At Chitkul the morning light struggled through the murky cloud, but even in its weakness it was enough to blind. The air was of-course cold and the trees peeked out under their new white caps. The barren fields looked like an unfinished painting. So much of the canvas was still perfectly white, as if waiting for the artists hand to return. Footsteps and paw prints along the galloping river crisscrossed each other around the labyrinth of paths. This is the last village on border with China.We had tea and Maggie at one of the oldest shop in Chitkul.
On my way back I could not resist myself getting down at Raksham. While returning we had no idea as to where are we going to put up at night. My outlook was to make maximum use of the daylight and travel as much as possible for the day so that the next day would be smooth. As per the local people, I had the comprehension that on this route towards Sarahan Jeori is the big town where we can get hotel late till 8:00 pm. Google map succoured in getting a booking in a guesthouse there. At the time of dinner the restaurant owner described that the people transverse by the dilapidated road to Sarahan as the other road is closed for construction of a bridge.
No exception to leaving early for Bhimkali Mandir being mentioned the road conditions. The road was mix one where the pitch roads lasted for few kms and then a single road continued for around 10 kms to land at Bhimkali Mandir. The entrance of the temple beheld the bliss of the place. The inside corridor could not be anticipated from outside which connected the edifice on all four sides. Then we took another leap towards the silver door where we had to remove our shoes and socks. The spine chilling sensation ran across my body as I took the first step on the floor towards the main shrine. The guard said that it is warm inside the temple and it was so because there were carpets placed all around. Located at an elevation, the temple accorded the mystic view of the snow clad mountain peaks. Early morning hue scattered around the valley and filled the place with dense white fumes.
From Sarahan we drove back towards Narkanda as we missed out Hatu Peak in that side. A travel of around 110 kms for 3 and half hours brought us to Hatu peak.
We took the road via kinnu waterfall instead of going through the Jeori again to enjoy the scenic beauty.
Sarahan to Narkanda via Kinnu
On the Kinnu Road
The onset on the place seemed as if all people coming to Shimla have settled here towards the end of the year to see snow. The frozen lake has turned muddy and people walked over it overwhelmed. The roads were steep and narrow to pass even a single small car. Dense coniferous trees barred vision at the turnings. The lake was so chaotic that I made my mind to turn back without going up to Hatu temple.
Narrow road towards Hatu Peak
Returning from Sarhan to Narkanda
The day was a jumbled one with to and fro movement and the loop ended up at Shimla. New Year celebrations have gained pace in Shimla and finding a hotel in the city was troublesome. After turning twice on the circular road finally made an exit thinking to leave the heart of the city and settle at the outskirt by the highway for the day. However just beyond the main hustle and bustle, we spotted a hotel along the highway. The city lights shimmered and stretched, growing and receding, striving and shrinking. The lights danced across the dark sky, each color slowly fading into another. End of the travel for the day. From the overall recap of the day I had the cognizance that I have to plan ahead for the next day. I made certain phone calls to anticipate the next day visits.
Day 7 (Shimla – Mansar – Kahan – Paonta Sahib – Dehradun – New Tehri)
I opted out of the Tirthan Valley this time as I conjectured that there will be no snow there. This gave an extra day to spend at a place of my choice. I chose Tehri over Tirthan valley, after all something needs to be left for the next trip. Road to New Tehri was a simple long drive of around 350 kms. The greenery of the pine trees is only exception as compared to roads of the plains. After a tiring journey of 10 hrs we were in the GMVN guest house in New Tehri.
At a local shop near shimla
Random snaps while going towards Tehri
Solan to Paonta Sahib
Dinner was already ordered and it was palatable. Here also a Staff of the hotel was approachable and helped us in his entire endeavor to get a booking in Auli. Unfortunately Auli and Joshimath were overcrowded for the New Year eve. Though I would say it was boom in disguise as we switched our attention towards Chopta valley instead of Auli. The Staff provided us with the route map of Himachal with mentions of the GMVN guesthouse all around.
Sunset at tehri
A friend of mine succored me in sketching out the plan for Chopta Valley. Even the rest of the plan was also molded by him.
