Home to the highest Shiva shrine in the world, Tungnath is a feast to the eye and the soul. Nestled in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, the place derives its name from the eponymous temple. As a major tourist attraction, it keeps a consistent stream of visitors seven days a week and 365 days a year.
Situated more than 3600 meters above sea level, the Tungnath temple is the highest of the five Kedars. For many, it is also the highest Shiva temple in the whole world. According to a famous legend, this temple is more than 1000 years old and finds mention in the famous Hindu mythology – the Mahabharata. It is said that Adi Shankaracharya discovered this temple, which is located only 4 kilometers from the Chopta meadows.
Best Places to Visit in Tungnath
Even though a small place, Tungnath spoils you for choices when it comes to tourist attractions. Here’s a list of a few of them to help you make the most of your Tungnath trip.
1. Chopta Hill Station
A mesmerizing hamlet located a couple of hours outside the city, Chopta Hill Station in Tungnath is often known as the ‘Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand.’ This hill station is relatively unexplored by travelers, which is why the beauty of this place remains intact.
Far from the blazing horns of the city, Chopta offers a picturesque view of the snow-clad Himalayas and a vicinity flourishing with natural beauty. A haven for bird-watchers, it is home to over 240 species of birds. Situated at Panch Kedars, various national and international organizations have declared this hill station a critical bird-watching location.
Translating to “Moon Rock,” Chandrashila summit can keep you awe-struck with raw beauty. It’s nestled above the Tungnath temple at about 3600 meters above sea level. This destination is a vantage point for some captivating views of the Himalayas.
Besides being a perfect place filled with tranquility, the place has a religious significance. As the legend goes, the younger brother of Lord Rama, Lakshman, meditated here. The trek to the vantage point providing outstanding views is relatively more straightforward, and most people commence the same from the Tungnath temple. Although accessible throughout the year, sometimes the path is covered under a blanket of snow in winters.
3. Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary
Also known as Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary, this reserve is there to safeguard the ‘Musk Deer’ and, hence, the alternative name. Brimming with flora and fauna, this place affords visitors nature’s beautiful creatures just by driving around the sanctuary.
From the Alpine Musk Deer to Snow Leopards, you can spot a variety of wildlife thriving in this area. Spread around 5 square kilometers on the Chopta – Gopeshwar Road, tourists are greeted with aromatic mountain flowers. If you love nature at its vibrant best, this destination is a must-visit.
4. Deoria Tal Trek
Situated within the confines of the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Deoria Tal Trek in Tungnath is a fantastic trek for beginners looking for adventure. The crystal clear water of this lake not only makes the perfect tourist attraction but a lot of wildlife from the sanctuary can be spotted quenching their thirst from here as well.
Surrounded by lush woods and dense forests, the view of the mountains that reflects off of the lake is astonishing. Having significant importance in Hindu Mythology, this lake is said to be where the gods used to take a dip. An alternate name for the lake is “Indra Sarovar”.
A popular destination among visitors of the Char Dham, Dugalbitta translates to the space between two mountains. Given its location, this name is perfect for this place. Located at an astounding height of 2600 meters, this hamlet tucked away between two peaks is a travelers paradise.
Flourishing with fauna, it’s an ideal spot for bird watching, and camping. Trekking is a popular activity that every visitor partakes in, while some prefer cycling to take full advantage of nature’s beauty. Strolling through the jungle with a local guide is popular among visitors and recommended for those who want to get up close with nature.
6. Sari Village
Tucked away in a world of its own, Sari Village is an experience entirely new for visitors. The culture here is significantly different from the cities, and the primary occupation of residents is livestock or farming. Lying in the lap of the Himalayas and surrounded by oak trees, Sari Gaon is near Deoria lake, hence staying here is an excellent option for visitors.
With various homestay options available, the lodges and restaurants are closed off for visitors during winters. Despite being filled with beautiful views, this village is far from the crowds and commercialization. Hence, visiting here is a calming and peaceful experience.
Best things to do in Tungnath
Tungnath doesn’t disappoint you when it comes to offering excursions. Here’s what to indulge in.
1. Trekking in Tungnath
Surrounded by mountains and scenic beauty, one of the most preferred activities to do here is trekking. Considering the rocky terrain, most temples and sightseeing destinations are a trek away. Locals are the best guides to accompany you while navigating through the magnificent mountains and thick forests of Tungnath. It is recommended to carry trekking equipment while visiting here.
2. Bird Watching
Brimming with wildlife never witnessed before by city dwellers, bird watching in Tungnath is an enriching experience for those who have a knack for it. Over 200 species of birds can be witnessed here in their natural elements. People from all over the globe visit for bird watching, especially the rare species that are migratory and native to the Himalayas.
There’s no better place to camp and feel peace and tranquility than Tungnath. Relatively cooler temperatures and starry skies away from the population and hassle of the city make for the perfect camping environment. Chopta and Deoria Tal are some of the most popular camping spots in the vicinity.
Home to the highest Shiva temple in the world, Tungnath is frequented by a deluge of devotees every year. Besides, there are quite a few holy destinations in the city that are significant in Hindu Mythology. Visiting this city for its breathtaking temples alone is a worthwhile journey. The pathway to seeing the five kedars also passes from here.
The famous Tungnath temple is open for pilgrims and visitors from May to November every year. Hence, it is advised to plan your visit accordingly. However, the trek up to this temple and beyond remains open for trekkers. The rainy season must be avoided as Uttarakhand is known for its natural calamities at this time of the year. The deities of this temple are placed temporarily at Makkumath temple whenever closed.
The food in this region is local and rich in proteins. Meat and alcohol are strictly prohibited here. Besides local eateries, small shops can be found all over the place offering fast food. Travelers can arrange budget lodging on the spot, and Chopta is one of the most preferred and centrally located destinations for staying in Tungnath. Petrol stations and ATMs are scarce in this area. Therefore, it’s advised to carry cash while on your trip.
The best way to reach Tungnath is to travel by road and trek via Chopta. It is easier to get to Chopta via state-run or private buses and taxis because the place is centrally connected to major state-managed highways and roads. They are seen plying the route frequently. The closest airport from here is situated in Jolly Grant, Dehradun, just 200 kilometers away. Railways can be used to reach Tungnath as well. Travelers can board trains from any major city and travel up to Haridwar, the nearest railway station. This is located 180 kilometers from Tungnath.
Tungnath could be your dream destination if you prefer to beat the cacophony of city life. Come, visit this tourist destination and go back cherishing bliss and lasting peace.
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