Chopta does not only act as a base camp for trekking to the highest Shiva temple in the world but also is a perfect ground for yoga and meditation.
Chopta, a quaint hill station, is set at an elevation of 2700 meters in the Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand. And snuggled in the lap of Himalayas, this hamlet provides an impeccable view of the Himalayan ranges like the peaks of Nandadevi, Trishul, and Chaukhamba. In addition, the vast lush meadows and the verdant forests teeming with Deodar and Rhododendron trees all year round makes this place a feast for the eyes. All this inexplicable beauty and tranquil surroundings have made Chopta the mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand.
What makes Chopta a must visit place
Apart from its diverse flora and fauna, and scenic natural beauty, the place is also the base camp for trekking to the Tungnath temple (the highest Shiva temple in the world) and the Chandrashila summit. Moreover, the resplendent scenario of the snow-clad Himalayan ranges is also something you do not want to miss. Fortunately, Chopta is yet left untouched from the modern development and construction, which makes the unblemished aura of this rustic region pleasurable for every nature lover. The place hasn’t gained enough recognition and popularity as it deserves to be, but it also adds as an advantage for the travelers as being a secluded destination spot means that the place is quite affordable. Trekking, camping, and birdwatching are some of the must-do activities while you are in Chopta.
Things to do in Chopta
The vast greenery meadows in Chopta makes it an ideal place for camping. Its surroundings are vivacious & gay and allows the tourists to take in the extensive view of the Himalayan ranges. However, since Chopta is a reserve forest area, you have to pay an entry fee( Indians- 150, foreigners- 600) to enter and a camping fee, which depends on whether you have your own tent or want to book one on rent. For booking, you can go for a small tent, medium tent, or kitchen tent and the price will vary accordingly. Chopta is the base camp for Tungnath and Chandrashila, so you can pitch your tent near those trek route as well. In addition, if you want to see the diverse wildlife of Chopta, try to maintain silence as it will enhance the chance, and get up early in the morning to hear the melodious chirping of the birds. But before heading for this activity, find out if camping in Chopta is available or not for the time period you are planning.
Trekking in Chopta has gained appreciation quite a lot in recent times, as it offers you many trekking routes to choose from, but the most well-known one is the Chopta- Tungnath- Chandrashila trek. Tungnath has the third temple of Panch Kedar, which is also Lord Shiva’s highest temple worldwide and the Chandrashila peak will give you the majestic panoramic view of the Himalayan ranges. Moreover, the trek route to Tungnath from Chopta is well-paved and is at a distance of about 3.5 km, while the Chandrashila summit comes after a steep ascend from the Tungnath temple. But the climb can become difficult in the winter months due to snow. Throughout the entire trek, you will come across many rare species of wild animals and birds as Chopta is a part of the Kedarnath Wild Sanctuary, and the trek route is dotted with the Himalayan trees. This activity is nothing but soul-fulfilling.
However, if you don’t want to hike, ponies are also available for such a situation, but only during the season time when the temple of Tungnath is open. You will not find any porters or ponies in the winter season due to heavy snowfall. Some of the other treks to opt for are to Devaria tal, Rohini bugyal, and baniya kund.
It is inevitable for a region to be enriched with flora and fauna and not have a diverse range of birds. It is impossible to provide a list of all the birds seen in Chopta as it has more than 240 bird species, including Himalayan Griffon, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Himalayan Monal, Scarlet Finch, and more. This makes bird-watching one of the must-things to do in Chopta. There is no specific season to revel the joy of birdwatching as each different season comes with different migratory birds. For instance, in early summer, you can get a glimpse of the spot-winged starling. Do not forget to carry a pair of binoculars with you to enjoy this activity at its best.
Yoga and meditation
There are various reasons why this place is an incredible option to practice yoga and meditation. The peaceful atmosphere and stupendous Himalayan views pave the way to connect with your body, mind, and soul and to get closer to nature as well. This activity will leave a sense of calmness and serenity course through your nerves. Moreover, during the peak season, when Rishikesh gets overcrowded, tourists flock here for yoga and meditation. Many camps are available in Chopta for this activity.
Where to stay
Since Chopta is mainly a camping zone, availability of hotels and other accommodations are scarce. But those available offer essential facilities at affordable prices. You can find them in Makkuband, Baniyakund, and few other areas. Otherwise, carry your own tent as it takes around 2-3 days to complete your journey, depending on the trekking option you have chosen. However, if you are in groups, the Mayadeep Resort located in Chopta is a good option.
Best time to visit
Chopta is an all year-round destination spot, but if you are here for the Chopta-Tungnath trek, visit within April-November as this is the time period the temple remains open. However, Summers and Winters are the best time to visit Chopta, which is from April-June and October-December. Summers in Chopta have pleasant days, and temperature ranges from 10°C and 24°C and winters have snowfall, and the place becomes more solitary. Expert trekkers who want to experience snow-trekking, visit from December-January. Trekking in snowfall can become a strenuous task if you are new to trekking.
How to reach
By road: Chopta being well-connected with motorable roads makes using a taxi or a private car the most suitable option to opt for to reach here. But if you are taking public transport, bus services till Guptkashi, Ukhimath, and Gopeshwar are only available. After that, you must hire a taxi as public transport is not available directly to Chopta. The ISBT Kashmere gate in Delhi leaves buses for Ukhimath and Guptkashi. However, in winters due to heavy snowfall, most of the roads around Chopta gets closed.
By rail: The Rishikesh railway station is the closest rail to Chopta and is about 230 km away. The rail is well-connected with some of the major cities of India through rail networks. From there, hire a taxi to your destination.
By air: The nearest airport to Chopta is Jolly Grant Airport, which lies at a distance of about 221 km away. But you can hire a taxi directly to Chopta outside the airport. This airport is well-connected with Delhi.