Monday, October 31, 2016

Spectacular Spiti : Journey to the Moon shaped lake - Chandertal

(Page 2)

Day 3 - Aug 7th , 2016

We checked off from the hotel by 6.00 AM , and hit the main road in no time. The mighty Beas was flowing to our left until Rohtang pass. A small Chai break at a nearby village called Kothi was a energy booster for us. As and when the altitude gained , the sleeves started to come down and as we neared Rohtang, we dressed in layers.

The road until Rohtang pass is a curvy ghat section road that takes you through thick virgin forests with beautiful landscapes. The clouds and sun started to play hide and seek with us, which made our visibility less for most of the time.

By 8.00 AM, we were near Rohtang pass. This place is a famous pit stop for people going towards Ladakh or Spiti region.

Rohtang Pass, is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, around 51 km from Manali. It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, India.

When you are driving through these high altitude roads, do not miss to see the slogans and information by BRO. It is very humorous and informative.

This place is truly a gateway to the Himalayan odyssey. You can see large number of tourists until this point, and only travelers go beyond. 

(note the difference between tourists and travelers)

Heavy lorries and trucks ply on this route frequently. The skills of these drivers are truly exceptional, and I was really amazed by that.

The weather started to clear post Rohtang pass, which was a sigh of relief for us.

Each and every turn made us closer to the destination and our minds were eagerly waiting to see the snow peaks.

The roads were really bad, as it was completely filled with small rocks and streams that we had to brave upon.

A beautiful waterfalls that was seen enroute. They are the main feeders to the Chenab river, that can be seen down in the valley while moving towards Chandertal.

We then crossed a small village called Chatru which houses just a couple of tents. This place is a very good pit stop for refreshment breaks.

A cup of hot Maggi noodles was all that was needed to complement the weather. Maggi is your best friend in the mountains.

Enroute Chnadertal, we need to cross many mountain ranges and small villages. The views are extremely colorful and breath taking.

For every few metres, you tend to stop the vehicle and click photos.

We met many riders who rode all the way from Delhi , Chandigarh and some from Manali as well.

Just an idea on how the road conditions are, while travelling in the Spiti valley.

I met a group of riders who were from Bangalore. It seems they had shipped their bikes from Bangalore and started their journey from Chandigarh.I was really happy to see  "Karnataka" registration vehicles high up in the mountain valleys.

A curious onlooker who stood wondering on what I was doing with my camera.

Venki shooting the arid landscape at Batal.

Batal is also a very small village which houses a small tent owned by an elderly couple. The tea and food they prepared were really delicious. 

Landscape started to change every now and then. So did the colors , vibrance and the lighting of the place.

A panorama comprising of almost 7-8 images. 

The colors of the valley are truly amazing . What you are seeing in the above image is one single mountain which had different color shades.

The monsoon clouds were fast approaching and that added drama in the sky. The Chandra river is seen all along the way while driving towards Chandertal.

We reached the base of Chandertal by 2.00 PM. The tents were seen from quite a distance, and we were really excited to see our new homes.

The tents at Chandertal were priced differently, based on the number of person occupancy and the luxury provided in there. An average two bed tent was rented for around Rs. 3200, which also had a private bathroom.

This price included dinner and breakfast(for the next day) as well.

After searching and negotiating among many tent owners, we finally settled on one from Mr. Tanzin. This was a single 6 bed tent which was being offered for Rs.3600 for the whole tent along with food. 

The lunch was not a part of the package, so it was served for an extra payment.

Our lunch was Maggi, while some others from our group savored the lunch which was prepared by some shepherds.

By around 4 PM we set off to see the majestic crescent shaped emerald lake. It was a small walk of around 3-4 kms from the basecamp.

Chandra Tal (meaning the Lake of the Moon), or Chander Tal is situated in the Spiti part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh (India).The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape. It is situated at an altitude of about 4,300 metres (14,100 ft) in the Himalayas. The mountains overlook the lake on one side, and a magnificent valley presents a view on the other. 

The team

Chandra Taal is a popular 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 motorable road from Batal which is 14 km (8.7 mi) away from Chandra Taal.

Bhargav enjoying the view

Vast meadows on the banks of the lake are the camping sites. During springtime, these meadows are carpeted with hundreds of kinds of wildflowers.

The lake is situated on the Samudra Tapu plateau, which overlooks the Chandra River.

The lake is one among the two high-altitude wetlands of India which have been designated as Ramsar sites.

If there were no clouds, we could have seen the snow capped peaks from here. It is indeed a magnificent view from this place. 

Except Bhargav and Satish uncle, we all went to the top of another hill to view the golden sunset.

It is believed, Chandratal was discovered by traders who came to the region from Tibet or Ladakh. After an arduous journey, the traders used to rest near the lake before resuming their journey to Kullu or Spiti.

The sweet water lake is around 2.5 km wide. It is the source of Chandra River which merges with Bhaga River to form Chandrabhaga River and later assumes the identity of Chenab.
The lake can be visited only during the three summer months. For the rest of the season, the lake remains cut off and frozen.

Though the place is barren and bereft of any human settlement, it is a famous camping site during summer. 

Travelers often get awestruck by the blue colour of the lake, bordered by wide carpet of green grass coupled with the pristine white of Chandra Bhaga mountain range.

After the sunset we set off towards our tents by walking in the darkness. Satish uncle did not join us as he had already gone back to the tent much earlier. 

Bhargav at the valley
However, Bhargav was waiting for us at a small view point. And after sometime, we even lost track of him as he had gone to the tent all by himself.

We reached the tent around 7.00 PM, and were served with a hot cup of soup. It helped us regain our lost energy and brought the dead cells back to life. 

The dinner was served by 9.00 PM. Post that, we hit the bed to earn a well deserved sleep, as it was a long and tiring day. The whole night was a circus, as none of us could sleep properly. The cold winds & less space made us go crazy.

Useful information :

1. Options to stay are limited in Chandratal. PWD guesthouses and rooms let out on rent by villagers at Kunzum Pass and Batal are the main options to stay. In summer, majority of the tourists prefer to stay in camp at Chandratal.

2. Options to eat are limited in Chandratal. There are some small dhabas at Batal which offer food. The eateries(tents) in Chandratal offer limited Indian food. 

3. Don’t expect any exotic cuisine.

4. The best time to visit Chandratal is from June end to September end.

5. Camping is allowed near Chandertal, and many people offer their tents on a rental basis.

6. The price for each tent differs.

7. Lunch is not included in the package. Only dinner and breakfast are counted

8. Vehicles do not go till the lake, we need to walk for around 2kms from the last parking point of the vehicles

9. Do not litter the place. Plastic should be banned

10. Be a responsible traveler / tourist.

11. The mercury drops during night. Stay warm by dressing in layers

12. Symptoms such as flu , fever, head ache are common at high altitudes. Do not be panicked 

Thanks for viewing

How is the journey from Chandertal to Kaza ?? To know more, click on the link below

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