I was taking the Manali-Kaza Road after seven long years. In 2007 my husband, my elder nephew Dilip and I trekked in the Spiti region. This time Dilip and I were going back to visit Chandratal. In 2007 I so wanted to visit Chnadratal but neither Dilip nor Seshadri were willing to give me company. I was not much of a solo traveler then. This time the original plan was to visit Chandratal and then trek in the region. But I had to let go of trekking so that I can go to Thailand (yet again!) later this week.
There is a road which goes quite close to Chandratal but I was told by my guide Ramakant ji that it was not open. That did not deter us one single bit! All of us were willing to walk for 14 kilometers to reach the lake. But before we could head to Chandratal, we were pitching tent for a night at Batal, where hardly anyone stays.
All through the way, the sky was overcast. I was really lucky that the weather at Batal cleared for a few hours, for it refused to clear again in the entire trip! The boy standing on the stones is my nephew Dilip. He is not the same who goes on with me to the foreign trips like Sri Lanka and Maldives. That is his younger brother Sunil. Both are excellent traveling companions, mischievous and always ready for an adventure. I remembered Batal as a big flat valley that was incredibly beautiful and I was right. It is still a big flat valley that is incredibly beautiful. It is famous as a pit stop for lunch on the way to Kaza.
These are the dhabas at Batal. Seven years ago there was only one, Chandra Dhaba. It is always good to get inside Chandra Dhaba as you immediately get out of the wind. In June 2010 the owners, known as Chacha and Chachi (uncle and auntie) gave shelter at Chandra Dhaba to stranded tourists. They have the cuttings of the news paper stories even now. Always happy to feed you, Chacha and Chachi are quite popular with the tourists on that route. Chacha always says it costs 1000 rupees for anything you ask! The warmth they generate in that cold place is really amazing.
Dilip and I were standing at the bridge across the Chandra river at Batal, when he asked for my precious, my camera. He pointed out to a small staircase and said he was going down. He assured me that he would be careful. It was only later that I saw this wonderful shot he took on the bridge. Next time, when I go to Batal, I am going to be a copycat, dirty rat. I am going to take the same shot with my feet dangling from there.
As the day was beautiful we walked along the river for quite sometime. And no, we don’t have any false bravado, we know we city slickers can’t even dream of being reckless with a fast flowing river. Heck, we can’t even be reckless with a slow flowing river, any kind of river, period. We maintained a safe distance and went to the shore with utmost caution. Dilip could throw flat stones and make them skip on the river. We had a nice time. We were told to come back to the camp before sundown and we kept that promise.
The blue tent that you see was home for me for two nights, one of the best accommodations that I can ever dream of staying in. I know I have posted starry pictures from Batal before, but I could not resist posting one more. Dilip and I also promised that we would not let another seven years lapse before we head out on that road again. I have all intentions to keep this promise.