Naggar Manali Left Bank Road
LandMark- Near Naggar Petrol Pump
Saturday & Sunday: 11:00AM–3:00PM
Bhrigu Lake or Brighu Lake is a lake located at an elevation of around 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in Kullu district, Himachal Pradesh, India. It is located to the east of Rohtang Pass and is around 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from Gulaba village. It can be reached by trekking either from the Vashishth temple, which is famous for its hot water springs, close to the town of Manali. Actually there is no settlement in Gulaba and is an area of the Pir Panjal mountain range. It is named after Maharishi Bhrigu.
If you want to see high altitude alpine meadows in our country, chances are that you would have to trek for at least 2-3 days before you can step onto one. This is because most alpine meadows start at around 11,000 feet, when you have just crossed the tree line. This requires 2-3 days of hard trekking to reach. That’s why most people in India go gaga over Europe and Switzerland though such meadows are right here in our backyard.
On most high altitude treks in India you’ll stumble upon meadows from a thick forest, usually of oak. The sudden change in views are startling and beautiful. While most of these meadows are a delight to behold, some are more special than others. The ones on the Bhrigu lake trek are among these.
The special meadows stretch far and wide, undulating, almost like an endless carpet. You’ll find horses galloping and sheep grazing. You can walk barefoot feeling the dew under your feet. Everywhere you see it is lush green against the deepest blue sky. But what will take your breath away is the view. Sitting on the grassy knolls you are surrounded by snow peaks that stretch to the horizon. You are sitting in your own garden in the sky.
The trek is an out and out grassland trek. You step into the meadows within ten minutes of starting out of the fabulous Gulaba base camp. Considering Gulaba is just an hour’s drive from Manali, it makes accessing Bhrigu Lake meadows very easy. Who could ever imagine that such beautiful meadows existed right above Manali?
What I really like about the Bhrigu meadows is the way they change texture, shape and colour but stay with you all along the trek – right until Bhrigu lake. It makes the trek special because getting a chance to be in such alpine meadows all along a trek is a rare opportunity. It feels more pristine when the meadows are covered with snow. Camping on these meadows twice has been a doubly rewarding experience.
Camping on such grasslands is a privilege that not many treks will give you. Picture by Nikita Bhatia
At the camp, in the night when everything is quiet, the sky lights up with a display of millions of stars. Our galaxy, the milky way, stretches from one corner of the sky to other. You can see more stars than the sky! You can get this kind of a celestial display only when you step into a vast openness and an altitude of around 11,000 feet. So it’s not a singular experience – it’s something that you would want to keep coming back to!
While I have talked a lot about the meadows of Bhrigu Lake, I must admit, getting to the lake is thrilling too. At almost 14,000 feet, this glacial lake changes colour and shape every week! Sometimes it is totally frozen. At times its water is a royal blue. At other times an emerald green. Just to see what colours the lake is during your week of the trek, it is worth doing the trek.
Departure Dates: May(3,17,31) June (7,21,28), July (12,19,26), Aug (2,16,23), Sept (6,14,27),Oct(4,11,25)
The Bhrigu Lake trek begins at Gulaba. The 24 km route to Gulaba takes you on the Manali-Rohtang Pass road, past Kolang, Palchan and Kothi. You get fabulous views of pine forests and mountains as soon as you cross Kothi. Once a quiet hamlet, Gulaba is now buzzing with tourists in transit to Rohtang Pass.
Altitude: 10,370 ft (3,161 m)
Time taken: 1 hour drive + 1 hour 15 minutes trek. Pick up from Manali at 2.00 PM
Vehicles drop you off at the road head near Gulaba checkpost.
Trek steadily underneath forest cover, passing through open grasslands every now and then. You will reach the Jonkar Thatch campsite in about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Altitude: 10,370 ft (3,161 m) to 12,566 ft (3,830 m)
Time taken: 3-4 hours, 5 km
Trek gradient: Moderate; Steep ascent throughout followed by an undulating walk for the last 30 minutes.
Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Gulaba. The first water source is 15 minutes before Rola Khuli campsite and the second one is 10 minutes before – both at stream crossings. The first one is a better place for filling your water bottles since it has a steady flow of water. This saves you time.
The trail begins with a steep ascent. Make note of brown oak, cedar and birch trees on the trail here. These are few of the most prominent trees in the Himalayas. After around 20 minutes, the trail enters an open meadow where shepherds camp.
Observe Mt. Hanuman Tibba towering over the meadow in the background. Below Hanuman Tibba are the Seven Sister peaks seated in the Beas Kund Valley. Turn right from the upper ridge of the meadow and head south. The second forested cover begins here.
Rola Khuli is a scenic grazing ground used by local shepherds. Located at the base of Bhrigu Lake, it makes for an ideal camping spot. You water source here is Chor Nallah, which flows across the camping ground.
Altitude: 12,565 ft (3,830 m) to 14,009 ft (4,270 m); back to 12,565 ft (3,830 m)
Time taken: 6-7 hours, 10 km
Trek gradient: Moderate; Starts on a stony trail. Initial steep ascent for 2 hours followed by a 10 minutes descent. Level walk for 15 minutes followed by an hour’s steep ascent to the lake.
Water sources: Bhrigu lake, streams along the way
Start early as you have a lot of distance to cover today. You have to trek a height of around 1,348 ft to reach Bhrigu Lake.
Bhrigu Lake rests between two high-altitude ridges. You begin with hiking to the first ridge, which is an hour away. In June, the trail is usually covered in snow. In July, as the snow melts on the lower reaches, you see the trail slowly turning from green to brown and white. As you reach the ridge, look for an oval glacial lake in the distance. Depending on the season, the lake is either surrounded by snow or fresh grass, along with alpine flowers.
On a clear day, you can catch a stunning panoramic view of Pir Pinjal and Dhauladhar ranges. Also, major peaks such as Indrasen, Deo Tibba and Hanuman Tibba stand majestically before you. The lake is normally enveloped in fog which can make finding the route tricky. It is always advisable to hire a local guide.
After spending time at the lake, retrace your way to Rola Khuli.
Altitude: 12,565 ft (3,830 m) to 10,370 ft (3,161 m)
Time taken: 3-4 hours, 5 km
Trek gradient: Easy. Mostly descending.
Water sources: Carry 2 litres of water from Rola Khuli
Today’s trek is an easy one. You get back to Gulaba through the meadows you came up from. The descent can be a bit steep but is good on your legs given you are always in the meadows. It takes 3-4 hours to reach Gulaba. Gulaba at around 10,370 ft is a better exit for your knees and feet as compared to Vasisht at 7,000 ft.
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