About Chandratal Lake
Contrary to popular belief, Chandratal lake is not located in the Spiti Valley, rather it is located in the Lahaul Valley. Unguided wanderlust often leads to misinterpretation of geographical facts. It is regarded as one of the hidden gems of Himachal Pradesh and is situated at a vertical elevation of 4300 mt or 14100 feet.
The name ‘Chandratal’ emanates from the love story of “Chandra” the daughter of Moon deity and “Bhaga” the son of Sun god. Chandra River presents the tranquil azure water alongside the route after leaving Manali and after crossing the Rohtang Pass. The source of this river is replenished with the support of melt-water from the nearby glaciers.
Bizarre claims circulate the neighboring villages where some residents have claimed to spot UFOs around Chandratal. However of the weirdness around this topic, the crystal clear lake is a sight to behold and time seems to slow down when you are around this lake. You can enjoy tip-toeing around the circumference of the lake with your friends or alone.
Silence and enormity of this lake unravels a calm that rejuvenates the day’s exhaust. Personally, time spent at this lake satiates the connection with nature and the epic beauty of it always urges you to come back for more.
How to Reach Chandratal
The nearest airport to Chandratal Lake is Bhuntar in the Kullu district that is 180 km away and the Shimla airport is 375 km away. Many taxis and buses are available from both the airports and from you can continue your journey to the Chandratal Lake.
Nearby Village-Distance Itinerary:
1. Kaza to Kiato (42 KM) | via Rangrik (left bank of the Spiti River). Through Rangrik and Pangmo, by crossing the Rangrik bridge to the left of Spiti River. (via Kaza-Kee-Kibber, right bank of Spiti river)
2. Kaza-Kee – 15 km
3. Kee-Kibber – 7 km
4. Kibber-Chicham – 6 km
5. Chicham-Kiato – 21 km
6. Spiti Valley view point is located ahead of chorten of Chicham. Kibber to Pinjoor has a mini lake, Ladarcha and it grounds near the Kibber village.
7. Kiato-Losar-Kunzum – (there is a bifurcation 2 km before Batal-Chandrataal)
If you are travelling from Delhi, then the fastest way to reach Chandratal is through Manali via the Rohtang Pass; unless you are coming from Shimla or Leh. On the way, you see a lot of beautiful places once you cross Rohtang Pass when you enter the grand Chandra valley of Lahaul.
When you drive alongside the Chandra River at Gramphoo, the road bifurcates; one goes towards Spiti Valley and another goes to Ladakh via the Leh-Manali highway. You continue on the path that goes towards the Spiti Valley.
1. Manali – Chandratal – 124 km
2. Gramphoo – Chandratal Lake – 70 km
3. Keylong – Chandratal Lake – 120 km
In most cases, people choose this route when coming from Leh. Coincidently, bikers also prefer to take this route and stay the night in camps at Chandratal. This route passes through Keylong and remains one of the most frequented routes in the valley.
1. Leh-Chandratal Lake: 186 km
2. Keylong-Chandratal Lake: 120 km
Shimla to Chandratal
You can reach Chandratal from Shimla through the Hindustan Tibet Road, which passes from Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. This is an all season, all weather road that is operational till Kaza for the most part of the winter season.
If you are visiting Spiti Valley via Shimla, then this is a promising route when you exit from Manali via the Rohtang Pass.
Modes of Transport
The nearest airport to Chandratal Lake is Bhuntar, in the Kullu district, which is 180 km, and the Shimla airport is 375 km away from the lake. Many private taxis and buses are available from the Bhuntar Airport to Manali, from where you can continue your journey to Chandratal.
There are two options to reach Chandratal by car; one route is from Manali (take the permit for Rohtang Pass from the Border Authorities), and another route is from the Kinnaur side, where you can reach Shimla to begin your travel towards Kinnaur. Take the Hindustan-Tibet Road to reach Kaza and continue your journey towards Chandratal lake.
It is advisable to keep some packaged foods and essential spare parts with you as there are patches where there is no connectivity. Like it or not, Chandratal lake is set to become the next Pangong Tso; exploited by toxic tourism.
Different camps are available in the vicinity of the lake. At least, three camping sites are there where you can get comfortable accommodation. So, availability is mostly not a problem. It is advised to carry extras because there are no shops in Chandratal.
