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Deoria Tal (Out In The Wild Terrain)

  Set up a camp with companions, greet a visiting leopard, make a piping hot meal at 10,000ft above sea level or simply gasp at the breathtaking sights that make Deoria Tal in Garhwal, heaven in the earth……

Stop!” yelled manish, my cousin, from the pillion seat, the moment we crossed Srinagar on the rishikesh badrinath road. I presumed he was just tired, since we ‘d been riding non stop for 345 km from Delhi, since 4am. When I did stop next to a Dhaba on the banks of gushing alaknanda, he voiced his concern,”why are we carrying camping Gear?” ‘patience ,’I retorted and started the enfield , and continued our journey. We left Srinagar and then the alaknanda at rudraprayag , to take the detour from ukhimath on the kedarnath highway. Five hours later, we were at sari. as I parked my bike near a roaring brook, just short of this quaint village, I could see manish brusting with excitement with excitement at the prospect of finally being able to camp in the wild.

Early next morning , we started the trek to Deoriatal in the company of our young guide , negi.the well marked trek route took us through a lush forest teeming with birds. A few cows that didn’t pay any heed continued to bunch. The trek wasn’t easy , given the fact that all of us were carrying a fair amount of load .” now I know what a trek really means,” declared manish, parking himself on the odd bench put up by some thoughtful forest officials. Finally, thick rhodendron trees gave way to an open meadow in the midst of which was a rainbow or that’s what I thought till I realized it was Deoria tal the polay of sunlight on the trees and flowers created a picture that seemed straight out of a canvas. Legend has it that deoriatal was created by nag devta when lord shiva wanted to have bath the nagraj Ratneshwar mahadev temple on the banks of the lake bears testimony to the belief. Riding ourselves of our backpacks, we surveyed the sorroundings . an old man was perched on the cliff edge over looking the tal,” we learned the man had walked continuously for for three days, all the way from distant phata , traversing steep mountains and thick forest to get there even when there is no roads here 50 years ago I had been of dreaming of making it to the tal” he said. But why he didn’t he travel by road to sari locals like me rivere the the tal,’ we believe that gods and angels still descend from heaven to its waters .it’s a pilgrimage for me ,” he explained . I saluted the man’s sprit and determination as most of us were on the verge of a collapse after the three hour trek from sari.

Soon manish, the designated chief , rolled out lunch consisting of magi, which we invited our new friend to share . and after setting up camp , I went about exploring the tal. Since we ‘d left most of our luggage at sari which, unfortunetly , also included our woolens, the rekentlessly cold evening breeze gave me no choice but to return to camp .by then rest of the campers had started a huge crackling bonfire. The cosy warmth was too difficult to resist, we even had a few cows joining our groups . besides with leopardson the prowl, hanging together in the group was a good move . even our bovine buddies realized too well!

Meanwhile, soup was merrily bubbling away in a huge work on the logs .negi and our friends regaled us with local tales, as the chief prepared mirch ka salan and rice at 10,000ft above sea level. Just as we were about to call it a day,negi suggested that we light a small fire the bigger one died out by then to beat the cold . in hindsight that was a good idea. In the middle of the night we heard the pitter patter of rain . I stepped out to survey the scene, but couldn’t see any telltale signs of water! Instead ,I found dew the size of raindrops, falling from sky!our double layered alpine tent couldn’t keep the water out. Even our sleeping bags were wet. what now whimpered Manish. this is adventure enjoy it I whishpered and went back to sleep in the damp sleeping bags and all! After registering some protest ,manish followed suit.

The next morning snowclad choukhamba and its companions greeted us dressed in gold.deoriatal itself was attired in blue to flawlessly reflect pristinesnow peaks .anyway after gobbling down breakfast we went to explore the tal. It looked surreal magpies frolicked on a tree top while a dozen danced on the azure lake we had reached paradise.

Where to eat
The restaurants at rakesh lodge ,sari,serves mouth watering aloo paranthas with dollops of butter that ‘s idealfor the trek ahead .there is a food shack midway to the taland one at the tal itself ,which have been set up by enterprising locals that serve dal, roti, ice and magi.But nothing beats the experience of carrying your own relations and cooking at 10,000ft!

Where to stay
There are a handful of guest houses to stay in at sari. But the best option is to camp overnight at deoriatal.

What to do
There is plenty to do at the tal. Besides enjoying the unparalled Himalayan vista, you can watch and regale in the beauty of the birds like the Himalayan eagle and magpies. Also, if you have couple of days to spare, trek to chandrashilla peak (13,500ft)and tungnath temple from here.

  • If you have time on your hands ,spend a couple of days In rishikesh before proceeding. Recharge your energies, and your bike as well!

  • Pend a night at sari village and undertake the trek to the tal after an early breakfast the next morning.
  • No permission is required to visit the tal but Indians have to pay fee of rs 50, and foreigners rs 200, to the forest ranger .use of still cameras is free but video cameras are chargeable.
  • Light a bonfire only with fallen dry wood and that too after taking permission from the ranger to avoid paying a heavy fine. Never leave the fire unattended when it needs to be extinguished,use sand and water.
  • Do not litter in fact if others have thrown packets fruit peels etc the pristine sorroundings opickthe up dispose off them when you reach the camp.
  • Besides bird watching in the day go for a wildlife safariat night .travel in a group as there are chances you may be attacked by a leopard
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