Surkanda Devi is a revered Hindu temple situated in the serene hills of Uttarakhand, India. Situated at an altitude of 2,757 m (9,045 ft), this holy pilgrimage site attracts devotees and nature enthusiasts alike. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, also known as Surkanda Devi, who is worshiped as the supreme power and the giver of blessings. This article throws light upon the enchanting history, significance and spiritual journey associated with Surkanda Devi.
The origin of the Surkanda Mata Mandir is attributed to Goddess Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva, who in anger immolated herself in the sacrificial fire pit of her arrogant father Daksha as she did not invite Lord Shiva to the Yagya.
Overview of Surkanda Mata Mandir
Surkanda Mata is a renowned Hindu pilgrimage site situated near Dhanaulti in the Tehri district of Uttarakhand. It is revered for its spiritual significance and breathtaking natural beauty. The temple offers panoramic views of the snow-clad Himalayan peaks and lush green valleys, making it a perfect destination for both spiritual seekers and nature lovers.
Legend of Surkanda Devi
According to ancient mythology, Surkanda Devi is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Parvati. The legend narrates that after the death of her husband, Lord Shiva, due to the yagna (sacrificial fire) organized by her father, Goddess Sati (an earlier incarnation of Parvati) took rebirth as Parvati and meditated here to win Lord Shiva’s love again. Impressed by her devotion, Lord Shiva accepted her as his wife once more, and thus, the temple was built to commemorate this divine union.
The Magnificent Temple Architecture
The Surkanda Devi temple is an architectural marvel that reflects the rich heritage of Indian craftsmanship. Built-in the traditional North Indian style, the temple showcases intricate wood carvings, exquisite sculptures, and vibrant paintings depicting mythological tales. The main sanctum enshrines the idol of Surkanda Devi, adorned with colorful garments and ornaments, and devotees offer prayers and seek blessings with utmost reverence.
How to Reach Surkanda Devi
Surkanda Devi can be reached via different modes of transportation. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, approximately 80 kilometers away. From the airport, one can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach the temple. The nearest railway station is Rishikesh, around 68 kilometers from Surkanda Devi. Regular buses and taxis are available from Rishikesh to Dhanaulti, from where the temple is just a short distance away.
Trekking to Surkanda Mata
Trekking to Surkanda Devi is a popular adventure activity for enthusiasts seeking an exhilarating experience amidst nature’s tranquility. The trek starts from the base camp in Kaddukhal village, which is approximately 8 kilometers from Dhanaulti. The well-marked trail meanders through dense forests, charming meadows, and steep slopes, offering breathtaking views at every turn. The trek is of moderate difficulty and can be completed in around 3-4 hours by experienced trekkers. It is advisable to carry essential trekking gear, water, and snacks during the journey.
Festivals and Celebrations
Surkanda Devi temple witnesses vibrant festivities and celebrations throughout the year. The most significant festival is the Ganga Dussehra, which falls in May or June. Devotees from far and wide gather at the temple to offer prayers and seek blessings from the divine goddess. The entire vicinity is adorned with colorful decorations, and devotional hymns fill the air, creating a captivating atmosphere of spirituality and devotion.
Spiritual Significance of Surkanda Devi
Surkanda Devi holds immense spiritual significance in Hindu mythology. It is believed that visiting the temple and seeking the blessings of the goddess can fulfill one’s desires, bring prosperity, and grant spiritual enlightenment. Devotees undertake the pilgrimage to attain spiritual solace and offer their gratitude to the divine mother for her grace and blessings. The serene ambiance and natural beauty of the surroundings further enhance the spiritual experience.
Apart from the spiritual allure, Surkanda Devi offers breathtaking views of the picturesque Himalayan range and the adjoining valleys. Visitors can witness the majestic peaks of Nanda Devi, Bandarpoonch, and Chaukhamba, which form a stunning backdrop to the temple. The nearby hill station of Dhanaulti also attracts tourists with its lush green forests, scenic viewpoints, and adventure activities like camping, rappelling, and paragliding.
