Have you ever dreamt of escaping to the mountains and trekking the long transcendental snow-clad trails? Me too! Have you found joy in being close to mother nature, so close that you can literally touch the clouds? Aye, me too!
Do you love being bundled up in warm clothing and sleeping right under the stars, with the sound of a rumbling river for company? Yes, me too! Do you fancy a selfie at a great altitude with the beautiful mountains as the backdrop? Me too, again!
And that is why I'd decided that my next trek would be to a magical place. I was on Google with a mission to find that perfect trek when I chanced upon the Chandratal-Baralacha La trek in Himachal Pradesh. I booked my flight tickets to Kullu from Bangalore and got around to shopping the particulars of the trekking bag.
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I bought thermals and woolen clothes, lightweight water bottles, a sleeping bag, waterproof and snow-proof trekking shoes, power bank, torch light, windproof jackets, and medicines (for altitude issues).
It is essential to prepare physically and mentally for the trek in advance; so I started working out, meditated, ate nutritious food and cut back on the junk consumption.
The Chandratal Baralacha Trek is filled with everything that one would cherish during a journey. The best time to undertake this trek is between July and October. The glimmering sunset on the turquoise waters of Chandratal (known as the Moon Lake), swelling landscape, mountain passes, green meadows, wild and colourful flora and fauna all together make the journey worth embarking on.
The Chandratal Lake is at an altitude of about 4300 metres and is one of the high-altitude lakes in the Indian Himalayan region that is located in the Spiti valley. The Chandratal Baralacha Trek is one of the popular alpine treks in Himachal Pradesh that is filled with surprises at every turn.
I booked a 5-day trekking trip online. This is a moderately challenging trek, which involves camping and trekking at reasonably high altitude and crossing a few glacial rivers.
I reached Kullu and took a taxi to Manali. Here, I met the fellow trekkers and we drove to Batal from where the trek actually starts.
We crossed the verdant Kullu Manali valleys to the barren dune-like terrain of Spiti Valley and Lahaul. We also passed through the famous Rohtang Pass, where we stopped to take some photographs. We arrived at Batal around 12 PM, but stayed doing nothing much because we were getting acclimatised to the climate. We set up a pitch-tent along with the organisers and spent the night amidst the plush setting.
Day 2 began with a light, yet nutritious breakfast and trek to Chandratal lake. The trail entailed crossing over river Chandra and ascending from Batal. Although taxing, occasional sights like Bara Shigri glacier and other Himalayan peaks made it enjoyable. This was a 6-hour-long trek and we finally reached Chandratal Lake.
Plonked amidst high mountains, this glacial lake gets its name from its half-moon shape and is a fantastic sight to see. No wonder that several gaddis (shepherds) camp around it. Camping near the lake is nothing short of ecstasy! The colour of the water of this lake keeps changing from orange to reddish, to blue to green as the day ends. This is nothing short of a wonder! Mother Nature is truly great and amazing.
We started Day 3 bright and early from Batal to Tokpo Gongmo ("Tokpo" in Tibetan means River and "Gongomo" means big).There were river crossings at Tokpo Gongmo and Tokpo Yongma, which was adventurous and gave me a huge adrenaline rush, as we used ropes to cross the river. This trail is a steady ascend post the river crossings. The terrain is a barren one with many scree slopes as well as boulder fields.
We were instructed to wake up early on Day 4, despite the tiredness, because we had to make our way through the rivers when the levels of water are low. This trail is very photographic with sight of frosty peaks of Chandrabhaga Range. The initial crossing is more easy as compared to the later one. Based on the environmental conditions, one would be crossing over a snow bridge of wade.
We camped at Tokpo Yongma, which was a charming little place, with shepherds for company. We were interested in talking to them and could see that they were too. Alas, we could not understand each other's languages.
On Day 5, we hiked 10 km, while enjoying the stunning sights of the snowy Himalayan ranges to reach Baralacha La. Baralacha La is a double pass - it marks the divide between the Himalayas and Lahaul Ranges and also between the Himalaya and the Baralacha Range extending to the North.
Baralacha is a 8-km-long pass and gives rise to three rivers, i.e., Chandra, Bhaga and Yunam. After relaxing a bit, we hopped on to the jeep that was waiting for us to be taken to Manali, marking the end of a brilliant 5-day trek.
Chandratal Baralacha La trekking in the Himalayan range was so fascinating and adventurous that I am already planning my next trek.