4. A drive from New Tehri to Mussoorie
Trip Start Jan 10, 2009
4Trip End Apr 11, 2009
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Where I stayed
Van Chetana Kendra
4. A drive from NewTehri to Mussorie
New Tehri is the newly created headquarters of Tehri Garhwal District. It is a picturesque town, situated at an elevation between 1550 to 1950 m, over looking the Tehri dam reservoir with breathtaking view of snow peaks. It is a well planned town on the terraces of steep slopes on top half of the hillock rising from the reservoir. It can be reached from Mussoorie (70 km) or from Muni-ki-reti (60 km). Both these roads meet 11 km away at Chamba. We took Muni-ki-Reti route.
Dusk is slowly gathering as we reach New Tehri on 10.04.09.
There is still enough light. We decide to drive down to the Tehri Dam reservoir before we settle down in Van Chetana Cottage for the night. It is 30 minute steep serpentine drive past the New-Tehri Township, with sharp hair-pin bends zig-zagging the hill down to the reservoir.
Not very far from where the dam now is, there was old Tehri town. It was a sprawling town and erstwhile headquarters of Tehri Garhwal district at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangana Rivers. The vivid memories of the old town I passed through many times, in the past, on way to Uttarkashi, scroll past me. I had grown to love the town, its beautiful clock-tower - watching history in the making and lush green agriculture fields down in the wide valley. I remember with nostalgia the lone old shady tree near by with big dome shaped crown above the hairpin bend overlooking Bhagirathi River where we would break journey for our pack-lunch and enjoy rustling music of the leaves during warm summer day
Lost thus in reverie dusk hour descends unawares, the light and shade blend with each other and sun's dying rays make far off snows aglow for few more moments of the day and gradually darkness envelopes. I feel sad as the day bids adieu.
And we return to the cottage.
Van-Chetna-Cottage is perched on the ledge of a precipitous slope atop a hillock overlooking deep valley
Earlier, in the warm spring sunny day we set out on our journey from Dehradun and after a short stop over at Rishikesh drive on ascending slopes of Gangotri road through dense chir forests.Each twist and turn of the drive reels a beautiful kaleidoscopic scenario of the landscape.
After 14 km we are on a higher elevation in the picturesque town, Narendra Nagar, famous for 'Ananda Spa’ world over. It offers beautiful panoramic view of Rishikesh valley where Ganga calmly flows along the eastern fringe of expansive sal forests of Doon Valley, skirting the hem of the near vertical lofty hills.
The topography changes rapidly and new landscape scrolls past at every turn as we pick up speed and reach Hindola Khal saddle 6 km away
A descent follows through terraced fields and after 15km we reach Nagini. It is a warm narrow valley sand-witched between towering steep hills where a pretty little stream lazily flows. It is vegetable grower’s prosperous valley. A gradual ascent of 14 km takes us to quaint little hill station Chamba on the saddle which offers beautiful panoramic view of the snows and valleys on either side of the saddle. In the last leg we enter New Tehri town through thicket of chir forest.
It has been an enjoyable drive.
After a cozy night in the Cottage, a shaft of hissing cold air wakes me up to greet new dawn of 11.04.09. I roam about to witness the waking sky and magic of snows turning molten gold at dawn
A bright new day begins its journey and we look forward to a wonderful drive to Mussoorie.
After early breakfast we leave the cottage and drive down from top of the hillock. Skirting New Tehri town, through serpentine road down the ridge we reach picturesque town of Chamba and follow almost level road to Mussoorie. We pass through Kanatal which is about 50 meters’ steep trek above the road and is in the idyllic surround of thick deodar forest with unobstructed view of snows.
