Chandrashila: The beginner’s winter wonderland!

Kedarkantha winter trek has always been at the top of my bucket-list treks. But the desire to go on this trek has always been thwarted by a million reasons like how cold it’ll be, will I survive it, is that a good beginner’s snow trek having experienced snow only while on a bike ride across Ladakh, etc etc. Browsing through a gazillion reels on the “gram” on Kedarkantha eventually got Instagram to come up with a solution for my contemplations. A suggested reels introduced me to Tungnath-Chandrashila Trek. Having never heard of it, few hours were invested on doing extensive research. After an ample list of equations, statistical graphs, the end result was a booked trip through wander.on for the Tungnath-Chandrashila-Deoriatal lake trek!

Our flight tickets were booked Bengaluru <–> Delhi. Since we were travelling that far up north, we decided to explore Delhi and Rishikesh too a little bit. After “little” bit of shopping, we were snow trek ready and got on to our flight all excited for what awaited us. We reached Delhi on a wednesday morning and turned up at my cousin’s doorstep. We were treated to some steaming hot idlis, vada, dose and lip smacking chutney sambar. It was so delicious, I was in tears. My friend and I then took off in the summer heat to explore Connaught Place and surroundings to satiate the excited touristy urge in us. Then came nightfall with us boarding a bus from Majnu ka Tila to Rishikesh.

Shopping with the sweetest vendor!

We reached Rishikesh in the wee-hours of a Thursday morning, luckily for us, our stay “Go-stops Rishikesh Lakshman Jhula” had a very friendly common area for people like us arriving at un-earthly hours to catch some forty winks. We freshened up once we got our room and headed out to explore the holy town. We rented a scooter and went about on a temple run spree, adding a waterfall and a cafe visit in between too. We had the best evening at Triveni Ghat, where we witnessed the Ganga Aarti. Post this we befriended some local kids and indulged in some painting and badminton sessions with them. With a full heart we returned closer to our hotel thinking our day couldn’t get any better. We stopped at The Arches Cafe for a quick dinner but the ambience and the live music there resulted in us staying until they closed the place down.

What was supposed to be an early to bed plan turned out to be no time for bed, as we had to catch our pick up mini-bus at 4:AM. The tempo traveler reached from Delhi on time, and we were on our way to Chopta. Chopta is a small hamlet in the Kedarnath region of Uttarakhand state. Habitation here is very sparse, and needless to say the place is stunningly clean and beautiful! This is your pitstop if you have to hike up the Chandrashila peak.

Trek Details

This trek is a 3 day itinerary. The pick up is from Delhi and then it is an overnight journey of about 11 hours minus all the breaks.

Day 1:

After the long road journey, (with some vehicle breakdowns) we finally reached our home for the night “The bunker house” in Chopta. One can feel the purity of the air you breathe in, one without the choking pollutants we’re used to in our daily urban lives. One can notice how lively the trees and flowers are unlike the dull and dusty ones that peek in and out of view between all the concrete structures we live amongst. We devoured lunch like a bunch of savages after that long journey and then went for an acclimatisation walk for the altitude that we were going to gain the following day. I was very excited for the walk because I wanted to take in all that oxygen. We were surprised by a teeny tiny water fall by the side of the road. We sat there for what felt like an eternity dipping our feet in the cold water and enjoying the view of the rhododendrons all around us. The only noise around us was the gurgling of the water, and it could not have been better. As it started to get chilly we headed back to our home for the night dancing and singing along the way (Dancing and singing is a very integral part of the day for us Indians).

After a steaming hot dinner, our guides sat us down for some instruction session for the next day’s hike. After which we enjoyed some more singing and some ice breaker banter around the bonfire before we retired for the night early. We had an early day after all the following morning.

Day 2:

Our day started with a 1 hour drive to the trek start point from our rooms. There are vendors from whom you can rent snow boots and bamboo sticks in case you didn’t already have them. I had my own pair of boots and trekking pole, so I was good to go. After a little bit of shopping for gears from my fellow trekking mates, we began with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement.

