Thursday, May 31, 2018


Shangharh is a village in the Sainj valley of the Great Himalayan National Park(GHNP). We spent a few days here earlier this week. There is a forest rest house in Shangharh where we stayed. Shangharh was recommended to us by my PhD advisor who has visited this place multiple times since 1990s. However, a road has now been constructed all the way to the village because of which we could bring mummy-papa to the rest house with us. They stayed in the rest house for three days while we went off on a 2 day trek to Lapah and back. Shangharh is famous for its Sinchul Mahadev temple and the meadows around it. We spent some time in the meadows and the boys loved rolling on the slopes and chasing cows. The village is small enough that we felt that at the end of our 3 day stay, a lot of people in the village knew us and we also got to know of a lot of local stories. We also had a chance meeting with Ankit Sood, a consultant with the HP forest department and had long interesting discussions on various trekking routes in the state.
Here are pictures of our time in Shangharh: a lot of family portraits, some pics from the meadows and the village homes, school and panchayat office.

2018, 2017 and 2015

Are they getting more ferocious every year?  :)

Prashar lake revisited

One of the places that we had liked a lot in our first trip to Mandi was Prashar Lake. At that time we had stayed there overnight in the forest rest house and had trekked down all the way. It was their first four-hour walk that the kids had done at that time (they were 5 and 7 then). This time we wanted mummy-papa to visit Prashar so we rented a car and made it a day trip. It was a surprisingly warm day. The kids kept making fun of dadi asking her to be careful with the short downhill walk saying "dadi lake me mat ludak jana" . It is said that the position of the island in the lake keeps changing with time. And indeed we found the island to be at the exact opposite end  from where we had found it last time.

Mandi as we like it: Part 2

Other things that we look forward to enjoying in Mandi
Food attractions: litchi, khurbani,cherries, plums and apricots ; delicious desi-ghee jalebis from lahoria di hatti
Temple hopping: Tilokinath temple, Panchbakhtar temple in addition to our local Bhimkali and Chamunda temples
Shopping in Indira market
And lots of chess time

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bhrigu Lake Trek

We are back from our three day trek to and back from Bhrigu Lake. Bhrigu lake is in the Pir Panjal range, close to Rohtang pass though slightly higher in elevation. The trek (especially day 2) turned out to be more than what we had bargained for but the boys surprised us yet again with their resilience. The views were spectacular. And it was our first time trekking upto 4000m elevation.
At the same time, the trek also turned out to be a series of mistakes for us. Mostly because we hadn't carefully studied the route in advance and it turned out that we ended up taking a route that was far more difficult than the typical one that starts from a much higher elevation at Gulaba.

Here's a quick summary:
Day 1: We took an early morning bus for Manali. This was a mistake. We should have left at least a day early to leave room for traffic delays and to acclimatize. What should have been a 3-4 hour bus ride took 6 hours due to a VIP convoy leaving Manali and at the end of it we were so exhausted of sitting in the bus that we got out and walked the remaining 2.5km to Manali. We met our guide Sharma ji here and after a quick lunch started the ascent at 2:30pm from Kulang village (located on the Rohtang road). Kulang is situated at about 2200m. We reached the Moridug campsite (2800m, about 7km away) around 6pm after spending some time at the stream below the campsite. Moridug is a beautiful campsite (it has fixed tents and food facility) made extra special by the swings and the shepherds. We all felt tired from the long day and retired early. However, Kabir had an upset stomach which kept him and Saurabh up at night.

Day 2: We started at 6am after a good breakfast. Since we had to return to the campsite at the end of the day we only had a small backpack to carry. The first few hours were through the beautiful forest of oak, pine, cedar, maple and walnut trees. Past the tree-line, we went through lovely meadows overlooking the Dhauladar range. Kabir was in great spirits while Anurag needed some nudging and distracting every now and then which we took turns to do. Sharma ji was a very nice guide to have who kept motivating the kids by getting them excited about what was to come. Once we started seeing snow patches, the kids needed no further encouragement. They were very excited to touch and feel the frozen snow. In an hour or so we reached the snow line. At this point, Kabir's energy levels suddenly dropped as he started to get a headache and we realized that it was altitude sickness that had hit him. However, he was still very motivated and wanted to keep going. We slowed down considerably and took our time to get through the rest of the trek through the snow. Reaching Bhrigu lake (at 4024 m elevation) was more of a relief than a celebration! There were a dozen or so other people already there who cheered for the young trekkers. The lake was largely frozen.
We rested and ate our lunch and started back around 1:30pm. The kids felt rejuvenated and the trek back through the snow was very enjoyable. Although there was a trail of ice made by previous trekkers, we still found ourselves knee-deep in snow by accidentally stepping on the soft snow. But other than having to deal with wet socks, this was a minor problem. The rest of the climb down was quick yet the last one hour really tested the kids' patience. We were finally back at the campsite after a 12 hour trek, just in time for nice hot cups of tea and Maggi!

Day 3: This was the most enjoyable day of the trip. We played at the swings for hours together in the morning, took pictures and generally lazed around at the campsite. Then we headed back the same way we had come, stopping again at the stream for a good half hour before heading all the way down to Kulang. We bade goodbye to Sharmaji, who we will almost certainly plan more treks with in the future. We took the bus back to Mandi right away and were home on Thursday night.