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Chandratal Lake: The Surreal Natural Wonder in Himachal

Chandratal Lake

Chandratal Lake which means ‘Lake of the Moon’, is a popular destination for trekkers and climbers. It is one of the crescent-shaped lakes in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh and is often referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 14,000 ft in the majestic HimalayasThe Chandratal trek grabs the imagination of the travelers with its rambling landscape at different altitude. The lake encircles a vast meadow that is carpeted with different kinds of wildflowers.  

One of the nearest towns to Chandratal Lake where travelers visit and stay is Manali. It can be a good stop over place before heading to the moon. The distance between Manali and Chandratal lake a little over 70 kms and hence a stopover is required, being a mountainous terrain. is You can either head via a bus or a cab (try sharing it). Personally, I’d suggest you travel in a group and share a cab till Chandratal Lake. It will save you the hassle as well as the extra cost.

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Chandratal Lake: An Overview

Location North India
Mode of Travel Cabs can be hired from Manali to Chandratal Lake. 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.
Best Time to Visit  June to October is the best time to visit Chandratal Lake.
Temperature The days are warm and sunny with temperatures ranging from 12 to 20°C, and nights at the highest campsite fall in between -2 to 6°C.
Weather Conditions The days are not cold but the Chandratal lake temperature for the area drops quickly after the sun sets, not to forget the blowing wind.  The best way to keep warm is to wear clothes in layers.
Nearby Places Rohtang Pass, Batal, Chhatru and Kaza.
State Himachal Pradesh
Alternate Name The Moon Lake
Accessibility By Road or Trek
Nearest Popular Town Manali
Highlights Camping & Trekking. Make sure to catch a glimpse of the spectacular night view of the lake.
Cost of entire trip We were a group 5 people and it costed around 6K per head for a 5 day trip, including campsite accommodation, food, hiring a vehicle, bus tickets from Delhi to Manali and a 1 day homestay at Manali as well.
Food Options Available Maggi, Eggs, Paratha, Kadhi-Rice, Rajma-Rice, Mix Vegetable, Dal, Tea

Coffee and Soft Drinks are also available.

Mythological Significance of Chandratal Lake

Legend has that 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. This fact renders the lake sacred and thus, is flocked by a lot of Hindu devotees. The color of water of this holy lake keeps changing from reddish to orange to blue to emerald green as the day ends.
Chandratal

The ravishing Chandratal Lake. Photography by Faris Khan

How to Reach Chandratal Lake ?

Manali is the nearest town to Chandratal Lake.

  1. The easiest and the most convenient way to reach Chandratal is to hire a Tata Sumo from Manali. The distance between the two is 140 km. You might pay around 10K rupees for a private jeep hire. It helps if a few friends are sharing the cost of hiring a jeep.
  2. If you do not wish to hire a jeep, there is a bus to Kaza. You can get down at Batal and stay at Chandra Dhaba run by Chacha and Chachi. By staying you will acclimatize better to the high altitude. Batal to Chandratal Lake is at a distance of 14 km . So another option is to trek.
  3. Chacha and Chachi are very hospitable couple and are famous for their amazing contribution at the time of Uttarakhand Floods. Do try out their maggi, paratha, omelette and tea.
  4. I would say that you take an early start from Manali. This will help you to reach Chandratal in time and you will have some daylight still left to trek to the lake. I started at 6 AM from Manali.
  5. If you start early, you can avoid the possibility of getting stuck in a traffic jam towards Rohtang top.
  6. From Manali, take the Manali Leh highway and cross Rohtang Pass.
  7. If travelling by your own car, you need to ensure that you first obtain Rohtang permits either from SDM office Manali or online. Do not take your hatchbacks or sedan. 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.
  8. If traveling by motorcycle, you will have to get an undertaking certificate from SDM office Manali in order to be allowed to cross Rohtang Pass.

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Chandratal Lake

Savoring a steaming glass of tea amidst the Himalayas is pure bliss. Photography by Rajesh Jetwani

 

Chandratal Lake

Fill yourself up at the Chandra Dhaba. Photography by Chitraangi Sharma

 

Chandratal Lake

The Chandra Dhaba run by an elderly couple. Photography by Sumesh Reddiar

 

Chandratal Lake

A pretty decent spot to shop located thousands of feet above sea level at Batal. Photography by Anubhav Raghubaid

Chandratal Lake Trek

Chandratal Lake is a popular destination for adventure junkies who wish to hike and camp in the wilderness.

