Chopta – Tungnath: My journey to highest Shiva temple

After discontinuing my new year routine this year, I felt sorrow and loneliness with in me. I have a unofficial ritual going on a trip on every year. But because nobody agreed this time, I couldn’t make it Solo on new years. Its just because I have so many memories with new year eve and it could become quite heavy if I would have gone Solo. In fact not getting ahead on trip by myself was another bad decision I believe. It was hard on me to stay on my room, neither going outside nor partying. Being an Jaipurite, winters are quite harsh on me always, but this winter was literally tough for everyone.

New Year Eve 2023

I had canceled my plan few days back due to my close friend’s bachelorette on 30th Dec, but it went great without inviting me. I was already miserable due to canceled plan, and ditched by my travel buddies, above all, we have regular office scheduled in office. Whole commercial/industrial area was completely empty due to Saturday and new year but we are working. In a way, at exact 6:30pm, it was almost blackout and shut down outside, nobody was there, everyone in the office managed to get it along on lifts or auto, but like usually it was always just me who left at the end. It was lot to take, I was feeling frustrated and stuffed with anger but I did nothing. I was walking alone on empty roads with no street lights, not any single person I witnessed that day.

That 1.5 hours of reaching home was intense, till my ex colleague called for any plans, it makes me more irritating, because I knew she is just bluffing. Somehow she managed to talk to me on call till nothing left to do. Not even clubs could take us in. Anyway, I disconnected the call and made Maggie to have it in dinner.

I dont remember any other major events of new years eve, I guess I just slept early while writing a letter of New year wish to myself.

Journey from Chandigarh to Rishikesh

But life is unexpected as always, on 2nd of Jan, my friend ‘Ray’ visited Chandigarh to meet me after 5 long years, where I made plan to take him to hike to Chopta to revive my cold plan of new year. I convinced him easily. At very next morning, we took bus from Chandigarh to Haridwar, than Haridwar to Rishikesh where we reach till 7-8 pm. We spent that evening at Hostel Go stops in Tapovan. We roam around in Tapovan after dinner at hostel. I can say Rishikesh have vibes too.

Journey from Rishikesh to Ukhimath

The next day, I overslept even I knowing the fact that there are very few options for buses which only are available in early morning. By getting ready it took us more time, which cost us a terrible hectic travel journey to destination without any direct buses. The reason is, in Uttarakhand the buses are available for long route in early morning only. And we got late till 10 am, so there were only one option accessible by indirect buses.

So we took bus to Rudraprayag, which took around 5 hours, after that we had only one option to reach Ukhimath is via sharing taxi from now onwards. Our journey is now becoming more hectic now. The taxi was quite uncomfortable journey as it was full of passengers, and travelling in a bus or sharing cab is totally different things. The cab took 1.5 hours to reach Ukhimath. Now again we have to book another taxi from there, to reach Chopta.

After Chopta

Now that we are going Chopta in sharing cab, we witnessed the some the best sunset of our lives in the very same cab while riding. Now that you have the idea that we reach at Chopta in proper dark. In Chopta, the temperature was in minus, after very evening. Everyone ask us to have dinner as soon as possible because the village is running on solar light only which only available before 8/9 pm. Fortunately there weren’t much snow, than it might become such bad luck situation to me and to my friend who didn’t have the idea of such extreme weather situation which I bring him as surprise. There were hot water available for drinking purposes only, each inch of water is usable only after heating it up. We had our supper at 7 pm and went for respective time of sleep. 

The begining of Trek

We started our trek at 10 am from Chopta with sunny shiny day. I remember the gate from where the trek starts, it have Ghanti’s  and bells which touched by trekkers for seeking blessing of baba Tungnath. As my room was near the gate of starting point, I can hear in my sleep that people have started trek very early just to encounter sunrise at top. May be some started at 2.30- 3 am or so. And I still remains to be sleeping bird.

We begun the trek with touching bells. After a while we met with tourism officials who were giving authority to trekkers with chargeable amount, which we weren’t aware of because nowhere was mentioned, but they described us to maintained record of off season tourist and trekkers in case of any mis-happenings or help required to travelers. I don’t remember the amount but it was around 100-200 or so. We resumed our trek. In the inception of trek, it was all deep shadowy among heavy trees, after 500-600 mtrs it was all open trek, which is a plus point in winters. We were lucky that it was a clear day and no snow in the trek.

The trek of Tungnath is moderate level in difficulty, as sharp and steep climb of approx 4-5 km upwards, which has become more difficult due to my cold and cough issues. But slow and steady, we were moving ahead. Due to off season there were very few snacking shops were open in midway only. We found the two guys returning from the trek at midway who shared cab with us last day. They happily expressed that they made it to the amazing sunrise from Chandrashila top which they have mentioned last day. We cheered them and move ahead without any regret. In between trek, we observed that there was few ancient sculpture stating about history and facts about Shiva and Tungnath.

From a while when we saw the top where we can hear shout out from the early trekkers. They peak seems very near but due to exhaustion and drained energy, it seems impossible to cover. But as what we learn from all of our treks, to complete a trek, no matter how slow, how you are tired, but you gotta do it. The win is not who reach first, its just about completing. 

When we reach Tungnath

When we reach at the Tungnath spot, we finally saw snow at the portion. We can see that there were few shops near by the temple which were closed we saw that temple is closed due to winter season. There were frozen waterfall, I saw women and her kid were clicking pictures, and selfie but not getting perfect frame, I offer them to click their picture, which lead a smile on them. After crossing the temple and area, we all gathered at open peak where you can see wide range of mountains as far as you can see. We all who reached there somehow, now viewers of one the best views of our lives. This is the view we trek for. Life about mountains. We are now observing cloud covered mountain all in 360 degree view. An unforgettable view. Just Amazing. I sat alone for sometime, just for the feeling sake, thanking god for making it possible, wishing new year to the mountains, dumping my small issues in the long lost ditch while feeling happiest and complete after so long.

We couldn’t go ahead with Chandrashila peak, due to unfavorable health and limited time. We stayed as much we have time, clicked pictures, talked about lives. Now its time to head backwards. With happy hearts we decided to leave the place there and return. The downward trek was quite easy to me. We returned at some where around 5 pm. Then we had a meal on the same spot where we had yesterday. While having meal we concluded not to stay in Chopta due to extreme weather and stay in Ukhimath for this day. And waiting on the road for any taxi to ukhimath. We found a cab and left from Chopta during Sunset again.

And that’s how the universe made me a perfect post new year plan. The main purpose behind this experience sharing is, how different is our plan versus God’s plan. Sometimes, trusting god can be the best thing of our life.

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