Yaadon Ka Shehar Tehri via Rishikesh

Last weekend, when there was no planned flight at the airport, I got an opportunity to relax in the Himalayan Hills. So, in the evening I took a bus to Dehradun. I reached there by 1.30 AM in the night and stayed at my friend’s room in Subhash Nagar near Bus Terminus. Dehradun is just like another home for me, where I always want to live. I asked some of my friends to join me on the trip to Gangotri or Badrinath, but everyone was busy with their schedule. So, I left Dehradun alone on early morning at 4.30 AM to Rishikesh. I took a bus to Haridwar from ISBT, but on the way I have come to know, besides going to Rishikesh via Haridwar, I can reach there directly from Dehradun via Jolly Grant Airport. So, I left my bus in between and took another bus to Rishikesh. It saved another 40 kms journey. The bus reached at Rishikesh bus stand around 6.00 AM. The people over there informed me that Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath; all temples are closed now a days. So, they suggest me not to go there these days. They suggested me to go Auli via Joshimath.

But then I dropped the idea to go any of char dhams and decided to roam nearby in Rishikesh and Haridwar. So first I went a nearby Ghat in Rishikesh. It is a hardly 1 km walk from bus stand. I don’t know the exact name of the ghat, but I think its name is Triveni Ghat. It was the early morning, so there were very few people walking on the ghat along the river, some old people were doing yoga, and some sanyasis are just roaming from here to there.

The morning was beautiful; you can get the gentle breeze cool your face. After spending half an hour at the ghat, I came back on the main road and took an auto to Ram Jhoola. Ram Jhoola is a hanging bridge on the Ganges.
You can spend multiple hours on the bank of the Ganges in Rishikesh, just wandering on the ghats. You can feel the spirit of India also there. People are busy in themselves only, taking baths, performing yoga, busy in morning walks. There is lot of monks who were roaming on the ghats without any tension. You can see them openly smoking with their Chilum and Ganja. They don’t bother about the world. They are just mast in their life. And there is one interesting thing too; none of the Sadhus (Monks) there at the ghat asked me the money. Nobody is there to trouble you like Pandas in Varanasi. You can freely roam on the ghats. Though there were some women roaming around and asking money in the name of Shani Dev, as it was Saturday.
After Ram Jhoola, I moved to Lakshman Jhoola. It is about 2 kms from Ram Jhoola. You can take a jeep service on seat sharing basis from Ram Jhoola to Lakshman Jhoola though I preferred to walk. There is lot of Ashrams in the streets of Rishikesh. People from all around the world used to visit these Ashrams in search of peace and inner happiness. You can see a lot of foreigners wandering in the streets of Rishikesh. These ashrams offer lots of Yoga and Meditation courses, from one week to yearlong certification courses.
Anyway, I reached to Lakshman Jhoola. It is just similar to Ram Jhoola. There are two beautiful magnificent temples maintained by Kailashanand Trust on one side of the jhoola. Nearby temple, there is a restaurant named “Ganga View”. It’s a good restaurant in my opinion, cheaper also. Another side, there is a coffee shop “Devraj Coffee Corner and German Book and Emporium”. Lots of foreigners were there and enjoying the river-side with a cup of coffee.
Boating facility is also available near both the jhoolas on nominal cost, Rs.10 for one way trip and Rs. 15 for round trip. A nearby Lakshman Temple is also good to visit.

Besides Yoga and Meditation, Rishikesh is also famous for the adventure sports, especially river-rafting. I didn’t have the time, but if you have, enjoy the rafting. There are some rafting courses also.

After Rishikesh, I decided to visit Tehri, a city which has been submerged under the water in the name of development. I went to the Tehri Bus Stand and as there is no bus available in next an hour, I took a bus to Chamba (fare Rs.38). So, the journey to Tehri started at 11.15 AM from Rishikesh. It was an uphill ride. Bus started climb on the hills with curvey roads.From the top of the hills you can see Rishikesh and the stream of the Ganges flowing through the city. Bus passed through the hill-forests. You can feel the beauty of nature en-route. This beauty is surrounded all around you and these hilly rides feel you with thrills. I took some random pictures from the moving bus.

One the way to Chamba, the bus passed through Narendra Nagar. It’s a beautiful town and 16 kms away from Rishikesh. The main market is just look like a white corridor. It can remind you the rural version of Connaught Place.

I reached Chamba at 1.00 PM. Four roads converge at the town center of Chamba. One from Rishikesh, second goes to Mussoories via Dhanaulti, third goes to Uttarkashi and further Gangotri and fourth goes to Tehri Dam. So Chamba is a merging point between these routes. An uphill road also goes to New Tehri, which is 11 kms away. Chamba is a decent town and you can find some good hotels, if you want to stay there.

