A trek to Deoria Tal, Chopta, Tungnath and the Chandrashila Peak

As of May 2018, I have made six trips to Chandrashila. I just can’t seem to get enough of the place! I think it would be safe to say that I am well informed about the area, and can help you in planning the trek. 🙂 If you have any questions and would like to contact me, please feel free to message me on my Instagram: @mountain.affair

My first time for this trek, I had gone solo, relying on public transport. While on the following five times, I had taken a car. I have tried to pen down my experiences and information from both perspectives.

For the complete set of pictures from my solo trek in mid August, please visit:

Photographs from my Solo trek

For the complete set of pictures from my second trek in late October, please visit:

Photographs from my repeat trek

For the complete set of pictures from my third trek in late December, please visit:

Chandrashila Winter Trek, December 2013

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A humble request to anyone reading this blog: A team of us have been working on developing a website and mobile app which will feature over 200 Himalayan trek routes and camping spots initially and gradually we add more regions like Western Ghats, Nepal etc. More details here. This is all a self funded project, hence we need all your support to make this happen. 

For now, all I ask from you is to follow us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for updates. You can also leave your email address here to know about the launch of the app and website.

Thank you so so much! Now we can continue with the blog 🙂 

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Jumping on the opportunity of an extended weekend, I decided to head to Uttarakhand for an easy trek to Deoria Tal, Chopta and Tungnath over a span of 3 nights and 4 days.

While hiking up towards Deoria Tal

Two hours before I planned to leave my home, I booked my bus tickets near Anand Vihar ISBT for Haridwar which leaves at 11.30 PM. This was to be my first solo trek and I carried my own tent, sleeping bag, mat and other supplies which made my backpack about 12 kgs heavy. Going thoroughly over a list of items to take along I had prepared a week ago, I made sure that none was missed.

Day 1: Delhi – Haridwar – Rishikesh – Rudraprayag – Ukhimath – Sari – Deoria Tal (7832 feet ASL).

The bus reached Haridwar around 5.00 AM and immediately after, I found a bus going towards Joshimath. Although I had plans to get off at Rishikesh and meet a couple of my friends who were staying there after completing their trek to Valley of Flowers, better sense prevailed and I decided to skip the meeting and head straight for my destination. This turned out to be a very wise decision as I later learnt that buses heading towards Joshimath leave form Haridwar really early in the morning. Otherwise it would have been an almost endless wait for the next bus.

After the 20 seater bus dropped me at Rudraprayag around 11.30 AM, it headed East towards Joshimath while my route takes me North from hereon. With no buses plying on this route, I am left with no option but to look for shared taxis / tempos to reach my destination. After changing 3 shared taxis one after another at Agastyamuni, Chandrapuri and Kund respectively, I am dropped off at a tiny village called Mastura at around 2.00 PM. Mastura falls 1.5 kms before Sari village – from where people generally start the trek for the lake. Since I didn’t have my own conveyance, I strapped on my backpack and commenced the trek. From Mastura, Sari Village is a continuous uphill trek, and from Sari Village, the lake is a further 2.5 km uphill climb. The entire path is well laid out and stone paved. Sari also has a few shops stocking on the basic food items which you can buy at about 15-20% more than the marked price.

Mastura and Sari village seen while on the way to Deoria Tal.

I am in the middle of peak monsoons and expecting a clear sky throughout my journey  mostly went in vain. With the sun beating down on your head one minute and the monsoon clouds rolling over you the next, you are caught in the dilemma if you should continue your hike in warm, or summer clothes.  Hiking on the desolated stretch from Sari to Deoria Tal for more than an hour now, the only presence I felt came from a variety of elusive chirping birds, toads the size of a lunch box and an array of lizards scurrying for the cracks within the rocks every time the  monsoon clouds decided to rain down on you.

Once you reach the top of the hill, lush green meadows and the pristine Deoria Tal itself welcomes you with open arms. As the monsoon clouds roll over the lake and gradually head to the other side of the valley, you notice the towering Neelkanth, Bandarpunch, Yellow tooth and the imposing 7000er Chaukhamba Peak dwarfing everything around.

Chaukhamba Peak can be seen on the right.

There are three dhabas operating near the lake and you will find the staff extremely helpful and friendly. The dhabas are stocked with Maggie, biscuits, chips and water – all of which are sold at least 20% more than the marked price. Dinner here consists of the staple Indian diet – Dal, Roti, Subzi with rice at nominal rates and served around 8 in the evening. With so many ideal spots near the lake to set camp, you will be spoilt for choice. If you decide to set your own camp, the FRH (Forest Rest House) staff will charge a nominal Rs. 50.00 per night for the tent and Rs. 150.00 (Rs. 600.00 for foreigners) per head as entry fees to the lake site. As mentioned on the receipts given to you in lieu of the entry fees, this collection from trekkers goes towards the maintenance of the NandaDevi Bioshpere Forest Reserve.

