Trek in Himalayan ranges revives adrenaline rush in oneself. Utopian landscapes, pristine air, immaculate viewpoints on the way to the summit can make for an incredible experience. Tungnath and Chandrashila treks are one of those journeys.
Nestled in the Garhwal ranges of Rudraprayag district, Tungnath temple is one of the highest Shiva temples in the world. Pertaining to its meaning, “The Lord of Peaks”, it is the highest Panch Kedars, with the other four being Kedarnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar.
Surrounded with the splendid forest of oak trees, rhododendron and deodar, Tungnath is embraced in the lap of Chandrashila Peak. Residing at the top of the mountain, Tungnath divides the Mandakini river from the Alaknanda.
Being more than 1000 years old, many devotees can be seen trekking this abode of Lord Shiva. For pilgrims, the doors of Tungnath temple opens in summer from May to November and it remains covered in a blanket of snow during winters.
Legend says that sage Vyas Rishi advised Pandavas to seek the forgiveness of Lord Shiva for destroying there own clan, Kauravas, during Mahabharat. Then, the Pandavas went in search of Lord Shiva, who, in order to avoid them, was hiding underground in the form of a bull. Later, Shiva’s body was re-emerged at five different locations in the form of 5 different body parts of Bull. Pandavas then established five Shiva temples at those locations, known as “Panch Kedar”.
Chandrashila or “Moon Rock” is a summit of the majestic Tungnath. Snugged at the height of 13,000 feet, Chandrashila peak provides a 360-degree view of enchanting Himalayas, including Nandadevi, Trisul, Kedar and Chaukhamba peaks.
Picturesque panorama, dignified views of Himalayas, lush green grasslands in summer and sparkling white snow canvas in winters are the blessings. If your soul is in search of peace and tranquility then this place won’t let you down.
About the trek
Chopta valley, a small establishment in the Garhwal region of Uttrakhand, is the base village for Tungnath & Chandrashila trek summit.
This 4 km trek from Chopta valley to Tungnath is accessible all around the year. In summers, the route is embraced with lush oak and deodar trees with blossoming red and pink rhododendron magnifying its beauty. Whereas, winters provide the view of frosty white fairyland. If you are a beginner and want to explore the world of trekking, then this is an ideal trek to start with.
Total Trek time from Chopta to Tungnath temple is approximately 2 – 2.5 hrs with a bit of ascend. The route is well paved with rocks, with sufficient eatery shops and small dhabas on the way. Around 15 minutes before Tungnath, there is a viewpoint to the peak called Ravanshila, a place where Ravan meditated to please Shiva. This viewpoint provides a panoramic view of the valley. I will suggest you sit back for some time, relax and enjoy the enthralling views.
Trek to Chandrashila, on the other hand, starts from Tungnath and is only 1.5 km but with a steep ascend. The total time required to reach Chandrashila from Tungnath is approximately 45 minutes to an hour, based on your speed and stamina. The complete route is raw unlike Tungnath which is well paved and you won’t find any eatery shops on this route.
Lord Shiva’s effigy is established at the top, surrounded by the magnificent and fascinating 360-degree views of the Himalayan ranges. Snow-covered peaks can be seen from the top, which embraces the beauty of other surrounding peaks. Morning is the best time to enjoy the picturesque sights, as noon and evening can block the view with fog and clouds.
You can also trek to Deoriatal which is a 3 km trek from a small village near Ukhimath, named, Sari. Deoriatal summit gives you a jaw-dropping sight of a lake and lush meadows. The trek to Deoriatal from Sari is a very low ascend and can be completed in an hour. You can also fix your tents near the lake and stay back for a night.
If you are planning to trek Deoriatal as well, I will suggest you do it before Chandrashila because after seeing and enjoying the enchanting views of Chandrashila, Deoriatal may not woo you.
How to Reach
Rishikesh or Haridwar is the nearest connected city but it is very difficult to get direct buses or shared taxi from Rishikesh to Chopta. Following are your options:
- Take a shared taxi or bus from Rishikesh till Rudraprayag, then again a shared taxi or bus from Rudraprayag to Ukhimath and then a private taxi till Chopta.
- Take a bus or shared taxi en route to Kedarnath and get down at Kund. From Kund take another bus or taxi till Ukhimath and then a private taxi till Chopta.
- If you are in a group of 5-6 people, hire a private taxi from Rishikesh to Chopta directly.
Fares are as below:
- Bus from Rishikesh to Ukhimath – Rs 250 approx.
- Shared Taxi from Rishikesh to Ukhimath – Rs 500
- Private taxi from Ukhimath to Chopta – Rs 500
- Private taxi from Rishikesh to Chopta – Rs 5000
Best Time to Visit
The best part about Chopta is that it is accessible all around the year. Apart from being a summer trek, it is equally popular as a winter trek. Still, The best time to visit Chopta is from May to June and September to November, if you want to witness the lush green meadows. Visit Chopta in December & January if you want to witness and trek in snowy meadows. Avoid rainy seasons though.
There are many accommodation options available in and around Chopta. Following are a few of the options:
- Around 8 km before Chopta, is a campsite village named Duggal Bittha. Situated away from the city at a quiet and serene location, this can be a good option to stay. Prices here are on a bit higher side though.
- Many small lodges and guest houses are available in the main Chopta village at a price of Rs. 1000-2000 with minimum required amenities.
- If you have some time in hand, then 15-20 minutes into the trek, you will see a small dhaba with lush green meadows on the side. They have 2 rooms at the backside of dhaba and if you are lucky then you can stay here. Prices are very nominal, ranging from Rs. 1000-1200 for a room.
- If you are a fit individual and have some time before it goes dark, I will suggest you start the trek and stay directly at Tungnath. Small lodges and tents are available at Tungnath for the price of Rs 1000-1500. That way, you can start early at 4:00 am for Chandrashila and can witness the beautiful sunrise.
All kinds of networks work in Chopta with very low internet connectivity. However, you won’t get networks during the trek but surprisingly Chandrashila peak will have some networks.
- Delhi to Rishikesh (Volvo) = Rs. 785
- Rishikesh to Ukhimath (Bus) = Rs 250
- Ukhimath to Chopta (Private Taxi) = Rs 500 / 3 people = Rs 170 approx
- Chopta to Ukhimath (Private Taxi) = Rs 500 / 3 people = Rs 170 approx
- Ukhimath to Rishikesh (Shared Taxi) = Rs 500
- Rishikesh to Delhi (Bus) = Rs 300
- Total Transportation Cost = Rs 2175/head
- Accommodation in Chopta = Rs 1200 / 3 people = Rs 400/head
- Food and Miscellaneous = Rs 2000/head
The total Budget for my trip was approximately Rs 4000 only.
So, this was my experience. I hope you liked it and got sufficient information to plan your trip. Please let me know in the comments if you want some more information.
Keep traveling and keep sharing experiences.