My first introduction to the adventure life happened around a beautiful lake surrounded by tress with the backdrop of the mountains on a carpet of grass with camps around. I was so influenced by this life that indeed this became an important part of my life. It all started with a trip to Chopta and Deoria tal.
‘Chopta’ a place of green meadows surrounded by forests of pine, deodar and rhododendron and is rich in flora and fauna include rare species of birds and musk deer.
I was particularly swayed by the beauty of this place. After a drive through the Kedarnath wildlife sanctuary which seems like a never ending journey into the forest. The roads opened up to some great heights approx. 2700 Mts. We were so amazed by the beauty that our journey would get frequently interrupted just to admire the view. All below us, till our eyes could run was valley covered with forest. Chopta amazed us with its meadows and clearing among the forest providing some excellent camp site with the panoramic view of the Garhwal Himalayas. But our destination for the night was ‘Deoria tal’ which was still few kilometers further since we took the Gopeshwar-Chopta route. Another half and drive through the forest we reached Sari. A small sleepy village which also acts the base camp for Deoria tal trek, which is 2.5km gradual ascent from here. Surrounded by well padded step farms it is a quite village with just few shops.
Hindu mythology states that the Devas bathed in this lake hence the name. The lake is also believed to be the “Indra Sarovar” referred to in the Puranas by wandering, Hindu mendicants Sadhu. It is also believed that it was the place from where the mighty Pandavas were asked queries by Yaksha. According to the locals it was also said that this lake was built by Bheem who was strongest among the Pandavas to appease his thirst and Yudhister who was the wisest suggested Bheem to build his own lake.
A gate on the right in the middle of village is the start point of trek; half an hour into the trek we saw a small temple dedicated to lord Shiva. Locals worship here. Made in the early Nagara architecture style, the walls of the temple are plain with geometrically placed ridges made in stone. The views start to get better from here as we gradually gained height. After an easy trek through the forest I was awestruck with the first glimpse of the place. A carpet of perfectly laid grass with a lake infront surrounded by forest and the backdrop of the snow covered mighty Himalayan Ranges. Since this was our first camping trip, we didn’t know how to set up our tents, luckily we were helped by the people around. The clouds would run two and fro in front of us covering the lake. It was very different feeling as if the child in us which was lost back suddenly was back .With the colorful tents in our surroundings, we were walking around when it started to rain and we jumped into our tent. The thunder followed it quickly and we sat down in our tents looking outside, it was rained heavily followed by thunder and lighting. It rained till we had our dinner in our tents when the weather finally cleared to the views of our milky way. It was a different feeling with colorful lights lighting up the campsite, few people around enjoying on their own singing in joy. The recent rainfall dropped the temperature considerably. I remember my first night inside my tent very much as if, it happened yesterday. The tent seemed to be pretty compact considering our adaption to our walls of the house, we laid in our tent whole night, sleep was far from our eyes, we would just turn one side and then the other trying to get some sleep but couldn’t, I realized how we are adapted to all the luxuries of our houses with the comfy and warmth of our beds; we didn’t even turned out the light that night inside our tent, both of us talked for few hours listening to music when we finally felt sleep without realizing.
The next morning our peaceful sleep was disturbed by murmuring of the people. I came out to witness one of the best things of life ‘A Beautiful Mountain Morning’. After the previous night rain, the views were clearer and greener and the backdrops of the mountains especially the massive Chaukambha with fresh snow added the charm to the beauty. The children ran around playing while the elder people sat down enjoying their tea and coffee. It was some of those rarest of the places where even the strangest of the people greets with warmest of the smiles. We lazed around whole afternoon and then returned back to Sari and then to Chopta. We were little tight on schedule so we cancelled the Tungnath trip as for then but very soon I got my chance to visit this holy place and the Chandradshila peak.
A stone laden path to ‘Tungnath’ the highest shiva temple located below the Chandrashila starts from Chopta. We reached Chopta just before it was getting dark. Camps were setup, food was cooked and this time everything was well arranged. We sat around the camp fire for the night cooking and talking. The winters were already up here this time. Next morning we started up a little late. A moderate and sometimes steep climb gained altitude clearing us to the panoramic views of the might Himalayas. There were few other trekkers who we would chit-chat along the way. After a couple of uphill hike we reached the famous Tungnath temple but our destination was still up to Chandrashila. The altitude gain is relatively high reaching 4000mts at the top. After a slow and steady walk we reached the top but the weather here was covering with cloud which was quite common at these altitudes. The 360 view of the Himalayas for which this peak is famous for was far out of our sight, we knew the laziness in the morning led us in missing the clear window. Only a part of the Himalayas was visible which also soon went out of sight as the clouds covered us in. So we descended our way down hoping to be back some day to witness the magical Himalayas from here by ourselves. And these mountains and the camp life now are inseparable part of my life now.