Yours truly...

... was very busy at work; so he couldn't write anything. But like a phoenix, rising from the... blah blah blah... here he comes...

I am going on a vacation tomorrow - going home! I will eat, a lot, at home (I am already drooling); will try to meet some old friends; hope to meet some older friends from school (thanks to Orkut!); and also hope to click some photographs.

Got to go now... got to start packing!

Trudging to Tungnath

I happen to be in Delhi on official business. And it happened to be a three day weekend due to Good Friday. And a few friends from Delhi and their friends were going on a trek to Tungnath in Uttarakhand. No prizes for guessing what I chose to do!

Tungnath is the third of five kedars (holi places of worship for hindus) – Kedarnath and Badrinath being the better known. The base for this Mandir (temple) is a small village in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand called Chopta. It is about 510 kms from Delhi.

We started for Chopta at 1 a.m. The route we took was DelhiMeerut – Roorkee – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Rudraprayag – Ukhimath – Chopta. We took two Qualis (for the ten of us) and with a couple of stops, we reached in about 12 hours. The public transport way to reach this place is to take a train / bus to Haridwar. There are regular bus services to Rudraprayag from Haridwar / Rishikesh. From Rudraprayag there is only one cab shuttling (that I could find) to Chopta daily. One might find it difficult to reach Chopta in one day that way though.

Neelkamal hotel was only one hotel open in Chopta. It had several clean rooms with three / four snug beds, and attached toilets. After checking in, we hiked for about an hour up, just to get a feeling of where we were going the next day, and also to get a “higher” view of the sunset. Dinner was an early affair in the small restaurant that operates right in front of the hotel. The menu was simple but nourishing with dal, vegetables, egg bhurji with rotis. The hearty dinner, a tired body and a comfortable bed was the perfect recipe for a great night’s sleep.

The next morning we started at six, for the 3.4 km hike up to Tungnath Mandir. It is a well marked (paved, really) route with elevation angle ranging from mostly gentle to quite steep at places. We also bypassed the road a few times to avoid the snow (yes, you read it right – snow) or sometimes just to avoid the length of the road. For the last kilometer or so, there is no avoiding snow. The only way to reach the Mandir (even in April) is to trudge over the snow, which at times was knee deep. The Mandir site was abandoned: it is supposed to open on 30th April. Till then there are no provisions of staying up there. Once the Mandir is open, there are a couple of guest house facilities which provide shelter for the night. There is a challenging hike up to Chandrashila from Tungnath Mandir, however, we could not find the route due to snow covering any mark of a trail. We were also stuck there for a while because of a blizzard! Ok, I was taking advantage of my limited vocabulary here – it was more like a light drizzle of snow, but the effects were truly amazing, and the temperatures dropped by a few degrees in a matter of minutes. However, very soon, the snowfall stopped and we were on our way back.

We had planned to hike to Deoriyatal, a lake hidden behind a hill near by, after lunch. However, due to various issues, we dropped the idea, and after a big lunch, we left for Delhi. We only took a couple of breaks, including one for dinner at Rishikesh, and reached Delhi in the early hours of the morning.