This is the second part of my trip to Kedarnath- Tungnath-Chandrashila. In the first part, I have shared my overall experience at and to Kedarnath. Do check that out.
Chandrashila is the summit trek of Tungnath temple. Tungnath temple is the world’s highest Shiva temple located at 12k feet. Even though it’s the highest Shiva temple, it’s one of the easiest ones to climb. Chopta is the base camp of Tungnath-Chandrashila trek. From here Tungnath is around 4 km but the climb is a little steep. In the season when Tungnath temple opens for darshan, riding mules also becomes an option. In contrast, Tungnath-Chandrashila is a steep trek of 1.5 km filled with broken stones and mud, though this section is tough to climb but definitely worth it. From the top, you will see a 360° view of the Himalayas.
We were completely tired due to the Kedarnath trek. The last bus had already left from Sonprayag at 5 in the evening (It is 5 km from Kedarnath base camp) to Rishikesh. One of our friends wanted to leave because of work. He left via private cab to Rishikesh. Today things were different as the weekend was over and the hotels were empty now. We didn’t want to stay at Sonprayag (due to a bad experience a night before). So, we decided to leave for Rudraprayag. We asked the cab drivers for the fare (Sonprayag to Rudraprayag is just 70 km) and they quoted ₹2500. We actually wanted to reach Rudraprayag on the same night but after hearing the cab fare we opted to wait for people to share the cab with, as the fare was going over budget. After waiting for 1 hour, we finally met 3 people who were going to Badrinath and were ready to share the cab. But we were still going over budget. So, we decided to hitch this ride till Guptkashi, which is halfway to Rudraprayag (that was only 100 rs per person). We reached Guptkashi at 7:30 in the evening. There we spoke to some shop keepers, they suggested to spend the night there itself as according to them we wouldn’t have got any ride at that hour. I, my friend, and our 3 new friends from Gujarat thought to try for a ride to continue our journey, if we didn’t get any, we decided that we would spend the night in Guptkashi as a last resort. Meanwhile, the shopkeeper told us that the route to Ukhimath and to Rudraprayag is slightly different. While going to Rudraprayag the route deviates and takes a different route for another 8 km. Luckily, we found a driver who was ready to take us. He charged ₹1000 for Rudraprayag and ₹500 for Ukhimath. We agreed and hitched the ride. We got down at Ukhimath and bid adieu to our new friends who continued their journey to Rudraprayag.
It was around 9:00 Pm when we reached Ukhimath. Everything was closed, all the shop shutters were down, all the hotels were closed too. So, we thought to look on the internet to make an online hotel booking. We found one guest house with a very high rating and low tariff. We booked it and called on the given number to ask for the directions. A man in his late fifties who was the owner of the guest house welcomed us with a warm smile. The first question he asked us was “beta kuch khaya ya nahi ye batao?”. We told him that we were coming straight from Kedarnath and we were in a hurry to reach here. We didn't have anything on the way. Uncle called a restaurant owner and asked to keep it open for a while and told him that we will be coming for dinner. We checked in, washed ourselves, and left for the restaurant which was nearby. Finally, we received a hot and homely meal for which we were actually craving. The thali was merely 70 bucks with unlimited food. We were really thankful to this humble restaurant owner; he kept the restaurant open for 1 extra hour for us. On the way back to the guest house, we were stopped by 2 policemen. They asked where were we coming from and where were our masks which we accidentally left in our rooms (which was a very big mistake from our end). We tried to reason with them explaining how we are exhausted, starving, and traveling since morning, and erroneously we forgot to carry our masks. But they took our pictures said that they would make us viral on social media. We apologized to them continuously and told them that this was not intentional and we accept that we made a huge mistake. Finally, they forgave us and asked to never repeat it again. We finally came back to the room, took a warm bath and a tablet for muscle pain, and straight away went to sleep as the next day we had to trek and our bodies needed rest.