Day 8 (New Tehri – Sari Village – Trek to Deoria Tal):
Last night it was already dark so first thing in the morning was to capture Tehri dam and then move towards Sari village. Tehri is the highest dam of India at the foothills of Himalaya. It is a multi-purpose rock and earth-fill embankment dam on the Bhagirathi River and construction work is still going on since 1978. On the way the yellow shining sun started rising from the dam. It filled the sky with mighty colors of red and splashed the clouds with endless rays of pink. It was bright and mesmerising as it inviting me to stare, deep into the horizon. The condensed clouds seemed to wake up from the water surface to play in the horizon. Following human GPS I parked the car at the dam viewpoint wherein the ridges give the dam a womanly curve.
Journey Started.. Early morning at Tehri Dam
Tehri Dam at Early Morning
Tehri dam is a huge dam and at the time of the construction of the reservoir the town was drowned which gave birth to new township named New Tehri. I could perceive this while driving along the dam as it seemed never ending. Chopta valley is on the other side of Deoria Tal which a trekking route from Sari village. Sari village is around 175 kms from Tehri and takes roughly 6 hours of motorable road. My friend gave a person for contact how will help with all the requisites for the trek to Deoria Tal. When he came, there were few homestays in this area but it was not so now. The market has become oligopoly and competitive now. The trek route is tedious so we had light lunch, carried some food and water and started climbing uphill.
Approaching Sari Gaon
Approaching Sari Village
The route is a steep 2.3 km and you have to put up at a tent there. I was carrying my sleeping bag but renting a porter to carry them uphill is more expensive than renting a tent with sleeping bag there itself. Even Sari village was chaotic for year-end celebration. We started at around 3:30 pm and reached at the top after 2 hours of steep trek. I swear the place is worth the hardship, the setting sun from the top was soothing to the soul. Sun sank lower in the sky behind the mountains, light of day draining away, and the brilliant crimson colour subdued in the fading light. The tents crowded around the lake replicated a herd of blue birds paying homage to the mighty sun as it goes to sleep. A number of groups have been there for the day and everyone was enjoying the place in their own way. A group of young boys played guitar at the rock and some were spending time with their loved ones. Soon the moon took the empty place of the sun and the snow-capped mountains glittered in the darkness.
Trekking route towards Deoriatal
Camp Setup at Deoriatal
Deoriatal Camp at Evening
There were canteen at a distance of 50 mts from the lake who had contacts with the people down in the village and would help you with dinner and locate your tent. I also got a token and a skinny little boy hopped in front of us to show us our tent. I did not like the one offered and told him that I will be taking a tent of my choice. No issues and he agreed to my insistence and brought me two sleeping bags from the offered tent. I went back to the canteen to have tea and asked the man to send the dinner at my tent. At night, the place was chilling and it was difficult to warm ourselves in that single sleeping bag. My wife almost stole a sleeping bag from one of the spare tent, which saved us somehow. My friend has asked me to get up early morning to checkout the sun rise and so I followed the good habit of “early to bed early to rise” just kidding the actual reason is that we were tired to death.
Day 9 (Deoria Tal – Sari Village – Chopta Valley):
It was 5:30 at morning and I got out of my tent. Some people were awake till early hours of the day and walked around the place. I walked straight to the high rock to confront the mountains and looked straight in their eyes. The sun woke up slowly changing the colour from orange hues to radiant white. The sun rays showered on the mountains and the reflection casted an image on the crystal clear lake.The lake is known for its wide 300° panoramic view of mountains like Chaukhamba, Nilkantha, Bandarpunch, Kedar Range, Kalanag, etc. The lake refers to the place where Pandavas were asked questions by Yaksha. Localsbelieve that it was built by Bheem to appease his thirst after Yudhister asked him to build his own lake.
Panoramic view from Deoriatal at Early Morning
Early morning at Deoriatal
Reflection of Chaukhamba at Lake
Time to leave such beautiful place
Our Host at Deoriatal
Way to down trek
Guess the reason of metal band
Tea break during down trek
Way to Sari Village from Deoriatal
Beautiful view of Sari Village from the trekking route