Those who are avid trekkers must have heard about the phenomenal Chopta Chandrashila Trek in Uttarakhand, and for those who have not, this will be a revelation of sorts. It is no secret that the majestic Himalayas offers surreal visual delights. The trekking trails here reveal something new with every turn. The Chopta Chandrashila trek starts around Haridwar and ends at Chandrashila. The peaks of Nanda Devi, Panchchuli, Nilkanth and Kedarnath are all clear during the summer months and it does become a bit difficult at times to concentrate on the roads, with the visuals around quite bent on distracting the trekker! But that is what this trek is all about.
The trek trail here is quite easy and provides a mid range difficulty. Hence, it is ideal for the first time trekkers who want to master the basics of trekking before they move on to more difficult trails. The weather here is also perfect. The main attractions here are the Tungnath Temple and then the Chandrashila Peak, which provides mesmerizing views of the peaks below.
How Do I Get to the Tunganath Trek?
To start with, one has to first reach the holy city of Haridwar, which is easily accessible by rail and road. One can take National Highway 58 to reach the city or fly indirectly. From there, one has to reach the base camp of the trek at Chopta, which is located at a height of about 2600 meters. It is a small and beautiful hill station and also popularly known as Mini Switzerland. There is a lot of flora to admire here- one can literally walk through many flower shrubs as they line the roads and streets. The region has still not been commercialized and first timers are sure to feel an instant connection with nature as they arrive here. The city of Haridwar is located at the base of the Shivalik range and the region is known for its hospitality. Trekkers find ample accommodation here at very affordable rates.
While the road conditions here are pretty good round the year, this is one of the few trekking zones which is open throughout the year. Of course, the most popular months are between March and May, but the avid trekkers, who do not mind turning up the difficulty level a notch or two higher, prefer to visit during the winter months. The trek can get a bit difficult if its snows but the sights are definitely surreal and not something that one gets to witness easily. The skies are clear and with hardly any vehicles, one can breathe in the fresh mountain air.
How Long is Tunganath Trek?
Depending on how long one wants the trek to be, one can start the trek from the city of Haridwar itself. The Devariyatal Lake is the first major point that one reaches after about 3 km of trekking and it is located at an altitude of 2440 m. One can see the Ganga and the Alakananda River flowing in the distance below. The trekkers will be able to catch a glorious sight of the Chaukhamba range from here. As one progresses further, one will cross the town of Chopta which is at 3000 m. It provides unadulterated views of the Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba from here. The last lap of the Tungnath trek begins from here. It is about a 4km long trail.
The trail goes up from here, till one reaches Tungnath, located at a height of 3680 m. It also happens to be the highest Shiva temple in the world and is one of the five Panch Kedar Temples in the Rudraprayag district. The temple is said to be a 1000 years old and is also inextricably linked to the legend of the Pandavas, as it was here that they were questioned by the Yaksha. One can have a look around and try to get near the Alakananda and Mandakini river valleys. By continuing further up, one will finally reach the Chandrashila Top which is located at a height of 4130 m. The joy and wonder that one is to experience here is going to be unlike anything that one might have experienced before. A seasoned trekker might be able to complete the entire trek during the course of a single day if one starts early in the morning. Or else, one can camp on the mountains for the night and return the next day. The night atop the Chandrashila would provide an experience not quite described with words.
There are many who embark on this trek on their own and there are others who go as a part of a group. One must have detailed knowledge of the restrictions and the regulations that are to be followed in the region and one must also carry all the paper and documentation pertaining to forest camping, if one is planning on it. It is also advisable to carry one’s own medical kit and one should have a knowledge of CPR, fracture aid and must carry the medicines of Acute Mountain Sickness. It is also advisable not to rush with the climb because it takes a while for the body to get used to high altitudes and this is something one should be mindful, especially if one is planning on a solo trip. Trekking boots, camp shoes, trekking pants, woolens, water bottles and glares are a must.
If all goes well, the Chopta Tunganath Trekking will give you memories of a lifetime. It would be a trek full of heavenly sights, a taste of local hill culture, a journey accompanied with stories of mythology and a closeness with nature that one seldom gets to experience otherwise. The trek is sure to be the first of many similar experiences for a mountain lover. All you have to do is be safe, look out for one another and keep the mountain clean as you traverse through it by not littering it.
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