Hotels in India » Adventure in India » Camping at Chandratal

Camping at Chandratal

Nestled at a height of 14,000 feet in the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, Chandratal is a camper’s paradise. The lake is in a kind of bowl, its water redefining crystal clear, circled by a bank of soft green grass. It is of an unimaginable blue, that changes hues as the sun goes through its paces overhead. Surrounded by bare, stony hills, the natural tranquility of the scene is further intensified by the utter lack of any kind of living organism within the lake.

To reach the lake, there are essentially three routes. The easiest is to reach Manali from Delhi (Rs.150/- and a night’s bus ride away). From there, buses leave for Kaza. One can either get off the bus at Batal or Kumaon Top. The former is preferable, because its easier to set up camp and food is available. From here, Chandratal is about 4-5 hour’s walk.

The second way is a bit roundabout, but more rewarding. This entails getting to Shimla, and from there moving right across Himachal. From Shimla one gets on to any bus to Rampur, and from there to Kalpa, which is in Kinnaur, an extremely beautiful area, reputed to have the best apples. From Kalpa, it’s on to Batal. This route, though exciting, is slightly unreliable by way of roads and transport; this programme can take anything between 2 and 5 days to reach Batal.

The third and final route to Chandratal is what is a real trek. This starts from on top of Baralacha Pass (18,000 feet) and then comes down to the lake at the end of 4-5 days of fairly tough trekking. The trek itself is very exciting, passing over some tremendous heights, and what could be better than to rest at the end at Chandratal. This route requires more preparation, since It is longer. I is also crucial to have a guide on this route; one can be arranged for in Manali, which is the base.

A few things are to be kept in mind while embarking on a trip to Chandratal. It is possible that Inner Line Permits may still be required-these are obtainable at Shimla and Manali. Also, try and time your arrival at the lake within daylight, for in the evening the wind becomes too strong to put up tents. If the intention is to spend a few days at the lake, then it is essential to carry a stove, kerosene oil and food. These have to be picked up either from Manali or Shimla. You will also need a tent, sleeping bags, comfortable walking shoes and warm clothing.

The days are not cold but the temperature drops quickly after the sun sets, and the wind adds its bit. The best way to keep warm is to wear clothes in layers, so carry T-shirts. It also helps to carry some kind of cream to protect against sunburn. Those who are particular may even carry water purifying tablets. An ultra-violet filter is quite indispensable at that altitude for those with cameras.

Keep these few things in mind and enjoy the scintillating beauty of Chandratal-the best time to leave would be end July or early August.