Charisma of Chandratal Lake in Spiti | Ladakh Mega Meet

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The Journey so far…

Last night, the dreams of witnessing Chandratal was all over me… Almost 4 years after, when my love affair with Travel started as death cheated me on my first ever real trip to Himalayas and this Charismatic Chandratal eluded me by a KM due to inclement weather conditions… I hope you had read that adventure story which lead to the inception of DoW about 4.5 Years back 🙂 … If not, give a read here: Exploring Chandratal | Batal to Chandratal to Batal Trek … There were two more attempts made to see this lovely Lake but all went in vein for one or the other reasons. So, this had to happen for sure, no matter what 😀

As you drive besides Chandra River…
The Magical Views on Gramphu - Chatru - Battal Road
Day 10 | Sissu – Gramphu – Chattru – Batal – Chandratal – Kunzum Pass – Losar

We had moments of sorrow last night and both Rigzin, Sonam left at night only about 3 AM. Temperature at Sissu was warm but we had to travel in deep corner of Spiti Valley to see Chandratal lake, the last Lake of our trip to make the count to 14… We all woke up early as we had to leave at 7 AM for sure and all were ready too except the taxis that had to come from Keylong 😥 … Every minute wasted in the wait was feeling like a day and that’s all because of the excitement to see Chandratal Lake. Everyone was abusing the drivers as I kept myself busy in clicking pictures of the early morning mist around Hotel Triveni, Sissu The detailed review will be written soon anyways. By 7:45 AM the taxis came and by 8.15 AM we all moved towards Chandratal. Now, we had one Xylo and one Tavera along with Nabeel’s bike. All in all, 10 were left in the group for this final leg of the this Mega Epic Trip… Place was to first reach Khoksar and have breakfast. We did exactly that and had a nice breakfast at Khoksar

Combination of Early Morning Mist and Chandra River at Sissu
ombination of Early Morning Mist and Chandra River at Sissu
Rooms at Hotel Triveni Sissu
Rooms at Hotel Triveni Sissu
Hotel Triveni Sissu
Hotel Triveni Sissu
Early morning views of valley towards Chandratal
Early morning views of valley towards Chandratal

Then, we moved ahead and met few friends + couple of readers of DoW at Gramphu who were traveling to Ladakh. I guided them about weather conditions and road conditions before we slipped into the diversion to Spiti Valley at Gramphu The road goes from Chattru – Chota Dhara – Batal – Chandratal Lake diversion on a rocky, almost river bed kind of conditions. There is a saying that “the path to heaven goes through hell”, and this road to Spiti Valley is aptly applicable with this hard truth 🙂 … There are no roads at all, pebbles, rocks, boulders, water crossings and what not… The roads up to Chattru are still manageable but then it’s just hell that break loose… The Phone Signal goes away at Gramphu and is only restored once you reach near Losar after crossing Kunzum Pass We kept moving before the first water crossing blocked us in between and the comedy begun 😀 😀

And the mist clears in the valley near Chatru
And the mist clears in the valley near Chatru
The vivid colors of nature on the way to Chandratal
The vivid colors of nature on the way to Chandratal

The vivid colors of nature on the way to Chandratal
Roads on the way to Chandratal
Roads on the way to Chandratal

Roads on the way to Chandratal
Look, watch again !! 😀 😀 …
Roads on the way to Chandratal
Wait wait, watch more closely !! 😉 😀
Roads on the way to Chandratal
More fun !! 😉 :D…

The driver who was with us just rushed through that water crossing, jumping the car here and there, kissing the underbelly of Tavera and as he crossed to the other end, he said, "Chalo sir, dekhte hani kya toota (Let’s see sir what broke beneath, in underbelly)" 😀 😯 😀 … I was like WTF, Dude !! You are a native local driver who knows how to handle such water crossings… Never mind we moved further and guess what, again there was a bigger water crossing this time, Dorni Nalla it is called. I was a bit afraid sitting in front and the bugger again did the same as the car hit 1,2,3… places 😥 😥 … Thank god it did not break.

