A camper and trekker’s paradise, Chandratal lake is often referred to as one of the most beautiful lakes located at an altitude of about 4300m in the mighty Himalayas. The stunning lake is situated on the Samudra tapu plateau which overlooks the Chandra river. The name “Chandrataal” is referred to the lake of the moon which comes from its crescent shape. This lake is also one of the two high altitude wetlands of India that has been designated as Ramsar sites. The moon Lake in Spiti valley is one of the most enchanting lakes in the Himalayas. A lot of adventure lovers tread a long, treacherous and yet adventurous path over Rohtang pass—Gramphu – Batal road every year to see this wonderful offering from nature.
Chandratal Lake is also quite famous for its majestic reflections of surrounding Himalayan peaks in its deep blue waters, which once you witness, will never forget in your entire life.
History of Chandratal lake
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. 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. 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.
Walking on Chandra Tal trek will offer an ultimate experience similar to the experience of going to the moon. You will pass through two high mountain ranges named Moulkila and Chandrabhaga, which are quite challenging for mountaineers. Further, you will see the beautiful snow-covered mountain peaks and slopes.
Ways to reach 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 a parking lot 2 kilometers (1.2 mi) from the lake. The route from Kunzum Pass was accessible only on foot before, but now motorcycles and 4×4 cars do travel this distance where you take a right cut from a T-point, the road to the left leads to Bataal. It takes approximately two hours from Kunzum Pass to Chandra Taal. Chandra Taal is also accessible from Suraj Tal, 30 km (19 mi) away.
If you are going from the Manali route, you will cover a distance of 202 KM to reach Kaza in Spiti valley. You will face 5 to 6 waterfalls, flowing over the road. After you cross these waterfalls, the toughest stretch of the route, you will reach Batal. From there, Kaza will still be around 55 KM far. But, to reach Chandratal Lake, you need to take a detour from Batal, leaving the Kaza route behind. The distance from Batal to Chandratal lake is 15 KM and it would take a little more than an hour to cover this stretch if you have a vehicle.
Cheapest budget to reach there
There are two HRTC buses which run between Manali and Kaza every morning as soon as the road to Spiti Valley via Manali get open in the season, mostly in June.
These buses run from Kullu to Kaza via Manali and it reaches Manali around 4.45 AM and leaves at 5.00 AM. The ticket to Kaza will cost you only about INR 250 approximately per person.
This option requires you to travel by daily HRTC bus running between Manali – Kaza and hitchhiking or taking lifts from other fellow travelers. Let us look at a step by step process on making a cheap budget trip to Chandratal lake.
- When the Manali to Kaza bus reaches Batal, you need to get down at Batal on the way to Kaza which is just before the ascend to Kunzum Pass.
- At times, the PWD/GREF workers are working on Chandratal diversion road or doing clean-up or repair work on the road from Batal to Chandratal. You need to tie up with some PWD/GREF workers who might be going towards Chandratal Lake and get a hike from them in their jeep or dozer. You can find them at Batal Dhabhas, most likely.
- You can pay or offer them about INR 150-200 as a tip for the lift as well. This might help to get the same ride back the next day.
- Of course, you can do the Chandratal Lake trek from Batal and be back by evening or the next day/evening. However, it depends upon if you are properly acclimatized to undertake this high altitude trek that early. I will personally not recommend you to take such a trek to Chandratal without proper acclimatization.
- Once you have reached, visit the Chandratal Lake and come back to Batal Dhabha for an overnight stay that will cost you about 150 – 200 per person at Chandra Dhabha at Batal. You should be able to get food and meals will also be very cheap at the Dhaba.
- There is also a PWD Rest House now at Batal which will prove just too good if you can negotiate with the PWD caretaker or manage the booking for it. Read the article: Again food or meals you can have at the Batal Chandra Dhabha. Please note that there is no electricity at Batal and PWD Rest House as well
- Next Morning, the same HRTC bus which reached last evening to Kaza will be going back from Kaza to Manali journey.
- It takes about 3.5-4 Hrs of Kaza to Manali bus to reach Batal from Kaza. So, if the bus starts from Kaza at 5 AM, then it will reach Batal at about 8-9 AM. You can hop onto this bus and get back to Manali from Chandratal / Batal.
Total Approximate Cost for Chandratal trip from Manali: 500 (Bus) + 400 (Food + Accommodation) + Rs 300 (Tip for Lift) = INR 1200 per person