Tag Archives: Dams

Hanuwantia can be the change you need this new year!


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A bird’s eye view of the Hanuwantia island in days of Jal Mahotsav

On the lines of Rann Utsav of Kutch, Madhya Pradesh tourism has dared to do the unthinkable of bringing tourists to a location as remote as Hanuwantia with nothing to lure them. Now Hanuwantia is a hub for air, land and water adventure activities. Jal Mahotsav is in its third year now and gradually increasing its time span. For ten days two years back, it increased to one month last year and now 80 days. This year Jal Mahotsav specially targets the year-end tourists. So, if you are looking for any new destination this new year eve, why not try Hanuwantia. This year festival started on 15th October and will continue till 2nd January 2018.

One of the clusters of the tent colony

The vision of Hanuwantia Festival was actually inspired by Sentosa island of Singapore. Although these are very early days for Hanuwantia to climb to any comparable league half as good as Sentosa. The main attraction of Jal Mahotsav is water sports in its huge reservoir which will often look like a sea. But there are aero activities too, like paramotoring, parasailing and ballooning. Swiss tents have been put up for the tourists at the Jal Mahotsav. There are houseboats as well. An exhibition focused on Narmada river besides food zone, craft bazaar is being organised.

For all those who have been to Kutch, they will find quite a similarity between the tent colony at Hanuwantia and the tent colony at Rann Utsav of Kutch in Gujarat. Few clusters of tents and every cluster having a tents surrounding an artificially levelled ground.

Away from concrete cities, this is welcome change to be besides an artificial sea of water. Hanuwantia is besides the Indira Sagar Reservoir which is said to be the biggest such inland water body in Asia.

A paramotor at Hanuwantia in evening lights
Closer look of an airborne paramotor
Two paramotors in the sky at sunset, best time to enjoy
You can have fun riding a bicycle around the tent city

But being here is fun, only if you are planning to indulge in some air or water activities. Otherwise it could be boring after some time. Since Hanwantia has got no other activities, therefor the experience of coming to Hanwantia had to be a packaged one with everything under one roof. Hence came the idea of a tent colony and all sort of land, water and air activities.

Jet scooter on waters of Indira Sagar

Water sports is a genre getting immensely popular among Indian tourists and Hanuwantia has plenty of water to play upon. You can find a host of water activities here.

Jungle trek on Boria Mal island
Smaller cruise boats to take you to ride in the lake

Besides, you can also take boat trips to other islands in the reservoir. Some of these islands like Boria Mal has even got tents to stay overnight. Even forest department has pitched some tents on its own for the tourists. These islands can be explored even on non-festival days. Some of these islands have also developed wildlife due to reserved forest land. You can also enjoy trekking in these islands. Some other islands are haven for migratory birds in the winter.

What would have been a top dome of a big temple in its prime is now a testimony of the submergence alone in this huge waterbody!

Hanuwantia is popular as Hanuwantia Tapu among locals, named after a village of same name in Malhargarh tehsil of Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh. Foundation stone of Indira Sagar project on Narmada river was laid way back in 1984, but the work on project started in 1992. This was the earliest project on Narmada river and later the downstreams of the project paved way for more projects like Omkareshwar, Maheshwar and Sardar Sarovar projects. Indira Sagar project reached to its full capacity in May 2005.

Locals in their boats near Boria Mal island

For a reservoir that big, it can be easily estimated that how huge would have been the submerged area. All islands in the Indira Sagar reservoir would have been little hillocks in the past. These islands have been named on nearby submerged villages. A history got submerged in the lake.

Where to Stay:

Inside the Swiss tent
Tents besides the Indira Sagar reservoir!

All tents are Swiss tents, with minor difference in facilities as per the package one opts for. Tents are undoubtedly good, with attached toilet and shower. Beds are comfortable. Tents are spacious, there is a sitting area inside the tent and a covered sitting area, outside the tent giving you the full view of the cluster. Tents also have air conditioners. The ground outside the tents work as a activity ground or playground where you can enjoy cycling. Teas can be served at the tents but dining area is separate, where all guests have to go for breakfast and meals.

Outside the tents

Be watchful to keep you tent door nets zipped, specially in evenings as there can be mosquitos around as there is ample water everywhere. Food is good if not exceptional. Try to taste some local delicacies of the Malwa region. The existence of this tent city comes only during the duration of Jal Mahotsav. SO if you plan to be at the Jal Mahotsav, than this tent city is perhaps only mainly available accommodation in Hanuwantia.