Altitude of Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake is situated at a vertical elevation of 4300 m or 14,100 feet. Given its elevation, it is advised to carry Diamox (a drug that helps in acclimatization) and maintain a high intake of drinking water during your journey. Physical activity at this altitude can result in Altitude Mountain Sickness.
During the summer season, the temperature remains in single-digits during the day hours, and at night the temperature might drop till -10℃ or lower. In the winter season, the daytime temperature might go down -10℃ to -15℃, and during nighttime, the temperature easily drops below -30℃.
At times, the temperature at Chandratal Lake swoops down to a shocking -23℃ mark. Wind chill is another factor to be taken into account, so pack a windcheater to your essentials during your trip.
Best Time to Visit Chandratal
Chandratal Lake is accessible throughout the summer months. However, it experiences a thick snowfall in the winter season, turning it indistinguishable from the surroundings. A curated timeline is explained below:
At this time of the year, the Chandratal route is blocked due to heavy snowfall. Clearing of snow is a continuous process, but roads till Kunzum Pass and Chandratal usually opens by the second week of June.
Roads stay open at this time of the year and attract a lot of tourist flocks to Chandratal. You will find foreigners and the local crowd visiting ChandraTal as the weather stays cold throughout. Usually, most of the snow melts by the end of June and the remaining snow is only visible at mountain tops.
Spiti Valley experiences freezes this time of the year and during the night time temperature becomes inhabitable for an individual camper. Also, most of the campsites around Chandratal Lake pack up by this time as the weather becomes unbearably harsh.
A day trip to Chandratal Lake is still possible during this period. Here, you can experience the first snow this region gets. By the end of November, the entire Chandratal decorates with galloping views of snow which presents a beautiful spectrum of natural landscapes.
In this period, the lake is accessible for people who are experienced in mountaineering and extreme winter snow hiking. The only way to the Chandratal Lake is on foot and it is visible from the Baralacha Pass. The night time temperatures dips beyond -30℃and one has to be self-sufficient in order to survive.
FAQs on Chandratal Lake
Q1. Where does the Chandratal Lake trek start?
Ans. If you are on a bus, the trek will start from Kunzum Pass, otherwise you can go till the campsites in a car.
Q2. How to reach from Chandratal to kaza on a bus ?
Ans. The Manali-Kaza bus reaches Kunzum in the afternoon. So, you can hop on that bus and reach Kaza in 1.5 hours.
Q3. How long does it take to reach from Chandratal to Manali ?
Ans. It takes 7-8 hours to reach Manali from Chandratal because of the road conditions and traffic rush in Rohtang.
Q4. What is the Chandratal to Manali Distance?
Ans. The distance between Chandratal and Manali is 133 km.
Q5. What is the height of Chandratal lake?
Ans. Chandratal is situated at a height of 14,100 feet.
Q6. Is accommodation available at Chandratal?
Ans. Yes, accommodation is available at Chandratal in the form of tents.
Q7. How much time does it take to complete Chandratal and Suraj Tal trek?
Ans. Usually, it takes 4 days to complete this trek. However, it can be done in 3 days with a proper guided itinerary.
Q8. Is Chandratal trek difficult?
Ans. No, it is not difficult. But, hiring a guide is the best way to proceed for this trek if you don’t have much experience in high altitude trekking. They are several trekking agencies that offer camping option in the valley.
Q9. Can I pitch tent at Chandratal campsite?
Ans. Yes, you can pitch your tent 1 km away from Chandratal. But if you see any shepherds nearby make sure you take their permission.
Q10. How is the Chandratal camp stay?
Ans. If you pitch your own tent or stay at campsites, it is a nice experience if you don’t go with very high expectations.
Q11. What is the cost of the Chandratal Lake trek?
Ans. The cost of camping at Chandratal is Rs.1200 per person. You can add Rs.300 more if you want to include the food along with the stay. If you continue trekking, you have to carry packed food for the journey.
Q12. What is Chandratal Lake famous for?
Ans. The name ‘Chandratal’ emanates from the love story of “Chandra” the daughter of Moon deity and “Bhaga” the son of Sun god. Chandra River presents the tranquil azure water alongside the route after leaving Manali and after crossing the Rohtang Pass. There are some bizarre stories surrounding this region.