TRIP TO BANIAKUND, CHOPTA, UTTRAKHAND A nature-loverís paradise

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#1 Oct 8th, 2015, 14:50
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#1


Part-I

We were on our yearly trekking tour to Deoriatal, Chopta-Tungnath, Anusyua in Rudraprayag and Chamoli district of Devbhoomi-Uttrakhand. It was the second half of April 2015.

God greeted us on our arrival at Sari village. Mount Chowkhamba loomed large over us with its omnipresent existence at Deoriatal.

It was spring. Even the mountain trails were tinged with sreheded petals of rhododendrons. The meadows were green like they were never before. The birds were busy in numerous bushes.

Camping in tents on alpine meadows of the Himalayas was an altogether different experience for us. We were as jovial as child. We sang, we screamed, we bleat.....

ďWho is more happy, when, with heartís content, / Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair/ of wavy grass.....Ē

The road to Chopta from Ukhimath is all through beautiful jungle. Twice we encoutered Himalayan Musk Deer on our way. On our way to Chopta we took a break at Baniakund for a while. There were few shops and a restaurant by the roadside at Baniakund. A mountain stream was flowing by the side of the restaurant. We freshen up ourselves in the crystal clear stream water. The beautiful alpine grassland by the roadside allured us to indulge in its comfort. The horizon on our left were dotted with known-unknown himalayan peaks. We fell in love with Baniakund at our first sight. We took our lunch on a roadside restaurants and went to Chopta.

Our minds were so preoccupied with the beauty of Baniakund, that the appearence of Chopta disheartened us with its clumsy, crowded atmosphere. Infact we had prearranged with Hotel Neelkanth for our stay at Tungnath and Anusyua. But they could not make the arrangement due to lack of infrastructural support and we had to call for Lakhpat Singh Negi to arrange it for us. We wasted almost three hours at Chopta waiting for Lakhpat to arrive from Sari. It was very embarrasing. We decided not to stay at Chopta, instead merched upwards to Bhujgali on our way to Tungnath.

This was also an awesome place to camp. We need to carry all necessary things in mules upto the campsite. We camped there, but due to lack of logistic support we had to compromise our comforts to some extent.

Next day we trekked upto Tungnath. The track was under snow from halfway and the temple was also covered in snow. It was not possible to go to Chandrasila, due to melting, slippery ice. But Tungnath Ji didnít disheartened us altogether. We got awesome clear weather. We saw four Monal birds on our way up and down.

In the afternoon we went to Mondal as per our preplanned schedule. We lamented our decision later for not staying at Baniakund, instead of going to Mondal.
#2 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:00
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#2

Some photos of our previous trek....

down memory lane....
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#3 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:03
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#3

.......

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#4 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:07
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........

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#5 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:23
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Chapter-II

It is said....íMan proposes and God disposesí, but it is not always true. Rather if you long for something wholeheartedly, destiny will be with you.

We met at Chopta a young man, Arvind Chouhan, the care taker of Hotel Neelkanth, who apologized repeatedly for the mismanagement. He tried to comfort us with cups of teas. His behaviour touched us very much. We come back again again to the Himalayas not only for its natural beauty, also for the honest, pure hearts dwelling on the lap of the Himalayas. He also told us that he is going to open a camp at Baniakund very soon and invited us to stay at his camp on our next tour. We gladly accepted his proposal and assured him that it will be our pleasure to help him in any way and that as soon as possible we are coming back to Baniakund.

The route to Baniakund.....
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#6 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:26
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A dream tour.....

Arvind rang up us by the end of Augustí2015 to convey the news that all his arrangment s are ready and we may come any time between the end of September to December. Me and my friend Palas decided to go to Baniakund in the 3rd week of September. We booked our tickets and on 18th September set out on a dream journey. Our train reached Haridwar 6 hours late on 20th. We enjoyed the evening enjoying lassi, pakoras and rabri. We started for Ukhimath by bus on the 21st. Arvind was waiting for us at Ukhimath. We reached Baniakund in a shared jeep and by the end of the day we reached a peace heaven called The Himalayan Home. The cozy comform of the tent awaited us after the long, tiring journey.

Some snaps at Haridwar....
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#7 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:28
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#7

........

Baniakund....
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#8 Oct 8th, 2015, 15:29
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Baniakund

The next morning, Arvind woke us up early. We were mesmerized to see the pristine, lush green meadows lying in front of our tent glowing in the morning light. The majestic himalayan peaks stood lined so near that they could be touched easily. We could see the mountain peaks even lying in our tent. Pankaj, canteen assistant, made hot, steaming coffie for us. Sitting on the rocks on the green pasture,sipping on the hot coffie we sat gazing at the mountains. It was an amazing experience.
#9 Oct 8th, 2015, 21:02
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Great going.... Waiting for more
#10 Oct 9th, 2015, 01:07
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Thanks Avishek.... Will be posting soon
#11 Oct 9th, 2015, 01:11
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Baniakund

......
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#12 Oct 10th, 2015, 13:07
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#12
Hi Himadri,

Nice write up and superb photos....waiting for more details and photographs.

