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Chandratal Lake: Guide to the magnificient lake of Spiti Valley

Chandratal Lake – the most awaited part of any trip to Spiti Valley.  How our group members always wait desperately to spend the last night of the Spiti Valley trip is unexplainable in words. In our latest Spiti Valley trip,  during that 100 km drive from Kaza to Chandratal, every single soul was so excited to finally witness the magnificent Chandra Taal. After a long journey on dusty roads, we arrived at our campsite.  The staff gave us a warm welcome along with some hot tea & pakodas in that cold weather.  Post that, we were shown our super comfy & luxury tents with attached toilets. We were tired but still, spirits were high. We threw our luggage in the tents and decided to rush immediately towards the lake. Oh God, when we saw the calm waters of Chandratal, all the fatigue was somehow alleviated.

“Stay close to the serenity of a lake to meet your own peace of mind” – Anonymous

There was a slight breeze in the air. We could see the ripples created in the lake. The bright prayer flags fluttered by the lake and the smell of fresh & clean air was intoxicating. The lake beautifully reflected the changing hues of the sky and all its other surroundings, among which we found a space even for ourselves!

Introduction to Chandratal Lake


Chandratal Lake
Chandratal Lake

Chandratal Lake – the crescent shores nestled between sloping mountains, clear skies on top, and clear waters below. It is located in the Lahaul and Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is believed that this sweet water lake was discovered by traders who came from Tibet or Ladakh. They were looking for a place to rest before continuing their journey forward. Chandra Taal Lake is situated at an altitude of 4300 meters and is 2.5 km wide. The source of this freshwater lake is the river Chandra, and this brings me to the reason for this lake’s name.

There can be 3 reasons why the lake’s name is Chandra Taal or Chandratal:

  1. Taal means Lake and the source of this lake is the Chandra river. Hence the most simple result of combining both these words leads to Chandra Taal.
  2. The second, reason which is the most widely accepted one is that the lake owes its name to its crescent shape. Hence Moon Lake or Chandratal
  3. The third reason is my favorite. On clear nights, the night sky is reflected clearly in the water with all its hundreds of stars and the big, pale-white moon. It’s almost as if the moon is in the lake itself. Hence, it is the Lake of the Moon, Chandra Taal.

Regardless of whichever reason you are partial to, this beautiful lake is a fixed spot on any Spiti trip

Where is Chandratal Lake

Perched on top of the Samudra Tapu (plateau), overlooking the Chandra River, the Chandratal lake is located in the heart of the Peerpanjal Mountain range in the Lahaul and Spiti region of Himachal Pradesh. 

Things to do at Chandratal

If we are talking about Chandratal lake itself, then the range of activities is limited. Chandratal Lake is a place just to be close to nature and enjoy the silence.  Please have a look at the list of “Things to do at Chandratal Lake”:

1. Camping

Before planning your camping trip to Chandratal Lake, do remember that there is no campsite anywhere in a radius of 3 kilometers of the lake. Local authorities have also banned self camping. Chandratal is a wildlife reserve and hence a protected area. As tourism to Spiti Valley got a boost in the last decade, the camping near the lake resulted in littering and the wildlife getting disturbed. Hence, the rule of no campsites nearby the lake was declared. Although, the overnight stay in the camps near the lake is one of the most sought-after experiences during a Spiti Valley trip. Be ready to brave the cold and thin air of Chandratal Lake. You can choose the camps as per your preferences and budget. There is a wide range being offered from luxury camps with proper beds and attached toilets to simple dome tents with sleeping bags and common toilets.

Camping at Chandratal
Camping near Chandratal

Note: To visit the Lake from your camp, you either walk/ trek for 3 km or take your vehicle to the parking point. From there, you only need to walk 1.5 km to the lake. 