With the entire region engulfed in complete darkness by 8.00 PM, I decided to slip into my sleeping bag and call it an early night. The fatigue which set in due to 15 hours of continuous travel helped me drift off to sleep within seconds!

Day 2: Deoria Tal – Sari – Chopta – Tungnath (12,073 feet ASL)

You wake up in the morning with the distinct sound of birds chirping, fish flapping in the water and horses going about grazing around the flawless meadow. The view you get during the sun rise is nothing short of spectacular. The reflection of the Chaukhamba Peak over the calm waters of the lake is quite talked about and photographers spend considerable time to capture that perfect image.

By 9.00 AM, I was done with dismantling the tent, packed my backpack and also helped myself with a sumptuous breakfast consisting of egg omelets with toast at the dhaba. Just as I left the campsite and walked about 100 meters, I spotted a half eaten body of a calf right in the middle of the trail which, as per the locals was killed by a Leopard last night in Sari village and the body dragged all the way up towards the lake!

Three beauties we met on our way to Chopta from Sari

Putting the grisly sight behind, I continued the downhill trek towards the Sari Village which took about 45 minutes. Once at Sari, I arranged for a local guy to drop me off at Chopta in his rickety Maruti 800 car in exchange for Rs. 600. The road from Sari to Chopta is magnificent and takes about 45 minutes to cover the total distance of 22 kms. There are a number of dhabas at Chopta stocking on everything you might need including walking sticks and rain ponchos.

The trail from Chopta to Tungnath is well laid out and stone paved all the way but also deprived of any flat stretches. This distance of the steadily uphill 3.5 kms can be covered in maximum 3 hours provided you maintain a steady pace. And with quite a few dhabas along the trail, you can choose to take your own time while resting at places. After the first 2 Kms, you will find yourself crossing the tree-line and lofty meadows rolling all around one after the other. Just as I was crossing the tree-line, I was lucky enough to spot a Leopard darting out of one of the bushes  and vanish into the forest cover.

Tungnath, at a height of 3680 meters, is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is one of the five and the highest Paanch Kedar temples located in the state of Uttarakhand.

Me with my shelter which I had pitched next to a cliff at Tungnath.

Tourists and pilgrims regularly visit the temple to pay their homage to Lord Shiva. During the winters, even as the temple remains snow bound and unapproachable, few adepts come to the area avoiding pilgrims and to climb Chandrashila. If you are carrying your own tent, the meadows behind the temple provide a strikingly beautiful campsite. In case you do not prefer staying in a tent, there are quite a few basic lodges providing rooms for Rs.300-400 a night for two people.

Situated just below the Chandrashila Peak, Tungnath offers some magnificent views of Chaukhamba, Neelkanth and Kedarnath peaks. With plans to wake up by 4.00 AM next morning to commence the climb to Chandrashila, I had an early dinner and was tucked inside my sleeping bag by 8.00 PM.

Day 3: Tungnath – Chandrashila – Tungnath – Chopta

At about 4 in the morning I stepped out of my tent to find a carpet of clouds spread a couple of hundred feet beneath us. With the full moon washing the entire region with its glow, the use of a torch even at that hour of the morning was rendered useless. The wind had picked up speed since last night and the cold was enough to breach even five layers of clothing and send you shivering.

The summit of Chandrashila Peak from Tungnath is little less than 1.5 kms. The trail begins from the back side of Tungnath temple and is consistently uphill with few patches being surprisingly quite steep. Littered with stones of all sizes, one needs to be careful particularly while hiking in the dark so as to avoid any misstep which might result in a sprained foot.

Sun rising behind the Nandadevi Peak
Sun rising behind the Nandadevi Peak

At a height of 13,232 feet above sea level, Chandrashila Peak has a small temple and a series of cairns perched at the top. The summit provides a spectacular 300 degree panoramic view of some of the highest peaks in India like Nandadevi, Trishul, Kedar Peak, Bandarpunch and Chaukhamba Peaks. As the sun finally decides to rise behind the mighty Nandadevi Peak (7,816 meters), the sky gradually turns into one endless canvas reflecting an array of colors. You can notice the first rays of the sun grace the earth and the peaks being unhurriedly washed with a golden glow as if a fire is lit from within. One will find him/herself consciously seeking out the warm sun rays which instantly relieves you from the cold wind.

Once satiated with the experience I just had, I came down to Tungnath which took no more than 30 minutes. After having some milk and eggs at one of the dhabas, I started my walk down to Chopta. The buses from Chopta to Ukhimath or Gopeshwar are very limited and run on fixed times- usually very early in the morning. It would be a good idea to inquire with a local about the availability and timings one day before you plan to travel.

