Situated right at the heart of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti, India and at an altitude of 4300 meters is this beautiful and magical Chandra Taal Lake. You get the surprise of your life when you see a beautiful colourful lake right in the middle of nowhere.
Best Time to Visit:
It’s connected to Batal – Kaza road through a gravel road of around 25 kilometer, and accessible from June till October, and remains snowed out during winter. Driving is the only option to the lake, other than trekking from Kunzum.
Generally private camps are up by early June and stays there till late September. Camping area is situated 4 kms before the lake, and you can also pitch your own tent.
No camping is allowed around the lake to preserve the lake and ecosystem.
You also have option to stay at Losar village which is 60 km from the lake, with little better resources and phone connectivity. Some other options are PWD guest Houses at Batal and Losar.
How to reach
Driving by road is your only option as of now, and either you drive your own car or hire taxi from Manali, Shimla or Kaza. You have two options to reach the lake, either from Manali side or Shimla side, and routes looks as follows:
Route 1: Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphoo – Batal – Chandra Taal
From Delhi and self-drive, your plan should look like this:
Day 1: Delhi – Manali or Naggar
Day 2: Manali – Chandra Taal
Day 3: Explore around Chandra Taal
Day 4: Lake – Manali
Day 5: Manali – Delhi
If you are travelling by bus from Delhi, this is how it can look:
Day 0: Overnight bus journey from Delhi to Manali,
Day 1: Taxi pick you up from bus stand, and drive to Chandra Taal
Day 2: Explore around Chandra Taal
Day 3: Lake to Manali and then overnight bus to Delhi, reaching Delhi early morning of Day 4.
Route 2: Shimla – Narkanda – Rampur – Wangtoo – Powari – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Rangrik – Losar – Lake
For Route 2, you can refer to my Spiti page for the plan and other relevant details
While Route-1 take a day less to reach the lake, but it takes you up to 4300 meter much faster and can trigger Acute Mountain Sickeness, while Route-2 take a day longer, much longer drive but acclimatizes you much better.
Also the roads from the Manali side is much worse than Shimla side, though there are bad sections on both side.
If you are just planning to visit the lake and short of time, choose Route-1. If you are on a longer holiday and planning to visit other areas of Spiti, go for Route-2.
Refer to the map for all route details.
Driving your own vehicle
If you are driving your own vehicles, it’s recommended to have a vehicle with higher ground clearance. Though hatchback and sedans can do it, but will have tough time on some of patches on both the routes above. Section between Batal and Chandrataal base camp is all gravel broken jeep track, prone to landslides.
Your only fuel options are at Manali, Kaza and Reckong Peo (refer to map).
Make sure your vehicle is serviced and in best of its form as the roads can break the vehicle to any extent.
There are plenty of opportunities of photography around the lake, sunset and sunrise are the best time of lake. Sunrise is much more quitter without any wind, hence you get the best reflection in the still lake. Winds start picking up around 10 Am.
Nights are for some astro photography as you get the clear sky with billions of star over your heads. September is the best time for milky-way and shooting star captures.
There are plenty of opportunities for wildlife photography around the lake.
Other Significant things
- While days are warm, night can really get cold at the camping area, hence prepare well and carry enough woollens for night photography.
- If you start showing the signs of AMS, immediately get down to either Batal or Losar, you will lose around 400 meters which can significantly help in improving your health.
- Drive early in the morning when there is less water flowing through the nullahs and you will have less trouble crossing them.
- There is no mobile connectivity at the lake area. You get some weak phone signals at Gramphoo, satellite phone at famous dhaba at Batal, and then mobile signals at Losar.
- Keep the camp area and lake clean and bring your waste back to places where you can dispose it properly.
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