The Suraj Tal Lake in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh is one of the most enthralling and amazingly beautiful lakes in the country. At a height of 4890 meters above the sea level, the lake is the 3rd highest in India, and 21st highest in the world.
Its name Suraj Tal is made of two word, Suraj meaning sun, and tal meaning lake. This is the reason why it is revered as the lake of the Sun God. A holy dip in the waters of the lake is said to absolve one of all sins, thereby cleansing the human spirit.
Fed by the Bhaga River, the lake lies just below the summit of the Baralacha Pass. The pass is also known as the ‘pass with crossroads on the summit’. It is here that the roads leading to Spiti, Ladakh and Zanskar meet.
The lake is surrounded by arid mountain ranges on all sides. It displays the perfect visual combination of arid hills, with clear blue color waters in their midst, giving a sigh of relief to all passersby. During the winters the mountains are completely covered in snow. It is around the month of May when the glacial snow starts to melt to feed waters to the lake.
The place is mostly uninhabited because of the climatic conditions that are akin to those in the Polar Regions. Snowfall, even though scanty, is reported throughout the year. The highest recorded temperature here was 13 degree centigrade, and the lowest was -27 degrees.
The Bhaga Valley, of which the lake is a part, is a beautiful valley in totality. The valley is a narrow gorge up to Darcha, after which it widens at the Tandi region. Tandi is the place of the confluence of the Bhaga River with the Tandi River, the reason why the foothills of the region do get lush with vegetation for some part of the year. A few grasslands too crop up in the middle hills, where animals can often be spotted grazing.
During summers, the days can get pleasantly warm, but the nights remain cold. The weather here is unpredictable, can within minutes it can change from sunshine to cloudy.
The lake lies on the route from Manali to Leh, and therefore witnesses heavy activity by passersby, who cannot help but stop here to marvel the astounding beauty of the lake and the valley beyond.
While Indian Tourists definitely enjoy a trip to the lake, foreigners too are intrigued by its beauty, and location high up in the Himalayas. Tourists often plan road trips, treks and motorcycle trips from Manali to Leh, covering the lake and the Baralachala pass.
The trek to the lake started from Zingsingbar to the Surak Tal Lake, and then Baralachala. Trekkers troll along the Bhaga River for 3 km, crossing a bridge on the north bank, and then further climbing 2.5 km. From the bridge onwards, a steep climb downhill starts that ends at the Suraj Tal Lake.
For Bikers too, this trail can be full of adventure and challenges. If you’re prepared for rough sloppy roads, do pack your bags for the trip during season that lasts from the middle of May till the mid of
October. After this, roads leading to Lahaul and Spiti are shut for the season.
Avid travelers always have the lake marked on their list of places to visit. The arid territory where rainfall is scanty and long stretches of total recluse, with no human habitation in the vicinity on the surface of the Earth is place that definitely calls for serious exploration.