  • Chandratal lake can be accessed by road or by foot from Batal and Kunzum Pass.
  • I trekked via Kunzum Pass to Chandertal Lake which is around 8km long. This hike is quite treacherous as the trail is quite steep.

Kunzum Pass is considered as one of the most treacherous and hostile roads in the world. There is also a possibility of the level of oxygen dipping due to the pass being situated at an high altitude. If you wish to trek to Chandratal lake on this route, it is advisable to be well equipped with good hiking gear such as winter wear, water, hiking pole and a good pair of shoes.

  • From Batal, there is a 14 km long but narrow road leading to Chandratal lake. This road is one of the most picturesque routes in Spiti Valley.
  • The roads are winding around the mountains, broad enough to allow only one vehicle to pass at a time.
  • 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 drive.
  • After you cross the Rohtang Pass there are just two spots where you can get things to eat Chhatru and Batal. There are small dhabas at both the places.
  • There are no phone services or electricity both at Batal and Chandratal. In the Spiti Valley only BSNL phones work.
Chandratal Lake

The beautiful trail between mountains from Kunzum Pass to ChandraTal Lake. Photography by Ullas Sharma

 

Chandratal Lake

At Kunzum Pass. Photography by Tanya Roy

 

Chandratal Lake

A Shepard along with his herd. Photography by Ullas Sharma

 

Chandratal Lake

Me, standing at a distance of 14 kms from the Moon lake. Photography by Ullas Sharma

Chandratal Lake

The Himalayas literally make you feel alive. Photography by Chitraangi Sharma

 

Chandratal Lake

Almost there. Photography by Chitraangi Sharma

 Chandratal Lake Camp: A Lovely Stop Over Experience

There are no hotels at Chandratal lake. The only option available is of camp sites. I stayed at the Chandratal camping grounds for two days. Camping is not allowed by 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.

  • We had our own tent and food is available at the camping grounds.
  • I stayed at Tenzing Camp, owned by Tenzing, Chacha and Chachi’s son at Chandratal lake. The tents usually cost 1200 rupees upwards.
  • The campsites at Chandratal lake include huge dining tents and tents pitched up for toilets and for stay.
  • The tents available are of moderate quality with only mattresses and blankets inside.
  • The food available at the campsite is very basic consisting of only rice, mix vegetable, dal, and noodles.
  • Beverages such as tea, coffee and cold drinks are also available.
  • Do not miss their special tea!! It’s the best.
  • One can also pitch their own tents by paying a nominal fee at the campsite.

Chandratal Lake

Camps from a far. Photography by Manav Deshwal

Campsite to Chandratal Lake

Camping on the banks of Chandratal lake is restricted by law. The nearest campsite is at least 3 kilometers away from the lake and even if camping on your own, you are not allowed to pitch your tents anywhere near the lake.

  • From the campsite the Chandratal Lake can be accessed on foot or by road. The road leading to Chandratal Lake is about 3 km long from where one has to hike for about 10 minutes to reach the lake. This route is comparatively shorter and easier than the trail which is 3 km long starting all the way from the campsite to the lake.
  • This route is a hike around the mountains passing through two high altitude lakes surrounded by snow capped mountains
  • On the way one can also find wildflowers, different coloured stones and a patch of land struck by lightning. This patch in particular is barren and can be easily spotted amidst the green mountains.
  • You will also see the panoramic views of Samudra Tapu Glacier.
  • This hike is moderately difficult and can be done by amateurs.
  • While on the hike, there are marked trails which lead you to the lake. Around the lake there are boards signaling the start point of the lake.
  • You can spot the lake from a distance due to the green blue waters. Chandratal Lake is considered to be one of the most beautiful lakes of the Himalayas.

