“The biggest lake in Mizoram is Rih Dil but it is in Burma” is a funny claim. The legendary lake of the Mizos unfortunately is 3km into Burma beyond the boundary. So it’s just the biggest lake of Mizoram in exile 🙂
On the other hand, Palak lake well within the geographical space of Mizoram is the real and uncontested biggest lake of the state. It is 400m x 600m wide and 13m deep.
It lies in the southern end of Mizoram midway between Phura and the famous village of Tongkolong (Tokalo). It’s a natural lake surrounded by very thick forest. I know it because I hiked around the lake and I could almost never see the lake thanks to the thick cover of vegetation. With great imagination, the morning mists at the lake makes it feel like a magical land in a fairy tale with fairy tale creatures emerging through the mists.
Palak lake would be one of the top places to visit in Mizoram but due to it’s remote location it doesn’t see much tourists. This is not too bad because more tourists generally translate to more garbage and destruction. The remoteness of Mizoram South is in many ways nature’s gain. Farpâk area of Phawngpui is already in a bad shape due to the stream of careless, irresponsible visitors.
Locally the lake is called Pala Tipo in Mara language. It is associated with myths and legends such as the existence of an under water village. It’s a different topic by itself.
Nimesh has written quite in detail the more scientific facts of Palak Dil.
If you are going to Palak, Phura is your base. If you are traveling by public transport, from wherever you are, get to Saiha. You need to try your luck of getting a transport to Phura from Saiha. At the time of my visit Sumos ply between Saiha and Phura but on demand basis only. They wait till passengers accumulate. You may have to wait for a day or two or more.
If you are driving, the options are Kawlchaw to Phura dirt road or follow NH54 to Tuipang to Laki. The road is tarred upto Laki. Turn right at Laki. From Laki it’s the lovely dirt road again.
In monsoon Phura is cut off more or less due to the extremely poor condition of the road. You can think of off-roading. Adventure?
An expedition team walked all the way to Palak from Saiha in 1990.
The lake is 5-6km from Phura. You could go and come back the same day.
Stay at Phura
You can stay at the Forest rest house in Phura for a small fee. On arrival at Phura, ask the direction for Forest Rest House and contact the RO or any staff available.
Stay at Palak Lake
Thankfully there’s also a rest house at the lake. Visitors can stay after taking prior permission from the Forest Department. And from my experience they are quite accommodating and helpful.
In my case, the RO at Phura was not in town. I went to the lake in a truck that was going to Lungpuk, prepared to turn back to Phura should there be no staff on duty at the lake. Thankfully, Pu Jimmy, FRO Tongkolong was at the rest house. Then there was Pu Sanga, a staff but not officially on duty was camping at the lake with his relative Vabeia. Pu Jimmy headed back to Tongkolong. My thanks go to Pu Jimmy, Pu Sanga and Vabeia for hospitality.
The facilities at the lake are basic and I would recommend you take some food. Perhaps you should check with the staff at Phura what to bring. Otherwise the stay is free of cost.
Even if you don’t have the habit of chewing paan, I highly recommend you pack some from Phura. The staff at the lake will really appreciate it.
Boating at the lake
There’s a row boat which you use on request from the staff. I also see a few pedal boats typical of a lake swamped by tourists in India. They are marked “Mizoram Tourism”. Thankfully they are on shore. I hope they stay that way. You should not have pedal boats at a lake like Palak or else it will go the way of Farpâk which is slowly becoming a picnic ground, unfortunately.
As much as I like nature and trekking, I am not much of a flower and bird guy. I am just the trekking guy. So I can’t write much about the birds at Palak except that there are many of them. Quite the place to come to with your long lens. There are over 70 species of birds!(Nimesh)
If you have questions on birds and plants around the lake, you may contact Pu Jimmy at +919612767271 or email him at email@example.com. I am told he is the subject matter expert on this topic. Please note he has very limited access to Internet at his place of work so his reply would take a while like days.
The condition of the lake
Palak is the most pristine lake of its size I have been to. I find it’s natural state to be well preserved though some locals I met think otherwise.
Hiking around the lake
There is a hiking trail around the lake. The path is well cleared though still in the cover of thick forest. It was like a tunnel of trees. I could see a clear view of the lake only at a few spots.
As someone not used to wandering alone in the woods, it was almost intimidating with all the strange horror movie like sounds from the nature. Leaves fell like sprinkles at wedding with every step I took as if the trees meant to scare me, threaten me or maybe welcome me.
There are two other smaller lakes nearby which I did not explore.
Apparently the British had plans which didn’t get through. Pu Sanga told me of a large number of well cut construction stones found at a ravine nearby.
Also they are going to create a mini-hydel project to generate electricity using water from the lake. The equipments have already arrived at the lake.
The best to visit the lake would be outside of monsoon. Poor condition of the road and the large number of mosquitoes in monsoon is something you may not look forward to.
I am very less of a writer. I can’t describe places. But this I guarantee. Palak is way way more than I can write.
Enjoy the photographs and please be aware high resolution photos is just a click away.