We got a a chance to meet the other group of Innova too this time and each of them were looking bamboozled with white faces !! I asked, “what happened guys?? Is everything all right??” and Pradeep replied "Bhai, Kaisa driver hai ye?? Paani aata hai and ye pooja karne lagta hai aankh band karke, haath jodd ke (What kind of local driver is he?? As the water crossing comes, the driver starts praying with folded hands and closed eyes…)" 😀 😯 😀 …  I was again like WTF, Dude !!

Now, you can imagine in what kind of safe hands of locals we were into for this final leg of the journey 😉 … One guys hugs the boulder of his car at under belly and the other prays before pushing through the water crossings 😀 … I kept all this aside and lost in the beautiful valley around us for which there are no words to write here… Though the roads are treacherous BUT magic around you of the valley just sweeps you off your feet. It is surreal, it is magical and it keeps calling me again and again… We kept clicking pictures as the river almost came along us now and it was a purely pristine feeling inside. Words fall short to explain the beauty and isolation of this terrain, especially during late/early season.

The Magical Views on Gramphu – Chatru – Battal Road
The Magical Views on Gramphu - Chatru - Battal Road
Glaciers on the way to Chandratal
Glaciers on the way to Chandratal
HP PWD Rest House at Batal is now ready…
HP PWD Rest House at Batal is now ready

Soon we reached Chandra Dhabha at Batal where we all enjoyed a cup of Tea together before hitting the road to Kunzum Pass and divert towards Chandratal Lake from it. I went inside Chandra Dhabha, hugged the Dorje uncle, narrated him the whole story what happened to me when I came there about 4 years back and how indebted I am for almost helping me as a saviour that day !! He smiled and said, it keeps happening here son and we all smiled 🙂 … Dorje uncle has good sense of humour and he keeps you laughing all the time with his one or other jokes. Dorje Uncle and his wife together has won many bravery awards for their gallantry efforts to save so many lives in this region due to harsh climatic conditions and people who get landlocked due to natural calamity. He helped a group of 30 odd people stuck in snowfall in August 2011 or 2012, if I remember correctly. He is truly a great asset to this region of Spiti Valley and provides all necessary help plus stuff to survive in case the need arise along with his warm smiling efforts.

We were getting late for Chandratal, so we moved ahead and soon took the diversion to Chandratal from Kunzum Pass. The driver, whole way, was continuously boasting his skills but we knew what we were into 😀 … He kept saying that he had broken 5-6 torsion roads of his Tavera and we were feeling very anxious as the trail to Chandratal is so narrow with deep gorge on one side 😉 I asked him to concentrate on road every now and then as he was taking his eyes off the road every now and then 😀 …

The Magical Views on Chandratal Hike Trail
The Magical Views on Chandratal Hike Trail

The Magical Views on Chandratal Hike Trail

The Magical Views on Chandratal Hike Trail
Info on Conservation of Chandratal Lake and its surroundings
Info on Conservation of Chandratal Lake and its surroundings

Suddenly on those narrow path a crank sound came, our heads crashed into windows or with each other as a sudden break was applied !! The car stopped just besides the edge of gorge and we were like "WHAT THE F*** !!" … As we got down to see what happened, the Torsion rod of Tavera was all gone !! Can you believe it?? 😯 😯 He broke that rod yet another time and I can imagine the way he was passing the gushing water crossings, hitting the under belly of the car so much, something had to happen for sure and it was just a matter of time. The edge of the gorge was so close that we had trouble getting out comfortably from the left side 😯 … Anyways, now what, was the question for all of us 😀 :D… I was thinking on the lines that yet another time Chandratal will elude me 😥 😥 … The place is jinxed I feel for me but this time I was determined enough to walk all the way to it and come back to sleep at Batal or there only. But, at any cost I had to see Chandratal, no matter what !!

