A tiny tucked away in Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh, on the border with Tibet; Nako is a little known surprise. Home to the Nako Lake, the mystical holy lake that looks most resplendent early in the morning, Nako is delighting as you discover it layer by layer. Still steeped in the medieval aura, it is rich in traditions and it shows in the calmness that engulfs you as soon as you enter the place. Step into paradise and feel blissfully alive by being one with nature as it frames a man-made display.
Before Malling Nullah, between Kinnaur and Spiti, it piques everyone’s interest for it is a land where time has stood still. Flanked by the Himalayas on three sides, Nako is worth getting the Inner Line Permit required to enter this restricted area. The permit can be easily obtained from Reckong Peo or from Kaza and Shimla. It is your passport of uninterrupted peace, quiet and a rejuvenating holiday like no other.
Walk around the village and admire the crystal clear water of the snow and glacier-fed lake. On clear days you can catch the reflection of the entire village and mountains around it floating on it surface. During winters, it freezes over, making it any photographer’s dream come true.
There are many monasteries in and around Nako, making it the perfect trekking point. The new monastery has exquisite wall paintings with a small collection of Buddhist books, statues and also a Tibetan Drum.
Nako has a very Tibetan character. Deodum is the local village deity and a Lagang temple with many idols is also present here. The Nako monastery was founded by Rinchen Zangpo. It has seven temples in all, with some of the older ones having exceptional frescoes and scriptures. A Tibetan form of Buddhism is still alive in these areas and the Monasteries are a standing testament of the community’s religious beliefs and history. The structures are now endangered due to rain and water originating from snow melts. The most important temples are the Lhakhang Gongma (Upper Temple) and the Lotsawa Lhakhang (Translator’s Temple) and restoration and conservation work here has already been started.
The streets and houses are lined with red, green, yellow and blue prayer flags. The houses have stone fences and are themselves made of rubble with flat roofs are painted white. Inside, the doors have beautiful Tibetan wall paintings. The people here are not used to many tourists and expect respect for their culture. Always walk clock-wise around temples and chortles, with your right side facing them. Even touching them with your left hand is not appreciated. The mandalas are painted in Kashmiri influenced Indo-Tibetan style.
Note: The best time to visit is June-October and the lake is open for boating. In the winters the lake is just perfect for ice skating. Enjoy the local fare at the few Dhabas. Relish the Momos, noodles and even, Dal-Chawal. Nako is 110 km from Sangla and 60 Km from Tabo. House to the footprints of Saint Padmasambhava’s, it has rightfully earned the title of ‘Gateway to Buddhist Pilgrimage’.