Chandrataal – The Hypnotic Moon Lake

A slice of heaven on earth……

It was biting cold as we stepped out of the car. I have no idea of the temperature but the cold hit us hard especially out of the warm and cozy car. I felt like my body was about to convert into a mound of ice even after putting on additional layers of fleece. It was 8 AM by then and we had not expected it to be so cold at this hour. Regretting my decision of wearing yoga pants and not denims that morning, I couldn’t help wonder how it might have felt a few hours earlier, at dawn. The sun was glowing bright all along the edges of the snow-capped mountain tops but was yet to reach the base of the mountain where we walked. Our anticipation of what awaited us kept us going even as our teeth chattered and our limbs were near numb. Also, we knew the cold was temporary and it was just a matter of time before the sun would warm us up.

Our destination appeared like an unimpressive greenish-brown pool of water as we saw it from a distance. As we approached closer, the colour changed dramatically to a turquoise blue, and then a blueish green and then deep blue blending with the green edges. The magical crescent shaped Moon Lake or Chandrataal revealed its jaw-dropping gorgeousness. Its magnificence glimmered in the morning light – a slice of heaven on earth it was! It was kind of a lightening-bolt moment for us.

Chandrataal is situated in the Spiti part of the Lahul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh. The name of the lake reflects its crescent shape (Chandra – Moon; Taal – Lake). It is fed by the Chandra Glacier, which lies within the Chandrabhaga range that overlooks the lake. Hidden behind the mountains and situated at an altitude of 4300 m, its pristine and clear waters is sure to put you on a trance.

I had never seen such profound beauty before and my heart and mind was captivated instantaneously. There was instant peace and calm. The hypnotic tranquility had cast its spell and it seemed too beautiful to be true. I felt like I was in a reverie as I tried to absorb all the divinity emanating from the surroundings. The water was still with the brown mountains casting their reflection on one side of the lake, the prayer flags fluttered on the other side, the sky a deep shade of blue – creating an atmosphere too good to be true.

Pic 1: Our first view of Chandrataal with the the sun lighting up a part of it displaying clear reflections of the brown mountains and blue sky
Pic 2: On one side of the lake the prayer flags fluttered gently

We just stood there speechless totally engrossed and don’t remember feeling cold anymore. If there is a heaven, it’s got to be like this. A few minutes and the sun was up, its golden rays spreading all across the lake.

Pic 3: As the sun’s rays spread across the entire lake

We walked a few meters by the side of the lake, tad reluctantly, not wanting to disturb the divine magnificent tranquility we were soaking in.  As we moved on, another splendor unfolded, this time it was the reflection of the snow-clad mountains and the water had turned a indigo blue.

It was bliss! Words are falling short and I have no language to express my feelings. Is this real? If I am dreaming, please don’t wake me up! The more I saw, the more I wanted to see….it was just not enough. We kept gazing and even a blink seemed to be wasteful.

Pic 4: The reflection of the snow mountains
Pic 5: Reflection of another snow peak
Pic 6: As still as a mirror

After walking for a bit, we sprinkled a little of the cold water on our face and sat down to absorb the quiet emanating all through the bluish-green expanse. One can also choose to do a parikrama around the lake, which takes about 2.5 hours.

No wonder this place is considered holy. Such glorious scene has to have a divine presence. We read the clear instructions provided at the start of our walk about maintaining the sanctity of the holy lake by observing silence and not littering around. The place was absolutely clean. Not sure if it was due to the handiwork of the local people or it was because of the travelers abiding by the instructions. I do hope with all sincerity that it is the latter. There was no noise either, however, there were very few people at that time. The ‘monastery-quiet’ had a soothing and healing effect. Vehicles are not allowed in the vicinity of the lake, hence the 1.5 Km walk. Kudos to whoever took this decision and implemented the same.