The car had broke down right in the middle of the narrow path and soon another taxi having some foreigners came in from the other side. That driver seemed much more practical and knowledgeable. He removed the rod and forced the corks given with it into the slots and Bingo!! The car came back to normal position though this temporary fix will mean that more bumps, more crashing of heads into each other and very slow speed 😀 😀 … At least we were back on the ride, though a bumpy and pathetically slow ride. Finally, we crawled to the last place till where vehicles can reach on this trail to Chandratal and from there it was a short half a KM hike to Chandratal Lake. There were couple of friends I knew from Delhi, Rajiv & Harjeev, who were also present there. So, I met them first, we chatted for good time before I started moving to the lake with our group.

The excitement within doubled as we approached more and more close to this magical lake and there it was… the first sight of Charismatic Chandratal… The inner joy to see it is simply that I cannot write here in words, simply gorgeous site filled with tranquility in the air surrounding it. We spent good 1+ Hr sitting besides this lovely lake and finally the 4 year pending dream of a sight of Chandratal had come true… Though we missed the reflections this lake is famous for but nevertheless, given the circumstances I will take whatever it is and of course, missing the reflections meant another visit in future to this beautiful ornament offered by nature… You can read everything about Chandratal Lake in travel guides section at the link: Delhi to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley | Travel Guide … It was time to go back to Losar where we had to stay overnight after scaling the 16th Pass of the trip, Kunzum Pass at an altitude of 4590 Mtrs…

The First Sight… Chandratal Lake
The First Sight... Chandratal Lake
The Charismatic Chandratal Lake
The Charismatic Chandratal Lake

The Charismatic Chandratal Lake

The Charismatic Chandratal Lake

The Charismatic Chandratal Lake

The Charismatic Chandratal Lake
The Last Views…
The Charismatic Chandratal Lake
That’s Nabeel at Chandratal Lake
That's Nabeel at Chandratal Lake
Views around Chandratal Lake
Views around Chandratal Lake
The Walk Back from Chandratal Lake
The Walk Back from Chandratal Lake
Camping Site at Chandratal Lake
Camping Site at Chandratal Lake

The road from the diversion up to the Kunzum Pass top and beyond till 19 KMs down to Losar was all dirt track with rocks and potholes. We reached Kunzum Top and it was a great feeling to be there after last 4+ years of traveling to such places… I loved the way it was positioned. We took the parikarma, which is mandatory for anyone passing the Kunzum Pass… I know these are rituals and beliefs of mountains but I always have faith in them and will always have, no matter how much the modernization affect my mind set… Everyone must respect them because it is these mountain gods only who protects us on our arduous journeys to mighty Himalayas as per my beliefs 🙂 … After a while we moved on towards Losar.

Almost Crashed 😉 … On the way to Kunzum Pass
Almost Crashed ;) ... On the way to Kunzum Pass
Kunzum Pass
Kunzum Pass
The Parikram Road at Kunzum Pass
Kunzum Pass
Kunzum Pass Sign Board
Kunzum Pass

The lack of torsion rod in our car made the journey from bad to miserable and I was cursing myself on the decision of going all the way to Losar from Chandratal on that treacherous road which helped with nothing but dis-comfort all the way to Losar. It had been much better that we had camped at Chandratal Camp site and even witnessed the reflections next morning before going back home via Manali… or even a stay back at Batal PWD Rest House or Dorje Uncle Dhabha would have been good enough… But, a sorry decision was already taken and cannot be backed away 😥 :cry:… Anyways, after long hours of head crashing bumpy drive, we reached Losar in the evening but to some extent stay and food at Nomad Cottage was a bit relief. The boys cat the cottage cooked really nice food and Sahil was present there to have gup shups too with other local friends… By the time darkness fell, both our Drivers were hit with AMS 😯 😯 … I was like, "Man, are you kidding me!! … What the shit is happening around since morning…" … We gave them disprins/diamox, asked them to sleep tight and warm for the night. We ate a delicious dinner cooked for us and even though it was a cold night at Losar, we all slept fine together one last time in Himalayas on this Mega Epic trip to Ladakh from DoW Community…

On the way to Losar
On the way to Losar

On the way to Losar
Our Xylo, kissing the Truck
Our Xylo, kissing the Truck
Most Welcome to Spiti Valley
Most Welcome to Spiti Valley
The Last Rays of Sun at Losar Village
The Last Rays of Sun at Losar Village

Have you ever been in a situation where your lives were in hands of some untrained people?? Are you planning to visit Chandratal and have any queries? I will look forward to listen you in the comments section below…

The Journey ahead…

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You can call me an Avid Traveler, a Day - Night Dreamer and a Passionate Lover of Himalayas who has a high zest for driving whilst exploring new places in Himalayas & sharing back those Himalayan Travel experiences with the other fellow Travelers... I am in love with Spreading Smiles in Himalayas through DoW Causes & currently enjoying life as Happy Traveling Soul at DoW Community. You can read more about me in detail at the link here ...

