Mystery of Parashar Lake and the Floating Island

Hello Reader! Forgive me for the dramatic title of the article but once you are done reading till the end you will know why it’s so apt. Anyway, let’s talk about mystery of Parashar Lake. I won’t be exaggerating if I say that I was planning to visit Parashar from two years; that too while living in Delhi. All the pictures and blogs made me think “What is mystery of Parashar Lake?” But, unfortunately the plan would always got cancelled. Then during one of the weekends in August last year I said to myself “Fuck it! Planning never works. Let’s just go without allowing ourselves time to cancel. Thursday evening, I booked the tickets to Mandi and hopped onto the bus on Friday.

“Over Planning can be highly toxic sometimes. Pinch of spontaneity can make life a lot more fun!”

Parashar Lake in Monsoon
This has to be one of favourite pictures of the lake

For two years I have been googling the Parashar Lake images and no matter the season, it always looks breathtaking. In winters, it would all be covered in snow like a blank white canvas. Come the monsoons and its all green mixed with colors of pink and red. And if one is to notice little too carefully, they can see cute little island floating all the time. It’s really true, that tiny piece of land in between the lake floats and revolves around the lake. If you are looking for the information about how to reach, place to stay and budget, etc. Then please scroll to end of post. And if you are here to unravel the mysteries of this floating Island then come along because you my dear are in for a fun ride through the pages of Indian mythology.

Rishi Parashar Temple
Temple with a view.

Have you heard about Mahabharata? Few months back I binged watched the epic “Mahabharata” by B.R Chopra (Not the new trashy one) and learnt so much about the Indian mythology. To be honest, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Every character is written and being performed so well and makes you want to know more about these intriguing characters. Although, it didn’t say much about the ‘Sage Parashar’ who is the great grand father of Pandavas and Kauravas. It’s believed that sage Parashar meditated here for thousand years and hence the lake was named after him. Quite persistent, isn’t it? 

Okay, so first some basic facts about the temple. Parashar lake is located at an altitude of 2730 m and the region offers the panoramic view of the Dhauladhar ranges. Adjacent to the lake, there is a temple as well which goes by the same name. It was built in 13-14th century by King Ban Sen and has an old pagoda style structure

Reaching Parashar Lake

Unfortunately we missed the last bus from Mandi to Parashar. So, after lot of waiting and bargain, we hired an auto rickshaw. Monsoon season and the recent clouds burst had taken its toll on the roads. But, the landscapes turned more green and pleasing as we moved upwards. Clouds hurled above us waiting to pour down. Our auto driver was quite entertaining and told us a lot about the local area. We chatted about everything from farming to floods. Finally, after two hours of awesome ride we reached the lake.

Parashar Temple Campus
Lazy monsoon afternoon inside the temple

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Parashar Temple Campus
Isn’t it beautiful

First Impression

Okay so how do I define the first impression of this mysterious jewel – “the Parashar Lake”? Imagine yourself walking into one of those fantasy dreamy dance sets from the 80’s bollywood. Ones where it’s all misty and foggy, it seems like actors are romancing on clouds which supposedly is a dream sequence. Except all of it was real in Parashar. Parashar seemed like a micro Meghalaya during monsoons. Clouds kept on playing hide and seek the entire time. As I entered the area, for first few minutes there was absolutely zero visibility and then fast moving winds cleared the view for us. There it was, beautiful as ever “Lake Parashar” and the little island floating in the centre.  

Dogs have beautiful home
Doggos keeping me company

It was already afternoon by the time we reached there. One of our friends had recommended staying in the temple itself so we went ahead. The temple premise had lot of rooms (very basic room) and they provide you with the mattress, blanket and pillow at a very nominal charge. Toilet was far outside the temple premise (Well, of course you can’t shit where you pray). So, if you really have to pee in the middle of the night then good luck walking in the dark and cold. Damn! Am I really talking about toilet and peeing? Before you close this article and plan to kill me for wasting your time, let’s talk about all those interesting stories we heard from the temple priest. Shall we?

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Jeevan Bhaiya – The Story Teller

We met Jeevan bhaiya (temple priest/caretaker) who made the arrangements for us to stay there. He was a jolly young fellow and very keen to share his knowledge about the temple. It was his seventh generation in the service of temple. Sensing our curiosity about the place, he shared so many stories with us. I couldn’t wrap my head around half of it. Who am I kidding? I couldn’t digest any of it but makes for interesting stories and gives so much more character to the already breathtakingly beautiful place. However, there are so many others just like Jeevan bhaiya who have this unwavering faith in its sacredness. 

Mystery of Parashar Lake
We got lucky to witness full bloom in Parashar

Jeevan bhaiya told us how lake and the little island are symbolic in so many ways. According to mythology, Sage Parashar met Satyavati (adopted daughter of a fisherman) during one of his wanderings and fathered seer Vyasa. That’s when Satyavati asked sage Parashar for a place where no one would ever go unanswered and that looked just like the birth place of Vyasa. Sage Parashar answered Satyavati’s wish with the Parashar lake and floating island in between. The land and water ratio is symbolic of land and water ratio (30:70) on earth. And, the floating island is symbolic of earth’s revolution on it’s axis. Jeevan bhaiya added “the day when island would stop floating would be the indication of catastrophe and imbalance”. I really wonder given the climatic change, that day isn’t very far.

Mystery of Parashar Lake
Beautiful Parashar Lake
Mystery of Parashar Lake
We hiked up to get a better view of the lake

Another, interesting fact about the lake that we came to know was no one could ever measure the depth of the lake. He told us that many teams have tried multiple times but they were always unsuccessful. Lake’s depth is still a mystery.

He also explained a ritual known as “Vachan” (Translates to “promise” in english) performed using rice. It’s basically a way to get your questions answered. He emphasized, the result of the ritual has never been wrong and they use it whenever in doubt about anything. One of the examples he stated was how they get to know how much wood to stock for the winter based on “Vachan”. People from far and near villages come to get their queries answered in the temple.

Mystery of Parashar Lake
People praying inside the temple. Carvings on the temple door were beautiful
Mystery of Parashar Lake
Sheeps with empty tummies going to graze the grasslands

Jeevan bhaiya also took pride in this another fact about the temple. He told us how the temple association and everyone who serves inside the temple is “Thakur” (Kshatriya) by caste as opposed to being a Brahmin. And this has been the case since generations. The temple association has strict guidelines in place to avoid the commercialization of place and maintain the sanctity of the temple. This is the reason why one can pitch tent only outside the temple fencing. I was myself very much surprised to have the beauty of place still intact even after so much hype and beautiful pictures doing rounds of internet. All this puts a stamp on commendable job done by the caretakers of the temple.

Transport, Food and Stay

If you are planning to visit Parashar lake youself, following information would come handy:

  • Transport: If travelling from Delhi take an overnight bus to Mandi. From Mandi you can catch a morning bus to Parashar Lake. The same bus leaves Parashar lake in the afternoon for Mandi. You can also rent a private car/Sumo from Mandi to reach Parashar. You can book bus to Mandi on HRTC website
  • Food: There are two shops or should I say small dhabas that serve delicious rajma rice, maggi and chai.
  • Stay: There’s a Forest Rest House and PWD guest house. You can also stay inside the temple premise.

So, when are you visiting this mysterious beautiful lake? If you have any queries do let me know in comments. Also, it would make me super happy if you will share the story of this mysterious lake with others.