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


From a very long time my mind has made a vibe to visit some lovely 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 someway or the other surely connects me and the supreme power. My love for 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 also love reading about Uttranachal/Himachal.

I have searched many trekking destinations and places where I can directly connect with nature, Few weeks back, I was Just strolling across the net and got to know about Kanatal. I eventually made my mind to visit it this weekend with a further trek to Surkanda Devi temple which was 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 9000 + 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 that include ample 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 completely love driving when it rains. The rain was heavy and my wife insisted me to take a break at Haridwar and I quickly responded with a yes and added "Near the ghats of Ganges". We took the Haridwar-Rishikesh route, Infact there is another route via Mussorie-Dhanolti but we preferred this one because of the calmness it shows enroute to chamba. Also, In particular I don't like visiting Mussoorie because, the queen's crown status which it holds 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] :-
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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", to which I nodded in agreement because of its relevance. We were very excited and took a break near the ghats of Ganges. I parked my car near the ghats, 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.

<Reached Haridwar>
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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 super awesome. We can feel the immense purity the air has, It was raining heavily. I haven't seen rishikesh this much beautiful, we can even see the snow capped hills above which was rare. Perfection at it's best.

<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.

It was high time for us 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 had one umbrella, still we were so much excited and enjoying the beauty out of it that we decided to walk towards Ram Jhula which was 2 Km from our stay. It was an awesome experience with clouds hovering on hills and the raindrops were giving the best combination of a scintillating landscape. We walked briskly because of the heavy downpour and soon realised being drenched badly. I can see me and my wife shivering like anything, It was so chilly that we can't 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 enough of making it to Kanatal as the 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.

<Rishikesh>
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<Rishikesh>
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<Rishikesh>
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It was 5 P.M, finally we decided not to challenge nature with our immunity and preferred going back to our guest house, to change our clothes rather swimsuits. I was just waiting for the cashier to give me back my change and suddenly from nowhere, the sun ray peeped through the glass. We both overjoyed and smiled with our hearts out looking at each other. We also encountered a rainbow on our way back to guesthouse which acted like icing on the cake.

<Rainbow>
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We hurriedly reached our guest house, and in no time were again back on the streets for some purchasing.It was 7 P.M, the streets wore a deserted look, as it was off-season. We can see ample amount of foreigners which I guess has made Rishikesh as their 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 were very lucky to witness that. After having dinner at the adjacent hotel, we came back to our guest house and immediately 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 around 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....

<Chilly Morning_RishiKesh>
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<Chilly Morning_RishiKesh>
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<Chilly Morning_RishiKesh>
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We Started at 07:45 A.M, took the Rishikesh-Chamba highway and soon begin imagining a majestic view to settle our goosebumps. We travelled through Narendranagar which was very 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 on seeing 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 to which they replied that it is 60 KM from here and you will find plenty of snow above, some said that it was snowing from last night in and around Chamba which was few KMs below Kanatal. I was feeling damn excited and so very high, wanted to drive fast so that I can witness snowfall for the very first time but eventually Halted my mind as well as the speed of the car knowing that I was a fresher in mountain driving and this was my first consignment, so I have to be very 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, It 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 it and started my onward journey through Chamba. It was 10.15 A.M, the streets wore 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, 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 replied this very road leads to Kanatal, In a hurry, He 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".We thanked him with a smile.

<On our way to Chamba>
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<On our way to Chamba>
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<On our way to Chamba>
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<On our way to Chamba>
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<On our way to Chamba>
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<Chamba>
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<Chamba>
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<Chamba>
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<Chamba>
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<Chamba>
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<Chamba>
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We entered Kanatal at around 11.00 A.M which was at an altitude above 8000ft from sea level, 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, 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 can't 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 Pre Booking, 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, wasting no time, we started towards Surkanda devi temple which was 10 km from Kanatal.

<Road To Kanatal>
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<Road To Kanatal>
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<Road To Kanatal>
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<Road To Kanatal>
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<Road To Kanatal>
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<Road To Kanatal>
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<Road To Kanatal>
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<KANATAL IT IS>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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<KANATAL>
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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, 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. I was driving in a bifurcate dry league with snow on both sides. The road suddenly took a sharp turn, I saw a guy standing at the turn asking 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 were moving but the car wasn't. I stopped my car went towards him in order to help him, being a fresher, I can't be of a much help but can be there in order to venture out the sudden turmoil.

In a while people gathered, 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 to which they calmly replied "Bhaiya Aage Raasta Band Hain Kaise Jaaoge" came as a shocker and very disheartening for us, as we were 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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<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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<Roads Were blocked after Kanatal>
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In a low voice, I asked some of the locals again about Surkanda devi temple and they does the same thing which the school boy did in Chamba, they pointed towards a mountain and Said "Woh Rahi Maa Surkanda" After spending some more time at that very place, I again asked some taxi-drivers, about the route to Kaddukhal to which they replied with the same answers "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, from there looking at the temple we 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 route.

<Moving Back>
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It was then I realized that in the morning on our way to Kanatal, we discussed 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, took blessings, saw 180 Degree view of the Shivalik range from there. mesmerizing it was, 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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<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"

--Gaurav Dutt

 
 

Hi gaurav, Very nicely

Hi gaurav,
Very nicely written, i am planning to visit there in 3rd week of feb. So what are the possibilities of getting snow during that period.

Chances are very bright.

Chances are very bright. However snow does not remain for long in this part but still Feb is good time.

Vishnu Bhai rightly said,

Vishnu Bhai rightly said, chances are very very bright. Infact it might snow as well.

(No subject)

Smile

Hi Gaurav,   I am planning to

Hi Gaurav,

 

I am planning to visit the place in Feb 2nd week, kanatal.. i read your article and i really appreciate it.Just wanted to know whether i would find snow all around..

Yes, Chances are bright to

Yes, Chances are bright to see snow in the 2nd week of February.

+- Vishnu

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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