In the Month of Feb this year, I decided on a Trek to Deoriya Taal and Chopta. Little did I Know that this trip would prove to be the most memorable trips I would ever take. Packing up my bags and tent I left from my house in Srinagar. Travelling via Public Transport I reached Ukhimath which is like a base for trekking to Deoriya Taal. Situated at an altitude of 1300 Mts Ukhimath is a very small town and provides amazing view of the Himalayas. Staying there for one night, the next day I reached Saari Village. Saari Village is the nearest Road head for Deoriya Taal and after a 3Kms trek, not knowing what to expect I reached Deoriya Taal. I had seen some Images of Deoriya Taal on the Internet and it looked really beautiful. But then I saw it in Person and to put it mildly, the place absolutely blew my senses off. The Trek from Saari to Deoriya was itself really beautiful, but on seeing the Taal I was simply grounded by the sight which my eyes saw. One could literally stretch out his hands and touch the Himalayas from there. The Reflection of Mount Kedar, Kedar Dome, Meru, Sumeru, Janukooth, Chaukhambha , Satopanth and several other peaks in the Taal was one of the most beautiful sights my eyes had ever seen. The Silence and Tranquillity of that place made me forget about all worries bothering me. I sat beside the lake for a couple of hours doing nothing but soaking in the view in front my eyes, trying to comprehend the beauty and perfection of nature, and also reflecting on the imperfections I have and how I as a human being was so overly concerned about my existence as a human trying to satisfy my ego everywhere I went. But the perfection, the amazingness, the vastness, the tranquillity, the peace I felt there humbled me, and tears began rolling down my eyes. It was there I realised that when we take these trips to the Himalayas, we don’t find someone or something out there which changes us, it’s something within that shifts and completely changes our perspective and help us grow as a human being.
Anyways after sitting there for a couple of hours, I met the guy who would be taking care of my lodging and boarding there. We had setup our camp a little away from the Taal, as that place sometimes get crowded at evening, with other people pouring in. As the day began to end I again came back to the taal with my camera, ready to catch the golden rays falling on the Himalayas in front of me to try to capture the reflections…and here’s what I could manage.
I personally believe that no matter how good of a Photographer you are, it’s not possible for any technology to fully capture the feelings which one has when actually at such a place. The Images may look beautiful but they can never make the viewer feel how it was actually to be there. The views of the Sunset overwhelmed me and I tried multiple angles and compositions to capture the essence of the sunset that was happening before me.
As it became dark I decided to make a frame that would capture the last light of the dusk and few of the stars as well.
Back at the camp, I along with my guide spent the next 2 hours chatting, preparing food, stargazing the millions of stars encompassing the pitch black night sky and then before 10PM we dozed off to sleep. Around 4 I heard someone walking on the path outside my tent, it was in the morning that my guide told me that it was some species of Deer called the Ghweed locally that had crossed our tent. In the Morning I again left to catch the sunshine on the Himalayas. The weather was cloudy this morning and unfortunately I could not catch that light on the Himalayas. I did however spot some Black throated tits, Himalayan Blue Tail, Grey Headed Wood Peckers and some Black Jay’s around the Taal.
This full day was spent trekking back to Saari Village to Charge my camera batteries and then again sitting beside the taal till late evening. The weather was very cloudy and the sky grey with rain clouds, offering no opportunities to shoot any bit of that Golden light.
The Next morning I went to the Jungles very early in the Morning to spot and photograph some species of Deers, but instead I saw a group of 3 Himalayan Monals basking in the early morning sun. Nothing to shoot though as they were up and away in a flash, and then settled some 500 mts away still offering me nothing to shoot.
Packing up I then left for Saari Village and then by a Vehicle to Chopta. Chopta situated at an altitude of approx. 2900 Mts is the starting point for trek to Tungnath (the third Panch Kedar). The area between Chopta and Tungnath , up to Chandrashila is home to Himalayan Monals 12 Months a year and since it was snow clad , I expected them to see a bit below Chopta. I stayed in Dugalbitta since it was the only place which had some provisions of electricity at that time. Dugalbitta to Chopta is some 10Kms by road, but the locals there informee me of a shorter trek route through the jungles which was like 3 Kms or so. So every day for the next three mornings I would take that trek through dense forests hoping to see some Monals, sitting for hours hoping for them to turn up and give me a proper shot. They did turn up but at really long distances. However, one morning when I was walking through the Jungle, one group on seeing me flew away, but one of them actually sat in a perch that was well within my 400MM shooting range, posed for some 10 Seconds and then left, enough for me to get a decent shot.
During the days I stayed there I was able to see Some Snow pigeons, some langurs and some Ravens and then this Monal.
Due to very heavy snow fall, Tungnath trek was very risky to be made through alone and Chandrashila was out of bounds. Here are some of the Images from Chopta in the Month of Feb.
This trip was undoubtedly one of the best trips I have ever taken so far and it keeps calling me again. The experience of seeing the Monals so close at hand, the serenity, the calmness, the peace, and the mighty Himalayas is something that cannot be described in words. The feeling which one feels can only be felt when there physically and then again you grow much more as a human being when taking these trips and even beyond!