At a height of 12, 014 feet above sea level (3,625 m) in eastern Himachal Pradesh lies the picturesque Nako Lake with the cozy village of Nako surrounding it. To get there is a 10 hour bus ride from Delhi to Shimla on those dusty, narrow, winding Himalayan roads.

Once in Shimla, there is the option of the local HRTC buses which takes five hours to Nako. Or hiring a taxi to Nako that takes four hours, a comfortable journey compared to the former that operates only twice a day, once in the morning and evening respectively.

In Nako, the options of a stay are limited with a couple of Hotels and a handful of Guest houses & Home stays are the only options available. These prove to be easy on the pockets with excellent rooms and tasty food. Views from the room boast of a splendid view of the snow capped Trans-Himalayas.

Food is provided by the locals as part of the home stay. One can expect momos, chowmein and noodle soup on the menu along with a plate of rice and rajma style dal as an option. Breakfast is aloo (potato) paratha with mixed pickle to go along with it.

Nako village is a splendid place with its maze-like lanes and by-lanes. The houses made of stone, boast of an animal pen that is home to cows, sheep, goats and donkeys. The people who live in the village are mostly shepherds, who grow carrots, apples and cherries.

The villagers have Tibetan features and a burnt complexion as a result of sitting close to the fire in a bid to brave the severe winter cold. They practice Buddhism and speak Hindi and Bhoti (a dialect of the Tibetan language).

The sacred Nako Lake that is frozen during winter is a three minute walk from the village. The snow-crowned Himalayas are all around the lake adding to its picturesque quality. In a bid to maintain the sanctity of the lake, fishing is prohibited and attracts a hefty fine to those who break the law. A stone path of about 75 meter radius surrounds the lake and is a breath-taking walk for nature lovers. For the pensive, sitting on the stones near the lake is a must. The sky is always over cast in Nako, but rain is unlikely as it lies in a rain-shadow region.

The village boasts of a Gompa made out of sandalwood that houses four lamas. This religious structure has solar panels in its courtyard to illuminate it as the village often faces power cuts due to its location on a high altitude. The sweet-smelling sandalwood is very strong and hard to miss for lovers of the fragrance.

The inscriptions that the Nako Gompa bears is believed to be done by the same pilgrim lamas who are attributed as having carved and painted the sacred Ajanta and Ellora Caves near Aurangabad in Maharashtra.

While visiting Nako, the splendid village by the lake, carrying woolens even during summer is a must, as the temperatures in the night drop to almost zero degrees Celsius. Foreigners need to carry their passports along while making this trip. A registration at the Chango police station is a must complete formality for all visitors due to Nako’s proximity to the Indo-China border. This village is the ideal stop over for those on their way to the middle land—Spiti.

22 Responses

  1. Maria Lima

    I like to read about places and this place Nako that you have written about is just amazing. The Gompa looks just beautiful and the holy lake that is there in the village looks so peaceful and nice. I hope that if I ever make a trip to India this is one place that is surely going to be on my bucket list.

    Reply
  2. Deepa Kalkeri

    All i have to say after reading this post of yours is that this place has just blown my mind away. I cant even imagine that such a place exist in India. I feel jealous since you had a chance to visit this village but I’m really happy that you took the time to write about this place Nako and make many people like me away about such a beautiful place in our own country

    Reply
  3. Travis Durando

    I’m a traveler from Australia who’s in love with the Himalayas. I have just got back from my trip through beautiful Kinnaur and Nako was the place which just blew my mind away. The people are so warm in that village that they made me feel like one of them. your post has just made me relive each and ever moment that I spent in that very beautiful village. Thanks a lot for taking so much effort to make this post so worth while and I must say the pictures are very well clicked. Keep up the good work and I hope to read a lot more of your travels from the Himalayas.

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  4. Alex

    As a nature-lover I love visiting the various places that are there in the world. I am based with the US army and on my time off visited Nepal, China and Sri Lanka, this time I have been deployed to Iraq and am planning to visit India. There are two things that I think India is known for-the Taj Mahal and the Himalayas. I liked the description that you have given about the mountains and the travel details provided, I am sure that they will be helpful to me when I visit the Himalayas, thanks for sharing.

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  5. Jacob

    The place you have described and shown pictures of seems so surreal. I am a big travel enthusiast, but sadly, I have not been able to have the pleasure of scaling the Himalayas. I have been to the Andes, the Alps and the Rocky mountains, but have not managed to reach India. I hope to manage to visit it soon. I am a backpacker and am proud to read of your travels. No hotel can compensate for a living with the people in their own homes. I always try to do that and am glad that you also are following the same formula with your adventures. My advice to a fellow backpacker is the way of life is tough, makes you feel miserable at times, but deep down you have the peace that helps you sail through it all. My motto: “When the road gets tough, the tough get going.” Enjoy traveling, no matter where you go and you will go a long way.