20 Comments

  1. Hi Dheeraj,

    Your articles are great help while planning any trip in trans Himalayas. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I am planning to go Chandratal from Gurgaon in July 2nd week. Can you please suggest is it doable in 4 days? How far can we go in Spiti if we have 4 days in hand? What is the length of trek and how far can we go via SUV? What is the time and season you suggest to a traveler when it comes to doing Chandratal? Waiting for your reply….

    Thanks
    Richa

    • Richa, I always suggest following plan for Chandratal as most optimized version:

      Day 1 | Delhi – Manali and stay overnight at Solang Valley
      Day 2 | Solang – Khoksar/Sissu
      Day 3 | Khoksar/Sissu – Chandratal
      Day 4 | Chandratal – Manali
      Day 5 | Manali – Delhi

      From diversion point to Chandratal it is 14 KMs, in case the road is closed in between you need to trek the remaining part. As of now the road has been opened to Chandratal doable by SUV. Last 700-800 Mtrs you need to trek anyways as there is no road ahead of parking spot. In caase you plan in September it will be best but you have already planned in July I see.

    • Thanks for quick reply Dheeraj

      What if we leave from Delhi on Friday evening and reach Manali by Saturday morning??… This way we can stay at Khoksar/Sissu on Saturday and start our way back to Delhi on Tuesday…. Would it be possible?

  2. Bina Thanawala on

    Hi Dheeraj,

    it was like we were with you when i read your report. Must be amazing.

    We are planning in late May this year to visit Spiti from Simla.
    Is it advisable to go through the Kunzum and Rohthang and come into Manali, since the road conditions seemed the worst on that stretch or should we wind our way back to Shimla from Kaza and less time on the treacherous roads. Since you have done this circuit I need your input.

    • Thank you Bina !!

      Late May is not the right time to travel on Manali to Kaza road over Kunzum Pass in case you interested in it. The road most likely will be closed between Gramphu and Batal below Kunzum Pass. You will have to come back from Shimla side only.

  3. Hello Dheeraj, I am planning a bike trip to Chardertal Lake from October 23 to October 27. I am planning to go from New Delhi- Shimla – Narkanda – Kaza – Chandratal – Rohtang – Manali – New Delhi. Wanted to know if there is accomodation availible at the lake and other tips you might want to give.

    • Puneet, mid October is when every one runs away from that terrain packing their stuff, even Dorje Uncle at Batal dhabha leaves by then. I will not advice you to travel Chandratal that late in the season as it is quite risky proposition.

  4. Pingback: Struggle of Kunzum Pass - Batal - Gramphu Road

  5. awesome…mesmerized..Dheeraj bhai, I was waiting badly for this..
    do you have any plan to explore this route further in this year..I mean Ladakh Mega Meet – 2…!!!
    if so, then please let me inform.. 🙂
    your pics and detailed narration has made me crazy to explore this route.. !!!

    • Thank you Sumit and at the same time Sorry, we will not have Ladakh Mega Meet in couple of years from now. This year we will behaving in Spiti Valley our Mega Meet whose registrations are already open and will close by 20th July. We will be covering the missed reflections of Chandratal anyhow in this Mega Meet 🙂

  6. Awsome narration. Great pictures and I satlute to Dorje uncle for his bravery. Dheeraj bhai Your tales make people to explore these himalayan treasures and I am excited about wht is gonna be happen during spiti mega meet. “AMS suffering drivers” situation was very funny. Waiting for another
    CHARISMATIC story. . .

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