Chopta Tungnath Chandrashila Trek
This is the ideal beginning to introduce people who want to explore Himalayas much more than that of a regular tourist yet staying in the comfort of Tea House. The places covered in the trek promises almost everything that a high altitude Himalayan trek offers. Pristine canopy of forest around Chopta, blooming Rhododendrons in Spring, to foliage in autumn. Wildlife around Chopta is well know. Exploring the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary may produce a glimpse of Himalayan Thar or the Himalayan Monal, state bird of Uttarakhand. Tunganath , at an elevation of ~3600m/11500 being the highest of Panch Kedar, the five holy shrines of Lord Shiva (The other four are, Kedarnath, Madmaheshwar, Rudranath and Kalpeshwar). Sunrise from Tunganath on Chowkhamba is compelling. Chandrashila, a small peak above the temple is just an hour walk. Often it is referred as the ‘Switzerland of India”. 180 degree panoramic view from the top covers numerous peaks of Kumaon (including Nandadevi, Trishul, Mukut, Kamet ) to far western peaks of the Kedarnath area. The four pillars of Chowkhamba standing above 7000m/23000ft are so close that you have to zoom out your camera . This is not all at all! Deoriatal, a lake hidden inside the valley at a much lower altitude but yet the mountains and reflections on water are massive. This trek can be done almost throughout the year apart from few months of monsoon. It has to offer something unique in each season. Fresh snow in winter and flowers in spring are a delight to watch. Even till late of spring, Tunganath and Chandrashila remains covered with snow, and it is fun to walk indeed.
Duration: 3 days of trekking
Total trek distance: 20 km
Maximum altitude: 3800 m/12500 ft
Best season: March to June, October to January
Day 1: Drive from Haridwar to Sari via Ukhimath - 220 km by car - 9/10 hrs
Pick up from Haridwar in the morning (by 7 am latest) and drive to Sari (1980m/ 6500ft) which is 220 km away and takes around 9 to 10 hrs. The road is the main gateway to Garhwal following Ganges from Rishikesh till Deoprayag. This is where Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meets to form Ganga. From here we go along Alaknanda to reach another major confluence called Rudraprayag. Meadering Mandakini draining the Kedarnath valley meets with Alaknanda sweeping Badrinath valley.
From Rudraprayag we cross the confleunce and follow Mandikini river and leave Mandakini to reach Ukhimath. On a clear day splendid views of Kedarnath range towering over Guptkashi town gives ample teaser what awaits us for next few days. From Ukhimath our destination for today Sari is another 20 km.
Sari is as beautiful as an interior village of Himalaya with few basic lodge and home-stay accommodations. If you have take take a walk to the temple in the evening. Night accommodation in lodge.
Day 2: Trek to Deoriatal - 3 km - 2 hrs
Our trek starts today. After breakfast we start our days hike to Deoriatal. From the small bazar strip of Sari village a track starts winding up and leaves the village. Initially the trail is gradual and becomes steeper at later half. There are a few resting points on the turn. Take some rest and enjoy the birds-eye view of Sari and the surrounding valley. On a blazing sunny day, this climb can be a little demanding for some.
In around 2 hrs few small shops and shelters welcome us. Yes, we have reached Deoriatal (2370 m/7775 ft). It is another 2/3 minutes walk from here to get the first glimpse of the lake. A medium size lake hidden inside the slope of the hills.
We either camp at Deoriatal or accommodations will be in small basic Dhaba which are just 2/3 minutes off the lake. There is a Forest Rest House on the other side of the lake. Walk around the lake and explore the surroundings. The area is full of bird life, Black Jay, Blue Magpie and varies species of Thrushes are common. In the evening setting sun with changing colours is not to miss indeed. We camp or stay in the Dhaba overnight.
