Unravelling Kanatal: “The One Eyed Lake”

For an urban dweller, nothing could be more relaxing and peaceful than going on a road trip to the lush green hills and fresh pure cold air! I’m always a happy kid when it comes to road trips as you get to experience the true elements of the journey. You are in charge of the journey, you control your departure time, arrival time, itinerary, food, playlist and stops along the way. To experience the real world out there, you got to take the road. Thanks to team JustWravel for inviting us on this road trip to Kanatal, Uttarakhand.

Kanatal is a small village in the state of Uttarakhand, India. Kanatal is 78 km from Dehradun (capital of the State Uttarakhand), 38 km from Mussoorie and 12 km from Chamba. It is on the Chamba-Mussoorie road and nearly 300 km from Delhi. Kanatal has an average elevation of about 8500 feet. The highest point is Surkanda Devi Temple, at a height of about 9,995 feet. The intertwined history is quite fascinating; a few decades ago there used to be a lake by the name of Kanatal (now dried up) and hence the name Kanatal, which literally means “one eyed lake” in Hindi.

Legend: One of the most persistent mythologies concerning the origin of worship at the site is associated with the legend of Sati. Surkanda Devi is a temple in Kaddukhal, dedicated to Sati, who was the wife of Lord Shiva and daughter of the god-king Daksha. Daksha was unhappy with his daughter’s choice of husband, decided to perform a grand sacrifice, and decided not to invite Shiva and Sati. Due to the insult, Sati threw herself onto the fire, with the motive of making the sacrifice impure. Shiva was stricken with grief and rage at the loss of his wife and began his Tandava, the dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution carrying Sati’s body, throughout the heavens. The other Gods, afraid of their annihilation, begged Vishnu to pacify Shiva. As a result, Vishnu sent his discus Sudarshana to destroy the corpse of Sati. Pieces of her body fell until Shiva was left without a body to carry which made him to do the Mahatapasya. According to various myth, there are 51 pieces of Sati’s body scattered across the Indian subcontinent. These places are called Shakti Peethas. When Shiva was passing over this place on his way back to Kailash carrying Sati’s body, her head fell where the modern temple of Surkhanda Devi is situated, as a consequence of this event the temple was named as Sirkhanda, and now called as Surkanda.

We started off our journey from Delhi on Friday night and arrived at Kanatal the next morning. We were truly mesmerized by what Kanatal had to offer us. The innocence of this small village, the kind and loving localities, and most importantly the marvels of mother nature gave peace to my mind while soaking away all my tiredness from the road journey. Justwravel arranged our stay at the Kantal Orchids, where we got to experience the tent stay with a view you could get used to everyday! We were welcomed with an authentic welcome drink made from Rhododendron flowers.

The first half of the day was reserved for activities like Zip Lining and Sky Bridge Walking at the Himalayan Cove. After these fun filled adventure activities, we headed back to our place of stay where we had our delicious home cooked lunch packed with the Pahari flavors. Next up was the most exciting part of the journey, the Surkanda Devi Temple trek!


Located at a height of almost 10,000 feet, Surkanda Devi temple gives you a 360-degree view from the top of the temple. There are 2 ways to reach the top, either by climbing the stairs or choosing to hike a steep 2km stretch. We decided to hike to the top and take the stairs on our way back. So, before starting any hike or trek, it is very normal for a person to doubt oneself, whether he/she be able to do this or not. But let me tell you something, the only thing that you have to beat is this “self-doubt”! Famished, exhausted and sweating like a pig, we finally made it to the top! This is not just about trekking or hiking, this is about everything that life throws at us. You can do it! It’s always on you and always will be!

The hike was a real adventure and absolutely worth it for the incredibly breathtakingly beautiful views all around. The view from the top was breathtaking, the colors explode like fireworks and stretch for miles across the sky. This sunset lit the sky on fire. I knew the second I saw this sunset that I was meant to be there.

We, then visited the temple and climbed down the stairs and headed back to our tents where they had arranged a borne-fire for us followed by a delicious dinner. We would love to thank Ranaji and other staff of the Kanatal Orchids for their warm hospitality and generosity!

The next morning, we had a peaceful Yoga session amidst the serene and picturesque mountain valleys, instructed by the lovely Mohini Bhatia from our own group. Yoga allows for a richer appreciation of the inner and outer landscapes. Truly a wonderful experience.

I’m so sure that Kanatal has cast a spell on me and saying goodbye to these mountains and valleys was the hardest part of this trip and now I have to deal with the post-vacation blues. 😛 Once again a heartfelt thanks to Manu and Nishant from Justwravel for organizing and executing this wonderful FAM Trip to Kanatal and making this a memorable one!

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