With lust meadows and vast greenery, beautiful mountains, and little people, the Chopta Chandrashila Trek is the ideal place for an adventurous getaway. Tucked away in the Himalayas, the entire district is calm and quiet. Its tranquil beauty is manifested in a landscape unlike any other.
The entire journey to the Chopta Chandrashila Trek is worth documentation. The small villages that spread across the Himalayas, the rocky hills and unpaved roads, and the endless miles of blue skies offer ample refuge for the everyday soul. Under the Autumn sun, the occasional chirping of birds combined with the sporadic breeze form a heavenly ambiance that remains with me to this day.
When to hike ?
Chopta is absolutely beautiful during the summer. However, I love it best during the shoulder seasons. The springtime between March-April and the autumn months of September-October will turn the undulating hills into a range of beautiful colors. The weather will be just perfect for the upcoming Chopta Chandrashila Trek. As well, Tungnath Temple, the highest Shiva temple in the world, is only open from April to November,
However, do take into consideration that visits may be disrupted by fog, which is an experience I had while backpacking Dunagiri.
How to Get to the Chopta Chandrashila Trek
Chopta is a small region in the Uttarakhand state. Its scenic view is nothing like that offered by Delhi. From vast green spaces to bright blue skies, the district was absolutely breathtaking. The village is famous for Tungnath, one of the highest Shiva temples in the world.
My friend and I began the journey in Delhi. We boarded a bus towards Haridwar, where he had a motorcycle at home. We spent around six hours a day, for two days, before we reached the Chopta village.
For those unfamiliar with mountain driving, I’d recommend that you don’t self-drive. Although NH58, the main highway is not a horrible drive, there is a fair amount of unpaved and rocky road. There are rarely any guardrails, especially when you are deep into the Himalayas. Do put your journey on hold once the sunsets!
Luckily, my friend was more experienced with these roads. Due to the distance, we spent a couple of nights at guesthouses along the way. Those in the area clearly don’t see many foreigners. Even myself, a North-Indian looking Asian, got tons of curious stares from the local people.
Duggalbitta, the village before the Chopta Chandrashila Trek
On the fourth day of our trip into Chopta, we arrived at a Duggalbitta, which is a small village leading to the Chandrashila Peak. After dropping our bike off at a nearby shop, we took on an exhausting, yet breathtaking hike towards the peak.
4,000 meters above sea-level, the trek offered a panoramic view of the Himalaya ranges. It lasted about 3-4 hours, passing camping grounds, donkeys, paved roads, and rocky hills.
Along the way, there were options for camping and horseback riding, but we continued our way towards the peak. Looking down, we saw miles and miles of endless farmlands and tiny wooden houses that dotted roads to the south.
Embarking on the Chopta Chandrashila Trek
Surrounded by trees, greenery, and a magnificent view of the mountain ranges, the trek can last between 2-3 hours depending on your physical ability. With all the picture-taking and scenic viewing (and of course I was dying a bit along the way), it took us close to 4 hours before reaching the little village on top of the Chandrashila Peak.
Calling it a village might be an overstatement. The few little huts and brick-stoned dwellings housed less than 20 people. Hiking to the beat of the mountains and no one else, we came across one of the most beautiful, untouched sunsets.
Against the backdrop of the setting sun, we continued on the path illuminated by rays of gold. It was absolutely magnificent.
After the sunset, we retreated into a beautiful guest house on the mountain. Since the night was still quite foggy, we crossed our fingers and hoped for a clear morning.
The Final Climb: Chandrashila Peak
At 4 am the next day, we began another hike towards the peak.
To be honest, my Cappadocia experience is the only one that can rival this view.
We felt the sun before seeing its pink hues. There was an utter calmness that extended across the entire Himalayan ranges. No birds, no wind- complete silence.
Then, the sky began brightening up. With it, the snow-covered peaks became increasingly visible.
Beams of sun rays started reflecting off the summit, projecting an expanding warm orange tone an arm’s reach away.
We sat on the ice-cold earth, unable to move from such a sight.
After the sun came out, we ventured around the alp, where a little prayer temple sat overlooking the cliffs.
There were barely any people in sight. Below us, the cliffs into a distance beyond the eye’s view.
Tunagath: The Highest Shiva Temple
Since I took one of those cheap local buses from Delhi, it was no more than RS 250 per ride. Mind you, it wasn’t the most comfortable way to travel as the decade-old bus had no A.C, broken windows, and seats that made you sit straight as an arrow!.
Otherwise, we spent around RS 6000 (US 93) on gas, food, accommodation, and other activities. Included within this, was a RS 500 donation to the ashram.
- The accommodation was around RS 300 rupees/night/room. Guesthouses may ask for more once they realize you are a foreigner, but I got away with identifying as a North Indian.
- We ate at cheap local shops or cooked vegetables on a home-brought mini gas stove. These places won’t cost more than a couple of dollars per meal.