Fringed by low-lying hills on the outskirts of the Surinsar-Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary, Mansar Lake is a picnic spot and pilgrimage site, together with its twin lake, Surinsar, nearby. Mansar Lake is revered for its mythological connection to the sacred Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. The faithful take dips in its waters during festivals, while newlyweds circumambulate the lake’s perimeter to seek the blessings of Sheshnag, Lord of Serpents, whose shrine is located on its eastern bank.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

Mansar Lake is a quiet place, good for walks, boat rides and temple visits. A paved walkway rings the lake, backed by manicured lawns. Boats lie moored along the eastern shore, which is dotted with temples, while its western arm has eateries and JKTDC’s Hotel Alpine Mansar.

Mansar Lake’s main shrine, the Pracheen Baba Sheshnagji Temple houses a statue of the six-headed snake god. A temple to Durga, another to Narasimha (Vishnu’s half man-half lion avatar) and a third to Umapati-Mahadev (Parvati-Shiva) lie in the vicinity.

Surinsar-Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary

About 10 km short of Mansar lake, the road climbs up craggy, tabletop hills that are covered with scrub, peepal and acacia trees. These hills are part of the Surinsar-Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary that is bounded on either side by its two namesake lakes.

Encompassing 98 sq km, the sanctuary is home to cheetal, nilgai, barking deer, ghoral, wild boar and leopards as well as birds such as black partridges, blue rock pigeons and rufus turtle doves. March to May is best for birding, while September to March is good for mammal spotting. The route passes the sacred Surinsar Lake. Lotuses bloom and buffaloes wallow in the lake’s placid waters. An annual mela each August attracts scores of devotees, who come to offer prayers at the Nag Devta Temple and take a dip in the lake’s holy waters.

Vandana Mohindra
Nag Devta Temple at Mansar Lake
Nag Devta Temple at Mansar Lake

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

JKTDC’s Alpine Hotel Mansar (Tel: 01990-246122, Cell: 09419212465; Tariff: 700-5,000) and their Tourist Huts are the only choices here. The inhouse Lake View Restaurant serves Indian and Chinese vegetarian food. Next door, Café Crane Restaurant serves similar fare. A few dhabas sit around the lake and a row of shops selling cold drinks and chips is close by.

When to go Year-round but November to March is the best time Location Within the Surinsar-Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary Air Nearest airport: Jammu Rail Nearest rail: Jammu Tawi

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Directorate of Tourism (Kashmir)

Tel: 0194-2502279

W jktourism.org

JKTDC

Tourist Reception Centre

TRC Road, Srinagar

Tel: 2457927-30

jktdc.co.in

Director, Tourism

Jammu, Tel: 0191-2520409

Leh

Tourist Reception Centre, Leh

Tel: 01982-252297, 252094

Tourist Development Authority

Tourist Reception Centre, Leh

Tel: 250866

Permits

Deputy Commissioner, Leh

Tel: 01982-252010, 252297

STD code 01982, 01985

Tourist Office, Kargil

Tel: 01985-232721, 232266

Zanskar Valley

Tourist Reception Centre, Padum

Tel: 01983-245017

STD code 01983

Manasbal

Wular-Manasbal Development

Authority

Tel: 01954-217541

Cell: 09622912407

Lolab Bangus Development Authority

Cell: 09419017791

STD code 01954

 

THE INFORMATION

Tangmarg

Tourist Reception Centre

Narbal-Tangmarg Road

Tangmarg

Tel: 01954-254436

STD code 01954

Yusmarg

Yusmarg Development Authority

Chief Executive Officer, Yusmarg

Tel: 01951-244266

Cell: 09419000272

STD code 01951

Achabal

J&K Tourism

Tourist Info Centre, Achabal

Cell: 09906606555

Daksum

JKTDC Tourist Bungalow

Daksum

Cell: 09469515050

Mansar Lake

Tourist Info Counter

Jammu Airport. Tel: 0191-2431917

Tourist Info Counter

Jammu Tawi Railway Station

Tel: 0191-2476078

JKTDC

Wazwan, Dilli Haat, Opp INA Market

New Delhi

Tel: 011-24670505

J&K Tourism

TRC, Gulmarg

Tel: 01954-254487, 254439

STD Codes Jammu 0191, Delhi 011,

Gulmarg 01954