Ice Lake – The unexplored lake in Bhraka, Manang

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Manang, one of the famous tourist destinations of Nepal has always been a priority for Nepali and foreign tourists. Known for its trekking to Thorong La Pass, Tilicho Lake, and Annapurna Circuit, this place has been successful in entertaining a massive number of tourists.  In terms of tourism, many places in Manang have caught the eye of tourists and a lot of places in the area are already explored. Even so, there are still some destinations in Manang that only a handful of people know about. Ice Lake at an altitude of 4,600 meters and Milarepa Cave are among those destinations. We believe such destinations need to reach as many people as possible and vice versa.

So For the tenth episode of Heaven is Myth Nepal is Real, we embarked   on the journey to these beautiful but unfamiliar destinations of Manang, Ice Lake and Milarepa Cave.

The last time we reached Manang in winter, we were fascinated by its beauty. There are many places where no matter how many times you visit you feel like doing it again. Manang has become one such place for us . This time our time of travel was different and so was the destination. We were eager to see a different image of Manang before our eyes.

Vote counting was in full swing after the recent local elections across the country. On the way, we met a crowd of people who had come out to celebrate the victory of their political party. The locals were celebrating the uncertain development of the future in the present, radiating a feeling that their place will definitely be developed and better days will come . We moved towards Muglin hoping that this election may bring some positive changes in the country.

As the road was blacktopped  and smooth, it did not take us long to reach Muglin through Kurintar.

After eating our lunch at Muglin, our hunger quenched, but there was still a long way to go to reach Besishahar.  Enjoying the hot air of Abhukhaireni in the month of Jestha, we proceeded towards Dumre. As this place is only 316 meters above the sea level, summer starts sooner here.

Dumre, a place in Tanahu district of Gandaki province. The road from Dumre to Besishahar is a bit narrow when compared to the Prithivi highway. But as it connects Manang district with the capital and the whole country, it is of great importance for Manang.

Roads are the first infrastructure for rural development. With its access, other infrastructures of development reach to different villages. This road is also a major influence for attracting tourists to Manang. The road is a guide for travelers, food for the hungry, education for those looking to read, and health care for the sick. For a landlocked state like ours, roads are everything. While travelling on our way to Manang, we stopped for our lunch.

It was the beginning of the monsoon across the country. We experienced a few downpours during the journey. The road was beautiful, sometimes we would pass the jungle ,sometimes we would look at the beautiful villages nearby and the people living there. Slowly we moved forward capturing the places we passed on camera. The road is not very long but as we were filming all the way  the sun had already set when we reached Besisahar . It is always exciting to get somewhere after the sunset. It makes you want to see a new geography tomorrow. If we reach somewhere in the daylight, our consciousness does not give much importance to the place saying that this is the same place i saw yesterday.

On the second day in the morning we started our journey on a rough bumpy road. We left early in the morning so that we could have our breakfast somewhere along the way. While looking for a good  place to eat, we got an opportunity to witness the beautiful eyes of the people of Besishahar. When we travel, we often think that there are different stories hidden in all the eyes that look at us. In that sense, about 30 million stories are hidden in the streets of the country, including in the plains of the Terai, in the hills and in the snow-covered settlements. We believe that Nepal is a thick book of such stories.  

After passing through the Marsyangdi hydroelectric tunnel, which has the capacity to generate 50 MW of electricity, we reached the Dam site.  When we got there, we remembered the days when there was 18 hours of load shedding in Nepal. In just a span of a few years, Nepal has made great improvement in the field of hydropower. We felt that if we work hard for something we will at last succeed at it.

After having our lunch, we headed towards Manang and got a glimpse of numerous waterfalls on the way. When we saw those playful waterfalls  flowing with great thunder through the mountains, a kind of playfulness was awakened inside us too.  

Chyamche Waterfalls on the way to Manang.

The road built by Breaking the rocks from the hills with a lot of effort was leading us to a place called Taal through the side of the river. Though the fatigue of the journey was on one side, our mind was excited to see the new geography. After traveling for about an hour on that beautiful Hill road, the Taal  village finally appeared before us.

After stopping on the way and tasting a local fruit, our journey started again. The bumpy road was lying in front of us. And below it was the river Marsyangdi flowing wildly. Our heart skipped a beat just by looking at the river flowing below us.

