Name: Bhrigu Lake Trek
Approx elevation: 4,100 m
Starting Point: Gulaba or Vashisht, near Manali
It was the second week of August in 2014. Independence Day was approaching and I was all excited because of the accompanying weekend. 4 days of vacation is a big thing for an MBA college. This looked like a clear sign of getting away from Delhi and experiencing freedom from the hectic MBA life. I asked my roommate about his plans, but he denied any interest since he had recently come from a trek near Kasol. I asked other guys on my floor and everyone seemed to have their own problems- ranging from monetary constraints to constipation. I was all determined for a trek as visiting a hill station with an ‘all guys’ gang didn’t make any sense to me. Everybody had money for the latter, although both these plans would cost the same. I thought if I failed to convince a single guy for the trek then my purpose of studying marketing would stand defeated. I finally managed to convince the guy next door who was equally bored. Now the problem was to choose the right trek! I rang my friend Pushker who had recently opened a trekking company near Manali. He told me that they were going for an expedition to Bhrigu Lake. I Googled the place and found it to be a high altitude lake located over 14,000 ft.
So finally we are 2 guys in a Volvo owned by ‘Fauji travels’ travelling from Delhi towards Manali. The journey was never ending with several road blockages in the rainy season. For a moment all those worries from our parents’ side seemed reasonable, but then we decided not to think much of it. We finally covered the supposedly 14 hours journey in 24 hours to reach Patli Kul, where Pushker had arranged a cab for us to reach Rumsu.
If you want to know best season to do the Bhrigu Lake trek in detail then please visit this Trek Monk article. They have covered all the information you need.
The car stops at the entrance of Rumsu village, where I am greeted by the ‘Bicchu ghass’ on my left hand, a dangerous plant that feels like the scorpion’s sting on your skin. We walk in the dark for around 500m and reach the cottage house/resort owned by the company. The cottage is fairly new and the fresh smell of wood was really pleasant. The actual owner of this cottage goes by the name Subhash ji and he made every effort to inflate our belly from his food. Considering we had to start our trek the next morning, we decided to upset Subhash ji instead of our stomachs.
We woke up quite early in the next morning. The cottage looked more beautiful than the night before. I saw beautiful apple orchards in front of my eyes, plucked an apple and bit it with that cracking sound, quite similar to what you might have heard in the Vico Vajradanti advertisement that featured a couple near waterfall.
Meanwhile Pushker explained me the concept behind his company Kailash Rath. The aim of this company is to promote the experience of trekking among Indians. The treks are conducted at really cheap prices and the profit is used to develop the Rumsu village. I liked their approach and I was convinced that they are different from the plethora of money making trekking companies that exist today. Even the walking sticks used during the trek are manufactured by the locals and can be purchased for 300 INR less compared to the market price of 800 INR. The guides available with them are certified and have an experience of over 15 years with the YHAI.
I saw a beautiful view inside as well as outside the cottage. I roam around the area and then decide to take out the borrowed camera from my borrowed bag and click some pictures.
At this point, the comfort of cottage had provided the much needed refreshment from that tiring journey. We have a light breakfast and then board the hired cab to reach Manali. Let me tell you guys something about the Bhrigu Lake.
Bhrigu Lake is a high altitude Himalayan lake located at an elevation of around 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. It is located to the east of Rohtang Pass and is non-motorable. It can be reached by trekking either from the Vashishth temple, which is famous for its hot water springs, which is close to the town of Manali or from Gulaba village. Actually there is no settlement in Gulaba and is an area of the Pir Panjal mountain range. It is named after Maharishi Bhrigu.
Legend has it that the sage used to meditate near the lake and hence it has been rendered sacred; the locals believe that due to this the lake never freezes completely. You are not allowed to camp at the Bhrigu lake and one must descend few meters to find the suitable ground.
Starting point: The trek for Bhrigu Lake can be approached either from the Gulaba Village or Vashishtha. The path from Vashishtha is steeper, less scenic and has lesser spots for camping. Gulaba is accessible from the highway between Manali and Rohtang Pass.
