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Memories: Chopta - Tungnath trek

"Snow makes life difficult, sometimes worse, but if the child within you is still alive it can charm your heart. Waking up to a lovely view of snow all around was always charming in childhood and it still invokes that charm! Slowly falling fragile flakes of snow come together and transform the entire landscape to make everything look uniform. We humans can learn something from these tiny snowflakes coming together to bring a big change."
(January 2017) An unplanned trip where we had planned for Shimla but headed to Chopta. The weather forecast for Chopta was for Snow. It was decided; we were heading to Chopta instead of Shimla not knowing that the experience was going to be probably a once in a lifetime for many of us. Packed our bags and left from our office at around 10 PM. The plan was to reach Chopta by next day afternoon, take rest and then start trekking to Chandrashila early in the morning, though we never reached Chandershila.
"Tungnath is one of the highest Shiva temples in the world. It is in the mountain range of Tungnath in Rudraprayag district. The Tungnath (literal meaning: Lord of the peaks) mountains form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys. It is located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila (13,000 ft). The temple is believed to be more than 1000 years old. There is a legend linking the place to the Pandavas, from Mahabharata era."
It was a long and tiring journey. The weather was pleasant all the way and all were looking at me because I had suggested Chopta in place of Shimla and there were no signs of snow yet. As we were approaching Chopta, just few kilometers behind the wind started getting chilly and we also noticed some negligible spots of snow. On reaching MAYADEEP HERBAL RESORT at Duggalbitta the staff setup the fire and we were preparing for the BBQ. Suddenly light snow started coming down from the sky. It was around 5 PM. It lasted only few minutes.
"There is no electricity available at this place as this is a sanctuary, I believe. The gen-set runs for three hours from 7 PM – 10 PM and then the staff provided small solar emergency lights for night (if needed).
The kitchen runs on firewood. We carried the item to cook with us. The resort staff cooked for us and we also cooked some of the items ourselves (credit goes to our dear Mr. Rakesh (Rocky))."


We, the TEAM!!!Much needed warmth of Fire!!!
We retired for the night in the hope of getting some snow the next morning. And, it was all white when we woke up. There was around 3 - 4 cm of snow. We all boarded the tempo from Duggalbitta to the base to start our trek to Tungnath. After just 500 meters the tempo started skidding off the road and it was not possible to move further. So, we deboarded and started the trek to reach our first stop Baniyakund... filled our stomach with hot parathas, rented some snow boots, bought gloves, and a poly sheet to cover ourselves from snow. From Baniyakund as we progressed further more and more snow downpour of snow continued.
And the uphill task begins!!!Journey back to home started!!!
"Due to non-motorable condition of the road the distance on foot increased and we had to trek around 8 KM to reach Tungnath. Otherwise, it would have been around 4 KM."
In the way we met some people coming down and they informed that it is not possible to reach Tungnath due to bad weather, low visibility and probably some wolfs have also gathered there. Ignoring the earning we continued our journey. However, it was getting more difficulty every minute. Taking rest was also dangerous as feet would start freezing in wet socks. At one point just around few hundred meters below Tungnath we faced a mild snowstorm. The air was blowing from all sides with snow directly hitting our faces making difficult to move ahead. We stooped for a while. Our guide who has already been warning since the beginning of the dangers of weather and wild animals post sunset, said it’s a matter of life and death and we should return as soon as possible to reach the hotel before it gets dark.


Snow just started!!! Getting a little more of it!!!


On the way to Tungnath!!! On our way back from Tungnath!!!
We were unyielding and moved ahead and finally reached Tungnath. It was below -15 degree. We just pulled our gloves to click some pictures and it seemed like hands are frozen. We could stay there for more than two minutes. We wanted to reach Chandershila peak but beyond that point the weather was extreme and almost no visibility.
We descended back sliding on the snow on slopes throughout our way back. When we reached the camp at around 8:00 PM the snow was almost knee deep. Wet jackets were frozen from outside and even eyebrows had ice on them.

!!!! We could only stay here for a minute!!!

The Tungnath Temple!!! The Tungnath Temple!!!

Next day Govt road clearance party had cleared the snow leaving behind a thin hard layer on road surface making it difficult to drive. Our tempo traveler once skidded off but luckily not towards delft. The vehicle was not moving. Had to put some soil on road to move the vehicle. After few hundred meters had to stop because road was still not opened for traffic. After waiting till noon, we finally left that place with a lot of memories to carry home. It was dense fog on the way from Haridwar to Delhi with no visibility, but our driver kept moving. And, as always, another journey was over with lot of experiences and memories!

Getting ready for the trek!!! view from resort!!!
ice plated road!!! Lucky! We only got stuck here!!!
View from resort!!! View from resort!!!

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