It was early January, and I was watching news on my television set when the channel started flashing the news of first snowfall at several high-altitude areas in Uttarakhand, including Chopta. I was eagerly waiting for this news for the past many days, and knew it was time for my winter trekking trip to Chopta and Chandrashila in one of most charming regions in India.
Chopta, also referred to as the Mini-Switzerland of India, is a simply a haven of beauty in Uttarakhand. Surrounded by dense forests, thischarming area in Rudraprayag district is known for its breathtaking views of the undulating valleys and majestic snow-covered peaks of the Himalayan range.Chopta is situated enroute to Tungnath shrine and Chandrashila peak, and therefore anideal destination for trekking enthusiasts to enjoy the pristine beauty of nature. The entire region is rich in varied fauna and flora. The trekking route from Chopta to Chandrashila takes trekkers to vast, green meadows, quiet villages, and oak, conifers forests. During winter months, this area experiences heavy snowfall and the whole trek turns into a carpet of snow.
My Chopta Chandrashila winter trekking trip with GIO Adventures commenced with a 6 hour-long drive from Dehradun to Kund. The overnight stay was at Kund, and next day, we started for Deoriatal, a high altitude,pristine lake known for offering a spellbinding view of Chaukhamba peak’s reflection in its crystal clear water.Deoriatal is surrounded by mighty Himalayan range on one side and dense forest on the other. Hindu mythology describes this lake as the spot where Yaksha asked Pandavas different questions during Mahabharata period.
The trek from Kund to Deoriatal took us around 4 hours to complete. Upon arrival, the tents were set out by the lakeside for overnight stay.
The next day, we started early in the morning for Chopta, the land of vast green meadows. The trek from Deoriatal to Chopta—passing through Sari and Dugalbitta villages—can be easily completed within 3 hours. And as you reach Chopta, youfind yourself surrounded by beautiful valleys and breathtaking views of Himalayan peaks.
The fourth day of our trip involved trekking from Chopta to Tungnath (3680 m), the highest Shiva shrine in the world. During this entire trek, we found only thick snow all around. This trek offers some of the best views of Chaukhamba, Bandarpoonch, and Kedar peaks. Trekking further 1 km up from Tungnath took us to the summit of Chandrashila peak. At an altitude of 4000 m, this was the highest point of our trek, and allowed us to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire region.
An interesting part of this Chopta Chandrashila winter trekking trip was our stay at Himalayan Eco Lodges at Kund. This lodge,with a beautiful setting, served as the perfect base for the start the end of the trip. Another pleasant aspect of the trip was interaction with local people—the pure souls who are always ready to help you in case you find yourself in the grip of a problem.