Chandratal Lake – A Gorgeous Himalayan Indulgence
“And, there is a reason, for all the beautiful places to be hidden behind the faraway mountains. Sometimes, just out of ordinary, coming face to face with such a massive inspiration of a place weaves a wave of intangible tranquil. We know a part of us intend to stay there listening to the whispers the breeze behold and never to leave. But, owing to the promise to continue the journey, we leave embracing the forbidden tales, captivating the whimsical vistas and with a desire to return back someday.” 🙂 🙂 🙂
I scribbled these words on my tab as I clumsily started my journey from Chandrataal to Manali, the rickety roads smelled danger and we were warned of waterfalls gushing through the road. But, my mind was still lurking peacefully in the awe-inspiring vistas that captured my mind from the previous evening. Camping at Chandrataal, throughout the road trip to Spiti Valley, has been the most phenomenal assault to my senses. It unfolded the cherubic side of me that lay hidden for years and I was there, happy and so satisfied with the journey.
About Chandratal Lake (Moon Lake)
Nestled right next to the barren mountains of Spiti Valley, Chandra Tal Lake or Moon Lake is a high altitude lake in the Lahaul & Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. At an altitude of 4,300 meters, it is untouched by the wrath of humans who find it their duty to pollute the surrounding environment. It is said to be the source of Chandra River and derived its name from its moon like a crescent shape.
Oh Boy! Can I give a million reasons to visit this spectacular delight of nature? 🙂 🙂 Reaching the iconic lake is in itself is no small feat because fighting with the minimal roads and bumpy ride is no escape. But, it is worth all the fight because things like this happen only once out of ordinary. Imagine the cobalt blue skies and Ivory clouds generously pouring their reflection on the lake as the glittering sun illuminates the day. As the sun slowly takes the center place, the lake becomes the stuff of dreams with various hues and shades of blue blanketing the lake. The crystal clear water makes each stone underneath visible and the barren mountains right behind the lake stand guarding it.
How to Reach Chandrataal Lake
Kaza – Rangrik – Losar – Kunzum Pass – Chandrataal
While I am writing this, I already start to feel tired remembering that one hell of a journey to Chandratal Lake. Phew! While on my road trip to Spiti Valley, my 5th pit stop was Losar which happens just to be a transit point. Of course, a sky full of twinkling stars is a perk and you can spend some time gazing at them. After leaving Kaza and exploring the nearby villages, it was an impromptu plan to leave for Losar directly to save time and start early next morning for Chandratal Lake. The distance between Kaza and Losar is around 60 km and can be covered in nearly 6 hours without stopping much. However, we started exploring the nearby villages around Kaza and started for Losar at around 4.30 pm. With the darkness exploding through the sinister night, it took a whopping 5 hours of the rickety ride to reach Losar.
Stay overnight in Losar and start early for Chandratal Lake. On the way, you will cross Kunzum Pass with a temple dedicated for Kunzum Mata. It is a straight route unless you reach a cross section with one way going towards Manali via Batal and another way towards Chandrataal Lake. The travel time without breaks is around 5 hours. It is a great convenience to have your own vehicle during the trip to Spiti Valley. Cabs can be booked to and fro Chandrataal Lake but it is an expensive option costing around 7 to 8k.
Via Manali – You can reach Chandrataal Lake via Manali as well but routes scenes are extremely sad after Rohtang Pass. The route is via Rohtang Pass, Gramphoo and Batal. If you don’t have your own conveyance, the cab options are very expensive starting from 12k from Manali to Chandrataal and back. There is multiple violent water-crossing that your vehicle needs to brave on this route.
Trek or Hitchhiking – This is a tricky situation because I would not personally rely on hitch hiking. The cheapest way to reach Chandratal is to get down at Batal. Both Kaza and Manali bound cross through the place. Depending on the time you reach, you can either choose to immediately trek 14kms upwards to Chandratal Lake or stay overnight at Chacha Chachi Dhaba. If your adventure bone needs some peace of mind, go for it and you also end up saving money. If you are lucky enough, you can hitchhike to Chandratal.
Accommodation in Losar and Chandratal
There are many budget accommodation is Losar starting from home stay to hotels to dorms. You can get accommodation as cheap as Rs 200 per person. Suggested accommodation is Atisha Hotel that charges around Rs 600 to 800 per room. The rooms are clean with basic amenities like hot water.
The accommodation in Chandratal is limited to tents and it is an amazing experience camping under glittering sky studded with million stars. There are a number of camps set-up during the peak season which is equipped with attached washroom.
Suggested Camp – Pemathang Camps are best out of all the camps and the prices overnight per person starts from Rs 1500 to 2500 depending on the tent type. The price includes dinner, breakfast, and tea.
Trekking to Chandratal Lake from Camping site
The inspiring vistas of nature and far away snow capped mountains glittering under the sun – Abundance is the word that frames state of my mind. The journey is a plethora of what nature can bestow. There is a neat trail that starts from camping area and leads you to Chandrataal Lake. It is an easy trek of only 3kms and the trail is laid out. Oh! Did I not yet tell you about the idyllic trek? It is a beautiful trek punctuated with streams of water and mostly covered in a carpet of green grass. You see the shepherd clumsily resting as the sheep graze on the green cover. As you climb higher, the air tends to get colder and temperature starts to dip, it is time you realize you are at high altitude despite the sun dancing overhead. Continuing with the trek, the barren landscape starts to appear close and as you descend down, you see the first glimpses of the turquoise blue lake. It is an ephemeral feeling to sit by the lake. I sat in silence staring at the gorgeous panoramas and felt the sudden rush of happiness being present in the moment. Retiring for the night gazing millions of twinkling stars and milky way – It was a spectacular abundance of nature and it wasn’t even for a second did I want to close my eyes.
PS: The trek from camping ground to Chandratal Lake is around 3kms and is an easy soul feeding trek. You will cross a small oval shaped lake that you can witness from the top, don’t confuse it with Chandratal Lake.
You can also drive to Chandratal Lake continuing on the same route that you used to reach Chandratal. You will only have to walk 10 minutes to reach the Lake. But, if you can, trek through the sheer spectacle route.
Things to Know Before Starting the Trip:-
- The route remains open only during the months of June to September. Rest of the year, it cannot be reached due to snow and road disconnect.
- Give your phone some rest because nothing works here. In Spiti Valley, BSNL is the only network that works but in Chandratal Lake, there is no mobile connectivity at all.
- Stock up some food and water for the journey. You will not find a single place between Losar and Chandratal to grab even a morsel of anything. Make sure you have your breakfast before leaving and fill up your water bottles.
- The road is in poor condition. Be prepared mentally to face one of the most rickety, bumpy and slowest ride of your life.
- Carry warm clothes when you go to Chandratal because at night temperature dips down. Unless you don’t have insulating jacket, gloves, muffler and woolen cap, you are not ready.
- You can pitch your own tent by renting space for Rs 300 per night. You can avail dinner, lunch, and breakfast at the camps.
- If you are leaving for Manali, do not forget to leave next morning as early as 5.30am because it becomes difficult negotiating with water streams flowing through the road. The ice starts melting and level of water rises as post 9.30 to 10 am. We got stuck thrice with our car begging for mercy.
Photo Story from Chandratal Lake and Roads 🙂 🙂