The Moon shaped lake: Chander-Tal, Spiti Valley

Himalayan Travels, Lahaul & Spiti Valley

Chandertal Tal is a remote sweet water lake situated at an high altitude of 14000 feet in the Spiti region of the Lahaul and Spiti district in the north of Himachal Pradesh. Chandertal Lake gets its name from its crescent shape which resembles the moon. The word ‘Chandra’ in Hindi means moon and ‘taal’ means lake. Chandertal Lake is 1km long and around 0.5km in width.

Chandertal Lake is a popular destination for adventure junkies who wish to hike and camp in the wilderness. The lake can be accessed by road or by foot from Batal and Kunzum Pass. Via Kunzum Pass the trek to Chandertal Lake is around 8km long. This hike is quite treacherous as the trail is quite steep.

Since Kunzum Pass is considered as one of the most treacherous and hostile roads in the world there are often road blocks along the way. There is also a possibility of the level of oxygen dipping due to the pass being situated at an high altitude. If one wishes to trek to Chandratal on this route it is advisable to be well equipped with good hiking gear such as winter wear, water, hiking pole and a good pair of shoes.

From Batal there is a 14km long but narrow road leading to Chandratal. This road is one of the most picturesque routes in Spiti Valley. The roads are winding around the mountains, broad enough to allow only one vehicle to pass at a time. While on this route one will notice plenty of waterfalls and the Spiti River flowing nearby. One must be extremely cautious while driving on this route as there are possibilities of road blocks and the glacier water overflowing on the roads. One can also witness snow capped mountains around covered mostly with mist and fog which adds to the beauty of the drive.

Once at Chandratal there are a handful of campsites that provide travellers with accommodation and food. There are only tents and no other kind of accommodation options available if one wishes to spend a night at Chandratal. The campsites at Chandertal include huge dinning tents and tents pitched up for toilets and for stay. The tents available are of moderate quality with only mattresses and blankets inside.

Food and stay at Chandratal are generally expensive owing to its inaccessibility and distance from civilisation. The food available at the campsite is very basic consisting of only rice, mix vegetable, dal and noodles. Beverages such as tea, coffee and cold drinks are also available. One can also pitch their own tents by paying a nominal fee at the campsite.

From the campsite the Chandratal Lake can be accessed on foot or by road. The road leading to Chandertal Lake is about three km long from where one has to hike for about 10 minutes to reach the lake. This route is comparatively shorter and easier than the trail which is 3km long starting all the way from the campsite to the lake.

This route is a hike around the mountains passing through two high altitude lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains On the way one can also find wild flowers, different coloured stones and a patch of land struck by lightening. This patch in particular is barren and can be easily spotted amidst the green mountains. This hike is moderately difficult and can be done by amateurs.

While on the hike, there are marked trails which lead you to the lake. Around the lake there are boards signaling the start point of the lake. One can spot the lake from a distance due to the green blue waters. Chandratal Lake is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the Himalayas.

At the entry point of the lake there is a small stupa covered with prayer flags and wishing stones piled up all around the lake. There is a popular belief amongst the locals to make a wish by piling up seven flat stones one on top of the other. Although the temperature of the lake water is generally cold, swimming is permitted in the lake. In order to keep the lake area pollution free vehicles have been stopped from coming right up to the lake. Camping around the lake has also been prohibited.

There is also a trekking trail leading from Chandertal Lake to Suraj Taal which is another high altitude lake situated 30km away in the Lahaul district. These lakes are generally frozen during winters. The best time to visit chandratal is during the spring season between July to September. The Batal and Kunzum Pass roads are shut during the rest of the year. The temperature at Chandratal is generally pleasant although the days can be quite warm and the nights can get extremely windy.

The temperature generally drops as the night progresses and could drop to 3 degree celsius even during the summer months. Chandertal Lake can be accessed by hiring a private vehicle or by taking the government bus which plys everyday from Manali and Kaza during July to September.

If one wishes to take a bus ride it should be kept in mind that the bus stop is situated at Batal, 14km from Chandertal Lake. From Batal one can hire a private vehicle, hitch a ride or walk up to Chandratal. The best time to visit Chandertaltal Lake is during a full moon or a new moon night. The reflection of the full moon in the lake makes it sparkle and it is a magnificent experience. While on the new moon, millions of shooting stars can be seen which makes the heavens look close.

To visit and explore Chandertal Lake a one night stay is fairly sufficient. For those who feel Pangong Lake is a marvel, Chandertal Lake will surely challenge that perspective.



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