2. Stargazing

If you camp in the nearby campsites, perhaps you can stargaze at night and take in the wondrous night sky you never get to see in urban cities. Chandratal Lake is one of the best places in India to offer such a clear night sky for stargazing. It’s because of its geographical position, high altitude, and the fact that it’s mostly free from artificial lights, unlike Kaza city. You can do some astrophotography, trace the trail of the milky-way galaxy, or some constellations. Don’t forget to wear layers of your warm clothes, caps, and gloves before heading for stargazing.

Night Sky at Chandratal
Night Sky at Chandratal

3. Leisure time at Lake

You can enjoy the peaceful beauty of the lake nestled between snow-capped mountains. Listen to the sounds of your surroundings – the whistling wind, the ripples of the water, and the sound of the Chandra river gushing at a measurable distance. You can take a stroll around the edge of the lake and click lots of aesthetic pictures, maybe do a little inner retrospection.

Group Tour to Chandratal Lake
Our group members having leisure time at lake

That’s all there is to do at the Chandra Taal. It is a place of tranquil silence, a spiritual paradise in a sense. But if you want to go the extra mile, there are quite a few places to visit around Chandratal like Kunzum Pass or Suraj Tal which are trekking hotspots. Please note that most of the treks around the like are at least 6 hrs long or can even stretch for 2-3 days.

Best Time to Visit Chandratal

The best time to visit Chandratal is between the summer months of May to October. Because the roads are mainly closed for the rest of the year due to snowfall. During May or October, you can trek to Chandra Taal but you will need to make prior arrangements for accommodations and the rest. The roads open from the first week of June till the first week of October and the campsites are operational from the second week of June till early October. 

The third week of June to the third week of September is the most advisable for a trip to Chandratal. The reason for this is that if you go during early June when the road opens up, you will find that the roads are not in good condition. Do remember that by late July and for the most part of August, it’s Monsoon season in the Manali region. So, during this time you will encounter rain with the possibility of landslides. As far as late September is concerned, this is the time the change in the seasons starts to set in and it will start to get extremely cold at night.

Weather at Chandratal


Although Chandratal remains cold throughout the year, the summer months are slightly more bearable with average temperatures during the day at 5-10 degrees and 0 degrees at night. It’s still advisable to carry heavy woolens during any time of the year since the temperature drops significantly post-sunset. Moreover, if you are going during late July or August then you’ll be in for quite some rainfall which will again make the weather extremely cold.


Winters in Chandratal are unforgiving with temperatures dropping below -20 degrees celsius. The snowfall causes roads to get blocked and most of them are in fact closed during winter, therefore it is really not recommended to travel there during this time.

Acclimatization at Chandratal

Acclimatization is the process of our body adapting and adjusting to a different environment in order to maintain a balance across various bodily functions. It is important to acclimatize ourselves especially if we are going to places at a higher altitude where the air is thinner. At an altitude of 4300 meters above sea level, Chandratal is one such place where it is extremely important to acclimatize yourself before arrival. If we do not do this, we are highly likely to suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude sickness. The symptoms of AMS are headaches, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, and muscle aches. In severe cases, your AMS may be life-threatening. If we properly acclimatize ourselves we should be good to go. To be on the safer side, better to carry an oxygen cylinder.

How to Avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) or Altitude Sickness

  1. Always travel from a place of lower altitude. 
  2. Make it a rule of the thumb to stop for a day at every 2,000 feet of any climb above 8,000 feet
  3. In the car, do not use the heater on full blast because it can trigger symptoms of Altitude sickness
  4. Even if you have to use the washroom multiple times a day, always remain hydrated
  5. Refrain from smoking or drinking during the entire duration of your trip in the Spiti Valley/ Lahaul region
  6. Don’t undertake strenuous physical activity and exert yourself
  7. Get proper sleep 
  8. Don’t overeat and get proper meals instead of filling your stomach with junk food.
  9. Carry proper medication such as Diamox, which you can start having a day before the trip begins and then continue for the next day or two

Note: It is highly advised that you consult your doctor or physician before taking Diamox or any other medicine. Firstly, Diamox is essentially a sulphonamide blood thinner and there are people allergic to sulfa drugs. Secondly, Diamox has several side effects like nausea, dizziness, and frequent urination

Things to Remember before planning a trip to Chandratal Lake

These are some things you must keep in mind and know about before planning a trip to Chandratal lake:

Cell Service

There is no cell service around Chandra Taal. From Manali, you will only remain connected to any cell service till Rohtang Pass. In Kaza, you might get some reception if you have Postpaid BSNL or Airtel.

