Tungnath-Deoria Tal : Solo Sojourn


Inspiration and oppurtunity. That was all I needed to venture into my first solo trek.Inspiration i had aplenty and a Friday off coupled with most favorable weather was a godsend opportunity.Bag was packed with usual alacrity and I was ready to plunge headfirst into ecstasy.Call of the Himalayas cannot go unanswered.

Third Kedar and the highest Shiva shrine, Tungnath, situated at 3800 mts sits at a comfortable 3.5 kms trek from Chopta.1.5 kms further up is the peak Chandrashila.This coupled with Deoria Tal was just about the right amount of effort in terms of difficulty and distance for a solo trek

There is something about the start. I met some fellow trekkers heading for same destination visually excited.We decided to travel together to Chopta to cut short the expenses.Plan was to take bus to Rishikesh and then jeep to Ukhimath and Chopta.
Chopta , called mini Switzerland, is a beautifull village perched at an altitude of 2700 mts.It has yet to witness the wonders of electricity and only has a handful of buses/jeeps plying to and fro.There are some guest houses but we decided to trek to Tungnath having learned that some shopkeepers have gone to open the shops and kickstart the season.

Trek to Tungnath is fairly easy for someone used to trekking. A paved path making way through thick forest takes you from 2700 to 3800 in span of 3.5 kms. In april third week, the first patches of snow were found just below Ravan Shila.Unsurprisingly there are a multitude of stories signifying the importance of the place in mythology.Justly named Ravan Shila was once seat of meditation for Ravana and Chandrashila for Rama himself.

Clouds had vieled Chaukhamba , although parts of lesser peaks like Banderponch glittered in evening sunlight through clouds, when I reached near Tungnath after an hour of leisurely walk. The characteristic dome of the temple stood high in the lonely compound laden with old snow.There was little activity in the dharmshalas near the Temple which , had the kapats been open would be bustling with clamour. A friendly shopkeeper promised to arrange for a stay while busy shoveling pile of snow that had amassed right in front of his small guest house.Having plenty of time and energy and fueled by opportunity to take sunset shots, I decided to head for Chandrashila along with some other trekkers.

The ridge above the temple presents a unique view of the temple compound. The zigzag paved path to Chandrashila was buried under snow and so a more direct route was followed. Chandrashila is 1.5 kms from Tungnath and the gradient is not too tough when clear of snow. Presence of old snow however had made it very slippery and I was glad to finally get to a route that required trudging over shrubs than hardened snow.

Mountain tops are generally adorned by Devi’s Temples in this part of the world and I was not surprised to find Ganga Temple atop with the gates marking the altitude, 4000mts. I was however surprised to not get to hear any folklore that could point to its significance, may be a little more company of locals could have helped.The view from Chandrashila was supposed to be 270 degrees but what I was greeted with was just a small part of that large angle, owing to clouds. The immaculate weather however made up for the loss of views. The eerie silence ,in which even a buzz of a distant fly was clearly audible, coupled with heavily overcast sky and such magical environs created mystifying atmosphere. The moments we live for.

Back at Tungnath it was extremely chilly especially in the room I was staying for the night owing to large amount of snow that had accumulated behind the walls.The weather had started to clear which afforded some hope in that hopelessly cold room.

Magnificient Chaukhambha greeted us in the morning looming large behind some unnamed ridge.Although a little hazy. the striking massif of Chaukhamba looked much closer than I had expected. I set out for Chandrashila again, hoping to get the much touted 270 degree view. The snow was much harder to trudge upon in the morning after the frost and if it was not for the deep footsteps of previous day, it would have been a tricky affair to reach the top. Although I couldn’t get to see the whole panorama owing to haze, I will take the view afforded to me any day.

Trekking down to Chopta was easy and I was well on time to catch the bus that would drop me to Taal, enroute Deoria Tal. 4 Kms trek to Deoria tal starts from village Sari, connected through 4 kms road to Chopta-Ukhimath way at Taal. Hoping to get conveyance from Tal to Sari was stretching luck a fair bit and it turned out I was not so lucky. I along with 2 others decided to walk all the way to Sari and then Deoria Tal. A stroke of luck at halfway to Sari brought a jeep and we were allowed to travel on roof. The roof was hardly accommodating for 3 persons along with luggage of those lucky to be travelling inside.Although scary in bits, owing to some overconfident maneuvers of the driver that left us clinging for dear life, it was a memorable experince.That also afforded us some time to relax in Sari , a lovely village.

Deoria Tal , 2400 mts , lies 4 kms from Sari.Ascent is a little steep but the distance is too little to be troublesome and can be covered with ease. There is a SwamiNarayan temple on the way just above Sari village which bears striking resemblance to the better known temples like Tungnath but is very recently built.The view of Chandrashila from here is very enchanting.

