Chandratal Lake literally means ‘Lake of the Moon.’ The word Chandra in Hindi means the moon and Tal means a lake. Chandratal is a crescent-shaped lake and is often referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 14,000 ft amidst the majestic Himalayas.
The Chandratal Lake grabs the imagination of travelers because of its magnificent landscape. The lake encircles a vast meadow that is carpeted with different kinds of wildflowers. Not to forget the brown mountains that cover it from three sides. Each year hundreds of travelers pursue trekking up to Chandratal Lake from Batal. I too trekked here and even camped overnight, once I reached this gorgeous natural wonder. In my current blog, I will share my experience with you. Also, I will elaborate on how to reach here, where to stay and every other travel detail that you need.
There are several stories related to Chandratal Lake. Legend has it that Chandratal Lake lies in the vicinity of a place from where God Indra’s chariot picked up Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandava brothers in Mahabharata (the great Indian epic). This fact renders the lake sacred and thus, is flocked by a lot of Hindu devotees each year.
Another mythical story is related to a fairy residing in the lake. It is believed that a shepherd from Spiti Valley fell in love with the mermaid and spent some time with her under the water. Thus the colour of this lake kept on changing. By the way, the colour of the water of this lake keeps changing from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends, till this date.
Whether you choose to believe any of the above-stated legends or not, the fact remains that Chandratal is a beauty lying high in the Himalayas and only a true wanderlust lover will beat all odds to reach here and see that beauty. Trust me, once you visit this beauty, going back won’t be on your mind for a long time.
The fact that Chandratal Lake is located at a high altitude makes its geographical position remote. Hence, you should be mentally prepared to commence your journey here.
One thing I can tell you as a traveler is that even though Chandratal is remotely located, the entire route and trek later is so scenic that you won’t mind getting a little tired. After all, what is required to truly enjoy nature’s gems is a lot of passion.
Chandratal is accessible both via Manali and through the Shimla route. However, it is closer to Manali than it is to Shimla. But as a traveler, you can decide which route to take for Spiti depending on your itinerary.
Either way, you will have to enter Spiti first and reach a place called Batal. Once you reach Batal, you need to trek about 14 Kms to finally reach Chandratal Lake.
Once you reach here, you should surely camp overnight and feel the magic of nature around you.
Before I proceed ahead, let me share some very important details about the lake and the region for all my fellow travelers who plan to trek to Chandratal in the near future –
Chandratal Lake lies in a region called Spiti which in turn is located in the north Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
Chandratal lies at an altitude of about 14,000+ feet above sea level.
Chandratal can be accessed throughout the year. However, it is extremely difficult to reach here during winter months.
The ideal time to visit
The months of June to October make for an ideal time to visit this natural wonder. These are months of summer and monsoons in Himachal. Hence, the weather conditions will be more welcoming for travelers during these months.
Being at such a high altitude, the weather conditions around the lake are mostly chilly. However, the sun shines during the day providing warmth to the place. The nights surely can get very cold even during winter.
On average, the daily temperature around the lake varies from 11°C to 20°C during sunny days and falls to about -2°C to 6°C during chilly nights.
The trek till Chandratal is of easy nature. Even a first time trekker will be able to finish it with ease. However, do take breaks in between in order to conserve energy.
A lot of individuals bike from Manali to Chandratal. You can rent bikes in Manali itself and pay for the fuel yourself. Make sure you are a seasoned biker before entering the region.
Accommodation near Chandratal includes campsites in the form of tents. You can camp by yourself as well. However, camping near the lake is strictly prohibited. Most campsites are located at a distance of 2-3 Km from the lake.
Safety level for solo travelers
Chandratal and the entire region of Spiti is extremely safe for solo travelers, backpackers, and families. A lot of people have this question of is Spiti safe or not. Visit here to find out.
Cost of taking a trip to Chandratal
It cost me 6K INR for a trip from Manali to Chandratal Lake. This cost was so low because we were a group of five people. This figure of 6K INR included everything – campsite, food and transport.
Travel Routes for Chandratal Lake
As a traveler coming from Manali, the travel route for Chandratal will be as follows – Manali –> Rohtang Pass –> Batal –> Chandratal Lake.
As a traveler coming from Shimla, the travel route for Chandratal will be as follows – Shimla –> Reckong Peo –> Kaza –> Batal –> Chandratal Lake.
How to Reach Chandratal Lake from Manali?
One of the nearest towns to Chandratal Lake where travelers visit and stay in Manali. It can be a good stopover place before heading to Chandratal. The distance between Manali and Chandratal Lake is a little over 70 km. Each year a lot of bikers pursue a biking trip to Chandratal and beyond.
