Trek to Chandrashila : This is part 3 of my memoirs on the Trek to Tunganath and Chandrashila Travelogue
At the Tunganath Temple Grounds. At about 3 pm it suddenly started to drizzle followed by sleet. Sitting on our wooden plank beds inside the mandir committee guesthouse, which allows chilly wind through the cracks of its door, we hugged to our quilts and peeped outside. The room has a small broken window and something, which they call an attached bathroom. Even the oil-lamp, which they provide, was not good enough to let you realise the shape or condition of it. And after about half an hour the rain stopped and then came the mesmerising sunset. It is too overwhelming to describe. By then most tourists had left. Our camera started to work overtime, and one stops all kinds of conversation to absorb the beauty and serenity of it all. And with us stood the white gigantic snow peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas watching and presiding over the whole show.
The horizon slowly dimmed into oblivion, the chill started making it tougher to move or walk, the mountain peaks started looking awesome and fearful, and we retreated into our room. There was not a sound to be heard and it slowly started to sink in that we were left all alone in the highest temple of the world. Night came early and we finished our dinner at Sujanbhai’s food stall and went back under our double quilts by 8 in the evening. The single oil lamp started throwing black shadows on the walls and one could hardly carry on conversation in the extreme cold. Lack of enough oxygen in the air and less atmospheric pressure starts to work on you and you feel uncomfortable. The night seemed long and lying in the bed it became painful to turn over, leave alone sleep. Ultimately after about a couple of hours I dozed off. The next morning we had a plan to reach Chandrasila which is about a kilometer and a half away and a couple of hundred meters higher.
Sunrise : Chandrashila Mountain Top
It was 5.30 in the morning when we were ready to go. The sky was lit up with hundreds of stars. It was still dark and we had about an hour or so to reach Chandrasila before the sun peeped out. A very broken track, and with torches in our hands we lost our way in the initial stages but made good soon. The blades of grass and moss had turned white with layers of flaky snow and breathing was troublesome. The path was risky too at stages with the torchlight being the sole help in the dark The going was tough and slow and we finally managed to reach the top around 6.30.The sky was turning bright by then.
Chandrasila, legend says, is where Rama used to meditate. A small mountaintop measuring about 1500 sq mts, there were only about 10 of us waiting huddled for a fantastic show to begin. There stood eleven peaks in the distance, milk white, slowly rising out of slumber to welcome us. And welcome they did. Sunrise at Chandrasila is a dream-come-true. It was like watching an artist starting to work on the biggest piece of canvas and changing his mind every minute or so and repaint them again in a brighter hue. Time stops as does words. And you stand a puny creature in front of nature worshipping the moments and thankful for what life beholds to you. One by one the tips of the ranges started to peep out to the sun and we stood there gazing at the immense layers of snow and ice slowly forming shape in the new light and welcome a new day. And then I felt my soul whisper softly to me “This is nature. This is God.”
It was time to come back. We were there for about half an hour absorbing all there was around us. By then the dew on the road had become slippery with the morning sun and I slipped a few times hurting myself a little on our way back. Finished our breakfast at Tunganath by 8.30 am and then it was back again to Chopta. Had our lunch there at Chopta, which we had reached by 11 am and it was time to look for transport to Ukhimath. An. I still yearn to return back their one day.d still today when I think back of Tunganath, nestled there amidst the white mountain ranges and Chandrasila, calm and serene, I still hear my soul whisper within me, and I promise myself that I’ll be back there sometimes someday.
Its been more than ten years since I have visited the Garhwal Himalayas.