I woke up on a school ground above the Nandakini river. The night sky was full of stars. Packed up and followed a nice rock path towards Okimath on the opposite side of valley. Had yummy aloo paratha in a small dhaba at the main taxi stand and packed up food for the day ahead. Target was to reach Chandrashilla peak at 3660m by sunset and camp on top.
With the snowline down already to 2500m I was a bit skeptical to get up there. From Okimath a nice rock path climbs up the ridge above towards Dewariya Tal lake at 2400m a steep 1400m climb from the river. The path passes through small settlements with orange trees in full bearing. I finally climb above the last houses onto the ridge and get stunning views of the snow capped Kedarnath range.
I enter the forest and soon reach Dewariya Tal lake with a beautiful reflection of Chaukhamba in the pristine waters. From here the path continues along the ridge with alternating views on both valleys below. A few workers are repairing the rock path as it climbs up steeply along a sharp ridgeline dropping down steeply in the valley leading to Chopta village at the base of Tunganath.
Further the path enters into a remote forest in an isolated valley. With no one around it s absolute serenity – one can sense the remote peacefulness. The path is partly covered by snow but remains clear. I put on my puff jacket as it really feels cold once out of the sun. In between one passes through some open bugyals.
Finally the path jumps across a small saddle and drops down into the neighboring valley leading to Chopta village. I refill my bottle near a stream feeling dehydrated. Eventually I hit the road and walk to Chopta where I have some tea and chips before climbing up to Tunganath. A wide path built with large stones climbs up to the temple.
Being mid December there are few pilgrims around. People struggle to walk on the slippery path covered by frozen snow. With just 1 hour left till sunrise I speed hike upon tee and shorts to the surprise of others who are tucked in warmly into their puff jackets. As we rise up we get treated on mesmerizing views on the valley below and the snow covered Kedarnath range.
Tunganath is the world d highest Siva temple at 3480m altitude and believed to be 5000 years old. From here it s another 200m climb to the Chandrashilla peak above with a small temple on top. I reach exactly as the sun is about to set and take some mesmerizing photos and video from the top. Immediately the temperature starts dropping and it becomes freezing cold.
I descend a little below the peak to find a flat space to camp for the night and watch the sunrise views the next morning. It now really becomes very cold at this high altitude exposed to a freezing wind. I find a suitable place just above the Tunganath temple and quickly pitch up my BlueBolt solo tent and rush inside after taking a few more awesome photos of the deep orange skies.