Chandratal Lake | Nature’s beauty at its best

Chandratal is one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 14,000 feet. Tso Chikgma or Lake of the Moon or Chandra Taal, or Chandratal is a lake in the Spiti part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, India. The lake is near the source of the Chandra River. Moreover, it was designated as a world heritage site back in 2005. Despite the rugged and inhospitable surroundings at 4300 meters, it is in a protected niche with some flowers and wildlife in summer.

Why is Chandratal famous?

It was also a famous trading location for Tibetan and Ladakhi traders. The lake, with its wandering terrain typical of the secluded Spiti Valley, is a popular walking spot due to its mild climbing grade.

Himalayan Mountain Goat and sheep in front of Chandra Taal
Himalayan Mountain Goat and sheep in front of Chandra Taal

How can I go to Chandratal lake?

Batal is midway between Manali and Kaza. And a diversion from Batal will take you to the lake. Firstly, you can reach Chandratal from Manali which is about 110 kilometers drive. It takes about 2.5 hours non-stop via the new Atal Tunnel. Here the route is right next to the Chenab river. You can go via the famous Rothang Pass to make the drive more adventurous. Secondly, you can reach Chandra Taal from Kaza which is about the same distance and time. Here the route is right next to the Spiti river. On the way, you will be crossing the Kunzum La / Pass .

What is the best time to visit Chandratal lake?

The paths to Chandratal Lake are available for a little more than 4 months, from the third week of June to the first week of November. However, the greatest time to visit Chandratal Lake is in September, when there is a good possibility of seeing flowering flora and wildlife, breathtaking terrain, and brilliant blue sky. During the following months, it will be blanketed in snow.

Dirt road drive from Manali to Chandra Taal next to river Chenab
Dirt road drive from Manali to Chandra Taal next to river Chenab

Is camping allowed near Chandratal lake?

Can we stay at Chandratal lake? – Chandra Taal is a tourist destination for trekkers and campers. The lake is accessible on foot from Batal as well as from Kunzum Pass from late May to early October. There is also a motor road accessible as far as the parking lot, 1 kilometer from the lake. The lake is also accessible from Suraj Tal, 30 kilometers away. There are vast meadows on the banks of the lake. Expect these meadows to be full of wildflowers, during springtime.

We couldn’t spend much time exploring the beautiful landscape as the only mode of transport did not want to drive back once it is dark. The place and surroundings have almost zero human habitation, with just a few campsites. The nearest fuel station or repair shops are a few hours of drive away and no one wants to take the risk of driving after dark on this dirt road. You may stay overnight at ChaCha – ChaChi Dabha or near Batal.

Final hike from the parking area to the Chandra Taal Lake, the first glimpse
Final hike from the parking area to the Chandra Taal Lake, the first glimpse

Short hike just before the lake

You will not be able to drive all the way to the Chandratal. From the parking area, be ready for a short mile-long hike. I have been to this place twice. Firstly, after completing the last day of the Hampta Pass, on a clear day from the Chhatru campsite. Secondly, on the way to Kaza during the Kanomo Peak trek. Even though this mile-long hike is more of a flat walk, you can feel short of breath and is still in the high altitude danger zone. There are chances of getting altitude sickness as Chandratal is at 14,000 feet.

Ravindra Joisa at Chandra Taal
Ravindra Joisa at Chandra Taal

Why is Chandratal lake famous?

According to Hindu mythology, Chandratal is the location where Indra, the King of Gods, arrived in his chariot to carry Yudhishthira, the eldest of the five Pandavas, to Swarga in his mortal form (heaven). Fairies, according to locals, visit the lake at night.

Chandratal lake mystery

The glacier at Baralacha Pass is its source, but how the water gets from the glacier to the lake is a mystery in and of itself. Suraj Taal is said to be called after Bhaga, the son of the sun deity, and Chandratal after Chandra.

To conclude, even though the journey to this place is a bumpy drive on a dangerous mud road next to the Chenab river. The picturesque lake is worth the effort to reach this remote place. The landscape on the way is breathtaking. There are no stops to fuel your vehicle and just a few Dabhas to keep the hunger away. As of this writing, camping next to the lake is not allowed as per the new rules made by the government. This is to save the beautiful place from irresponsible tourists. The next place to visit around is the Kunzum pass.

Read Next: Mount Kanamo Basecamp High altitude Himalayan Trek

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