Trek to Chandrashila Peak, The Beginning (Day 1)
WALKING THE PLANK
The trek to the highest shiva temple in the world, the tungnath temple..the stuff that legends are made of. It took me some time to agree to this one, not because of timeline of the journey itself but the amount of preparation involved. Months of training to increase stamina comprising of running everyday for half hour at least, the idea is to be able to run at least 4 to 5 kms in half hour. Well, finally I made up my mind to do it given the breathtaking sceneries that can be captured during the Deoriatal-Chandrashila Trek (This is the name of trek btw). Sent a message across to all the adventurers I knew. Some of them agreed and most declined since it was new years and everyone wanted to spend time with family; my colleagues Shashank, Sandeep , Ramya and Apoorva; Shashank and Sandeep’s wife agreed to join them (much to their dismay).
We had about three months time left for the trek and the first thing to do was plan out the itinerary, especially in terms of booking the flight tickets which tend to get expensive in the new year time frame. We got it fairly cheap, about 8000 INR , to and fro Bangalore-New Delhi. Of course apart from this, there was booking the train tickets, hotel rooms at intermediate points etc. All took a decent amount of research to cut down the costs to the minimum. Cumulative it came to like 20000 INR per head or so for the basic travel + stay initially.
Since this was my first high altitude trek, there was decent amount of stuff to be purchased; necessities really. These include trekking poles, Water proof gloves, Ponchos, Thermals and woolens (this was a winter trek see), CAT 4 sunglasses, thermos flask, trekking shoes and so on. There are ample videos available on the internet which should help you out with the required items. I purchased few and borrowed many items; despite all that the final cost came to more than 10000 INIR (Yes, the initial one time cost is high if you intend go for a proper trek). I spent half a day at Decathalon purchasing all the required items.
Once done with all this, there was …The..Long wait…Almost 2.5 months.
The start of the journey. BLR to Delhi.
THE ANTICIPATED DAY FINALLY HERE !
So we had an early morning flight at 6 a.m and was really surprised to see the airport very crowded once I was there. Shashank needed to come from Jayanagar and he was running late. So I decided to exhaust some bandwidth provided freely to people waiting at the airport and streamed a full episode of big bang theory. Shashank, Shwetha, Sangamesh reached the airport by 5 a.m. Sandeep, swaroopa (sandeep’s wife),Ramya and apoorva had a flight at 8 a.m and we had decided to meet them at Delhi airport post landing. (We had booked their flight separately to reduce the costs as we got 4 tickets at a slightly lower price thereby bringing down the cumulative cost of the flight charges for the 8 of us.)
Now it so happened that the due to crowd, the baggage check took excessive amount of time , almost 30 mins and we reached the gate at 5.45 a.m and the security says,” sorry sir, we cannot allow you to board the flight. You are too late”. Just great , our trip of a lifetime was going to end before it even started.We pleaded but he was unrelenting. Finally luckily an airport bus arrived and he allowed us to board the bus after giving us an earful.Phew !!!
We reached Delhi Airport by 8.20 a.m.After having a quick breakfast at Cafe coffee day within the airport itself; we decided to head and roam Delhi for a bit since our train to Haridwar was scheduled for 3.20 p.m. It was awfully cold in Delhi and very foggy with a visibility of hardly 50 meters. The closest tourist spot to our location was Red fort which required us taking the metro to chandini Chowk from the New Delhi railway station ( which also happened to be our boarding point for the train to haridwar). We off loaded our luggage at the cloak room facility at NLDS for a minimal charge and proceeded to chandini Chowk railway station which was few stops away.
Chandini Chowk was absolute chaos, the kind I have never seen…Ever.. Vehicles were separated from each other by a distance of few cms and 80℅ of the road was occupied by sellers all kinds of things. A 10 mins rickshaw ride from chandini Chowk and we were at the legendary red fort.A really long queue at the ticket counter greeted us and took us nearly 20 mins to get the tickets.
Red fort is huge, spread over many acres and there is so much to see and by extension , lots of walking. The weather was pleasant and so we did not mind clocking steps on the fitness band. The museum housing old artifacts, the pool, the living chambers, the courtyard etc are take you back hundreds of years and the foggy day added to the mystical element on that day.
We probably walked at least 3 to 4 kms on that day within the fort itself but it was totally worth it. Post exiting the fort, we made our way through the chaos that is chandini chowk again via a richshaw and finally reached the NLDS again post taking the metro from Chandini Chowk to NLDS. We wanted to finish our lunch but we realized (thank god) there simply wasn’t enough time. As a matter of fact, we made it just in time to NLDS to catch our train to Haridwar. Ramya, Apoorva, Sandeep and Swaroopa also made in time and we all met up within the train.
The quality of food offered by Indian railways seemed to have improved and we gorged on some Biryani and tomato soup; it was a long journey of 4 hours after all. We reached Haridwar by 9 p.m or so in the night. It was quite cold at Haridwar as well(single digits Celsius easily). The booked hotel (The Sun hotel) was only a km away from the main railway station and the ever trusty google maps helped us locate the hotel , even though it was tucked away in some narrow lane off the road. Checked in, had dinner at the in-house restaurant and slept as soon as possible since the pick up bus to Sari village the next day for scheduled for 6 a.m.