With 3 treks to to the same destination in less than 5 months, my heart still longs to go back and spend another night under the stars camped at Tungnath which I am sure will happen soon! As for you, get off this blog, pack your bags, and head to this marvelous destination. Every minute used, every muscle sprained and every penny spent to reach such a place couldn’t be more worthy!

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151 thoughts on “A trek to Deoria Tal, Chopta, Tungnath and the Chandrashila Peak

  1. Hi Karan,
    Your blog is quite informative. I am planning to visit this place in the last week of december with a group of 8 people. I am thinking to board a taxi or bus from Haridwar till Chopta. Can you help me by suggesting the accomodation service, food stalls in chopta?

    1. Hi Manmohan, there are a few basic lodges and dhabas at Chopta which will remain open in the last week of December. If you don’t want to take any chances, you can also contact any local guide and he will book these lodges before you arrive.

      1. Hello there, it was worth reading about your trek. I am also planning this chopta-chandrashila trek possibly in next month around 8th october along with 2-3 guys. Can you brief me a little bit regarding how can we complete this trek on a minimum budget. How much would it cost per head if we plan in an economical way considering that we will start from Dehradun ?

      2. Hey Vishal, I’m so sorry I missed your message. I just happened to log in and check the comments. I hope you had a great time. If there is any way I could help, please do let me know. Cheers!

  2. Inspirational and well explained! Thanks man

    I along with my friends are planning for chopta trek this weekend . We will start the journey on Friday night and need to get back by Monday night /Tuesday early morning. Not sure what all to visit – deoria tal/ sari/ chopta/ tugnath/ chandrashilla. Not sure weather to takr taxi or go by bus.

    Can you please help me create a plan? 🙂

    1. Hey Sahil. I’m extremely sorry I missed your comment. I am assuming you must have already completed the trip. I hope you had a great time. In case, you haven’t and have any questions, please let me know and I shall try my best to answer them. Cheers!

      1. No worries man. Yea, completed the trek and it was a wonderful experience. Missed the deoria tal due to time limitation, will do that the next I visit the place

        Cheers

  3. Hello there! First of all thanks a lot for sharing your experiences here. I am also planning this chopta-tugnaath-chandrashilla trek along with 3-4 guys. Can you brief me a bit regarding the minimum budget in which we can complete this 3-4 days trek. How much it would cost per person considering that we shall start from Dehradun.

  4. Bhai aapke paas tent konsa tha, brand?
    Bhai 2 person ke liye koi tent suggest karo jo ..snow camping ke liye v sahi ho, I mean for occasionally snow camping, below 4000 meters, quechua aprenaz 2 ,price inr 2000 sahi hai kya jo thoda bahut snow camping mai b kaam aa jae??

    1. Hi Parveen, I use a Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1 but unfortunately it isn’t available in India. You can use Arpenaz 2 occasionally but don’t expect it to handle heavy winds and storms. Rs. 2000 for it is a good deal.

  5. hi..first of all thankyou for the informative blog. I am planning to trek chandrashila on december 17 -22. I would like to know if I can get a bus from rudraprayag to sari/chopta.

    1. Hi Bechu, you can get a bus from Rudraprayag to Ukhimath but you might need a taxi after that. There are no direct buses to Sari village. As for Chopta, 2 years back around 23rd December the road leading to Chopta was covered in snow. Hence we had to stop 2-3 kms before Chopta and walk till there. Do inquire at Rudraprayag about the current situation and plan accordingly. Cheers and have a safe trip!

  6. hii, i am planning for this trek in last month of december alongwith a friend . This is my first snow trek and i don’t have any camping equipment . SO, do i need to buy eqipment or i can get them at chopta or rishikesh on rent.

    1. Hi Kunal, because of the snowfall, a lot of places in Chopta close down and you can’t get them for rent in Deoria Tal but not in Chopta / Tungnath. Even Rishikesh I doubt there are shops that give out equipment for rent. If it is your first winter trek, I would suggest you get a local guide who can arrange the food and camping at Deoria Tal and Chopta.

      If you do want a local guide to arrange this, you can message Pure Explore at their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/PureExplore . It is an initiative we started where we get the local guides directly from villages to organize the treks. Please do let me know if you have any questions. Cheers!

  7. Sir,
    Wanted to visit that placed includes deriatal,chandrashila and tunganath in late february.can u give a itiniary fpr this.?we are two persons and not professional hiker.

    1. Hi Asmita, sorry for the late reply. I myself was out on a trek and just returned today. Chandrashila trek can be completely modified. I would suggest you get in touch with http://www.facebook.com/PureExplore and drop them a message. Pure Explore works with local guides and can arrange the trek at much cheaper prices. They can prepare an itinerary according to your dates.

