Chandra Taal Lake Spiti Valley
A trekkers’ paradise!!! Beauty of this lake can’t be described in words. It is often referred as one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 4300m. Also called as ‘The Moon Lake’ & it is the most enchanting lakes in Himalayas. It is a Lake with alluring beauty amidst the Himalayan mountain ranges. The charm of this magnificent lake can’t be delineated in words, an array of snow burnt mounts reflecting themselves in the deep blue water makes the view awe inspiring.
Chandratal Lake is named after the moon not only because of its shape but also because of the way it reflects the moon. In fact, tourists from all over the country visit the lake to witness its unparalleled beauty in the night. The pristine lake appears deep aquatic blue in the morning, turns greenish as the evening starts approaching, and looks like a vast pit of pitch black metal as the darkness of the night sets it. In short the lake is normally blue but changes colour with the colour of the sky. Chandra Bhaga mountain range forms the perfect backdrop for the lake.
Chandratal or Chandra Tal or Chandra Taal or Chander Taal or simply Moon Lake is a barren but beautiful lake located at a height of 4300m in Himachal Pradesh in northern India. It comes under Spiti and Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh and is situated at a distance of six km from Kumzum Pass.
The lake got its name because of its crescent shape. This lake is also one of the two high-altitude wetlands of India that have been designated as Ramsar sites. Once a tentative residence for Tibetan traders traveling to Spiti and the Kullu valley, it attracts thousands of adventure enthusiasts from all over the world. It is believed that Chandratal was discovered by traders who came to the region from Tibet or Ladakh. After an arduous journey, the traders used to rest near the lake before resuming their journey to Kullu or Spiti.
The sweet water lake is around 2.5 km wide. It is the source of Chandra River which merges with Bhaga River to form Chandrabhaga River and later assumes the identity of Chenab.
The lake can be visited only during the three summer months. For the rest of the season, the lake remains cut off and frozen.
Though the place is barren and bereft of any human settlement, it is a famous camping site during summer. Travelers often get awestruck by the blue colour of the lake, bordered by wide carpet of green grass coupled with the pristine white of Chandra Bhaga mountain range.
Legend has that the Chandratal Lake lies in the vicinity of a place from where God Indra's chariot picked up Yudhishthira, the eldest of Pandava brothers in Mahabharata in his mortal form to Swarga (heaven). This fact renders the lake sacred and thus, is flocked by a lot of Hindu devotees. Locals believe that fairies visit the lake at night. The colour of water of this holy lake keeps changing from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends. Vast stretches of green meadows house the best camping sites and an array of different wildflowers during springtime. The trek from Batal to Chandratal can be quite a tedious trail, but the captivating views and charm of the place will be worth it. The sun's light reflecting on the surface of the astounding Chandratal Lake makes it seem crystal clear.
Chandratal Trek: The Chandratal Baralacha Trek is a fun and adventure filled experience amidst one of the most picturesque views of the spell bounding mountains and majestic blue waters. The trek goes through vast landscapes, rocky mountain passes and lush green meadows while overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the lake; and the adventure is multiplied with occasional sightings of exotic wildlife that is endemic to the region! All these factors undoubtedly make it one of the best treks in the entire region.
The Chandratal Lake trek goes through a scenic route with a panoramic view of the Lahaul range with snow clad peaks of Minar, Talagiri, Tara Pahar and Mulkila, all of which are over 6000 meters high in the sky. The trek eventually takes you to the point that is 5000 meters up in the air. What a thrill!
It does not require you to be a pro at it, and the difficulty level is quite moderate. However, high fitness levels and good stamina are a must when you're walking at such a high altitude. The only times the trek becomes a little challenging is during river crossings but that can be managed.
The trek to Chandratal Lake is organized between June and October, both inclusive. However, it is best to avoid going in the monsoon as the water levels of the rivers and lake are unusually high which may create restrictions on your movements.
On your way, you will also get to climb the glaciers between Kunzum pass and Rohtang Pass. This mesmerizing site has much folklore attached to itself but what lures its visitors is its turquoise blue water, majestic mountains and serene surroundings which make it an apt place for camping. Sprawled over an area of 2.5 kilometers, Chandratal sees a massive influx of travelers during the summer months.
In the winter months, this place majorly remains in the bucket list of adventure enthusiasts who want to push past their limits.
Things to carry on the trek:
- Snow and waterproof shoes with a good grip that allows you to walk on slippery surfaces and rocky landscapes.
- A wooden stick or walking stick gives you support during the trek and a good grip in the snow.
- Jackets, thermal wear, sweaters, snow caps, gloves, heavy woollens.
- Heavy woolen socks and 2 extra pairs, you don't want to keep on socks that may have become wet from the river crossing or the snow- it can lead to frostbites and contraction of hypothermia.
- A small towel. Always make sure each part of your body is dry.
- Water, snacks, medicines- your basic travel kit.
Camping at Chandra Taal:
Chandratal Lake is an official camping site where one can lay in nature's cradle all night long and admire the spectacle that it is. Laying by the lake as the stars twinkle in the night sky, feeling the soft warmth of the bonfire cuddling your skin as the cool breeze gently tingles your senses; the moon smiling at you as you gaze towards the sky making you feel protected under the nurture of the beautiful nature; a night by the Chandratal Lake is definitely an enriching experience for the mind and body both.
- Be very careful if you choose to hitch-hike.
- Make sure to catch a glimpse of the spectacular night view of the lake.
The best time to visit:
The best time to visit Chandra Taal is between July and August. The water levels of the lake are high and the roads are cleaned off of the snow till the very end making it easier to walk to the lake and breathe in the beauty of the surroundings as they cleanse and rejuvenate you from within.
How to reach:
- The nearest motorable road to Chandratal is the Kunzum Pass, which is accessible by road up to the parking lot about 2 kms away from the lake. Earlier the route from Kunzum Pass to Chandratal Lake was traversable only by foot, but can now be travelled on a motorbike or car in about 2 hours. Chandra Taal is also accessible from Batal on foot, and from Suraj Tal which is around 30 kms away.
- Alternatively, cars can be hired from Manali to Chandratal. However, this will be expensive. Another option is to take a bus to Kaza in Spiti Valley and get down at Batal. From Batal, Chandratal lake is a 14 km trek. Those who are not willing to trek can hitch-hike.
- Options to eat are limited in Chandratal. There are some dhabas at Batal and Kunzum Pass which offer food. The eateries in Chandratal offer mainly Tibetan and limited Indian food. Don’t expect any exotic cuisine.
- Options to stay are also limited in Chandratal. PWD guesthouses and rooms let out on rent by villagers at Kunzum Pass and Batal are the main options to stay. In summer, majority of the tourists prefer to stay in stay in camp at Chandratal.