Witness the magic of the mountains by experiencing the Chandratal Lake trek. This breathtakingly beautiful lake lies 14,000 feet above sea level in the Himalayas. The Chandratal Lake trek is arguably the most unmissable one in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh. There's an interesting legend about this crescent-shaped marvel: the lake is said to be the place where the daughter of the Moon-god (Chandra) and the son of the Sun-god (Bhaga) got married.
The raw untamed beauty of this lake tucked away between snowclad mountains is the stuff of dreams. But the trail that leads to the lake is what’s all the more exciting. You have to trek on naked rocky mountain paths to get here, but trust us, it’s all worth it. So let's share a few things that you’ll have to know to go on the trek.
How many days your trek is could differ if you’re going with a company that organizes treks. Another factor would be where you start your trek from. Confused? Let's break this down for you. There are mixed combinations to these treks. People start trekking from different points and they drive till the point they want to start their trek. This route from Manali that we cover is the common one. We're covering it from top to bottom, so you have a guide to the ultimate Manali to Chandratal Lake Trek.
Manali - Jobra - Balu Ka Ghera - Shea Goru (Via Hampta Pass) - Chatru - Chandratal Lake
Now on this route that starts you off in Manali, it will take you 3-4 days to reach Chandratal Lake. The number of days would also depend on your personal pace, the weather conditions and the tour you book with. But this entire distance won’t be covered on foot and will be a mix of driving and trekking. We will cover the details in the segment below.
First, you'll have to make your way to Manali, from where you'll have to drive down to the village Jobra. We would advise booking everything in advance, including guides and tents, and preferably an entire package for your trek if it’s your first time. It's better to be a part of a group in that scenario. It'll take you about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Jobra. Once you reach Jobra, your trek finally begins. Your first stop to head to is Balu Ka Ghera.
Balu Ka Ghera will be your first campsite during the entire trek. On your trail to this little village, you'll come across really cold streams, a patch of oak trees and countless boulders. Make sure you spot the few colorful flowers along the way. After steadily ascending atop Jwara Nala, you'll experience a river crossing. This will likely be a bit challenging as the flow of the river is really strong, and the water will be quite cold.
While you’re still walking, the Dhauladhar Range of mountains will be accompanying you in the background. After you cross the valley and walk for a bit, you’ll get to walk on better and smoother terrain. Eventually, you’ll reach your first campsite at Balu Ka Ghera. A hard day’s trek means you deserve to enjoy some refreshments and relax. Enjoy the scenic campsite and rest up for day 2 of trekking.
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Wake up on day 2 all set to take on higher altitudes again. This is the day when you get to experience a considerable amount of highs and lows. You’ll be trekking through Hampta Pass at an altitude of 14,100 feet. This is definitely going to be challenging for anyone who hasn’t trekked before and doesn’t have good fitness levels. But the views will be motivational enough for you to keep going. Luckily though, the descent is much easier.
You'll be greeted by fascinating sights such as streams, colorful flowers, boulders, and plateaus. They'll all be making appearances in intervals though, and not all at once. The rough, muddy, and sandy hillside path also has a charm of its own. Regardless of the season in which you choose to visit, it’s always cool here. This also means that mist is a frequent visitor, which can be scary when you're walking on a ridge and need full visibility. Make sure you trek carefully and avoid any stunts.
You'll have to take a few pauses here and there to catch your breath and admire your surroundings. The massive glacier of the Indrasan Peak will be visible from Hampta pass. This is one such spot where you could take a few quick minutes to just enjoy the magnificent surroundings. After descending from Hampta Pass, you will have a relatively easier trail till your next campsite at Shea Goru. The campsite will be close to a running stream, which is as great a place as any other to rest up for the next day.
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Next stop, Chatru. This is definitely an easier day of trekking compared to the previous day. You'll first be trailing past the Indrasan Glacier, after which you'll come across another river crossing for you to experience. By now, this shouldn't be challenging but enjoyable. The mountains will only look that much more fascinating to you as you descend, almost like they're changing their colors.
