Monday, August 13, 2012

Himalayan Adventure #1 - Day 2 : Tungnath

DeoraiTal was a great experience to us, but our fun was not limited to this place. Saari is a small place so shared taxis are available till 8AM in the morning, but after 8AM you have to hire a private vehicle to commute. Our guide had instructed us to reach to Saari before 8AM, but we could not leave the lake  early in the morning. We reached to the village at 9AM, but as expected this place was already deserted. Shopkeepers were the only people who were left behind to assist us. In the end, our guide arranged a cab for us which cost us 800 INR.
Distance between Chopta and Saari village is 35 KM. Roads are spiral, narrow, and steep, but these are maintained well. Both sides of the Roads are covered with big and old oak trees. Drivers are trained well for such roads. Though these drivers drive on such risky roads with considerable speed, but they understand their responsibilities. At last We reached to Chopta around 12 noon. 
Chopta is small settlement and Commencement point to 3rd of Panch Kedar. It is 2680 meters above sea level. This place is resting place for trekkers and pilgrims. Chopta/Tungnath is more commercialized than Saari Village as it attracts higher number of Hindu pilgrims. Hindu pilgrims prefer to spend their nights at hotels available at Chopta whereas trekkers prefer to trek to Tungnath and enjoy spectacular Sunrise/Sunset. 
While leaving Saari, we didn't have appetite for breakfast, but we were starving now. So we planned to trek right after lunch. Lots of shops and restaurants were available so we stuffed our stomach. Before starting our journey, one gentleman offered us his help. He asked us to contact Mandir Samiti people and hand them the piece of paper that he gave. He has mentioned his name on the Paper, but forgot to provide any other information on it. (BTW you don't really need any information. At top you will not find many options to confuse)
Started for Tungnath trekking from here.

We pulled up our socks for uphill trekking which was a 4 KM's walk. This trekking path is built with stones and cement, and it is steeper than the Deorai Tal trek. One side of the path is covered with the green grass and other side has breathtaking view of the mountains series. We were walking slowly and taking more breaks to enjoy the views, to get familiar with the environment, to maintain my breath in lesser oxygen density area, and to carry our heavy bags. At last We hired a porter to carry our bags which gave us the freedom to enjoy the surrounding. Finally, We took 2 hours to reach to the temple premise.
Breathing time.
Entry Point to Tungnath

Tungnath Temple, It almost remain less populated.

Tungnath temple is the highest temple among all Panch Kedars. Tunganath (literal meaning: Lord of the peaks) mountains form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys. Located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila. Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is believed to be 1000 years old and is the second in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars. It has a rich legend linked to the Pandavas, heroes of the Mahabharata epic.

The temple is a small premise, you can rather call it a room of 200 square feet. It is built with stones. Simple temple structure is the most attractive and beautiful thing about it. Main sanctum is surrounded with other deities. In compare to other Hindu shrines Tungnath attracts less number of devotees, that's why this place is less populated and polluted.

At the peak there are very less options to stay and eat. In general Hindu devotees trek in the morning and return back in the evening so the People, who stay overnight, are either trekkers or bird watchers. For these people, Mandir Samiti has build one guest house which has 4 rooms. These rooms are cheap (400 INR only), comfortable and spacious. Apart from the guest house there are few other places for overnight stay which might be as good as other room, but we settled in guest house room. Food is quite good, just like home cooked food, tasty and cheap. We were actually tired after trekking so we took some rest before having our lunch.

Chandrashila is an another peak accessible from the Tungnath and it is 1 Km walk from the Tungnath. Lodge caretaker asked us to accompany them in their evening walk to the peak. The way to the peak is quite easy and manageable. But due to less oxygen and non availability of water, I was breathing heavily. So I quit the walk in the middle. I returned back to the room, but Kunal walked to the top with other people.
Sunrise I think.
Chandrashila is  summit  of the Tungnath . It literally means "Moon Rock". It is located at a height of about 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) above sea level. This peak provides a spectacular view of Himalayas,especially Nandadevi, Trisul, Kedar Peak, Bandarpunch and Chaukhamba peaks. Sunset and Sunrise views, from the peak, are the biggest charm of the place.

As our planning was not adequate, that's why we didn’t have enough cloths to sustain in the cold, and it posted little trouble to me as well. In the evening I was down with fever, and we could not find any medicine. In the meantime Kunal returned from Chandrashila. He took spectacular shots with his camera and was too happy. I missed it all, and I was little sad about it, but I did not lose my hopes.

Morning didn't bring any good news and I couldn't encourage myself to trek to Chandrashila in these conditions. So I ditched the trekking plans, whereas Kunal woke up late. He didn't have enough time to climb to the peak before sunrise. But still he found few people walking in different direction. He followed them and reached to a place where lots of people were assembled to view Sunrise. They told him, the view from both the places are same. So without missing anything, he returned happily with astonishing Sunrise shots.


Around 9 AM, we got ready for return journey. We walked around the temple a little, took some photographs and had our breakfast before trekking down to Chopta. We trekked down with our friend and lodge caretaker. We reached to Chopta and took a cab to Okhimath. From Okhimath, we took a shared cab and reached to Rishikesh safely (safely because cab's tyres were punctured once and blasted once, scary is not it) at 7 PM in the evening.
Walking back to Chopta to return back to same Noisy City

Man with hope.

It was an exciting trip with new experiences and challenges. We achieved a lot but I missed a little too. Everything was special as if somebody has read my heart and crafted the surrounding to match my taste. Though I regret to miss Chandrashila and I would come back to Himalayas and I would achieve the height, higher than the height that scared me this time. 

Few Points to Remember:
1. Do not hire private cab, you will surely get some other bakra who has hired it and can take you to your destination in very less money.
2. Do not talk to middlemen, they are little extra burden on you.
3. Take water with you while trekking.
4. Carry minimum weight with you.
5. Must carry medicines in case of urgency.
6. Must carry enough warm cloths.
7. There is no electricity at Tungnath, so carry your own source of light. Candles is also helpful.
8. Cellone's mobile network is only network available there.

Contact Information
Deorai Tal - Negi Mountaineering(Bhawani Singh) - 09410940110
Tungnath - Sandeep Care taker at Mandir Samiti Guest House - 09458081787 

Trip to Deorai Tal 

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