TUNGNATH Trek – The Highest Shiva Temple
Tungnath is one of the five ‘Panch Kedar’ temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is situated at an altitude of 3,680 meters (12,073 ft) and it is the highest Shiva temple in the world. It is said that the temple is over 5,000 years old and third in the order of the Panch Kedars; due to which it is also known as “Tritiya Kedar”.
Travel during Covid:
We know that Covid has affected everyone’s life but there was some positive impact as well. Being from Uttarakhand but never got time to explore due to job. Covid gave me an opportunity to work from home and that way we planned our trip to Tungnath this year in July 2020 while we were doing volunteering at a permaculture farm. We drove from Rishikesh to Mandal during Covid for our volunteering program.
We have heard and watched a few videos for Tungnath. While we were so near but did not realize the proximity to Tungnath temple, it was so funny as Chopta was just 25 km from the farm.
How to reach Chopta/Tungnath:
This was the first time when we both were clueless about such a famous place and apparently where we wanted to go but sometimes it happens. Finally, one fine day we made it. As it was a rainy season, so we waited for better weather conditions.
To visit Tungnath you can make your base point as Gopeshwar, Mandal or Chopta if you are travelling via Chamoli.
You can make Ukhimath as your base or Chopta, if you are travelling via Rudraprayag or Kedarnath. The distance from Haridwar to Chopta is 225 km and the distance from Ukhimath to Chopta is around 29 km.
Route from Haridwar to Chopta
Haridwar – (24kms) Rishikesh – (70kms) Devprayag – (34kms) Srinagar – (33kms) Rudraprayag – (19kms) Agastyamuni – (10kms) Kund – (6kms) Ukhimath – (22kms) Duggalbitta – (7kms) Chopta.
Stay options in Chopta:
There are few hotels and Oyo rooms within 1000-2000 per night for the families with a basic facility, do not expect any luxury here. Most of the trekkers stay in their tent as you can pitch the tent at a safe place by paying some fee to the locals or opt for a camping stay.
There are few dhabas just1-2 km before Chopta towards Mandal road, which also offer dormitory, or few rooms with the cost of 100 to 500 per person. So it’s better to reach early to get accommodation.
We reached by 10 am at Chopta and started our first trekking for the highest Shiva temple in the world. Total trek for Tungnath is 4 km. Although the entire trek has a proper concrete road, but it is a little challenging due to steep climb. Any beginner who is physically fit can do this trek. You will find benches to relax and a few stalls for tea and quick snacks in between.
The entire way is surrounded by beautiful nature. You will see beautiful bugyals with pahadi goats, cows, and trees. Such a landscape view may give you a feel like you are in heaven. While enjoying nature, we covered the 4 km trek in 1.5 hours.
Stay option at Tungnath:
For those who wish to witness the morning aarti or special pooja, there are some places at the top as well, just before the temple.
Tungnath is approachable throughout the year. During winters there are special guided tours organized by the locals and travel agencies for the trekkers. There is another trek goes from Tungnath to Chandrashila at another 1000mtr higher altitude, which is quite a famous location between the trekkers because of its view, calmness.
Summit of Tungnath:
Chandrashila is a summit of Tungnath. The altitude of Chandrashila is 4000m(approx. 14000 ft.) and one may feel effects of (AMS) Altitude Mountain Sickness. So always keep water handy and in case of any distress, slowly trek back to Tungnath and take some rest.
There is no proper way to trek to Chandrashila. It is quite a difficult trek for the beginners and trust me we did not get tired while trekking to Tungnath but this another 2 km trek tested our stamina and took another 1.5 hours to reach.
There is a small “Ganga Mata” temple at the peak and this peak provides views of the Himalayas, including Nandadevi, Trisul, Kedar Peak, Bandarpunch and Chaukhamba peaks.
The view gets clear by the noon and depends on the weather, as mostly you do not get the clear view here because clouds may obscure mountains. Hence it is recommended to reach Chandrashila as early as possible for a clear view of the peaks. The wind flows furiously here and you may feel freezing in few minutes. But with the sound of the bells, it makes a divine experience. An experience to behold and share, like I did in this blog post.