Adventure trip to Tunganath by Ms Krishna Chowdhury.
By the time we reached Ukhimath after an enthralling trek to Deoriatal, it was lunch time in the Ashram and a simple vegetarian meal with a special pickle prepared by Maharaj was served with warm reception. In the dining hall I met another group of trekkers from Kolkata who were on their way back from Madmaheswar. We had a nice time chatting.
One can reach the main temple of Ukhimath which is also the winter seat of Lord Kedarnath and Lord Madmaheswar by walking 1 km downhill from our rest house. The journey was pleasant through a sleepy hill road high above the river Mandakini passing by the solitary trees blooming with violet flowers. The temple had a sombre look with age old tradition and many deities inside it resembling Buddhist Monasteries.
Afternoon tea was served and we were standing in front of the guest house and the group of trekkers offered me to accompany them to Tungnath the next morning. We were planning for the same trip and Maharaj of the Ashram also joined us. Suddenly the veil of cloud was lifted from a corner of the gloomy sky and the dazzling Kedarnath peak was standing there in front of us with a blessing. It was a divinely sight.
27th May 2015
It was a memorable dawn. I had put the alarm on and so got up very early. It was silence everywhere with only the rippling melody of the Mandakini flowing far below. The lights of Guptakashi across the river were still on and were twinkling amidst the faded darkness. On the right side there was a silhouette effect of the Kedar Nath Peak which was gradually transforming to a silver white crown with the magic of emerging rays of the early sunlight.
Vijay was punctual and we started early. Soon we left behind Mastura from where the road to Sari went uphill. On our way we crossed Mukkhumath, the seat of Lord Tungnath in winter. We entered Kedarnath Sanctuary, a forested region, though the virginity has been lost due to lots of resorts in between. There was only one PWD inspection bungalow in the beautiful Dugalbhita which was my dream destination but remain unfulfilled this time.
Throughout the entire journey we were accompanied by the snow-capped Himalayan ranges on our right. Mt Chaukhamba was present there with its magnificent grandeur. It was a brilliant journey through the greens with the dazzling white screen at the backdrop. We reached Chopta within two hours. It was indeed very cold and sleepy at that hour in the morning.
We gained a height of 3000 ft from 6500ft in Ukhimath. After having breakfast with Maggi (it was still not banned)and I preferred it over aloo paratha in the hills we started our trek toTunganath, the most reverred Shiva temple of all the five Pancha Kedar temples. The other four are Kedarnath, Rudranath, Madmaheshwar and Kalpeswar.
The same old gate was standing there to welcome us. The stairs went high up and we followed. The meandering trail went uphill through green alpine pastures with tall conifers on the side standing erect as sentinels of the paradise. Though the distance of the trek is the shortest but it is the steepest among all the treks to the Pancha Kedar temples. Within an interval of one kilometer there was a small tea stall to greet us with hot steaming tea in such shivering cold. The weather was gradually worsening with fog encircling us and Mt Chaukhamba went beyond our view. It was a 3.5 kms continuous uphill trek and within two hours we reached the Tunganath temple with panting breaths. We took a little rest and offered our homage to Lord Shiva, and were waiting for our companions who were on their way to Chandrasila from where a 360degree horizon is open and all the major snow peaks of Garhwal Himalayas are visible in a clear sky. Tungnath is 12000ft above sea level and Chandrasila is another 1000ft from there. It is believed that Lord Rama meditated at Chandrasila.
Getting down is always easy in a mountain slope and so we descended within an hour and returned back to Ukhimath in a dark cloudy noon. We were served with delicious steamed rice, dal and curry in the Bharat Sevashram Sangha. In the evening we were busy reserving our seat in the next days’ bus. It was a fun. The bus terminus was 1 km uphill. We were waiting at the turning of the road for the Ukhimath bound bus in the evening. We reserved the seats and next morning we came with our belongings at the turning point, the bus came and we got seated in our reserved seats. The bus soon left Ukhimath.
The early morning sky was clear. Kedarnath Peak was distinctly visible with all its grandeur. Soon our bus came down beside the bank of the dancing, vibrant Mandakini and began to follow its course.
I bade farewell to my favourite land, the Garhwal Himalayas, the land to eternity and came down and down to the earth.