Day 3: Trek down to Sari - Drive to Chopta - 1 hr - Hike around Chopta in the afternoon
Today morning wake up early to watch the spectacular sunrise. This is one of the best of its own. Look out for changing hue on Chowkhamba, Mandani and Kedarnath peak. This is truly surprising that a lake at such altitude can be sol close to those high Himalayan peaks. The reflection of golden peaks on the lake will surely make you spellbound. After breakfast we start out today’s trek down to Sari village. The decent will take around an hour or so. Now we will drive to our next destination Chopta. This will be our base for next two days. After leaving sari the rods starts gaining height and we pass through the village of Duggalbhitta, Baniakund and finally to Chopta (2650 m/8700 ft). Drive will take an hour.
Chopta definitely needs a special mention when it comes to exquisite destinations to the Himalayas. This valley has everything that you wish for. Captivating views of the mountains and followed by a spectacular sunset, canopy of Rhododendron forest and the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary. Each season had something special of its own. In winter the area becomes a snowy land. Truly it is referred as the “Switzerland of India”.
Chopta has quite a few basic lodge and simple Dhaba, which operate almost year round. Camping ground is few turns down, beside the motor able road. We camp or our accommodation will be in lodge/Dhaba.After lunch we take a walk inside the Kedarnath Sanctuary towards Mandal/Gopeshwar road. During winter sighting of Himalayan Monals are common. No wonder why this magnificently coloured featured beauty is the state bird of Uttarakhand. Closely inspect the openings inside the jungle sloping downwards from the road. Don’t create any noise or disturbances as you can easily sight the group of Himalayan Thar grazing in a glade. Spot different woodpeckers, raptors and Himalayan Griffon vultures quite easily.
In the evening we walk on the same road but on the different side towards Dugalbhitta. Hardly a turn or two on the road away from Chopta main strip and you can watch the setting sun producing extraordinary hues on the gigantic massif of Chowkhamba and Kedarnath peak. Witness the sheer magical colouration as long as you wish for! We return to camp or lodge/Dhaba as per arrangements. Tomorrow at the break of dawn we will start our summit push to Chandrashila peak.
Day 4: Trek to Tunganath - 3.5 km/ 2 hrs - Climb to Chandrashila - 1 hr - Return to Chopta - Total 6/7 hrs
Wake up early in the morning as we will climb to Tunganath and further to the summit of Chandrashila. The prominently marked track to Tunganath starts from Chopta main strip and made of concrete throughout.
Day 5: Drive from Chopta to Haridwar - 240 km - 9/10 hrs
In the morning we take the car and start our long journey to Haridwar. The road is through Ukhimath, Rudraprayag to finally Rishikesh and Haridwar. You will reach Haridwar by 8 pm latest. Trip ends here.
Shared Cab Transportation (Pay on spot):
Depending upon the trek members we will arrange a pick up and drop from Haridwar to Chopta and return from Sari to Haridwar. This will be shared equally by the team members on actual basis.
Public Transportion Option (Pay on spot):
Otherwise if you want to reach Sari and return from Chopta on your own then:
- Take an early morning bus from Haridwar to Rudraprayag. Change here for Ukhimath. From Ukhimath hire a cab for Sari which is 15 km.
- While returning from Chopta, hire a cab for Ukhimath in the morning. From Ukhimath change for Rudraprayag and then to Haridwar by bus.
- Accommodation in tent//lodge/dhaba on sharing basis as required.
- All meals during the trek. Regular Indian style nutritious vegetarian food during the trek (including eggs), breakfast packed/hot lunch (depending upon the time you reach a campsite), snacks, dinner along with coffee/tea/soup.
- Excellent Mountain Guide, who will be a local to this particular area and has profound knowledge of the trekking trails around.
- All permits, Forest levy, camping charges required for the trek.
- Car transport from Sara to Chopta on Day 3.
- Sleeping Mattress and Sleeping bag
- Micro spikes/Crampons and Gaiters if needed.
- Basic First Aid and Medical Kit.
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