Rishikesh, Tungnath and Deoriatal in seven days! That was the itinerary for our vacation. The plan was chalked out, and I, along with a few friends, was ready to hit the road. We started early in the morning to avoid the highway traffic and, voila, in just five hours’ time we had reached Rishikesh. Located on the banks of River Ganga, Rishikesh is the beginning point of the pilgrimage to Char Dham of Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. We took just a small break in Rishikesh and continued our journey to Tungnath in Uttarakhand.
It is about 200 km from Rishikesh and almost a four hour drive up in the mountains. A 20 km long stretch en route, of the Kedarnath sanctuary, holds a lot of adventure value. Chances are that you may encounter wild animals such as bear, panther, wolves etc here. It is advisable not to cross this stretch at night because a lot of them steer towards the road during that time in search of food. Hence, it isn’t in the least a good idea to be crossing paths with them. Tungnath has an ancient temple of lord Shiva which, perched 12,000 ft above sea level, incidentally, is also the highest temple in the world. A six km uphill trek from Chopta Village will take you to the temple. It may be a good idea to first halt at the local restaurant at Chopta before starting the trek. There is no drinking water available on top of the mountain, so carry your own. The trek is a pleasant one, thanks to the scenic locales and the sweet smell of the pine trees that waft through the air. The temple, covered in snow, looked resplendant. Another three km of uphill trek will take you to the peak of the mountain, a place called Chandrashila.
The entire valley is visible from here and what a view it is! We didn’t require any climbing gear or equipments for the trek, just some sincere efforts. Five kilometres from Chopta village is Deoriatal, another popular tourist destination. We set up our camps here and basked under the moon-lit night. Close by, nestled in the mountains, was a sacred pond which looked mystical at night. One can watch it for hours on end. I have explored many a hill destinations but nothing comes even close to the lush green beauty of Deoriatal. It is truly a virgin territory. When the sun rays touched the water of the pond and illuminated the Himalayas in the backdrop, the magic became all the more intense. The view – breathtaking! We started back for Rishikesh soon after and made a night halt there to get some rest. Rishikesh is particularly popular with the foreign tourists who travel from across the world to learn yoga and to find inner peace here. There are many other places in Rishikesh which one can visit…like the 13 tals that one can explore in its dense green mountains. We completed our trip as scheduled – in a week’s time – and resumed our routine lives completely rejuvenated. I yearn to go back… one week is indeed too little a time to discover and experience the myriad facets of the Himalayas.
About the author
Kirat Sodhi loves to travel, read and is a theatre enthusiast. You can contact her on twitter @KiratSodhi.