We weave through clumps of oak and cypress trees, over looking terraced fields on steep slopes down to Nagini Valley
Not very long ago Chamba-Dhanaulti belt was covered with dense oak forests. It came under axe during early sixty's to convert it into a fruit-belt. The land was allotted on lease, fruit saplings planted but the scheme did not succeed as planned. Today the land is mostly in use for growing vegetables like peas, cabbages, cauliflowers, tomatoes, potatoes, and radish, so on. Few apple, pear or plumb plants are still there reminiscent of the orchard. Some of the allottees seem to claim the lease as their free hold property and have developed it as a tourist’s resorts. Every one has forgotten the existence of beautiful oak forest and the purpose for which it was hacked.
A trek to divinity:
We break our journey at Kadookhal 22 km from Chamba, (45 km from Mussoorie), for a 3 km steep trek to Surkhanda Devi temple
There is a good crowd for Devi Darshan buying puja samagri on the road stalls. We join them and weave our way lazily on steep and narrow cobbled and at places cemented pathways snaking through stark belly of the hillock which takes us to the divinity. There is thick green stand of trees and bushy growth on the eastern slopes of the hillock. The rhododendron is in bloom. It charms us and makes us to stop to adore their deep red beauty. Deep down on the steep slopes beyond the motor road are attractive terraced fields with deodar growing along fringes. A group of local village women colourfully dressed briskly walks past us but we plod on.. It takes quiet a while before we are in the temple premises.
The temple stands on the bald hilltop at a height over 9000 ft with stunning landscape looming over the deep valley, in the backdrop of a pure white serenity of imposing Himalayan ranges far away. The fir and oak trees adorn the northern fringe of the temple premises. Icy cool pristine air replete with the fragrance of fresh pine and herbs coming from far away hills, snows and glaciers welcomes visitor in the serene ambience of temple premises
We announce our arrival by playfully tolling the bells at the temple gate close to the hearing distance of the goddess.
Within the neat inner confines of the shrine stone-murti of goddess is beautifully adorned with wild flowers, illuminated by oil lamp burning bright and fragrant with burning incense. This is the home of goddess. The priest mumbles slokas, blows conch and rings the bell to arouse goddess. People kneel and prostrate before the goddess confide in her about their problems and seek salvation.
Many times I have been around but I never lost thrill of being here and live the moment of sublime grace. We linger on to watch glorious panoramic view of wide range of towering snow peaks glistering in the sun and finally get down to the motor road to continue on to Dhanaulti.
We enter Dhanaulti through arcade of beautiful deodar trees
Dhanaulti is a rustic little place situated on the ridge nestled in whispering deodar vani overlooking valleys deep down on either side of the thickly wooded slopes. It is a delightful place about 40 km from the Mussoorie on Mussoorie-Chamba road at a height of 2286 m.
Not very long ago it was a lonely quiet place with tranquil ambience. There were few visitors and lone Forest Rest House for stay on the ledge of the precipitous slope over looking Doon valley. It was joy to be here, be in tune with the song of the nature, enjoy beautiful scenery and interact with few simple people around and be happy. Road to reach here was narrow and at places dangerous. Today number of buildings, eateries, hotels and guesthouses has come up and tourist inflow has increased manifold. It now attracts a large tourist’s crowd from far and near; in summers to escape the crowded Mussoorie and in winters prospects of seeing snow. The road too has improved. The inflow has increased so much that at times the road is choked at places with traffic jam and there is no one in sight to manage it.
And yet it is still a quaint little picturesque picnic spot and has an atmosphere of perfect peace and tranquility and is favourite with Doonites and people from nearby city and towns to enjoy the caressing cool breeze during summers and magic of idyllic snow covered surroundings during winters
As we move on to Mussoorie, the lush greenery is overwhelmingly soothing. Sprinkling of shining red glow of Rhododendron in bloom makes you to stop and take notice. Imposing snow mountain ranges reaching out to sky, across uninterrupted expansive space beyond many valleys and smaller hills, have sparkling awesome presence with illusive aura. One feels awestruck in their in mystique surround. On any clear day they are there with you all the while to play hide and seek and cherish peace and happiness.