A beautiful hamlet of Chopta located at an elevation of 2860m in Uttarakhand's Garhwal region is a popular tourist destination. It comes with undulating lush green meadows and has dense forests of evergreen trees in its surroundings. Chopta is a small village within the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary. The majestic view of the lofty Himalayas, rich flora and fauna, and rare wild animals enhance this region's beauty. If you want to spot the pika mouse or the musk deer, or the Monal bird, Chopta is your place to be. It also serves as the base camp for the Tungnath Temple trek.
Tungnath is a 3.5 km uphill trek from the base camp at Chopta. The trek's highlight is the Tungnath temple that falls on the Tungnath range, in the district of Rudraprayag. It is at the height of 3680 m, and the Shiva Temple here is the oldest. Tungnath is one of the five Panch Kedar and one among the world's highest Shiva temples. It is well-laid, and you can easily access it throughout the year, except for winters owing to the heavy snowfall.
Discovered by Adi Shankaracharya, the architecture of this 1000year old temple reeks of artistic excellence. You will find other idols in close vicinity, including one of Goddess Parvati, the wife of Shiva. Several known and unknown Himalayan peaks are also clearly visible from Tungnath, making the trekking experience a visual delight.
If you move further up 1km from Tungnath, you will reach Chandrashila peak. It is at the height of 3690 m and is the summit of Tungnath. 'Chandrashila' literally translates to 'moon rock' and offers a panoramic view of Kedar, Bandarpooch, Chaukhamba, Trishul, and Nanda Devi peaks. The trek to Chandrashila is a blessing to the souls who want to attain spirituality and are in search of peace.
The Chopta- Tungnath- Chandrashila Trek is a popular weekend trek of Uttarakhand. It is easy and perfect for beginners looking to step into the beautiful world of trekking.
● The trek Route-
● The drive to the village of Sari takes about 7-8 hours from Haridwar. It is a beautiful uphill journey where you can experience the lower vista of the Himalayas. We will halt for some time in Devaprayag, a town that marks the merging of river Bhagirathi and Alakananda. The river, however, will continue to flow by our side till we reach the picturesque village of Sari. Small houses stand straight against a mountain backdrop, and there are patches of agricultural lands.
● Deorital Lake is a 3km trek from Sari that takes about an hour. It is at the height of 2,438 m and has the beautiful backdrop of the Chaukhamba massif. You can also spot other famous Himalayan peaks and various species of birds here. The lake is also ideal for organizing picnics.
● The route to Chopta valley also comes with beautiful views of nature. The journey is enriching as it exposes you to a varied landscape of meadows, forests, and pristine rivers. Dense forests of pine, rhododendrons, and deodar surround the village, making it perfect for spotting rare wild animals. You will also find some eco-friendly tourist lodges in Chopta valley that offer immediate insight into the localities' lifestyle.
● The trek from Chopta to Tungnath is a moderately easy trek of 3.5 km. We move on a well-built concrete terrain that comes with views of the gorgeous Himalayan peaks. The route has steep climbs and sudden changes in turns. On the way, many shrines will pass, but Tungnath's Shiva temple is a significant highlight of the trek. Worshippers and nature lovers equate Tungnath to a paradise owing to its stunning scenic grandeur and architecture.
● Another trek of 1.5km, and we will reach Chandrashila peak. The trail starts from behind the Shiva temple and is a steep climb. Chandrashila peak is the summit of Tungnath and offers a clear panoramic view of Chaukhamba, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nilkantha, Dronagiri, Kedar, Nandaghunti, and Bandarpooch. You can also see a partial view of Gangotri ranges and Thalaysagar from the edge. The downhill journey from Chandrashila to Chopta is, however, more comfortable and less time-consuming.
HOW TO REACH:
● By Air: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is at a distance of 48 km from Haridwar and 35km away from Rishikesh. Regular flights are available from Delhi, so there is no hassle at all. If you want to go on this trek via Rishikesh, you can also book an air ticket to Dehradun and can easily board private cabs from the airport till Rishikesh.
● By Train: Many prominent cities like Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow and Varanasi have close-knit railway services till Dehradun. These are the following trains that will drop you off at Dehradun-
● By Road: Some buses run daily from the ISBT Kashmere Gate in Delhi to Haridwar. It is advisable to avail government buses as they are more trustworthy than private buses. In most cases, buses drop tourists off at the Haridwar Railway Station. If you want more comfort and privacy, you can opt for private cars to reach Haridwar. It is around 236 km by road and takes about four hours. Take the Upper Ganga Canal Road and NH334 to get to Haridwar from Delhi.
Rishikesh is also 162 km away from Chopta and is easy to reach. You can take either of the routes; Rishikesh via Kund, Rudraprayag, Ukhimath, or Rishikesh via Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Gopeshwar, and Kamprayag. You can also hire private taxis from Delhi to Chopta, which is only 450 away.
TIPS FOR TREK-
Kids and beginners can easily do this trek as the difficulty of the terrain ranges from easy to moderate.
You need to carry a sufficient amount of cash on the trek. Ukhimath is the last stop where you will find an ATM.
The terrain gets heavily covered in snow during winters, and the trek is comparatively challenging. So, keep a guide with you at all times.
It is also advisable to opt for hotels or be sure of your accommodation, as many camps remain inaccessible by road or closed in winters. So if you want to experience camp life, book your stay in advance.
In winters, start the trek early in the morning to be back to the camp before evening.
To combat the harsh weather of winters, carry windproof jackets, thermal inners, gloves, and socks.
Owing to the height of Chandrashila, acclimatization is essential. You need to give adequate rest and time to your body to adjust to the changing altitudes. Cover the distances slowly and steadily to avoid facing health hazards.
Take proper care of your health and fitness before the trek. Ensure that your muscle flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and balance meet the prerequisites of the trek. It will keep you enjoying the trek to the fullest.
Do not consume alcohol or use earphones on the trek.
The Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila trek is not only comfortable but also offers you the best of nature. Verdant meadows, pristine rivers, beautiful hamlets, thick forests, and spectacular views of mountain peaks - you name it, and this trek has it. So, if you want a break from the monotony of life, trekking to this beautiful land might be the ideal choice.
Meenakshi Majumder is a content writer at Moxtain Adventures. She has completed her graduation from Calcutta University in English Honours. She's been working as a content writer for about 2+years. She loves traveling to offbeat destinations and watching the sunrise on the lap of the mountains with a good book in her hand.