Winter Trip To Kanatal-Himalayas/Surkanda Devi Temple Attempt Failed

From a long time My mind has made a vibe that I would have to visit some or the other located destination in and around Himalayas where I can rest a bit from this chaotic crowd and spend my time with these enchanting ranges which connects me and the supreme power. My love for the Himalayas started when I visited Manali six months ago from then only I have decided that no matter what I will surely arrange and gift myself with various trips that would ease my mind and give calmness to the inner soul. I love reading about Uttranachal/Himachal. Infact My love started few months back.
I have searched many trekking destinations and places where I can directly connect with nature. Few weeks back I was Just strolling the net and got to know about Kanatal and eventually made my mind to visit it this weekend with a further trek to Surkanda Devi temple which is 10 Km from there. I Planned for a two day journey with a night stay at Rishikesh and booked the hotel well in advance so as to avoid any 11th hour rush for a cheap hotel.

Just to brief you guys Kanatal is a small village in Uttarakhand which is 80 km from Rishikesh and 15 km from Chamba(Uttarakhand) Located on the Rishikesh-Chamba-Mussoorie highway. Kanatal is situated nearly 300 km far from Delhi at an altitude of over 8500 feet. It is that destination where we can have a spectacular view of the snow covered ranges and is a very very quiet place.

Me and my wife started this beautiful journey from Indirapuram at around 6.30 A.M [18-Jan-2014] on a rainy,misty, heavy chilly Saturday morning. We already packed all the stuffs last night which include layers of clothing as if we were going on for a month long vacation but sadly not, There was a downpour which was happening from last night so it was like icing on the cake as I love driving when it rains. The rain was heavy and my wife insisted that we will take a break at Haridwar and I quickly responded with a yes and added "Near the ghats of Ganges" We took the Haridwar-Rishikesh direction. Infact there is another route via Mussorie-Dhanolti but we preferred this route because I don't like visiting Mussorie as it is now known as an overcrowded hill station, The queen's crown has been taken away by traffic jams and people who doesn't have the tendency to respect nature.

<Started Our Journey at 6.15 A.M>
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<On Our Way To Rishikesh>
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<On Our Way To Rishikesh>
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Direction We Took [In my view the best route] :-
Ghaziabad-Modinagar-Meerut-Muzzafarnagar-Roorkee-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Narendranagar-Fakot-Chamba-Kanatal-Kaddukhal-Surkanda_Mata

We were travelling at a very normal speed, the traffic was very less as the rain was heavy and chilly winds were blowing which we can feel by looking at the trees passing by. In between we were discussing about the calm Ganges and innocent hills which is not very far away and visiting once in two months will help us remain internally alive for few more years. We reached Haridwar at around 11 A.M and on seeing the calm Ganges and hills my wife suddenly quoted "Yeh Pahaad Kitne Sacche Hai Na" which is very much real. We were very excited and took a break near the ghats of Ganges. I parked my car near the ghats and took a walk with my wife with our umbrella on as the rain was following us that too heavily, In a hurry we decided to be in the car, Drenched not totally but yes to some extent and decided to sip a tea inside the car, Mesmerizing it was.

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<Haridwar>
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We started our journey onwards and reached Rishikesh at around 12.30 P.M. On our way to Rishikesh the greenery was awesome. We can feel the immense purity the air has, It was raining and we can see the snow capped hills above, Now its my time to quote "Yehi Life Hain".

<First View Of The Snow Capped Mountains.. Entering RishiKesh>
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On reaching Laxman-Jhula I parked my car, Called up my hotel manager and asked him to locate the direction of the hotel, He himself came up to
Laxman-Jhula and accompanied us to the guest house. We had our lunch took rest for sometime and now it's high time to explore Raining Rishikesh in winters. We went to Mahadev Mandir, had a brisk walk on the hills of Rishikesh, saw Ganges flowing in full flow. It was very cold and we both had one umbrella but still we are so much excited that we decided to walk towards Ram Jhula which was 2 Km from our stay. It was an awesome experience with clouds hovering on all hills and raindrops were giving the best combination of a scintillating landscape. We walked and walked and walked until we drenched badly and I can see me and my wife shivering like anything, It was that chilly we cant even hold a camera so we decided to have a soup and the best all time noodles at a cafe near Mahadev Mandir, We relaxed a bit talked about the next morning plans towards Kanatal/Surkanda Devi Temple. We both were not confident that we would make it to Kanatal or not as rain was heavy and perfectly taking its toll on our journey. As it was my first trip to mountains that too driving on my own and I am sure that with this scenario I would have to hold myself back from travelling onwards.

