Mantalai Lake, Kullu
Mantalai Lake, situated at an altitude of 13580 ft, is located in the Parvati Valley in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Parvati valley is one of the most beautiful valleys of Himachal Pradesh. This lake is the source of the Parvati River which meets river Beas at Bhunter.
Mantalai Lake Trek
Mantali trek is one of the popular and famous treks in Himachal Pradesh. Mantalai Lake is a beautiful water body surrounded by frozen glaciers in the foothills of Himalayas.
Mantalai Trek Distance
One can reach Mantali Lake after several days of trekking. The total distance from Barshaini which is the starting point of the trek to the Mantalai lake distance is 46 km approx and takes 6 days minimum along the Parvati river. In fact it is this river that guides you right till the lake which is the source of the Parvati river. This trek is the real test of one’s strength and endurance. However, once you reach the lake, it will give you vast opportunities of camping, sightseeing, photography and of course, enjoying nature at its best. That is the reward for the grueling 7 days trek which is worth it.
The weather in Mantalai Lake is mostly unpredictable. It may rain or there may be snowfall any time there. During winters it is extremely cold with temperatures falling under minus 30 plus degrees. It is advisable to do this trek during summer from Jun to September except during rains in July and August months.
How to Reach Kasol
Kasol is in most cases the base camp for all the treks to Parvati Valley whether the Mantalai Lake Trek, Pin Parvati Trek or the Kheerganga Trek. To reach Kasol one has to first reach Bhuntar from where you take a bus of taxi and enter the Parvati valley. Bhuntar to Kasol is 30 km approx and it is 40 min drive. Kasol used to be a small beautiful village but no longer. It is now a tourist town bustling with tourists with rows of shops, hotels and campsites. This town like Vashist in Manali is very popular with the foreigners, but mostly of hippy types, staying in this town. In recent years there has been heavy influx of Indian tourists many of whom are trekkers. So much so that there are direct bus services from Kasol and Dehi and to other major towns in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
Manikaran, the famous Sikh pilgrimage town is just 5 kms from Kasol. Besides the famous Sikh Gurudwara and Hindu temples, the place is famous for hot sulphur water. The food at the langar of the Gurudwara is cooked in this natural hot water. The weather in Manikaran Sahib is always cool with cool breeze blowing from the parvati river.
From Manikaran, the next town of note is Barsheni which is appx 25 kms from Mankaran. One can reach upto this place travelling either by taxi/jeep or Himachal Roadways bus.
The Kheerganga Trek
From Barshaini, the first day’s trek to Khirganga starts. First you reach a small village Pulga across the river, from there the footpath leads to a temple and a waterfall called Rudranag. After Rudranag, the trail takes you through thick pine forests to Khirganga. Khirganga is a hot spring of sulphur water. The hot springs are believed to have sacred healing properties. It is believed that Lord Shiva meditated here in Khirganga; a shiva temple is built here. There are a number of small tented restaurants in Khirganga. It takes approx 4-5 hours trek to reach from Barsheni to Khirganga. I completed the Kheerganga trek in April 2022. Please check the detailed itenarary that I followed and videos of the Kheerganga trek.
Kheerganga to Tunda Bhuj Trek
From Khirganga the next site is Tunda Bhuj located at a height of 3285m/10890 ft. This is the day 2 trek and the distance from Kheerganga to Tunda Bhuj is 15 km approx and the trail stays on the left bank of the river Parvati passing through a steep-sided gorge through the mountains. The route to Tunda Bhuj is stunningly beautiful. As the altitude increases, the trail moves through thick rhododendrons, fir and birch gradually making way for way for open meadows and pastures. There are several tributaries/streams on the way that join the main Parvati River as well as numerous waterfalls cascading down the steep valley.
Tunda Bhuj to Thakur Kuan
The Day 3 trek is from Tunda Bhuj to Thakur Kuan located at a height of 11946 Ft. In this trek one has to first cross a small bridge over the Parvati river, getting on the other side. The grooves of silver birch lines the valley, which then quickly becomes sparse as the altitude increases. Walking closely by the river and then climbing the cliff side one finally reached Thakur Kuan.
Thakur Kuan is said to be the land of the Thakurs, a flat land with greenery all around. From here the trail takes you to Pandu Bridge. It is very interesting to note that two valleys meet there ie the Parvati Valley and Dibibokri valley. The Dibibokri vallay will take you to the Dibibokri Glacier. In this pristine altitude, one can find abundance of alpine flowers. One then reaches the second bridge called the Pandu Pul which is made across two big rocks on either side of the river. It is believed that the bridge was built by the Pandavas of the Mahabharathas.
