Kanatal is in Uttarakhand, one of the most popular hill states in India. It is full of aesthetic beauty and is renowned worldwide for being the home of the mighty and divine Himalayas, the sacred rivers of India, stunning landscapes, wildlife, and diverse flora and fauna. No wonder it is the land that helps you gain spiritual enlightenment.
The lush beauty of forests, lakes, mountains, rivers, and alongside legends and stories of different Gods is the reason why the state is given the name “Devbhoomi” or the “Land of Deities”
Kanatal is a beautiful hamlet located in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. It is believed that a visit here gives the best opportunity to feel and experience all that Uttarakhand offers. It is a quaint and serene place that lets you stay close to nature and remain off the grid.
It is a small region located near the popular hill station of Mussoorie. The name Kanatal is derived from two words “Kaana” which means dry and “Tal” meaning Lake. It is believed that there was a lake in the region some hundreds of years ago that subsequently dried up under the intense heat of the sun. The locals then gave the place its present name. Thus, Kanatal means a dry lake.
Kanatal is known for its stunning views of the Banderpoonch Range of Garhwal Himalayas. It also has forest trails, Apple orchards, and Shaktipeeth Surkanda Devi Temple. Kanatal is also a place where you can observe the rustic life of people in Garhwal hills.
The Banderpoonch range and major Himalayan peaks are visible from here. As per the legend, Hanuman Ji came here after burning Lanka to douse the flames on his tail. This is how this place got its name Banderpoonch that literally means the tail of a monkey.
Location & How To Reach
Kanatal is located at the height of 2590 meters above sea level in the Tehri Garhwal District of Uttarakhand. It is located around 40 kilometers from Mussoorie, 80 kilometers from Dehradun, and 320 kilometers from Delhi. There are two main routes to reach the destination from Delhi. One is taking the Delhi Meerut Expressway towards Meerut. Take the Meerut Bypass to go on National Highway 344 towards Haridwar and Rishikesh. From Rishikesh take National Highway 7 towards Chamba. From Chamba take the Chamba Mussoorie road for 10 kilometers and you’ll reach Kanatal.
The second route is following the first route till getting on National Highway 344 but change towards National Highway 307 at Muzzafarnagar. The new highway will go through Roorkee to reach Dehradun. From Dehradun travel to Mussoorie to take Mussoorie Chamba road. Travel on the road for 30 kilometers passing Landour and Dhanaulti to reach Kanatal.
You can easily travel on any of these two routes using your car. The road condition is good throughout except for Mussoorie – Chamba road which can be a bit narrow at certain points. You can even travel using public transport. However, there are no direct busses to this place. But it is well connected with Uttarakhand Roadways to cities like Dehradun, Mussoorie, Haridwar, and Rishikesh.
Haridwar and Dehradun are two railway stations connected to major parts of the country. Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Airport is the only airport in the region. It is connected to major cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Taxis can be taken from the airport and railway stations. Taxi rates vary highly depending on the weather conditions.
Best Time to Visit
The ideal time to visit this place is from April to July in the summers. It is a good place to escape the hot Indian plains. Autumn in September to October is a very pleasant time as well. If you wish to enjoy snow and winters then December and January are the perfect months to visit.
Monsoon must be avoided. Uttarakhand is an ecologically sensitive region and during heavy rains, it becomes very difficult to even reach this place. Landslides and mudflows are very common during rains.
Places to Visit in Kanatal
Surkanda Devi Temple
Surkanda Devi Temple is one of the many Shaktipeeth Temples spread across India. It is called Surkanda because it’s the place where the head (Sar in Hindi) of Goddess Sati fell. The temple is situated on the tallest peak in Kanatal. To reach the temple one needs to hike on a steep uphill path of around 1.6 kilometers. Although the distance is less the hike is very challenging it takes more than an hour to reach the top. Currently, the Uttarakhand Government is constructing a ropeway to the temple. Which will make it easier to reach. The temple architecture is distinct and similar to Japanese huts.
The temple offers 360-degree views of the Garhwal Himalayas and the Banderpoonch Range. The best time to visit the temple is early morning or late evening, being the tallest peak in the region it is the best place to see the sunrise or sunset.
Another Shaktipeetha located not too far from here is Kunjapuri Temple, which also demands hiking but is far easier to climb.
This place is surrounded by lush green Kaudia Forest from three sides. It is a popular spot for hiking as well as going on a safari. The forest offers brilliant views of the Himalayas and valleys below. If you’re lucky you might spot some wildlife as well. The forest is home to many deers, monkeys, Himalayan Bears, and leopards.
Safaris start early at 6 am and continues till sunset. Hiking trails begin at 5:30 am in the morning to 5:30 in the evening. There are separate gates for safari and hiking. The safari course is over 12 kilometers. It’s a great way to connect with the nature and the environment of this place.
Tehri Dam and Tehri Water Sports Tourism Complex
Tehri Dam is one of the most famous as well as controversial multipurpose dam projects in India. It is the tallest dam in the country, located on the holy Bhagirathi river. The dam is located in one of the most geologically sensitive regions and is a modern engineering marvel. The creation of the dam lead to submerging of the town of Old Tehri and a new reservoir spread over an area of more than 70 square kilometers was formed. This reservoir is today known as Tehri Lake and is one of the largest man-made lakes in Asia. To rehabilitate the people of Old Tehri a new town was formed which is known today as “New Tehri”.
The Tehri Dam and Tehri Water Sports Complex are located 30 kilometers away from Kanatal. It is probably the best tourist spot to enjoy when you’re visiting this place. The blue pristine waters of the Bhagirathi river surrounded by hills form an immaculate scenery.
The water sports complex provides an opportunity to enjoy water sports over the reservoir. Speed Boating and Jet Ski ride are recommended. The boating is highly adventurous because of the presence of Rapids. The reservoir even has an island, views of Dobra Chanti. This Suspension Bridge is the longest Suspension Bridge in India.
Dobra Chanti Suspension Bridge
Another activity unique to Tehri Reservoir is that in June when reservoir water is not that cold, they organize Diving trips for tourists. This gives the opportunity to see the ruins of the town of Old Tehri. You can see the houses and trees which were submerged when the dam was created. You can also stay in floating houses located in the middle of the reservoir. The rates and booking in the floating houses can be made online.
Places to stay in Kanatal
There are a lot of places to stay depending upon your pocket. Lots of nature and adventure camps in the region offer you to stay in luxurious camps. There are homestays that offer you local Garwhali cuisine. There are few luxury resorts as well, including some famous timeshare chains.
You can also check hotels of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam.
- Make sure you are able to hike. Trek to Surkanda Devi can be very tiring.
- The food available here is simple and decent. Local dishes can be available on demand. Popular local dishes include Dal Gatwani, Pindaloo Ke Gutke, Kaufli Ki Sabzi, Aloo Jakhiya, Jhangoore ki Kheer, and Mandoore ki Roti.
- Ensure you wear goggles and headwear when going out, the sun is very sharp in this region.
- You can go for bird spotting activities in the afternoon.
- Ensure you don’t travel in the early mornings or after sunset because of the high presence of wild animal movements. Such as Leopard and Himalayan bears, who often attack cattle or humans.
This post has been written by Tejas Kapoor as part of the IndiTales Internship Program