A visit to Gobind Sagar Lake with Savaari

Summers are the best time to hit the northern latitudes and enjoy the cooler temperature and fresh air.So a couple of weeks ago, a few of my friends decided to have a quick, unplanned getaway over a weekend. Usually, at this time of the year, the hill stations and mountain retreats are packed with tourists and we could really do with a quieter, less crowded place. We decided to go to Chandigarh first.No matter where we had to go, leaving directly from Delhi would have been chaotic with heavy tourist traffic and the heat. So, we booked a licensed and safe cab from Delhi to Chandigarh. From there we planned to head towards Kullu. But we never reached Kullu that day because one stopover changed our trip plan completely. Here’s how it happened.

Reaching Bilaspur

We started from Chandigarh early morning. Now, we had two route option. One was via NH205 and the other one was via NH105. We took the first route which was around 165 Km. Either way, the journey time would be around five hours. Just as we crossed the bridge at Swarghat, we could already feel the change in the air. We took a quick break and continued on the road. As we passed Bilaspur, we noticed the famous Bhakra Dam and asked our driver to detour. One of the biggest towns of Himachal Pradesh, Bilaspur is known for two things- the Bhakra-Nangal Dam and the Government Engineering College. We, of course, went for the tour of the dam.

The famous dam

The Bhakra dam was a little detour from the main highway that led to the town. This is one of the largest dams ever built in India. The nearly 1000 feet dam controls the water on the Sutlej River and forms a huge reservoir on the other side, called the Gobind Sagar Lake. Even the reservoir is one of the largest in the country. It was built in 1963 and ever since, it has been supplying water to the entire state and also its neighbors- Haryana and Punjab.

The lake was further ahead, about 26 Km away. Besides its functionality, the reservoir is also a popular retreat for locals and tourists alike and was an ultimate respite for exhausted travelers like us.

We headed straight to the viewing point from the top of the dam. The roads here were not that great but we couldn’t complain as we caught the view of the landscape. It was fantastic. The mountains in the distance were still misty from the spring dew and the mist from the frothy cascades of the dam.

This was our first-ever trip to this place and we had no idea what to expect. Initially, I had thought of hanging out around the lake and return to our earlier trip plan. But once we reached the actual lake area, it was a different view altogether.

The scenic lake

The enormous lake, though man-made, seemed to fit in perfectly with its surrounding. Flanked by mountains and forests on one side and lush green plains on the other, it was the perfect ‘green zone’ to relax and breathe pure air. Also, the April weather added to the sparkling blue skies and spring breeze.

There were small islands far away in the middle of the reservoir, one of which had a temple.

The lake seemed like a hub of water sports and other recreational activities. Families were picnicking, couples were enjoying a boat ride, and backpackers lazed on the banks. It was like a proper retreat. That was when we unanimously decided to stay back in Bilaspur for a day and then head further to Kullu. We kept our rental car with us on our local tour.

Further ahead along the lake, we found kayak rides. The vendors said that in autumn when the water level rises, this place becomes the hotspot of water sports with regatta competitions, jet skiing and all. We enjoyed the views and the peaceful natural environment and had a long kayak ride. Also, being spring season, there were a lot of water birds roaming around, which meant that this was a fishing lake.

Day 2

We booked a lakeside hotel with a nice view to spend the night so we could explore a little more of Bilaspur before we left for Kullu.

Next day, we headed to the Koldam Dam. This was another 18 Km from the town. Many people don’t know about this dam because it’s not really a tourist place. The Koldam Dam was the quietest place in the area with absolutely no commercial establishment in the vicinity. The dam itself was an architectural marvel. It also created a huge lake on the other side which opened towards the plains. Although I’m no engineer I could appreciate the skillfulness and planning of the dam. But what was most attractive about this place was the view of the layers of mountains that surrounded the dam.

And thus, our sudden detour became an interesting and refreshing getaway, something we had never planned or thought could happen. Pro Tip: Always make use of a trusted cab service in Delhi so you can have a truly enjoyable trip.

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