A detailed Chopta tungnath trek Guide is here. This tungnath trek is one of the easiest treks in Garhwal Himalayas. Read the entire guide before starting tungnath trek. Tungnath temple situated at an altitude of 3,680 meters above sea level. This entire place is known for its spiritual significance that appeals many of pilgrims every year. We reached Tungnath to start our days’ first activity i.e. tungnath trek. Around 2 pm we reached Tungnath. We finished our lunch in a roadside Dhaba and took rest for half an hour. Around 3 p.m we started our tungnath trek.
Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is the highest of the Panch(five) Kedar temples in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district in Uttarakhand. Located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila, Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple believed to be 5000 years old and is the third (Tritiya Kedar) in the order of the Panch Kedars. It has a rich legend linked to the Pandavas, heroes of the Mahabharata epic. During this trekking, one can enjoy a clear view of the majestic peaks of Panchchuli, Nanda Devi, Nilkanth and Kedarnath.
It was believed Tunganath temple built by the Pandavas. The legend states that sage VyasRishi advised the Pandavas that since they were guilty of killing their own relatives (Kauravas, their cousins) during the Mahabharata war or Kurukshetra war, their act could be pardoned only by Lord Shiva. Consequently, the Pandavas went in search of Shiva who was avoiding them since he convinced of the guilt of Pandavas. In order to keep away from them, Shiva took the form of a bull and went into hiding in an underground safe haven at Guptakashi, where Pandavas chased him. But later Shiva’s body in the form of bull’s body became five parts and evolved at five different locations that represent the “Panch Kedar” where Pandavas built temples of Lord Shiva at each place, to worship and respect, seeking his pardon and blessings. Each one identified with a part of his body. Tungnath is identified as the place where the bahu (hands) seen, the hump was seen at Kedarnath; head appeared at Rudranath, his navel and stomach surfaced at Madmaheshwar and his jata (hair or locks) at Kalpeshwar. Legend also states that Lord Rama, the chief icon of the Ramayana epic, meditated at the Chandrashila peak, which is close to Tungnath. It is also said that Ravana did penance to Shiva when he resided here.
During the winter, the temple closed and the symbolic image of the deity and the temple priests are moved to Mukkumath, which is 19 km from here. It is near Duggalbitha 10 km before Chopta towards Ukhimath. Other than being a religious destination, Tungnath is also a well-known trekking destination. Of all the Panch Kedar trek routes, the route to Tungnath is the shortest i.e. only 4 km from Chopta (on the UkhimathGopeshwar road) that can be covered in about 3–4 hours (depending on the trekkers’ physical ability). Trek is a moderate (and sometimes steep) climb (9,600–12,000 ft), the trek path is stone paved with benches provided en route at intervals to rest and enjoy the stunning views of the Chowkhamba, Nanda Devi, Neelkanth and Kedarnath peaks. Generally, the pilgrimage to Tunganath is undertaken as part of the Panch Kedar trekking covering all five temples over a 170 km route (road cum trek length) starting from Rishikesh in the order of Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheswar, and Kalpeshwar. Further climb to Chandarshila is for 2 km.
The trekking path to Chopta begins right on the road and is surrounded by many dhabas and guesthouses. The trekking trail is well-marked and is properly paved till Tungnath. It is a perfect opportunity for first-timers who are looking to get a hang of the general basics of trekking in the Himalayan region. Trees welcome the visitor as soon as the trek begins, and an endless display of snow-capped peaks can be seen on the left side. The entire trek from Chopta to Tungnath and to Chandrashila is fairly easy and does not require the services of a guide. Gorgeous meadows appear around 45 minutes after the start of the trek and may make the best camping spot on the entire trail. There are 3-4 dhabas here that offer tea, coffee, food, and packaged eatables. The dhabas also provide basic shelters in the night. These dhabas may also prove useful for when of an emergency or accident when somehow needs help.
The trail zigzags around this point and steadily climbs up gaining altitude. There are a few places where one can sit and enjoy the views of the snowy peaks on the trail. The tree cover gives way as you climb over 3100m, around halfway on the way to Tungnath and it can get quite hot with the sunshine. Tungnath temple opens its doors to pilgrims in the summer around the end of April and shuts down in November in winter. Around ten minutes before you reach Tungnath, there is a small diversion to a peak called Ravanshila. It is the place where the demon king Ravana meditated to please Lord Shiva. There are panoramic valley views from Ravanshila. If you are unsure about the site, it is best to ask the locals or dhabawallas near the temple.
We finally reached Tungnath after few hours of trekking. The ancient Shiva Temple of Tungnath is situated on the upper part of Tungnath, overlooking rest of the settlement. The main door was still closed when we reached and the compound. The priest came with a key, opened the door and we entered. We stayed there for 20 minutes offered puja and spent another 10 minutes in the temple complex and then left the temple. Tungnath Chandrashila summit trek is a popular trek (5.5 km) that can be undertaken round the year, except during heavy snowing months of December and January. Most visitors like us who trek down the same day, but some stay back to enjoy glorious sunsets and enchanting sunrises.
If you want to reach Chandrashila (4000m) an additional 1.5kms have to trek with a very steep incline. We have no plan for Chandrashila visit but we heard Chandrashila summit offers the most beautiful view of Chaukhamba, Kedar peak, Trishul. The view of peaks from Chandrashila in full moon nights is mesmerizing, as are the sunsets and sunrises when all the peaks are set aflame and set your spirit and heart aglow.
Best Time to tungnath trek
The few pilgrims who undertake this trekking pilgrimage to the shrine do so in summer months (end April or early May to October) as in the winter temple remains snow-covered and unapproachable.
Some Important Points to Remember
1) Make sure to have ample water with you for the trek.
2) Especially for beginners, remember it is not a race and that everyone has their own pace, so just take it slow and steady, and enjoy the scenery on the tungnath trek.
3) When it gets windy (and it does daily) it is very chilly and cold out there. So always take some jackets, woolens or windcheater with you. Especially, if you are going with kids, no matter how warm it seems at Chopta, it will be cold at 4000 meters. So, always carry warm clothing for them. In winters it is very cold and warm woolens, jackets and thermals are necessary.
4) Lodges are open only till November. If you plan to camp or stay beyond November, do take local guidance.
5) For camping, permission needs to be taken from Forest department. Though many private camping sites have come up, they are quite removed from the real Tungnath site and are situated deeper in the valley at a lower altitude.
6) There is no electricity at Tunganath.
7) For photographers October and November is the best months, when the skies are clear and peaks shine like crystals.
8) During monsoon months it rains heavily and in torrents, so be adequately geared (Raincoats, boots, woolens). The landscape is lush green and several colored flowers seen at this time.
9) For children there are porters (pitthu) who charge around Rs. 400/ to Rs. 500/ and for the aged ones there are dolis (Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1200).
10) In case you are carrying your Camera or Mobile phone with you, make sure you carry enough supply of plastic waterproof bags.
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