By Nivi Shrivastava
To explore the remote Indian hill towns surrounded by lush forests, clear rivers, and snow-capped peaks is always a good idea. For anyone living in a big city, a trip to a small town that offers breath-taking views of water brooks breaking from mountain creaks and magical snowy clouds rising from the deep valleys is nothing less than a wonderland. What if we tell you that there are exceptionally beautiful villages in India that offer magical views from the foothills of the Himalayas that can put the Swiss Alps to shame and one such destination is Kanatal (located in the state of Uttarakhand).
At this small hamlet, the mysterious nature paints extraordinary vistas with pristine white mountains, colourful wild floral beds and forest green cedars to charm the onlookers every season. The quaint little establishment is located at an elevation of 2,590 m (8,500 ft), a little above Mussoorie (38 km), surrounded by the magnificent Himalayas on one side and the vast Kodia reserve forest on the other.
What to see and do:
While there are plenty of adventure and sporty activities to try out in this town, we suggest saving one day just doing nothing and soaking in the good vibes of the place. Relax in a nice picturesque cottage or a luxury villa and notice the ever-changing weather sipping hot tea or coffee tucked with a book. The best thing about this hilltop is the umpteen number of sunrise spots, where the view is equally good from any given point because each frame has something stunning to offer.
Due to the high elevation, the sun and clouds play hide-and-seek leaving you with wonderful views, so capture the quirky figures that you see in the skies and the seasonal bloom of flora and fauna from the Kodia forest which has some interesting natural sprints and viewing spots. The forest is known for the scented cedars and pine trees that are sprinkled across the hills, and it is also the natural habit for wild animals like leopard, mountain monkey, barking deer, musk deer, and peacocks. One can hire a jeep safari and enjoy the attractions of the jungle while spotting the rare wild animals and birds on the way. The other interesting place to visit near the hamlet is the Tehri Dam, which is reconstructed after the tragic floods and offers some panoramic views of the region.
One of the most popular treks in this village is the trek to the Surkanda Devi temple, which is constructed at the steep altitude of 3030 m above the sea level. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Sati and is a Hindu shaktipeeth, where according to a legend the head of the deity was fallen after she jumped in the fire. The temple requires a trek of about 2 km and could be done easily in a couple of hours. For those with adventurous bent of mind, there are camping and rock climbing activities conducted across the hamlet. One can also try activities such as mini zip-lining, ladder bridge walk, skywalking, monkey crawling and valley crossing routes from one spot to another amidst the dense coniferous forests conducted by trained professionals at Surkanda adventure zone.
The other beautiful attraction not to be missed in Kanatal is the luxurious Kaudia Estate, where one can experience a peaceful weekend and enjoy the local Pahadi food. The Chamba cuisine made from freshly picked vegetables such as peas, celery, cauliflower, spinach, and potatoes is an absolute delight for vegetarians and is considered to be super healthy so try the local delicacies like parathas, madra, chana, and kheer. The use of environmentally friendly water treatment plant and rainwater harvesting that stores up to 80,000 liters makes it an eco-friendly stay for a guilt-free leisure trip. At the state-of-the-art Kaudia Estate, one can visit and stay for a complete rejuvenation of mind and body. One can check out the exotic herbs and plants with nature’s walk, picnic in the forest and explore the three acres of the designed landscape with the snow-covered mountains of Himalayas blending in the milieu.
How and when to go:
While every view in Kanatal will leave you wondering with “oh-so-beautiful” expression, remember to carry warm clothes, raincoat, and comfortable footwear to brave the unpredictable weather. Usually, the temperature in this region is below 20 degrees Celsius throughout the year, in winters it can even touch below freezing point (0 to -5) due to cold winds and heavy snowfall, which often blocks the roadways. The best time to visit here is summer and post-monsoon one can check out the apple season and witness nature’s beauty in full glory. The closest railway and airport city to Kanatal is Dehradun (78 km), from where one can get a taxi or take a bus to reach the village in 3 hours. The journey to reach Kanatal requires a little more effort than any regular hill station, but it’s an experience worth its price and will leave you asking for more.
(Experince courtesy : Kaudia Estate
The writer is a Delhi-based blogger, and you can reach her at [email protected])