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It was 5 P.M and finally we decided not to challenge nature with our immunity and go back to the guest house to change our clothes rather swimsuits. I was just waiting for the cashier to give me back my change Suddenly from nowhere the sun ray peeped through the glass and we both overjoyed and smiled looking at each other. We also encountered a rainbow on our way back to guesthouse.

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We reached our guest house, soon after changing our clothes in no time we were again back on the streets for some purchasing It was 7 P.M streets wore a deserted look as it was off-season and we can only see foreigners which I guess has made Rishikesh as there base location. Walking and strolling near the Ganges, Looking at the sky at this time is in itself the best priced possession one can ever had and we are lucky to witness that. After having dinner at the adjacent hotel we were back at the guest house and went to sleep as it was very cold and we have to start early next day for our onward journey towards Kanatal/Surkanda Devi Temple.

We woke up at 6.30 A.M got ready and left the hotel at 7.30 A.M for our onward journey. Rishikesh was so quiet the Ganges wore a mesmerizing look, sun was shining bright, sky was sharp and clear, Chilly winds were blowing and we with our folded hands greeted "Namaste" to the mighty Ganges and to the Devbhoomi Rishikesh. We were so excited that we left our umbrella in the guest house Sighhhhh....

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<Chilly Morning_RishiKesh>
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We Started at 07:45 A.M took Rishikesh-Chamba highway and soon begin imagining a majestic view to settle our goosebumps. We travelled through Narendranagar which is well known for "Ananda In Himalayas", I Also discussed with my wife that there is a temple which was few Kilometers away from Narendranagar which I had visited when I was 14, It was Kunjapuri Devi Temple which is one of the 51 SiddPeeth's (Surkanda Devi Temple Is also one of the Siddpeeth's Which we were about to visit).

<On our way to Narendranagar>
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<Narendranagar>
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We travelled through various hills and valleys got really astonished to see the beauty of the landscape which we were crossing over again and again. We Inquired about Kanatal And Surkanda Devi Temple from one of the Dhaba's in Fakot and they said that you will find plenty of snow above. Some said that it was snowing from last night in and around Chamba which is below Kanatal. I was feeling excited so high and wanted to drive fast so that I can witness snowfall but eventually Haulted a bit as I am a fresher in mountain driving and this is my first consignment so I have to be calm and focused.We were discussing about a patch of clouds which we can see far away from the highway, Some hours later we found ourselves exactly in between those clouds that was "CHAMBA". Chamba is a small town situated at an altitude of 5000 feet from sea level in between the roads connecting Mussoorie and Rishikesh. It is yet unknown to most tourist and people often mistook it with Chamba of Himachal. It is a fresh hidden place from the outside world, One can have a beautiful look of the Shivalik range from here. My car needed petrol so I stopped there, Re-fuelled my car and started my onward journey through Chamba. It was 10.15 A.M, Can see the streets with a deserted look as it was very chilly and dark with clouds and snow covering the entire hill. I was feeling as If I have entered the door to the heaven.. Heading forward for some Kilometer The sun made his way through the gushing clouds and in a moment the entire sky got cleared and we can see the entire Shivalik range through our naked eyes..There was a school boy with whom I Inquired about Kanatal and Surkanda devi temple , He Nodded his head with a smile and said this road leads to Kanatal and In a hurry, pointed towards a mountain which was so high and covered with snow as compared to any of the mountains at that region and with a small temple above it "That Is Surkanda" .. Excited we were and I thanked him with a smile.

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We entered Kanatal at around 11.00 A.M which was at an altitude above 8000ft from sea level. we could see a layer of thick snow all over the place, The Deodar trees and the roads leading towards Surkanda Devi temple are all covered with snow. The entire valley was white and we were chilling but that was an amazing and debonair view one can ever ask for. The density of the town was very low we can even count the number of houses placed on the hills. Being a remote hill station it is untouched by urbanization, so you cant find any picnic spot or fast food joints or restaurants on the roads. Kanatal has various hotels and resorts and in them you can find all the things which I mentioned above. One can have a prebooking in order to taste the real tranquil personality of this small village. you can think of many creative ways to spend the days here in awesome sight of snow carpeted grounds and overlook upon the trees presenting a white wonder snowy land. we took a glimpse of the town and gazed as much hard as we can this is what we are here for as we have only some hours with us than we have to rush back to Delhi so wasting no time we directly headed towards Surkanda devi temple which was 10 km from Kanatal. we were very excited to be at the top of Kanatal and she thanked me for this as according to her I have chosen the best trip of all time.

