What Heaven Looks Like?
500 cc throttling, a self-made paper map and two misfit hearts syncing with the thump.
The whole scene was an amalgamation of wanderlust dreams, walking off route on mountains and the alpine peaks tingling our ribs. It was just a mention and we agreed for the Tungnath trek.
Bags with minimum essentials tied with bungee cords and all geared, we started our journey. A Bluetooth speaker spiced up the whole nature’s arena with our college favourites, the butter roads and blue to green sparkling Ganga waters.
We followed NH58 until we reached Devpryag in 2.5 hrs. A beautiful small town around banks of Ganga, with beautifully painted temples and houses like rangoli colours. Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers giving birth to Ganga like God’s brush mixing two colours into a new one.
We stopped for lunch at the hunted a roadside Dhaba (small restaurant) with amazing local food, freshly cooked. Aahh!! After a treat to the tummy, we headed towards Rudraprayag and before that the delusional view of the lake formed by Tehri Garhwal dam, gave the whole new taste to the scenic view mirrored on the silent waters.
Another stop for chai at Rudraprayag we followed the route to Kedarnath and took right turn to Ukhimath (impossible to remember the turning point – wink wink). Roaring Alaknanda waters with newly metalled roads and clicking the intangible moments of saffron-coloured sunset.
An animal attack warning, three and a half feet road with dark night about to begin. Thrill and safety were both playing their cards but there was no stopping. Reached Ukhimath, shining town with half of the jewellers' shops and few foreign travellers. Chopta city is situated 32 km from Ukhimath. The sun was down early evening around 5 pm. The local people advised us to take a stopover at the nearest village as the roads are not safe for the night travel. They had to say that the wild animals may attack.
Looking for the village nearby with excitement and thrill we covered a few more km to reach Ukimath where we took a small comfortable room in a village house for just Rs 500.
Meditative deep sleep made us awake early morning to start our journey again from Ukhimath to Chopta. Surprisingly the 3 feet well-marked road made it smooth with Garhwali peaks beautifully giving way to first rays of the sun. It's November and dull green to orange, yellow to brown baked leaves on road till Chopta, the slightest change in winds and the leaves dance with sounds deeply connecting the nature inside out.
Here on our bike, we ride again to our trek point through a dense forest of oaks, pines, ferns, algae and mosses all in good condition. It seems as if some artist has scraped through mushy, mushy greens using charcoal. We were totally taken with the tranquil beauty of the place.
Little, little halts for capturing the beauty of the path we reached our destination and started by feeding our bodies appropriately for the trek. A little suggestion here, trek with only important things like a water bottle, energy bars, good music, camera and your highest spirit. The door to heaven is ornamented with bells, the starting point of the trek.
The trek is about 5 km and well-constructed, comfortable walk path to the temple is made. ‘Leave your comfort zone and take the steep trek to the peak’, said our devilish angels within. We looked in each other’s eyes nodded our heads to say yes and took the way to the Tungnath temple.
The initial 1 km or so of the trek path passes through a canopy of Rhododendrons (the state flower called ‘Buransh‘in local language) which are in blossoms and render great red, pink, and white highlights to the scenery. Just after clearing the canopy I started jumping in ecstasy as I beheld the snow-covered peaks including the Nanda Devi, Chaukhamba and Kedar in my view.
Ohhh, so this is what heaven looks like whispered my heart.
That moment was so fulfilling which my mind cannot put into words. We sat on the high point where the existence was naked in front of us. We lit our incense stick and our ‘bidi’ or some trace state of our mind.
We were speechless, yet there was so much talking without words. My heart and my mind were both sedated with the beauty of the Divine nature. Capturing these divine moments deep in our hearts fully charged again we started walking again. Going much higher, there were no trees but just open sky, melting snow, and our pulsating hearts.
We reached the Tungnath temple. I felt as Shakti melted with the Shiva and became one inside me. Some electric currents were passing inside my body.
The Tungnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 5 Kedar temples. Located at an altitude of 3680 m above sea level, and just below the Chandrashila peak, the temple is highest ever Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It is believed to be 1000+ years old and has a legendary history associated with the Pandava’s – the heroes of the Indian Epic of Mahabharata.
Due to heavy snow, the temple was closed. When we reached it by 3:30 PM it was still closed but awaiting the opening in a couple of days. After spending some time in our own meditative space we noticed the drizzle drops on us.
Oppsss!! Being adamant in front of the forces of nature is not a choice so, we decided to turn back. Time to climb down rather than going up. The weather did not permit us to go further to the Chandrashila.
Hoping to come back to the peak of Chandrashila we descend in a quicker time. Even in adversity, everything around us seemed very beautiful.
We reached down to Chopta and headed back to Ukhimath by 6:30 PM right in time to enjoy the chilling weather with steaming tea, deep fried vegetable ‘pakoras’ and local made mithai.
Yesss we made it, so can you…
For more info about travelling to India visit Mastt` Malanga Travelography