To explore remote Indian hill towns surrounded by lush forests, clear rivers, and snow-capped peaks is always a good idea. For anyone living in a big city, a quick break from the hectic city life into these towns that offer breath-taking views of brooks, mountain peaks and magical snowy clouds rising from the deep valleys is nothing less than a wonderland. What if we tell you that there are exceptionally beautiful villages in India that offer magical views from the foothills of the Himalayas that can put the Swiss Alps to shame and one such destination is Kanatal in Uttarakhand.
In this small hamlet, nature paints extraordinary vistas with pristine mountains, colourful wild floral beds and forest green cedars to charm the onlookers every season. The quaint little establishment is located at an elevation of 2,590 m (8,500 ft), a little above Mussoorie (38 km) and is surrounded by the magnificent Himalayas on one side and the vast Kodia reserve forest on the other.
What to see and do: While there are plenty of adventure and sports activities to try out in Kanatal, we suggest you save a day doing just nothing, except soaking in the good vibes of the place.
Relax in a nice picturesque cottage or a luxury villa and witness the changing weather over a hot cuppa and a book. The best thing about this hilltop is the umpteen number of sunrise spots. The view is breathtaking from any given point because each frame has something stunning to offer.
Due to the high elevation, the sun and clouds play hide-and-seek leaving you with wonderful views, so capture the quirky figures that you see in the skies and the seasonal bloom of flora and fauna from the Kodia forest. The forest is known for the scented cedars and pine trees that are sprinkled across the hills. It also the natural habit for wild animals like leopard, mountain monkey, barking deer, musk deer, and peacocks. One can hire a jeep safari and enjoy the attractions of the jungle.
You could also visit the Tehri Dam, which was reconstructed after the tragic floods. It offers some panoramic views of the region.
One of the most popular trek in this village is the trek to the Surkanda Devi temple. It is at the steep altitude of 3030 m above the sea level. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Sati and is a Hindu shaktipeeth. According to a legend, the head of the deity fell after she jumped in the fire. The temple requires a trek of about 2 km and can be done easily in a couple of hours. For those with an adventurous bent of mind, there are camping and rock climbing activities conducted across the hamlet. One can also try activities such as mini zip-lining, ladder bridge walk, skywalking, monkey crawling and valley crossing routes from one spot to another amidst the dense coniferous forests. Trained professionals at the Surkanda adventure zone conduct these activities.
The other beautiful attraction not to be missed in Kanatal is the luxurious Kaudia Estate, where one can experience a peaceful weekend and enjoy the local Pahadi food. The Chamba cuisine made from freshly picked vegetables – peas, celery, cauliflower, spinach, and potatoes is an absolute delight for vegetarians. Not to miss their parathas, madra, chana, and kheer. The use of environmentally friendly water treatment plant and rainwater harvesting makes for a guilt-free leisure trip. At the Kaudia Estate, one can visit and stay for a complete rejuvenation of mind and body. One can check out the exotic herbs and plants with nature walk, a picnic in the forest. The three acre designed landscape blends beautifully with the snow-covered mountains of the Himalayas.
How and when to go: While every view in Kanatal will leave spellbound, do remember to carry warm clothes, raincoat, and comfortable footwear to brave the unpredictable weather. The temperature in this region is below 20 degree Celsius throughout the year. In winters it ranges from 0 to –5 deg C. Sometimes due to cold winds and heavy snowfall, the roads are blocked. The best time to visit Kanatal is in summer and post-monsoon. You can check out the apple season and witness nature’s beauty in full glory. The closest railway and airport city to Kanatal is Dehradun (78 km), from where one can get a taxi or take a bus to reach the village in three hours. The journey is a bit lengthy but it’s an experience that will leave you asking for more.