Connected like a jigsaw, the centerpiece to the majestic Chandrashila trek is the Tungnath region. Through the scenic trails of Deoria Tal and Chopta, the trek to this infamous pilgrimage summit completes within at least 2-3 days.
How to Reach Here:
Considering Delhi as the starting point, the first milestone to cross would be Haridwar. Tungnath is 200 kilometers away from here
Enroute to Tungnath you’d halt at three specific spots – Sari, Chopta, and Deoria Tal.
If you’re preferring air travel, Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport at a distance of 180 kilometers from Chopta. The nearest rail line is at Haridwar, from where you can avail a cab or bus service to Sari village. The common base point for the trek to Tungnath is Sari.
Delhi to Haridwar there are also regular buses available from the Janpath buses to the Volvo ones. In case you find it difficult to get the buses that switch to Sari, you can also opt for the alternative route from Kund. There are no direct buses to any and you would have to bifurcate the routes with the help of GMOU buses or personal transportation. Chopta, one among the camping sites for the trek, is located around 40 kilometers from Kund and 54 kilometers from Sari.
Haridwar – Rishikesh – Devprayag – Srinagar – Rudraprayag – Agastyamuni – Kund/Sari – Ukhimath – Chopta – Tungnath.
The Himalayas with its rich flora and fauna is a treat to the sore eyes. Even though I’ve been to treks before, this was one of the longest treks especially through a section of a wildlife sanctuary.
From the Rhododendron forests on the route that gives a crimson glow to the rustic lands to the pure white snow that crumbles with your touch, it is one unforgettable experience. It is also an easy climb, and hence an ideal trekking spot along with family and friends.
Day 1 involves driving to the base point Sari. It takes less than half a day, and this is where convenient accommodation will be arranged for the night.
On day 2, the trek to the Deoria Tal can be started, and it takes just about 40 minutes to reach. Deoria Tal is the common camping site, not just for the adventurous trekkers but also for those who are looking for a peaceful get-away in Uttarakhand. I wasn’t even able to realize the day passing by while I sat by the lake watching the undisturbed reflection of the Chaukhamba mountains from here.
From here, reaching Chopta takes a longer duration due to the increasing steepness and altitude. Through the uneven terrains of the pine forests, it takes about 8-10 hours to reach the destination. By the end of the third day, the idea itself of getting to see the snow-capped peak the next day got me restless. I kept counting the hours and hoping the day starts sooner so I could pick up my rucksack and trek to the spectacle.
The 4th day marks a 5-hour trek to the moderately easy gradient of ascent. The 5-hour duration is the common span for regular trekkers, it can vary for a beginner. At an elevation of 12000 feet, this is one of the most important flag points in Uttarakhand. And, trekking in Uttarakhand is incomplete without covering all
Tungnath witnesses a good share of a crowd including tourists and localities because of the Tungnath temple. The highest Shiva temple in the world, this humble abode of worship is an exceptional meditational spot. Radiating with an energy like no other, it’s not the usual feel of sitting cross-legged on a lush meadow. Instead, it’s the chilling breeze, that often gets harsh but still carries a sense of serenity within it. Just sitting here on the rocks in the silence of the snowy mountains, is refreshing.
One of the other reasons that make this peak even more special is the view from up there. Unlike the usual 360° view of the valley in the form of minuscule specks, you could see all the major mountain peaks of Western and Eastern Uttarakhand like they’re up close!
Best Time to Visit:
Each season shows an entirely different shade of Tungnath, so it’s mostly up to you regarding when you’d love to trek up to the summit. I’d highly suggest a visit during the months of summer when the temperature goes up to a solid 16 degrees. Not too cold and not too warm.
In May the main deity here, Lord Tungnath is taken from Mukumath to the temple, and it’s a tradition that still lives up to its glory. Since one of the main attractions here is the Tungnath temple, this point of the month becomes even more favorable. This is also the time when it’s easier than usual to trek up to Chandrashila.
For the risk-takers, monsoons are a challenging trek. The trekking instructor who had assisted the group including me kept narrating about how it’s the most dangerous yet the most rewarding deed to trek during a good downpour. Trekking during winters is a surreal experience with the fresh snow paving your way to the top.
The only inconvenience that may occur during winters is the search for the perfect stay. Since this is the time the tourists flock in to watch the majestic snow-covered Chandrashila, almost all accommodations run out of rooms. The early bird gets the worm.
What to not miss out around Tungnath:
Part of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, the trek up to Tunganath would be a paradise to nature lovers. Tungnath is the perfect spot for spectating high-altitude Himalayan birds. These exotic species are hard to spot around, and quite a catch once you’re able to identify them.
From the Koklass pheasants to the Himalayan monal and Nesting pied thrush. He named it all and told us about interesting facts about each. Yet another interesting bird we encountered en route was the Snow Patridge, which is usually only spotted during winters.
The highest shrine of Lord Shiva is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why a lot of them visit the peak. Perched on the ridges of Chandranath Parvat, the temple divides the two glistening streams of Alaknanda and Mandakini.
At a height of above 12073 feet from sea level, this temple is third in a row of the Panch Kedar (five Kedar) – Kedarnath, Rudranath, Tungnath, Madhyamaheshwar, Kalpeshwar. It dates back to more than 1000 years and has several historical and mythological references to it.
One of the infamous legends revolving around the formation of the temple is associated with the Pandavas and the Kauravas. After the Kurukshetra war, the Pandavas were seeking salvation for having killed their cousins and committing the sins of Brahmanahatya and Gothrahatya.
Lord Shiva who was disappointed by the war, disguised himself away from the Pandavas, like a bull in the Garhwali region. The long search conducted by the brothers, lead them to destroy the disguise and dismantling bits of it at five different places.
This is how the formation of the five Shiva temples in the snow-clad mountains is believed to have occurred. Tungnath, out of the five, is said to have risen from the arms of the bull disguise. The numerous versions of this story go around like verses of the same poem.
Unlike other temples I have been to, Tungnath looked grand in its simplicity. Except for the month when Lord Shiva is brought to the temple. There isn’t much festivity or adornments to the temple. A minimal form of Garhwali architecture with the shrines of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Nandi, and a few other gods. From here, the Chandrashila peak is merely at an altitude of 500 ft.
Things to keep in mind:
- There aren’t many halts en route to Tungnath, so make sure you have all essentials packed with you.
- Avoid trekking at night. Even though it’s a safe route, there are chances of taking the wrong direction within the forests.
- Carry plenty of water along and make sure you remain hydrated while ascending.
- Do not carry heavy snacks for the trek as you might feel sick as the altitude increases. Carry light food such as biscuits, nuts, nutritional bars, or glucose.
- Do not compromise on proper trekking gear.
- Wear warm and light clothes and carry a raincoat just in case there’s unexpected rainfall.
- Waterproof shoes are the best for trekking up the snow sieved mountains.
- If you’re going solo, make sure you have a first aid kit along with you. In groups, the trekking instructors usually have such essentials packed along with them. You could carry along a personal healthcare kit as well.
- There aren’t many ATM’s or charging points after Chopta. So keep a considerable amount of cash and a power bank in hand.
- Photography is allowed around Tungnath, but not within the temple premises.