Trek to Chandrashila:
We wanted to get up early but our bodies needed rest so we couldn’t get up. It took so many efforts and we finally got up at 8:00 am. After getting ready we checked out but left our luggage in the guest house itself and left for the trek. We reached the main road and booked a cab for Chopta. Chopta was around 45 km from Ukhimath. It took us one and half hours to reach Chopta. This ride to Chopta is mesmerizing as for the whole ride you enjoy the scenic beauty of snow-clad Himalayas. During winters, this road gets covered with snow which makes it more beautiful. We reached Chopta and started to look for a breakfast place but there were only 2-3 places to choose from. So, we sat in one and enjoyed bread butter with piping hot tea. We geared up and started climbing.
After taking a few steps we realized that it's going to a very difficult trek as we were damn tired from having trekked to Kedarnath a day before. Never the less we didn’t want to give up so we continued climbing. It took us three hours to reach Tungnath. We climbed the trek a little relaxed, taking pictures on the way, and keeping in mind not to go breathless. The only problem we were facing was that the trek was consistently steep till we reached Tungnath. We could not do the darshan at Tungnath Temple as it had closed on 4th November. We knew it beforehand but our goal was to climb Chandrashila.
We halted there for a while and then made our way to Chandrashila peak. As soon as we saw the way to the Chandrashila top, we realized that the way was very rough and muddy. As we climbed, the way became steeper and harder. Though only one and a half km were left to climb, it took us 1 hour to reach the peak. But trust me! the view is definitely worth the climb. At the top, we got to see a 360° view of the Himalayas.
After enjoying the view for two hours, we realized that it was getting late and we started descending down the mountain. And literally, we were running and we made our way back in one and a half hours. Thankfully we kept our balance and didn’t topple down. The cab was waiting for us, we took it and reached back to Ukhimath. We wanted to go back to Delhi on the same day but firstly, it was too late, and secondly, we really needed a night to rest. So, we stayed back in the same guest house, took the first bus in the morning to Rishikesh. Luckily, at the Rishikesh bus stand, we got a Volvo to Delhi.
For the last three days, we trekked for around 60 km and we covered Kedarnath as well as Chandrashila. I won’t say that I got ‘moksha’ but definitely came back with a bag full of memories and a camera full of mesmerizing pictures.
Tungnath- Chandrashila Photoblog.
Cost Break-up (Per person):
Hotel (2N)- ₹800
Sonprayag to Ukhimath- ₹350
Ukhimath to Chopta- ₹500
Ukhimath to Haridwar- ₹400
Haridwar to Delhi (Volvo)- 650
Total: Sonprayag- Chandrashila- Delhi: ₹3200
Delhi- Kedarnath- Tungnath Chandrashila- Delhi [ 5N- 4D] cost: ₹6800 [Part 1+ Part 2]
Important Points to remember:
1. There are 3 starting points for this trek:
a. Kund-Sari village- Deoria Tal- Chopta-Tungnath-Chandrashila.
b. Sari village-Chopta--Tungnath-Chandrashila.
According to fitness level as well as days available you can choose your own trekking route.
2. Ukhimath is the nearest town to Chopta. If you are on a short trip, you can stay at Ukhimath and the next day take a cab to Chopta and start trekking.
3. Kund has fewer options to stay so it’s better to pre-book. In the case of Ukhimath, there are plenty of options.
4. You can find ATM at Ukhimath but it opens at around 9-9:30 AM.
5. When Tungnath is closed:
a. You won’t find any place to eat or even have a bottle of water. Make sure you refill your stomach as well as the water bottle from Chopta.
b. Around 50 mt before the Tungnath temple, you’ll find a board with Kund written on it, it dries in winters but there is a tap. You have to cross those artificial ponds and you’ll find a pipeline running adjacent to the mountain. This is the only option to get your bottle refilled.
6. When Tungnath is opened:
a. You can stay at guest houses near the temple and you’ll find plenty of shops to eat.
b. Riding mules is another option to reach Tungnath.
7. Now camping is banned on Tungnath but I saw 2 People carrying their own tent on the trek, but I’m not sure you’re even allowed to pitch.
8. From the Ukhimath market, the bus leaves at 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM for Haridwar/ Rishikesh. It starts at Ukhimath only.
9. Make sure to carry enough water and keep the environment clean.