Dhankar Lake, Spiti Valley: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips

Dhankar Lake Tours & Activities

About Dhankar Lake

Dhankar Lake is located in Spiti Valley, in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India. This lake is a blissful and breathtaking retreat. If you want to rejuvenate your soul and mind — away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this is the place to be. It is a place where you can sit for hours and just soak in the natural beauty. The cold wind giving you goosebumps and the sparkling blue water reflecting the bright sun -- what else can you ask for.

This region is blessed by nature and has spectacular and winsome landscapes in the Lahaul region. In the distance, you can see snow-covered mountains while there are cattle grazing in the lush valley. The landscape of this region offers diversity with a touch of ancient history, thanks to the beautiful temples and monasteries.

Legend has it that Lord Shiv had visited and stayed at this lake during his quest for lord Vishnu. While Lord Shiva was busy with his search, his attendant Nandi drank some water from the lake. As a reward for quenching the thirst of this beloved Nandi, Lord Shiva blessed the lake to be filled with plenty of water. Another myth has that Lord Indra asked Lord Shiva to make this barren land fertile.

However, since Shiva was busy with his quest, Lord Indra threw his ax here, and a spring popped up — leading to the formation of the lake. The festival of Mouni Amavasya celebrates the same myth.

How to Reach Dhankar Lake

Credits: Lihi Bar-Haim

If traveling by air, take the direct flight to Kullu-Manali Airport from Delhi. From there, you can hire a car or take the bus. Dhankar Lake is about 285 km from the Kullu airport. If you are going by train, then the Joginder Nagar is the nearest railway station. It is situated at a distance of about 400 km from the lake.

You can again go by road from here. A major part of your journey will be via road. So you can reach Tabo or Kaza first and continue the rest of the journey via road.

Best Time to Visit Dhankar Lake

It is suggested to visit Dhankar Lake during the summer months. Ideally, April-end or early May up to September. The pleasant summer months are perfect for enjoying the outdoor beauty of this range. Temperatures range from 5-20 degrees in the Summers. The valley is lush and filled with a variety of flowers, which adds to its natural beauty.

The winter here is bitter and cold. Due to snow and ice, the area is rather slippery and not suited for activities like trekking. September and October are the rainy months here. So try to check the expected monsoon prediction before coming here. 

What Not to Miss at Dhankar Lake

1. Dhankar Monastery:
At a short distance from the lake is the Dhankar Monastery, which is located at a height of about 3870 meters. It is nestled in the Spiti Valley. It is about one hour from the lake. The monastery is considered one of the five major Buddhist centers and is regarded as a popular tourist destination in the region.

Dhankar Monastery is also known as Dankhar, Drangkhar, or Dhangkar Gompa. The monastery is perched at a surprising angle on a cliff edge and gives a panoramic view of the entire valley.

2. Tabo Monastery:
At a distance of about 45 minutes (31 kms) from Dhankar Lake is Tabo Monastery. It is commonly referred to as the 'Ajanta of the Himalayas.’ Founded around 996 A.D, this monastery is located 3050 meters above sea level. It’s pristine and untouched beauty is evident in its heritage and Buddhist culture.

This temple has been declared as a national historic treasure of India. The Archaeological Survey of India maintains it.

3. Pin Valley National Park: About 35 minutes from Dhankar Lake — through the Rohtang Pass is the Pin Valley National Park. It is a lush green piece of land that has magnificent glaciers and snow-laden fields. The diverse flora and fauna of this region immediately catch the eye, making this park a popular tourist destination.

This forest is referred to as the “grey ghost of Himalayas.” One can also find Snow Leopards along with Weasel, Red fox, etc.

Trekking at Dhankar Lake

The trek from Dhankar village to the lake may not be much — just 5kms — but it's a tough and tedious one. Due to the low or insufficient level of oxygen level because of the altitude, it’s tough to catch your breath. The path to the lake is also narrow and steep. So one should ensure they have the right trekking gear. 

If you are not a professional, make sure you have hiking or trekking boots on. Considering the cold, barren landscape, you should also carry the right clothing, including a wind-cheater.The path to the lake is not populated. So make sure that you have your water and food supplies.

The trek will take at least an hour, and you don’t want to come back immediately. So ration your food and water supplies accordingly. It’s suggested that you rest and soak the views at the lake for a couple of hours before heading back. The return journey would be downhill.

Again, supportive shows and probably a cane or stick can help — especially if it's rainy and slurry. Take small steps and take your time coming back instead of rushing.

Other Essential Information About Dhankar Lake

The lake is situated right above the Dhankar monastery in the Lahaul-Spiti district and is on the other side of the Dhankar Village. The passage to the trek is difficult, so it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. It’s located at the height of 4270 m above the sea-level.

The lake is about one hour (38.5kms) from Spiti. It is about 6 hours (239 kms) from Manali. The region is very cold, with temperatures dipping to -14 in the winters. The average temperature is 5-20 degrees around the year.

Things to Carry while trekking for Dhankar Lake 

If you are planning a trek to the beautiful Dhankar Lake, make sure that you have all the supplies handy. First of all, check for all your trekking gear — the right shoes, clothing, backpack, etc. You might need a support stick. Having an emergency supply of oxygen is suggested — if you have senior citizens with you.

Do carry food and water as the trek to and back (including your wait at the lake) takes time. A medical kit is suggested in case of emergencies.

Tips for Visiting Dhankar Lake

Dhankar Lake has been listed as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world. So if you are visiting this place, make sure:

You don’t pollute it. Enjoy the natural beauty of this area, but avoid taking plastic products — or at least dumping them in the lake. 

Do not harm the animals. 

This unconventional spot has decent accommodations, which include government-operated hotels and also a Dhankar Monastery guest house. It is best to book your rooms in advance because it is a popular spot for trekking.
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