Tour of Uttarakhand – Devariyatal (Deoriatal) Part 7
Part 1 Morena is here
Part 2 Lansdowne is here
Part 3 Enroute Joshimath is here
Part 4 Badrinath is here
Part 5 Auli - Tapovan - Kanchula is here
Part 6 Chopta Tunganath is here
Part 7 Devariyatal (Deoriatal) is here.
Part 8 Kakdagaad Haridwar is here.
Bidding adieu to Kanchula for the last time in this trip, we wind our way to Chopta. The beauty of this region is unmatched. The pretty meadows, the tall, tall moss-laden trees, the low hanging clouds almost drifting into the houses, abundant rainfall making it a cold and wet biotope which in turn supports an amazing diversity of birdlife and other flora and fauna and is still fairly remote.
A leisurely breakfast later, we embark on the next segment of our trip... beyond Chopta, through Baniyakund and onwards to Saarigaon. Baniyakund is upon us almost immediately after leaving Chopta. It couldn’t be more than 4-5 Kms. Another overflowing pipe at Baniyakund beckons us... carwash time J!
|Rufous bellied Woodpecker|
|View from Saari turnoff|
Saari is a charming little village nestled half-way up the mountainside after which the mountain becomes pretty much vertical further up. We reach the designated BSNL tower at the entrance to the village and duly call our guide with whom we have booked our tented stay at the Tal. I am impressed that without any reminder or any advance, this gentleman has everything ready for us whereas the others I had contacted had not only quoted much higher for our stay but asked for advance also. A simple but tasty lunch and short rest later, we are set to start the walk up.
The trail to Devariyatal goes straight up from Saari with a lot of short and sharp switch backs, climbing far more sharply than the Tunganath route. Also, the Tunganath trail is well paved but this one has large and very loose stones making footholds precarious. Within minutes of starting the climb, I realise how very out of shape I am!! Huffing and puffing almost from the word go; it is slow progress up this demanding hillside. The slimmest excuse is grabbed to take a break...
The path has beautiful flowering bushes and Buran trees all along. We see birds flocking to some bushes just ahead. Our guide offers us berries (called ‘Hissar’ locally) from these bushes which are very like raspberries but yellow in colour. Sweet with a hint of sour, these are delectable morsels. He is a charming storyteller. In the welcome break that is spent catching our breath and munching on these juicy bits, he tells us a little mythological tale associated with these berries.
|Burans (Rhododendron) flowers|
|Looking down upon Saari gaon from halfway up|
|Blue limbed lizard|
|Devariyatal or Deoriatal|
|Devariyatal or Deoriatal sunset|
|Our tents at the Tal|
Yet another mythological tale this time about Devariyatal.... Legend has it that Deoria Tal was created by Nag Devta when Lord Shiva wanted to have a bath; the Nagaraj Ratneswar Mahadev temple on the banks of the lake bears testimony to the belief. Another one states that this is the lake where the Yaksha asked the Pandavs to answer his questions before drinking the water of the lake.
Sprawled on the banks of the Tal, we scrutinize the few tourists already there. A Bengali group of roughly 7-8 people, a couple of bachelors also looking Bengali though not from the same group and an older couple sitting quietly and enjoying the place without the raucous exuberance of the younger crowd. It is cold up here compared to Saari village and the almost uncomfortably hot climb up. Jackets are out in a jiffy; feels good to be snugly clad.
Just then, a couple of foreign nationals (girls) walk in with an Indian guide. The atmosphere changes and there is palpable excitement especially with the bachelors. Promptly, they are seen chatting the girls up. Even the other group sees it fit to go and get themselves photographed with the girls. Such impositions are embarrassing to watch.
Dusk is a beautiful time... especially in the mountains. The mandatory snaps are taken and Oooh and Ahhh over! We wonder what to do with ourselves without any light since candles are out of the question in tents when our guide comes with an LED lamp. It is really bright and good enough to play cards by. An engrossing evening indeed! In a while he gets dinner for us near the tent. We are very touched by this gesture. We see everyone else has had to go to the shop nearby for food but the ambience just outside our tents, near the water with an almost full moon shining is magical. He has even got the prickly nettle vegetable made which I had asked him about. This unpretentious yet delicious dinner and the exquisite atmosphere of this place will rank right up there as one of the most cherished moments of my life.
We are up before dawn in the hope that some of the misty shrouds have lifted enough to allow us at least a faint glimpse of the famed Chaukhamba. No such luck. To make up for it though, we hear numerous bird calls. Following them we head off towards the forest rest house. An enormous tree on the eastern bank of the lake with some of its branches hanging low over the water seems to be attracting a variety of birds. Many of them are taking turns in splashing around and having a quick bath right at the edge of the lake under the tree. We stand there mesmerized at the sight!
|Bar tailed treecreeper|
|Brown fronted Woodpecker|
|Grey headed Woodpecker|
|Olive backed Tits|
|Chestnut headed Laughingthrush|
|Chestnut headed Laughingthrush and Himalayan Woodpecker having a splash!|
|Chestnut headed Laughingthrush|
|Scaly bellied Woodpecker|
|Tree with low hanging branches|
|Western crowned Warbler|
|White tailed Nuthatch|
|Yellow billed Blue Magpie|
|Slate tiled roofs|