Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World

Tripoto
15th Oct 2016
Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

Tunganath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is the highest of the Panch Kedar temples, located at an altitude of 12,073 ft in the Chandranath Parbat, just below the peak of Chandrashila, in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is the third kedar of Panch Kedar.Tungnath temple is said to have been originally built by the famous Pandav, Arjun, about 5000 years ago. Besides the main temple there are many smaller temples in the courtyard which are dedicated to Parvati, the Pandav brothers, Kunti, Draupadi, Ganesh, Kuber, Dungri devi and Dharudia devi.

There is a plethora of tour operators in uttarakhand that offers the Tunganth trip along with camping at Deoriatal and Chopta. After some research I decided to sign up with GIO Adventures. It was a five days trip from Haridwar to Haridwar.

The plan was to reach Haridwar one day before the pick up day so that I can watch the evening arati in the famous Har – ki – Pouri ghat. Accordingly, I reached Haridwar from Kolkata by train in the morning a day before. I took a hotel just opposite to the Railway station. I had lunch in famous Dada boudir Hotel and took a midday nap. In the afternoon I reached the Har ki Pouri ghat e to watch the evening arati.

Evening arati @ Har - ki - Pouri ghat

Photo of Tungnath, Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

Itinerary

Day 1 : Haridwar to Kund

Next day I meet with our guide at Haridwar Railway station. It was 6 o’clock in the morning. Our journey began……

The journey through the roads of Uttarakhand is a sight to behold. You pass by the holy town of Rishikesh, Devprayag... see the confluence - where the river Alkananda meets with river Bhagirathi and take the name Ganga,

Devprayag

Photo of Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

afterwards Rudraprayag – where river Alkananda meets with river Mandakini.

Rudraprayag

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

Himalayan Eco lodge Jayalgarh :

Eco lodge @ Jayalgarj

Photo of Jayalgarh, Chopriya, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

 We had a brief  stop  here. It is a river side camp stands on the bank of river Alkananda. The campsite is picturesque, lined with luxury tents overlooking the Alkananda River with well manicured lawns, 

Dinning

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

four side opened dinning place and a river side sandy private patch to relax in. We went down to the river bed and took some photos.

Riverside

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

After spending some time, we headed towards Kund. On the way we had our lunch from a road side dhaba

It would take 6 – 7 hours to reach Kund. We reached Himalayan Eco lodge, Kund by the afternoon for overnight stay.

Day 1 : Himalayan Eco lodge, Kund

The location is spectacular. From Parking lot, slope take you to the dinning hall. Then a flight of steps take you to the below small cottages on the bank of river Mandakini.

Himalayan Eco Lodge,Kund

Photo of Kund, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

Cottages are actually bamboo hut. Rooms are neat and clean with westernize toilet.Each and every cottage has small balcony.

Kund Eco lodge(Inside view)

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

Electricity available 24 hourrs. From the lodge one can get a wonderful view of the snow clad Kedar peak that forms the backdrop of the Kedarnath temple. Foods are good.

Day 2 : Kund to Deoria Tal via Ukhimath, Sari village

Morning was bit cold. We started our journey for Sari village. On the way we stopped at Ukhimath to visit Omkareswar temple. We reached Sarri village by 10 a.m.

Omkareswar temple

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

It is located about 8 -10 km from Kund. During the winters when the temple of Kedarnath and Madhmaheshwar remains closed, the idols are brought to the Omkareswar temples Ukhimath and worshipped here for six months.

Sari Village :

It is located 13km ahead of Ukhimath at a height of 6554 feet. It is a very small and remote village. It is the base camp for a very beautiful lake Deoria Tal which is only 2.5 kilometers trek from here. The entire trail is paved till the top. Although trek looks easy upfront but it is quite steep at some places. Pony is available there. It takes 2 to 3 hours to reach the Lake side depending on your physical ability.I opted for Pony ride. It took one and half hours only.

Small temple on the way to Deoriatal

Photo of Ukhimath, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

There are many shelters on the trail with benches to take rest. On the way you crossd a small temple. From the trek route one can see the birds eye view of Sari village.

Bird's eye view of Sari village

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

Deoriatal

Photo of Deoria Tal, Uttarakhand by Vaswati

Deoriatal is a emerald lake, perched at a height of 7800 feet. But the spacious lawns surrounded by dense vegetation around the lake and chowkhamba range on the backdrop make it an excellent spot for camping. Early morning miraculous reflection of Chowkhamba range in the crystal clear water of Deoriatal is magnificient. You can see the panoraomic view of stunning Chowkhamba range also. There are lots of beautiful Himalayan birds specially Magpie at Deoriatal.

As soon as we reached the lake, we started exploring the place while our guide and Driver were engaged to pitch the tent for us & a dinning tent on the lush meadows by the lake for overnight camping. Weather was pleasant in the day time. We were greeted with rice, dal and aloo gobi sabji by the lake side. Afternoon was bit cloudy, enjoyed the scenery of the colourful sunset and surroundings. It became quite cold at night. After taking hot & sumptuous dinner, we sleeped into sleeping bag.

