Chamunda Lake Yatra (14550 feet) – Churah Valley, Chamba

First things first, this isn’t Gadasru Mahadev Lake. If it were Gadasaru Mahadev Lake, I wouldn’t be calling it Chamunda Lake. There is a smaller lake above Gadasaru but even that’s called Kali or Mahakali Lake and not Chamunda Lake. If Gadasaru Lake is in Shimla, then Chamunda Lake is in entirely different direction, say in Dharmshala.


There is an interesting background story, which lasted over 5-6 years, that eventually led us to this lake. Shalabh, the pioneer of trekking and blogging of Himachal Himalaya had gone to Chaurasi Ka Dal long ago. He took an interesting route via Tundah Wildlife Sanctuary which branches off from the Kali Cho Trail and leads to Chaurasi Ka Dal via Chaurasi Pass / Chadola Jot. So he mentioned this lake as Chaurasi Ka Dal. A few years later, we had gone to Darati Pass and the locals of Dantuin Village, which serves as base both for the Chaurasi Dal and Darati Pass, told us that there lies a lake in the mountains which we call as Mahakali Lake or Khundi Maral Lake.

So now we had two lakes but just one trail. So while figuring the location of Chaurasi Dal, I spent considerable amount of time on Google Earth and on the Internet. And that’s how I found another lake namely Chamunda Lake.

Confusing eh??

Let me break it down for you

  1. Chaurasi Ka Dal or Khundi Maral Dal or Mahakali Lake are the same.
    • It can be approached either via Dantuin Village or Tundah Wildlife Sanctuary
      • Shalabh had taken the Tundah route while we took the Dantuin Route
  2. Chamunda Lake is near Hail Village (Devikothi Temple)
  3. Gadasaru Mahadev Lake is also near Devikothi Temple
    • The route to Gadasaru Mahadev goes eastwards from Devikothi
      • There is a small lake above it, which people call Mahakali or Kali Dal

Coming back to Chamunda Lake, one day while scouring the depths of Youtube for Chaurasi Ka Dal, I stumbled upon a video uploaded by Nandi Thakur. The title mentioned Chamunda Lake in Churah. In 2018, I contacted Nandi and he happily invited me to Churah. Now we had three lakes and only two routes. This kept getting jumbled and finally I decided to visit Churah.

After 4 loooooooong years.

Oh Chamba! How much I’ve missed you 🙂

Holy Shrine of Devikothi Chamunda – Ali Pattan Peak in the background. This photograph was clicked in 2015.

Ali Pattan Peak seen from Hail Village. After so long, I’ve finally found someone who has crossed the Ali Pattan Pass. The summers of 2020 are going to be exciting.The pass lies to the left of this magnificent uprising, hidden behind clouds.

Hail Village, Start of the Trek

Hail Village. Now the road from Devikothi to Hail Village has been black-topped. It gave me immense joy to not see that ugly earth road. This photograph is from 2015

Chamunda Lake Trek – Start from Hail Village. Nandi Thakur leading the way and mah brother baba in the background.

Sunny (left), Baba (Center) and Nandi Thakur (right). Collectively, these three guys are carrying upwards of 50kg luggage. Without these three, it wouldn’t have been possible at all. Thank You Boys!!!

Sunny leading the way and trying to figure out the way ahead. On this trail, we had to circumnavigate this vertical cliff so we took a long detour to avoid a near vertical climb on scree and grass.

The Pir Panjals basking in the sunshine glory. This whole mountain chain forms a semi-circular ring starting from Sach Pass, moving towards Atau Pass, Chehni Pass, Ali Pattan Pass, Kahlo/Kalo Pass, and culminating at Darati Pass. These are the six main passes that connect Churah Vallet to Pangi Valley. The average altitude of passes here is upwards of 4500 meters.

Chamunda Lake – The Mother Goddess. This one is a heart shaped lake, the kind of heart we used to draw on paper in school with one end pointed and two neatly drawn circular lines. The lake stands at around 4400 meters / 14600 feet. The lake circumfrence is around 1.5 kilometers, although if you try to map it on Google Earth, it looks considerably smaller which it isn’t in reality. While doing the lake parikrama, one end of the lake was totally frozen and we decided not to step foot on the glacier for it looked to pure to be maligned.

Shivak carrying his uneven backpack which makes him look like a TV Salesman. Doesn’t it look like that he is trying to sell Onida TV on the go? He had trouble while moving up on the trail just as we started but despite that this boy showed immense courage and determination to complete the trek with us.

Shivak posing at the Chamunda Lake. Despite his initial troubles, he still managed to reach at the top.

Trek Trivia

  1. Where does the Trek start from?
    • The trek starts from Hail Village in Churah Valley in Chamba.
    • You’ll have to take a bus from Chamba to Bhanjradu (first bus around 6-6:30 AM) [90km]
    • From Bhanjradu, take share cab to Devikothi/Hail Village (Chanju Mata Mandir). [30km]
  2. What are the stay options on the route?
    • First day, you can stay at the Hail Village.
    • There are a few shops in the village but no mobile network, so you’ll have to call you dear ones from Devikothi
    • If you choose to stay at the village, be kind enough to bring gifts/stationary/pencils for kids. Village folks do not charge anything at all and even if you insist, they just don’t.
  3. Is water available on the trail?
    • This is a mixed trail.
    • During the first half, you will find water only at two points whereas in the latter half of the trail, you’ll be walking along the nallah.
  4. What is maximum distance and maximum altitude one gains on Sari Pass trek?
    • Hail Village to Chaurasi Ka Dal Lake = 12-13km
    • Lake Round Trip = 1.5-2 km
    • Sometimes, you won’t find buses/conveyance at Hail Village on your way back, so you will have to walk till the next big village, which is Devikothi. Hail to Devikothi = 6km
    • Maximum Altitude: 4400 meters
    • Total Trek Distance: 26 km
  5. Download GPS Logs here…
  6. You can contact Nandi Thakur for treks in Churah Valley. For any of the above mentioned 6 treks or any of the lakes.
    • He can be contacted at 9857733790.
    • You can follow him on Instagram @ NandiThakur

2 thoughts on “Chamunda Lake Yatra (14550 feet) – Churah Valley, Chamba”

  1. Excellent Tarun Bhai. This lake is dedicated to MAA chamunda.
    मैं आपको इस इलाका के बारे मे थोडा सा परिचित करवा देता हूँ। वैसे तो आप इस इलाका को अछ्छी तरह से जान गए होंगे। मैं इसी माँ चामुंडा के चरणों मे निवास करता हूँ। मेरा गाँव मंदिर से नीचे (बंजल)है।
    यह चामुंडा माँ की zheel कहते हैं नसीब वालों को दिखाई देती है। कई बार इस का रंग बिलकुल काला दिखाई देता है।जब हमारे यहाँ सूखा पड़ता है तो देवी माँ का गीठिर और पढ़ियार इस झील के पास काला भेडू की बलि इसमें देते है तो इलाका मैं वर्षा होती है और फसल बोई जाती है। ऐसी हीकई और तथ्य माँ चौन्ड और इस झील से जुड़े है। कभी मिलने का सौभाग्य मिला तो जरूर शेयर करूँगा। इस बार तो मेरा दुर्भाग्य रहा जो आपने मुझे कॉल नई किआ।जय माँ बैरेवाली

  2. I like your post. I love to travel through different places especially which are surrounded by the beauty of nature, Hills, and Mountains. Thanks for this awesomely informative article.

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