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<KANATAL IT IS>
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<KANATAL>
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We started for our next destination to Maa Surkanda Devi Temple which was merely a 2 Km trek from Kaddukhal. Kaddukhal is a small village which was 8 km from Kanatal where we can park our car and one has to trek from here on foot to the little temple which is approx 10000 ft from sea level and you can get a 360 degree view from the top of the temple unless the sky remains clear. On our way we thoroughly enjoyed the snow covered valleys, natural beauty, lovely sights, Deodar trees, Chilly wind and I was driving in a bifurcate dry league with snow on both sides the road suddenly took a sharp turn and I saw a guy standing at the turn asked me to stop. He pointed towards a car which skidded off the road, The car was safe but not moving further as the snow was very thick. Whenever the driver of the car tries to accelerate he eventually end up giving his wheels a break free motion which are moving but the car wasn't. I stopped my car went towards him in order to help him out but me and wife only knows that I am a fresher at mountain driving and can't be of a much help but can be there in order to venture out the sudden turmoil. In a while people gathered and some locals came and asked us to stop then and there as the roads after JadiPaani a place where we were standing were closed due to heavy snow, I Inquired about Surkanda Devi Temple they eventually said "Bhaiya Aage Raasta Band Hain Kaise Jaaoge" which was very very disheartening for us as we are right at the foot of Maa Surkanda.

<Maa Surkanda Devi Temple Visible From KANATAL>
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<Maa Surkanda Devi Temple Visible From KANATAL>
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<Maa Surkanda Devi Temple Visible From KANATAL>
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<Banderpunch Range Visible From Kanatal>
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<Swargarohini And Banderpunch Ranges From Kanatal>
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<Swargarohini And Banderpunch Ranges From Kanatal>
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<Roads Were blocked after Kanatal>
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<Roads Were blocked after Kanatal>
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In a low voice I asked some locals about Surkanda devi temple and they did the same thing which the school boy did in Chamba they pointed towards a mountain and Said "Woh Rahi Maa Surkanda" After sometime I again asked some taxi-drivers whether we can go up to Kaddukhal and the same answers I got "Nahi Bhaiya Bhut Barf Giri Hain Nahi Jaa Sakte Clear Hone Mein Time Lagega". We stood there almost for 2 hours enjoyed the snow covered hills surrounded by tall cedar trees having stunning silence and from there only looking at the temple prayed and assured ourselves that we will definitely be visiting Maa Surkanda again. Actually our plan was to visit Maa surkanda and head back towards Ghaziabad via Dhanolti-Musssorie-Dehradun road but eventually we had to turn back towards Chamba-Rishikesh. It was 2.30 P.M Sun was shining bright, Winds were heavy so was our hearts and we left for Ghaziabad Via Chamba-Rishikesh

<Moving Back>
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It was then I realized that in the morning on our way to Kanatal we heard about Kunjapuri devi temple which was 4 Km from Narendranagar So we decided to visit that which was 5000ft above sea level. We travelled down to Chamba-Fakot and at 4.15 P.M we were at the Kunjapuri Devi Temple, We offered our prayers and took blessings. We saw 180 Degree view of the Shivalik range from there. it was mesmerizing and gave a feeling that we can touch and talk to the ranges. The place was very quiet and calm. Looking at the ranges we promised them to be back soon. After spending sometime at 5 P.M we headed back towards Ghaziabad from where we started this wonderful journey.

<Kunjapuri Devi Temple>
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<View From Kunjapuri Devi Temple>
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<View From Kunjapuri Devi Temple>
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On our way back we discussed about the journey and what a wonderful natural life we had for two days. We reached the dust filled, traffic prolonged, Distressed, Crime-Friendly, Mentally-poisoned, Hustle-Bustle Conurbation at 11 P.M

"Om Namah Shivaaye"

Regards

Gaurav Dutt

,

Very Beatifully articulated

Very Beatifully articulated Gaurav and glued me till the end.... loved the way you held the pace...photographs are gorgeous and I am sure that you enjoyed this journey to the fullest... seems like road to Kanatal received significant snow-fall... How you managed to drive on snow-filled road.. black ice is very dangerous to drive on to...

Thank you so much brother..

Thank you so much brother.. Thanks for your kind words.. It was tough driving on snow filled road as It was my first drive that too on a very high altitude but somehow I managed and managed well  :) Yes black ice is very very dangerous there were several instances where my car got skidded but safe it was.

"Kanatal is Heaven and yes brother I enjoyed to the fullest" ......................................................................................................

 

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