A motorcyclist always admires two things; a smooth road with no potholes, and a road that offers extreme challenge, full of mud, potholes, boulders, and bumps. A motorcycle ride to Lake Parashar offers you all this.
Coming from any direction, be it from Manali, Pathankot, or Delhi, you ride through National Highway(s) making it a comfortable journey with picturesque beauty, cool breeze, and no traffic hassles. The road to Parashar Lake diverges from the main road to your right on the National Highway 20 towards Jogindernagar/Pathankot as you leave the Mandi
town city. The first few kilometers are an uphill ride until you gain a height of few hundred meters. Even if you ride leisurely you will find yourself going out of the road to save your ass because the roads are narrow, unreasonably steep and a speeding bus coming from the opposite direction will mark the occasion there and then for you, if you are not so fond of blowing horn.
The overall distance between Mandi and Parashar is 49 kilometers and the road remains smooth until you have reached Bagi. Local residents prefer to walk from here and take not more than an hour or two to reach at the top. The buses do not go beyond this place, so you have only two options from here, trek your way up to the lake or try to find a cab. Sometimes you find cabs waiting there for passengers, if luck favours you.
Lake Parashar @ 2750 Meters
PWD has somehow managed to construct the road and maintain it, so your vehicle can go to the top from Bagi. However, the road is all boulders and dust, so it could be nasty and tiring if you are not used to such roads. During the rainy season the road disappears and situation becomes slushy, something you encounter between Marhi (मढ़ी) and the Rohtang top [Read Riding Mania] Once you reach the top, you have to walk few hundred meters before you can witness this beautiful creation of nature.
It is believed that Parashar Rishi meditated in this region for almost 20,000 years. I am not sure how he did that but it is believed that he did it, so I don’t doubt that. The architecture of the temple is Pagoda Style and there are not many temples built this way in Himachal. The Hadimba Temple in Manali is the only one I can think of right now. The lake is actually a small pond and a suspended land mass floats on it. On a windy day you will see this land mass making rounds across the lake, from one corner to another.
Spot Solar Lights?
The lake is guarded by barbed wires and a gate is put up so that tourists do not spoil the water or feed fishes. A government official (CJM) was also there on a non-official trip with his family. The then CJM of Kullu, I forgot his name, decided to take the matter into his hands and
asked threatened the caretaker of the premises to open the gates so that he and his circus party could make their trip memorable. The logic behind locking the gates is religious beliefs of people because if they find the gates open, they will pour their hearts out in the lake in the form of flowers, prasad, plastic, and whatever they think will help them wash their sins. CJM stands for Chief Judicial Magistrate, in case you don’t know.
Moving forward, there is another temple in the vicinity, few hundred meters from the main temple in the jungle. It is called Majholi Mata (मझोली माता) temple and she was the better half of Parashar Rishi. The priest of the temple told us that she was not happy with whatever Parashar Rishi was doing with his tapasya and meditation, so she decided to walk away. I think she did the right thing by walking away. Who would wait for 20, 000 years anyways? Furthermore, Parashar Rishi thought of bringing her back so he tried to reason with her and managed to get her back. In the meantime, the lady had cried her heart out and we have another lake formed from her tears. The other lake is all muddy now and it’s not until the rainy season it gets its share of water. You can see gujjars resting near that lake, their sheep and mules producing psychedelic noises.
There are few abandoned buildings that are used by people during festivals near the main temple. I stayed in one of those old houses in October 2007 and believe me that was the coldest night of my life, one blanket, two people, broken windows, and other supernatural things happening outside that scared us to death. Casteism in these parts of Himachal is still prevalent. Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur, and other upper reaches still support or fear the primitive rule of differentiating human beings by their surnames. So if the priest or his teammates ask your name with an emphasis on your surname, don’t be surprised. Such is life in these parts of our state.
We were told that the priests visit the temple even when the whole region is six feet deep covered with snow.
Union of Deities, Dev Mahunag meets Parashar Rishi, these meetings happen frequently. People believe that through such meetings the Gods solve their problems. The event of divine union was hypnotising.
The Purification Process before the deities meet
I think the best time to visit Parashar is November-Decmeber, when the mountain ranges are full of snow. There are two guesthouses, can be booked from Mandi DC office or DFO Office. Camping is always an option.
If you are an adventurous couple, this could be a great place for honeymooning, otherwise Manali is just 80 kilometers from here.
P.S: One of the newly formed IITs, IIT Mandi lies on the way at Kamand. When we visited IIT Mandi in 2010, all we could see was weed grown everywhere, the green grass as they say it. Hopefully, they have removed the weed by now.