Heritage · Photography · Travel

Calling on Goddess Surkanda Devi

My most vivid memory of the one visit to the Surkanda Devi Temple is of me huffing and puffing and almost collapsing in exhaustion, dragging myself behind my enthusiastic mother, a virtual mountain goat. That was 23 years ago when I cluelessly believed that the temple was right there on a hilltop, which it was and I am an Everest climber in making, which I was not.

So there I was after so many years, once again in my parents car, on a still dark Sunday morn, off to pay my respects to the famed Goddess, synonymous with Shakti (strength), revered by the locals and travellers alike.

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Surkanda Devi Temple and yes! I made it.

We began early to avoid all the tourist traffic hogging the narrow mountain roads; the temple was just a few miles beyond the picturesque settlement of Dhanaulti, in the Himalayas.

As we drove along the winding road, the sun began to warm up nicely and one could feel the sting of the sharp mountain air.

We took plenty of short breaks to admire the scenic beauty. Also everyone in the car had forgotten how car sick I can get.

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The hills were alive …with the sound of my moaning and groaning 😦

It certainly made my parents very nostalgic and soon the conversation became lively as they replayed every car sick episode of mine since Kindergarten (in excruciating detail).

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My nemesis- the serpentine roads.

Time really flew that day (for them) and shortly we were at a place called Kaddukhal. That was where we parked our vehicle to begin the hike. It did not have much to boast other than a few eateries serving breakfast, snacks, hot and cold drinks and puja offerings for the Goddess.

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Stones on the hot tin roofs.

No shopping for us. Didn’t fancy lugging anything, for if my memory served me right, it was going to be a gruelling climb.

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Jai Ho Devi Ma!

Well, we were off to seek the divine blessings.

The track had undergone quite a metamorphosis; it was broader and benches were provided at suitable distance to catch ones breath and rest our aching feet .

Excited voices called out, “Jai mata di”, new brides in their festive attire with a touch of red (auspicious colour) and jewellery (one was wearing the statement Kumaoni nose ring – earlier mentioned here), smiled shyly clicking selfies, accompanied by every possible member in the clan. At one point, the path became quite crowded .

Spied some horses too grazing on the hillside, waiting for those unable to attempt the strenuous walk.

Along the way came across a few make shift shops selling snacks and the usual puja paraphernalia.

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Pretty rows , the symmetry shows.

Saw a sadhu who had a shelter next to a tea stall . He made quite an arresting picture.

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“Veni, vedi, vici”

He happily posed for the photos and was magnanimous with his blessings. I think my mother chatting with him and then insisting on donating some money helped.

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Blessings and good fortune!

The tea stall owner was highly amused by all this. As per him, sadhuji here was a highly sought man for photos by the tourists and TV crews that frequented the place .

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Snack time and some stories too.

My father was quite exasperated by our slow progress ( I blame sadhuji and tea man for it ) so it was a relief to hear the faint chiming of the bells .

We were close.

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We were there.

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And it took our breath away.

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Did my memories of the temple and it’s surrounding feel different?

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Yes! I was taken aback by the jaw dropping beautiful temple. I believe it was recently constructed to replace the older one that was a typical Pahari Temple, much simpler in looks category.

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The structure was indeed magnificent in its new avatar but the Goddess residing remained unchanged, commanding the same reverence as that of long ago, her followers resilient in their faith.

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The solitary drummer at the entrance of the temple.

Across the main temple, facing the peaks, stood some minor temples but in size only, for they housed equally powerful gods.

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After doing our puja (bought the essentials from the shops at the back), it was time to break the coconut prasad. A few youngsters sprang to help, in exchange for some pocket money . Well, it is labour so I’m in favour of it.

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Cracking coconuts!

A signboard was put up in a corner for the curious ones, that briefly covered the significance of the spot, geographically as well as spiritually. One thing that stood out(enclosed in inverted commas), “photography inside the temple is prohibited.”

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The legend!

Luckily there was no such rule for the outside premises.

There is something to be said of these spots. They makes your eyes widen in wonder.

One could hear the bells pealing while the solitary drummer continued to beat a steady tattoo in accompaniment. As you breathe in the cold mountain air while the sun gently warms you, a kind of peace steals over you, the profound beauty working its magic.

It certainly made me feel closer to God, reaffirming my faith that there is a higher power, looking out for me.

Truly, calling on Goddess Surkanda Devi and seeking her infinite blessings was an experience to cherish. Now for the drive back, let me sleep away my burden.

Infinite

Atop

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14 thoughts on “Calling on Goddess Surkanda Devi

  1. The search for answers to the beautiful world given takes us to the places where millions have gone before and millions will go after validating that this is it…the awe and reverence you felt speaks through the pictures. It’s our belief which makes such places pious more than anything else and we need to believe in that belief. So inspired I am, have put it on my must visit places. Congratulations, ma’am!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Manjari . Not every spot affects you in the same way . Maybe there is some truth in what is said about choosing spots for temples based on some sort of divine calculations . Anyway, way more than that, it’s our belief that gives power to any notion which is reflected in our thoughts and actions. It’s a lovely place and I’m sure you will like it. Thank you for giving this post a thumbs up.

      Like

  2. A picturesque images, soothing anecdotes and soulful reverence all in this blog… reading it is such a pleasant feel in the morning. The purest of thought and feel can make a simple thing so majestic and divine. Wonderful post.

    Like

  3. A picturesque images, soothing anecdotes and soulful reverence all in this blog… reading it is such a pleasant feel in the morning. The purity of thoughts and feel can make a simple thing so majestic and divine. Wonderful post. Keep pouring your imagination and weave beautiful tales.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are absolutely right. During the trip I was so car sick that I really didn’t care but afterwards when I went back to the photos I had clicked , the trees did take my breath away. Thank you Bipasha for stopping by and commenting.

      Like

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