Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Trek to Chandrashila Top – The Spectacular Sunrise

The early summer trek to Tunganth and an overnight stay at one of those cottages sans much amenities will be worthwhile if one attempts the mini-Himalayan peak of Chandrashila, the next morning before the dawn breaks. Tunganth located at 12,500’ elevation and Chandrashila at 13,200’ elevation leaves one to climb height of 700’ over a distance of 2 km, not a bad deal at all for trekkers.

At Tunganath we did not have not much to do except shiver in cold and watch the Himalayan panorama, roam a little bit beyond the temple compound and recce the track to Chandrashila for the next day’s morning trek. We hit the hay early in order to wake up at 4.30 am the next morning. One of us four trekkers did the needful of waking us up at the appointed time. I came out of room, shivering to have a look at the sky. The innumerable twinkling stars, augured well to indicate that we were in for a bright sunlit day when the sun rose. We quickly got dressed up and took to the trail on a dark night yet to end, with light barely enough for trekking. We had torch in us, in case we needed one. We walked on a gentle upward trail on a stone paved track for almost one km, then the broad trail ended. Sans any guide we were not sure which way to proceed. As happened in all our Himalayan journeys, we did not have to wait for long till we came across on a local resident. He showed us the purple colored flag on the hill top and asked us to follow it. Thus we hit a very narrow muddy trail with the flag on Ganga temple acting as our polestar. At places, the snow and mud formed a mixture through which we had to make our way.

We arrived at the Chandrashila Top just before the dawn and found the Ganga Dham temple at the entry to a small table land

Ganga Dham Temple

We squeezed past the temple, to reach the place and were amazed to find at least ten more tourists have managed to reach here before us, a few of them had blankets wrapped around them to combat the cold at 13,000’ plus altitude! The photographers professional or otherwise, set up their tripods and battery of lenses to supplement their camera, were all in position and waiting for the sunrise in a cloudless sky.

At Chandrashila Top

Before even sun would peep from behind one of the snow peaks, the Chaukhamba peak had a crimson glow, which gradually spread to other peaks. 

Golden Glow On Chaukhamba Peak

The sun rising from behind one of the Himalayan peaks showed the outlines of the mountains, in various shades of bright luminosity. 

Sunrise View

The climbing down from the table land was a rather simple exercise, which brought us back to Tunganth, where after breakfast we set for Chopta to board our car for the next destination.

Important Info for trekkers:
1) The trek is not a very steep one; it is necessary to start early from Tunganth to reach Chandrashila before sunrise.
2) No ponies are available in this trek. Ponies are available from Chopta to Tunganth only.
3) It is very cold in early morning at the top; need all the woolens one can muster.
4) The saffron flags on top of Ganga Dham temple on hill top act as a guiding point; one should follow the trail leading to it, if one is without a guide.

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