Don’t stop at Mussoorie Go to Kanatal

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kanatal

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How to get there By air/ road to Dehradun, capital of Uttarakhand, by road to Mussoorie and onwards

Estimated time (From Mussoorie) 38 km up the winding road

Place to stay Premium spas and budget hotels, camps

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The late Bill Aitken had a soft corner for it, and wrote some beautiful prose to supplement the picturesque surroundings. And the redoubtable Sachin Tendulkar, who has an establishment in Mussoorie, has also been here, say proud residents. But that is not why you should visit the place. You should come here because it is so breathtakingly different. Everybody deserves a vacation: and there is, invariably, a hidden Columbus in most of us. Kanatal is 78 km ahead of Dehradun and just about some 38 km up from Mussoorie. It is a hamlet surrounded by hills on all sides, a locale which personifies the romantic aura of Tehri and is located on the Chamba-Mussoorie highway, at an altitude of over 8,500 feet (2,590 metres).

Those who like the mythological part would swoon over the Surkunda Devi temple; located at a height of 9,995 feet, one gets a 360-degree view from the top of the temple, 8 km down the road from Mussoorie to Kaddukhal. With pleasant and relaxing weather throughout the year, Kanatal is lovely weekend getaway from the scorching heat, humidity and pollution of towns and cities. The temperature here hovers between 10 and 20 degrees Celsius in summer.

A traveller may spend his day lazing around, going for a walk, playing cards or chess, enjoying small picnics, photography, meditation or yoga. One can think of many creative ways to spend the days here in leisure. But our humble suggestion is that you should come to Kanatal to unwind and genuinely relax. Get the recently released volume of Amitav Ghosh’s fascinating trilogy or whatever else you fancy, and just relax. If you are a lensman, you can have an absolutely stupendous foray. The idea is to travel light — mentally and literally. And believe us, you will have an unforgettable experience!

For accommodation, there are a few hotels which offer the spectacular view of the majestic snow-covered hills like Trishul, Chaukhamba and Bandarpuch. Some of the premium stay options in Kanatal include Kanatal Resort & Spa and The Terraces. Budget hotels include The Hermitage and Lavasta. There are also tented options like Camp Carnival. But the privileged ones are those who have locals or their own cottages to host them.

As for winter, Kanatal presents a mesmerising sight of snow-carpeted grounds and trees just like the white wonderlands of the West. Temperatures in winter go to freezing point. The roads are blocked with snow, often crystallised hard as glass, and vehicles have been known to skid thousands of metres down the abyss.

Kanatal is conveniently connected by road. Dehradun has the closest railway station and airport. If dependent on public transport, taxis are easily available.

If looking for more thrills, head for the Tehri Dam at New Tehris. Built on the confluence of the Bhagirathi and Bhilangna rivers, it makes for an interesting visit. While at New Tehri, also visit the Pant Research Institute where various kinds of fruits and plants are grown. The Kodia jungle is a kilometre away on the road towards Chamba. A walk of 7-8 km will see dense forests suddenly opening up into a vast expanse of undulating hills and valleys. Tiny natural springs gurgle out greetings. If you are lucky, you could spot some wildlife. Dhanaulti, a distance of 12 km from Kanatal and 30 km from Mussoorie, is like a cool winter breeze. Unspoilt by commercialisation, one can feel the nature in its pristine glory here. Treks, pony rides along fruit orchards and streams appearing from nowhere can keep you busy.

And then, about 75 km from Kanatal is Shivpuri, where you can enjoy rafting. Shivpuri is perhaps the most convenient and popular rafting destination close to Delhi. Best time to go rafting is September-October and then March-May. It is closed in the monsoon season.

Pradyot Lal

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