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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Kunjapuri and Tehri Dam

View from Kunjapuri - high mountains seen below clouds,

but snow cap mountains not seen

During the first day, our taxi driver-cum-guide suggested that the next day we could go to Kunjapuri and also cover Neelakant mountain temple. The next day being Amavasai (new moon), we thought there would be a huge crowd at all places - Haridwar ghats, Rishikesh ghats, Neelakant mountain, etc. Also, having seen some big boards about Tehri Hydel Project, way to New Tehri, etc., we enquired about a visit to Tehri Dam. Based on all these it was decided that we would visit Kunjapuri & Tehri Dam on day 2.

We started at around 9:30 AM and expected the drive to Tehri to be about 3.5 hours including the visit to Kunjapuri. Kunjapuri is at a height of about 1680 metres from mean sea level. From here, on a clear day, one could sneak a peek at the snow capped Himalayas. Unfortunately visibility was only about 5 KM and hence could not see far. We could see only the Shivalik mountains. The scene all around was very good from this high point.

Beginning of Landslide, quite close to the road
Next on the way, we got to see how "landslides" are a way of life in the Himalayas. It happens every season and occasionally lives and houses are wiped off. We saw one landslide that had started near the road that we traversed and had wiped 5 families.

Landslide continues way down

Then we continued on to Tehri Dam. The water in the lake formed by the dam is so clear and clean. This is Bhaghirathi river, on which the Dam in constructed. Bhaghirathi starts at Gangotri and becomes Gangaji when it meets Alaknanda at Devprayag.

We first drove across the dam (no stopping allowed and CRPF personnel are see on the main dam's road) and took some photos from the downstream side of the dam.  Then we drove back and on the way took a small detour towards the new Tehri village (old Tehri is submerged by the lake formed by the Tehri Dam).

The view of the dam, the lake and downstream Bhaghirathi river were really good from the higher vantage point (about 50-80 metres above the dam). We drove back down and we found a path leading to the lake. A family was doing some poojas and we were glad to go to that place because we noticed the car near the lake.

The lake is crystal clear and is not cold. Usually all dam waters are not as cold as river waters. We had not planned for a bath here. We wish we had. It would have been great to take a dip at this Bhaghirathi river, where it is much cleaner (while at Dev Prayag there is more silt in the water). We dipped our feet, took some photos of nice scenery and returned.

Tehri Dam and view of the lake behind the dam

Through the drive, up and down, there were a few nice water falls & some big land-slides. Actually, one way-side restaurants village was nearly obliterated by a landslide. The rocks had stopped at the door step of all the shops having blocked off the road. This too had happened about couple of weeks prior to our visit - and bulldozers were pressed in to move the big boulders and make just a single vehicle path.

We also took a small detour to see the Hotel Ananda (palace converted to a 5 star hotel) from outside. We cannot enter the premises without a reservation. We took some more photos before returning to the hotel. After some rest, we decided to do trinket shopping near Lakshman Jhoola. It became quite dark when we only went across, did some window shopping & returned to our hotel. On the way back there was a quick downpour making us wait along the steep steps and shops near the Lakshman Jhoola.

Lakshman Jhoola is very quiet, where Gangaji flows rather swiftly without a sound. People are advised not to take a dip near there. But just a couple of hundred metres away, after the curve the rocks cause white-water and a nice river-sound, which we heard all the time from our resort.

Plan for Day 3, by this time was changed from a Mussourie visit to Neelakant mountain visit, because too much of time spent in the taxi. Kunjapuri, Landslides, Tehri Dam, Bhaghirathi river dip, Hotel Ananda and Lakshman Jhoola were the items covered on Day 2.


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