Spiti Valley Ride (Chandratal-Manali-Delhi) – Vol#7


Chandratal’ is a high altitude lake in the mid of mighty Himalayas, it is located at an elevation of 14,100 ft above sea level in Spiti Valley. It can be accessed by off-road which is 14 kms from Batal. Chandratal in Spiti Valley stands equal importance the way ‘Pangong’ is for Ladakh. It is the most famous itinerary of Lahaul & Spiti, it got the name because of its crescent shape. It is a magical destination where magnificent and picturesque scenes hypnotize the travelers. Its crystal clear water lures the visitor to stay there for life time.

The lake can be accessed by doing a small trek of 15-20 minutes from the point where motorable road ends. The trek is also not less than traversing into heaven, the surrounding snowcapped mountains, mighty and vibrant hills, grassy patches, meadows and numerous cairns placed by the visitors makes it a fantasy world. Travelers cannot resist themselves capturing these beautiful creations of God, in-fact its beauty makes the journey longer as it lures to halt several times.

Route: Chandratal–> Batal–> Chatru–> Gramphu–> Rohtang–> Manali–> Kullu (172 Kms)

Hotels Info: Hotel Kullu Valley, Aroma Classic, Hotel Sidhartha and Hotel Kailash are good staying options in budget in Kullu.

To check my previous day journey updates, click here (Spiti Valley Ride (Langza-Komic-Hikkim-Kunzum) – Vol#6)

Here is my pictography…..

Day 8: It was extremely chilling morning where stepping out from the camp was not less than a nightmare. In-fact, overnight was also horrible as everything was below freezing point. We had doubled the blankets but still felt cold in the camps, all night wind was blowing which kept lowering the temperature. Anyways, we gathered outside but shocked to see frozen dew on our bikes. We gave several kicks and self-start but ignition was nil. We took the hot water from the kitchen and removed all ice and threw some water on the engine too, after couple of kicks it started. We kept the engine on for few minutes which activated the bike from hibernating mode 🙂


Base Camps

We were eagerly waiting for the sunlight which felled in the valley around 8:30, it energized us and we quickly prepared ourselves for further journey. It was a beautiful morning. Dev, Devesh and Lokesh decided to do the short-cut hilly trek for the lake from the camp itself. I, Rahul and Vimal preferred riding to the last motorable point and then do the trek on the regular track. They left early and we left after half an hour as we were following the road.



It was astonishing and vivid sceneries that we get to see while heading for the lake. Entire valley was magnificent which made us speechless, we not uttered a single word. We kept gazing the mountains and road which we followed. A streak can be seen on the right bottom of this picture, yes… that is the same road which we followed.


Road End

Soon we reached on the last motorable point, parked our bikes and moved for trekking. We found few people already there who stayed overnight in their personal camps, it was shocking for us how they managed in extreme cold.



We started the trek and kept on looking back as backdrop mountains were very luring.



Trek through hills and meadows.



A beautiful cairn with backdrop mountain.


First View

Huffing and puffing we reached on the verge from where we got the lake’s first view. It excited us as it was appearing magnificent and very crystal clear. It was only one kilometer trek but we took more than regular time as Vimal was not well and was going on a very slow pace, anyhow we reached.



The magnificent shades.


Praying Flags

Praying flags at Chandratal.



The half panorama view of the lake, the other half was not visible from the front because of its crescent shape. But the view was beyond beauty imaginations, it seemed we were in heaven.



Lake’s water was crystal clear therefore it was reflecting almost same as it was above. I vertically flipped few pictures on my desktop and found almost same from both the sides.



Vivid and vibrant reflection.



Cairns, it is heaped for good luck.



We not found Dev, Devesh and Lokesh, it seemed they already left the place. I was wondering how quickly they came and left. But I was in a mood to explore the lake from the other side also. I asked Rahul and Vimal if they are comfortable as it would take couple of extra hours rounding the lake. Vimal was not well therefore decided to sit and admire the lake from the front only. I and Rahul started, we found few people already completing the round on the other side.



Lake is in the mid of Himalayas, photo has been captured from the mid round. Click the below video to experience this place.



As Above, So Below.



Trekking through gravels.



A small bird came swiftly, put her beak in the water and flown away creating ripples. I also acted swiftly and framed it 🙂



Good luck cairns.


The other end…

Reaching onto other end of the lake.



View of the other end was also cool.



A splendid reflection.



It seemed ocean waters and had clouds reflections as well.


End Tip

Lake’s other end tip.



Beautiful gravels.


Flying Kiss

The flying kiss, it returned me back 🙂



Some more beautiful scenes in the water.


Rear View

I shot this picture from the end of the lake from where front view from where we came was not visible. Now we figured it really has a crescent shape.



We were quickly moving but its reflection always lured us to halt and admire it.



More reflections and shades.



The gravels reflection in the water.



One more beautiful cairn on the shore.



Few more travelers on the round.



It almost took two hours exploring this place, now it was time to return as Dev, Devesh and Lokesh would be waiting as they already left long back. Once again huffing and puffing we trekked to our bikes and headed for the camp.