We don’t know if it was because of seeing new people or something else. The eyes of the kids gave us a curious look. Unlike the kids in cities those lucky eyes that not only get to see the mobile and computers  also get to see and enjoy the beautiful view of nature. In fact, those eyes have the power to show direction to a person who is directionless. That is why a child’s eyes are clearer than the cleanest  water in the world. Perhaps, the best mirror for seeing one’s reflection is a child’s eye.

Aerial view of Bhraka Village

Travelling through the road passing through the dangerous waterfalls . We were confused whether to enjoy the beauty or to be scared by the dangerous road. In the end, we decided just to enjoy the thrills we were getting. The danger was in its own place and the fun was on its own.

The second half of the day had already begun while we were having our lunch at Timang. We started moving on the shores of River Marshyangdi enjoying the view of the villages nearby. We were not sure where we would reach in the evening. After traveling on a bumpy road from Timang for a while, our team reached Chame.

A man returning home after grazing his goats. The locals with a smile seeing who the new guests are from the houses around. The youths who facilitated Manang by driving their tractors were the ones who welcomed us in Chame.

As we proceeded from Chame, it started getting darker. Even though it was late, we decided to reach Bhraga. Breaking through the darkness of the night with the headlights of our vehicles, our journey continued towards Bhraga.

It was about a thousand years ago. A famous local hunter named Khila Gonpo Dorje arrived at the place where Guru Milarepa was meditating. After spending some time with the Guru and listening to him, Khila Gonpo Dorje decided to give up hunting and choose the path of spirituality. According to his wish, Guru Milarepa placed his bow in a safe place on the hill and accepted him as his disciple. The cave where Guru meditated and the bow placed at the hill top thousands of years ago is still intact. Therefore, Milarepa Cave and The hill  are very important historical as well as religious site at Bhraga.

Milarepa Cave in Bhraka, Manang

Also influenced by Tibetan culture, this land is inhabited by Buddhists who consider peace and enlightenment  to be their main objective. When we reached this village of Buddhists, we got the impression that we had reached a religious place. The aura of the people  living there was as if everyone was wise and full of peace of mind. Sitting next to them and talking with them made us calmer.

Milarepa Gompa in Bhraka, Manang

The village of Bhraga, situated at an altitude of 3519 m above sea level, is situated on the banks of the river Marsyangdi. Along with the rays of the morning, the mountains around Bhraga are painted with the golden color of the sun. The clean Marsyangdi River continues to flow through the historic Bhraga village and the cool breeze of the mountains is carried by the wind. Waking up in such a place is an amazing experience. Everyone waking up to the Beauty of Bharga is destined to be amazed.

We went out to attend a feast at the monastery as per our plan for that day. On the way to the monastery, we had to travel uphill for a while. But we didn’t feel tired when we climbed up. The art culture we saw on the way and the curious faces of the people so engulfed us that we were unable to feel anything else. The aura of those eyes was such that it hypnotized us.

We got a closer look at the Buddhist culture as we joined the puja at the 600-year-old Vraga Gumba. The puja was conducted to ensure that an elder, who had passed away a few months ago in the village, would get a place in heaven and his soul would find peace.

Lama performing rituals at Bhraka Gumba

About 50 devotees, including 14 lamas, were present at the puja. All of them agreed to pray for the peace of the departed soul
 We also prayed for peace to his soul. We were joining hands before God for a man we had never seen or known before. And in doing so, our minds were able to experience a sense of humanity we had never experienced before. No matter how much we thank Manang for giving us such a sweet opportunity, it is never enough.

That was some 600 years ago. There was only a small monastery on the site of the present Bhraga monastery. At that time, a Buddhist disciple named Ketuk Karma Lapsang came to Bhraga via Tibet. After spending some time in Vraga, he decided to make the small monastery bigger. After the decision he asked all the villagers to help him achieve what he dreamt of. The villagers also loved his idea and helped him build a new and bigger monastery. The monastery we see now is what the small monastery was built into.

The monastery, having a long history, is the religious center of Bhraga. Being located at the top of a small hill and connecting the whole of Bhraga religiously and culturally, it can also be called the center of unity for Bhraga. This monastery, which is a place of regular worship and prayer for the well-being of the entire human race, is truly a symbol of peace. This monastery is a place where the locals share their happiness and sorrows. It is like a friend to the people of Bhraga. And it is around this monastery, religion and culture of Bharaga revolve. Braga Gumba, this one name hence represents the whole Bhraga.

