Mantali 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. One can reach Mantali Lake after several days of trekking. In fact, 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. This trek will be a real test of your strength and endurance. However, as a reward it will give you vast opportunities of camping, sightseeing, photography and of course, enjoying nature at its best. For most parts of the journey, the trekking route is mainly along the Parvati river.
To go to Mantalai Lake one has to first reach Bhuntar from where you cross the river Beas and enter the Parvati valley. The first plae of interest on the way is Kasol, 30-40 mins drive from Bhuntar. Kasol is a small beautiful village, in fact an urban village with rows of shops and number of hotels. This town like Vashist in Manali is very popular with the foreigners, but mostly of hippy types, staying in this town. Manikaran, the famous Sikh pilgrimage town is just 5 kms from here. 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. 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.
From Barshaini, the first days 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. A dip in this hot water spring is highly recommended if you are proceeding towards Mantalai as it would be days before you will be able to bathe again. It is believed that Lord Shiva meditated here in Khirganga; a shiva temple is built here. There are a number of small restaurants in Khirganga. It takes approx 4-5 hours trek to reach from Barsheni to Khirganga.
From Khirganga to the site of Tunda Bhuj (3285m/10890 ft) 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.
From Tunda Bhuj to Thakur Kuan (11946 Ft), one has to first cross a small bridge over the Parvati river, on the other side on way the groves of silver birch lines the valley, quickly becoming sparse as the altitude increases. Walking closely by the river and then climbing the cliff side comes 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. At Thakur Kuan, two valleys meet 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. It 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.
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. 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.
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.