The lake reflected the white mountains and the clouds above it. I could see the whole sky at my feet as I stood by the Chandrataal lake. A slow freezing wind changed the view as the waves in the lake took over the serenity of clouds. I was surrounded by the calm Himalayan Mountains in Lahual Spiti region of North India. A place surreally aloof from human imprints. Most of the people overlook it in a rush on their way to Leh and Ladakh.
3 days ago, we (me and my husband) had no idea while sipping our morning tea that with in next 24 hours we would start our unforgettable journey. Next day at 4:30 in the morning we were waiting for a bus at Manali bus station, all set for Spiti. We crossed Rohtang Pass in early hours of the day and then entered the Lahual Spiti region. The view changed from lush green trees to rocky, dusty road, and soon there were no roads to accompany us. All we could see were tracts of other vehicles as we moved along the Spiti river. Lahual and Spiti is a dry mountain desert situated at a high altitude (4100m to 4400m). This route is open for travelers only in the period of May to November, as otherwise it is covered with ice.
We reached Dhaba (at Bathal) in afternoon, it is a midway for the people who travel from Manali to Kaza. The bus stopped for a short break, all the passengers had their lunch in Dhaba and then continued with the rest of the journey.
We decided to stay there to acclimatize ourselves to high altitude. Next day, we started our journey to Chandrataal (14 kilometers away). We wanted to track, but our bodies didn’t allow us, so we hitchhiked in a Tata Sumo. It was a narrow road, allowing only one vehicle to pass at a time. In barely an hour we reached at an altitude of 4300m, which is the farthest any vehicles can take you, so we had to track from there. The place has very less oxygen due to lack of vegetation and high altitude. We walked for 20mins to reach Chandrataal lake but we felt so breathless as if we had run for an hour.
Finally, we reached at a point from the land ahead looked blue. I rushed towards it and found a beautiful lake in front of me. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I could see the gigantic Himalayas and its reflection in the pure and radiant lake water. It was so amazing that I didn’t want to miss even a single moment. We walked along the lake, saw some group of people dancing and talking, and from a distance it felt like music to my ears in that serene land.
We came back by evening and decided to stay in the tents as the wind was so strong we could not even walk. I don’t remember what happened later, may be I fainted or slept but when I woke up and stepped out of my tent, the wind had stopped and a sky full of stars was staring at me. And I just stood there. Speechless. Breathless. Mesmerized.