Colours probably always existed in nature much before we started adapting them to things. Look around and tell me what are the neon things around you? Maybe disco lights, a bottle, a traffic cone, a quirky piece on your desk, etc. etc. But somewhere at an altitude of 4,140 m in Spiti there lays a neon blue glacial lake and it goes by the name of Ghepan Ghat. So, lovers of all bright colours and offbeat tracks that few take in nature, let’s find out more about this one.
How to reach: You could fly down to Bhuntar but the availability of flights is limited and consequentially the cost tends to be high. Alternatively, you can fly down to Delhi and take a bus from Delhi to Manali. Keep an extra day in hand for this. From Manali travel to Sissu village by road.
Best time to trek/visit: June to October
Duration: 5-6 days
Altitude – 13,600 ft
Trek route: The route will of course depend on what you decide with your local trekking guide, but possible options include:
- Manali – Sissu – Trailhead – Camp 1 – Camp 2 – Ghepan Ghat – Sissu
Read about Kanamo Peak Trek in Himachal here!
Day 1: Manali – Sissu
Altitude – 10,235 ft
Approximate Distance – 85kms drive
From Manali start early in the morning to reach Sissu village. While the drive is a short one, it comes packed with peaks for you to gaze at out of the window. Plug in some soothing music for you to listen to as you stare out at Rohtang Pass and its cousins all decked up with specs of snow and tall trees. You will even cross the Beas temple on your way where you can stop by to pay your respects if you wish to. Otherwise how about a good old cup of tea. Reach Sissu village and stay at cosy homestays. Walk around the village to see the local lifestyle unfurl right before your eyes. There is even a local temple there if you wish to visit it. The temple is dedicated to Raja Ghepan.
Day 2: Sissu – Trailhead – Camp 1
Altitude – Trailhead – 11,500 ft, Camp 1 – 12,500 ft
Approximate Distance – 9kms drive, 4kms trek
Hop into the jeep for a short drive from Sissu to the trailhead which marks the path for you to roughly proceed on during the course of the trek. I’d urge you to kickstart your day early so that you can stop at the Labrang Gompa that you will cross during your drive. The monastery with its yellow roof and colourful windows is a warm welcome into the heavily Buddhist settlement that is Spiti Valley. Reach the trailhead and commence your trek from near the Sissu nala. As you start to climb up you cross makeshift shelters and structures built by shepherds. These stone and wood huts are a reflection of the pahadi craftsmanship. You will pass by rocky outcroppings and green settlements to reach your first camp which most groups generally make around an altitude of 12,000 ft approximately.
Day 3: Camp 1 – Camp 2
Altitude – 12,800 ft
Approximate Distance – 6kms
Today you venture much further away from Sissu which is now a tiny hamlet that you will later return into. Day 3 has you ascending and descending across multiple patches. You tread higher and higher on the trail to escape further into a land far away from the urban world, a land that dives deep into an expanse of green layers running into one another along with a river greeting you every now and then. The true joy of trekking in these parts of Spiti Valley is how much it lets you feel away from the modern world. You will simply find yourself amidst hamlets and quaint villages where even the sheep stare back at you as they aren’t used to big crowds and you gaze back at them with a smile looking at where they live. Make yourself comfortable because most groups prefer to use this camp for the next 2 days. And at night who’s feeling like giving stargazing a shot?
Day 4: Camp 2 – Ghepan Ghat – Camp 2
Altitude – Camp 2 – 12,800 ft, Ghepan Ghat – 13,600 ft
Approximate Distance – 2 – 8 kms
Of all things picturesque and wonderous to see, the most beautiful ones are those that also add a layer of mystery. The lake which is the highlight of this trek is called slightly varying names by different people. While the trekking community has proceeded with Ghepan Ghat, the Geographical Survey of India and consequently Google Maps call it Gepang Gath and the local communities of the gaddi tribe refer to it as Ghepan Ka Alyas. But who was Ghepan? Well, he is the most revered deity of Lahaul Spiti, so much so that they refer to him as Raja Ghepan. In the ancient times, wars in Spiti were fought by the locals under the banners of Ghepan. Today, Sissu village not only has a temple dedicated to him but also a toweringly tall peak and of course our beloved glacial lake.
The much awaited Ghepan Ghat lake has had a lot of speculation around it. This is a lake that not even most of the natives of the area have seen. Think of it as a princess in a faraway land like a fairy-tale from your childhood dreams, just that way this real lake flows silently in a realm that hasn’t seen much of it. You will find yourself astonished and amazed by its stunning turquoise blue waters. Sit down to let its beauty sink into your soul, this is the moment that all who take this trail greatly wait for.
Day 5: Camp 2 – Sissu
Altitude – 11,800 ft
Approximate Distance – 85kms drive
With the memory of the glacial lake in your eyes and your heart, you shall make your way back down to the village where you started from. Let the hills know you enjoyed your time with them as you make your descend. Let yourself stare at them longingly. Take strolls around the tiny town of Sissu before bidding it farewell the next day as you leave for Manali. Alternatively, you can book a taxi to go explore other parts of Spiti because there’s a lot more to see!
Read about Baraadsar Lake Trek in Uttarakhand here!