Me along with my family (including my 4 yr super champ) and my friend (paglaghora of IM) and his brother ( total 4 adults +1 kid) had planned for a trekking trip to Ukhimath-Deoriatal- Tunganath- Chandrashila- Baniyakund during this puja. Your travelogue seems to be the "plate with the same foods" that we are looking for.... Your experience and detail inputs will definitely help us a lot to make our trip successfull...Few questions:

1. You had mentioned that you took a bus ride from Haridwar to Ukhimath. Can you please tell us the time of the bus and any details of the bus ride ...for ex: time taken, price, comfort etc. Lakhpat Singh Negi (in whose tents we are staying in Deoriatal) had asked Rs 6000 for a drop from Haridwar to Ukhimath in a indica type car, which is too expensive for us. Any idea about the car rate from Haridwar to Ukhi? Is there any share zeep service available? I heard there is regular share zeep/bus service from Haridwar to Rudraprayag and from Rudraprayag to Ukhi....any idea?

2. After Tunganath & Chandrashila we will stay in Baniyakund for 1N. Actually Lakhpat has suggested Baniyakund instead of Dogolvitta, since the latter is more expensive... where do you stay in Baniyakund? and whats the rate? Can we do Birding in Baniyakund?

3. How do you return from Baniyakund to Haridwar? our train is at 22:30pm night..please suggest...

waiting eagerly for your replies as we will leave coming saturday the 17th oct.....
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#13 Oct 10th, 2015, 15:01
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#13
Dear Amit,

Thanks for your compliments.

It is nice to know that you will be travelling to the same place I am writing about. My labour will be successful if in any way my travelogue helps you.

Answer to your queries:
1. We took a Himgiri bus from Haridwar for Ukhimath. The bus left Haridwar at 10.30 am and reached Ukhimath at 6.30 p.m. Fare per head was Rs.300/-. It was comfortable as we traveled in a lean season. Upto Srinagar there were only 6 passengers. The bus halted at Rudraprayag for more than an hour. But you will be travelling in a peak season. So the situation will definitely be different. So plan accordingly, as you also have a 4 years old child with you. Jeep service is fairly available from point to point. I think it will be better to board on a Rudraprayag bound bus from Haridwar early morning and from R.Prayag to take a dedicated car for Sarigram, assuming you will be going to Deoriatal first. A bolero type car will be taking around Rs.2500/-. It will be cost effective also. You can also take a car which will pick you up from Rudraprayag, drop at Sari, again pick from Sari drop at Baniakund, take you to Chopta and again drop you at Baniakund and from there drop you at Rudraprayag.

As for rate asked by Lakhpat, it will always be on the higher side. The reason......ask your self.

2. From Deoriatal you will be going to Tungnath, which is 3 km trek from Chopta. My suggestion is, stay at Baniakund which is only 4 km down to Chopta for your trek to Tungnath. Next day after having early breakfast go to Chopta and trek to Tungnath and again come back to Baniakund for stay. Baniakund is not only less expensive than Dogalbitta, but also more beautiful a place than the first. There are more than one option to stay at Baniakund. We stayed in tents at The Himalayan Home, Baniakund. Keep reading my travelogue.

3. There are frequent bus as well as share jeep service from Rudraprayag for Haridwar. It will not be a problem to board Kumbha/ Upasona.

Please let me know the dates you will be travelling and your budget for accommodation at Baniakund.
#14 Oct 10th, 2015, 15:09
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#14

Travelogue continues.....

After taking our breakfast with parantha , boiled potato curry and chutney made from the seeds of bhang plant, we went down to the abandoned Kalikambli Dharamsala. The drarmsala is situated by the earlier walking road to Tungnath. In earlier days when there was no motorable road to Chopta, the pilgrims to Lord Tungnath went through this trail. Once motorable road was established, the need for this dharmsala ceased to exist. The building is now a days used by the local people in summer days as temporary shelter for cattle crazing, cultivation works, etc.

Basanti Didi lives there with her son Anuj and her aged mother. No word sufficient to praise the hardworking ladies of the mountains. Their true beauty can only be expressed through poetry.....

ďShe dwelt among the untrodden ways / beside the springs of Dove; / a maid whom there were none to praise, / a very few to love.Ē


Basanti Didi made tea for us. The kind of hospitality with which she treated strengers like us is unthinkable in plains. Himalaya is truly a Devbhoomi.
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#15 Oct 10th, 2015, 15:15
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#15

Anuj....and his grand ma

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