JOURNEY TO THE MOON AND BACK: CHANDRATAL OR THE MOON LAKE
Our reader, Meeta Maheshwari shares with us the memories of her incredible journey to Chandratal in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh. Her story is an interesting one, and we are sure it will inspire you to trek to this destination.
People say the journey is more beautiful than destination, but trekking for five days from Rumsu(Manali) to Chatru, which is in Lahaul Valley and then by road to Spiti Valley to reach our ultimate destination “Chandratal” or “The Moon Lake” made me realise that some destinations are more beautiful than journey and are indeed worth taking the pain to reach. Chandratal is located in Spiti side of Lahaul and Spiti district in Himachal Pradesh. These valleys are arid and that’s why this area is called “cold desert”. Wait…wait….wait…. did anything catch your attention?? This lake is called Chandratal or Moon Lake, do you know why? Because of its crescent shape. Some locals in Spiti Valley believe that fairies frequently visit this lake at night and now this is interesting. I don’t know how much of this is true but one thing is sure that this lake has such a magical aura where one can drift in his/her dreams.
The Unfolding of an Adventure:
After our first day at the base camp at Rumsu, we drove to Hampta Dam and our trek started from there. We had our first Pahado Wali Maggi at Hampta Pass Dam. Our first camp was at Chikka, we took around 3 to 4 hours to reach there. Chikka has big rock boulders and a beautiful waterfall. We stayed overnight in tents at Chikka.
Day 2: Witnessing the Indrasan Peak
Our second day was little tough than the last one, we started the trek for Balu Ka Ghera. Trek duration was around 5 to 6 hours. Balu ka Ghera is a large plain ground on the bank of the river and camping at this spot is a dream. One can spot Indrasan, the highest peak of Manali Valley from here. We also crossed water stream which was on the way and it numbed my feet. Good part of the trek was, having hot delicious snacks after reaching the campsite. We had garma garam (hot) soup in the chilly weather.
Day 3: Fighting AMS and Making to Hampta Top
Third day morning, even our body got use to the exertion but the trek route from Balu Ka Ghera towards Shia Ghoru was a climb, scaling 4,200 meters, which was tougher than before. After fighting with altitude sickness I reached Hampta Pass, guys one thing is sure, you need to be very tough for the long duration trek. People say the aerial views of Spiti Valley from Hampta Pass is quite breathtaking but only thing I was doing at Hampta Pass was trying to breathe.
As soon as we reached Hampta Pass, we got lunch and after it, I went to sleep for an hour. Can you imagine I slept at Hampta Pass in sitting position, while writing this post I’m just laughing at myself. We started descending from Hampta top towards Shia Ghoru. The descent was steep and little risky but it was much better than climbing on that day. Almost after 10 hours trek around 6:30 in evening we reached Shia Ghoru. And I was almost dead.
Day 4: Chatru to Chandratal Trek
The next morning was so good, sky was clear, fresh air and last day of trek. Ohh I forgot to let you know the best part of trek was washrooms, you have to go in the tent biodegradable washrooms and have to fetch that chilling cold water from river Beas. Treks like these will make you love your bathrooms back home so much. After morning breakfast we started the trek to Chatru, this day was so good, as most of the time we had to descend and it was so easy. From Chatru we were supposed to go to Chandratal lake in taxi. In around 3.5 hr we completed our trek.
After reaching at Chatru camp site, I was so relaxed thinking about the taxi ride which we will take to the Chandratal lake but if you guys like roller coaster ride then this trek is surely not to be missed. If you’re visiting from Manali, you can hire a car from there to reach this lake. Please don’t drive here yourself because the condition of the road is dangerous after Batal, where you can halt at Chacha Chachi Dhaba for some yummy rajma rice.
At the parking lot outside Chandratal, I couldn’t believe we were near the lake because everything around me was barren and we have walked for one more kilometre to reach that lake and after that 5 days trek.
Reaching to the moon without my honey was really a tough part, and my heart was screaming “Honey please kahin se aaja”. My mind was saying “let’s quit here, it’s just a lake, sit in the car and sleep” but my curiosity didn’t allow me to do that, as my heart said “what if that lake would be super magnificent and heavenly, then you will be regretting whole life thinking about it and curse yourself”. And I said to myself “you have to do this”. Slowly and gradually I started moving. Do you want to know the temperature on that day? It was 6 degree and my nose started to freeze. But as i started to see the bluish colour, happiness filled me and I started walking faster, you know I love blue colour.
The Final Destination and the Breathtaking One
Finally, I was at the edge of Chandratal. There was some magic in the air, soon I forgot all the bodyache and started smiling. As this was the ultimate destination of my journey. You can figure out from the picture how beautiful the lake is, but one thing I want to tell you, these pictures don’t justify the beauty of the lake, you must visit it once.
I always get attracted to pictures of blue water and transparent lakes in foreign countries, but I didn’t know that india is so beautiful and we have such beautiful lakes. India is really incredible. There were so many buddhist prayer flags, I think they were one of the reason for the supernatural energy which I felt in the air. There was one board also, where one can write whatever he/she wants, I didn’t write anything because I definitely want to visit there again and feel the magic. After some photo session, we headed towards the parking lot with lots of memories to cherish and stories to tell.
My journey to this moon was awesome and unforgettable but I’m still thinking “where is my honey?” Please somebody tell him, I’m waiting. Going back to Chatru and from there to Manali was another 6 hours journey, but our driver played an awesome collection of unplugged songs, which made our journey so smooth and refreshing. Me and my friends also asked for his pendrive but he said “mamji mein kya karunga in pahado mein agar apko de diya toh”.
My mind is crooning one of the song which he was playing:
“Tooti Chaarpaai Wohi
Thandi Purvaai Rasta Dekhe
Doodhon Ki Malaai Wohi
Mitti Ki Suraahi Rasta Dekhe..
Kaisi Teri Khudgarzi
Lab Namak Rame Na Misri
Kaisi Teri Khudgarzi
Tujhe Preet Purani Bisri..
Mast Maula, Mast Kalander
Tu Hawa Ka Ek Bavandar
Bujh Ke Yun Andar Hi Andar
Kyun Reh Gaya..
Re Kabira Maan Jaa
Re Faqeera Maan Jaa..”
Someday again I want to get lost in that mountains to relive those moments and find my life, but this time with him (Aree warna mera bag kaun uthayega).
Introduction of the Writer
Meeta Maheshwari is CA by profession in Gandhidham, Kutch Gujarat. She is also a part time lecturer who is passionate about travelling. She loves to pen down her thoughts and wishes to inspire people to travel more.