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A visit to Deoriatal

As we came down to the road at Chopta a taxiwala was looking for some additional passengers as that would reduce the burden on the persons who had hired the full vehicle in absence of other people travelling in that direction.  We were luck and jumped in the vehicle after picking up the kitbag left at the hotel while going up to Tungnath. The vehicle stopped a hundred meters ahead to pick up luggage of the party and we got time to view the entire snow covered Chaukhamba to Kedarnath range. If nothing else, this is one of the places to come and stay when the body will refuse to go nearer to the high peaks. I now had one day left and I wanted to visit the Deoriatal about which I had heard a lot, beginning with Dorjee who mentioned about it, while on our way to Madhyamashwer. he had pointed to the top of the dense jungle above Okhimath and said a beautiful lake existed there. Okhimath was a very small place then with one dhaba. That memory was always there in my mind, whenever, I visited the near by places. Now its time had come.  The road from Chopta to Tala was through very dense jungle and we thoroughly enjoyed the ride. We were very happy to have reached Tala village so soon after getting down at Chopta. Now we were only few km from Sari village. A little ahead of Tala village, which is on the main road, the road to Sari village bifurcated. So we moved to the junction and stood there waiting for the vehicle going to the village. Soon we were sitting on the rocks throwing small stones and looking at the main road for vehicle which will take us to our destination. So near yet so far. I did not have any intension of walking on the road in hot sun. The desperation was increasing by every passing time and it was soon noon and we were still at the junction. Before I made myself completely comfortable on the ground a jeep took turn from the main road and we jumped to our feet. Indra Singh Rawat had a word with the driver and soon we were loading our bags and self into the vehicle. A small drive brought us to the village and we landed at Negi's hotel. While it was already lunch time and we should have had our lunch we decided to have only mini meal after my last day problem of starting the climb to Tungnath fully stuffed with food. We sat there for sometime having maggi noodles and tea. Mr Murli Singh Negi who owns the place told that he has done mountaineering courses from NIM, Uttarkashi and can provide any assistance around the place. Both his sons are also in the same business. A thee days route from the lake goes to Tungnath and can be a small family trek. As for our route, I was told we had to just reach the top of the ridge in front and across it was the lake. It would take about an hour or so . I was quite apprehensive of one hour walk time. Further, I planned to stay in tent and so the camping kit minus kitchen equipment were packed in the rucksack.

The climb started right in front of Mr Negi's hotel. Soon we were above the village and the scenes stated to open up towards the valley. As we reached the temple above the village, a large snake crossed our path. We continued over the zigzag trail. Indra showed a small structure quite high up the hill and told that the main climb was upto that place. Anyway, once on the trail I keep moving and so was the case here. Sun was beating down our back with full might. and fully wet we reached the place in half an hour. A good place to sit for rest and enjoy the valley down below. We moved on after some rest and really the trail eased, though still climbing. A small opening came with a closed shop. Good place to seat but since the shop was close we continued. As I climbed, I saw another shop, that was open and I thought of seating here for rest. But as I reached it I saw the path levelling off and the lake right in front. So no point in seating here. We continued. In an hours time we had reached the lake. There were lot's of cattle around the place with a bunch of village children playing around. A group of trekkers were sitting and talking. The place seemed to be quite noisy and not much of the view at that time as the clouds covered the peaks. Not a very good first impression of the place, though the lake was big.

A small hut stood near the path and on the other side two shops were located. The hut belonged to the forest department and stands there to charge the trekkers the fee for visiting the place and for tent if you plan to camp there. Well, paid the fee for both my visit and for pitching the tent. Then we moved to the shops and Bhatt who owns the place came there from among the boys who were sitting nearby. He knew Indra and both were happy to see each other. Now my thoughts were on the food part of the trek and also on the noise all around. Bhatt put the kitchen in action and I sat there watching the lake from the shade of the shop.

Deoriatal camping

The food got cooked and we relished it. Bhatt along with his friends went for a swim in the lake. I just felt like jumping in but some how did not take the dip. The trekking party which was sitting near the forest hut had their lunch there and soon were seen leaving the place. I was told that the cattle along with the village boys would also soon go away. Where, when I further enquired, the simple reply came, to the village. This brought a lot of relief to me. I pitched my tent at the high point over looking the lake, a fifty meters from the shop, where Indra was supposed to spend the night. A little distance away another tent had been pitched. I took my camera and  thought of taking a round of the lake. The big mountains were still under cloud cover. I walked behind the shops to wards a structure which looked like a observation tower. Behind it stood a small one room complex and further behind it another two room set was under construction. The wood work of the rooms was underway and may be next time who do not want to camp and stay there. The observation tower was damaged and I did not try my luck climbing it. The trek now moved down to the lake where a small open shrine exists. I offered my prayers and walked off. The forest was now next to the lake, but the path was alright to walk around. The tent on the other side was looking very good and taking it's photos I kept moving. As I moved, I heard the chatter of people talking and soon saw two porters on the other side of the lake near to the observation tower. Thereafter there was no sound of them. The cattle and the boys had all gone by the time I reached back to the tent. The chowkidar had also left for the day as he expected no more people. Anyway, he can always ticket the people right at the village where he stays. The other tent which had been pitched had also been rolled up, may be the party which was expected was not coming. The other shopkeeper also rolled down the cloth cover in front of the shop and left after closing it as he had not received any clients. So, now the place was all to us, Bhatt, Indra and myself. The two porters whom I had sited on the other side of the lake were not to be seen.  I had thought that with the lake being there , water was not a problem. But I was sadly mistaken. The place has a real water problem as the lake water is not fit for cooking food, according to Bhatt. So we followed Rana, to the only water source on the other side of the lake, near to the forest hut. The source was a tickle of water which was getting collected in a small hole dug by Bhatt and he was collecting water from there, using a mug. So much so for water. Under the circumstances, what the other party's cook did can be imagined by anyone. Well, lake was nearby. 

As the dusk approached, the clouds started to sit in the valleys and the mighty Chaukhamba started to reveal itself. It was just overvehmling.  The place was showing its beauty and tranquillity. The sun set made the peaks go golden and then slowly it started to get dark. Suddenly then, we heard the bell strung to the horses neck and the sound of pack animals moving in. The four horses came in site led by a village girl and behind them walked the horseman. He went to the place where the porters had decided to camp and unloaded the horses. By now, it was a bit dark but the horses were immediately taken back by the girl to the village. The horseman sat there and wanted to know how many horses were required from next day onward. After promise to get the horses back he also went back. Some time latter a group of family arrived escorted by their guide and went to the camping area. That was the only thing heard from the party the whole night. It had started to get cold and Bhatt cooked food so that we could retire early. By now it was pitch dark and I was not able to see my tent. Well, the darkness brings in an altogether different sense to the place. After food, I went off to my tent.

As I walked towards the tent in pitch dark, I could not see it at once. The shop with Rana and Indra seemed to be far off. I was all alone. Walking fast I reached the tent and jumped in. I kept the flap open with only the mesh sheet down, but brought sense of insecurity. At night I got suddenly woken up with a loud shrieking sound of a stag just outside of the tent. But I did not have the courage to open the flap and flash the light in that direction. Slept off and woke in the morning before sunrise. The mountains were shining white. I moved out for the sunrise photos. Soon the peaks were turning golden and I had good time clicking photos. Bhatt and Indra were still sleeping. Once the photography was over, I turned towards them. Few shouts and they were up and the kitchen fire was started. We had tea and packed up our stuff and hurried off to wards the village. Without stopping in half an hour we were back at the village, which was walking up. A jeep was getting ready for journey to Okhimath. We took ride on it. On the main road Indra saw a bus coming and He decided to take it as it was the Bhuk Hartal bus which runs in the morning on this road from Guptkashi to Badrinath and is like an express service. The bus was stopped and Indra left in it. I reached Okhimath by the taxi and was amazed to see the transformation. It has grown into a big place with a number of hotels and dhaba's. The shops in the market sell all the necessary items.  As I enquired for the bus towards Rudraprayag, I was told it shall be coming from above Uniyana. Well many times I have hauled my bag upto the place, when the road was just upto Okhimath and a jeep path went till the Jugasu bridge.  Any way, change is part of life and I took the bus which dropped me on the NH and from there a shared taxi brought me to the plains. 


Deoriatal Trek Photos

Tungnath Trek Plan



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Published on: 2011-03-06 (1837 reads)

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