Day 13: 21 August 2013: Part 2: Batal to Chandratal – Full Moon Day at Chandratal

After spending some 40-45 minutes with Batal Chacha, having our fill of Maggi and Tea, we proceed towards Chandratal. To reach Chandratal, you need to go towards Kunzum from Batal, cross the bridge on Chandra river and then from the tri-junction, you need to take the left fork going at the same level of elevation. The right one going upwards goes towards Kunzum Jot and then Kaza. But we have to go to Chandratal first, today being the full moon day and hence we take the left fork towards Chandratal.

A board at the tri-junction notifies the “Jeepable road” road towards Chandratal…

jeepable road!

 

And this is what is called “Jeepable”…

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But the views are amazing and we have the Cheetah, so who’s complaining?

The Moulkila ranges

The Moulkila ranges

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The snow-clad Chandrabhaga (CB) ranges

The snow-clad Chandrabhaga (CB) ranges

 

Pretty soon, we came to sight some camps and a heard of goats and sheep. Have we arrived?

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Excited, we get down the car. I however, do not see the trademark of Jamaica’s camp – an indigenous mannequin wearing a T-shirt! So we ask the Gaddi who is the owner of the herd for the whereabouts of Jamaica’s camp.

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Apparently, Jamaica’s camp is located nearest to the Chandratal lake, further ahead of the point which announces that no vehicles are allowed further…

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We drive ahead and start gaining height. Just ahead, there’s a vehicle coming from another direction and there is barely space to give a pass. Cheena drives the car dangerously close to the right edge which is at about 8-10 feet of height from the ground level. We all shout at him not to cut any further, but by that time he has already managed to slip the rear right tyre off the road! We all get down immediately, for the height is at least enough to topple the Cheetah and cause a tumble. The driver of the Bolero coming from opposite side also comes to our help and together we start pushing the vehicle with Cheena driving so that we can put it back on the road. I’m pushing it from just behind the rear right wheel and as it spins, I’m bathed with dust all over, but ultimately we are successful to put the Cheetah back on the track. Never mind, we’re going to Chandratal and everything will be clean soon.

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So we hop on and drive again clicking pics.. we reach a place where there is a wall on the road and couple of vehicles are already parked.

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One of the car (mostly Boleros run here) seems to have some drivers sitting and enjoying music. I didn’t noticed the indigenous mannequin as it was hidden behind the car and so I ask the person sitting near the window where can I find Jamaica. The person wearing a red sweatshirt gets down the car immediately, puts on his cap, stands in a salute position, and says “Main hi hai sir Jamaica”. Now I’ve had a couple of PMs exchanged with Jamaica on BCMT Forum and had intimated him of my plans of coming today. I remind him and he remembers. I’m impressed as he’s very very friendly. I ask him about the accommodation as we want to pitch our own tents and he gladly agrees. We take out our tents, however, the 3-person tent that Tony was carrying, is drenched in diesel. This must have happened when the diesel spilled during our drive from Spangmik to Chusul and then Chusul to Tangtse via Erath. This one is not usable now. However, my Quechua T2 tent is perfectly fine. So Jamaica asks his people to spread the 3-person tent so that it is dried up and the diesel smell goes away. He says that the boys will erect the other tent, but first, we must have tea.

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So we have our tea and then we decide to pay a visit to Chandratal before it gets dark. Jamaica shows us the trail and says that by the time we’re back, he’ll get our tent erected and arrange for another tent too. So we hit the trail…

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The peaks in CB range are full of snow/ice and with the scattered light, they make a nice backdrop…

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Me and Avi in the backdrop of CB peaks

Me and Avi in the backdrop of CB peaks

 

It’s a dusty trail, evident from the dirt stuck to the wet shoes… the shoes haven’t dried since we crossed the mighty waterfall…

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And then as we’re about to cross a hill, we see the first view of Chandratal… The time reads 1900 hrs

First view of Chandratal

First view of Chandratal

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There is a stream coming out of the Chandratal and since my Quechua Forclaz 500 shoes are already wet and dirty, I walk into it… after all the shoes are waterproof, but already drenched! πŸ™‚

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Some horses are grazing at the banks of Chandratal

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There are chortens alongside the Chandratal shore and so as a basket to drop the waste.. good thought!

