Chandratal

Top choice lake in Kaza to Gramphu

Image by Arif D / EyeEm Getty Images

This gloriously calm glacial lake presents mirror-perfect reflections of the surrounding white-top peaks and geological colour-swirls. At 4270m, the 20-minute walk from the car park gets most visitors breathless enough that they stop at the southern end. But it's well worth the 90-minute stroll to go right around the lake's edge, escaping the crowds and appreciating the reflections from ever new angles.

Daily buses to Manali/Kaza pass the start of the access track (1km north of Batal) at around 9am/12.30pm, but that leaves over 12km to walk or hitchhike. Note that Batal is a dhaba tent-camp, not a town, so don't expect to find taxis for rent there. Most visitors come in chartered long-distance taxis, paying an extra ₹1500 to a Kaza–Manali fare to make the Chandratal side trip, so don't be surprised if drivers ask a steep ₹500 per person to take hitchhikers to the lake from the turn-off.

From early June to early October you can stay in bedded tent camps around 3km before the end of the approach track. The idea's nice in principle but the tents have no lake views and most of them are marshalled together into a single meadow, giving something of a military camp feel. By late September it's often so cold at night that you can find ice on the tent when you wake up.


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