Spiti diary: Chandratal Lake

14 August 2014

The weather which was good so far in our travel went bad. It was cloudy and ready to rain at any time. Rains in Himalayas are bad these days and we did not like it.

Chandratal Lake was our final destination in Spiti. From Kaza, we started back towards Manali, climbed Kunzum La and 3 km before Batal took the deviation to Chandratal. The road then passes next to Chandra River. The road was narrow though it was not steep. After travelling about 10 km, we saw the landscape widening out and tents appeared at the far end of the valley.

Road towards Chandratal
It seemed like a busy day in Chandratal and hence we first booked a tent. Before our travel, we had talked to a person who was famous in internet domain and had tents in Chandratal. But his tents were not seen at all. Apparently forest department had removed his tents for flouting the rules!! Anyway we had a tent to sleep now and had not paid money to internet guy. Nothing to worry!!

Chandratal lake
No one is allowed to stay at Chandratal. The tents I mentioned are all set up about 2 km before the lake. A good decision by the authorities, I would say.

Lake and cloudy day
We had a quick lunch and then set out to lake. Vehicles have to stop about a km before the lake. Remaining distance has to be covered by walk. Since we had to get down to the lake, the lake makes a dramatic appearance!! We were mesmerized.

First view of the lake
The lake was pristine and clear. Here I met Arun Bhat, an ardent traveler and blogger. I knew him from his blogs from long time but now I was seeing him face to face!! That was great!!

Clear water
We wanted to circle around lake but the weather turned bad during our walk. So, we returned back only to see clear sky again!! With weather turning good, I did something that I do not do often. Jump with joy and get a photograph of it.

We stayed at the lake till sunset and returned back to the tents. After dinner, we spent some time in star grazing. Slowly clouds started hovering around and we quickly got into out tents. It was followed by heavy rains.

We woke up next day with overcast conditions. Still we returned back to the lake to get lake photos with some nice reflections. The trip was coming to an end.

I had lot of questions before I planned the trip to Chandratal. I will try to answer a few of them.

Is it worth staying at Chandratal?
It depends on your interest. I felt it was a good idea as we could spend a lot of time in lake. The lake looks different in morning and evening. If we have travelled for thousands of km to see this lake, it makes no sense to hit and run.

Chandratal in morning
Where can we stay at Chandratal?
Staying next to lake is not permitted. We can either stay at tents 2 km before the lake. It costs about Rs 1000 – 1500 (with food). A cheaper option can be to stay in Dhaba at Batal. There is also a small dhaba near the tents but I do not know the price.

Is it good to stay in Chandratal during onward journey?
If you are travelling from Manali, it is not a good idea. Manali is at 7,000 feet and Chandratal at 14,200 feet is not good for acclimatization. Day trip is ok but not the stay. Even Batal is at a higher altitude for acclimatization. Few people in the tents had bad time as they suffered from AMS. They could not enjoy their trip. So, take it easy.

Any other things to do?

Trekking from Kunzum La to Chandratal Lake can be done in about 3-4 hours. Another popular trekking route is from Chandratal to Suraj Tal near Bharalacha Pass in Lahual. It takes about three days and involves serious stream crossings.

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