Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dazzling Heights of Surkhanda / Dhanaulti


I don’t get much time to roam free nowadays with a desk job, the rare treats I do get; I feel like getting out of the city madness and head out for a retreat. I did so recently and went with my extended family to quaint little town near mussorie in Uttranchal (northern state of India). Uttranchal and Himachal pradesh host most of the shivalik ranges of the himalayas, and though my heart is perennially looking towards the mighty snow clad mountains – yet I feel equally at home in the green clean ranges of the lower hills.

I stayed in the town of Dhanaulti (some 50 odd km from the famous hillstation – mussourie). Dhanaulti has nothing much to offer and is mostly a day visit for people living in mussourie, there is a peak – which serves as a view point and a small eco park made by government which acts like a picnic spot. The place other than that is pitch quiet by evening and offers excellent opportunities for meditation and a peaceful getaway.

I spent 2 days on this hillock, out of which one day was spent going downhill to check the famous tehri dam; this dam built on the river Ganges offers to create massive ecological upheaval because of the damming of the water and spontaneous destruction of both flora and fauna in the vicinity.

I really do not know why we went to see the dam for it was a waste of time and effort not considering the wastage of fuel. The dam is protected and one cannot enter it without special permission – which basically means if you do not know any one politically – you can go fuck yourself. Anyways i was here to partake of nature; much less some sort of ugly fucking human construction built to destroy what nature adores and sustains.

The second day I spent in climbing a hill some seven km from dhanaulti – the hill has a famous temple atop it by the name of surkhanda devi; the goddess here is supposedly very famous and my visit there coincided with the annual mela held on the temple premises. the annual mela invites people from all the neighbouring villages for a get together of sorts – held during spring – it would also coincide with the reaping of crops by the farmers on these hills.

The temple has become very famous as it is supposedly one of the shakti-piths present in the country (there are some 51 odd of them – where the body of the goddess falls after it has been cut apart). these places are supposed to have greater power than most other temples (the location would be somewhere where more natural power is felt than other sites around). This is where the goddess’ head/cranium/skull falls, and hence revered by everyone in the country.

The climb is steep; yet it is not excruciating – I could climb to a height of 10,000 odd feet from base of 7000 feet in an hour. The hills reverberated with a beautiful quietude. As I climbed higher, I could clearly see one of the hills emitting huge amount of smoke – someone had set a forest fire to clear land and their old crops away so that more land could be made for farming and human life – no one would understand or care to understand what they were and had destroyed; and I was too tired to even understand why mother would want this to happen in the first place.

I reached the top of the hill and was almost blown away by the wind; it was immense and that was an understatement. The wind was making haunting noises. It was eerie and so like the mother to make me smile this way or another. There were not too many devotees and that was a great relief to me. I went to see the temple’s sanctum and was surprised to see that the temple was empty – I soon got to know that the temple premises were newly constructed – replacing the older and perhaps smaller structure, the temple goddess’ idol had been kept in a small room next by. I visited the bhairon temple first (Shiva in his most violent and subtle form; always close to mother power – guarding her and acting as her gatekeeper; I sought his grace as always), moving on to the small room; I saw the black beautiful idol of mother and was overwhelmed as to how my eyes interpreted this idol – how they saw endless grace and love in a piece of stone just like another, how I could attach everything my existence could mean to something innate. And that was the key in the first place; every single object and subject in my field of vision was dazzling and red.

Goddess gave me blessings and grace. All I could wish for any which day!

Peace and love.

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