We're back in Mumbai now after spending Thursday and Friday at Prashar lake in Mandi district. Prashar is about 50km from Mandi and at an elevation of 2700m. This was the highest point that we visited during our travels this time. The place is covered in snow for most part of the year and is a popular winter trekking destination.
Our experience visiting Prashar was a mixed bag. We took the morning bus from Mandi to Prashar on Thursday. At first it wasn't clear if this (only) bus to Prashar was going to go that day at all, but though it did go, it broke down half way in a village called Kataula. We decided to rent a taxi from here together with two other locals who were in the bus with us headed to Prashar. When we reached Prashar, we got into a huge argument with the two locals who didn't want to pay up for the ride and expected us to pay the entire fare. The caretaker of the forest rest house (where we stayed) later explained to us that the two locals (they were poojaris who had come to pray at the Prashar temple) cannot be expected to pay the taxi-waalah more than what they desire due to the caste equations in place in the region.
To add to this unpleasant incident, the weather in Prashar was extremely windy, cloudy and cold. We decided to walk up to the lake and at first I was quite disappointed with the lake (I hadn't expected it to be so small!). But the place gradually started to grow on us. The weather started to clear up and it got much warmer by the evening. As the skies got clearer we got a clear view of all the snow-peaked mountain ranges of Himachal - from west to east: Dhauladhar, Chamba, Manali and Rohtang and Kinnaur.
The stay in the rest house was good and Roop Singh ji let me use his kitchen to cook dinner and breakfast. We had brought vegetables with us from Kataula for dinner and oatmeal, eggs and bread for breakfast. The morning was absolutely gorgeous. We decided to trek down the 7km long (but steep) trail to Baggi village. We got fooled by the pahadi locals who told us that it won't take more than 2.5 hours. It ended up taking us 4 hours! But we were right on time to catch the 2pm bus back to Mandi. In fact, Saurabh got off half way at Kamand because he had to teach a 1.5 hr class after all this adventure!