Suraj Tal or Suraj
Tal Lake also called Surya taal, is a
sacred body of water, literally means the Lake of the Sun God, and
lies just below the Bara-lacha-la pass (4,890m) ( in length) in the Lahaul and Spiti valley of Himachal
Pradesh State in India and is the second highest lake in
India, and the 21st-highest in the world. Suraj Tal Lake is the
source of Bhaga River which joins the Chandra River downstream at Tandi to form the Chandrabhaga River in Himachal Pradesh
territory, and as it enters Jammu and Kashmir it is renamed as the Chenab
River. The Bhaga River (a tributary of the Chandrabhaga or Chenab) originates
from Surya taal. The other major tributary of the
Chandrabhaga, the Chandra originates from
the glacier close to the Chandra Taal lake in the Spiti
is from Keylong, the
district headquarters of the Lahaul Spiti district, a frontier
district of India which is approachable by road by the National
Highway NH 21, also known as the Leh-Manali Highway.
The NH 21 is
the vital road link for the people living in the Lahaul Spiti
district. The road skirts the Suraj Tal and is just short of the
Bara-lacha-la pass. It is sometimes falsely claimed to be the
highest mountain road in the world (probably the true highest road
is the Semo
La in Tibet) but it remains inaccessible from Rohtang Pass to Leh during winter months of November to April since the
pass becomes totally snowbound during this period.
is fed from the glaciers and torrential nullahs (streams)
originating from the Bara-lacha-la pass, which is long and is also
called the "Pass with crossroads on summit" since roads from
Zanskar, Ladakh, Spiti and
Lahaul meet at this pass.
A glimpse of approaching Suraj
In addition to the Suraj Tal and
the Bhaga River that originates from it, Bara-lacha-la Pass is also
the source of the Chandra and Yunan Rivers in the northwest and
is situated in the Upper Himalayan Zone or High Latitudinal Zone
part of the Himalayas which has very sparse population with climatic
conditions akin to polar conditions.
Snowfall in this zone,
though scanty, is reported to be spread all round the year.
Rainfall precipitation is rare in the region. Snow precipitation
from snow storms
is reported to be less than of snow in nearly 50 % of the storms,
even though one observatory in the region has reported of snow
fall. The precipitation starts melting from May. Snow on slopes is
generally slackly bonded, with wind
redistributing it. The average total snowfall recorded in a year is
reported to be – with temperatures of Highest Max. , Mean Max.
,Mean Minimum minus and Lowest Minimum of minus . The ground in the
zone is covered with scree and boulders.
The Lake's geology
is represented by the
Bara-lacha-la Pass, which is reported to be an early rifting event
on the northern Indian passive margin and that the Basalts
which are emplaced along the trans–tensional
faults indicate that.
Small Deepak Lake enroute to Suraj
The Bhaga Valley (Tod or Stod Valley) formed from Suraj Tal up to
, the confluence point with Chandra
River, is long. The valley, which is a narrow gorge, is devoid of
any vegetation up to Darcha and there after it widens up to its
confluence with Chandra River at Tandi with terraces between Darcha
and Tandi which are under cultivation in the lower slopes, with the
middle slopes having grasslands. Plantation of trees and shrubs to
meet fuel wood and fodder requirements have been done on the hill
Lahaul Spiti valley is common a destination for Indian and foreign
tourists for road trips, trekking and motorcycling which cover the
Lake and the Bara-lacha-la pass, en-route from Manali to Leh.
Trekking tours are a common feature. One such trek route is
the Zingzingbar–Suraj Tal–Bara-lacha-la, which involves trek along
the Bhaga River for , cross a bridge to the North bank, then a
further climb of from the bridge followed by a steep foot trail up
to Suraj Tal.
Motorcycle trips during the season when the area is approachable
are undertaken by tourists. During such trips from Manali to Leh, the section
between Patseo to Bara-lacha-la is a rough journey of .
Along this route, two small lakes, the Deepak Tal and the Suraj Tal
- The Highest Lake in the World
- Training Report on Feasibility Study of Existing
Manali-Darcha Highway and Proposed Darcha-Padam Road Using Remote
Sensing and GIS Techniques (pages 11-13)
- Lahaul and Spiti District
- Lahaul and Spiti District
- Indian Himalayas, Lahaul and Spiti
- Suraj Tal
- Darcha Baralacha Pass Trek Lahaul
- Biking tours in Trans Himalayan Shadow