Hidden behind the mesmerising snow-capped mountains of the mighty Himalayas, the Neelkanth Mahadev Lake trek is not just an ordinary trek. While, Himachal Pradesh is a paradise for trekking lovers, and one can find more than a hundred treks in these white mountains, this one is a little different. This trek is not just frequented by the adventure seekers but is also considered to be a holy trek. Many pilgrims embark on this divine trip to seek solace. Most pilgrims are men who have been unable to father a son. The women are not allowed by the locals to take this journey.
This trek is located at the Lahaul Valley in Himachal Pradesh and is stationed at 17500 ft above sea level.
As the name suggests, this peak is dedicated to the famous “deep blue-throated God”- aka. Lord Shiva. This wondrous peak also had a crystal clear lake, which is known to have healing properties and a small yet lovely temple in the worship of Lord Shiva.
The trek is extremely interesting, as the terrain is still uncharted. There are many areas that are so rough that they have been left unexplored. These areas also exude a sheer beauty that is amazing to gape at.
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The trek starts at a sleepy village called Nainghar. It houses a little over 10 houses and has only one shop which also doubles up as a dhaba. The village is situated at the banks of the free-flowing Chandrabhaga river. The Thirot Nallah also runs along like a free bird in this hamlet.
The residents of Nainghar embark on a spiritual journey once every year to the Neelkanth Mahadev Lake.
The trek starts off quite simply from the banks of this Nullah, and one can witness several domesticated animals go about their mundane lives, as one starts walking.
This walk then leads one to Alias, the campsite, where one can pitch their tent and rest before continuing on.
This campsite is a huge field, that is also the grazing site for several domesticated animals. This is the perfect place to halt and rest at night. Warm bonfires under the starry sky make it a pleasurable stop along the more dangerous trek that lies after this.
This is one of the milestones of the trek. This is said to be the source of the Thirot Nallah, and it is imperative to cross it and soldier on. There are rocky boulders placed strategically on the screaming glacier, and one has to be extremely cautious while crossing it. The water is extremely cold, and terrifying to even look at. The Gansgtang peak and the Neelkanth Peak, are visible from this are, as they stand tall and mighty and provide an intimidating backdrop. From here, one can also see another landmark- the beautiful Neelkanth lake that sits peacefully at the bottom of the peak.
One has to keep hopping the bog boulder rocks, till their feet land on rock-solid flat ground. This can be quite both exhausting and a rejuvenating ordeal.
The two peaks- Gangstang and Neelkanth, are essentially the two southern tips of the great Himalayan Range.
After this, there is a steep climb that one has to undertake in order to reach the lake at the bottom of the peak. The terrain can be quite unruly and rough.
The Neelkanth Lake itself is a sight to behold. It roughly resembles a dancing Shiva, who is in absolute surrender to the sounds of the Damru. The mystical blue waters of the lake also give the illusion, that this is Lord Shiva doing his famous dance in the form of a lake.
The scenery is absolutely miraculous. The lake forms the base of the enchanting vertical peaks that are surrounded by a white blanket that rests atop the mighty mountains.
The chants by the devotees fill the void as each mantra vibrates off the mountains and forms an enchanting rhythm that talks directly to the soul.
The small temple is also lovely and one can just roam around and visit it once.
After one is content with the serenity of this place, they can head back to Nainghar.
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- It is necessary to start as early as one can from Nainghar. The stream must be crossed before the sun is too high.
- One must make sure that their tent is not pitched on the old lake area. That area is flooded by afternoon and completely submerged as dusk rolls in.
- There is no easy way to cross the river. Many try for hours to avoid the boulder hopping. It is best to not waste time searching for something that doesn’t exist.
- On the way to the lake, there are several glacial streams that are freezing cold. It is best not to dip even the fingers in them.
- It is best to carry basic medicines like- paracetamols or muscle relaxants if possible.
How To Reach
The best way to reach Nainghar is through Manali. Manali is well connected with Delhi.
From Manali, one has to take a bus to Keylong. From Keylong, another bus to Chokhang has to be taken. Finally, from Chokhang Nainghar is about 8 km. One can either take a cab or trek to Nainghar.
Best Time To Trek
Neelkanth Mahadev Lake is at its best from mid-June to mid-September. The weather is nice and cool, but not too chilly. A lot of locals also take this journey in mid-August. Travelling with the locals is also very fun since they know a lot about the place and serve as excellent guides.