Popularly known as the trekker’s paradise, Chandratal Lake is reckoned as the most charismatic lake situated in the laps of Himalaya.
A the most preferable time to camp by the lake under the bare nature would be on a full moon night. Chandratal is accessible only during the summers (June thru September).
The lake got its name because of its crescent shape. 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.
Chandratal Lake is located very close to the Kunzum Pass, which makes the pass a favorable destination to start a 14 kms trek to the lake. One can reach Chandratal either by starting a journey from Manali and ending it at Narkanda, or starting it the other way around. It could take about 4-5 days to reach Chandratal if the journey starts from Narkanda. I prefer it this way though. takes about a day to reach Chandratal if accessed from Manali
The lake is accessible on foot from Batal as well as from Kunzum Pass from late May to early October. It takes about 3-4 hours to get to Kunzum Pass from Kaza.
The roads are not in a good shape; after about leaving Kaza for 2 hours, one crosses the village of Losar; there are no roads after here. This is a road barely wide enough for one car to pass. There are many troublesome spots on the entire route due to the presence of rocky formations.
There is a small pathway that starts from Kunzum; it is advisable if you are not driving a 4×4 vehicle, one should NOT explore on this route. This pathway is smaller than a single lane road and gives an opportunity for the tolerant vehicles to showoff the others. This road leads to a parking lot about 1 km from the lake. One has to travel on foot for the final 1 km approximately
Given that the lake is surrounded by multiple glaciers, the weather here is always freezing cold. If visiting here or camping overnight it is advised that you should be packed with your winter ware. If cold is bothers you, do not consider Chandratal as a place on your bucket list to visit. If you love taking pictures of the nature around and interested in night Photography, carry gloves good enough to keep your fingers warm. You do not want to spoil your photos because you were cold
The reason Chandratal is accessible for such a short period of the year is because Kunzum receives consider amount of snow earlier than the other areas in the surrounding. This is one of the first Himalayan passes to close each year and last to opens.
Accommodation at the Lake
Options to stay are very limited around Chandratal. PWD guesthouses and rooms let out by villagers at Kunzum Pass and Batal are the only options. Camping at Chandratal is the most advisable and memorable experience option one should be ready for.
The average temperature at Chandratal in summers remains between 5 to 10 degrees during the day and 0 Degrees Celsius or below at night. In winters, the average temperature is -20 Degrees Celsius. Thank god for the lake is not accessible in winters
One can reach the Chandratal in their own cars or using the public transport.
Manali to Chandratal:
There are two buses that ply between Manali and Kaza. These buses starts from Kullu at 4:30 AM. The ticket to Kaza costs Rs 250 per person. One needs to off-board at Chandratal diversion point, which the bus reaches by the evening, you have to hike your way to Chandratal Lake from here
Shimla to Chandratal
There are two buses that ply from Shimla to Reckong Peo. At Reckong Peo, the HRTC bus leaves for Kaza at 7:00 AM. From here, one needs to board the bus for Manali and off-board at the Chandratal Lake diversion point. From this point, you have to hike your way to Chandratal Lake from here