Chandratal Lake in Himachal Pradesh is known for its breathtaking beauty. The journey to reach Chandratal is packed with excitement and thrills, leaving tourists captivated by its natural charm. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning scenery. You can access this pristine lake via treacherous roads and high glaciers that stretch between Rohtang Pass and Kunjum Pass, creating an adventurous experience.
Alternatively, you can also reach Chandratal Lake through Kinnaur, Spiti Valley. Throughout this thrilling journey, you’ll have the opportunity to explore numerous beautiful places, fulfilling every tourist’s desire right from the start.
This article will be you complete travel guide for Chandratal Lake.
Chandratal Lake, often hailed as a paradise for tourists and trekkers, is recognized as one of India’s most stunning lakes. It’s nestled high in the Himalayas at an altitude of approximately 4300 meters. This serene lake is perched on a plateau, commanding a view of the Chandra River. Its name, “Chandra Tal” or Lake of the Moon, is inspired by its crescent shape. Surrounding the lake is expansive grassy land, which once was a glacier in ancient times.
As the day progresses, the divinely beautiful lake reflects a myriad of hues, transitioning from reddish-orange to turquoise blue to shiny emerald. The changing colors infuse an element of mystery into the lake’s magical ambiance. These contrasting colors and stark landscapes paint the entire panorama with shades of the rainbow, for which the lake is renowned.
Historically, Chandratal Lake served as a temporary stop for Tibetan traders traveling to Spiti and Kullu valleys. Its pristine water, as clear as glass, is a major attraction. Remarkably, the water remains untouched by pollution. Legend has it that Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandavas, was taken to heavenly abodes from this very place, making it a revered site for many years.
However, it’s worth noting that due to heavy snowfall in the area, Chandratal Lake and its surroundings are sometimes inaccessible to tourists.
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Where is Chandratal Lake located ?
Located at an astounding altitude of 14,100 feet, the Chandratal lake strategically rests just 9 km away from Kunzum Pass in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. Chandratal lake boasts accessibility from two sides, Manali and Kaza. Chandratal is approximately 115 kilometers from Manali and 100 kilometers from Kaza.
Stories of Chandratal Lake
Chandra and Bhaga
One of the most famous legends tells the story of two young lovers, Chandra and Bhaga. Chandra was the daughter of the Moon God, and Bhaga was the son of the Sun God. They were deeply in love, but their parents didn’t approve of their relationship. Determined to be together, they decided to run away from Baralacha La, the place where they first met. However, they missed each other at that spot.
Fortunately, they managed to reunite somewhere else and had a beautiful celestial wedding. At the very spot called Tandi, where they came together, you can now see the confluence of sparkling Chandra and Bhaga River, which serves as a testament to their heavenly love. The lakes Suraj Tal and Chandratal, believed to have been created by their union, continue to echo the mystery of their romance. There is a very sweet song called “Chandra te Bhaga mili Tandi yara “ which literally means Chandra and Bhaga rivers met at Tandi.
A Lover Shepherd from Hansa Village
According to historical accounts, a shepherd hailing from Hansa Village in Spiti valley once saw a fairy who made her home in the glacial lake. The young man and the fairy fell in love and spent their days together. However, the fairy would always return to the water in the evenings. One day, the shepherd boy asked the fairy to marry him, but she had one condition: he must never reveal her existence to anyone. The shepherd agreed without hesitation.
As time passed, the fairy gave birth to a son, their life continued. In the summer, the shepherd would go to Chandratal Lake, and in the winter, he would return to his village. During this, he had also married someone in the village.
One fateful day, he had a heated argument with his village wife, who told him to leave, claiming he wouldn’t find a better wife. In his excitement, he retorted, saying that the fairy at the lake is far better than her. He stormed off towards the lake, but upon arrival, he found neither the fairy nor their child. Then, he remembered that he had carelessly revealed the secret about the fairy to his wife. Filled with regret, he jumped into the lake.
It is said that even today, shepherds pause at the lake in his memory.