 

Chandratal Lake

At the Tenzing Camp. Photography by Tanya Roy

 

Chandratal Lake

The inside of our tent. Photography by Chitraangi Sharma

The Beautiful Chandratal Lake during Mornings and Nights

  • As soon as you reach the Chandratal lake, there is a small stupa covered with prayer flags and wishing stones piled up all around the lake. There is a popular belief amongst the locals to make a wish by piling up seven flat stones one on top of the other.
  • Although the temperature of the Chandratal lake water is generally cold, swimming is permitted in the lake.
  • Do take a skinny dip in the clean waters, it’s very refreshing.
  • At 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 degree celsius during pre-winter, the sky is filled countless stars and offers Spectacular Milky way view.

Chandratal Lake

The Stupa at Chandratal Lake. Photography by Chitraangi Sharma

 

Chandratal Lake

This is me at the lake. Photography by Ullas Sharma

Chandratal and AMS

  • 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, Kunzum Pass, or on the way to Chandratal lake, it is best to avoid staying at the moon lake altogether.
  • Continue straight to Kaza before it gets dark, stay there for a day at least and then come back to Chandratal, thus allowing your body some time to acclimatize.
  • Give yourself some time at Chacha Chachi’s dhaba to acclimatize. Keep yourself hydrated.
  • If you still suffer the symptoms, cancel your plans of camping at the Chandratal lake.
Chandratal Lake

A backpacker relaxing at the lake. Photography by Chitraangi Sharma

Safety for Women

Chandratal lake as well as the campsites are quite safe for women. Wandering around at night should be avoided. Both men and women are found at the campsites, hence there is no issue of women safety at all. You might also meet some foreign women solo travellers at the camp. I met one really cool woman from Israel trekking solo.

Places to Head After Chandratal Lake

  • Suraj Tal Lake and Dashir Lake are worth visiting.
  • The Pin Valley National Park is an alpine meadow that shelters rare Himalayan animals like snow leopard and Tibetan gazelle.
  • Popular treks like Parang La Pass, Pin Parvati Pass, Baba Pass, Hampta Pass are trekkers choices in exploring the wilderness of the inner Himalayas.
  • Manali Local sightseeing which includes Hadimba Temple, Manu Temple, Mall Road, Local Monastery, Old Manali and Vashisht Hot Water Springs.
  • Solang Valley and Rohtang Pass can also be visited if you have a few extra days.

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Chandratal Lake

Surajtal lake. Photography by Tapan Sah00

Chandratal Lake

Dashir Lake. Photography by Sougata Sinha

Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers Heading to Chandratal Lake 

Q1. How is Chandratal Lake at night ?

A1. Chandratal Lake gets chilly at night so make sure to warm yourself up.

Q2. How is Chandratal Lake in December ? Can it be visited in the Christmas season ?

A2. No. Not recommended at all.

Q3. How is Chandratal Lake weather conditions in June and July ? Can it be visited during summers ?

A3. Weather is the most suitable to plan a trip to Chandratal Lake during June and July.

Q4. How is Chandratal Lake in October ? Can it be visited during autumn ?

A4. Weather at Chandratal lake is pleasant till October only. So visit till October itself.

Q5. What is the average Chandratal Trek cost for a person ?

A5. Traveling solo is not recommended if you need a budget trip to Chandratal Lake. Travel in a group. It will cost you around Rs. 7000. In case you are on a solo trip, make friends along the way and travel together. It will save you a lot of money.

Q6. Is Jamaica’s camp at Chandratal worth staying ?

A6. Yes. It is a decent option for staying at Chandratal lake

You can break free from daily monotonous routines here and experience true nomadic life. Wild flowers fill up the banks of the Chandratal lake in summer. The vast green meadows around the lake are a favourite among the Shepherds, who come here to graze their flocks. It is one hell of an experience and you should definitely visit Chandratal lake at least once on your life time.

Happy wayfaring 🙂

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chandratal Lake

Chitraangi Sharma

Chitraangi Sharma, working in the IT Industry, has an immense love for Himalayas. An avid traveler and trekker, she believes in exploring new places every year. She loves writing and for her, technology is something which should be understood by everyone. She has also written a few tech articles. She is working on her fitness closely and is preparing herself for a Marathon. Travelling for her is happiness, serenity and a sense of self-awareness. A mountain person by heart, she wants to inspire the fellow travelers to experience diverse cultures, cuisines and meet new people as you will find everyone with a unique story.

Chandratal Lake  Chandratal Lake

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