The silence was palpable. The chill in the air felt more welcome than anything else could. The shimmer of the moonlight on the lake told me how far I had come in search of this serenity. My glance shifted from the setting moon to my phone. No network.
It would seem that, being on the move was the only thing I had done this past weekend. After all, traveling for 36 odd hours to spend about 12 hours at the destination will make anyone say that. Add 4 hours of trekking to that. The need to get away as far as I could from the urban landscape, well, can be quite an influence.
Deoria Tal, the quietest place I have been to yet. Tucked away in a corner in Uttarakhand, at a height of 8500 feet, is this small lake, with immediate surroundings of a green pasture and mountain trees, enveloped by the Himalayas. With a history from the days of the Mahabharat, a seemingly immeasurable depth, the lake is most well known for the reflection of the Chaukumba peak that it paints on clear days. Something about the place had kept toying with my thoughts for a few months, and here I was, heading onto the roads that lead to it.
By no means is it a simple place to get to, especially for a weekend. In fact, its really not sensible. Unless, of course, you’re a little crazy. Travel does not need to always make sense in such a case.
The never-ending change of the landscape outside my window will be the one constant memory of this journey. From the silent towns and night lights on way to Haridwar, the gradual, green slopes through the sleepy eyes to Rudraprayag, sighing at the meandering Mandakini river from the bus journey to Ukhimath in the company of the locals, the change in temperature when going higher to Sari village and the chants emanating from the Ram mandir (temple) on the solo climb to Deoria Tal, the truth of ‘a journey being more than a destination’ shone through.
The trek, though under 3 kms, is not very easy, inclining to almost 45 degrees at places, the path mostly comprising of cut stones and rocks. One can, of course, go on a pony. Automobiles are out of question. Thankfully. The route is in the company of beautiful views of the valley and the surrounding hills, with a peaceful temple near the start. Unfortunately, my trip coincided with overcast and misty skies. Perhaps, the snow peaks are visible during the climb as well. They definitely are from the summit point.
I had arranged my tent accommodation with Mr. Hira Singh Negi, an elderly local well-regarded and referred by those having travelled here. He can be contacted at +91-9410241543.
The highlight of my journey? The night beside the lake. The moon was out, and the sky was relatively clear. The meadow was lit up solely by moonlight, and the wind was fresh and cool. After the hustle of the city for so many months, getting away couldn’t feel better. As the night progressed, the moon set, and the stars shone through, and I took up a chance at some astrophotography.
There is no electricity in Deoria Tal. There are no hotels. There is no fine dining and resto-bars.
There are few people in Deoria Tal. There are camps to spend the night. There is food prepared by the locals.
There are the stars at Deoria Tal. There are the mountains. There is a calm lake to sit beside and stare into the oblivion.
There is beauty at Deoria Tal. A lot, really.
My travel route (not including waiting time): Delhi > Hardiwar (overnight bus. 6 hours), Haridwar > Rudraprayag (shared jeep. 5½ hours,) Rudraprayag > Ukhimath (local bus. 2 hours), Ukhimath > Sari Village (cab. ½ hour), Sari village > DeoriaI Tal (trek. 1½ hours). Return journey: similar, via Rishikesh instead of Haridwar.
Cost: Rs. 3,000
Duration: a weekend (Friday night to Monday early morning)
· If traveling in a group, hiring a car from Haridwar / Rishikesh can be more comfortable and not too expensive.
· Carry spare batteries / power storage. There is no electricity in Deoria Tal.
· Winters are snowed in. For the trekkers, the Deorai Tal – Chopta – Tungnath – Chandrashila trek in the snow is well known and worth exploring (there is a trek from Deoria Tal to Chopta 14 kms, for the trekker junta)
· Look out for well-known religious events at Haridwar / Rishikesh. This weekend happened to be the Ganga Dusshera, and the roads were clogged beyond measure. The bus thankfully took a detour (a beautiful sunset and the elephants at Rajaji National Park came free).
· Desirous of comfort? Kindly abstain.