The trek is divided to 2 parts viz.,

Hike to Tunganth Temple

This hike is for a distance of about 3.5Kms. The distance might seem small but there is rapid elevation gain. The hike begins at 2850m(9400ft) and you reach Tungnath temple which is at an elevation of 3450m(11380ft). So if you did the math correctly you’d be gaining an elevation of 600m(1968ft) within 3.5Km, which can be very challenging if the only walking experience you have is between your couch and the kitchen.

The hike to Tungnath is through the beautiful meadows of a variety of flora dominated by the Deodar trees also known as the Himalayan Cedar. This path is mostly paved with and there is a clear route as this is a very famous pilgrim centre for all the followers of Lord Shiva. Tunganth is one among the 5 Kedar Dhams. It took us about 3 hours to reach the temple including gaining momentum, making sure most of us are sticking together (this is a little challenging because not all of us are of the same fitness level and there were 13 of us!), and taking multiple photo breaks.The last 45 minutes or so to the temple was a little tricky because there was sloppy ice and it was very slippery. We carefully trudged our way to the temple. I guess we were extremely devotional this last 45 minutes, just not sure if the reason was the proximity to the temple or the difficulty of the terrain or maybe it was a combination of both.

It was the onset of summer and ours was the last winter trek of the season and hence the slippery ice instead of hard snow to walk on. It sure was a different experience. Although there were many people at the temple, there was a different kind of tranquility here. The altitude that provided for the panoramic views of the surroundings, the thin yet clean breeze allowing you to appreciate being there, all the people with a sense of accomplishment for taking up the laborious task of getting there, and the immense devotion were all overwhelmingly delightful. After spending a good time there, we headed back on the track to get to the peak. To be honest we left only because our trekking guide threatened us that we may not go to the peak if we don’t move, which luckily worked. Because if we had missed, we’d regret it for the rest of our lives.

Tungnath – Chandrashila peak

The peak of Chandrashila is around 1.5 Kms from the temple. And the path was really narrow, only enough for a single line of people. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But like a wise person once said everything beautiful is on the other side of fear, reaching this peak was one of the most enchanting experiences of my life. After crossing the narrow path, it was a steep climb to the top, and it was a thick blanket of snow as far as the eyes could see. It was a little challenging to climb up, without slipping as the ascend was steep (If I haven’t already mentioned it before). The peak of Chandrashila is at about 4000m(13,123ft), again let me do some math for you (You’re welcome!). The altitude gained from Tungnath to the peak is about 1743ft. We had to maintain a consistent pace, the hard slippery ice although a little stimulating, was gruelling. We had to keep making tiny grooves along the way to serve as steps. Luckily I had a good pair of shoes which helped me do this a little easier and that impressed some of our trek buddies. They thought I was a professional who knew her way around snow. Little did they know I was a noob with a little bit of common sense 😉 After an hour of climbing, we finally reached the peak!

On our way up, we saw multiple people sliding down the snow instead of walking down on their way back. This struck a chord of fear in my head for multiple reasons. I have 2 busted knees so the descend was as is going to be tough, and the fear grew after I experienced the incline on the way up. Secondly if that many people decided to slide down instead of the walk, then the former must be relatively easier than the walk. And the idea of sliding down made way to multiple other dramatic scenarios; What if I can’t stop myself and just glide my way straight down to hell’s mouth; What if our trek mate who assured would catch me cannot handle the gain in the momentum due to my mass and the velocity at which I was gliding down? (That’s 5th grade physics you guys!) And I just glide my way straight down to hell’s mouth? So the first 10 minutes after reaching the top just went in these calculations and fear. And then a cold breeze just blew in my face bringing me back to reality and then immediately took my breath away. That was exactly when I actually noticed the view before my eyes. The 360˚of uninterrupted sight of the magnificent peaks around me. I was brought back to reality for sure but only to be taken away into a dreamy world of pureness, one devoid of any mess, noise or anything unpleasant. The view in front of me was godly. I was yet again transfixed, but this time with pleasantness, the kind that will stay with me forever!

