The drops of heaven that sparkle through the infinite sky of Lahaul Valley break up the monotony of rugged rocky mountains. In this mobile land, Chandratal Lake personifies surrealism. Despite the cold air and fluttering Buddhist prayer flags, there is mysterious energy radiating around the place. Lahaul and Spiti’s surreal yet magical topography reveals its secrets here. The crescent-shaped moon lake, as the name implies, is associated with numerous intriguing legends, folklore, and a mystery straight out of the X-Files that pique the interest of adventurers. Read on to unravel the Chandratal lake mystery.
The History Behind Chandratal Lake
The lake, billed as one of Hinduism’s sacred lakes, draws hordes of Hindu devotees to its holy waters. It is the source of the Himalayan river Chandra, one of the Chenab’s tributaries. As strange as it may sound, the mythical Chandra Taal lake is associated with three legends.
The Love Story
The most famous Chandratal lake mystery folklore revolves around two lovebirds named Chandra, the Moon God’s daughter, and Bhaga, the Sun God’s son. Both fell madly in love, but fate had it that their parents disapproved of their union. So they decided to elope from the pass where they first met, Baralacha La.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t meet there, so they met at the effervescent Chandrabhaga River, where their heavenly alliance took place. They created the lakes Suraj Tal and Chandratal, which still reverberate with the mystery of their romance.
The Religious Belief
The famous lake of Chandratal is also mentioned in Hindu mythology. It is widely assumed that it refers to the final journey made by the five Pandava brothers after defeating the Kauravas in the Mahabharatha battle at Kurukshetra. It is said that after the great battle, as the Pandavas began to walk towards heaven, they all died. Only Yudhishthir survived, and he was picked up by God Indra here.
The Fairy Tale
The locals believe that Chandratal Lake is blessed and that fairies visit it at night. One such story involves a shepherd from a nearby village named Hansa, who came to the lake to graze his cattle. On one such occasion, he noticed a fairy, and they instantly fell in love. According to legend, the shepherd was already married but did not tell the fairy because he was afraid she would leave him if she found out.
Their love blossomed beneath the icy waters of the angelic lake. They met and spent a lot of time together at the lake. On one such occasion, he inadvertently revealed to the fairy that he was married, and his worst nightmare came true. That was his last encounter with her. The fairy never returned, and the shepherd went insane waiting for her, eventually dying by the lake. It is said that if you visit the lake at night, you can still see the shepherd’s spirit walking by the banks, calling out to his long-lost love.
But that’s not all. The uninhabited, glacier-bound landscape has become associated with a similarly implausible local story—the sighting of an unknown travelling item in the area.
The UFO Invasion
Chandratal has been in the news due to reports of UFO sightings. Many tourists and travellers worldwide have claimed to have seen UFOs or other mystical objects while camping in Chandratal. On September 27, 2004, it was the final day of a week-long expedition led by ISRO’s Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC). Three SAC scientists and two geologists made up the team, who set up camp in the valley 17,000 feet above sea level. The research was carried out on the Chandra basin glacier using satellite data. When the scientists were about to leave their tents, one of the porters noticed a white object on the far reaches of an adjacent mountain ridge and exclaimed, “Sir, the snowman is coming!”
Amit Kulkarni, a senior ISRO scientist who has been mapping glaciers for many years, and his team members noticed something that looked like a robot floating a few inches above the ground and rapidly approaching the camp. Kulkarni and his colleague, geologist Sunil Dhar, took out their cameras and began photographing the object as the team raced towards the mountain to get a better look.
The oblong object, which stood between 3 and 4 feet tall, continued to move down the slope towards the team. It possessed a cylindrical head with two balloon-like attachments, a body, hands, and two legs. It appeared to be walking, planting, and pacing its steps like a human. The object became alarmed when it reached the lower edge of the hill, 50 metres away from the stunned scientists. After a few seconds of standing still, it turned and began a steep 70-degree ascent towards the ridge top.
It hovered above the camp for five minutes before disappearing into the sky. Without the scientists, it would have been easy to dismiss the sighting as an unintentional aerial phenomenon. After reviewing the photographs, the UFO appeared to be a cluster of balloons, but its maneuverability and flight path were unlike any balloon or human-crewed flying vehicle.
Scientists are still looking for answers to that strange occurrence, adding more fuel to the Chandratal lake mystery. Locals and travellers have reported numerous sightings of UFOs and other supernatural phenomena here. But does it all add up, or is it all a trick of the light? This only leaves you with the option of visiting the location, experiencing the tranquility of the lake, admiring the beauty around you, and returning with your theory about what would have happened. While all the myths and studies try to fall into place and align in harmony, you can simply enjoy the splendour of this magnificent landscape. This includes the massive Himalayas, snow-capped mountains, a vast blue sky, a breeze that surrounds the Chandratal lake mystery, and maybe even spot a UFO.
Where to experience the Chandratal Lake mystery?
Contrary to popular assumption, Chandratal Lake is located in the Lahaul Valley, and not the Spiti Valley. The lake lies 14,100 feet above sea level in Himachal Pradesh, northern India. It is located six kilometres from Kumzum Pass in the Himachal Pradesh district of Spiti and Lahaul. Here’s a guide to travelling in Lahaul and Spiti.
The Best Time to Visit Chandratal
The optimum time to visit Chandratal Lake is in June when the snow removal process is finished. During this season, you can hike the 14-kilometre road from Batal to the lake. You can also visit between July and September when the roads are open and the weather is lovely.
How to Reach Chandratal
When considering how to get there, the easiest option is to hire a car from any local vendor in the nearest large town, Manali. Manali is 140 kilometres away from Chandratal Lake. The adventure will begin early in the morning in Manali and will include traversing the Rohtang pass as well as stops at Gramphu, Chhatru, and Batal. Another alternative is to take a bus from Kaza to Batal in the morning. Chandratal Lake is 15 kilometres from Batal. One can either hike their way up, taking in the amazing views, or book a taxi to go to the lake.