Surrounded by beautiful mountains and green forests, Rara Lake is the largest and most famous lake in Mugu district of the Karnali region of Nepal. The lake is located at an elevation of 2,972m. After a three-hour walk from the district headquarters Gamgadhi to the west, you can reach Rara Lake. Spread over an area of 10.8 sq km, Rara Lake has a maximum length of 5 km and a maximum width of 3.2 km and a depth of 167 m. The beauty of Rara Lake cannot be explained by one season. This lake is covered with snow during winter and from the end of May to the first week of July, Rara Lake is covered with flowers.
Rara Lake changes colour many times a day. Sometimes blue, sometimes purple, sometimes Cymric, and sometimes Gray. It changes colour four or five times a day, depending on the weather. The shadow of the Shinje and Kanjirowa mountains also get mixed along with the changing colour of this lake. And this lake really looks like a fairy in heaven and attracts tourists. Dr. Ashok Mahaseth, who visited Rara Lake for the first time from Kathmandu, had a similar experience and was attracted by the charm of this lake. Rara Lake is surrounded by peaks likeChuchemara Takura (4,090m) in the south, to the north are Rum Kandh (6,732m) and Malika Kandh (3,445m) in the north. They have deepened the scenic beauty of Rara Lake.
Rara Lake is very famous because it has linked history with late King Mahendra. It is said that he visited this lake by walking all the way from Jumla in 2020 B.S. He then explores all the sightseeing of this region. After being captivated by the charm of this lake, he also wrote many poems by dedicating Rara Lake. So, only after his visit, this lake started to get popular worldwide. Then in the year 2032, this area was declared a wetland area by establishing a park (Rara National Park). Similarly, the two villages named Chapra and Rara on the banks of Rara Lake were resettled in Nepalganj at that time.
About three years later of formation of park, Durga BhanjanGulma of the Nepal Army started to take care of the national park. Since this lake is known through King Mahendra, people also know it by the name of Mahendra Lake. It is also said that King Mahendra named this lake as ‘Apsara’ after being captured by its beauty.
Tourist Destinations around Rara Lake
- Bird Exploration
Rara Lake is full of migratory birds. Birds from various parts of Europe, Siberia, Tibet, and India are flocking to Lake to cool off, and Rara now has more than 300 species of birds. Of the 49 species of birds that come to Rara, 20 species still enjoy the waters of Rara, while more than 300 species of birds are found only in Rara National Park. With the arrival of foreign birds in Rara, tourist activities have been increasing in this lake. Birds come from different countries of Europe and Asia every year to avoid winter.
- Rara National Park
Rara Lake lies inside the Rara National Park. One of the reasons behind the beauty of this lake is the national park as different flora, fauna, and wildlife found in this park has added more beauty to this lake. Like other Himalayan National Parks of Nepal, there are 51 species of mammals including Himalayan Black Bear, Thar, Habre, Ghoral, Ratuwa deer, Musk Deer, etc. The Park is home to 272 species of birds, including scare crows, monals, coots and different species of mallard, pheasants, common teal etc. Rara Lake and the surrounding forest area under the park has become a suitable habitat for various local and migratory birds. Three species of native Asala fish are found here.
Situated at an altitude of more than 3200 meters above sea level, Murmatap is the best viewpoint, which is near to Rara Lake. Rara Lake, the largest lake in Nepal, can be seen in the shape of a bowl from this viewpoint. More than half a dozen districts in the far western and mid-western zones can be visited from Murmatap, which has attracted a large number of internal and external tourists. It belongs to Murma village of Bada No. 9, Chhayanat Rara Municipality of the district. In this area, you can observe birds like Chirkaliz, Danphe, Chakhura etc. and flowers like Rhododendrons.
Rara Lake, which changes its form throughout the day, looks like a fairy of heaven decorated with various flowers from the month of Jestha to the month of Ashwin. Another special feature of Rara Lake is that it contains Asala (Himalayan) fish which is not found anywhere else in the world. After a three-hour walk from Raratal, you can reach Murmatap on the west side. From here one can get a panoramic view of the Saipal Mountain as well as the breathtaking views of Rara Lake. The lake offers panoramic views of the Sisne Mountains and the Kanjirova Mountains, as well as the ‘Asala’ species of fish, which is found nowhere else.
You can get to Rara Lake by using both air and land routes. If you love to enjoy the overland journey on your own private vehicles, then your drive journey ends after reaching Sallaghari, which is nearer to the lake. It has been seen that many people love to explore the beauty of this lake on their motorcycle.
For Rara, in general, air travel from Nepalgunj to Talcha (Mugu) is the most popular and easy route as it saves your time and provide you the comfort. Recently, the number of people reaching Rara by local buses has also increased. Nowadays, many private travelling companies have also started standard and cheap Rara tour packages. No matter which travelling method you choose, you have to walk for 2-3 hours as driving inside the park is banned, which provides a different kind of fun and experience.
Best time to Visit Rara Lake
Although Rara Lake is suitable for visiting all year round, autumn (September, October, and November) and spring (March, April, and May) is regarded as the best time to visit Rara Lake. During these seasons, surrounding areas of the lake become vibrant because of the blooming flowers. Likewise, the weather and temperature of this lake fall below zero degree in winter; however, visitors still tend to trek this lake even during this time to explore the Rara covered with snow.
Prosperity if roads are upgraded
Despite the increase in the number of tourists coming to Rara, people have been complaining that they will not return due to lack of road upgrading. However, if the Karnali Highway is blackened and the Nagma-Gamgadhi Highway is blacktopped, the number of tourists is estimated to increase three times. Accordingly, local hoteliers and farmers will reap the economic benefits. There is no doubt that the sales of non-organic apples, beans, and Marcy rice will also increase.
It is difficult to translate the extent to which people are immersed in the captivating beauty of every unit and totality of Rara Lake. Rara cannot be experienced just by listening to things, looking at photos or reading memoirs. There can be no creature of nature that does not come to Rara and become a poet and does not enjoy happiness. Blue water in the middle of a green angled forest dedicated to the colourful fish and wild birds swimming and the shores of a market less lake, the colourful wildflowers nearby, the small settlements and the splendour of the nearby mountain range cannot be expressed in words. Rara is very far from Kathmandu city. It is not easy to reach in general. But when you get there, you sink with its surroundings and disappear for a moment.
-By: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal