|Colourful wooded house in the court yard of Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath|
Sari village fields seen from trek path to Deoria Tal.
|Women folks going for grass and leaves collection around Deoria Tal|
|Kedarnath on left and Chaukhambha on the right amongst other peaks seen from Deoria Tal.|
|Himalayan peaks as we came out of the forest cover on our march to Ukhimath.|
|Rolling mountain view from trek to Ukhimath.|
|Trek path on way to Ukhimath.|
|Ukhimath village with Omkarewhwar temple in the middle with Kedarnath peak in the background.|
|Sun set view of Kedarnath peak from GMVN, Ukhimath.|
Himalayan peak ranges seen from Chopta
On half way mark to Tungnath.
Some hard snow on the way to Tungnath temple.
Once again, the weather though bit chilly in the morning was perfect with the clear sky. We came across small patches of hard snow after about one km of trek but it did not create problem for us as a narrow muddy sidewalks was free from the snow. As we moved further, snow patches though thin, became longer. After successfully negotiating this hard snow patch, we reached the half way mark on way to Tungnath. We met here a Canadian couple who were returning after completing the Chandrashila trek. They had commenced trek from chopta at 6.00 a.m. and reaching half-way point to Chopta at around 10.00 a.m. was a good progress. We did not face any snow on the way until the we reached the paved path near Akash Ganga shade which was fully snow bound for about 50m where walking was tricky. At this stretch, my cousin slipped and fell down but fortunately he was alright. We reached the temple at around 11.30 a.m. The Tungnath temple court yard had comparatively higher snow accumulation than even in Chandrashila as we observed later as the former place remains under mountain shadow for a longer time.
Chaukhambha looming large over Alpine Reserach Centre opposite Tungnath temple.
Backside of Tungnath temple.
Alpine Research Centre is dwarfed in front of Himalayan mountain ranges and peaks opposite Tungnath temple.
We just had a quick look at the temple complex. As expected, there was not a single soul around Tungnath temple complex. After spending about 30 minutes in the temple vicinity, we moved towards Chandrashila peak from the back side of the temple. The weather continued to be good with clear sky. In my earlier two visits to Tungnath ( in the months of September and October), I had faced strong breeze which made me shiver. But this time, the absence of breeze made our life comfortable. There was not much of snow in our 1.5 km of trek to Chandrashila probably the accumulated snow melted here faster than in Tungnath due to direct sun rays falling on the path. As we moved towards Chandrashila peak, the Himalayan peaks from Bandarpunch to Chaukhambha were constantly visible. It was only when we reached Chandrashila peak around 2.00 p.m. that Dronagiri and Nanda Devi group of peaks unfolded before us. It was a show of 270 degrees of snow clad Himalayan peaks from Bunderpunch in the west to Nanda Devi group of peaks in the east with remaining 90 degrees covered with rolling Himalayan mountain ranges. I had visited Chandrashila peak in October 1998 in foggy condition and hence I had no inkling about what was waiting for me in this trip. But to get a sparkling view of the Himalayan peaks in a cloudless sky, that too in the afternoon was, in my view, something akin to special darshan of gods in the form of numerous peaks from the sanctum of Chandrashila. My cousin was so ecstatic about the place that he felt as if he was on top of the world.
Me on the ridge-end with rolling mountains in the back of Tungnath temple.
An unknown peak of an interesting shape seen on our way to Chandrashila.
Kedarnath (left) and Chaukhambha (right) peaks in the background on way to Chandrashila peak.
Himalayan peak view from Chandrashila peak with cairns in the foreground.
Dronagiri peak on the left and Nanda Devi peak in the right see from Chandrashila peak.
It was time to bid an adieu to Chandrashila, the surrounding peaks and mountain ranges as we had also planned to visit Makkumath after reaching Chopta. While we trekked down quickly to Tungnath using shot cuts, we probably lost time in taking pictures and looking for monals while returning from Tungnath. We did spot 4-5 monal birds around half way to Chopta. It was around 5.00 p.m. when we were less than one km from Chopta that we missed a life time opportunity to spot a leopard in wild. I was taking a picture of forest path with setting sun rays falling on the tree arch over it when a Ukhimath based guide who had earlier accompanied a Canadian couple to Tungnath-Chandrashila in the morning, came to look out for us as it was already getting dark. His interest was to get a lift in our Max for Ukhimath. He told me that a leopard stood on the trekking path but the sound from my trekking pole which slipped out of my hand and fell on the stony path made the leopard nervous and ran across the path in the cover of dense forest. He guessed that I must have seen the leopard as it had stopped momentarily on the track not far from the place from where I was busy in adjusting my shot. What to say - the leopard was in front of us and we did not see it - sheer bad luck.
Me besides a cairn on Chandrashila peak with Nanda Devi peak in the background (middle).
We spotted 3-4 monals in around this spot on our way back to Chopta
Tree lines on a bugyal with abandoned shepherds' huts in the evening on way to Chopta
This was the place where we failed to spot a leopard crossing this track on way to Chopta.
It was already dark when we reached Chopta. So visiting Makkumath was ruled out. After finishing our lunch in supper time, we proceeded to Ukhimath TRH .
We engaged the same Max which had taken us to Chopta, for our trip to Kalimath-Kotma-Guptakashi-Ukhimath. After breakfast at TRH, we commenced our journey to Kalimath at 8.30 a.m. via Kund and Guptakashi ( in fact about 2 kms before Guptakashi, there is a diversion to the right for Kalimath). The road to Kalimath was not in good condition at many places. It took about one hour to reach Kalimath for a 24 km journey. From the road head, it was about 10 minutes of descent on a cemented path followed by a walk on the bridge over Kali Ganga river to reach the Kalimath temple. There was no crowd around the temple except a couple of shop owners who were sitting near the temple warming themselves under the sun. After paying obeisance to Kali Mata, we visited the adjoining Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati and Guarishankar temples. I had visited Kalimath in October 1998 in the aftermath of massive landslides that happened around Kalimath due to cloud brust in August 1998. The place still retains its serenity and peaceful surroundings.
|Kali Mata temple at Kalimath.|
|Kotmaheshwari temple. The entrance to the temple and to Ruch Mahadev is from the gate on the right.|
|Kali Ganga river flows from the left side of the Kotmaheshwar temple.|
|The shila in Mandani river is worshipped as Ruch Mahadev.|
|Guptakashi market with Chaukhambha in the background.|
|Koteshwar Mahadev Cave temple, 3 kms from Rudraprayag.|
|Me in the calm Alaknanda river which flows close to Koteshwar Mahadev temple.|
|The arch gate at Kanak Chauri. From here, it is a 3 km trek to Kartik Swami temple.|
|View of Chaukhambha from the forest cover on way to Kartik Swami temple.|
|View of Kartik Swami temple seen on the ridge from trek path.|
|Step fields seen from the ridge on way to Kartik Swami temple.|
|Final walkway to Kartik Swami temple.|
|Kartik Swami temple.|
|Peak view from the left side of Kartik Swami temple.|
|Peak view from the right side of the temple.|
|Peak view from the backside of the temple.|
|Dronagiri (Dunagiri) peak (right) seen from Kartik Swami temple.|
|Nanda Devi peak seen from Kartik Swami temple.|