I am looking for Khajund Lake, do you have any idea where is it?
I don’t know Khajund but there’s one Chakund Lake in the opposite direction.
Are you sure its Khajund and not Chakund?
I don’t know, dear Sir, these names confuse me, maybe there is no such lake.
That’s how this journey started. I went in search of Khajund Lake in the hinterlands of Chamba and found not just the Khajund but also the Chakund Lake.
It all started with a photograph that randomly appeared on my Facebook timeline one fine day when I was looking for Banjah Copper mines near Saho.
I saw this photograph but didn’t read the caption that clearly mentioned its name as Chakund Lake. And that’s how this confusion started that led to accidental discovery of these two lakes; Khajund and Chakund.
And that’s why I keep saying, when you think you have seen it all, the incredible land of Chamba mysteriously brings another surprise your way.
In this post, we shall talk about Khajund Lake and my friend Rustam. Chakund Lake, we shall discuss in the subsequent post.
Khajund Lake – A Forgotten Memory
The Chandrashekhar Mandir at Saho (Chamba) is a magnificent 10th Century shrine. That makes it at least 1000 year old. The shivling enshrined at the temple is five feet high and all of it made of copper.
Locally available copper that was brought to the temple site from nearby areas.
An NGO named Earthstation re-discovered these mines in 2009 and even formulated a plan to develop a tourism circuit in this most neglected region of Chamba but all of their good advice fell on deaf ears.
I wanted to see these Copper mines and I even gathered information from Sanjay Ji, a Senior Journalist from Chamba, who was one of the founder members of Earthstation NGO. Unfortunately, I couldn’t gather ground information for these mines but the name Khajund popped up somehow.
Khajund is a small lake at the feet of Bhala Village near Saho. It takes 3-4 hours from Bhala to reach atop the lake. Probably 30 km from the Chamba town. I borrowed my friend’s Tata Nano and started early in the morning. The road passes through a thick forest and the valley down below itself spreads out in all directions.
Earlier it used to be a place of worship and reverence. People used to come here and pray to the serpent God Khajji Nag. These days all you can see up top here is buffaloes lazily resting in the muddy waters of this lake. Kids from nearby villages can also be seen trying their luck with fishing. And in due process, killing little fishlings.
It is believed that the serpent God Khajji Nag lived here for a while before moving to Khajiyar Lake. Both these lakes, Khajund and Khajiyar, are named after this very serpent God.
The moment I reached there, all I could see was dancing buffaloes happily drowning themselves in the muddy waters of lake. There is a small temple dedicated to the serpent God Khajji near the lake but even that doesn’t stop people from pushing their cattle into the lake.
There are minor passes connecting this region to the Lilh and Jhumar regions of Chamba and the valley is undoubtedly beautiful.
How I Met My Friend Rustam!
The trek starts from Bhala Village. And the moment you start, you find staring yourself at a scary forest. Fortunately, I got company of two Forest Guards at Bhala, who showed me way to the lake.
However, our conversation turned weird as they started discussing wildlife statistics with me. Sample this.
Ours is one of the most densely populated forest with black bears.
Usually black bears are seen in the month of July-August when it rains, but here, they just can’t hide themselves.
“Are you scared of Black Bears?”, they asked me
Who is not scared of Black Bears?
And the moment we entered into the Forest Reserve Area, they asked me to be safe and walked off in another direction.
“If you see a black bear, shout. That might scare the wild beast“, they advised as they disappeared into the thick forest.
That was some advise. I was shit scared now. I have done numerous solo treks and I know the chance of finding a black bear in the month of June is as rare as finding a well scripted Salman Khan movie.
But fear works irrationally. I was in a dilemma whether to continue my journey or not. And then I saw a little kid, with his bag hanging on his left shoulder, slowly making his way up the mountain.
Blue shirt. Grey Pant. White Shoes. No Shoelaces.
The first question I asked him was about black bears.
“ha ha! raste me thode na baitha hoga hamare liye“, Rustam chuckled.
And these simple words gave me immense courage.
Fear of any kind suppresses rational thinking. Before I met Rustam, I was about to turn back because I was told that black bears roam wild and free in the jungle. After I met Rustam, I gained courage because I got human company.
Rustam would walk 12 km everyday to reach his school. And then play with his buffaloes because they are his only friends.
“Do you bunk school?”, I asked.
“No, I don’t. I get to see buses and cars. One day I’ll drive one of them all the way up to this mountain”, said Rustam.
Let’s hope that those Save Animals sympathizers don’t land here and kill one more dream.
Yeah, the same ones who need wifi 24X7 and travel only by AC Volvo.
P.S. The lake stands at an altitude of 2900 meters and the trek is very easy provided you don’t have them forest guards for company.
Updated On 21/1/2019: As per inputs received from Mayank Jaryal, the lake rests at an altitude of around 2250m-2400m and not 2900m as mentioned previously.