5 Days 4 Nights
Chopta is a small region of meadows and evergreen forest area, a part of Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary located in Uttarakhand state, India, and a base for trekking to Tungnath, the third temple of Panch Kedar which lies 3.5 kilometers (2.2 mi) away. Located at a distance of 1.5 kilometers (0.93 mi) from Tungnath is Chandrashila, a summit rising to over 4,000 meters (13,000 ft).
Chopta is an unspoiled natural destination lying in the lap of the Uttarakhand Himalayas and offers views of the imposing Himalayan range including Trishul, Nanda Devi, and Chaukhamba. It is located at an elevation of 2,709 meters (8,888 ft) above sea level. Chopta village is surrounded by forests of pine, deodar, and rhododendron and is rich in flora and fauna including rare species of birds and musk deer.
This place is popularly known as ‘Mini Switzerland’. It lies 45 km from Ukhimath, 162 kilometers (101 mi) from Rishikesh, and approximately 450 kilometers (280 mi) from the capital Delhi. The best time to visit this hillside is from April to November. Chopta is also a popular destination during the winter months due to the snowfall that the area experiences. Tungnath temple and Chandrashila are covered with snow from December to March. Chopta can be reached from Rishikesh via Rudraprayag, Kund, Ukhimath OR via Rudraprayag, Karnprayag, Chamoli, Gopeshwar, and Mandal.
Chopta is simply accessible as it is situated on the road connecting Gopeshwar with Guptkashi. Wake up with a cool healthy breeze and chirping of birds in Chopta. The morning view from Chopta is invigorating when the crimson rays of the sun kiss the snow-laden Himalayas.
The Chopta – Tungnath – Chandrashila trek is a destinations for trekkers. The Chopta region has many treks and trails cutting through jungles and grasslands. Chandrashilla, Tunganath, and Devariyatal are the best-known trekking routes in the Chopta region. Because of an abundance of birds, Chopta is popular among birdwatchers.
Some activities in Chopta
The trek to Chopta, which can be extended to climbing the Chandrashila Peak, is a popular adventure trip among hiking lovers. Since the route lies in a protected area, the journey takes one through enchanting forests with panoramic views of the Himalayas, far from the maddening crowds. The best time to start a trek for Chandrashila peak is in the morning as around afternoon clouds and rain can smudge the beautiful 360 degrees view of the entire Himalayan valley from the peak. The town of Kund in Uttarakhand is the usual starting point and the entire tour can be done in 3-5 days, making it a preferred activity for city dwellers in India seeking a short getaway.
The general pit stops are as follows:
Our tour guides will expect you at Haridwar railway station at 6:30 in the morning today. You can arrange an overnight bus journey from Delhi, reaching Haridwar in the morning or reach a couple of days earlier to the starting day of the trek. Haridwar-Rishikesh by the Ganges is a famous site on the pilgrim trail of Uttarakhand. You can spend your time in Rishikesh immersing in cultural activities and adventure sports in the choppy waters of Ganga. We can pick you up alternatively from Rishikesh as well. From this point to Sari village is a journey of 7-8 hours. Take in the beautiful vista of lower Garhwal Himalayas as the drive turns uphill. The most picturesquely notable stop on the way will be at Devaprayag- a town marking the gorgeous confluence of Alakananda and Bhagirathi. The river will keep you company throughout, reaching you at Sari by 6:00 in the evening. The village is a pretty picture composed of little houses sketched across a mountain backdrop and lined with green patches of agricultural fields. If you are missing any minor requisite for the journey ahead, visit the market area in Sari, just might find something useful!
