Hidden heaven in Uttarakhand: Chopta
When I think of Chopta the thoughts that pop up in my mind are green lush valleys, chimes of bells of TungNath temple and peeking cloud-covered peak of Chandrashila.
Like many unexplored places in Uttarakhand this place to lies like untouched, unexploited beauty. It’s readily becoming known for its scenic view, camping, hiking and for devotees of Lord Shiva because of its proximity to TungNath temple. It’s the highest located temple in the world of Lord Shiva, TungNath lying at height of 3,680 m (12,073 ft).
My journey to Chopta started with my obsession to view snowfall. So naturally, when the name of Chopta came up with Snowfall I ran off there as soon as I heard the weather update.
I was lucky since I was working in the Medical college of Srinagar (Garhwal) which is just 5 hour’s drive from Chopta. Equipped with my camera, woolens, boots we all made the plan and within an hour we were on road. Since we were not sure about basic amenities available there, we packed anything and everything (for just in case).
We arrived just 2 hours before the snowfall started, thank god. The roads were not motorable after that.
We took the last 2 rooms vacant and facility available there was the bare minimum and basic. Electricity was by one solar charged CFL bulb and one power socket for charging phones. Despite that, we were ecstatic, since we were provided with a campfire (on request) and I was watching snowfall for the first time in my life. We sat there singing, eating, playing and eating the best food one could hope in rain “MAGGI”.
We were having time of our life.
Let the Journey Begin:
Next day morning we started the trek to Temple. Trek is of 4km and varies between steep and gentle but it’ll take around 3-4 hours according to your capabilities. Chandrashila peak is another 1 km from TungNath Temple but it’s a steep and difficult trek which would require a better stamina it’ll take around 1-2 hours for Chandrashila. But the view is magnificent from there. On a sunny day, you could visualize the Himalayan range along with snowclad peaks of Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Chaukhamba and Neelkanth on one side, and the Garhwal valley on the another.
How to get there:
The nearest railway station is Rishikesh 241km or Haridwar/ Dehradun around 260km.
The airport is Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun which is around 258km.
From there hire a taxi. It could only be approached by barely motorable road. And it’s around 10 hours of hilly region drive.
On the way, you’ll be able to view Devprayag, Rudraprayag. From Rudraprayag, the path separates from the highway towards the Badrinath route, and the next major turn is at Tilwara. The path is full of majestic snow clad mountain peaks, river Alaknanda curving along with our road and vast valleys. The journey is indeed full of scenic beauty.
Best time for Chopta:
It’s open 12 months for trekking, hiking, and camping although, in winters the crowd is less religious because temple closes with other Dhams from October-march.
According to your inclination for the place, you could plan the visit. I’ve included pictures of Chopta in September with lush green valley and January of snow-covered planes. The place would capture your attention either of the ways.
A word of caution for people who loves driving their own vehicle. The road often gets blocked in snowfall so it’s advisable to hire local jeeps for last few miles.
Things to pack:
Remember to pack your own power bank for charging, toiletries and towels. The place is for camping so bring your personal necessary items.
Food is very subnormal so don’t experiment with it. Stick to basic parathas, dal chawal or bread omelets. Almost nothing could go wrong with this menu.
When I ask myself how difficult the path was and amenities available I shudder at the thought, but given an option, I’ll not back down to visit it again.
It was worth it.
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