Pandu Pul to Odi Thatch
From Pandu Bridge the trail leads to Odi Thatch. This stretch is fairly wide and safe, and beautiful because of with peaks and frozen glaciers around it.
Odi Thatch to Mantalai Lake
From Odi Thatch the trek up to Mantalai Lake is a gradual and steep climb. Once at the lake, you can see the Mantalai Glacier, which is the source of the river Parvati. There is a small Shivling partially buried in ground. Camping near the Mantalai Lake (4100m/13580 ft) and spending the night is one of the most beautiful experiences ever. The stunning beauty of Mantalai lake is to be seen to be believed. The ice in the frozen glacier is blue and black in colour and it is a wide stretch of land. Mantalai lake is the source of river Parvati. It is said that if you search you can also find crystals, pearls and precious stones here.
Pin Parvati Pass
If you continue east from Mantalai lake, you can cross another of the great trekking routes ie Pin-Parvati pass (5320m) and reach Spiti. You reach into the Pin Valley National Park and then to the village of Mudh in the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
The Parvati Valley is one of the most picturesque and beautiful regions of Himachal Pradesh. A thick alpine forest covers the entire valley with the Parvati river fllowing in the middle. Parvati river ultimately meets the Beas river at Bhuntar.
Kheerganga trek in the Parvati Valley is an invigorating trekking experience, which not only unveils the stunning terrain of the Himalayas but also gives you a chance to see and observe life and culture of the people living here. If you want there are plenty of villages to visit and infinite opportunities to click pictures with the snow-capped peaks in the background.
I had always wanted to do the Kheerganga trek and thanks to Thrillophilia I got this opportunity in April 2022.
Kheerganga Trek Itinerary
Day 1 : Reached Bhuntar from Delhi at 930 am. Crossed over to the other side of the bridge and waited for the local bus. Reached Kasol comfortably and reported at the camp at 1130 hours.
After lunch at around 230 pm we were taken for the Chalal Trek which was a sort of acclimatisation walk or trek. You cannot just land in Kasol and straightway go for the Kheerganga Trek. This acclimatisation walk is a must-do. The next day’s trek to Kheerganga is going to be much easier and more enjoyable.
Day 2. After breakfast, we took a shared taxi at 9 am and reached Barshaini after one hour’s drive. A brief intro about the trek was given by our trek leader Shri Dhruv. We were also required to fill an “Indemnity Bond” which exempts the company from any damages or liabilities in case of accidents/ calamities etc.
The thrilling Kheerganga trek began from the small village of Barshaini, situated on the banks of the serene Parvati River. After walking for a km or so we crossed a bridge on the river Parvati and reached the other side of the Valley. It is from here that the actual climb begins. The entire stretch of the trekking trail was through dense alpine forest and what a treat to behold those majestic sights of nature. There are a number of small tented cafes and restaurants where one can have tea, coffee, toast, eggs, maggie, and such stuff though the cost is a bit on the higher side.
The halt for the lunch point is at a beautiful place where there are again a number of cafes. There is also a stream flowing which gives the entire place a nice look. After lunch as soon as we got up to continue the trek, there was a heavy downpour and we had to halt for more than an hour. The rain subsided but it was still drizzling. If we don’t move now it will soon be dark. With that in mind, we pushed on.
We were told by our trek leader Dhruv that the hardest climb is the stretch which is just before one reaches the campsite of Kheerganga. It really was a bit hard with the ground below your slippery and darkness engulfing slowly. Finally after climbing a ridge lo and behold the beautiful sight of the Kheerganga Campsite. By the time I reached the Red Rose Camp, I was soaked in rain. A comfortable large alpine tent was allotted to me and later on, dinner was served in one of the tents. In spite of the inclement weather, the food served was delicious and hot. Imagine hot chapatis and rice at this altitude.
Day 3. Woke up to clear weather with a blue sky. The mountain tops were covered with snow. Time to take a dip in the hot sulphur spring. After the refreshing bath and breakfast, time for the return trip to Barshaini and thence on to Kasol. On the way booked the 2230 bus for Delhi from Kasol. The adventure does not stop until you reach your home. The kheerganga Trek was smooth, enjoyable and memorable.
There are a number of waterfalls while doing the Kheerganga Trek. The main kheerganga waterfall is the Rudranag Devta Waterfall. This is an amazing waterfall and a must visit place while doing this trek. Spend some time at this beautiful location, visit the Rudranag temple. Perfect place for photography.