Through this blog Mahima Gir Mehra recounts her sojourn to Uttarakhand. Let us hear from her.
Contributed by: Mahira Gir Mehra
Faith is like the Himalaya mountains which cannot possibly change. One needs to be there to feel it, to experience it. It is impossible to describe the calling of the Himalayas. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. You actually feel the positive energy flowing into you.
Kanatal – A Hill Station – A Once Lost Hamlet
My exploration in this Himalayan region took me to a fast-emerging town of Kanatal – A Hill Station – A Once Lost Hamlet.
Kanatal is part of Uttarakhand, which is often called “The Land of the Gods” (Devbhumi) because of the presence of a multitude of Hindu pilgrimage spots. It has been known as Devbhumi from ancient times. All four dhams of Yamnotri, Gangotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath have their presence in this region.
Where is Kanatal
Located in the picturesque settings of the Garhwal Himalayas, the tiny Hamlet of Kanatal is a perfect weekend getaway for the weary souls. Encircled by the sun-kissed peaks and the tall coniferous trees. It is perched at an elevation of 8,500 feet above sea level on Mussoorie – Chamba road. It is one of the highest and closest points to see the majestic Himalayan range, if you want to drive down from Delhi
Kanatal is seamlessly connected by road and rail to Delhi and major cities. With the inauguration of the world class 4 lane Expressway connecting Rishikesh To Chamba and further to Kanatal, the travel time has considerably decreased and the joy of driving has increased multifold. You can reach here both via Rishikesh or via Dehradun, Capital of Uttrakhand. The nearest airport is at Dehradun which is 78 km from Kanatal. It is 38 km from Mussoorie, 16 kms upwards from Dhanaulti and 10 km from Chamba.
A few decades ago there was a small lake or taal (pond) in this region which dried up. In Hindi, dried well is called Kaana. Over time, this area got to be called Kanatal.
The temperature here ranges between 10-20 degrees Celsius during summer, and -10 to 10 degrees Celsius during winter. The location experiences heavy snowfall in winters.
Convenient & Emergency medical facilities are available in Kanatal, Chamba, or Dhanaulti. Closest AIIMS is an hour and a half drive away at Rishikesh
Because of this tough terrain and hard life styles, the people depend a lot on their faith and religious practices. Surkanda Devi temple is a popular tourist spot.
Surkanda Devi Temple in Kaddukhal is dedicated to Sati.
According to the mythology, the origins of this temple can be attributed to Goddess Sati, wife of Lord Shiva who immolated herself in her father Daksha’s sacrifice when he embarrassed Shiva by not inviting the couple to the Yajna. It is said, the head of Sati fell in this area and hence is extremely revered as the place of Shakti puja.
The Surkanda peak is at an altitude of 2,750 meters in the western part of tehsil Tehri. To reach the temple one has to leave the Mussoorie-Chamba road at Kadu Khal and climb a steep ascent of about 2.5 km. on foot.
Luckily, I was here during the Mahashivratri week. It was a pleasure to watch various groups of people, walking carrying a palki of their God and singing along the path leading to the temple. The winding carpet road leads you to witness the most beautiful views one can ever see. Some of the other places to visit are Tehri Dam which is attached to the Tehri Lake. The Kodia Jungle is full of all sorts of animals and plants. Chamba is an amazing spot for a picnic.
Don’t Miss Dhanaulti
Dhanaulti is just about half an hour’s drive and you can actually see the lights of UttarKashi twinkling as though stars have come down on the Earth. You will come across small Maggie points with most warm and friendly local shop owners serving hot soulful snacks.
Local Connect- Stay at a Homestay
Various homestays have emerged to cater to the regular flow of tourists. As it is an ideal location with fabulous views of the mountains and an opportunity to fulfil your dream of waking up, wishing the Himalayan peaks “Good Morning”.
But to do so, one needs to follow your passion and take the risk to actually move from happening cities, to beautiful dreams like hamlets in the mountains. Few can actually do this and it is a pleasure to meet these daredevils, strong hearted, risk takers and hear their passionate stories.
I was fortunate to meet one such Homestay owner who travelled the world, worked in multinationals, lived in hyper active cities, yet, decided to move to Kanatal to make one of the most stylish yet true to the Himalayas homestays. His story will definitely inspire many more to focus on what one wants out of life as- ‘ Zindagi na milegi dobara’ is his funda.
A fascinating gentleman who has followed his dream and living it ‘NOW’- in the present.
The story continues in Part 2 – The Lost Hamlet.
To be continued
Travel and Don’t Stop!