Pic 7: Soaking in sheer bliss, the cairn is blessed indeed…

One can do a day visit to Chandrataal or can camp overnight. There is a place 3Km away from the lake which has an assortment of tents of all shapes and sizes. Most travelers camp overnight. During our visit in October, the night temperature was around -7 degree Celsius. Some people camp with the hope of catching a glimpse of the Milky Way, some for the sheer adventure of it, while some others expect a party-like atmosphere with bonfires and music. We had decided not to camp there as the idea did not appeal to us, it was full moon so chances of seeing the Milky Way was slim and parties don’t interest us anyway.

Pic 8: A view from the mountain top as we reluctantly traced our way back

We could have spent an entire day sitting beside Chandrataal absorbing its divine splendor but our plans to go back to Manali on the same day restricted us and we had to leave after spending about 2 hours. We were truly lucky to be able to witness the perfect reflection on the lake. The reflection depends on the weather conditions and is not always visible. The mountain Gods had ensured a blue sky with very little wind.

I feel blessed to have witnessed such immense beauty and I bow to Mother Nature in gratitude. Chandrataal gave me moments of perfect bliss and left me yearning for more. With a sigh, I traced my way back with the resolve to return to this halcyon paradise some day again…..

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

28 thoughts on “Chandrataal – The Hypnotic Moon Lake”

      1. That’s what some of the regular travelers have been saying that the social media has killed Ladakh. It seems to have become new Goa for our young people! Countless stories with negative tint have appeared over last few months. I guess there are few places where people visit in huge numbers and kill it completely!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yes…it is so very sad….many people have no notion about respect for nature….I feel some place should have a curb on the number of footfalls for ecological reasons, like it’s being done in many places across the world. Though the nature true lovers will be have to bear the consequences along with the others.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Agreed. The need of the hour is to teach people on their responsibilities towards the nature and ecology. Unfortunately most young people only care for being cool. I wish we realise the implications of our behaviour before it’s too late.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. Chandrataal looks to be a wonderful place, and you all were blessed with a clear weather to enable experiencing the place in its best state of beauty. And as a result of the weather, you got these crisp photos. They are a treasure. People who read this would surely become interested in the place. And about parties, well, I’m not much a party-lover too. 😊The quiet of nature is much more enriching.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. About Pangong Tso, yes, as arv! has written, Ladakh is the go-to place nowadays, because that’s one of the few places left with its beauty intact. But that’s changing fast. And with the explosion of social media, the number of photographers has exploded too. Everyone wants a good photo. But not all know that that comes with responsibility too, to not trample on the beauty of a place, to preserve it for future visitors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel if you are a true nature lover, responsibility and respect will come automatically…….but if you aren’t or your degree of nature love is low, you wouldn’t care much…….and its sad but true that for many a good photo for the purpose of social media matters much more than the actual experience and feelings.

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  3. I felt Chandrataal through your narrative. Beautifully written. I am reading your blog while traveling though lines of what seems to be endless metro traffic. I can’t help thinking that it is a wonder that two stark opposites exist on the same planet 😃


  4. Chandrataal looks so beautiful from close, as indeed most of our Himalayan lakes would look – I say this without having seen even one of them in real life, hope I can make a visit some day. You had brilliant weather and the water is so mirror still. I never saw such blue waters! Brilliant pictures too. A time week spent.
    As I am reading many years since you wrote, I wonder how it would be now, with increased tourism in the years since. And not to forget, the recent lull due to Covid.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have never been to any place as magical as Chandrataal. It remains of of the most beautiful and scenic lakes I have seen. I think this place should remain the same as there are some strict regulations in place. At least, when we visited the protocols of visiting this lake were very clear. I hope it still is the same. However, with increased tourism, one can’t be sure. I am aware of some other places in the Himalayas that have become overcrowded in just a matter of 3-4 years.
    I do hope someday you plan and get to visit these places.
    And, a big thank you once again for reading this. Gave me the opportunity to read it again and relive all the beautiful memories. 😀


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