Summer is here and it is time think about a perfect holiday. There are some places where you end up and find nothing, and there are few as well, which will make your heart skip a beat. Bounded by dense forest, Chopta is one such place which offers soothing sight of snow-laden Himalayan Ranges and lush green meadows. It is a blend of serenity and adventure, no wonder it is called “Mini Switzerland“ The Abode of the Himalayas can be alluring and be an ideal summer destination. Home to number of tranquil hill stations, the entire region is a paradise, and it makes an apt location for those who are looking for a good place to relax, without the hustle and bustle.
Chopta is a wonderland where you cease all your thoughts, fall in love with nature and simply gaze in awe at the many peaks located at far distance. It has the perfect combination of scenic beauty, adventure and everything you need for a memorable vacation. That’s not all, if you like to revel at some entertaining site or cherish the marvels of age-old architecture at historical monuments, museums and buildings, Chopta is a safe bet. Chopta goes about as an intriguing vacationer getaway for nature lovers and for trekking enthusiasts. Himalayan trekking in Kanchula is also an experience in itself. Located in the Garhwal region, chopta lies between Ukhimath – Chamoli – Gopeshwar. Distance of Chopta from Haridwar is 225 kms and the distance from Ukhimath to Chopta is around 29 kms. The very nature of this beautiful and easy trek, distance and connectivity makes Chopta an ideal weekend getaway from Delhi. Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport (220 km) and Rishikesh is the nearest railway station to Chopta (160 km).
Perched at a lofty height of 2680 meters, Chopta is considered the base camp for several treks. The two major treks here remain Tungnath-Chandrashila and Deoria Tal. The Chopta-Chandrashila Trek being 5 kilometres, and Deoria Tal Trek being, only 3-4 kms long are treks for all and fails none. Mother Nature waits to embrace you as you stroll past the rolling Garhwal Himalayas, the velvety meadows with soothing air all around. The snow-capped and sometimes completely covered Greater Himalaya is the views are stay in memories forever. It cannot get any better than camping on the vast lush green meadows surrounded by arresting views of green rolling mountains. It gets all the more beautiful in the night enjoying the magic of outdoors, lighting a bonfire, playing some tipsy music, and savouring some great moments under stars. Nothing betters the moments spent in the wilderness… The Chopta – Chandrashila Trek takes us to one of the most breathtakingly beautiful part of the Garhwal Himalayas. The trek passes through Deoriatal, Chopta and Tungnath to reach the summit of Chandrashila for a great view of the Himalayas.
Forests with plenty of variety
The picturesque Deoriatal is famous for mirroring the Chaukhamba peak in its waters. Situated at a good height of 7, 800 feet, the lake is gripped with forests all around. The red rhododendrons are spread out right from Sari village all the way to Deoriatal. An 8 km trek from here to the grassland of Rohini Bughyal is a refreshing ridge walk, over neatly laid forests and small meadows. At a short distance ahead, the Chaukhamba massif glistens and the reflection of it is caught in the crystal-like waters of the lake. The effect is striking. The site is steeped in myths. It is believed the Devas (Gods) bathed in this lake and hence the name. Some say that it was the place from where the mighty Pandavas of the epic Mahabharata were asked queries by Yaksha. The lake is also believed to be the “Indra Sarovar” referred to in the Puranas by wandering Sadhus.
Offer your prayers at the highest Shiva Temple in the world!
Tungnath has the highest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, tucked at a mighty height of 3680 meters above sea level. According to mythology, Ravana performed penance in order to please Lord Shiva at this site. The temple has the idols Adi Shankaracharya, the Pandavas, Ved Vyasa and Kaal Bhairav. The temple has several small shrines, and its architecture resembles the shrines at Guptakashi, Kedarnath and Madhyamaheshwar. Idols of Nandi’s flank, Lord Ganesha, sage Vyas and Kala Bhairav, the Pandavas and goddess Parvati can be seen there. Close to Tungnath, near the Akash Ganga waterfall, the temple of Nanda Devi is another place of some importance on the trek to Tunghnath.
Nature at its surreal best
There is something surreal about the scenes that you come across at the peak of Chandrashila. The Chandrashila peak trek is one of the comparatively hardest part of trekking and can be challenging, especially for beginners. It is located at a height of about 4000 meters and offers a spectacular and binocular view of peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, Kedar, Bandarpunch and Chaukhamba. This region is a protected sanctuary for musk deer, and is rich in flora and fauna.
The Nine-coloured bird
Himalayan Monal By AJIT HOTA [CC BY-SA 4.0]
Profuse is the Chopta avian wealth, and one could spot several species of birds like the Rufous Woodpecker, Hill Prinia, Lammergeier, Golden Eagle, Speckled Wood Pigeon, Snow Pigeon, Black Bulbul and many more. Exploring the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary may produce a glimpse of Himalayan Thar or the Monal, state bird of Uttarakhand. Monal’s impressive display features bowing and vigorous waving of the rufous tail, but it is the iridescent plumage on the wings and neck that give the bird its reputation as the “nine-coloured bird” consisting of interspersing mix of metallic colors of green, purple, red and blue.
There is no dearth of activities when you are at Chopta. Indulge in activities like hiking, photography, or adventure sports including rock climbing, rappelling, tree climbing, skiing and cycling. Shopping in Chopta is all about hand-made pieces and that includes decorative items, paintings, wood carvings, candles. The theme of these decorative items is mostly nature-inspired. There are no big shopping malls here; however there are local markets that sell the locally-made craft works of the artisans at nominal prices.
Gopeshwar (1300 m), which is the district headquarters of Chamoli district is the other major attraction near Chopta. It is 40 kms away from Chopta and has many well known tourist spots and religious centres around the town. It is also the last big market on the route. Then the Saari Village; situated in Rudraprayag district near Ukhimath at a height of 6554 feet, this village has some beautiful Apple and Peach orchids. The village is located amid dense forest of Oak and Rhododendron trees. Augustmuni and Gandhi Sarovar are other places of interest near Chopta.