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A board announces that this Chandratal catchment area is part of Ramsar Wetlands and gives a list of wildlife that can be found here.. though we didn’t see anything except for the horses.

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The evening golden rays on the clouds are creating magic on the Chandratal…

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The water is green and very clear…

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Chandratal is said to be crescent in shape and we notice it turning beyond the hills…

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We will explore this in detail tomorrow, but first I need to touch the water of Chandratal..

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And click one of the CB peaks, peeking from behind a hill…

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I go knee deep in water. It is freezing cold and taking all tiredness away. I ask Cheena to come over and enjoy the waters and so he joins me…

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Ecstatic on fulfilling a dream to visit Chandratal, I just fall backwards in the water, holding Cheena along. πŸ™‚ I get fully wet, that’s what I wanted! Cheena gets half wet and is feeling too cold and so jumps out!

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… And we pose…

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Not satisfied with the dip, I ask everyone to join and that we take some dips in the ice cold water. We are not carrying any spare cloths and so Cheena, Avi and Tony stay away, while I go back to take 3 dips and make some splash…

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Having no spare clothes, I wring out the tee and vest and wear them again, meanwhile Cheena has packed himself in the jacket πŸ˜›

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One last pic of the Chandratal with snow-clad peaks as the backdrop and then we trek back to the camp.

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Ecstatic with Joy!

Ecstatic with Joy!

Camps at distance

Camps at distance

 

We come back and spread our cloths at nearby rocks to dry. As promised, Jamaica has got our tents erected and arranged for another tent too. There doesn’t appear to be too many tourists today even being the full moon day! While Cheena changes dress, I go to meet Jamaica again and inquire about the dinner. There we meet the forest guard – a poor fellow from Spiti who has been working on contract for 6 years and still the government is not taking him on permanent rolls. During the season, he does his duty at Chandratal and during winters, he’s without a job, working as a laborer in Kaza. To top that, the Forest Department has not even provided him any tent or dueling near Chandratal. It is Jamaica who has erected a Gaddi dueling for him and provides food to him. We also meet Batal Chacha’s son – Dawa Tashi in the kitchen tent and he’s cook for the night. Jamaica has various stories to tell about the place ranging from Goddess emerging from the Chandratal to Snow leopard to wolves and what not, so the time quickly crossed past 2030

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Dawa Tashi – Batal Chacha’s son

Bakar in the kitchen tent :)

Bakar in the kitchen tent πŸ™‚

 

We keep on talking and we apprise Jamaica about our plan to go to Kaza tomorrow and then towards Delhi via Kaza-Nako-Chail-Shimla. Then Jamaica informs us that there has been a major landslide at Maling nullah and the route is closed since a week and it doesn’t appears that it would open for further a week, so taking that route is not possible. Then we decide to take the Manali route back to Delhi, however, as we would have planned to reach Delhi by 24th, we have enough time. Jamaica suggests that we should check Samudri Tapu tomorrow which is the source of Chandra River and no tourist has ever gone there yet. Only Gaddis go there over a rope crossing the Chandra River. We all agree to it.

While as per our plan, it was a full moon night and we had plans for night photography, once we had our dinner and “Spiti ka Paani”, we just went to our tents and retired.. sleeping sound.. not to wake up at night at all. The time reads 2330 hrs…

 

Next: Samudri Tapu

CONTD…

Total Distance covered: Approx 14 kms

Driving Directions from Batal to Chandratal: From Chandra Dhaba, start towards Kaza and cross the bridge on Chandra river and then from the tri-junction, take the left fork going at the same level of elevation. The right one going upwards goes towards Kunzum Jot and then Kaza. Keep on driving the track with river Chandra on the left for next 12.5 kms and park your vehicle before the board announcing the same. For next 1.5 kms, travel on foot following the tracks and you reach Chandratal.

Google Map directions for Batal to Chandratal travel: http://goo.gl/maps/fvsiV

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