Friday, May 27, 2005

Renukaji Lake in Himachal Pradesh

There are few occasions when the weekends get extended by a preceding holiday on Friday or a succeeding holiday on Monday. Dehradun being nicelely located, such weekends presents opportunities to explore new places. We used the last such extended weekend to visit Tehri - the sinking town. This time we had the choice to go to Chakrata or Renukaji. I influenced the decision in favour of Renukaji as I expected less hill driving than going to Chakrata which is located even higher than Mussorie. But it was not to be.

The place :

A search with Google on Renukaji Lake produced 277 results indicating it is a lesser known destination. Renuka is the mother of Lord Parshurama, one of the avatar of Lord Vishnu. Located at 672 meters, the main attraction here is a sprawling lake amidst the sylvan surroundings named after Renukaji. With a circumference of 3214m, Renukaji is the largest natural lake in Himachal. The lake is shaped like the profile of a reclining woman. At the base of the Renuka lake, there is another fairly large water body, called the Parshurama Taal, which is considered to embrace Lord Parshurama, who wished to spend all eternity at his mother's feet. Most of us from Assam know that Parshurama dug the mighty river Brahmaputra to wash the sins of killing his mother and shake off the killer axe that got stuck to his hand. But Renukaji lake symbolises another aspects of our life, the love for our mother.

The journey :

We had started from Dehradun on my Wagon R and proceeded via Harbartpur enroute to Poanta Sahib. My colleague, Mahesh was accompanying us with his wife. Uttaranchal ends at Poanta. You have to cross a bridge across the the river Yamuna to enter Himachal Pradesh. The toll I paid of thirty rupees is the highest ever I had paid for crossing any bridge. I do not understand why we have to pay tolls on bridges on the highway. This is rampant specially in North India. There should be a movement or PIL to stop this menace. Poanta Sahib is 45 km from Dehradun and is a famous revered shrine of the Sikhs. Near the gurudwara, there is a hotel owned by HP Tourism where you can book accomodation at Hotel Renuka, a HP Tourism hotel located on the banks of the Renuka Lake. The hotel being very small, it is hard to get bookings on weekends. But mind you, the best place to stay in Renukaji is Hotel Renuka only. We did not get rooms. Still we proceeded. There are two roads from Poanta to Renukaji, one is a shortcut of about 60 km and the other ivia Nahan is about 80 km. The shortcut being not very motorable, we proceeded via Nahan. Stiff climb upwards starts after driving for about 37 km from Poanta. Climb was really stiff. With 4 people in my Wagon R, it refused to move in 3rd gear for most of the ascend to Nahan. It was 45 km to Nahan from Poanta. A connecting road from Chandigarh meets this road just before entering Nahan town. Chandigarh is about 84 km from here. We did not stop at Nahan, as it just looked like another town in the hills with narrow and stiff slopes where it is difficult to move around. After passing Nahan, we descended a little before start ascending again. After traveling for about 9 km, you need to leave the main road and take a right turn upwards for Renukaji. The main road goes to Shimla, which is about 125 km from this point. Around this point you get a good view of the zig-zag road down below. After driving up for about 2 km, your descend to Renukaji starts. What hit me most in the entire stretch is the lack of road signs, specially warning signs all along the road. You will suddenly face sharp U curves and Z curves without any warning. We reached the town named Dadahu which is the central point for visiting Renukaji. The lake is further 2 km down from the town centre. My tachometer recorded 34 km to Renukaji from Nahan. Overall, it was 124 km from Dehradun.

Five hours at Renukaji :

We reached there at about 3 pm. After having a look at the lake, we came back to the town for making hotel arrangements. Hotel Renuka on the banks of the lake was full and so did the small 3 room guest house on the bank of the Parshuram taal. There are two hotels in the Dadahau town -- Hotel Devicos Plaza and Hotel Himlok. Devicos Plaza, located next to the local bus stand was our choice as it had its own parking area. Rooms were good and well maintained. But rates they display at reception are too exorbitant for such a small place which probably receives tourists only on weekends. Though the displayed rate for Executive class rooms was Rs.900/-, we bargained for Rs.500/- a piece. So, folks, bargaining is on and do not feel shy. But still you would always like to stay at Hotel Renuka right on the banks of the lake. Devicos plaza phone nos. are 01702-267231 to 33.

We went back to the lake and took the zoo safari first. There is a mini zoo built around the lake and there is a driveway along the lake through which you can drive and enjoy the caged animals. The zoo officially closes at 5 pm and is also closed on Monday. They charged 30 rupees as entrance for my car. Do not get excited about the zoo too much. First we met some Nilgais, then two small deers. Thereafter, there was a cage for 3 Himalayan black bears. Next it was lion enclosures. There were 3 female lioness in a closed area and one male lion which was kept in a large open enclosure. As I had read in the brochures, long ago there probably was Nandan Kakan type jeep safari inside the lion cages. But it is no more and also the lions have became old and sick. They may not survive long enough if you visit next year. In one more cage, there were two leopards. That’s all in the ZOO. But only fun was that it was a drive in zoo. Do not even think of taking a walk across the entire zoo. It is almost 4 km in perimeter.

Then we waited for our turn at boating. Maximum 5 boats are allowed in the lake at a time. They charge Rs.120/- for a 4 seater boat and Rs160/- for a six seater boat. But the boat ride is for one hour. One Hour!! Your legs will cry to stop after half an hour. You will like to stay afloat without pedaling and enjoy the surroundings. The water is cast green because of the greenery all around. The water was shallow and there were plenty of fishes as an added attraction. You can see those big fishes jumping around in the lake. Fishing is not allowed here. After, the boating ended, we sat on the walks around the lakes with other tourist to enjoy some real peaceful moments. In the evening we went to watch the aarti at the main temple.

Epilougue :

Hotels were full, but the place was not crowded. You do not get those clumsy Delhiwala guys there to spoil your mood. There were tourists from Delhi and Chandigarh, but good crowd who have come here for peace. More tan the beauty, it is the tranquility of the place that will stuck you most. We bed goodbye to the place at about 8 pm to come back to the hotel. We will probably never go back there because it is too far in the hills. But the memories will always remain with us. I will try to get some photos up as soon as they are ready for your eyes to believe.


Parjanya said...

thanks so much for your valuable info


Anonymous said...

Thanks, this is just the information I was looking for. Perhaps you can put some more keywords here so that this post is easier to search using google/otherwise.

And very nicely written too. Thanks very much. Prasun.

katrina said...

Trekking in Himachal Pradesh
Trekking has lured adventure freaks all over the world since ages. Exploring nature on foot by the way of walking has

been a favorite adventure activity of adventure lovers. Himachal Pradesh, nestled in great Himalayas, offers

numerous oppurtunities to the trekking lovers. The green meadows, thick pine forests, fruit orchards, snow clad

peaks, gurgling streams, promises of a deep and refreshing communion with Himalayas and its natural belongings.

Travel Packages said...

hey i want to go renukaji in June plz tell, Is this area good for visit .