Kanatal-Dhanaulti: Ride to Memory Lane

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I remember going to Mussoorie when I was maybe sevenish. The glimpses I remember from then and what I see now is very different. I remember, back then I and my family made a sudden plan and took a bus from Dehradun to Mussoorie. It was raining, the roads were literally washed with fruits and flowers that had fallen off the trees, the fresh breeze brushing my hair and winter chills down my body. It was such a beautiful place for me coming just out of Delhi, it was so different. We got down, checked-in to a hotel, I vaguely remember the name, I googled with the little information I had and found it, “Hakmans Hotel”. A beautiful hotel.  This is one trip from my childhood that became so close to my heart.
I have got my bachelor’s from Dehradun, I remember going to Mussoorie with friends in my last year while walking down the mall road, I saw a building with similar structure that I stayed in almost ten years back. To my surprise, it was the same hotel. I was nostalgic and so happy to see it. I called my parents from there to tell them where I was and they too went down the memory lane.

Today,  Mussoorie is very different, crowded, dry weather and I felt something is missing. It’s doesn’t feel the queen of hills as it’s known famously.
But even now, I love it for what it has given me ten years back and the time I was studying in Dehradun. The hill station which was only 40 minutes away, the small beautiful cafes, my favourite, Chick Chocolate, grab on to a nachos salsa and blueberry pancake for great taste, then head to this cute bakery shop Honey Hut, I love their walnut brownie. Finally, for the main course, head straight to Kalsang for a traditional Chinese meal with traditional aesthetics and music. Do appreciate the staff and their cool hairstyles.

Likewise, I remember going to Surkunda Devi, Dhanaulti on that same trip.
Surkunda Devi, it is believed that the head of Sati (Goddess Parvati) fell here when Lord Vishu released his Sudarshan Chakra to stop the destruction caused by Lord Shiva’s ‘tandav’ (Boisterous Dance) while he was carrying her body after she set herself on fire for not being invited for a sacrificial feast for all the deities by Daksha, her father.

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In order to reach Surkunda Devi, one has to hike on an almost 2.5kms steep path one side. I was little and really didn’t wish to walk so much on that kind of path, so my dad got me on a mule (Khachchar) which would take me there. I don’t quite remember how long it took for the entire round trip but I was exhausted even riding on a mule’s back.

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This year, in November I went to Kanatal, Uttarakhand with my colleagues and went to the same temple, which was just 20 minutes away from our camp and thought how am I going to climb today. But, I started off and reached the temple in one and a half hour and felt so happy and proud. I was the same kid who once came on the back of a mule and today I slowly and steadily reached the top. This was a victory.

Once you reach your destination, the road really doesn’t matter. What matters is for what you have traveled that road. My path led me to one of the Shakti Peeths (The Shakti Peeth are significant shrines and pilgrimage destinations in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition. There are 51 or 108 Shakti peethas by various accounts, of which between 4 and 18 are named as Maha (major) in medieval Hindu texts.) of Sati and a great view that I could witness for hours.

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The snow clad mountains wherever you turn, the chilly Himalayan wind in the bright sun, the horizon, never-ending mountains.
Pause…
Just take in everything and feel blessed for such feelings, such views and to a lot of them to come!

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We are now heading back home, taking all that we can in heart and memory without any boundaries. Looking out of the open window, breathing in every ounce of air and feeling free.
Feeling the cool breeze on my face, my hair flying, soaking in the last ray of sun and of course good music. What more could we ask for!
Going back, only to come back to witness more.
Cherishing the little things in life.
Go where there is peace, where you can breathe life.

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