There is no bus service from Chamba to Tehri Dam these days except one at 11.00 AM in the morning. So, I was stuck in Chamba upto one and half hour. Usually jeep service ( Sumo, Marshal) is available, but in my case, the driver wanted to load around 20 passengers in a single Sumo, so he kept us waiting. The fare for this 20 km stretch is Rs.20. We were around 14 passengers inside the vehicle, but the driver was not ready to move. Finally, annoyed passengers left that jeep and then one jeep came suddenly and loaded around 4-5 passengers. The driver was in hurry as this loading might cause him problem with the union of local jeeps there. It was something like in the case of blue line buses and call center cabs loading passengers. So we started moving towards Old Tehri. Actually, there is no place like Old Tehri. Whole the city has been submerged under water. So you have to go upto Koti Colony, which is situated along the Tehri Lake. The road was very bad. But you can see a lot of natural beauties around you. If you haven’t seen the step-like fields on the hills ever, you can enjoy that along Chamba-Tehri Dam Road. It is look-like a decorated hill from the top to bottom. Just imagine how much hard work they have done to make these hills suitable for farming!


So, finally at 3.00 PM, I reached Koti Colony. In the jeep, I met a local guy; age was approx 14-15 years. He showed me the dam site, the lake and told me about the old town of Tehri. A young boy, who was not mature enough to understand the history, glory, protest, politics and everything over this project, was very enthusiastic to pass all the information, whatever he knows. He showed me the road connected to Old Tehri, the venue of Old Tehri Bus Stand, the helipad and also the dam site. The scraps of bulldozers, the concrete mixers, the trucks – everything down below were scattered all around the site. He was passing the information and I was only thinking that few years ago, there was a big town and now, there is only water all around in this valley. You can get the idea how a city will look like after global warming or how Venice will look like, when it will be submerged under water. Located at an altitude of 755 meters, the old Tehri town was more than two hundred years old. Maharajah Sudarshan Shah established the town as the capital of Tehri-Garhwal in 1803. Sadly, now it is only in history and photographs.
On the way up there is a viewpoint (along with a bus shed) at a place called Bhagirathipuram from where you can have a majestic view of the entire dam. A board of Tehri Hydro Development Corporation welcomes you there. This project displaced more than 1 lakh people and is still hurting religious sentiments many more lakhs. With a projected generation of 2400 MW electricity, this is one of the largest hydroelectric project in the world. Built at the confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangana rivers, the 855 feet tall main dam is the 5th tallest in the world. The main reservoir is a massive 42 sq km that will completely engulf Tehri town along with 40 villages and partially submerge another 72 villages. The project has another 97 feet tall dam 14 km downstream at Koteshwar that will produce 400 MW power of total capacity. This will submerge an additional 16 villages. Besides generating electricity, it will stabilize irrigation to 6 lakh hectares of existing land and will bring another 2.7 lakh hectares under irrigation. It will also provide 270 million gallons of drinking water daily to Delhi, UP and Uttarakhand.

After spending one hour at the site, I returned back to Chamba by a empty bus, carrying only me as a passenger. By 6.00 pm I reached to Chamba again and got a cab to Rishikesh and from there I took a bus to Dehradun. Reached at my friend’s room around 10.00 PM. So, in this way I spent wonderful Saturday in the Shivalik Hills again.

8 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    You seem to be full of energy to do all of this. Great.

    I been to old Tehri, before it was submerged but it was vacant at that point. It was a very edgy feeling looking at a deserted town.

  • ashok sharma says:

    yes,very good experience,and that too alone,seems to be adventurous.
    might tour someday the places other tahn rishikesh,dehradoon and mussorie in that beautiful uttaranchal.
    very nice of you for sharing your experience
    ashoksharma.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    True ghumakkari.

    Been there when Tehri was still alive and New Tehri was being built. Went by bus and stayed at Chamba. Your post brought all those memories back.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    Very interesting Avinash, the post as well as your spirit. I am sure for Nandan and Patrick it would be very different experience to visit a place that they have visited earlier, but now there is only water over it and you have given them opportunity to revisit it with your interesting post.

  • sparsh jain says:

    yes dear it ws very well narated………
    first of all thanks for visiting these two beautiful soils…..
    i must say dear if anyone wants to see these places,he can see them through ur eyes…..as u explained things in such a suppel manner…..bye tc
    ur such blog are really appreciable…..
    more such blogs are awaiting

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  • Mukul says:

    Nice work for explore india.

    Good

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