On 31st December the most exciting trip started!! It was a week long trip covering Dhanaulti, Saari Village, Deoria Taal, Chopta, Tungnath, Chandrashilla summit, Joshimath, Auli and Rishikesh. It would have been brutally cold in all these places but we were determined to see and explore the winter beauty of these places. I had already visited Saari Village, Deoria Taal and Chopta earlier a few years back but it was in June. Having said that Chopta was extremely cold even in June. So I was prepared for the peak winters with all the woolens, back up clothes, caps and gloves packed!
So, we left Gurugram or Gurgaon on the 31st morning. We were a group of around 15 people. Our plan was to start as early as possible and reach Dhanualti by evening to celebrate the new year there. Since it was a big group with two small kids too, we had to stop for quite a few times. Sometimes to explore and sometimes to eat and have some tea. We halted for our breakfast that day at Bikanerwala near Meerut. After we were done with that we left for towards Dehradoon. To reach Dhanualti we needed to reach Dehradoon then take the Mussorie Road and take the turn going towards Dhanaulti. On the state highway somewhere mid-way we spotted a lot of Jaggery making mills. Operated by local people in hut like constructions we stepped out of our cars and watched the whole process. Those people even offered us to taste the jaggery and we did! It was a village and the surroundings were really nice. You can see the clip in the Vlog attached below.
At 6 pm in the evening, we finally reached Dehradoon and we kept moving towards Mussoorie road. We encountered a horrible traffic jam on the Mussorie road and most of it was due to the New year eve and many people were off to Mussorie for the celebrations. There was a Police check post who were only allowing people who had bookings as otherwise, it would have created a lot of chaos on the hill station too! It took us almost 2 hours to get out of the jam and then we moved towards Dhanaulti. It was already 8 pm and there was still a lot of distance to cover. The road towards Dhanaulti was pretty clear with very little traffic movement so we managed to reach around 9:30 pm. Thankfully we still had time to celebrate the new year! 😀 Since all of us were really exhausted and we barely waited till midnight and then went off to sleep. The next day had a long distance waiting for us.
The next morning we had our breakfast and checked out of the hotel. The weather was clear and beautiful and after clicking a lot of pictures, we started our journey towards Saari village, our pit stop for the night and from where the trek for Deoria Taal starts. Just after hardly a kilometer or two, we met with another horrible traffic jam. We were stuck like crazy for 2-3 hours. The reason was that there was a temple where on every new year, i.e., on 1st of January people come and pray and worship the goddess (Maata). It’s a big ritual and there was kind of a small fare there. Now the people who came to visit this temple from nearby cities and villages had their cars parked on the road and there was hardly any space left for both lanes to move. Only one lane at a time could move. There was no traffic police so the locals stepped out and so did the tourists and started to take control and help clear the traffic. The people actually had to lift a couple of cars to move it out of the way! Anyway, we again managed to come out of that but we lost our precious morning hours. Therefore, I suggest you all not to take that route on 1st of January ever!
The drive from Dhanaulti to Saari, we witnessed some of the most beautiful and picturesque scenes ever! The most beautiful part was our drive through Tehri Dam! OH MY GOD! The Bhagirathi river looked just breathtakingly stunning. You should really see the vlog here. It was surreal!! After passing the Tehri Dam we went through places that were just beautiful! The hills and mountains and the weather that started becoming cloudy made the sunset looked just like that of a fairytale! So many colors were in the sky, it looked just stunning!
Finally, we reached Saari village after sunset, probably around 10 pm. It was pretty late but we had our bookings already with our guide Lakhpat Singh Negi. He was our guide the last time too and he was really good at his work. He was supposed to take care of our trek from Saari village to Deoria Taal and then from Deoria Taal to Chopta, Chopta to Tungnath and Chandrashilla Summit and back to Chopta. We had our dinner that was arranged by our guide and we all went off to sleep because we wanted to have the trek started as early as possible. I personally was looking forward to see the sunrise and record it too!
The next morning I was up early around 6 am since it was winter time, the sunrise wouldn’t have happened before 7 am. I had set up all my gadgets to record that beautiful sight and I did. You need to watch the video to see how beautiful it was! The day later turned out be pretty clear, bright and sunny and around 1 pm or 2 pm we started our trek to Deoria Taal. Since we knew that there were no formal toilets or washrooms to take a bath etc, we made sure every took a bath in Saari, so that skipping a day won’t be problematic. Hence, the delay! The trek to Deoria Taal is a constant climb, no plains or downhills whatsoever! The total distance of the trek is only 2-3 km but it’s the constant climb that tests you and your stamina. The trail is a rocky path and I would suggest wearing good shoes so that you don’t hurt your ankle. Also, the grip on the ground should be firm and careful.
So we took around 2 or 2.5 hours to reach Deoria Taal. It was around 4 pm and we were all set to camp for the night there. He had some evening snacks and our tents were ready. We put our luggage inside and took all the time in the world to observe the beauty and serenity there! The lake, Deoria Taal looked beautiful and the grass was yellow due to snow and winters. It was just amazing!! We clicked loads of pictures and just sat and saw the view around. Right at the time of sunset when it started to get dark, we could then see the very famous “Chaukhamba” snowcapped peak very clearly! It got dark soon and it was pitch black there because of no lights at all. We had some emergency lamps that worked on the solar system that helped us party a little at night. It was horribly cold and sitting was like a punishment. If you keep moving you keep warm but once you sit you start to feel really cold. Around midnight we went off to sleep BUT very few really could sleep. I could not even drowse for a second that night! It was terribly cold and I was shaking, shivering severely. The sleeping bags provided by the organizers were not of good quality and it wasn’t really keeping me warm. Here I would suggest taking your own sleeping bag to ensure a warm night and a good sleep.
I was all awake shaking badly and was waiting impatiently for the morning. It was so dark outside that it was pointless to go out and move because you wouldn’t have been able to see anything. There were some more tourists from other countries who camped that night and around 5:30 am or 6 am in the morning I could hear some voices outside. I was really glad that someone was up and that gave me a reason to get up and go out. When I stepped out, gosh!! The view was crystal clear and super stunning!! I had never seen anything like that before in my entire life!! All the mountains and the range was visible very clearly. The lake is pretty famous for its clear reflection of the mountains and we got to witness that too! The reflection was so clear that you really could not differentiate if I clicked the picture of only the reflection! It was a beauty of another level! I clicked loads of pictures, spoke to the girls who came from Australia and had never seen snow before. They got to see it thrice! Two times in Chopta and once while on the trek from Chopta to Deoria Taal! They were traveling right the opposite of what we were doing. When I noticed the ground and our tents, it was all frosted! It was white and had snow like frost settled all over! Look at the pictures you will see the whole ground was white! It was that cold!!
The sun came up and we could spot the snow-capped mountain peaks shining like gold and that was something that I would never forget! Anyway, after a lot looking and admiring the beauty of that place, we started to prepare for another trek and adventure. I will be covering the rest of the travel in the next post because it’s already too lengthy and it will be too much if I tried to cover it all in one. Enjoy the pictures and watch the video of my travel vlog which is attached at the bottom. This video with many others is uploaded on my YouTube channel “RougePouts“. If you like the video then please give it a thumbs up, share and subscribe to my channel! I would love to hear your feedback on this and others, so please do me a favor of writing a comment and tell how was it! Have a blessed day! Ciao!