This Trek In Lahaul Will Take You To The Mountains Of Lord Shiva

Photo of This Trek In Lahaul Will Take You To The Mountains Of Lord Shiva by Amrita

Himachal Pradesh is a trekker’s paradise. There are so many Himalayan treks in this region that a lifetime would be less to explore all the trek routes. And most of these treks will take you to the virgin territory of the snow-capped Himalayas that will not only test your endurance levels, but also will leave you mesmerized with the sheer magnificence of the journey. The Neelkanth Mahadev Lake Trek is one such trek in the Lahaul valley of Himachal Pradesh. the Neelkanth Peak is situated at an altitude of 17500 ft and as the name suggests, the peak is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Neelkanth” literally means ‘the blue throated’. Lord Shiva was called the Neelkanth after He consumed the virulent poison that came along with ‘amrit’ or nectar by the ocean churning by the Devas (Gods) and Asuras (Demons), left his throat blue. A glacial Lake called the Neelkanth Lake is situated at the base of the peak, located at a height of 13777 ft ASL. There is a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva near the lake.

Photo of This Trek In Lahaul Will Take You To The Mountains Of Lord Shiva 1/1 by Amrita
Courtesy: M Kailash

The trek to Neelkanth Mahadev is quite interesting and the terrain is relatively unexplored. Although, the Neelkanth lake is visited by devotees, mostly men who have not been blessed with a son, the trek route is relatively untouched. A bath in the lake and a prayer to the Neelkanth Mahadev is said to grant their wishes to sire a child. However, women are not allowed by the local people to visit this place.

The trek to Neelkanth Mahadev starts from Nainghar, a small village located on the right bank of the glacial water stream flowing from mountains towards the Chandrabhaga river. You can start from Nainghar, visit the Neelkanth Mahadev Lake and return back to the village in a day itself. The villages usually do so on their annual visit to the Lake.

Photo of Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Kotdwara, Uttarakhand, India by Amrita

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1 : Manali – Nainghar via Keylong and Thirot

The trek starts from Nainghar. You have to take a HRTC bus from Manali to Chokhang. The bus route goes through the Rohtang Pass and Keylong. If you want, you can come to Keylong the previous day too. From Chokhang, there are buses to Nainghar, but the service depends on the condition of the road. Nainghar is a small hamlet consisting of merely 15-20 homes. The Thirot Nallah runs wild and free across the village.

Day 2 : Nainghar – Alias Campsite

The trek starts this day from the village and is a relatively easy one along the right bank of the Nullah. Cattle, yaks and ibex can be seen in plenty grazing on the meadows. An easy trek will bring you to Alias, where you will pitch tent for the night. From Alias, you can see the rocky pinnacle of Mount Gangstang.

Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Amrita
Photo of Keylong, Himachal Pradesh, India by Amrita

Day 3 : Alias Campsite – Neelkanth Lake – Nainghar

Try to start quite early. Also, today, the trail is a bit difficult with river crossing and boulder hopping on the way. You will start towards the source of the Thirot Nullah. The Gangstang Peak, now could be seen quite close. And the Neelkanth Mahadev peak too stood like a sentinel piercing the sky. Here, you have to cross a river and walk over the boulders till you reach a flat ground that once used to be a huge moraine dammed lake. Glacial receding opened the floodgates and a swampy ground was left behind. After a stiff climb, you will reach the Neelkanth Lake. After you reach the lake, explore around the place. It is a beautiful and serene place. The lake looks as if Lord Shiva is dancing with his damru.

Start your descent towards Nainghar after you have fulfilled your desire to explore the place and offer your prayers to the mighty Lord Shiva. Retrace the path back to Nainghar. You will probably reach Nainghar by evening.

Day 4: Return to Manali

Return back to Manali after the wonderful trek.

Photo of This Trek In Lahaul Will Take You To The Mountains Of Lord Shiva by Amrita

Other Useful Facts:

• This trek is often done combined with Kugti Pass by trekking via the Kugti Wildlife sanctuary to enter into Lahaul valley.

• It is recommended to start early from Nainghar as the place near the lake becomes flooded with glacial melts in the afternoon.

• Enroute the Neelkanth Lake, you have to cross a few glacial streams having freezing water.

• Do not pitch your tent near the Old Lake grounds, although it is a beautiful camping site. The place becomes waterlogged by afternoon due to glacial melting. The best place for camping is the Alias campsite.

• Women are prohibited from visiting the lake by the local villagers as per their religious beliefs.

Trek Length : 15 km (approx.) one way

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Best time to visit:

The best time is between mid June to mid September. During August and September, the locals too visit the Lake.

Courtesy: M Kailash

Photo of This Trek In Lahaul Will Take You To The Mountains Of Lord Shiva by Amrita
Photo of This Trek In Lahaul Will Take You To The Mountains Of Lord Shiva by Amrita

How to Reach:

The nearest town is Manali. You can easily reach Manali from New Delhi or Chandigarh by Volvo buses.

You can reach Nainghar from either Manali or Keylong. From Manali, you have to take a bus to Keylong. HRTC buses are available towards Keylong. From Keylong, take a bus to Chokhang (again HRTC buses) and from Chokhang, take another bus to Nainghar. The distance between Chokhang to Nainghar is 8 km. you can also hire a cab, or simply trek the 8 km.

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