Trek duration: 4-5 hours
We stretch a bit and then start our trek. I have trekked over 14,000 ft altitude before and along the steep trails, but I had never expected the starting portion of the trek itself to be so steep. We kept walking and after an hour we felt completely drained out. We ask the Guide to take a break and open the carton full of snacks and protein bars for us. Right at this moment, we saw some dark clouds passing below us. The guide said we need not worry as they are flowing along a different direction. We pack the carton again and ignore the clouds. We were all charged with the energy and trekked really well for next 30 minutes. There was a lot of greenery around us and the bright flowers were all around.
We paused a bit for clicking beautiful pictures and then saw the clouds taking a 90 degree turn to approach us.
Rains are the last thing one would like to encounter while trekking on a mountain. It derails the speed, demotivates first timers as well as the experienced ones, lowers the temperature by 2-3 degrees in less than an hour and if it makes your bag wet, that would spoil the entire trek for you. There were 4 of us on this trekking expedition, accompanied by 1 guide and 2 porters cum cooks. None of us knew how the exact route looked like since it was a part of an expedition and not an organized trek. When the clouds approached we increased our speed, and then the rains happened. We were running now trying hard to locate a trail beneath those streams of water. We were wearing rain jackets, the bag was waterproof and we had even kept our clothes inside plastic bags before putting them in the bag. Pushker and I didn’t realize that we were much ahead than rest of the people. Within few more minutes we saw our camping spot. The porters arrived immediately and we set our tent. We have our dinner and everyone falls asleep by 10.
Today was going to be a tough day. The first part of the trek involved climbing through a very steep section, visible in this pic.
We have our breakfast followed by the morning tea. The porters were busy in packing the entire stuff and washing dishes. I decided to play Guitar for them.
We start afresh for our journey. The steep climb was exhausting, but what tired us more was the sight of another similar steep section. We climb that too, meet some other Guide on the way and we were directed to a very steep mountain that required us to step on several rocks for climbing it. Assuming it to be the last portion of the trek, we were all determined to cover it. We encountered a few glaciers before climbing it. Once we reach the top, we have this this painful realization that we have come the wrong way. The view was nevertheless breathtakingly beautiful.
We tried descending this mountain, failed on this path and then descended it along the same way we had climbed it. We kept moving and had realized by now that the lake was located behind a huge snow Glacier. We needed to climb a different mountain for this. The effects of high altitude had started showing on one of the guys and he suffered mild headache. We had to get behind this huge glacier.
Every one showed their grit and we climbed this portion. We were welcomed with our first view of the lake and now it required only few minutes for us to reach there.
We trek further and finally reach the lake. I didn’t want to miss the holy dip inside this sacred lake, although I was terrified of the cold water.
We spent few minutes at the lake and then decided to descend towards the route that would take us to Vashistha the next day. Camping is not allowed near the lake, so we descended around 400 metres to reach the spot that looked perfect for camping.
The morning welcomed us with a bright sunlight. We were happy with the way our trek had turned out. Our camp site looked beautiful and couldn’t help myself clicking a pic.
We later started descending towards Vashistha. The trail was quite muddy and I slept almost 10 times during the descent, more so because I was running down since I had to catch a bus the same evening. I could see several flowers on both sides of the trail. Our guide said that we were lucky to be trekking in August and these would not be visible during the latter half of October. We made a quick descent towards Vashishtha and reached down within 3-4 hours. The place is famous for its Vashishtha temple and its natural hot water spring, which is claimed to have healing properties.
In retrospect, we did realize there was a mistake from the guide who misguided us. That made the entire 30 Km trek to be around 60 Km for us, but we got to see a few unexplored sites along the misguided path and that made all the difference to our experience. It’s always better to look at as many beautiful things as you can, get mesmerized more, get to walk more and learn to appreciate nature’s magnificence.
Once my feet touched the grounds of human settlement, the painful realization of living in Delhi struck me. If only I could change certain things, but I will always continue to find some time for myself and keep running to the Himalayas.
Author- Abhijeet (Owner Trek Monk)