We started on our trek in the afternoon through the gate from where the trek commences from Deoriatal from Sari village. It begins with a 10 minute hike going inside of Sari Village, passing an ancient local temple. The trek is only 2.5 kms and was done with minimum of fuss. I do not understand why some people need ponies to go to Deoriatal, the distance is not that much. The climb up the mountain is steep incline and all the trees are cleared here.
This gives a great opportunity to marvel the beauty of Chandrashilla peak buried in snow. I was able to see Tungnath temple for the first time. The look of it made me determined that I will soon be returning here to trek to Tungnath and Chandrashilla for sure. Thirty minutes into our hike and we witnessed patch of snowfall on the trail. As we climbed higher, the presence of snowfall was more visible. We were informed that the snow was hardly a week old. We reached closer to a bend in the mountain and now were on the other side. Sari village was no longer visible to us and for the first time on our trek trails we went inside the forest cover. This change in environment was much appreciated, for there is nothing like being in the vicinity of a beautiful forest, an essential ingredient for a beautiful trek. We reached a point where there was a dhabba and a group of trekkers were relaxing. We were informed that Deoriatal is only a 2 minute walk downhill.
The trail now was buried in knee deep snow and as the forest opened up, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of Deoriatal in the right with Chaukhamba 4-3-2 peaks looming in the background making it a picture perfect moment. The first half of the lake side was completely buried in snow and added to the appeal of the place. At the left side, two dhabas were operational run by Shri. Negi. Ji, an old chap here who we have heard a lot from many trekkers before. Forest department have a 24 hour patrolling parties in Deoriatal and adjoining forest area. It was heartening to see they even fine tourists who are found littering at the lake side, something which should be practiced religiously everywhere.
We went straight to the dhaba and relished a cup of hot ginger tea. Negi-ji is one talkative character and has loads of stories to tell. It was getting a bid annoying to hear him ramble on and on, so we decided to sight see the lake-side instead.
I am a sucker for a good old white peak and witnessing Chaukhamba so close, on face was a complete “paisa vasul”. In fact the view of Chaukhamba 4-3-2 massifs was so over-whelming that I forgot the disappointment of not reaching Tungnath and Chandrashilla peak. The peaks here are a testament to the fact that some godly activity has happened which cannot be substantiated with our modern science and way of living. For me the sight of Chaukhamba and my pursuit of witnessing it was something I could relate to the Pandava brothers who were searching for Lord Shiva here to attain salvation. Come to think of it, my pursuit towards these select mountains has something to do with my search for something pure, something like SHIVA. And then it occurred to me, I am “chasing Shiva” in my own way.
A lot of time was spent taking pictures of the lake and the peaks. The view provides some amazing view of Bandarpoonch peak starting from extreme left, Khatling peaks, Mt. Thalaysagars backside (which is next to Joggin peaks near Kedartal), Kedar peaks, Mt. Janhukut, Chaukhamba 4-3-2 and Mt. Neelkanth to name few.
A debate started regarding a mysterious peak at the left, backside of Mt. Chaukhamba-4. We assumed it to be Mt. Thalaysagar when Negi-ji told us it to be Mt. Shivling. Later when we checked on Google earth with coordinates it turned out to be Mt. Janhukut.
We camped at other side of the lake where we could see nothing but the mighty Chaukhamba peaks. The intent was to have a clear view of the said peak from inside of the tent. We enjoyed the sunset view on the peaks and had an early dinner along a bon-fire which was memorable.
Next day, I woke up early morning and was rewarded with a clear view of the peaks. The effect of first rays of sun on the peaks is always magical and I did not wanted to miss it. My camera was low on its battery so I made the most of it.
After that I trekked to the other side of the lake where there was a pile of snow collected. I climbed up on the pile of snow to get a better view of the reflection of Chaukbhamba on the lake at the cost of being buried in snow till waist deep. Satisfied with whatever I could conjure, it was time to head back to Sari Village and to Delhi via Ukhimath where I offered my prayers at Omkareshwar temple where deities from Kedarnath and Madhmaheshwar resides for 6 months in winters.