At this point in your trek, you would have left forests and trees behind. Once you've completed your descent, you will have finished the trekking part of your journey. From Chatru onwards, you'll need to take a cab to reach Chandratal Lake. It’s very, very rare that anybody treks from Chatru to Chandratal Lake. It’s not only a very long distance but it’s definitely not safe for individuals to be trekking down that path.
We strongly recommend avoiding trekking from Chatru to Chandratal Lake. The drive from Chatru should take another 4-5 hours, but this can differ depending on the weather conditions which could affect the road. Once the drive is over, you reach the campsite of Chandratal Lake. Do note that the lake is still about a couple of kilometers away from the campsite. You'll have to walk the rest of the distance, but the walk is easy and scenic.
You could rest for a bit then go check out the lake. Maybe go see what it's like when the sun is setting or even in the dark of the night. The shimmering stars overhead give it a surreal look. Camp for the night, and sleep in early to catch a sunrise over the lake.
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The best time to go on a trek here is between July to September. This is when the snow has melted a little and the weather is suitable for travelers. These are the months in which all campsites start operating. Don’t be surprised at snowfall even at this time of the year. But the monsoon will still bring some challenges, so time your trip well. Nights and early mornings can be quite cold, and you might have an odd shower of rain.
Visiting here during the winter months should not even be considered. There’s very heavy snowfall and the cold weather is as harsh as it can be. The lake is closed during this season due to how hazardous the conditions get, and is only open from June to October.
September is considered the best month because rainfall significantly decreases, giving you fewer challenges and better weather. The months of May and June are rare possibilities. It’s not always possible to visit during those months. If at all you want to visit during those months, you can call the Manali Government Bus stand. They will be able to provide you with the necessary information.
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Literally, everything about this place is special. The water defines the expression ‘crystal clear', that too at a height of 14,100 feet. One of the things that's noteworthy is how the campsites were pushed back. Nobody is allowed to camp at the lake site. This is great because that way, the stunning site is not destroyed by campers and is maintained. If you walk around a bit, you will come across a couple of other tiny really cool lakes too.
Quite frankly, there’s nothing anybody can say which will do any justice to how amazing Chandratal Lake is. There’s another way of getting to Chandratal Lake too, for anyone coming from the Shimla or Kinnaur side. The trek route is different and slightly longer but easier. Read about Experiencing the Chandratal Lake Trek from Shimla to know more.
Also Read: Things to Pack For A Himalayan Trek
How Can I Go To Chandratal Lake?
If you aren’t keen on trekking to Chandratal Lake and would like to just visit it instead, you can head here from Keylong. You’ll have a journey of a good 8 to 9 hours ahead of you, but it’s a super scenic one.
How Long Is Chandratal Lake Trek?
Chandratal trek is a long trek for the ones familiar with mountains. The trek begins from Manali and you'll be covering a distance of 80 km.
Is Chandratal Lake Worth Visiting?
Chandratal lake can be easily considered one of the prettiest lakes in Spiti and we would highly recommend you visit it and experience its surreal beauty.
Is Chandratal Open?
Chandratal lake is closed from November to May due to heavy snow and hazardous weather conditions. In addition to this, it can also be declared shut in the open season (June to October) if the weather suddenly turns bad. But this is a rare occasion.
Where Is Chandratal Situated?
Chandratal Lake is located in Spiti, 250 kms away from Manali and 55 kms away from Keylong, the nearest big city.
Can We Stay At Chandratal Lake?
You can't exactly stay at the lake because its not allowed in order to maintain and preserve the natural beauty but you can stay close to Chandratal lake as long as you're comfortable staying at a campsite. There are no hotels close to the lake and camps are the only option for you to enjoy this natural beauty.
How Much Time It Takes From Chandratal To Manali?
The journey is a convenient and stunning one that can take you anywhere between 7 to 8 hours of time.
How Difficult Is Chandratal Trek?
There are various difficulty levels when it comes to treks and trekking paths. In India, you'll find trekking routes for every kind of trekker be it a novice or a challenge seeker. Chandratal trek is categorized under easy to moderate difficulty level trek, so it's not too difficult to climb and will be fun.