When we woke up the next morning, the shadows of the clouds were moving over the Marsyangdi River. The nearby mountains were clearer than the previous day. The village of Vraga was quietly resting on the hillside. It seemed as if the beautiful high mountains like Annapurna and Manaslu had surrounded Manang with a huge wall of snow.

We had to climb 1000 meters that day from an altitude of 3500 to reach Ice Lake. Along with our two helping porters, we headed for Icelake. Icelake would only be visible after crossing two giant hills.

Yak and the Ice Lake

The higher we climbed, the more we gasped for breath. The road was much steeper than we thought. As the wind was thinner we had to walk slowly.

After walking for a while, we saw a few monasteries built on the hill. Stopping at the hill and looking at the surrounding mountains, one could easily guess how rich our country is in natural beauty. The hills stood in front of us wearing hats of huge mountains. The fresh air and beauty of the place were incomparable. our hearts were rejoicing in its presence.

We were about to reach Ice Lake. Then a small lake appeared in front of us. It seemed to us for a moment that it was the ice lake. But it wasn’t. The lake that deceived us into believing that it was the ice lake is called Khicho Lake in the local language.

We were delighted to see two beautiful lakes only 10 minutes apart from each other.

After spending some time in Khicho Lake and witnessing its beauty, we headed towards Ice Lake. After walking for about 10 minutes in the green hills, we reached a small barn near Ice Lake.

Located at an altitude of 4,600 meters above sea level, the lake is known as Lake Kyoper in the local language. Not only naturally but this lake is also religiously important. Asking the locals we knew that the lamas from the village have been visiting the Lake for pilgrimage for 200 years. It was around the same time that the lamas used to visit the lake to worship and they used to spend their time telling religious stories.  

One day during a similar pilgrimage, a respected lama jumped into the Ice lake. As time passed, the lama did not come out of the lake and people around the lake started crying. But at the same time, the chief lama surprised everyone and came out of the lake with an idol in his hand. That idol was known as Ter.

The idol found on the lake was kept by the Lama at the Kagyu Gumba where he lived. The Gumba lies in between Manang and Bhraga. After the death of the lama, The idol has been shifted to Bhojo Gumba.

Manang had always fascinated us with its beauty, but this time it surprised us even more. It is unusual to see snowfall in the month of Jestha. For us, that was nothing short of a dream. First of all, we were surprised to see snow in the month of Jeshtha in a place where only a few people reached. At that moment, a new image of Manang occupied our minds. After that day, Manang was no longer just a place for trekking, Tilicho Lake and Thorong la pass for us. A new identity of manang was born within us and that was none other than Kyoper Lake i.e. Ice Lake.

Snowfall in the Month of Jestha. It was a strange coincidence. And not everyone is lucky enough to witness it. We were lucky to experience that.

Ice Lake in Bhraka Manang

We decided to spend the night in a barn near Ice Lake. As the daylight started fading, our body started experiencing the cold. We made hot noodle soup to make us warm and win over the cold. Rice and Vegetables we also cooked along with the noodles.  

We were tired and hungry after walking all day. Maybe that is why we found the rice tastier than ever.  After eating our dinner and chatting for a while, we decided to go to bed to get rid of the tiredness. We forced ourselves to go to bed with the curiosity of what the snow-covered ice lake would look like in the morning.

Ice Lake, which was resting near a field of green grass a day before, was covered with snow when we woke up in the morning. It felt as if we woke up somewhere else. The only complaint is that such a beautiful place like Ice Lake was hidden from the sight of the people for so long.
We felt sad for the beauty as such beautiful mornings were passing every day without anyone being near to see and appreciate it. Ice lake never saw people’s love for its beauty.

Manang is a familiar name that needs no explanation. It is a well-known name for everyone living in Nepal and abroad. Thorong La Pass and Tilicho Lake trek are synonymous with the name Manang. While exploring different unknown parts of the country, this time we found the unknown Milarepa Cave and Ice Lake in the widely known place Manang. We would like to thank everyone including Karma Dai who invited us to this lesser-known place, Although there are always a huge number of tourists visiting Manang from the country and abroad, some places in Manang are still unknown to the masses. If this is the case in Nepal’s well-known district in terms of tourism, how many such unexplored places might be there in the remaining 76 districts? Can you imagine ?

We don’t even know much about it. But one thing, we want to assure you is that as long as there is Team Nepal 8th Wonder, the search for such unknown places will continue. Stick with us on our mission to find such unexplored destinations.  

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