Unknown Depth of Chandratal Lake
In ancient times, there was a curious old man who had a keen interest in measuring the depth of Chandratal Lake. He embarked on a project to create a long rope for this purpose. After several days of diligent weaving, the rope was finally ready Upon reaching the lake, he tied a heavy stone to one end of the rope and lowered it into the water. Throughout the entire day, he continuously lowered the rope into the lake, but to his surprise, he couldn’t reach the lake’s bottom. Despite his best efforts, the rope eventually ran out, and he grew weary, so he decided to return.
It’s a tale that has been passed down through generations, and despite numerous subsequent attempts, no one has managed to fathom the lake’s mysterious depth to this day.
Best Time to Visit Chandratal Lake
Given its status as a renowned tourist destination, tourists flock to Chandra Taal throughout the year. If you have an adventurous spirit, you can visit at any time. Nevertheless, the period from June to October is widely regarded as the best time to explore this area. Winter brings harsh weather conditions, including the potential for snowstorms. The lake’s beauty reaches its zenith in September, making it an ideal time for your visit.
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Weather in Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake stays cold all year round, and during winter, the temperature at the lake can drop way below -20 degrees Celsius. Even in the summer, it’s pretty chilly, and you might see snowfall at any time of the year in this part of Spiti Valley. In recent years, heavy snow has surprised people in June, August, and September.
So, when you plan a trip to Chandratal Lake, make sure you pack warm clothes, no matter what time of year you go. Be prepared for emergencies, especially during the summer months. Winter trips are not recommended.
How To Plan a Trip to Chandratal Lake ?
Chandratal Lake often features in itineraries for trips to the Spiti Valley, typically spanning 9 to 14 days. You can embark on this adventure starting from Shimla, covering the entirety of Spiti, and concluding your journey in Manali, with a stopover at Chandratal along the way. Alternatively, you can reverse the route, starting from Manali and finishing in Shimla.
However, in recent times, a growing number of travelers choose to visit Chandratal exclusively for the camping experience. Adventure enthusiasts and motorcycle riders are drawn to the challenging off-roading opportunities presented by the region’s rugged roads. Depending on your starting point, this can be achieved comfortably in 4 to 5 days. Both approaches have their advantages and drawbacks, offering unique experiences.
How to Reach Chandratal Lake
Getting to Chandratal Lake can be a bit challenging, but if you have your own vehicle, you can venture onto the rugged mountain roads in Spiti Valley. To reach Chandratal Lake, you’ll need to take a narrow dirt road that branches off from the Manali-Kaza Road near Batal. There aren’t any direct public transportation options to Chandratal Lake. However, you can make use of buses and shared transport available on the Manali-Kaza Road. But the simplest way is to either drive yourself or hire a vehicle with a driver from Kaza or Manali.
Route from Mandi – Manali – Rohtang Pass
The quickest way to get from Delhi to Chandratal Lake is through the Manali route. You can make a stop in Manali overnight before reaching the lake. The route is like this:
Manali, nestled in the Himalayas, is a picturesque hill station, known for its breathtaking landscapes, it offers lush green valleys, snow-capped peaks, and gushing rivers. A popular tourist destination, Manali offers a range of outdoor activities, from trekking and skiing to paragliding. Its vibrant markets, delectable cuisine, and warm hospitality make it a charming getaway for travelers.
Rohtang La (3978 Meters)
Rohtang Pass of Himachal Pradesh, is a renowned high mountain pass. It stands at an elevation of approximately 3,978 meters (13,051 feet) above sea level. The pass connects the Kullu Valley to the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys and remains snow-covered for a significant part of the year. Rohtang Pass is a popular tourist destination, known for its stunning panoramic views, snow activities, and access to higher-altitude regions. However, its accessibility is limited during the winter due to heavy snowfall, making it a seasonal attraction.
Gramphu is a small village, it serves as a crucial transit point for travelers heading towards the popular destinations of Lahaul and Spiti Valley. The village is surrounded by stunning Himalayan landscapes and offers a serene atmosphere for nature enthusiasts. It’s often used as a stopover for acclimatization before venturing further into the rugged terrain of Lahaul and Spiti. Gramphu also has basic amenities like guesthouses and eateries to cater to tourists passing through.
