The trek to the world’s highest Shiva temple is actually pretty easy. Seeing the Himalayan peaks spread over 180 degrees up from there is nothing less than a visual treat. First timers who are looking to get a hang of the general basics of trekking in the Himalayan region try out the Tunganath trek
With the peaks of Panchchuli, Nanda Devi, Nilkanth and Kedarnath keeping you company Chopta to Tungnat is simple trek which is yet adventurous and enthralling, if you are looking at kick-starting your trekking endeavours.
Tungnath at 12,073 ft has the highest altitude among all the Panch Kedars of Garhwal (consisting of Kedarnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, Kalpeshwar and Tungnath).
All Photographs: Ayandrali Dutta
The route starts right after the dhabas end in Chopta and you spot an arched gate, with the trekking trail marked for Tungnath. Lush trees welcome you as you take your first few steps while the peaks, lit up by sunrays, on the left enchant you with the view. This visual delight by itself is worth the walk. And, this trail does not require any guide!
As you walk uphill almost close to an hour green lush meadows capture your vision and you could just open your tent and park yourself anywhere. The trail steadily gains altitude. This part has flowers, meadows and gentle vistas.
The trekking distance between Chopta to Tungnath is 4 km and usually takes around 2 to 3 hours depending on your pace. The calmness around you as climb uphill gives you a sense of numbness which also enriches you. Make sure to hydrate yourself on the way up. Just before you are to reach Tungnath you will spot a detour which leads to Ravanshila – a place Ravana meditated to please Lord Shiva (accordingly to mythology).
Once you have hit Tungnath the whole journey would seem worthwhile. The bright yellow door of a temple welcomes you with the melodious ringing of temple bells that wafts in the air.
Take a breather, order some hot chai, maggi and parathas from any one of the few dhabas, the food tastes divine as you would have well earned it by now.
There is just one guesthouse with 4 rooms. Don’t be worried if you don’t get a room in the guest house the people there are warm and kind enough to accommodate you.
If you are motivated head up to Chandrashila but be careful as this steep ascent of 1.5 km could be more difficult to climb than the less inclined trail of four kilometers earlier. But, let us give you a reason…The 180 degree valley view standing at one the highest points, that you will reach will be nothing less than spectacular.
GOOD TO KNOW
Points to remember:
- Carry woolens, the weather can get erratic
- No prior booking can be done.
- There is no electricity at Chopta, Tunganath.
- For camping, permission needs to be taken from Forest department.
- Photography buffs carry extra camera battery
- The temple is closed during the winters and the deity is shifted to Mukku village.
The route from Delhi to Tungnath:
Delhi – Rishikesh ( 230 km) – Dev Prayag (80 km) – Srinagar (32 km)– Rudra Prayag 35 km)– Kund – Ukhimath (42 km)– Duggalbitta – Baniya Kund – Chopta ( 60 km)- Tungnath (4 km trek route).
When to go: August to May. Avoid Monsoons