Relaxing at Chandra Tal


[Hynek] At Battal, just on the foot of the Kunzum La is my favourite dhaba! The walls are piled up stones that you find everywhere in the Chandra Valley. A big canvas forms the roof giving the dhaba this tent-like look. Through the canvas roof shines the sun in yellow-orange streaks. We stopped three times at this dhaba and I remember each time I stopped my bike's engine and took off the helmet a strong cold wind threw sand into my eyes.

I parked the bike each time at the same spot, opposite the dhaba. I only had to cross the road, lower my head and peak through the entrance into the tent. The world changes! My perception changes: it's cosy and warm and an old lady with her man or son gives you this unforgettable welcoming smile. Two complete different states of being are separated by just a few stones and a canvas as the roof! I always entered the dhaba as one of the first of our travel party ordering four chai right away knowing the others would follow soon.


[Moni] Short before Batal, we left the road and took the path to Chander Tal. Everybody we had asked about the road told us to be carefull- now we knew why. It was really the worsest road we had driven, stony, sloping and slippery.


It got very quite in the car. As a punch line, we had to cross a Maruti full of laughing Indians on this small road! The driver of their car kindly let us cross on the right side- but with an anxious face himself. His passengers didn't seem to see any danger in this action.


Suddenly the road finished. We packed "the most necessary things" and walked to the direction, we believed the lake was. It was hard to get there- walking on 4500 m, carrying a heavy backpack, much farer than be thought. But the beauty of the landscape was like morphium and we floated to the area until we reached the lake. And on the opposite the view to the glacier. It was a long discussion which view we should choose for our camping side.


[Hynek] Now, what do you cook for eight hungry people that are camping at over 4000 m? I wouldn't know. First it is not really evident to cook at that altitude, pasta takes up to an hour to get close to eatable and no one is willing to drag loads of delicatessen up the hill. I don't mind helping out with the cooking, but please just tell me what to do! And so who was the cook of the month? - Moni! (She insisted on her "camping experience" in the first place!).

[Moni] We spent the time just sitting and watching around, this breathtaking landscape. We made a little walk, some even went to swim in the ice cold lake. I couldn't stop to glance at the snowy high mountains around me.


[Hynek] Many people spend years and years... decades meditating till enlightment. Buddha took several life spans till he could dose off to never be born again. Now, after twenty-two days of turning every stone in and around Spiti Valley I found a short cut to this thousand years old secret: Chandra Tal!


After only two days I had to escape this place as its spirit was starting to disintegrate my physical presence. The voice of the wind entered my body through my nose sweeping clean all the nitty-gritty of a wonna-be busy ordinary man. I felt the change on my fellow companions, Aurelie and Fabio. Fabio would spend time away from the group sitting on the edge of the cliff staring into this all present serenity. Aurelie would just avoid any unnecessary discussion, or even a single word, hiding behind her book trying to occupy her mind before she looses her last sense of practicality.


[Moni] And then we had to go... Not only from Chandra Tal, not only from Chandra Valley and from Rothang Pass and Manali, from Himachal Pradesh to Delhi and back home, all within 48 hrs. It was shocking and stressy. As a last gift, the car stopped 5 km after Rothang Pass on the way to Manali- finally. We had to organize somebody to pull us and a mechanic to fix the car. After another night in the Mayflower, everybody hung behind as nobody really wanted to depart. So we started at 3 o'clock in the afternoon for a 14 hrs trip to Delhi.


[Hynek] Fourteen hours straight from paradise to hell! Fourteen hours on the bike more or less non-stop and at the end in a state of mind that was running on a power saving mode. If I look back it is difficult to explain how I could manage to drive from Manali to Delhi in such a hurry! I guess I just suppressed any thinking that might have gone too far and have me run naked back to Spiti Valley.

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