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Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Surreal Spiti

Chandratal Lake is considered to be one of the most incredible lakes in Himachal Pradesh, India. It is a high-altitude lake located in the Lahaul and Spiti district of India. The name of the lake originates from its crescent shape. The name Chandratal translates to ‘The Moon Lake’ in Hindi language (Chandra = Moon; Tal = Lake). The beautiful lake is surrounded by plenty of snow-capped mountain peaks. We read about Chandratal Lake a couple of years ago and since then it had always been in the top of our travel bucket list. The lake was the last destination of our trip to Spiti Valley. In this blog, we provide you with a travel guide to visit Chandratal Lake.

Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India

Location of Chandratal Lake:

Chandratal Lake is located at an altitude of 13,940 feet from the sea level in Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. It is a freshwater lake and is 2.5 km long in terms of circumference. Chandratal Lake is the source of the Chandra river – a source river of Chenab that flows from India to Pakistan. The lake is in a remote setting where even the roads do not reach. Chandratal Lake is situated 12.5 kilometers off the route from the Gramphu-Batal-Kaza road.


The Chandratal Lake can be accessed either from Manali or Shimla-Kaza route. However, it is closer to Kaza (90 kilometres) than to Manali (125 kilometres). The motorable road ends 2 kilometres before the Chandratal lake and you will have to walk the remaining distance to reach the lake. The walk to reach the trek is not particularly difficult and can be done with anyone having basic fitness.


How to reach Chandratal Lake:

Locating Chandratal Lake on the map is not difficult, but reaching the lake is sure difficult. As discussed above, the lake can be reached either from Manali or from Shimla-Kaza.

Manali to Chandratal Lake:

From Manali, Chandratal Lake is a weekend or a long-weekend destination. It can be visited as a standalone trip or can be clubbed with sightseeing in Shimla and Manali.

Driving directions from Manali to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
Driving directions from Manali to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India

The route to reach Chandratal Lake from Manali is as follows:

Manali – Rohtang Pass – Gramphu – Chhatru – Batal – Chandratal


Although this route can be easily covered in a day, the altitude gain is huge and if you are not fit, your body will not be able to acclimatize to the low oxygen levels. Hence, we recommend travelling to Chandratal Lake from Shimla-Kinnaur-Kaza side. If that does not suit your travel plan, halt for a night at Solang Valley (north of Manali) or Batal, before planning an overnight stay at Chandratal.

Route to Chandratal Lake from Kaza, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
Route to Chandratal Lake from Kaza, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India

Note that not everyone who travels by this route feels signs of AMS (Acute mountain sickness). However it is suggested you take your own precautions and plan your trip.


Shimla-Kaza to Chandratal Lake:

From Shimla, Chandratal Lake is a week-long or a 10-day destination. It is highly advisable that you also visit Kinnaur Valley (Nako, Sangla, Chitkul, Kalpa) and Spiti Valley (Tabo, Dhankar, Pin Valley, Key, Kibber, Komik, Hikkim, Langza) before heading to Chandratal Lake.

Driving directions from Shimla-Kaza to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
Driving directions from Shimla-Kaza to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India

The route to reach Chandratal Lake from Shimla is as follows:

Shimla – Narkanda – Karcham – Nako – Tabo – Kaza – Kunzum Pass – Chandratal


This route passing through Kinnaur district ensures that you ascend gradually and slowly acclimatize to the higher altitude. We chose this route for the same reason.

Road from Kaza to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
Road from Kaza to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India

Note that time shown in google maps in this region would not hold true. The roads are extremely bad and non-existent. And not to forget quite dangerous. For example, you can assume that if you start from Kaza at 9 AM, you may take few halts at Chicham bridge, Kumzum pass and for lunch, and reach Chandratal lake only around 4-5 PM giving you couple of hours before it goes dark.

 

Read our previous blogs on Spiti Valley by clicking on the links or images below:

9. Travel guide to Chandratal Lake (This blog)

 

Road conditions from Kaza to Chandratal Lake:

The road conditions from Kaza to Chandratal Lake are not so good. The roads are nothing more than a dirt track. The road conditions further worsen after Kunzum Pass. Even despite all the hardships, one has to face on the road, the landscape that these roads run through are breath-taking.

The dirt track road from Kaza to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
The dirt track road from Kaza to Chandratal Lake, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India


Kunzum Pass:

Kunzum Pass or Kunzum La is a high-altitude pass that connects Spiti Valley to Lahaul Valley. India has many high altitude mountain passes and Kunzum pass is amongst India’s highest motorable mountain passes at an altitude of 15060 feet above sea level. It offers an awe-inspiring view of the Chandra-Bhaga mountain ranges. The Kunzum Pass remains closed most of the year due to heavy snowfall. It opens only for 3-4 months (June-September) during the summer season.

Approaching Kunzum Pass from Kaza, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India
Approaching Kunzum Pass from Kaza, Spiti Valley - Himachal Pradesh, India

Kunzum Pass is broad and is easily crossable. There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Durga at the top of the pass. All the tourists, as well as the drivers, perform a parikrama (clockwise circumambulation) of the temple. Several stupas are also located at the top that is considered to be holy. Colourful Buddhist pra