  8. Hi!!..awsome blog brother.very inspiring …i just want to ask that as i dont have tents of my own so can i get tents and sleeping bags there ??..in deoritaal and tungnath .
    thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Himanshu. Thanks a lot for the encouraging words! You will get tents and sleeping bags at Deoria Tal subject to availability. If you are going on a long weekend, there are chances that all the tents might be taken. For Tungnath it depends when you are planning to go. Nobody usually camps at Tungnath because there are a couple of lodges which remain open from April/May till October. Chopta too has lodges. Do let me know if you have any other questions. Cheers!

  9. Hey, am planning to go there this October, during Diwali. Could you help contact any local or lodges to arrange for stay. Two people.
    Also, it would be helpful , if you could tell me about general rules of camping on your own.
    I’m excited witht the thought of setting up my own tent.

    1. Hey Pritesh, you can contact Arvind @ 8006020036. He is a local from Sari village and probably can help arranging your stay. As for camping spot, just ask any local to show you a suitable camping spot. Just make sure you collect and dispose off your garbage, try to make minimum noise so as not to disturb other campers. Let me know if you have any specific questions. 🙂 You are definitely going to love the camping experience! I myself will be heading to Kareri Lake again on the same dates 🙂

  10. Hi Karan,

    I am planning to do this Trek solo during Diwali holidays 18-22 Oct 2017. I have a couple of questions:

    – How will the weather be? What kind of clothing should I pack and wear? I’ll be starting from Delhi.

    – Do I really need to have a tent? If yes, which ones would you suggest for a 5’7” guy?

    – How is the cellular reception along the trek?

    It would be of great help to me if you could help me with these. Feel free to give me some additional tips if you like.

    P.S. – I really liked your blog and the way you described the whole journey.

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Amit, it will be cold on this trek. You can expect the temperature to reach negative in the night in Chopta. Keep a warm jacket, something to block cold wind.
      Tent isn’t necessary, There are a couple of dhabas that rent out tents there but it is on first come first serve basis since there are limited tents. In Chopta you can stay at a lodge. For your height, any tent would do. You can opt for one of those Quechua 2 man tents.
      You won’t get reception almost anywhere on the trek unless you use BSNL.
      What I haven’t mentioned in my blog is the trek from Deoria Tal to Chopta (without taking the vehicle). It is a gorgeous trek which I did this April but you’ll need a guide for this. Do it if you can. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask. I’ll be heading to Kareri Lake again on those holidays 🙂

  11. Hi,
    I would be traveling solo to chandrashila from Jan 20 – Jan 28.
    Please let me know the routes as im confused to about the routes.
    I would prefer staying in tent rather than staying lodges.Suggest me the routes options for a 5 day trek to chandrashila summit.

    1. Hi Suraj, thank you for your message. Actually you don’t need 5 days for Chandrashila trek. This entire circuit can be done in 2 or maximum 3 days. The routes are quite simple too and I have given all the details in my blog. If there is anything specific you want to know, you can leave a message here.

  12. Hi, I have been planning a solo trip to Chandrashila and your blog just motivated me more.
    I was planning from route of Delhi-Haridwar-Rudraprayag-Chopta-Chandrashila.
    and I’m student so I’m on budget, but I have few questions in mind,
    1. Can I get a place to stay in Chopta? And do we get mobile networks there?
    2. Is there any place to stay in Tungnath as I really want to see the Sunset, Stars & Sunrise from Chandrashila and also how are the mobile networks at Tungnath?
    3. If I take the route of Sari/Deoritaal, again are there places to stay there? And how are the mobile networks?

    Please respond ASAP. All suggestions and help is appreciated, thank you!

    1. Hi Surbhi, I am glad my blog motivated you in planning this trip. I will try to answer your questions below. Please feel free to message in case you have any more questions.
      1. Chopta does have a few lodges and basic homestays. You should be able to get a place to stay there. As for mobile network, Airtel and Vodafone usually don’t work there. You have better chances with Jio and BSNL.
      2. Again, there are 2-3 lodges in Tungnath. And no mobile network at Tungnath at all.
      3. There are no lodges at Deoria Tal. There is a Forest Rest House but they are almost always booked in advance. You’ll need to camp at Deoria Tal. There are 3-4 dhabas around the lake and they keep tents and sleeping bags for rent. I think they charge roughly 400-500 for a night. You will get mobile network at Deoria Tal.
      PS: I wouldn’t suggest you trek from Deoria Tal to Chopta on your own. The trail is through a thick forest and the trail can get confusing. Instead, you trek back down to Sari village and then take a vehicle to Chopta.
      Please do let me know if you have any more questions. Cheers!

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