ATM Facilities

The nearest ATM is in Manali or Kaza, therefore be sure to carry enough cash when going to Chandratal lake. Do not depend on paying through a credit card or UPI as there is no reception around Chandratal.

Medical Facilities

If you require proper medical assistance, you will need to go to Kaza or Manali. There is a dispensary in Losar where you can buy basic medicines but that’s it. Therefore, it is highly recommended to carry your own first aid kits equipped with medicines for flu, cold, fever, headache, muscle pain, or any other common ailment. You can also carry oxygen just in case you need some precautionary reassurance.

Inner Line Permit

You need a permit if you are coming via Manali for Rohtang Pass. Until last year, you did not need a permit for Chandratal when coming via Shimla but amongst increasing concern of the increase in tourists, the Lahaul-Spiti administration has taken the decision to introduce the permit system. You can apply for these permits online at For more details please go through this article.

What to Pack for Chandratal Lake

  • Thermals
  • Comfortable walking shoes/ sport shoes
  • Woolen socks
  • Heavy woolens like Sweatshirts, pullovers, warm hoodies
  • Comfortable trekking/traveling pants or trousers
  • A heavy woolen wind-proof jacket or parka is good to carry even during summers in case the weather changes
  • Caps or Hats to protect against the suns
  • Balaclava or Monkey cap especially for the winter months
  • Sunglasses protect your eyes from the reflections from the snow
  • Hand gloves and mufflers are a must during winters or cold nights during summer.
  • Carry sunscreen, a first aid kit, and medicine for Acute Altitude Sickness.
  • Carry your own water bottle to be economic and it’s better for the environment, plus you’ll need to keep yourself hydrated constantly.
  • Toilet Paper and Wet Tissues
  • Also if you are planning to camp, it is a good idea to bring your own sleeping bag or insulated blanket.

How to reach Chandratal Lake

There are two ways to reach Chandratal lake: one route is via Manali and one is via Shimla.  

Route 1: Manali to Chandratal

Please note that we ain’t talking here about going directly to Chandratal from Manali. As it would cause serious AMS trouble and hence not recommended at all. The itinerary we provide at Transforming Travels uses Manali as the first and last stop keeping the visit to Chandratal lake at the end thereby giving you enough time to acclimatize in between. 

 For more information on this itinerary, you can check out “Wonders of Spiti”.

A general itinerary would look like this for this trip/route:

Day 1: Arrival in Manali, relax and spend the day roaming around

Day 2: Sojourn to Spiti Valley – Manali to Kaza

Day 3: In and around Kaza (stay in Kaza)

Day 4: Dhankar, Gue & Tabo (stay in Tabo/ Dhankar)

Day 5: Pin Valley & Demul (stay in Demul)

Day 6: Hikkim, Komic , Langza (stay in Kaza/ Langza)

Day 7:  Kaza/ Langza to Chandratal Lake

Day 8: Leaving Spiti Valley – Chandratal Lake to Manali

Please note that you need to have a minimum of 8 days in hand to do the justification with a Spiti Valley trip involving Chandratal Lake. As a matter of fact, the best way to do Chandratal Lake is to club it with a Spiti Valley trip itself. This route does involve long road journeys but the overall driving distance is much lesser than the Shimla route (discussed in next section). This trip gives you ample time in Spiti Valley. It enables you to cover some of the offbeat villages as well along with mainstream places. Did I tell you that Spiti Valley is home to some of the highest villages in Asia and their culture is still raw & rustic? Hence, these villages must not be missed. ,

Route 1: Shimla to Chandratal

This route is recommended if you want to do Kinnaur & Spiti Valley along with Chandratal Lake in one go. 

