Sissu lake, a man-made water body, is located near the foothills of the Lahaul mountains. If you take the downhill road from the Sissu village, you can spot its serene blue waters after a couple of hundred meters. Across the lake, you can also spot the Palden Lhamo Dhar waterfall which looks extraordinary with changing winds and the location of sun in the sky.
Across the Attal Tunnel
To reach Sissu, I took a taxi from Manali. This was early March. Compared to Delhi, which was beginning to look like a frying pan, Manali had an overcast sky and pleasant weather. But nothing had prepared me for the weather and view after the Atal tunnel. It takes about 45 minutes to cross the same. Once you&rsquore through, snow-clad mountains stand tall in all directions. Tundra winds surround the barren peaks and temperatures (in early March) are no higher than 7°C.
Way to the Lake
As soon as I settled inside a local hotel, I felt a strong urge to visit the lake. Near the banks of the Chandra river, the lake sat like a giant mirror. I took my copy of Robert Twigger&rsquos White Mountain and walked along the curving roads of Sissu village. There are two ways to reach the lake. If you&rsquore travelling by car and want to make a short stop near the lake, you will find a narrow route to your left that will take you to the riverside region.
But if you&rsquore someone like me, you can also try the stairway route. Near ZostelSissu and behind local houses, you&rsquoll find an old staircase (although not well-maintained) that will lead you to the lake area. The gradual descent from the hill to the lake is quite picturesque. I remember turning to look at the view at each level of this snaking staircase.
Chasing the Lone Duck of the Sissu Lake
Once I reached the lake, I sat on the pavement and admired the Lahaul valley. A few miles away, Chandra river (with new spring waters) gushed with full flow. The mountains appeared even tall, reflected in the Sissu lake. I took out my book but found it difficult to read against the expanse of the majestic ranges.
While the waters had thawed inside the Sissu lake, it wasn&rsquot as full as it would be in June or July. Towards the edge, frost lingered inside the lake. A lonely duck swam around in these shallow waters like a solo monarch. I couldn&rsquot help but wonder if it was odd. Ducks are social creatures. But climate change has impacted this species as well. With a change in water levels and precipitation, their natural habitats have also been impacted.
Sissu village is the first village on the Manali-Lahaul highway. It is a small settlement that is situated across the stunning view of Ghepan peak. You can reach Sissu via a taxi from Manali.
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