

Yes, transport, food, guide

Yes, transport, food, guide and everything else will be available in August. you will find lots of people trekking there.

Is it possible for me to trek

Is it possible for me to trek to Manimahesh?

Sorry.. can not answer this

Sorry.. can not answer this question. i do not have much details.

I want to trek manimahesh in

I want to trek manimahesh in last week of June. What type of accommodation is available in June near lake

there are tents available

there are tents available everywhere enroute during Yatra reason.

Hello, I am planning for

Hello, I am planning for manimahesh trek this year around 8th of may. We are two for trek(me and my friend). Is it possible to go there now? Is there any place to stay there at manimahesh lake and dhancho now? Anybody wants to join us are also welcome. Thanks in advance.

May is too early for

May is too early for Manimahesh trek. there was lots of snow when i visited in May. there is a camp at Dhancho but i don't think you can find anything at the Lake in May. Once Yatra season starts then tents are almost everywhere.

At what time you visited

At what time you visited manimahesh.... This year the snow is less compared to the last year.. We are planning to go in may 1st week...is it possible.... If we can't what is the problem

1.heavy snow in trekking path or there any other reason

 

 

 

 

 

Regards

I went in 2nd-3rd week of

I went in 2nd-3rd week of May. It was a lot of snow. I heard snowfall was quite lesser this year.

Heavy snow is the only reason. need trekking accessories and an experienced guide for cutting the snow.

+- Vishnu

Hi Vishnu   Can you pse

Hi Vishnu

 

Can you pse advice us if we take this trek in end Mar .

 

Rgds

 

Rajesh

Manimahesh trek is not

Manimahesh trek is not possible in March end.

+-Vishnu

Hi Vishnu Very good write up 

Hi Vishnu

Very good write up  and  photographs

Can I take this trek in early Mar 16 ! Do we require some guide !

Thanks

Rajesh

Manimahesh trek is not

Manimahesh trek is not possible till May end. There would be lot of snow till May end.

+- Vishnu

HI Vishnu, Can we go

HI Vishnu,

Can we go MANIMAHESH now ie 2nd oct 2015. I am planning to go there.Is it the correct time to visit.

Yes. Manimahesh trek is

Yes. Manimahesh trek is possible till October mid.

+- Vishnu

1.How far do we have to go on

1.How far do we have to go on foot to reach the temple there...??

2. How much will it cost to have this tour from delhi ?

3. Are there some other tourist destinations ? Do mention them..

Hadsar to Manimahesh temple

Hadsar to Manimahesh temple is 18 km steep hike

Cost will depend a lot on your style. public transport is available till Hadsar. you need to hire guide and portar.

There is a lot. Kugti pass, Kugti village are nice. Chamba is also a beatiful town.

+- Vishnu

I am planning for a trek to

I am planning for a trek to Manimahesh, in June 2014. I have a few queries, that I'd request you to address:

  1. The trek duration
  2. I have a SUV, so will it be possible to drive upto Hadsar, leave the vehicle there, and trek to Manimahesh
  3. Will there be accommodation available enroute/ at Manimahesh
  4. Is the trek easy/moderate/strenuous in June'
  5. Will there be camping facility alongside the lake?
  6. Can u suggest a nice trekking agency that will take care of the trek post hadsar.

Regards

 

I'm also going there next

I'm also going there next week. Have you found out about the availability of tents near lake? Can't we stay with the temple priest at lake?

I think Tented accommodation

I think Tented accommodation should be available near the lake bed..

Thanks, Vishnu.

Thanks, Vishnu.

Here is the link of the video

Here is the link of the video which chandan mentioned.. its as comprehensive as it can get...

http://thinkingparticle.com/videos/trek-manimahesh-kailash-himachal-pradesh

Chandan has already answered most of your queries... here is my take on few...

4) There should not be much snow in June so it should be a moderate trek...

5) Yes, you can get tent accommodation near lake bed... till June, there should be camping facility around lake..

6) Everything can be arranged after reaching hadsar...

Thanks Vishnu..

Thanks Vishnu..

a) usually people start very

a) usually people start very ealry in morning from Hudsar and reach manimahesh lake by evening. best will be to take a night halt at Dhanchho. so dont rush too much to start from Hadsar if you decide to stay at Dhanchho.. it takes roughly, 4 hours to reach Dhanchho  and another 5-6 hours to reach main lake.

b)Yes. any vehicle will reach Hudsar.

c) in June, not sure. I would expect so but cant say.

d)I found trek between moderate and strenous. Last part between Sundraasi and Gauri kund is really tough.

e) yes there are tents to stay but not sure whether they will be open in June.

f) go to hudsar. almost everyone there is a guide. usually they will charge 1000 per day + food + accomodation.

 

There is a video on the video section of this website that has covered almost everything that you would like to know.

Regards,

Chandan

 

Thanks Chandan...

Thanks Chandan...

It's a shame that you had to

It's a shame that you had to retreat just before the lake. I guess you would be close to gauri kund by then. However, your decision was prudent as no point trying to fight nature without proper gear and equipment.

yaa..I was very close to the

yaa..I was very close to the lake but it was one of those moments stirred lust for life.... it was one of its kind...

Very nice but sad that you

Very nice but sad that you didnt reached the lake.

Thanks for dropping by...

Thanks for dropping by... oddly enough but I enjoyed the failure in that trek...Had it been a successful climb, I would have not relished it as much as I do now....Breath-taking moments those were and my stupid notions...

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.