A charming little village lying in the eponymous meadow region in the midst of the Garwhal Himalayas has been known as a popular trekking destination for quite some time. Not only this, but it is also a well-known attraction for bird-watchers. About a distance of 450km from India’s capital New Delhi, Chopta can be the most perfect getaway for people living in the region.
One of the rare trekking trails blessed with nature’s immense beauty, Chopta is on many travelers’ and trekkers’ bucket lists.
- Known as “Mini Switzerland” of Uttarakhand
- Highest altitude reaches 3,609m or 12,100ft
- Tungnath Temple
- Snowy trails during winters
- Birdwatchers’ dream
- Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
Read on to know what makes this trek so mesmerizing.
Apart from the name of the village, Chopta is also the name of a region that comprises meadows and forests. It is located in the district of Rudraprayag. Chopta consists of not just one but many attractive locations because of which tourists come and visit it. The village of Chopta is quite small but very scenic. It consists of small hotels for cozy stays and it has campsites for trekkers. The trek to Tunganath and Chandrashila starts from this tiny village.
Although the trek is named Chopta, trekkers often begin from Deoriatal which is a lake near Sari village. This trek starts from Sari and after about 3km climb you reach the beautiful lake of Deoriatal. This lake gives an amazing view of the mountains Chaukhamba, Neelkanth, and Kalanaag among others.
This serene and beautiful lake has also been mentioned in great Hindu texts of Mahabharata where it has been referred to as ‘Indra Sarovar’ which literally translates to Indra’s lake.
From Deoriatal, trekkers either reach Chopta on foot or by taking a transport. On the way, Rohini bugyal is covered. After reaching Chopta village, you will stay overnight at the campsite. The next morning you will climb the Chandrashila mountain to reach Tungnath Temple. After you visit the temple, you will start for the summit of the mountain which is an even steeper climb. At an altitude of 13,000ft, you will be awestruck as you view the overlooking Himalayan peaks of Chaukhamba massif Nandadevi, Bandarpoonch, and the Kedar range.
Throughout the trek, you will cherish the scenic panorama of pure Himalayan bliss all around you. This is a trek fit for even beginners. Make sure you are fit and you are good to go. There is no prior training required.
This is probably the most important attraction of this trek, especially from a religious point of view. The Tungnath is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva of the Hindu religion. This temple takes away home the title of the “Highest Shiva Temple in the world”. It is about a thousand years old. You will truly feel that time has stood still here in this ancient monument. It is part of the Panch Kedar or the five Shiva temples of the state of Uttarakhand. The other four temples’ names are Kedarnath, Kalpeshwar, Madhyameshawar, and Rudranath.
This temple acts as the winter abode of the Kedarnath temple. The best time to visit the Tungnath temple is from April to September during which the pilgrimage also takes place. During winters, you will witness the true charm of the temple which is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and even snowy ground giving the true feel of Lord Shiva, who according to Hindu beliefs resides in the cold Himalayas.
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
While you are in Chopta always keep your cameras ready for there is always something amazing to capture like beautiful landscapes or local birds and animals. There are a lot of fauna that inhabit this protected park which is also known as Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary. Some of the important ones include musk deer,
- Himalayan Musk Deer
- Himalayan Monal
- Kalij pheasant
- Snow Partridge
- Koklass pheasant
- Himalayan Pit viper
- Boulenger’s keelback
The key flora in the sanctuary are:
Rohini Bugyal or Bughyal is a meadow patch that is becoming very popular in the Chopta trek. The view from the bugyal is spectacular and unbeatable. As you do a 360 degree, you will be graced with picturesque mountains towering over you and you will feel like you are blissfully resting in their laps. You will get up and front with the Black Peak also known as Kala Naag. The Kedarnath mountain is also clearly visible from the meadow. One of the peaks has a mythological tale associated with it, according to which, the Pandavas of the Mahabharata hid their weapons from Kauravas near a small lake in it. The mountain is mostly climbed by shepherds and is a very difficult trek.
There is a gentle stream running through the bugyal which offers to replenish you with drinking water. Even if you come in March and April you might still see snow patches here and there in the field. The bugyal is outlined with beautiful flowering rhododendron trees.