A general itinerary would look like this for this trip/route:

  • Day 1: Delhi to Shimla/Narkanda
  • Day 2: Shimla/Narkanda to Sarahan
  • Day 3: Sarahan to Chitkul
  • Day 4: Chitkul to Kalpa
  • Day 5: Kalpa to Nako/Tabo
  • Day 6: Nako/Tabo to Kaza
  • Day 7: Kaza to Kibber
    • Then to Komic
    • Then from Tashigang to Kaza
  • Day 8: Kaza to Chandratal
  • Day 9: Chandratal to Manali
  • Day 10: Manali to Delhi

Please note that you need to have a minimum of 10 days to do the above circuit. Be ready for really long drives every day. Also, this route offers you a lesser number of days in Spiti Valley as compared to the previous one. This route is recommended if you can undertake strenuous road journeys almost on daily basis and want to cover a lot in a shorter period of time.

Accommodations near Chandratal

You cannot camp directly next to the lake because it is a protected Ramsar Site. Below are the ways to figure out your stay near Chandratal:  but you can choose one of the following options or travel to the Manali-Leh Highway and travel along that way to a place with decent accommodations:

1. Camp stay

About 3 km from the lake there is a dedicated area for camping, where you can self-camp by pitching up your own tents or stay at one of the camps set up by a few companies. You even have the option of getting a luxury tent with attached washrooms. If you are thinking if luxury camps have heaters or not, then the answer is no. It’s not possible to provide heaters in such a delicate environment. 

2. Chandra Dhaba Batal

An elderly couple affectionately called “Chacha-Chachi” by their visitors, runs this famous Dhaba near Chandratal. As a matter of fact, this Dhaba is also known as Chacha-Chachi Dhaba. The Dhaba has room for 7-8 people.  They also have a space next to that and you may be allowed to stay there if space is available. Moreover, you get to have some warm home-style food.

3. Batal PWD Rest House 

This is the closest thing you will get to a hotel in and around Chandratal lake. Batal has a satellite phone, the number of which is 08991722020. If you wish to stay here, you should get a prebooking done directly through the PWD office. The chances of finding accommodation at this guest house are very slim.  Even if you do end up finding a slot, there may be no caretaker available at the guesthouse. Hence, your booking could go waste. 

How to be an Ambassador of Responsible Tourism at Chandratal

The whole reason why the permit system was introduced for Chandratal lake was the growing concerns over how the increase in the number of tourists can imbalance the lake’s ecology. Therefore, please make sure that you are an Ambassador of Responsible Tourism at Chandra Taal. You can start by following some simple etiquette: 

  1. Don’t litter around. Follow the No Trace Left Behind (NTLB) policy.
  2. Don’t enter the water or take a bath in the lake because it will lead to dirtying the water and causing an ecological imbalance. Also, Buddhist people consider their water bodies sacred, and hence entering into the water is prohibited. 
  3. Don’t run around or physically expend yourself and get exhausted. 
  4. There are a lot of treks around Chandratal. Don’t go for them without proper planning and without a local guide. You may get AMS or even lose your way to the campsite.
  5. Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or do anything else that would lead to AMS. 
  6. Refrain from making loud noises during your visit to Chandra Taal because the beauty of this place lies in its peace and quiet.  

This article might help you to understand more about the practices of responsible tourism that would help you in the longer term.


Chandratal Lake is a place that makes you appreciate the simplicity & slowness of life. But if you haven’t planned your trip properly, then everything can go haywire. Travel to Chandratal after proper acclimatization. Pack well as per the weather and do not forget your medication. Follow the above guide. In nutshell, be careful even while having the adventure. I am sure your mind will get ample peace when you sit by the lake and hear nothing else, but the water ripples.

P.S. Please note that we also organize group tours to Spiti Valley and custom tours as well. If you are a solo traveler or fewer than 4 people then a group tour would make it a fantastic experience and economically viable as well. Else, you can reach out to us to design a private/ custom trip.


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