Chattru, a modest settlement, rests along the banks of the Chandra River. It features a handful of seasonal shops that operate exclusively during the summer months. These establishments cater to travelers, offering a variety of refreshments, including tea, snacks, and meals. Chattru serves as an ideal spot for rejuvenation, allowing visitors to savor the breathtaking valley scenery while enjoying some nourishment.
Batal, situated just before reaching Chandratal Lake, marks the final significant stop on your journey. It is renowned for the famous Chacha Chachi da Dhaba, where travelers can take a break for refreshments and even spend the night during the summer season. While at Batal, you can also catch a glimpse of the impressive Bara Shigri Glacier, which happens to be the largest glacier in Himachal Pradesh.
However, it’s essential to note that this route doesn’t allow your body to acclimatize properly because you go from an altitude of less than 8000 feet to 14000 feet in just two nights. As a result, many people experience symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness when traveling to Chandratal Lake from Manali.
Route from Shimla – Kinnaur – Kaza
Start your journey in Delhi and head towards Shimla or Narkanda. From there, continue to Kalpa, then Nako and Kaza in Spiti Valley. After exploring Spiti Valley, make your way to Chandratal from Kaza. Here’s the complete route:
Delhi -Shimla – Narkanda – Karcham – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Losar – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal
First, go from Shimla to Kinnaur and then visit Spiti Valley. Save your trip to Chandratal Lake for when you exit Spiti Valley from the Manali side. This Kinnaur route helps you adapt gradually to the high altitude of Chandratal Lake, which is crucial for avoiding altitude sickness and enjoying your journey to the fullest. Please take acclimatization seriously for a safe and enjoyable high-altitude adventure.
Staying Options in Chandratal Lake
There aren’t any official places to stay right at Chandratal Lake because the government has banned camping there. The lake is in a remote area, so you won’t find luxurious 3-star hotels or cottages nearby. However, about 2 kilometers away, there’s a camping site where you can set up your own tents. If you’re looking for safer options besides camping on your own, there are few campsites available.
As previously mentioned, setting up your own camp by the shores of Chandratal Lake is not allowed. However, there is a designated camping site where you can pitch your tent. Bring your camping equipment, If you’re passionate about camping and plan to do it frequently, you can purchase your own camping gear from places like Manali or Delhi or you can hire it from Manali. For a camping trip, essential items include tents, sleeping bags rated between -5 to -10 degrees Celsius, and comfortable mattresses.
Mobile Network in Chandratal Lake
Mobile network coverage at Chandratal is non-existent. If you’re traveling from Manali, you’ll maintain connectivity until you reach Rohtang Pass, but it will be lost shortly afterward. There is no signal along the Batal Gramphu road, Kunzum Pass, Chandratal, or Losar. In Kaza, only BSNL and Airtel networks function.
Important places near Chandratal Lake
1. Kunzum Pass:
Kunzum Pass is a breathtaking mountain pass situated at an elevation of approximately 4,590 meters (15,060 feet) above sea level, it connects the Spiti Valley to the Lahaul Valley. The pass offers mesmerizing panoramic views of snow-clad peaks, making it a favorite stop for travelers and photographers. Kunzum Pass is often adorned with prayer flags, and visitors often pause here to seek blessings for a safe journey through the challenging terrain of the Himalayas. The pass is typically open from late June to September due to heavy snowfall in the winter months.
Sissu is a charming village located in the Lahaul Valley, not far from Chandratal Lake. It is known for its lush greenery, apple orchards, and the Bhaga River that flows through it. Sissu is a tranquil place to explore and provides a refreshing contrast to the arid landscapes of the nearby Spiti Valley. It’s an excellent spot to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of the region.
Kaza is the largest town in Spiti Valley and serves as a central hub for travelers exploring the region. It’s home to Key Monastery, a famous Buddhist monastery, and offers various amenities, including accommodations and eateries.
