Chandrataal: The Real Adventure


Well, I am back with this post earlier than anticipated, but trust me there is nothing like a bunch of people telling you that they liked your blog and they were waiting for more. One more thing, the thing i mentioned in the previous post – the personal tragedy – well, i shall not talk about it after all. The more you talk about it, the more it pinches you and also i dont want to bother you guys with the sob story. So, only good vibes from here!

So where was I? Yes. Thanks to Rohtang we reached Batal just before sundown. It was weird though, how the darkness descended so abruptly. One moment there was light and the other moment – darkness. After stripping off the luggage from the bikes, there was the customary cleaning of spark plugs and the tightening of chains. Wolf actually went a bit further; he disassembled his carbaurator in order to increase the air and fuel intakes. While it was a bright idea, a bit of cold sweat did appear when after attachinig the re-tuned carbaurator, the bike refused start. But you know the thing with those old cast iron bullets…there is nothing a good, hearty kick or twenty wont fix.

It was also decided that we would have to modify our initial plan a bit as going back to Manali would take as much time, if not more. So the idea of camping overnight by the lake went for a toss and we decided to make it a day trip.

We Left the dhaba as soon as the sun had started to warm the rocky hills. We could have taken our bikes down the road to around 2 kms from Chandrataal, but we decided to park. For most part, we had not yet fully recovered from the previous day’s ride, but there was this little voice inside all of us saying that we would like it more if we went a a bit closer to nature. Hence we hike!

Morning in Batal
From the bridge on the river Chandra

From Batal we started walking on the road to Kunzum La. 2 kms down is a fork on the road with a board indicating that the road branching off to the left leads to Chandrataal

Nature’s canvas
One of the little streams that feeds the Chandra river
The drama continues
Shortcut!
‘I am the master of all I survey, My right there is none to dispute’

There are just two water crossings on the way to Chandrataal as compared to the dozens we encountered on the drive from Rohtang to Batal. Also, this time, we were on foot, so off went the shoes and the socks and up rolled the trousers and the hikers bravely waded through the ice cold water.

Glad that we didn’t have to drive through this

The walk to Chandrataal is long but gentle. All you need is a lot of water and if you were to learn from my mistake, something to cover your head with. It is very windy all along the road and if your head is uncovered and in my case, shaved, you better get some cover or get ready for a nasty headache.

Like i said, its a good, clean walk!
Cloud capped glacier
lets play catch-up

People know know me, know that i detest physical exercise of any form and i have a beer belly to prove it. But i am also known to walk a bit from time to time. I love mountains, and i love being close to nature, but hiking is not my thing. The thing with hiking is, you can never get past the horizon and more often than not, you can actually see your destination before you reach it. Hell, you’ve had one eye on your destination all day long. Not my kinda thing. I am big on surprises.

must…reach…lake
see, what i was saying..HEAD COVERED!
The only way i could get my photo taken!
There was some green too!
Trail to Chandrataal
Trail to Chandrataal
Trail to Chandrataal
On the final stages of the walk!
And voila! Its Chandrataal in all its turquoise glory
Move aside, sheep!
Now, the entire trip was so worth it!

Chandrataal is located at an altitude of 4,290 m and remains frozen for 7 months in a year. For the remaining five, it charms tourists and attracts the bhedis, local herdsmen who flock (literally!) to the meadows around the lake with their sheep and sheep-dogs. As the summer wanes, they head off from Spiti towards the meadows of Kangra Valley, where their sheep can graze without having to worry about the snow.

May your flock increase!
The otherside

After resting on the meadows by the lake and for a long time just getting used to the brilliant sparkle of the water, we walked around the perimeter of the lake, adding 2 kms to our walk-load for the day. Chandrataal is a holy spot for the nomadic herdsmen of Spiti and they believe that in the clear blue waters of the lake resides a Devi who grant the pure at heart, their deepest, most sincere wish. I didnt catch a glimpse of her, but then again, who said anything about me being pure at heart!

Pilgrimage
Chandrataal
and some more!
Chortens and prayer flags
Stopping for a breather
One of my favourite shots!
More signs of prayer!
The lonely pilgrim.
Heaven must look like this, no?
It must!

An ideal way to complete the Chandrataal experience would be if you follow a slightly uphill trail from the lake to Kunzum La. People say that the views from this route are better, but then if you ask me, what is not beautiful in a place like this? Once you reach Kunzum, its all the way downhill to Batal.

One thing we did miss out on was camping by the lake. God knows how awesome it would have been. But if time permits, and if the company is right, i shall return again. After all, thats the wish i made to the goddess in the lake! So now, just wait… and watch!