The Prashar Lake Ride
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THE PREPARATION

Sitting in office, watching the lazy schedule of meetings for the week could be really boring ????. I was doing just the same when the picture of a lake was posted by someone on Instagram. I immediately called my friend and group co- owner Jeevan and uttered those golden words “Let’s go on a trip”????. Weekend was just 3 days away so we decided to go to Prashar Lake in Mandi.
The day was decided but we realized we didn’t know anything about the place. How to stay? What to take with us? What to expect? When we get there? So we started harnessing the power of internet. Three hours and nine calls later he was able to get hold of a person who could provide us a room there. Stage was set ????.
Things we decided to take with us just the necessary like water, puncture kit, few bungee cords for emergency, cameras and chargers. Located our riding gears. They were lying at the same place as they were almost 3 months since we went for our last ride. Gave our bikes some checkup and some tweaks.
THE JOURNEY
We decided to meet at the predefined location at around 9:30 am but both of us reached at around 10:30 am (we were taking it a little too easy 😉 ). After talking about the route we were going to take, we finally set off. The route decided was simple, Chandigarh – Ropar – Bilaspur – Mandi and then take detour toward the lake.
From Chandigarh to Mandi was quite uneventful. In between, we stopped for a couple of pictures and some fooood. We seriously got bored (for the first time) till Mandi as we had travelled from this route several times by then (we now even know where the bad patches are). After Mandi it changed completely. The sights became fresh and beautiful. The landscapes become greener. The unseen road filled excitement in us.
Prashar lake is about 50 kms from the town of Mandi. Important towns that come in between are: Kataula (about 28 kms from prashar lake) and Bagi (about 18 kms from Prashar lake). Kataula is the nearest big market where you can find mechanics and other things. Bagi is the starting point of the various treks to the Lake. The condition of the roads is fine till about 8 kms beyond Bagi towards Lake. The last 10 kms stretch to lake also has a forest in between. It is advisable to cover this stretch during the day itself ( as one guide we met told us that various animals come out in night).
We completed the first 40 kms (out of 50 in total) quite comfortably. We were enjoying the roads (which were quite smooth at times) and the nature. The road gradient was steep but not that much to cause problem for our bikes. But last 10 kms are completely a different story. The roads had completely vanished after that and we were just riding on a track full of dirt. We were ok with that too and were cruising quite comfortably. But then God started to test our spirits and that dirt suddenly change in slippery mud. Our pace slowed down as we were passing carefully through that hurdle. And then that mud also changed to slush which made roads as slippery as glass ????.
Like I said… it was a hasty trip. We checked the weather forecast but we forgot to check the previous week weather logs. Apparently it snowed a lot the last week and because of that there was still considerable snow in the area (in the mid march ????) and we were simply not prepared for that.
There were patches of snow which made it almost impossible to pass on bikes. With the tyre spinning and crying for grip we have to push each other’s bikes just to make them pass through those bits. The slope and ice made those patches difficult to go through so much that once we thought of leaving our bikes there only (middle of nowhere) and cover rest of the path on foot. But as someone said.. ‘No guts no glory’ so we pushed our limits and ultimately crossed them all and reached on the top. We took about 1.5 hours to cover last 8 kms .
THE PLACE
Once there, we located our contact Mr. Anil, who made arrangements for our stay; we dumped our bags, had tea, took out our camera and went out for a stroll. The temperature was cold (it was sub zero) due to snow all over the place. But we were stuck viewing the sky as you don’t see so many stars in the city. But oops… we forgot the tripod in hurry for those long exposure shots.
After deciding from where to take pictures, we came back for dinner. We made some new friends there who were incidentally from our city as well. Shared each other’s travel stories and fantasies. Ate delicious rajma-chawal and were back to the decided location (but this time with tripod as well). And then it was time to switch that DSLR in Manual Mode. While clicking the pics we observed a few characteristics of the place. It was very very cold at that time of the year. Any uncovered parts were freezing like anything (didn’t have gloves so hands were getting freezed ????). Then we observed the grass below our feet. It was all frozen. This was the first time we had seen frozen grass. Also there was no water in the washrooms (which we found out when we needed to use one) as it was still frozen in the pipes. We took several shots for about 3 hours before finally retiring to bed.
We woke up Early in the morning to witness the sunrise. It was cold but thankfully the chill in the air which was there the previous night was gone now (God saved us!). And then the sun came out from behind the snowy mountains and Gosh!!! they are beautiful as hell ????. There were some clouds but still the view was simply breathtaking. We took pictures everywhere. We went up the snowy hill, near campsites, near the lake clicking picture of us as well as the beautiful view we had in front of us. And then it was time to pack our bags and head for home.
We came back to rooms to find out that there was still no water in the washrooms. So, we went back to the hills. where no one was looking, to take a dump. We are not proud of it but it was a necessity (also didn’t want to sit naked in snow). Then, we had breakfast, visited the temple there and started our way back to our bikes.
The first thing my partner noticed on reaching our bikes was his back wheel. It was flat ????. Luckily we carry bike puncture kits during our rides. So we instantly got on with new mission in hand. But on opening tyres found multiple punctures and we were short of just one patch. We tried to arrange that but of no use. Choices we have? Take the back wheel all the way back to Katula (28 Kms Downhill). There is only one shop which could help us out then. So we kept our bags in the PWD guest house, took the back wheel all they way down on the other bike. Got it repaired. Came back to the lake. Surprisingly, the journey back up the hill was better than the night before. Maybe the sun was up or maybe the previous night ride honed our skills by now ????. But this exercise had cost us about 4 hours. But this also made us wiser (carry sufficient puncture repair patches not just two three). We fixed the back wheel back in its place. After that it was smooth ride back to home.
Prashar lake is a beautiful place to visit whether you want to ride or trek till i,t you will always be back with some great memories of beautiful landscapes. It is still little unexplored; so make sure you are taking essentials with you for those just in case scenarios. And the most of all please do carry wipes with you ????.

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