Losar is a picturesque village in Spiti Valley and an ideal stopover for travelers en route to Chandratal. It provides a tranquil setting to enjoy the Himalayan landscapes and offers some basic facilities for visitors.
5. Key Monastery:
Situated in the Spiti Valley, Key Monastery is an iconic Tibetan Buddhist monastery known for its stunning hilltop location and centuries-old religious artifacts. It’s not only a place of spiritual significance but also offers captivating views of the surrounding landscapes. A visit to Key Monastery adds cultural depth to your journey around Chandratal Lake.
Things to Carry
Many people wonder what they should bring when planning a trip to Chandratal Lake. If you’re visiting during the pleasant season, from mid-June to mid-September, your basic travel essentials and any necessary medications should suffice. However, if you’re visiting during a more uncertain time, especially in the challenging terrain of Chandratal Lake, it’s best to be well-prepared with the following essentials:
1. Snow/Waterproof Trekking Shoes : Opt for comfortable, lightweight trekking shoes with a strong grip, especially crucial for trekking on snowy or slippery terrain.
2. Snow/Waterproof Clothing: Ensure you have waterproof jackets and lower garments to protect yourself from the elements.
3. Heavy Woolens and Inner Thermals: Keep warm with heavy woolen clothing and inner thermal wear to stay comfortable in the chilly weather.
4. Medications: Carry any necessary medications you may need during your trip.
5. Torchlight : A flashlight or torchlight is essential for visibility in the dark or during emergencies.
6. Woolen Socks : Pack extra pairs of woolen socks (at least two) to keep your feet dry, as wet socks can hinder your ability to walk comfortably.
7. Water Bottle : Carry a water bottle in your backpack to stay hydrated throughout your journey.
8. Camping Gear : If you plan to set up your own camp at the camping site, make sure to bring the necessary camping equipment.
Being well-prepared with these items will ensure a safer and more enjoyable trip to Chandratal Lake, especially in challenging conditions.
Chandratal Lake Trek Via Hampta Pass
Hampta Pass, at 14,000 feet in Himachal Pradesh, offers a striking Himalayan crossing. One side boasts the lush Kullu Valley with forests and flowers, while the other reveals the arid Lahaul landscape with barren mountains. Standing atop the pass, you witness a swift transition between these two worlds. Descending from Hampta Pass, you’ll be captivated by the rugged beauty of Spiti Valley.
What makes this journey even more thrilling is the climb to Hampta Pass itself. For trekkers, it’s an adventure filled with nervous excitement, with each ledge and ascent bringing them closer to the pass, making it an unforgettable experience. Trekking lovers Go to Chandratal through Hampta Pass. In this journey they cover a distance of approx. 30 kilometers to reach chandratal from Jobra. The trek route is like this
Manali to Jobra
One can drive till Jobra. Distance from manali is 16 kilometers and will take around 1 Hour
Jobra to Chika
Trek Distance: 2 Kms | Duration: 2-3 Hours | Elevation: 10,100 ft
Chika to Balu ka Ghera
Trek Distance: 6 Kms | Duration: 5 Hours | Elevation: 11,900 ft
Balu ka Ghera to Hampta Pass
Trek Distance: 3 Kms | Duration: 3 Hours | Elevation: 14,100 ft
Hampta Pass to Chattru
Trek Distance: 6 Kms | Duration: 5 Hours | Elevation: 11,000 ft
Chattru – Chandratal Lake
Drive from Chattru to Chandratal Lake via Batal
In conclusion, Chandratal Lake is a breathtaking gem nestled in the lap of the Himalayas, offering a mesmerizing blend of natural beauty and spiritual serenity. Its pristine waters, surrounded by rugged mountains and a kaleidoscope of colors, make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re camping under a star-studded sky or simply basking in the tranquil ambiance, Chandratal leaves an indelible mark on the soul. As we strive to protect and preserve such fragile ecosystems, it’s our responsibility to ensure that this enchanting lake continues to inspire generations to come. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to Chandratal, where nature’s wonders await with open arms.
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