“We live in a beautiful world that is full OF charm and adventure. There is no end to adventures, if only we seek them with our eyes and hearts open.” New Year’s Eve is one of the most hyped event of the year and greatest dilemma of all time are the questions; what’s the plan? While everyone was busy planning parties and dinners, I had something different in mind. Starting off the year in the Himalaya’s, away from the hustle bustle of the city in the lap of Mother Nature. Starting off from Dehradun it takes nearly 6-7 hours to reach the base camp of Deoriatal, at Sari village in Ukhimath, Uttarakhand. Accompanied by three of my friends, the journey began with some energetic and enthusiastic discussions about Himalayas, treks, eateries, camps, distance etc. but after a while the enthusiasm started withering away as all of us being boys, it’s quite difficult to blabber all the time and the boring road added fuel to the fire. But then after driving for 3 hours we finally saw some scenic view of the lower Himalayas and the energy was back.
Finally, we arrived at Sari village (6000 feet above sea level) with the local delicacies waiting for us. This is the best wedge of any trek! Thanks to locals for always being such a wonderful host. We spend couple of hours in packing our important stuff, taking care of the load that can be equally segregated and interacting with the local people. After a sweet digestion of the intricate food, we departed for the first trek to Deoriatal which was approximately 12500 feet above sea level. Uttarakhand is home for about 10,000 species and 20,000 sub-species of birds, some of which we were ought to see or hear along the way. In the ascend of 3 kilometers, we visited one Shiva temple which is a thousand years old and had a sneak peek of Chopta, Tunganath and Chandrashila peak which were partially hidden because of clouds. Noticing some localschool children marching down with some hoarding and flags, made us curious to know about it. On being asked about the procession, it was an initiative namely “Rashtriya Seva Yojana”, which was actually meant to keep the nature tidy and environment clean. The procession’s leader provided us with further information about the program. Students trek up to Deoriatal to collect all the trash and waste that is hazardous for the nature and wildlife.
Leaving us flabbergasted by the strength and their thinking of giving importance to cleanliness from the group of sixty, which were far more better than those people who visit this place from all over the world. After this peculiar encounter we finally reached Deoriatal and rushed to see the epic lake with depth of mystery. A serene emerald shaped lake which had beautiful reflection of giant snowclad Chaukhamba peak and Himalayan mountain range. Having our tents already camped, it was very thrilling and chilling. The best time though was during sunset. It is just breathtaking and no matter how many times you visit this place, it never fails to mesmerize the visitors. Next day (1st January 2017) after having chai and breakfast, we were all set to depart for the trek at 6:45 am. It was freezing cold, pitch dark and there was a steep climb ahead of us. The route was well built for Tunganath, the highest Shiva temple in the world. It commenced with a toll tax which is mandatory to be paid while on an off season trek to Tunganath and Chandrashila. After a Gradual walk for a kilometer or so the Himalayan ranges were completely covered with clouds. Soon, we halted at a hut made of rocks which gave us a perfect view of the adjoining peaks. (11) Henceforth moving ahead for less than an hour our troop reached Tunganath temple. It was actually very energizing as people were chanting “HAR HAR MAHADEV, TUNGANATH BABA KI JAI”, in snowfall which was an icing on the cake. As it was snowing and getting colder, we discussed about going ahead with Chandrashila or not! Chandrashila means “Moon Rock”. According to the Mahabharata, Pandavas meditated here to meet Shiva and feel sorry for the wrong deeds. Reaching half way to Chandrashila peak, it was time for some rest as we were out of breath and too cold. After a while starting off again, motivating ourselves and others to reach the summit. Chandrashila summit is at 13100 feet and is absolutely magical.
At the Chandrashila summit is at 13100 feet and is absolutely magical. At the summit we witnessed a cloudy view of the Himalayas as it was all turbid. Nonetheless, that feeling of reaching the orient was enough for us to keep warm. Suddenly, it started snowing heavily! It was something which we had ever dreamt of, a steep trek, ruthless snowy wind, mesmerizing snow clad mountains and the India’s tri-color waving at such a vantage. It was spectacular and inexplicable. The snowfall was very heavy and troop was barely able to click or move our hands, after a while the snowfall stopped and it sure was a relief, we started descending as the cold and snowfall was continuously following us. The trek is alwaysdifficult when you descend as it takes a lot from your knees to hold the complete weight, kindly use baby steps for the same! It took us 45 minutes to descend and the first thing we had was “Chai”; the wondrous potion that makes all the cold go away. The Chandrashila trek was a tad difficult and very challenging as the ascent is quite steep and the extreme cold definitely did not help. It is definitely not recommended for beginners during the winters. On the other hand the Deorialtal trek was relatively very easy to complete and can be comfortably done by most the people. Its lesson for every trekker”You don’t really conquer a mountain, you conquer yourself. You overcome sickness and everything else, your pains, aches and fears to reach a summit”.
PS: It’s a misconception of many that there is fungi/fungus in the tal so I would like to clarify that it is Water Chestnut fruit in pink/red color so nothing really allergic or dangerous about that.