Wednesday, October 4

Places To Visit Near Chopta Trek

In the state of Uttarakhand, which is popular for many treks, there is Chopta, a stretch of meadows and forests in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary territory. It is Uttarakhand’s very own Switzerland.

Chopta is relatively new in trekking but it has been there for a long time as there is a Lord Shiva temple nearby which is only accessible by trekking to it. It is the famous Tunganath temple.

There are five places that you must visit while Chopta trek:

  • Tungnath
  • Chandrashila
  • Deoriatal Lake
  • Rohini Bugyal
  • Ukhimath or Okhimath
  • Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

They are as described below:

  1. Tungnath:

Tungnath is a temple devoted to Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the five dhams of Uttarakhand which are collectively also known as the Panch Kedar. The other temples are Kedarnath, Madhyameshwar, Rudranath, and Kalpeshwar.

According to mythology, once when Bhima was trying to find a hiding Lord Shiva, the latter took the form of a bull called “Nandi”. When Bhima caught the bull by its hind legs and tail, it transformed into Lord Shiva and buried himself in the ground only to reappear in five different body parts of the bull. The place where the arms were found was Tungnath, the face was found in Rudranath, hair in Kalpeshwar, and the navel in Madhyameshwar.

Visit it not only for its religious significance but also for the splendid views it offers. It is the world’s highest Shiva temple at 12,100ft.

  1. Chandrashila

Chandrashila is the name of the peak which is the main highlight of the Chopta trek. It is at an altitude of 13,000ft. It is en route to the Chandrashila summit that one can visit the Tunganath temple. The temple is only about 1 to 2 km below the summit but the hike takes longer due to the steep trail. At the peak of Chandrashila is a Devi temple devoted to Goddess Ganga, the River Ganges.

During winters, the trek to the summit becomes difficult but so much more beautiful as the trail is covered with snow and walking there becomes more joyful.  If the weather is kind to you then you can witness the peaks of Nandadevi, Trishul, Kedar, Bandarpuch, and Chaukhamba’s massif. It is a picturesque panoramic sight to behold.

  1. Deoria Tal Lake

Deborah Tal is a lake at 8,000ft and sits among the mountains like a baby on its mother’s lap. It is also known as Devarim lake or Deoriatal. This lake has mythological importance as it is said to be the lake in Mahabharata where Yudhistir was asked questions by Yaksha. This is mentioned in the Hindu texts of Puranas. It has been referenced as “Indra Sarovar”. Even from the lake, you can see the majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks of Chaukhamba, Neelkantha, Kalanaag, and the Kedar range. You can also do birdwatching and try to spot the indigenous birds present in this biodiversity hotspot like the Himalayan Monal.

It takes about 3 hours to climb the steeper slopes to reach the lake. You can camp near the lake and rest.

  1. Rohini Bugyal

The Chopta Bugyal is also known by the name Rohini bugyal or Tunganath bugyal. It is a very romantic meadow that is covered in red and pink rhododendrons during summers and white snow during winters. This bugyal always gets poster-worthy pictures. To reach Rohini bugyal you will have to first cross Jhandi Dhar which is a ridge when you hike from Deoriatal. The Sari village is usually the starting point to trek to Rohini Bugyal. From here Rohini Bugyal is about an 8km trek.

  1. Ukhimath

Ukhimath is sometimes also referred to as Okhimath. It is also a lord shiva temple. During winters, when the doors of the Kedarnath and Madhyameshwar temples are closed due to heavy snowfall, the seasonal idols are kept here at Ukhimath for 6 whole months.

Ukhimath is usually the central point for nearby treks to Chopta, Deoriatal, Chandrashila, and Tunganath temple. It was named after Usha, daughter of Banasura, who got married to Lord Krishna’s grandson Aniruddha here. 

  1. Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary

Near Chopta is the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary which is otherwise also known as Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary as it is home to the Himalayan Musk Deer. Along with the musk deer, there are also other species found in the park namely: the snow leopard, Himalayan Griffin, Himalayan Thar, and Himalayan Black Bear. 

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It is at a distance of about 100km from Chopta which is about a 3.5hrs car journey.