Friday, October 24, 2014

Kinnaur & Spiti tales-4-Hike to Dhankar lake

As we travelled from Tabo towards Kaza , a stunning geological formations made us take a  break from our journey. It invariably stops people from continuing their journey.Such is the landscape of  Dhankar. It is located about 25 kms from  Kaza which is the headquarters of Spiti valley in Himachal Pradesh.
Dhankar - Bird view
On one side, it has a wide river bed where Spiti and Pin rivers meet. On the other side it has a huge anthill like structures formed as a result of  years of soil erosion. It is  bordering Dhankar village. In the center is village and monastery. Dhankar has gained its name from its fort. It is a structure perched on top of the hill where once Spiti’s king lived. Dhankar was erstwhile capital of Spiti. Now the fort is completely weathered. Even the monastery is supposed to be very old dating back to more than 1000 years old. However, they don’t have written record like Tabo monastery. Hence Dhankar monastery looses its chance of being placed in the records as Spiti’s oldest monastery. However, as per the legends it is still the oldest monastery of Spiti valley.
Spiti river
 I had two choices - either to visit Dhankar lake or monastery.Due to time constraint I chose Dhankar lake hike over this monastery. Dhankar lake is located in between the mountains demanding trekking for two hours.So it is not easily accessible by everyone as all won't be fit for this challenge.
This was the path after 1 hour climb

As our guide Cherring had told it was an uphill climb at the altitude of 3800mt. It is  full of loose pebbles with a risk of sliding.  Though he said it will take one hour. For me it took more than an hour. Gasping for breath for every 10 steps, I finally reached to the  top of the first hill panting. Then, it was an easy walk for couple of kilometers before we reached the lake.
Before  reaching the lake
 This lake was not as clear as Nako lake. But was untouched by crowd. It was a long lake in between the nude mountains. In the distance,  snow cladded mountains were lined up  to add to the beauty of the lake. It was so serene that each and every drop of lake was reflecting serenity.
Dhankar lake
There is a flat  area  next to the lake making it ideal for camping. Our GPS read 13800 ft. There is a small chorten with prayer flags adding some colors to the landscape.

Dhankar lake is believed to be the mother of all  streams in the neighborhood villages. There is a legend that once a horse rider jumped into the lake along with his horse. After few days his belongings were found in the streams next to the village. They consider Dhankar lake as sacred. I was told during harvesting time, all the women from Dhankar village will come here and cook for their men and dance. Men ride up to the lake on horse and they join with women in dancing after a good  feast. After taking rest for some time, we walked back which was an easy walk. 

Dhankar lake  is about 3 kms from the Dhankar village.

Travel tips
-        -   If you are driving , it is 25 kms from Kaza to  Dhankar or can go from Tabo to Dhankar it is 30 kms. There are couple of government buses available if you want to travel by public transportation.
-         - Difficulty level – Easy to moderate
-        -  There is a vantage point to get the view of complete valley. It is another trek. I strongly recommend though I couldn’t do it. If you book in advance, you can also get Yak or horse to climb instead of trekking
-          -For accommodation, few homes stays are available

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  1. Simply stunning. I'm enjoying through your photos a place that I will likely not ever get to though one can dream ;-)

    1. Thanks Joyful for stopping by.. If you ever come to India, Himalayas are not to be missed :-)

  2. You are on a stunning adventure. The photos speak volumes about the beautiful landscape.

  3. Wow - the scenery is stunning!

  4. Stunning place for a village. Beautiful photos!

    1. Thanks Fredmans.. Though villages are beautiful, life over there is very painful

  5. Nice account of trek. Thanks for sharing. Sad you missed out monastery whose location is said to be stunning

    1. Thanks Poorna .. Yes. It was a lose to miss the monastery. It is an old building. I guess it will fall anytime as it is not maintained well.

  6. Simply superb. Vidhya