The trek on the first day is easy with mixed ascent and descent. A well-defined rocky trail will show you to the end, from where the Chandrashila summit is visible and the Tunganath temple is a speck of color. After this point, it’s a steep uphill bend on the ridgeback of the mountain. Get ready for an acutely laborious climb, giving you the first taste of challenge. Soon, you will reach the Forest Department-built resting stop. Clocked timely by your Trek Leader, you can afford a 20-minute break here. An excellent view of the way of the mountain fall waits here. Post-rest, the trail will bend through a forest of rhododendrons. Spring treks here in the crimson shadow of rhododendron blossoms make it memorable more than ever. We go steadily up. At 7, 434 ft. village localities vanish from sight. Nearly 20 minutes from this point, we will be standing with the waters of Deoriatal glistening down a lurching gentle slope. A grand vista of Chaukhamba massifs is unveiled in the background of the lake. It will be mid-noon by the time you reach the spot. Wait for the morning when the cloud cover lifts and diamond-crushed sunlight elucidate the outlines of Chaukhamba, making for the ultimate striking frame. Having the entire day to yourself, explore the deep nooks of the forests lying out around, a paradise for bird-watchers and nature lovers. Hot lunch on this day will be served on reaching our lakeside camp in Deorital.
Today’s trail will familiarize you more with the Chaukhamba massif and Mount Kedar summit, rising closely as you process. Rhododendron and maples eclipse the forest path, spreading a cool and rejuvenating vibe. In these thickets you will find two prominent varieties of rhododendrons—red and pink, the concentration of them thickens as you move to pass the first forest stretch. The trail is sprinkled with little shrines that stand out in the greenness by the red and yellow flags tied to them. After crossing a clearing in the forest lined with scarlet blossoms, we are directly ushered up an ascending path towards Rohini Bugyal and Chopta. The ascending trail gives way to level land and some leeway in the rigorous uphill hike. A resplendent view of the Chandrashila awaits on the other side of the forest margin. After the level-land, you will have to re-enter the forest now characterized by old oaks and maple beside the rhododendrons. This forms part of the Kedarnath Sanctuary, and with some luck, trekkers can spot red foxes and other small wild things. More than 25 minutes of trekking in the Kedarnath Sanctuary trail and you will reach the Bhagdwal temple. This is a junction point for three trek routes. One connects to Sari village, another towards Ukhimath, and the central one descends to the meadows of Rohini Bugyal. Along this line, Chandrashila and flanked by the adjoining Kala Parvat Peak gains prominence. You can find the way bending from here to Bisuri Tal lake and a small tarn named Nandikund, situated at the base of Kala Parvat. Further down as you progress, a silvery rivulet coming from Chandrashila meets your way. Here, you can fill your water supplies and move on taking a small wooden bridge on the stream. A little way up, the meadows start. Here, you will find a cluster of huts. Shepards from local villages come here to graze their livestock. Not far from here, you will find a road head at the margin of a jungle trail. In this area in the vicinity of Chopta village, we have our campsite at a clearing in the forests.
We commence the hike today early morning. Starting in the wee hours of dark will let us have a beautiful sunrise experience from Tunganath top. The trek runs on a well-defined concrete-bound trail from Chopta to the temple. Today, the hike will be fraught with steep climbing challenges with sharp turns to cross by. There will be other shrines on the way, of which a particular temple with a flagpole is notable. This one comes after the 10th bend of the road and marks the opening of a splendid view of Chandrashila up ahead. From here, you will also get a clear vision of a connecting peak to Chandrashila. This one is named Ravanshila. In the winters, you will find snow from here. The 11th bend marks the entryway to Tunganath above which the splendid Chandrashila peak towers at 12, 083 ft. The route to the peak bends from behind the temple complex. Beware of thick snow on this summit stretch after December till the end of April. Crampons and gaiters are highly recommended for the snow climb and your trek lead is expected to make the path through the cover of snow sludge with the help of an ice ax. At the end of a steep and arduous climb, the summit will be reached with a 360-degree view of the Garhwal and Kumaon mountains welcomingly lying ahead. Notable peaks in this panorama of grandeur are—Nanda Devi, Trishul, Nandaghunti, Dronagiri, Chaukhamba, and Kedar. Glimpses of the Thalaysagar and Gangotri ranges too could be made out at the edges. The downhill journey is relatively less time-consuming and smoother. It will take you about 3 hours to climb down to the Baniyakund campsite.
A ride back from the Chopta road head to Haridwar is scheduled for day 5. After this 7-hour journey full of mellow reminisces of the hills, you will be reaching Haridwar in the evening. An overnight journey to Delhi will hopefully work out best.