Day 5: 11th Sept 2015


The day began early due to all the chatter that was happening in the room. As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the room was also shared by other people. We got up, felt the crisp mountain air on our faces and finished our morning activities. The breakfast that day consisted of Yippee noodles and tea for me. I didn’t want to eat anything heavy as the entire day required us to travel. We would be going from Chatru to Chandrataal and then back to Manali. We completed our packing by 8am and now began the inevitable wait for the taxi to come. Before starting the journey, we had paid an advance amount to our taxi driver to pick us from Chatru. He told us that he would reach Chatru by 9am and would be driving an Innova. Saurav didn’t believe that he would be getting an Innova and he asked me a couple of times to confirm the same. Thus the wait began. It was past 9am and the driver hadn’t showed up. We tried to reach his number with the only available mobile phone with network in the area, but there was no response. At this point, our minds were already thinking of what if we have been duped and we were making contingency plans. Thankfully, none of those plans were needed and at around 9:45am our cab – an Innova, had arrived. The look on Saurav’s face was priceless.

The road from Chatru to Chandrataal is great by Himalayan standards. There are however, some stretches which can get really bad and narrow. It took us approx. 3.5 hours to reach Chandrataal Lake. The beauty of this place is mesmerizing. Crystal clear lake with blue waters surrounded by mountains – absolutely pristine! A lot of people travel to Leh to see the Pangong Lake but we believe Chandrataal Lake, even though smaller, is a much better sight to see. When we arrived at the lake, we met the same set of people who were staying in the room the previous night and were offering prayers near the lake. This was the first time we had seen someone do that at Chandrataal. After their prayers were over, they offered us the prasad while we were busy taking pictures and soaking in the sights of Chandrataal while we were there. After spending about 30 mins, we decided to head back. They were having lunch and they graciously offered to share their lunch with us. Both of us were taken aback by their offer and we couldn’t refuse, so we shared food with them. During this time we were informed that this lake is holy for Tibetans and hence they offer prayer here. This trip really showed us the true hospitality of the people of Himachal Pradesh. After having a little bit of food with them, we decided to head back to our vehicle for drive back to Manali.

We started our return journey around 2:30pm and then stopped at Batal Dhaba for lunch. The place is run by an ex-army man, one of the only few people authorized to carry a satellite phone in the area, and his wife. Once again, I decided to stick with noodles, while Saurav had rice and dal. The drive to Manali was super long and extremely bumpy. At one point, I wanted to stop the car and stretch my legs and have some tea, but then considering that we had a late lunch, I decided to forego that idea. The roads were really bad until we started the ascent for Rohtang pass. We decided to step out of the car for a few mins and were immediately hit by cold air and that’s when we realized how cold it really was outside. We were passing through Rohtang and saw there were no food vendors etc. They have been evicted by HP government and the area was very clean as compared to our visit in 2013. The HP government has also stopped all activities at Rohtang and also Solang Valley. This is the first time in our journey that we received mobile signals and with that we informed everyone that we were safe and sound and in one piece. Our driver really took his driving to next level during our descent from Rohtang. He was in a super hurry and the way he was driving on the mountain roads, started to make our stomach’s churn. Trust me, we both do not have altitude sickness and have been on numerous ghats before – but this was different. I was just hoping to reach Manali without shitting in my pants. The only other irritating part was Saurav’s Blackberry pinging with email messages – reminding us of what lay ahead in the coming week(s).

We reached Manali around 8pm and started our search for a hotel. Since we were only looking to stay one night, we didn’t want to spend a lot and found ourselves a budget hotel with decent rooms. Once we checked in, we were going to sleep in a proper bed and will be showering after almost a week (since we left Mumbai). We spent a decent time cleaning ourselves and our luggage. Feeling tired but fresh, we decided to treat ourselves to a celebratory beer and good food. It was one of the best meals that I have had and something that I would be cherishing for a very long time.

Images for Day 5 can be found here.

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