Deoria Tal unexpectedly turns up after a corner and more unexpected is the sheer beauty and calm of the place.It is mostly surrounded largely by picteresque forest and on the remaining side has Chaukhamba and other peaks (Kedar Dome, Neelkanth etc)looking into it.Some friendlylocals have setup small establishments which eliminate the need of carrying camping gear and provisions as food and accomodation in tents is available at very decent rate.Given the ease of approach and facilities I was surprised to not find many takers. This place is taken right out of a postcard and thats an understatement by all standards.

A clear morning afforded me chance to take that prized shot.Although a bit hazy for my liking, I could finally capture reflections of Chaukhamba and other peaks in the lake.This shot will be one of the things I will remember this trip by.

I learned there is a trek route to Ukhimath straight from Deoria Tal.The idea to take the route, although not clearly marked and almost non existent at some places, seemed sensible enough. Its a definite no if you are short on time as path is not straight forward and its easy to get lost, as I did on more than one occasion. Although there is no danger apart from getting too tired and late.the route takes through unexplored and thick forest and has some dreadfull vertical drops at some point.This adds some adventure in an otherwise bland day of return travel.

I reached Ukhimath at around 1:30 having walked considerably more than was actually required owing to wrong routes taken. And if it was not for a helpful old shepherd who spotted me taking a wrong route, it would have been a lot more tiring.The good part was over and it was time for that dreadful journey back.

Trekking alone was a memorable experience.It was more than an adventure,it was a learning. Many a times this question has been asked, why trek solo? I can not answer it to others.But there was a moment when I was standing alone at the top of Chandrashila listening only to my heavy breathing.And in that moment, may be by the eerie calm, or may be by the subtle magic of mighty peaks, or even by something beyond perception, the question was answered for me beyond all doubts.

30 Replies

  1. Nazia Sultana May 19th 2011

    You are really a great photographer there is no doubt about it. I really appriciate your Love and Passion for mountain. Your writing skills are very good… but you need to give a tint of excitement in your writing… becuase it feels tedious sometime.. I don’t want to be harsh but this is what I felt …
    :|

  2. Hello from a fellow travel blogger. I am extremely inclined towards the Deoriya Taal – Tungnath – chandrashila trek in the last week of October or the first week of November. I had been trolling on IM when i came across your stunning blog. I had seen this before but never went through it in details. Lovely HDR’s i must say and the writing makes it even more enjoyable. I was wondering if i could have a word with you about the trek. Could you please drop me a line at beyondlust.blog@gmail.com ???

    Thanking you in advance!

  3. kamalendu chatterjee Nov 8th 2011

    Wonderful pictures and equally heart melting narrations… :)

  4. araib Nov 8th 2011

    Thanks!!

  5. pradip Mar 3rd 2012

    hiii I love the way you have given every details of your journey..
    can you please tell me if i can get to stay up at deori tal for the night is it allowed to stay there or do we need to come down to okhimath on the same day..as i will be coming with my family and we will visit deori tal on the way to badrinath from kedarnath..do they have it during Month of may??M travelling there on last week of may..

    Please help..
    Pradip my mail id Pradip_malakar@idealake.com

  6. Shailendra May 18th 2012

    Hi. It was nice to come across your detailed sojourn to Tungnath and Deoriatal. As you said, it is an all weather trek and i have heard that it can be undertaken in winters also. Want your views if its feasible to hit there in December/ January as trekking distances are relatively short and there is human habitation around. One can make it back to Chopta/Sari on the same day.

  7. It is feasible in December/January. It usually snows heavily in January 1st/2nd week which will block the roads from DuggalBitta upwards and that distance too will be need to be covered on foot. At least knee deep snow is expected Chopta onwards and camping gears are also required as Chopta will be desolate then.

  8. Shailendra May 19th 2012

    Thanks. Will keep in touch. Keep sharing other similar experiences of liitle known destinations.

  9. Subhas Chandra Sil May 21st 2012

    I would like to go to Tunganath,Chandrasila and Deoriatal. I am 65 years old and eager to trek to. Kindly inform me the suitable time to trek and clothings to carry.

  10. Best time to do this trek is October. You need to carry a Jacket,another layer of woolen and preferably inner.Let me know if you need more details!

  11. Thanks for your detailed description. It sounds as if you went in the 3rd week of April. What do you think this would be like in late March/early April? Do you think camping gear and self-sufficiency for food and cooking would be required? Thank you.

