So far, it had been an epic joyride on many accounts. Really fun people to hang out with. Cool landscapes and portraits. No casualties, roadblock, breakdowns or major hiccups. Just the icing on the cake was remaining.
The icing was seeing the lunar eclipse right on the shore of Chandrataal. Complete lunar eclipse, this particular one, was occurring after 145 years…!! And what better than witnessing the celestial event from a place named after that very celestial body..! cool right..! ( actually, most people found it pointless, Chandrataal – lunar eclipse brouhaha, but those people were not on this trip either )
So we packed our bags early in the morning, and as the clock strikes 6 am, the world slips into dreamy slumber, the tripver bus roared to life and we started for Chandrtaal from Kaza, all aboard.
Chandrataal is theoretically just 52 km from Kaza. But practically, it is a whole days drive. The roads are nonexistent at some patches. Some places there is a stream crossing. Plus breaks for pictures and tea, which I personally couldn’t get enough of. The more the merrier.
So after almost 8 hours on the road, we finally made it to our camps near Chandrtaal. We were glad that we didn’t come across any landslides or cloudbursts. Of the four previous trips from our tour operator, only 2 including ours had made it to Chandrataal.
Our camp was set up 2 km away from the lake. The good thing is that no one is allowed to camp on the shore of the lake. Where there are Indian tourists, there will be litter. So in the interest of the lake, we are not allowed to stay there and rightly so.
So by the time, we could reach the camp it was almost 3pm. The sky was thick with clouds and forget lunar eclipse, we couldn’t even spot the sun..!! So much for the highlight of the trip. The day we all had planned the trip around. To witness this once in a lifetime celestial event at such a special place with our own eyes, telescopes and DSLRs..! blaah.
So we sucked it up and decided to make the best of what we had in hand.
It is a beautiful beyond words hike from the camp to the lake. If you have ever imagined being on the set of Lord of the rings or Game of Thrones, then imagine no further. Just open your eyes to the valley of Chandrtaal.
The beauty of the campsite is a tale of its own. I would let pictures explain you better. But I wouldn’t be lying if I thought I should permanently start living here..! It is set on a clear plateau on one side of the hill, the other side of which is Chandrtaal. One can walk or drive to the lake from the campsite. It is almost an hour on foot and 15-20 minutes of off-road driving.
The tents are super comfortable, like a cottage or a basic hotel room. One can easily forget that it is a tent and not a solid structure. One little thing though. You would need extra locks to lock the zippers. The tent does not have proper locks like doors.
The first glimpse of Chandrataal was exhilarating even in this gloomy weather. We had been anticipating this moment since so long that simply seeing the lake with our own eyes and living that moment was supremely exciting and satisfying. We were just glad to have made it this far in the journey without any major breakdowns. And finally, the great Chandrataal was off everyone’s bucket list.
We had almost an hour and a half to explore the lake. As much as we wished, there was no sign of sunlight anytime soon. It was drizzling and the wind was strong. Which means I couldn’t risk getting my drone out. It was relieving to see other disappointed folks like me. Many people from all over the country had come to witness the lunar eclipse with their heavy ass gear and expectations. Nevertheless, we explored as much as we could alas, couldn’t get enough of it.
I hiked back to the campsite, absorbing pristine vistas till the last light and meeting locals, hearing stories of their lives, and telling tales from the cities.
There was piping hot vegetarian dinner to end our day with. It was followed by a round of roaring gup-shup in one of the tents and promises of keeping in touch, making the mandatory Whatsapp group and wishful thinking of future travels.
The next day was going to be the most off-road terrain of our trip ever. There was practically no road for 60 odd kms.that we had to cover. Our vehicle got stuck in water, slush and rocks enough number of times to make us worry about missing our connecting bus from Manali to Delhi.
The last few hours of our togetherness went into full throttle mode talking excitedly in the bus, sharing stories, pictures and memories of one of the best rips our lives, my life, ever..!
P.S. coming back to the city never felt so bad, ever..! let the drudgery begin..!
Thanks for dropping by.
would love to hear your stories too.