Nako was an enigma. In retrospect we missed a trick in not exploring the village for it’s hidden treasures. Most travelogues refer to it as the hidden gem in Himachal Pradesh so let me start with a fabulous view during a trek to a Buddhist prayer wheel.
This is a picture postcard view of the Nako Lake and the village. The lake is small but has a beauty of it’s own. It freezes during the month of December and January. Approaches to the village are blocked by snow for most of mid October to the end of May.
The approach to our hotel in Nako was through narrow lanes and dwellings built of stones and we struggled to make our way past in cars. The Lake View Hotel alongside the Nako Lake, with a flower and vegetable garden in front of it, was like an oasis in the desert. That is the paradox of Nako. To get to appreciate it you need to find the hidden gems.
The day we had at Nako was spent trekking along the slopes of the mountains that overlook the Leo Pugriyal, the highest peak in Himachal Pradesh at 6816 metres. The climb to the view point is steep and rocky and our group leader, Sandeep, dissuaded us from going on it, as there were a few stretches that were narrow and rocky and dangerous. Some of the team did go and were thrilled by the experience and the breathtaking views of Leo Pugriyal and also of Nako and the Hangrang Valley. A few went on a rocky section of the mountain to a nearby Buddhist structure and ventured beyond but had difficulty coming back and needed the help of locals to return.
Near the Nako Lake is a foot print and shrine dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. In the near by village are also several caves where Guru Padmasambhava is said to have meditated and given discourses to his disciples. Guru Padmasambhava is said to have introduced tantric Buddhism, Vajrayana Buddhism, to Tibet. He is also called Guru Rinpoche and his followers believe he is a Buddha, foretold by Shakyamuni Buddha. We did not get to see the foot print and shrine and also the caves. You really have to find the hidden gems!!
We didn’t go to see the ancient Buddhist monastery built by Ringchen Zangpo, the great translator of Buddhist texts to the Tibetan language. It was a fair distance away and would have taken a long time to visit because of the narrow and bad stretches of roads. We understand that this monastery has similar murals and sculptures as the Tabo Monastery, near Kaza, that we were visiting the next day. We spent a little time at a more recently constructed monastery in the village, while we waited for our hotel arrangements to be finalized. The monastery, built prior to the visit and 7 -day stay of the Dalai Lama, was closed so we could just sit around and relax.