Day 3 : Deoriataal to Chopta by trek.

The morning was freezing cold. The view was spectacular. Every one was busy looking the reflecting of mount Chowkhamba in the water.

Chowkhamba range on the backdrop of Deoriatal

Photo of Deoria Tal, Uttarakhand by Vaswati

Deoriataal to Chopta by road is 22 km. But our guide suggested us to take the trek route which is 17 to 18 km. After having heavy breakfast, we hit the trail.

Trek route

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

The Entire path is through the dense forest. The natural beauty of the trail mesmerized you. The mighty Chowkhamba accompany you in the begining of the trek. There is no dhaba or water point.

Aerial view of trek route

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

You come across many small streams on the way. You can refill your water bottle from one of them.

Mighty Chowkhamba as seen from Trek Route

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

At noon we reached a green meadows. Thanks to the tour operator that we had our lunch with hot rice and sabji amidst wilderness. We started moving ahead again. Around 5 in the evening we managed to reach at Chopta and witnessed the magnificent sun set.

Sunset @ Chopta

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

Chopta is a little hamlet nestled in the mountains of Uttarakhand at an altitude of 8790 ft. Chopta is surrounded by dense forest, and offers majestic view of snow clad Himalayan Ranges and lush green meadows. It is also known as Mini Switzwerland. This is the base camp of Tunganath trek.

Darkness had descended by the time the tent pitched. We were exhausted after the whole day trekking. Moreover temperature was freezing. After having snacks and hot tea we went inside the tent for relax. Had early dinner and sleeped in to our sleeping bag.

Camping @ Chopta

Photo of Chopta, Uttarakhand, India by Vaswati

Day 4 : Chopta to Tunganath and back to Kund

The morning was shivering. It took 10 to 15 minutes to reach the gate of the trek route from our camp site by four wheeler.

Entrance of Trek Route @ Tunganath

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

It’s a 4 km trek and takes about two to three hours on foot or pony-back. The road is quite steep and paved. As you keep moving uphill the lush green meadows and snow capped peaks left you spellbound.

On the way to Tunganath

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

On the way you can see the Himalayan Monal and other beautiful birds. This time also I opted for Pony ride and after 2 hours reached at the top. When I started the trek the weather was fantastic. The peaks were visible.When we reached midway, suddenly weather started getting changed. By the time I reached the temple, the peaks had disappeared behind the clouds.

Lord Tunganath Temple

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

An arch gate with a hanging bell welcomed you at the temple courtyard. I removed my shoes and stepped in the temple. The floor was so cold I felt I had stepped on an icy tray. Bought a puja thali, offered puja and pouring water on the sivling. I came out of the temple. Scenario has changed completely.

Entrance of Tunganath temple

Photo of Journey To The Highest Shiv Temple in The World by Vaswati

By this time the cloud engulfed the entire temple. Nothing was visible.There are two to three tea & maggie stall near the temple. I treated myself with a plate of hot maggie. Our guide suggested getting down. We started moving down amidst cloud.

At Chopta weather was quite clear but the day was cloudy. Temperature was not so cold. There are several road side dhabas just opposite the gate from where the trek starts. You can had your lunch from one of them.

We started our return journey to Kund by 12 noon. And following the same route, we reached at Himalayan Eco lodge Kund by 3 p.m. The weather was pleasant. I had bath as there is no scope for bathing during camping and relax. After having early dinner retired to bed for overnight sleep.

Day 5 : Kund to Haridwar

Next morning, after breakfast we left for Haridwar. We had lunch from one of the road side dhabas and reached Haridwar Railway station by 4 p.m. Caught the train for Kolkata at night.

Best time to visit :

March to May or October and November. December and January are extremely chill. Temperature goes below freezing point.During the month of April and May, Chopta and Tunganath trek is dotted with red Rhododendron flower which is locally named as Buransh.

How to reach :

Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehrdun. 41 Km from Haridwar. Nearest rail head is Haridwar. From Haridwar by road.

The route which followed :

Haridwar --->Rishikesh ---- > Dev Prayag --- >Srinagar --- > Rudraprayag --- > Agustmuni --- >Kund ----- > Ukhimath --- > Sari --- > Deoriatal ( 2.5 km trek)---- >Chopta --- >Tunganath ( 4 km trek).

Where to stay :

There is a forest rest house at Deoriatal or you can stay at camp. You can even plan to stay at Sarri village but there are limited options available.

At Chopta you can find a few budget hotel or SNOWPOD luxury Eco Resort and Mayadeep Herbal Resort. Camping is also available there.

There are a few homestays around Tunganath temple.

Things to Carry

– Good condition trekking boots

– A pair of thick woolen socks

_ Thermal layers for night

– Keep a thick winter jacket for dealing with the cold

– Trekking Pants are a must for scaling the peaks

– Keep a woolen cap to protect yourself from the biting cold

– A pair of sunglasses to avoid the glaring sun

– Sun Screen

– A two ltr. water bottle

– Trekking pole

_ Thermal layers for night

_ Torch with extra battery

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