Neelkanth lake is situated high up in the mountains of Thirot in Lahoul and Soiti in Himachal Pradesh. This serene and picturesque natural wonder is situated at an altitude of about 4,300 meters (14,100 feet) above sea level. The Neelkanth lake is situated below the Neelkanth Mahadev mountain and surrounded by other snow-capped mountains, making it an enchanting destination for trekkers and nature lovers.
Neelkanth Lake is situated just below the a majestic mountain called Neelkanth Mahadev. The height of the Neelkanth Mahadev peak is 17500 ft. The name Neelkanth means blue-throated and is referred to as Lord Shiva.
The History and Mythology of Neelkanth Lake
The Neelkanth Lake and Neelkanth Mahadev mountain are named after Lord Shiva, who consumed poison during the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan) during the war between demons and gods. According to Hindu mythology, the gods and demons churned the ocean to obtain amrita (the nectar of immortality), that would grant them eternal life. During the process of churning many wonderful treasures came up which were divided between the gods and demons. However, when a pot of poison was also churned out, it threatened to destroy the world and no demon or god was able to do anything. It was then Lord Shiva stepped up and swallowed the poison to save the world. Immediately his throat turned into blue colour. From that day onwards Lord Shiva is also known as as Neelkanth, which means blue throat (Hindi). The lake and the mountain is named after Lord Shiva.
Geographical Features of Neelkanth Lake
The Neelkanth Lake and the surrounding area is known for its rugged terrain, snow-clad mountains, and its pristine beauty. The water of the lake is fed by the melting snow from the surrounding mountains.
The region is known for its harsh climate, with temperatures dropping to extremely low making it out of bounds for people during winter seasons. The area around the lake remains covered with snow during winters. However, summer is the ideal time to visit this beautiful place, when the temperature rises to a comfortable 15°C to 20°C.
Neelkanth Lake – Belief
Neelkanth lake is often visited by local men who have not been blessed with a son. It is believed that a bath in icy cold waters of the lake and a prayer to the Neelkanth Mahadev Mountain is said to grant them their wishes and bless them with a son. The women are forbidden and not allowed by the local people to visit this place.
How to Reach Neelkanth Lake
HRTC (Himachal Pradesh Roadways Transport) runs daily bus services between Manali to Udaipur/Tindi. One can get down at Thirot, 30 km approx before Udaipur. Taxi services from Manali are also easily available. Spend the evening in the small and beautiful town of Thirot situated on the banks of the Chandrabagha river and explore the town. There is a PWD Rest House as well as some small hotels/guesthouses. The town of Thirot is divided into two parts by a river called Thirot Nallah. There is a bridge on this river that joins the Chandrabagha river. Upstream of this Nallah called Chokhang Nalah there is a hydel project. It is towards the source of this river that one has to trek.
Neelkanth Lake Trek
From Thirot one can reach Nainghar a small village. The trek starts from this village. The trek distance is approx 15km. On the way, you will cross a number of small streams and glaciers. You may come across shepherds and their flock of sheep and goats grazing. Though the climb is a bit stiff, it is worth the effort because, in the end, you reach a place so divine and heavenly. Once you can spend some time near the lake and explore the nearby areas.
Other Places of Interest Nearby
The Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh offers visitors a wide range of options for exploration and adventure. This tribal area has a very distinct natural features and beauty which is completely different from Kullu valley. Visitors can choose to explore the regions beauty, cultural heritage, local fairs and temples. Some places that can be explored nearby are as follows.
After your trek to Neelkanth and back, your next halt should be Trilokinath, whih is located about 15-20 km from Thirot towards Udaipur. Trilokinath is located on the other side of the Chandrabhaga river. Trilokinath is a famous pilgrimage of both Hindus and Buddhists.
Mrikula Devi Temple
From Trilokinath, one can proceed to Udaipur which is only 12 km away. Here you can seek the blessings of the ancient Mrikula Devi temple. Udaipur is also the place where again two rivers merge together, Mayar Nallah and Chandrabagha. From Udaipur, one can decide to return back to Manali or move further on to Tindi, cross the Himachal border and enter Jammu Kashmir at Sansari Nallah. If you have enough time how about exploring the beautiful Pangi region. If not then proceed further and pass through Gulabgarh, Kishtwar, Bhadarwah and other places on your way to Jammu. From Jammu take a train or a flight for Delhi and back to your home.
JAI TRILOKINATH JI