Considered sacred by the locals, Baraadsar Lake is known to have wish-fulfilling powers. A place for the locals to offer prayers to the forces of nature, with all its mystical and mythical powers, this high-altitude lake sure does have the power to arrest your gaze. Resting bang in the middle of an icy terrain, at 4,600M it is like the warm heart of this cold, cold setting. Its clean, blue water, the only thing that moves in this otherwise still surrounding with all the white of the snow and the cold in the air.
Right along the border of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, you definitely want to put this trek on the top of you bucket list and we have dedicated this article to telling you why!
Highlight 1: Drive to Sankri
Sankri is a trail head for a lot of trekking routes and is bustling with trekkers across the year. Popular trails such as Har ki Dun, Borasu Pass, Bali Pass, Kedarkantha, Dev Kyara, Phulara Ridge to name a few, all start from this scenic village centered in the background of some of the most splendid mountains in the region.
The drive from Dehradun takes you on scenic mountain roads. The ever-changing landscape with each turn, make this long journey go by in a jiffy. Tall trees, massive fields and entire mountain faces cut into steps for farming are views you wouldn’t want to miss for some shuteye. The drive takes you through some very big towns but also alternates between small patches of busy roads with village shops and long empty stretches with nothing but the sound of the wind and the birds.
The constant shift between the noise and the calm has a sense of serenity attached to it. What’s even better is that breakfast and lunch, in local dhabas along the way ensure that you get to indulge your taste buds in some locally popular cuisine. The last two hours of the drive take you through a smooth road lined with thick forests on both sides. The sparkle of the forest is enough to refresh you from the long drive to get to our destination. Sankri is a trail head for a lot of popular treks and hence is not short on facilities. Although there is no phone network in Sankri, you can probably find a shop in the market which will be happy to loan you wi-fi in case of urgent need.
Waiting for you, at the end of the trail of this back-breaking journey will be a warm, wooden homestay with cozy rooms and a home cooked meal.
Highlight 2: A Land Unknown
Baraadsar Lake is one of the least explored trails in the Himalayas even though it shares its base village, Sankri, with some of the most popular treks like Har ki Dun, Bali Pass, Rupin Pass and many more. Not only does it lie on the absolute border of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, tucked neatly between the Rupin and Supin valleys, the trail also offers magnificent views of some biggies in the Garhwal range of Himalayas, such as Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch, and Black Peak.
As one of the least explored treks in the Himalayas, the trail to Baraadsar Lake is as virgin as it gets. Once you cross the last village on the trail, you don’t see any sign of settlement for as far as your eyes can see on the expansive views that the trail offers. Occasionally you will come across meadows full of grazing sheep and one shepherd minding them from his little, brightly-colored tent in the middle of the landscape– they are the only other people you will see on all the trail. No trekkers, no locals, no one – the landscape of this trail puts on a performance only for you! If that’s not reason enough to get yourself here, what is?
Highlight 3: A Sight to Behold
The trail to Baradsaar Lake takes you through picturesque meadows, brown oak and pine forests, massive clearings with breathtaking mountain views, and finally over a ridge that separates the Rupin and Supin valleys with excellent panoramic views and some very strong winds which are characteristic of any exposed ridge walk.
Since the area is so isolated and remote, not known by many, the trail does not see too many hikers. This hidden lake is the perfect piece of a perfectly baked pie – a cauldron of joy which lies waiting for you at the end of this trail like a pot of gold. If you want to experience raw beauty but also want to beat the crowds, there isn’t a place better than this that we can think of!
Highlight 4: A Birder’s Paradise
The fact that you have one eye to Uttarakhand and the other to Himachal Pradesh is only one of the many fascinating things about the trail to Baraadsar Lake. Its insurmountable beauty will have you swooning in no time - the long, no, very long ridge walk, the raw wilderness stretched out for as far as you can see and if you visit in the right season, the forests full of rhododendrons in full bloom.
Because it is so quiet and virgin, it is also a birder’s paradise. Well, for everyone else too, but a little bit more for bird lovers for all the chips and chirps and the spotting of tails and beaks and the guessing of names of species from their calls!
The forest trails on this trek which take you through thick pine and oak trees sway to the music of Himalayan birds – some rare, some not, some unfamiliar and some common but each voice a soothing addition to these already pleasing sections of the trek. For all the campsites within the treeline, if you forget to set your alarm, you can count on the loud calls of woodpeckers and barbets to sing you out of your tents as the sun comes up.
Highlight 5: The Ridge That Beats All Ridges
Walking through the quaint villages with stone roofs and wooden houses carved with designs typical of Kinnaur, the magical oak and pine forests which hold a strong smell in the air, stretches of straight ascents leading to massive expanses of meadows resting on top of the incline, these are the obvious draws of this trek. All of this aside, the best part about Baraadsar Lake is the ridge walk with unobstructed views of both the valleys, Rupin and Supin, a seemingly never-ending walk which you will find yourself wishing would never end!
Once we are over the treeline and out of the woods, that’s when the best part about this trek begins - the mighty ridge. After days of walking under the forest canopy, on reaching the ridge, everything suddenly seems to open up on both sides and it feels like you can breathe again. It is extremely freeing. Oh! And also rhododendrons – they of course take over as the top highlight if you are here in the right season.
Narrow path, one eye to each of the valleys dressed in thick green on either side, strong winds and a harsh sun working its full force on this exposed strip of land – these are the things the ridge walk is made of. Oh and sounds of the birds and howls of the winds add to the music in the air. The ridge also gives you a clear view of the trail to Baraadsar summit snaking through the mountains ahead.
In terms of difficulty, it’s more than manageable. The hardest part is that the open landscape on both sides looking down into the depths on the Rupin and the Supin valleys can get so spectacular and spellbinding that it sometimes gets hard to keep your head in the game and watch your next step so you don’t slip down into and get swallowed whole by one of these very valleys that you are swooning over! We definitely think that’s a very flattering highlight. What do you say?!
Highlight 6: The Mountain Life
This trek is full of inclines. Every time you pass a village, panting and puffing from having walked on an incline, you come across children from the village running up and down these humps in the landscape playing chase, but more importantly putting you to shame with their joy and their energy which, if you are not careful, can be very very contagious! Simple pleasures on the trail to the 4,600M high-altitude lake - Baraadsar Lake which has concealed itself so well that it is known to few locals and fewer trekkers still.
The villages along the way, the high-mountain culture and to witness life in its everyday mundanity up at this altitude would in and of itself make this trek a very satisfying experience.
Highlight 7: The Y of Baraadsar Trek
Most treks take you to the highest point and bring you back along the same route. But not the trail to Baraadsar Lake – it wants to keep things fresh and interesting all the way to the last day. This trek, which is basically Y-shaped takes you back to a certain point on the same route only to diverge into the other valley to head back down. This means we are greeted with a different route and a different landscape on our way back.
Till the merging point from where the trail diverges, there are a few gradual ascents. The gradual ascent ends at a point called the Vijay Top which in itself is a famous trekking point for the splendid views it offers for it stands jutting out as a high-point in the valley with an open view of the landscape.
So you basically go up one valley and come back down through another. You experience and explore more of the region and you don’t have to walk the same road twice. We’d think Baraadsar is very thoughtful that way, wouldn’t you?
And of course the lake itself makes for a highlight but that goes without saying so we won’t add that as a separate point but will urge you to come experience its divine magic by yourself! When will we see you there?