You can either head via a bike, cab or state transport bus from Manali till Batal. Traveling as a group or at least as two people will be much more cost-effective in this part of the world than traveling solo.
|If you wish to travel to Chandratal by cab, hiring a Tata Sumo from Manali is a good idea. However, you will end up paying 10,000 INR for a one-way trip. Therefore, it’ll help you if you can travel as a group and pool money.
Do not take your hatchbacks or sedans even if you drove them to Manali. SUVs are the best option as there are no good roads. This entire stretch is a dirt road filled with numerous water crossings and stones.
If you do not wish to hire a cab, there is a bus that leaves for Kaza from Manali each morning. It starts at 5 in the morning and will take you to Batal. Get down at Batal and spend some time at the Chacha Chachi Dhaba there. Recuperate and then trek 14 kms to finally reach Chandratal Lake.
If travelling by motorcycle, you will have to get an undertaking certificate from the SDM office in Manali in order to be allowed to cross Rohtang Pass.
The Dhaba (small eatery) at Batal that goes by the name of Chacha Chachi Dhaba is an all time favourite of travelers. Chacha and Chachi are very hospitable couples and are famous for letting travelers stay over at the time of a weather crisis. Do try out their maggi, omelette and tea.
How to Reach Chandratal Lake from Shimla?
Even though the route till Chandratal from Shimla is really long, a lot of travelers prefer it. The reason is that this route helps them cover a lot of other places as well that lie on the way.
In order to travel from Shimla and finally reach Chandratal, you will have to break your journey twice. So this is what you do – start from Shimla and reach Reckong Peo. Stay overnight and stay at Reckong Peo. Start your journey again in the morning by taking a bus to Kaza. Stay overnight at Kaza and finally in the morning travel to Batal.
Once in Batal, trek till Chandratal Lake and camp there overnight.
An important thing that needs to be pointed out here is that if you choose to reach Chandratal Lake via this route, make sure to explore all the places that lie en route. That way you won’t get tired and your journey will be very fulfilling.
Trekking till Chandratal Lake
I had been planning a trek to Moon Lake for so long that when it finally happened, I was overwhelmed. I just couldn’t believe that I actually made it this far from my home city – Delhi.
You should know exactly how to reach Spiti from Delhi or whatever your home city is as a traveler. The details of the route and the modes of transport available need to be known beforehand.
Anyway, I took the Manali route for my first-ever trekking trip to Chandratal Lake. I undertook it with some close friends. Not only did traveling together turn out to be a wonderful experience, but it also ended up being cost-effective.
Our trekking trip comprised of the following stages –
Reaching Batal from Manali
We started from Manali at 5 am in the morning by boarding the local state transport bus. On our way, we crossed the lovely Rohtang Pass, also known as Rohtang La. Seeing blocks of ice on either side of the road made my heart jump a beat. We finally reached Batal by afternoon and were dead hungry.
Having lunch at Chacha Chachi Dhaba at Batal
Batal is a small village but the hearts of people here are full of love. A small dhaba by the name of Chandra Dhaba is located by the road in Batal. It is run by an elderly couple who are fondly known as Chacha and Chachi. They serve the best food you can get in the Himalayas.
We stopped by here for lunch and chatted with the owners for a while. They gave us some very useful tips for our path forward. We savoured eggs and Paranthas here. Chacha and Chachi were so hospitable that we hugged them tight once we left.
Trekking from Batal to Chandratal Lake
From Batal, there is a 14 km long trek to reach Chandratal Lake. This road is one of the most picturesque routes in Spiti Valley. The roads are winding around the mountains.
On this route, you will notice plenty of waterfalls and the Spiti River flowing nearby. You will also witness snow-capped mountains around covered mostly with mist and fog which adds to the beauty of the trek.
A lot of people take vehicles on this route. If you feel that trekking isn’t for you, then go for a drive on this route. Personally, I prefer trekking on this route to taking a vehicle and adding pollution to this very eco-friendly region. It took us 6 hours to reach our campsite.
Camping overnight near Chandratal Lake
Camping on the banks of Chandratal Lake is restricted by law. Therefore, as travelers we had to camp near it and not around it. The nearest campsite is at least 3 kilometers away from the lake. Even if you are camping on your own, you are not allowed to pitch your tents anywhere near the lake.
As much as we wanted to go and see Chandratal Lake, our camp owner convinced us to eat something, sleep early and then take a hike till Chandratal Lake early morning. This was very helpful advice, now that we think of it.
We got into our tents and were served decently cooked food. A huge bonfire was lit outside our tents. The entire ambience was lovely at night. The shining stars above added to nature’s beauty.
Hiking till Chandratal Lake in the morning
From our campsite, Chandratal Lake can be accessed on foot. The road leading to Chandratal Lake was about 3 km long. It took us around 15 minutes to reach the Lake. We took a shortcut. After all, this is one of the best things about mountains – shortcuts are always a possibility if you don’t mind walking.