  12. Late March/early April would mean much more snow. One or two guest houses might be open in Chopta but definitely not in Tungnath. So if you plan to stay at Tungnath itself you will need gear , otherwise you will need to come down to Chopta (or Duggalbitta if chopta is closed too.)
    I would suggest inquiring about conditions about 1-2 weeks before your trip to get clear picture!

  13. Harihs Jan 31st 2013

    CAn any one let me know about the packages more feasible one for trekking to chandrashila in the month of March last week

  14. Harihs Jan 31st 2013

    Hi araib, Can You share your Personal Number?my email id harish.bit.bang@gmail.com

  15. Dibyendu Mar 3rd 2013

    hi…….. its awesome experience …. i am planning for the trek in march 10 th .. is it the right time ? please give me reply…. your photography is really good…. u take some great snaps…

  16. araib Mar 5th 2013

    Hi, Thanks for your wonderful comments.
    Its right time if you want to experience lots of snow. the temple would be closed and there would be no option of staying at Tungnath as all the guest houses/dharmshalas would be closed too. It might also be difficult to reach all the way upto chandrashila/Tungnath. But it can be a great snow trek around that time.

  17. Love your enthusiasm, expression and photographs.

  18. araib Mar 9th 2013

    Thanks so much, you yourself have a wonderful collection..sneaked through your website :)

  19. amit srivastsva Apr 17th 2014

    Hi, it was a great pleasure reading ur blog. I
    Will be going to tungnath & chandrashila after 16th
    may with my family. Kindly let me know
    What clothes to keep & kind of shoes for ladies & gents.

  20. You would need to carry light woolens for night, in day it would be pretty comfortable with normal summer clothes.
    Comfortable sports shoes are good enough for this trek for both ladies and gents, no need for a trekking shoe as the path is well made. Definitely no heels for the ladies :)

  21. Very Very Good, by reading – Seeing all these things I am Very much intersted to Visit all these Placesmany body want to share Pl inform me – nlraju3@gmail.com

  22. m sekar Oct 11th 2014

    Very nice to read your experience in Himalayas, simply superb.
    Only God Blessed can go to Himalayas. People may have
    power, strength, Money, etc., but dedication to go to Himalayas,
    is the most importance in ones life.

    Your photographs are very nice and beautiful to see again and again.
    All the Best ji.

  23. Dhruv Anand Oct 12th 2014

    Nicely written itinerary
    Certainly its a blessing to the person who knows the value of travelling alone
    The best part of solo travelling is learning about one’s emotions,feelings,strengths,weakness and much more.
    It’s a spiritual odyssey
    Really inspirational itinerary

  24. pamela Jan 30th 2015

    Hi … very nice blog … I am en enthusiast too and love this part of the country…

    Planning to visit from 10th to 17th May .. any hope to get snow around during this time ?

    Also .. pre hotel / staying arrangement is needed ?

  25. sakti chaudhuri Jun 8th 2015

    Great Pics along with nice informative text like to cover the same route in end October, our group consist of three kids around 10…two Sr citizen …..what do you feel…is it ok for us?

  26. October is great time for this. It is a pretty straight forward and well connected route so you should be fine. I have seen many senior citizens do this trek as it is one of Panch Kedars. Just to be safe you can hire a guide to be extra careful.

  27. Sriram Dec 18th 2015

    Hi, really amazing blog… Me and friend are planning for a trek to chandrashila coming January. It would be great if you could help us by providing some insights and guidance…?? Can u please provide your contact number or any others means of reaching you regarding this… Thanks…

  28. Anshuman Datta Feb 1st 2016

    Hello,
    First of all – incredible eye you have of photography as well as a natural knack for writing and secondly thanks a lot for providing the details for people like us who loves to travel to places like these.

    We are planning the Tungnath-Chopta-Deoria Tal-Chandrashila trek in the period 10th-13th April 2016 – few clarifications I would request from you are:
    1) whether Tungnath temple would be open or not,
    2) are the opening dates have anything to do with the amount of snowfall at the region (we have come to know that snowfall this season at that region is less than 50% compared to the historical average),
    3) is it safe to trek in this region alone (me & my wife) in this period?
    4) do we need to arrange for accommodation at Ukhimath or Chopta has basic accommodations?

    Would really love to hear from you.
    Cheers… :)

  29. Yerram Raju Feb 21st 2016

    Hi

    I am planning to visit the place in 1st week of December, your narration make me more excited about the trip.

    Can you please let me know the below details as we are also planning to make a budget trip

    1. How many days it will take
    2. How much money it would cost

    Thank you. :-)

  30. Yerram Raju Feb 21st 2016

    Also please let know how much time it took from Delhi-Chopta.


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