Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Chopta - Tungnath Trek

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” ~ John Muir

We started our journey with this thought in mind with a lively bunch of people from Delhi. Our first halt was at Rishikesh where we reached late in the evening. The walk absorbing the silence and beauty of the starry night brought us out of the humdrum of city life. A perfect start to a holiday in the lap of nature.

We woke up to a beautiful wet morning. Earth was fresh as dew and atmosphere was filled with the fragrance of flowers and foliage. Morning tea never felt so refreshing like it did that day.

Refreshing morning at Rishikesh
Singing, chatting, laughing and enjoying the drive through dense forests and Himalayan villages we reached CHOPTA. Clean roads, sweet breeze carrying the fragrance of nature and chirping birds welcomed us.
We had driven deep into the pines to reach this remote place where there were no mobile signals and no electricity. Such a respite it was to be cut off from the world in this paradise. We were awestruck to see the lush green meadows and dense forest. Everyone just refused to settle in rooms and were out in the woods. Some were walking silently just enjoying the serenity while others were chasing birds and clicking while some others were just sitting with their feet dipped in chilled water. It took some time to get them all together to enjoy the tea.

Evening tea in the lap of nature, literally

It was a breathtakingly beautiful, dark yet glowing mysterious full moon night. The clouds were playing hide and seek with the moon. The trees were standing tall trying to reach out to the moon while the meadows silently lying down enjoying the glow of moon light.  The only sounds in this dark night were of the stream nearby and of howling wolfs that were adding to the mystic feel to the night. The sky was studded with numerous big and small starts shining bright giving competition to the moon. Never before have I witnessed a night so beautifully mysterious.

A short break during the trek
We started our trek on this gorgeous hilly terrain early in the morning. While take careful steps on the wet, a bit slippery paved path through thick forest of rhododendrons and oak, it was difficult to imagine our life back in the
The deep valleys, the lush green open meadows and the magnificent Himalayan ranges make you feel so tiny. We were transported to a different world altogether.
Different plantations - algae, mushrooms and what not attracted our fancy. We were going pretty slow enjoying and absorbing each step and turn of the trek. 4 hrs trek would take the whole day it seemed. But whats the hurry, we took our own sweet time to climb up and reached Tungnath in the later half of the day.

Different plantations attracted our fancy
We were all hungry when we reached. After having maggi as an appetizer we had nice local dal and rice. Once our tummies were full we looked around and realized where have we reached. A small place with couple of shops, very few people... rather just a few shop owners around, and a temple, TUNGNATH.
High above the clouds lay this quaint place called Tungnath, the highest Shiva temple in the world. We went a little farther and reached the end of a cliff. Surrounded by the curtain of clouds we found ourself standing on the edge. On one side were the snow covered peaks and on the other side was this deep valley.

At The Edge of The Cliff
In no time fog engulfed the whole valley and everything got out of site. We were not even visible to each other. One wrong step and we would have gone deep down the cliff. We decided to settle in the temple guest house for some time to regain our energy.

It was all so quiet when we came out after a few hours . The area was still under the cover of fog, when we heard the temple bells ringing. It was evening aarti. The thick fog started to disperse and visibility kept increasing with increasing volume of ringing bells. We could see the blue sky appearing magically from behind the clouds. Sun was about to set and there was amazing play of evening light in the sky. The golden reflection of setting sun on snow covered peaks made them glow like gold. and the sky turned orange with the spread of evening colors.

The Magical Evening
Can't say if God exist or it's just the faith of people, but the magic moment I witnessed up there makes me believe in the Ultimate power that created universe - the magnificent nature and its miraculous beauty. We were all mesmerized by the nature's show that we just witnessed. The ringing of bells stopped and gradually darkness engulfed the whole valley. The whole universe seemed to be in synchronization.

Night was no less engaging. It was more than 12 of us in a small kitchen cum sitting area of Raju hearing his stories over dinner celebrating life and rejoicing our togetherness. He is one of the survivors of the Kedarnath tragedy that happened a year before. Talking to him we realized how connected these people are to nature and how well they have understood the zist of life while we city people are still stuck in the frantic race of life.

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