Base Camps

We reached but found them very annoyed as they had to wait for couple of hours. They had already prepared to leave and we were given only 10 minutes to get ready. I asked if they can give some more time so that we can also have breakfast and then move but they refused. Rahul was with me but he also decided to leave without having breakfast, I was shocked. They left me and Vimal, it was little painful for me as from last few days we were riding together but they not gave a second thought before leaving me.

Vimal health condition deteriorated therefore he decided to stay for one more day, now it was more painful as I was more isolated for the journey. I prepared myself, had breakfast which was more a lunch now as it was 12 noon. By the mean time Vimal recovered and decided to move with me. His car stuck on the steep trail which was connecting the road and the campsite, camp owners were arranging the jeep to pull it which means more time wastage. But Vimal told me to move as Manali was very far and we only had 6 hours of daylight left. He said he will catch me up, I was in a dilemma but I also moved.



I started almost after an hour they left me that means they would be much ahead of me. The way I started this journey as a solo rider few days back, it seemed it is going to end as a solo rider too. Once again I was riding in beautiful wilderness.



Soon I reached Batal, but still Manali was very far. I was thinking.. what wrong I did? I was exploring the beauty of lake and exploration needs time, I was not there just for couple of selfies and leave the place. I had already worked hard to reach this point and leaving the place on partial exploration would have been injustice to my hard work. Yes, I was good at this point. Now, I got annoyed on them which boosted me… ‘Yes I am a Solo Rider’… I shouted… ‘This is Sparta’… which boosted me. I was very much confident that I will surely cross them and will touch Manali before them.



Journey was not easy, it was a test for me riding alone here. I took the stab, in-fact had no other option.



A welcome signboard in the way.



Riding after couple of hours I reached Chatru, refreshed myself with tea and snacks and then moved.



It was totally off-road but was awesome riding in these landscapes.


I felt Batal-Manali road more pathetic than Kunzum Pass, it was more terrific because road not only had lose pebbles and gravels but had waterfalls too which were tributaries of Chenab river.



I was continuously calculating time and remaining distance. I was eagerly waiting for ‘Gramphu’ which is the point from where Rohtang Pass ascent starts. The treeless hills ended and greenery started which filled me with joy as it was an indication that I was nearing Gramphu.



These landscapes were familiar for me as I had already seen Rohtang region while returning from Ladakh in 2014. These familiar beauties were indication that Gramphu is very near.


Towards Gramphu

Towards Gramphu.



I crossed Gramphu and found my fellow riders, it seemed they were setting up their luggage. I crossed and stopped after few yards and looked back in style 🙂 Now, it was my turn to leave them, I silently showcased my testimony of solo riding and moved for Rohtang. I was wondering, they were much ahead of me, almost an hour, also I was halting many times taking out my DSLR for clicking pictures but still I managed to cross them. Yes.. ‘This is Sparta’ 🙂 .. I am the Riding Star.


Rohtang Top

Gramphu to Rohtang Top was just 15 kms therefore soon I was on the top. By this time sun was also going low and temperature was dipping, I pulled my jackets over windcheater, stayed some time on the top. It was September month therefore no sign of snow was there, in 2014 when I was in return from Ladakh in the month of June, it was all snow covered.



Maroon mountains of Rohtang.



I started the descend for Manali.



Dangerous roads of Rohtang Pass.



Marhi, it is a small village which lies just below Rohtang.



The parachute above the alps.



The dangerous roads of Rohtang.



Few riders heading Manali.



Some greenery near Solang Valley.


Manali Road

Riding on these sophisticated roads I reached Manali. It was already dusk and was time to check-in a hotel, now I was alone therefore I quickly decided to head Kullu which was 42 kms, which would result in shorting next day distance for Delhi. Around 8’ O clock I reached Kullu, checked in Kailash Hotel, had dinner and relaxed. I called Rahul’s mobile to know the status of others, they all stayed in Manali and Vimal also joined them later-on. I was checking the clicks on my DSLR then realized my decision of exploring Chandratal was not wrong, it was more beautiful from the other side also which my fellow riders missed.

I don’t know what they got leaving me alone because now they were behind at Manali and I was much ahead in Kullu. Later, I also realized my mistake because I should have told them that I would be exploring the lake which would take extra time, and also I was not punctual in the morning which resulted splitting of group. I also left Vimal alone at Chandratal camps, he also came alone. All those who are reading it, take it as a lesson… ‘Be Punctual and Never Leave Anybody Behind’.



Day 9: Now it was the last day of the journey and it was time to meet with family members and hug them. I started very early morning as Delhi was more than 500 kmsIn the mid I got Aut Tunnel which was almost 3 kms long which connects Mandi and Kullu. Check the thrilling tunnel’s video below.

Soon I reached Mandi where I had breakfast, at Chandigarh I had lunch and reached Delhi around 8’ O clock evening. My excitement was high in nerves because I was cheerful that I will be meeting my family after a week. Though, it was just one week but it seemed I have not met from years. At 9’ O clock I reached home and found smiling faces.

It was a blissful journey and I enjoyed every bit of it. Later-on we all met in a small get-together and exchanged our tour photos. All hard feelings were gone which happened on the last day. We still meet and enjoy our journey stories and have plans to ride together in coming future. Keep following my blogs for more stories and thanks a lot for reading my Spiti Ride 🙂

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