On the way to Chandrashila summit

Chopta-Tungnath History.

Chopta is a popular hill spot located at 2608 metre in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand in India. It is famous for the 5000 year old Tungnath temple at an altitude of 11,385 ft (the highest Shiva temple in the world) and Chandrashila peak at an altitude of 12,110 ft. The 3.5 kms trek for Tungnath starts from Chopta which further goes to the Chandrashila peak that is another 1.5 kms from Tungnath. The legend has it that the Tungnath temple was built by the Pandavas when they left everything after the great war of Mahabharat and set off to the himalayas in search of lord Shiva in order to seek his forgiveness after the bloodshed in the war. But lord Shiva didn’t want to forgive them so He disappeared in Guptkashi, but Pandavas found him out, after that lord Shiva divided his body into five parts and put each part at a different spot in the himalayas, Tungnath is one of them where rests one of his arms and his heart. These five places are called and worshiped as the Panch Kedar, the first being the famous Kedarnath.

Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek.

Tungnath and Chandrashila trek is an easy one day trek from Chopta. One can comfortably start the trek from Chopta in the morning and return before the sunset. The Tungnath temple closes on Diwali and opens in the month of May, but you can go on the trek throughout the year. As long as the temple remains open, the dhabas and food shops near the temple remain open, after that the trekkers should carry some biscuits or chocolates and water in their hiking bag.

Best time to visit Chopta-Chandrashila trek.

Though the trek remains open for trekkers throughout the year, but the best time to visit Chopta-Chandrashila trek is from mid-October to March end. Chopta Chandrashila trek during winter is a sight to behold in your memory and camera for a lifetime. The temperature of Chopta falls below zero in the peak winter, it receives heavy snowfall between December and February, and the weather remains freezing cold during these months. During non-snowy days the weathers remains sunny yet cold and the sky is clear blue which gives you the opportunity to enjoy the 360 degree view of the surrounding peaks.

My memorable visit to Chopta Chandrashila.

During my solo journey around India on bicycle I was traveling through Uttarakhand in November 2020. My bicycle broke down in Chamoli on the way to Badrinath and after that I decided to walk with the damaged bicycle.so, after visiting Badrinath and Mana (the last village of India on that side) I started walking towards Chopta to go for Chandrashila trek. first day I reached a small village called Mandal, enjoying my walk through small beautiful himalayan villages, and it had a very small market where I found a dhaba. I went to the dhaba owner and requested him to let me sleep there for the night, that gentleman, after seeing my situation, gave me a room in which I parked my bicycle, had dinner at the dhaba and went to sleep early. When I woke up in the morning, it was raining, I had breakfast and the dhaba owner told me that the next 25 kms till Chopta is a dense forest with no village, and if its raining here then it surely must be snowing at Chopta so its better you take lift from someone till Chopta. A man came to deliver some goods in that village and he talked to that man for me, so he agreed to take me to Chopta in 150 Rs.

The forest was really dense and the road was quite narrow and damaged mostly, just the halfway from that village it was snowing, all the trees were covered with snow and I witnessed the first snowfall of the season. We saw a tea shop some 5 kms before Chopta and we stopped there for a tea, in the meantime the driver put the iron chains around the tyres of his jeep so the tyres don’t slide in the snow. We reached Chopta at around 2 pm, I had lunch in a dhaba and asked them if I could find a place where I can spend the night, I had my sleeping bag so I told them I can sleep on the floor, they understood my situation and one guy suggested me to go out and ask for Khatri Uncle’s dhaba, I went to that dhaba and explained my plan, he let me sleep inside the dhaba room and even gave me a quilt and two pegs of rum with dinner as it was freezing cold.

The next morning I had breakfast, packed some chocolates and water in my backpack, took a stick and started the trek at around 10 am. The weather at Chopta was very very cold due to the fresh snowfall the previous day, I was lucky to go on chandrashila trek right after fresh snowfall. The trek till Tungnath is well built with stones and stairs, but in snow it becomes slippery and I had to be careful while trekking to Tungnath. The first 1 km trek goes through forest and after that it is all open and the snow-covered peaks are clearly visible from the trek. I comfortably reached Tungnath in around 2 hours, there I did some rest and ate a couple of chocolates and continued trekking to Chandrashila peak.

I met some people till Tungnath but after that I found myself alone trekking to that steep 1.5 km trek to Chandrashila. Due to fresh snowfall the trail was covered with 1-2 feet snow so I kept walking towards the peak in sight. When I crossed the slope of the hill in sight, I saw 4 people of a young family (with a trek guide) from Mumbai trekking through snow towards another peak in sight which was Chandrashila top actually. I caught up with them and we reached the Chandrashila peak together, there we clicked pictures and videos of each other and had a great half an hour of fun and amazement and started trekking down to Chopta.

Chandrashila peak

The way back was more fun as we climbed down jumping and sliding on the snow. I spent another night at the Khatri uncle’s dhaba and left the net morning. He charged me only for food, I thanked him, clicked a photo with him and started walking towards Ukhimath. It was quite an amazing experience witnessing so much fresh snowfall and then trekking through the snow.