Accommodation and Facilities
While Surkanda Devi itself doesn’t have accommodation facilities, there are several options available in the nearby towns and villages. Dhanaulti offers a range of hotels, guesthouses, and resorts that cater to different budgets and preferences. Visitors can choose to stay amidst the serene beauty of nature and enjoy comfortable amenities. It is advisable to make prior reservations, especially during peak pilgrimage seasons.
Local Cuisine and Delicacies
Exploring the local cuisine is an integral part of any travel experience, and Surkanda Devi offers a taste of authentic Garhwali cuisine. Visitors can relish traditional dishes like chainsoo (a black gram curry), kafuli (a spinach-based delicacy), phaanu (a lentil preparation), and singori (a sweet made of khoya wrapped in malu leaf). These flavorsome delicacies provide a glimpse into the rich culinary heritage of the region.
Safety and Precautions
While embarking on the journey to Surkanda Devi, it is important to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions. Here are a few tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable pilgrimage:
- Carry sufficient water and stay hydrated throughout the trek.
- Wear comfortable and sturdy footwear for the trekking trail.
- Pack necessary medications and a basic first aid kit.
- Check weather conditions before starting the trek and dress accordingly.
- Follow the instructions of local guides and authorities for a smooth trekking experience.
Sustainable Tourism Initiatives
Surkanda Devi is committed to promoting sustainable tourism practices to preserve the natural environment and cultural heritage of the region. The local authorities and community actively participate in initiatives like waste management, conservation of flora and fauna, and promoting responsible tourism. Visitors are encouraged to respect the surroundings, avoid littering, and contribute to the preservation efforts.
Best Time to Visit Surkanda Mata
The best time to visit Surkanda Devi is during the months of May to June and September to October. The weather during these periods is pleasant, with clear skies and moderate temperatures, making it ideal for trekking and outdoor activities. The monsoon season should be avoided due to heavy rainfall, which can make the trekking trails slippery and unsafe. Winter months, from November to February, witness snowfall in the region, adding a magical touch to the surroundings. However, the temple might be inaccessible during heavy snowfall, so it is advisable to check weather conditions before planning a visit during this time.
Exploring Nearby Destinations
Surkanda Devi’s location in the scenic hills of Uttarakhand provides ample opportunities for exploring nearby destinations. Some popular attractions in the vicinity include:
- Dhanaulti: A serene hill station is known for its panoramic views, eco-parks, and adventure activities.
- Tehri Dam: One of the largest hydroelectric projects in India, offering breathtaking views and water sports opportunities.
- Mussoorie: A famous hill station often referred to as the “Queen of Hills,” known for its colonial charm, viewpoints, and waterfalls.
- Rishikesh: A spiritual hub and yoga capital of the world, situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges.
- Chamba: A quaint town surrounded by lush greenery, offering mesmerizing views of the Himalayas and the Bhagirathi River.
Exploring these nearby destinations allows visitors to enhance their travel experience and witness the diverse beauty of Uttarakhand.
Surkanda Devi, perched amidst the serene Himalayan mountains, is not only a divine pilgrimage site but also a nature lover’s paradise. The spiritual journey to this sacred temple, combined with the breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscapes, creates an unforgettable experience. The temple’s rich history, architectural marvels, and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for devotees and explorers seeking solace and tranquility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there an entry fee to visit Surkanda Mata?
No, there is no entry fee to visit Surkanda Devi temple.
Are there any accommodation options available near Surkanda Mata?
Yes, there are several accommodation options available in nearby towns like Dhanaulti and Mussoorie.
How long is the trek to Surkanda Mata?
The trek to Surkanda Devi is approximately 8 kilometers long and can be completed in around 3-4 hours.
Can I visit Surkanda Devi during the winter season?
Yes, Surkanda Devi can be visited during the winter season, but it is advisable to check weather conditions and road accessibility due to snowfall.
Are there any local festivals celebrated at Surkanda Devi?
Yes, the Ganga Dussehra festival in May or June is celebrated with great fervor and attracts a large number of devotees.