On an impulse, an 8 hour smooth drive on the good roads took me there. Sursingdhar did exceed my expectation. As we came closer to the eco lodge, I was delighted to know it is set in a very remote part of the hill station. At 7000 plus feet, cold breeze and sweet smell of the pine trees greeted us. Built in the middle of a village in New Tehri, we chose the first floor cottage facing the valley, Tehri Lake and the village. These are the best rooms!
1. It was a wonderful feeling to see locals wearing traditional costumes, pass by in slow motion. A variety of birds filled the pine tree opposite our balcony and I spent hours just staring at them and clicking them. The Sun rise I saw from the eco lodge was one of my best; slow, poetic and dreamy! On clear days you can also see snow capped mountains like Nanda Devi from Himalayan Eco Lodge Sursingdhar. We even saw a gorgeous rainbow which stayed for longer than I expected.
2. My favourite place was of course the balcony. I just sat there along with parents, chatting, sipping tea, nibbling on snacks like pakora, watching the beauty of mountains, villages, mountain dogs, exotic Himalayan birds, tress full of local fruits like ‘pahadi seb’ (Apple), chulu, peach etc. The sheer number of woodpeckers I saw on the tree opposite the balcony left me mesmerized.
3. In the evening, I took my parents for a walk in the village which we had till now only appreciated from a distance. Before we entered the village, we passed the garden of Himalayan Eco Lodge which was full of flowers and fruit trees. In every direction we set our eyes, some flower or the other caught our fancy. The reds, violets, pinks and yellows painted the whole landscape.
4. The walk in the village was a slow paced one as we spent time interacting with the locals. We explored on feet and discovered old traditional houses, more fruit trees, neatly cut out pathways, the works. One of the locals invited us to her home over tea.
As we returned to the lodge, we enjoyed our sessions of carom board at the lawn which, predictably, faced the valley and Tehri Lake. Post these fun-filled sessions, we enjoyed conversation with other guests and the lodge manager Kuldeep over bonfire.
Next was the dinner time. We were served a buffet of simple yet delicious food which were also healthy and light on tummy. Next day we savoured local Uttarakhandi food like Kali Daal Ka Chausa (Ground Urad dal stewed with spices), Palak ki Kapli, (Spinach stew), Plum Chutney (Spicy and sour), Bathue ka paratha etc.
On day 2, I indulged in a short 1 hour trek organized by Kuldeep. The trek started from the Himalayan Eco Lodge and gave me a good idea of what the village is all about. It was an easy trek. However, those who are unfit may have to pause and continue. I was accompanied by a guide and I passed through pine and deodar forests, temples, cute local kids, and even a harmless fox. The pleasant cloudy weather at Sursingdhar only added to the experience.
On day 3, we headed to Tehri dam. Once we soaked in the awe inspiring bird’s eye view of the dam, our cab took us towards the spot from where we tried water sports like Jet Skiing in the water of Tehri dam. It’s just half an hour away and passes through the bustling New Tehri town. We shopped for rhododendron juice, local jams/pickles and fresh mountain fruits.
On the same day we headed for a day trip to Kanatal/Dhanaulti and tried our hand at fox flying. I was delighted to see my father enjoy and attempting sports which he had never attempted before.
The other great options to visit are Mussoorie and Landour (Just ahead of Kanatal), Haridwar and Rishikesh (Just 3 hours away).