Parashar Lake is a popular weekend getaway and these days people visit this pristine Himalayan settlement even during the winters. And that’s where it all ends. Stay at the FRH or at the newly constructed PWD Rest House, click a couple of Milky Way shots, drink Old Monk, and head back to your base station the very next day.
Simple and easy!
However, just a few kilometers from Parashar, the Himalayan magic unfolds itself and all of a sudden the towering mountains appear to be rushing towards you from all the directions.
What lies beyond Parashar is absolute glory of the Himalayas. A walk to the Tunga Mata Temple from Parashar Lake takes not more than 3-4 hours but the return on this investment is huge.
Beyond your imagination!
Edited (22/04/2016) After a long discussion with experts, it has been established that the peak marked above as Ratan Thadi is infact an unnamed peak. Ratan Thadi lies further down on the same ridge.
The Dhauladhars, the Pir Panjals, and the Manikaran Spires group rise together and form a semi-circular arrangement surrounding the Tunga Mata Temple and it appears that the shrine is being guarded by the mighty towers from all directions.
The mystical duo of Dharmsura and Papsura rise from the far west and the white mountain ranges just keep on stretching themselves in either direction.
As you look at the semi-circular arrangement starting from Dhauladhar to Ali Ratni Tibba range (ART), there are as many as 15 prominent peaks that can be seen.
The Dhauladhars and the Pir Panjals form a semi-circular arrangement near Rohtang Pass, with Deo Tibba (6001m) guarding the right flank and Hanuman Tibba (5890m) holding the left post. Further right from Indrasan, the Great Himalayan divide unveils its magnificent gems namely the Papsura (White Sail Peak) and the Dharmsura Peak. Moving further ahead, one can see the South Parbati Peak in its absolute glory, standing tall like a mother guarding its little ones clinging to its feet.
And right in the middle of this semi-circular arrangement stands tall the King Mountain of Lahaul Valley; the Crown of Ghepan.
The journey to the magnificent Tunga Temple starts from the end of road at Parashar. Right from where you get off your vehicle atop the Parashar Hill, a kutcha road meanders ahead and disappears into the wilderness after a few hundred meters.
A 10km walk amidst the rhododendron dominated forest, under the shadow of Deo Tibba, a partially marked trail leads you to the temple of Tunga Bhagwati. The entire trail is riddled with miniature lakes that add to the beauty of this walk. The temple stands atop a hill where from you can see the River Beas gradually snaking towards the planes of Mandi.
There are plenty of stay options at Tunga Bhagwati and throughout the trek, you can see uninhabited gujjar huts, which can serve as a shelter in case of an emergency. Barring the few hundred meters in the end, the entire walk can be termed as an easy walk.
From Tunga, its another three-four hour walk to Jwalapur village, which is connected to the Manali – Mandi road at Panarsa, a few kilometers from Aut Tunnel. The descent to Jwalapur is also easy.
However, the bus journey from Jwalapur to the main road is not an easy one. This approach road is probably one of the most dangerous road of Mandi district. The roads are narrow, valleys steeper, and drivers always driving in the Fast and Furious mode.
There was only one proper written record of this trek on the web at Shalabh’s Trek Himachal. Although I have seen many people in my friend circle talking about the Tunga Trail but I couldn’t find much info about it on the Internet. I am attaching the map uploaded by Shalabh on his website, which is a good reference to look into while you plan your journey to the temple of Tunga.
During the recently concluded International Shivratri Festival of Mandi, I saw the palanquin as well as the rath of the Tunga Devi. There I was told that various deities visit the abode of Rishi Parashar during Chaitra Navratri (first Navratri of the year). I was fortunate enough to experience the meeting of divine Himalayan saints.
This time around, it was the meeting of Rishi Parashar with Rishi Shukdev. Rishi Parashar happens to be the Grand Father of Rishi Shukdev.
Before entering inside the temple , the deity literally takes a dip in the holy waters of the lake. The head or the crown of the palanquin was dipped in the lake and only after that the deity moved inside the temple with great show of dance and music.
This surely was a journey worth taking!
P.S. Tunga Mata Temple stands at a height of 2995 meters.