The route we took was comparatively shorter and easier than the actual trail which is 3 km long starting all the way from the campsite to the lake. Our route ensured that we took a hike around the mountains passing through two high-altitude lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains.
On the way, we found wildflowers, different coloured stones and a patch of the land struck by lightning. This patch, in particular, is barren and can be easily spotted amidst the green mountains. We were also able to see the panoramic views of Samudra Tapu Glacier at a distance.
Finally, we spotted the lake even though we were still a distance from it.
Spending quality time at Chandratal Lake
The first thing we observed once we reached our beautiful destination were signboards. Around the lake, there are boards signalling the start point of the lake.
Chandratal was not just beautiful. It was truly magnificent. I had a feeling of hopping over all the high mountains to see what lies on the other side.
I spent around 2 hours here and finally hiked back to the campsite and left Chandrtaal. I plan to visit here again.
My Trekking and Camping Experience at Chandratal Lake in Pictures
Let me now share all my trekking and camping pictures in and around Moon Lake by means of pictures. I hope my fellow travelers benefit from understanding the locale, trek, camps and other things related to the lake after seeing these pictures.
Thus, this was my trekking and camping experience at the lovely Chandratal Lake. I hope all my fellow travelers put this place on their priority travel list.
Although the temperature of the Chandratal lake water is generally cold, swimming is permitted in the lake. Do take a skinny dip in the clear waters, it’s very refreshing.
At 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.
The temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius during pre-winter, and the sky is filled with countless stars and offers spectacular Milky Way views.
AMS at Chandratal Lake
A very important thing that needs to be mentioned is that more often than expected, travelers experience a health issue known as the AMS while they are in this region. AMS stands for Acute Mountain Sickness and is a very common occurrence in almost all the mountain regions of the world.
Whether you are backpacking to Leh or traveling to Sikkim’s Nathu La Pass, AMS is common. As a traveler, you should know how to deal with it and how to acclimatize yourself.
Chandratal Lake is at a height of 14,000 feet which means that you may suffer altitude sickness while spending a night here. You are covering a tremendous altitude in a single day and it might lead to AMS.
If you start to feel any symptoms of acute mountain sickness while at Rohtang Pass, Batal, or on the way to Chandratal Lake, it is best to avoid staying at the lake. Alternatively, you can pop in medicine prescribed by your doctor.
Make sure to have him prescribe you the AMS medicine so that you can carry it with you. That way, you will be able to cope fast and not miss out on anything. One of the best ways to counter AMS is by taking breaks at various places and acclimatizing.
A Note about the Campsites near Chandratal
There are no hotels at Chandratal Lake. The only option available is campsites. Camping is not allowed on the edge of the Chandratal Lake, and it is a good thing. You want the lake to be there for your kids too, right? We’ve degraded the environment way too much.
I stayed at Tenzing Camp, owned by Tenzin, Chacha and Chachi’s son at Chandratal Lake. The tents usually cost 1500 INR upwards. The campsites at Chandratal Lake include huge dining tents and tents pitched up for toilets and for a stay.
The tents available are of moderate quality with mattresses and blankets inside. The food available at the campsite is very hygienic consisting of rice, mixed vegetables, lentils and noodles. Beverages such as tea, coffee and cold drinks are also available. Do not miss their special tea. It’s savoury.
One can also pitch their own tents by paying a nominal fee at the campsite.
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers about Chandratal Lake
A lot of travelers have some common but important queries about Moon Lake. Therefore, let me address the concerns below.
|What mobile phone operator provides service at Chandratal Lake?
Only BSNL provides service, not just at Chandratal but across Spiti.
|What is the best way to beat the cold in the region?
Wear thick woollen clothing and dress in layers. Also, wear shoes that are very warm inside.
|Can you reach Chandratal by car and bike?
Yes, you can. It wasn’t possible before but it is now.
|Is it a good idea to visit Chandratal Lake in December?
No, it isn’t. During December it snows heavily in Spiti. So even if you reach Chandratal Lake, you will freeze badly.
|Is October a good month to visit Chandratal Lake?
Yes, it is. But make sure to travel in October itself and not after that.
|Is there a presence of wildlife near Chandratal?
Yes, there is but unless you spook them, they will never attack you.
As a trekking and camping destination, Chandratal Lake is mesmerizing. You can break free from your daily monotonous routine here and experience the true nomadic life.
Wildflowers fill up the banks of the Chandratal Lake in summer. White snow covers the lake during winter. The vast green meadows around the lake are a favourite among the Shepherds.
It is truly a splendid experience to trek and camp near Moon Lake. As a passionate traveler, you should definitely visit Chandratal Lake at least once in your lifetime.
Happy wayfaring 🙂