We had been given a small lunch pack which we gobbled up quickly as we were exhausted from the hike. Like the saying goes, all good things come to an end, we had to begin our descend after spending about 45 minutes at the top. And finally the moment I had been dreading stood before me! We walked down a few steps and we stood in line to slide down (or straight up to heaven’s gate as I imagined it would be). I refused to be the first one to be sacrificed and saw a couple of people, which would also give me some time to offer my prayers mentally to as many gods as I can remember. I observed how other people did it, made a mental note of things not to do. When I saw that no one had plummeted, I decide to test my fate. Within the first few cms of sliding down, I realised how much my brain had overreacted. I profoundly enjoyed the experience. The speed brought a thrill, the snow beneath brought a chill! This saved us lots of time and energy too, which my not so strong knees thanked me for. Anytime we had to get up and walk, I was questioning why we couldn’t just slide down. This is now my favourite activity to do in snow. One that I have been doing every chance I get. The descend took us about 3.5 hours which involved sliding down, dancing, and multiple photo breaks, and the conventional hiking down.

There are multiple tiny restaurants at the base and we headed to one of them and relished some hot and steaming Maggi with some tea. I think no visit to a mountain in India is complete without a bowl of Maggi, making its way to your digestive system. We had started our day when the sky was blue with the white clouds dancing around and witnessed the sky painted with hues of orange, yellow, and red and wound up the day’s workout when the sky was finally dark. From hosting a family of clouds when we started, the sky was now ready to embrace the multitude of stars. Once back in the hotel we took a short walk to just lie down on the road and behold the sparkle show the sky puts on for us every night, except this time without being obscured by the ghastly pollution of man made light, smoke and much more. We only agreed to get up from there and move because our tummies were demanding to be fed. We called it a night after a scrumptious dinner.

Day 3:

Next day was our checkout after breakfast. On our way back, we stopped at Saari village for another hike to Deoriatal. This was a bonus hike after the big one the previous day. A quick lunch after the hike and we were on our way out to Delhi. Our journey was filled with some snores, some musical exchange, some crazy dancing in the mini bus throughout the day. We stopped at Rishikesh for dinner by the Ganga river with a view of the lit up Lakshman Jhula, after which we passed out in our seats in the bus and woke up in Delhi. We bid adieu to the new friends we made, and carried home a lighter soul, filled with many memories.


  • Tungnath is said to be the World’s Highest Shiva temple
  • One can see the peaks of Nanda Devi, Trishul, Bandarpuch, Kedar Parvat, Chaukhamba peak and Mandini Parvat once on top of Chandrashila peak
  • There is a saying that the Moon God spent time in penance at Chandrashila peak and hence its name which means the Moon Rock

Trek Info

Difficulty LevelModerate
Distance 5 Kms one way
Duration5 Hours to the peak
3 Hours to Tungnath
1.5 Hours to Chandrashila Peak
Best time to Visit Summer: Between the months of April – June is pleasant
Winter: Winter treks are between January – March
Do you need a guide?Not really, if you have your own mode of transport to reach Chopta . But here are some options
– Indiahikes
– Wanderon

Trek Tips

  • Drink at least 2 litres of water the previous night, you will be gaining a lot of altitude during the trek which means oxygen levels in the air will be low
  • Do not run/race here. This is not a competition so preserve all the oxygen you can
  • Keep some candies and glucose with you

Things to carry for the trek

  • A small day pack
  • Water
  • Trekking pole (You can also rent the bamboo stick at the base camp). I prefer my trekking pole because it has shocks
  • A good pair of trekking boots (You can rent this too)
  • Glucose powder
  • Candy/Chocolate
  • Good pair of UV glasses (The glare from the sun at the altitude and the snow can be quite rough)
  • Cap
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Additionally for a winter trek
    • Fleece sweater
    • A down jacket
    • Gloves

Trek Cost (All costs are approximated per person amount based on our visit)

Bangalore – Delhi Flights : INR 10,000/= round trip

Trekking package: INR 8000/=


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