Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Linkedin button
Delicious button
Digg button
Flickr button
Stumbleupon button

ChandraTal: Travel Tips for Planning a Trip

The other day while talking to a friend about ChandraTaal, I thought of doing a quick tips piece for people planning to go there; so, here are a few things to keep in mind…

ChandraTaal
If you want to read up on it, check out these links…
Wikipedia
Couldn’t find a good map but did find Anand’s write-up on his trek and a basic map.
Spitian Folklore on ChandraTal

Things to keep in mind when planning…

1. Start early from Manali to ensure that you have a lot of time and that you don’t get stuck on top on Rothang Pass. (Rothang is the honeymoon spot for North India and trust me, here traffic jams can last hours).

Turn-off to ChandraTal

2. There are two trekking routes to go to the lake. One starts at Kumzum La and the other at Batal. The Kumzum La route is shorter but more challenging; I recommend doing this stretch when going to the lake and only in good weather. The Batal route is a gentle rolling climb and a nice walk on return. ChandraTaal is about 14 km from Batal. If the roads have been cleared, you can take a jeep for the first 12 km.

3. You can hire a jeep in Manali to take you to Batal and trek from there. On return the jeep can pick you up at Batal too. If you are doing the Kumzum La route, ask the jeep to drop you off at Kumzum La.

4. If you think you need a guide, you can hire one at Manali.

5. Medicine for altitude sickness – If you are doing a quick trip I recommend using Diamox. Start taking it as soon as you arrive in Manali or at least a day before you start the climb. Diamox will help with acclimatising but it makes you want to pee very often so you may want to take it in the morning after breakfast :)
Two pods of garlic everyday will also help with AMS. Be careful not to over eat on the garlic as it can also cause ulcers.

6. If you are going in peak season you may find tents there that locals pitch to provide accommodation and food to travellers. However, this is a chance to take and I recommend taking your own gear.

7. Carry good and warm camping gear. You could even hire this in Delhi or Manali. You will need –

a. thick sleeping mat (make sure your mat is of good quality else the cold seeps in)
b. high altitude sleeping bag
c. tent with wind and rain cover

You will need all the insulation you can get; make sure it’s all high altitude stuff and in good condition.

Water-crossing on the way

8. Carry warm clothes. Layering is the trick. Wear thermals, then tee and jeans and follow that up with a warm and wind-proof jacket. Gloves will be a requirement along with head gear. Carry extra pairs of socks, wet feet can kill your trip and you will most definitely get your feet wet.

9. Carry your food with you. If you are lucky you may find a food tent but if not… Carry maggi, and ready food packs if you have a stove. Else carry chocolates, biscuits, cheese, dry fruits, jam sachets, etc… They make for some nice picnic food.

These guys froze at night

10. Don’t set camp near the water; it’s tempting to do that but it gets freezing at night. It’s colder near the water and you are more exposed to wind.

11. While sleeping keep your bags inside tent at the four corners to add weight. There will be strong winds and the tent could do with extra stability.

12. Keep your shoes inside the tent so they’ll stay warm and to keep the smell away carry plastic bags to put shoes in.

Have you been to ChandraTaal, what was your experience? Do you have recommendations for other travellers? Please feel free to add your tips and experiences in the comments. I’d love to hear from you. :)

July 12, 2010   10 Comments

ChandraTal: Spitian Folklore

This is a very old story, more than a 100 years ago. There lived a lazy man in the village of Rangrik who was a burden on his wife as he did no work. One day this man decided to go to the Chandra Tal lake as he had heard a lot about it being beautiful. It was far from where he lived & a difficult trek but he thought it would be excellent to escape his wife & her nagging. So he left and walked for many days over mountains & passes. Finally when he was almost worn out he caught sight of the lake. It was indeed beautiful & he was so moved he sat down to play his flute like instrument, & was soon lost in its music.

When he opened his eyes after the number there was a beautiful woman standing before him. She said, “Hello, Gangrup, I am the Chandra Tal Fairy. Your music drew me here. I have fallen in love with you, will you come & live with me in my kingdom. I will love you & keep you happy, if you will play for me & love me.”

So Gangrup went with her to her underwater kingdom & they were very happy there through summer. Then as winter came the fairy asked Gangrup to go back home. He was unhappy & said he didn’t want to go as he would miss her. But she said he would have to go, but he could come back next summer. She would miss him too & await his return. But she warned him not to tell anyone about them else they would never be able to be together again.

Gangrups family was overjoyed to see him as they had thought he had died on the way when he did not return for months. Winter set in and Gangrup drank and slept as always, doing nothing else. One day when he was really drunk his wife was nagging him about some work she wanted done. He turned to her & said: “Shut up woman, don’t nag me else I will go away to the ChandraTal fairy. She loves me.” So saying he downed his drink & passed out.

The next morning he remembered what had happened & started to cry. Everyone was concerned & kept asking him what happened but he just kept wailing. He passed the rest of the winter in mad grief and as soon as summer set in he left for the lake.

As soon as he got there he took out his flute & started to play. Soon enough the fairy emerged. She said: “I have just come to say good bye Gangrup. You broke my heart.” So saying she left. Gangrup fell to his knees & called after her crying. A while later she emerged holding a bundle. Gangrup was overjoyed thinking she had forgiven him. But she said “This is our daughter, born of our love, take her back with you.” So saying she handled him the bundle & left.

Gangrup looked down at his daughter & gasped. She was the ugliest thing he had set eyes on, covered in warts and boils & she was very ill. He didn’t want to touch her but then filial love won & he took her along. However she died on the way. Broken hearted Gangrup took her all the way home.

His family was stunned when he told them she was his daughter from the ChandraTal fairy. He buried her with all ceremony & built a memorial for her in the house.

From then on his families luck changed and they became rich. After all, the little girl was also a Nortin (fairy).

His line is still alive today though they have moved to a new house (the old house still stands in ruins). They moved the memorial to the new house too & it can be still seen today.

Credits:
Photos – Harish and Easha
Story – I first read this story in Spiti Through Legend And Lore by Kishore Thukral.

July 9, 2010   4 Comments