Chandra Taal - The Moon Lake
Have you ever seen a place that made you feel as if you’re a part of a picture postcard? I did when I crossed the Hampta pass and visited Chandra Taal.
If Hindi is not your first language, then let me tell you that the name Chandta Taal means “Moon Lake”, and it is so because the lake is crescent shaped. It is located in the barren Spiti part of Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh . Some call it “poor man’s Ladakh”, but I call it surreal, because this part of Himachal is like no other. It is barren, yet cold; strange, yet beautiful and most of all has an air of mystery.
Lahul and Spiti is a part of tribal part of the Himalayas and the geology of this area is similar to Tibet’s. If you ever decide to do the Hampta Pass trek (which you should), you will most likely camp in Chatru before heading to Chandra Taal. From Chatru, the easiest way to reach this legendary moon lake is by car. But you can always skip the easy way and reach here by trekking.
I won’t lie but the drive from Chatru to Chandra Taal is perhaps one of the worst ones that I have experienced in my life. Everywhere I around us, I saw rocks on the road and at times even streams. At one point, the traffic came to a standstill because there was too much water on the road. It was funny how the stream of water was nicknamed “pagal nala”, which means crazy watercourse. After an hour-long wait, the traffic finally moved.
I survived the two hour-long car journey from Chatru and finally made it to Chandra Taal’s parking spot. From here, I had to walk for a kilometer to reach my destination. I looked around and could only see barren hills. How can a lake really exist here? I thought to myself.
Spiti Valley's barren landscape
It must have been only fifteen minutes when I realized that I was getting very tired. Was I feeling altitude sickness? I never really got an answer to that. In the middle of all the beige-ness of the landscape, I finally felt a little excited at the sight of something new. At a distance, I could finally see a splash of blue. With a sudden spurt of energy, I walked excitedly towards the glittering sapphire of Spiti’s gold necklace. It grew bigger and bluer as I got closer.
Believe me when I say this, but none of the pictures or travel magazines had prepared me for the next sight. The water was bluer than anywhere else that I had ever seen. Perhaps it was the aura but as I stood next to the lake, I felt a need to stay quiet out of respect – similar to what one may feel at a place of worship. A dozen questions came to my mind and maybe not all of them need to be answered.
Prayer Flags next to Chandra Taal.
How come the water is so blue? What is the origin of this moon lake? How can anything so blue exist in the middle of desert? It felt like minutes but I’m sure it was an hour as I sat next to the lake, drinking its beauty. After all, I had worked very hard to reach here.
Perhaps it sounds very cliché but at this moment, I felt grateful to life and Mother Nature. It felt pretty darn good to be a part of the landscape, which I had often stared for long on my computer screen
Author: Sonal Kwatra Paladini
Sonal is a travel blogger from India. She has the heart of a hippie and the soul of a gypsy. She quit her job to pursue long-term travel. She loves islands, offbeat villages and music festivals.
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