The emerald alpine lake – Deoriatal
|Panoramic view of famed Deoriatal|
Having completed of morning Puja at Omkareshwar temple in Ukhimath, we commenced with our onward journey towards the Sari village wherefrom the trek to the famed alpine lake known as Deoriatal begins. The road leads along the same road that one takes for Chopta but bifurcates from main Chopta road, but as the signpost is on the opposite side of the road and is thus, not clearly visible from this side of the road and hence as a key reference for taking the U-turn, the first point of reference that comes into view is the ‘Anjali Tourist Lodge & Restaurant’. Thereafter, the road actually takes the U-turn towards Sari village from the corner of ‘Hanuman Inn & Resorts’ (check out the video below).
|Distant view of Sari village - starting point for trek to Deoriatal - shot from Chopta|
|View of Mandakini River from road to Deoriatal|
|Panoramic view of Ukhimath - as we head towards Sari/Deoriatal|
Sari is a very small and a remote village in Uttrakhand, situated at a distance of 12 Kilometers from Ukhimath, it is the base for the trek towards scintillating emerald alpine lake named Deorial Tal (2483 meters). The trek is about 2.3 kilometers trek from Sari village. Many of the visitors set up camps or hire them at Deoriatal and use it as base for trek to Tungnath Temple and Chopta. One comes across very beautiful bhugyals (meadows) along the road journey from Sari to Chopta. There are no hotels in Sari village but one can find a few lodges or home stay options, if you explore. Perched at an altitude of 6,601 feet, the village is quiet & quaint with very little of modern amenities. The villagers go about with their daily chores and lifestyle untouched by commercialization, as we see in the cities in the plains, except for a handful of youngsters enjoying mobile phone facilities. Thus, it also emphasizes that in case you have missed out buying on any of your trekking gear, there is no market in here and you will have to retrace your steps all the way back to Ukhimath to purchase the same. Also please keep in mind that electricity at the village cannot be relied upon as it is intermittent and breaks down in event of any inclement weather hitting the region. You may not be able to charge your electronic appliances here at times, unless you are lucky during the freak weather or you are carrying your own power bank. However, mobile signals of Airtel, Vodafone and BSNL numbers function at Sari.
|Scenic view of Himalayan peaks on way to Deoriatal|
|A local herder tending to his flock of sheeps|
The trek from Sari Village to Deoriatal winds through dense forest of Oak and Rhododendron trees. I had gauged the steepness of the trek and was seeking some mules to ride on, as being a city brigand I could make out that the trek would be very arduous for me and my family. However, the contractor with whom I negotiated sought Rs.700/- for onward trip, we therefore decided to trek on ourselves. However, just ten minutes into the trek we could make out that it was quite tiring, much more that we had anticipated. However, the mule provider was still waiting below and shouted that he was willing to negotiate @Rs.500/- per mule for one way drop. This sounded reasonable and hence I agreed and we trekked upwards on mule back, which too was an unforgettable experience (check out the video below). Fifteen minutes on mule back and half an hour into the trek, one comes across a small temple dedicated to lord Shiva known as the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple. Locals worship here and a Pundit is available just outside the temple to help you in making your offerings. Made in the early Nagara architecture style, the walls of the temple are plain with geometrically placed ridges made in stone. A rock sculpture of the mythical cow Nandi is strategically placed at its entrance. Inside the temple one can see avtars of Shiva carved in rock. This temple is a landmark before you start towards the first view point wherefrom you can enjoy the panoramic views of the village below. There are several such viewpoints on the way and locals have conveniently opened small tea shops selling cold drinks and water as well.
|The panoramic view of Sari village|
|Deoriatal is beyond this top that requires to be surmounted|
|The spire of the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple|
|Panoramic view of the Omkar Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple|
|White chinned laughing thrush on road to Deoriatal|
|Chopta as seen from trek to Deoriatal|
As you almost reach the summit of the mountain after the long and arduous trek, one comes across the last the biggest of the ‘dhabas’/local eating joint, which offers tea/water/cold drinks alongwith maggi etc. One cannot comprehend the majestic view that is going to unfold before one’s eyes, as the narrow kuchha road behind the dhabha leads to the spectacle and offers no clue of what lies beyond until you reach the clearing overlooking the famed Deoriatal. Yet this stretch I found to be most rich in the avifauna of the region and was able to click a few white throated laughing thrush birds with only a 55-200mm lens attached to my camera. As one steps out of the oak covered road, the splendor of Deoria Tal opens up before you. Deoriatal is in itself only a small lake, but the spacious lawns surrounded by dense vegetation around it makes it an excellent spot for camping, sighting distant mountains and star gazing. Local legends associate this lake with certain events of Mahabharata. As for the legends, it is a mythological belief that the Devas bathed in this lake hence the name, the lake is also sometimes believed to be the “Indra Sarovar” referred to in the Puranas by wandering, Hindu mendicants Sadhus. It is also believed that it was the place from where the Pandavas due to extreme fatigue and arrogance failed to provide answers sought by Yaksha and on drinking its water died, Yudhistara, the eldest of all Pandvas was then asked four questions by Yaksha, which was answered by him and the life of the other dead Pandavas was then restored by Yaksh.
|The emerald green deoriatal|
|Cloud covered Chaukhambha from Deoriatal|
|The base of the Chaukhamba massif visible from Deoriatal|
|Another peak looming across the other side of the deoriatal lake|
|This is a photograph taken from the internet to show the readers the beauty of Deoriatal|
The pen picture of the lake would describe it as an emerald colored lake, surrounded by undulating, soothingly inclined, grass fields that are bounded by a dense wood cover all around. Set majestically in the lap of the mountain, with a backdrop of magnificent mountain peaks, especially Chaukhamba peak that puts in a spectacular reflection on the waters of Deoriatal, is a popular tourist destination for the adventure loving lots. On the day we visited Deoriatal, it was a bit of damper for me as the Chaukhamba was not visible as it was snowing on its top and hence could not get a glimpse of the reflection on the lake surface. Yet the trek to the famed lake was worth every penny and after enjoying the environs fully, we started out trek back towards Sari village. We stopped at the dhaba to have some maggi, so as to get some fuel into our stomach before starting the arduous trek back. However, there was some smell of either oil or something that dissuaded us from partaking the same and we had to trek back on an empty stomach, which nothing much available at Sari village either. Accordingly, on the way back we purchased some biscuits, sweet meats etc., as it was almost evening by the time we reached back to Syalsaur.