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  6. Kilmer Harrison

    Hey Sherwin. Patty, my partner suggested that I must visit your blog and read the posts here. We see passion for travel in you, a thing that many people show, but few have the courage to pursue. Life is all about an adventure and the Himalayas are the best metaphor for life itself. She has explained all the details about us, but this blog I sense means much more to you than helping people know about a Nako or a Kasol, what that really is I have not managed to point out, but there is a clear intent. We learnt a lot of lessons about both ourselves and the world in the Himalayas, it’s all about application of that knowledge in real life.
    Chances to meet a world that is bigger than yourself are a privilege only a few people get, after all not everyone visits the highest mountain range in the world. By the grace of God, we (you, my family and other people like me) were privileged to get that chance. There were times Patty and I questioned God’s existence life does that to you, but when you see the splendor of the mountains you know that it couldn’t just have evolved, there is a maker, as great as those mountains who made it all. It is he who controls and moves your life and your world.
    All the best for your future travels. It takes courage to take a step on the part of adventure, but the walk on that road is totally worth it. I would really have liked if you posted a little about yourself here.
    I would like to end by saying if you are young then, be sure to persevere, fortune and adventure favour the brave. We have seen it in our travels and in our life. All the best and Bon Voyage to you for life and your travels.

    Have fun and believe in yourself and in the maker of the world. Follow these and you will never go wrong.

    Cheers,
    Kilmer.

    Reply
  7. Pei Chein

    I was most impressed by your visits and would like the congratulate you on the same. Hope you are enjoying the land out there. I have been to Nako and I must say that you have done complete justice to it. Keep it up.

    Reply
  8. Richard

    I have visited Nako and the Buddhist monastery there and I must say that you feel like you are in heaven. I like the aspect of Indian religion that has a mysterious touch to it. I was in awe of Mount Kailash that big mystic mountain where Shiva lives. I truly feel the Himalayas are the best place to soul search and find the divine in.

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  9. Paul

    Howdy, I am a travel loving person and I must say that it is really nice to see and read about the exploration and adventure that you are on.

    Great going…hope to read more posts soon. Loved the Kasol and Nako write-ups, I think you did absolute justice to both places. The roads may break your back to get there, but it is worth every penny spent and every drop of sweat shed. Hope to meet you on an adventure up in the mountains.

    I am off to Nepal for a adventure to Mount Everest. Hope you move towards the Greater Himalayas after this adventure in the Trans-Himalayas, they are more mystic and monumental. I am totally in love with these mountains. All the best to you…Hope your love for the mountains grows with each day.

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  10. Megan

    I recently converted to Buddhism and this shrine really interests me. I would love to visit Nako and meet a few of my fellow Buddhists sharing their life, culture and perspective. India is the birthplace of my new religion and I feel like I am being called to come down there and meditate on the meaning of life.

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  11. Terry

    I chanced upon your blog and I must say that you seem very adventurous to go out back packing to the mountains.

    I remember going on a tight budget to the Red Mountains and it was a pretty bad experience we had to sleep on the roads and hick hike and all that.

    After that I refused to go on any trip of the kind. I only go on meticulously planned holidays after that torrid experience.

    Maybe since you are from a different ethnic group the backpacking is different in India. Since you live in Delhi it may be close by for you and you may have gone on a visit there often as well, but here it is very tough and a bad experience.

    Reply
  12. Uma

    The Himalayas here are so different from the ones at Shimla and Manali that are all icy. This seems more like a barren land kind of thing. I have been to Himachal Pradesh but have sadly not visited Nako, liked your post on this uncommercial place.

    Reply
  13. Gab

    Liked the touch this post has, great depth and feeling. There was one picture that made me feel that Nako was an ordinary lake. But the penultimate picture is awesome and justifies the extra-ordinary status that you have prescribed to the lake. I am a nature-junkie of sorts and think I would love visiting India and the Nako village. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  14. Carol Hong

    Nako doesn’t seem appealing at all. The write-up is exciting but I sort of feel that the pictures don’t complement it well. People are spoken about but there are no pictures of them. The Gompa is spoken about but again no picture. The lake is described as a wonder sight to see, but the picture makes it seem like a dirty pond. Poor photography I must say. My husband has been to Nako and he has really great pictures on his digicam. Liked the title but the pictures are a disappointment. Kasol post was better on the whole, had great words complemented by great pictures.

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  15. Groshan Fabiola

    Must say that Nako seems less interesting as compared to Kasol. From the pictures the lake doesn’t look that great. Only the monastery seems interesting and the prospects of the home stay. I liked the touch you gave to the people from Nako and their lifestyle- their burnt complexion and the language they speak as well as their way of life. Would have been nice if you had uploaded a few pictures of the people who you have described so nicely here.

    Reply
  16. Evans

    I have visited Ajanta and Ellora when i visited India and also Elephanta caves and liked the work done there. As an art student such work always excites me. Would love to visit Nako and check it out. It’s sad that you do not have a picture of the monastery. A religious site made of sandalwood is extremely interesting to an artist like me.

    Reply

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