The Himalayas are the best recluse for man and wildlife alike. The sprawling inviting beauty and the wilderness draws animals and birds to the mountains and valleys as much as humans. The Chopta region is one such area nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarkhand which is famous for its pristine landscapes and flourishing wildlife. Touted as a perfect paradise for bird watchers, the Chopta area is also popular for its splendid trekking and hiking trails. A part of the Kedernath Wildlife Sanctuary, the Chopta hill station is commonly also referred to as ‘mini Switzerland’ due to its mesmerizing scenic beauty.
WHAT TO SEE
Chopta, 2680m above sea level, acts as the base camp for trekkers who hike up to the popular Tungnath Temple (3.5km) and then another 1.5km to the Chandrashila peak at a height of 4000m. It is best to visit Chopta anytime, though the winters can be a bit harsh and difficult for outdoor activities.
How to reach
Located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarkhand Chopta is accessible from most north Indian cities.
Rail – Rishikesh is the closest railway station at a distant of 170km, whereas Haridwar is 180km away.
Air – Dehradun is the nearest airport 226km away.
Road – Chopta is located on the Rudraprayag – Ukhimat – Gopeshwar highway and it is well connected by buses and cars to Rishikesh, Uttarkashi, Gaurikund, Pauri.
What to see
Chopta is rich in biodiversity and is home to quite a few animal and bird species. The Himalayan forests abound in oak, rhododendron, fir and deodar trees. Animals found here include, the leopard, black bear, wild boar, fox, jackal, barking deer, musk deer, marbled cat, yellow throated marten, Himalayan tahr and the pika.
Avian fauna thrives here and many bird species such as, the Crested Goshawk, Long legged Buzzard, Himalayan Swiftlet, Himalayan Griffon, Red headed vulture, lammergeyer, snow pigeon, golden eagle, common Kestrel, Mountain Hawk eagle, spotted dove, snow and hill Patirdge, Oriental Turtle dove, Khalij pheasant, Himalayan monal and Koklass pheasant are found here.
Things to do
Chopta provides enough fodder for bird and wildlife lovers however; its location and trekking trails are perfect to enhance the greed and appetite for sighting of more birds, sceneries and breathtaking landscapes. The popular trekking trails that one can seek out are given below.
Chopta – Deoriatal (20km) – The Deoriatal Lake is a beautiful area and the Himalayan trouts are found here. One can also get some amazing views of the Chaukhamba and Kedardom peaks.
Chopta – Tungnath –Chandrashila – The 1000 year old Tungnath temple is the main attraction at the summit, however the highlight of the trek is to reach the Chandrashila summit. The Himalayan snowcocks and monals are found at the highest points.
Rock climbing, rappelling, snow climbing and camping are some of the other outdoor adventure activities that one can avail in this region.
Places of interest around Chopta also include,
- Kanchula Korak Musk Deer Sanctuary – Located on the Gopeshwar road this is great place to catch sight of the musk deer.
- The towns of Ukimath and Gopeshwar – Located 17km and 39km away from Chopta, these picturesque towns can be visited en route.
Day 1 – Arrive at Rishikesh/Haridwar and we head towards Chopta by noon. Check into the lodge and post lunch we venture out into the meadows and grasslands to view the wildlife. Return in the evening and enjoy a hot dinner.
Day 2 – We start off early in the morning for the Tungnath and Chandrashila trek. Multiple purposes are served while hiking, as you can photograph the terrain, the birds and the wildlife besides inhaling the fresh air and soaking in the surreal surroundings. We return to the lodge only in the evening after the completion of the hike.
Day 3 – We can start a bit late today and head into the region to bid farewell to Chopta. Post lunch you may visit the adjoining attractions before continuing on your onward journey.