Sursingdhar is a little known Himalayan hamlet tucked between the towns of Chamba and New Tehri in the Tehri-Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. Leaving behind the chaos of city life, Sursingdhar is perfect for an offbeat getaway to the hills. If the offbeat traveller in you is looking for a little peace and quiet along with beautiful views of the Himalayan ranges, Sursingdhar is the getaway you're looking for! Add to that the easy accessiblity and connectivity, and one wonders how this place has managed to stay off the tourist map. While Dehradun is the perfect springboard for the destination, it makes for an ideal destination for weekend travellers of Delhi. Whenever the degrees rise in Delhi, carloads of travellers make their way to Uttarakhand. Next time you’re planning that journey, swerve towards Sursingdhar to refresh and rejuvenate.
Sursingdhar is one of those small towns that catch you by surprise and make you fall in love with them immediately. That's exactly what happened to me when I got a chance to experience the relentless beauty of this place. It was a long weekend trip from Delhi and I boarded the Dehradun bound Nanda Devi Express along with a friend. We reached Dehradun early morning and headed towards Sursingdhar right away. A beautiful Himalayan sunrise awaited us as we began the three hour road trip from Dehradun to Sursingdhar. With every bend, stunning vistas unfolded. I was tempted to stop every five minutes for photographs, but hunger pangs trumped that argument.
We reached Himalayan Eco Lodges inSursingdhar right in time for a lavish breakfast that was already laid out at a picturesque location.The mighty Himalayas looked down at us from all sides. There is something about the mountains – the sheer size, snow capped beauty and the fortitude makes them instantly alluring. We were told that on a clear day, you could see the much celebrated Nanda Devi peak from this location! Even though it was cloudy, our hopes were high. After all, we had a couple of days and the Sun Gods are usually kind to me.
First look at the Himalayan Eco Lodge property and we were immediately relaxed. This was just the place that I wanted to unwind in. With a backdrop as beautiful as the Himalayas, this property adds so much more to the mountains which surround it. Comfortable, luxurious cottages, beautiful gardens, chirping birds, fluttering butterflies, blooming flowers and the terrace fields in distance - all of these added to the beauty of the place. With glasses of fresh rhododendron juice in hand, we walked around, relishing the melodies played by a couple of Himalayan mynahs – a welcome song, if you will.
A stay at Himalayan Eco Lodges comes along with a bundle of activities to choose from. We decided to go for a short 5km hike around the hills after lunch and get a power nap. Our outdoor specialist from GIO was a man on a mission and he made sure we experienced everything that Sursingdharoffers.
The hike began from the back yard of the property and soon we were crossing village huts, domestic animals munching on the grass laid out for them and fruit-laden apricot trees flanking the dirt path. A generous woman who was picking these fruits to sell them off in the city offered us some for a snack.The fresh, free and crunchy fruits were the perfect flavour of easy going village life and heart-warming benevolence. Our trail ahead opened up to terrace fields growing arhar(pulses) plants. Our outdoor specialist informed us to be careful to not step on the plants, to make sure we don't create new paths on the mud but just follow the ones already there. I didn't understand much of the fuss that time, but later came to know about GIO's eco policies and how seriously these people take the environment, village-life and the ecology of the Himalayas. Stepping on the plants would mean a good month’s hard day’s work ruined.
The hike was a beautiful one and we got a lot of information about the village, the people, and the ecology as we walked from terrace fields to the nearest peak to see a beautiful sunset. Though all members of the group had different fitness levels, GIO's outdoor specialist made sure that everyone walked along, giving them breaks when required and pushing them to limits when he felt appropriate. Some needed to be bribed of hot tea and pakoras to walk further, and that's what awaited us at the property at the end of this beautiful mountain path. The last lap of this 5 km stretch was my favourite, passing through a thick pine forest. The afternoon sunlight slanted through the canopy of the trees, making a stunning pattern on the trail. We took yet another break here, just to absorb the beauty that lay in front of our eyes. And a good dose of oxygen too.
As luck would have it, a heavy rain that night ensured a cloudy morning. An envelope of clouds surrounded our cottages as we got up the next morning. It was as if God left behind these clouds on earth by mistake. A mist followed us everywhere we walked, making this one of the most beautiful mornings I have ever seen. The valley in front of the lodge was filled to the brim with thick lumpy clouds. We had already given up any hopes of spotting the Nanda Devi, and were happy to be surrounded by the clouds all around. Just as I was leaving the spot on the verandah to go indoors, Sursingdhar decided to throw in a surprise. The clouds began to clear and as they parted, the Nanda Devi peak emerged in the distance. The game of hide and seek between the mountains and the clouds was coming to an end. For us, city dwellers, the scene was ethereal.