MPTDC Cottages at Hanuwantia

Hanuwantia also has a Madhya Pradesh Tourism resort with beautifully designed lake facing cottages but during the time of the festival these cottages mostly remain occupied by officials and politicians. But if you go outside the festival dates, you can certainly stay in these cottages.

House boats at Hanuwantia

There is another stay option during the festival time and also afterwards and it is Kerala style houseboats, a couple of them at Hanuwantia. These houseboats have three rooms on the lower deck and an open upper deck sitting area. There is a kitchen as well. These houseboats can also take you on a trip inside the lake.

How to Reach:

Islands near Sailani on the Indore-Hanumantia route

Hanuwantia  Tapu (island) is in Khandawa district of Madhya Pradesh. Indore is the nearest airport which is almost 140 kilometres away. Road to Hanuwantia from Indore passes through Omkareshwar and Barwah. This road journey takes around three to four hours, depending on road as well as vehicle. If you prefer train to reach here Khandawa is the nearest railway station on the Main Delhi-Bhopal-Itarsi rail line. Hanuwantia is 48 kilometres from Khandawa. Barwah on the Indore-Hanuwantia road also has a railway station but this is a metre gauge section line coming from Mahu.

A fisherman in the Indira Sagar lake

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Overlooking submerged history

Mountains bask in glory of a fresh snowfall.
Mountains bask in glory of a fresh snowfall.

If you don’t like to be alone and secluded in hills, still would like to have some great views than Sursingdhar (close to Chamba in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand in India) is the right place to be. Dense pine forests around will still keep you away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is a delight for your eyes. Sprawling on the hill towards the left is New Tehri town. After dusk the lights of this young town along with Bhagirathipuram (‘B Puram’ as locals call it) will give you a perfect feel of star gazing. Down further, you can see the Bhagirathi River, more as a mammoth reservoir for the Tehri Dam. Up north-east, you can have splendid view of Chaukhamba and Nanda Devi peaks. Down south you can see hills hiding Devprayag and holy shrine of Chandrabadani. And this all can be experienced just as you step out of your room in the lodge. At an altitude of 1900 metres, Sursingdhar is cool and comfortable. At the peak of winter, it might also experience some mild snowfall. Whatever the weather may be, with a view so pristine, it is an ideal place for spending some lazy afternoons, doing nothings.
Things to see and do

Sunlight finds its way through the cloud cover. A beautiful view of the valley.
Sunlight finds its way through the cloud cover. A beautiful view of the valley.

Sunrise from behind the Chaukhamba peaks is sight not to miss. White peaks turn into pink, orange and then golden yellow, worth every minute of an early morning.
Six km from the campsite is New Tehri town, fairly young and organized. It overlooks the place in the Tehri Dam reservoir where Old Tehri town was completely submerged in 2003. A history was put to rest for ever. Talk about it and you can still feel the sorrow in the eyes of those who cherished it. Memories of that fateful day are still fresh in their minds. New Tehri town has been constructed to replicate the Old historical town- the mosque, the clock tower and all, but can probably never compensate what has been lost. You can drive further 16 km to Tehri Dam via Bhagirathi Puram. Where once used to be Old Tehri town is now the spot of confluence of Bhagirathi and Bhilangna rivers. If interested one can take a prior permission from the dam and district administration authorities at New Tehri and even have a look at the functioning of the mighty dam. Otherwise just being at the side of emerald green waters of Bhagirathi is a truly refreshing. Have a walk around the lake. Cycling from the resort to the dam would be another adventure. Sooner enough there may be a chance of some water sports activity in this reservoir.

Bhagirathi Puram is a whole new township constructed to cater the needs of Tehri Dam work
Bhagirathi Puram is a whole new township constructed to cater the needs of Tehri Dam work

Just a km and a half away (back towards Tehri) from the campsite is the Sursingdhar village, just a hamlet of sort. Located there is Sursingh Temple which gives the area its name. He is a local deity. Stories say that he was a shepherd who died in his sleep while grazing his cattle at the same place. Later he appeared in dreams of his village people and started solving their problems. He was quickly turned to god and a temple was built. Temple has hundreds of bells hanging around. You can even try a 25 minute trek to the temple from the campsite.

Bells at temple of a local deity at Sursingh Dhar
Bells at temple of a local deity at Sursingh Dhar

Just on the hill back of the campsite, amidst deodar trees is Suri Devi temple. It is among the many temples in Uttarakhand which are believed to be local shaktipeeths. Temple is not big but there is place on the top which hosts some local functions and festivals. A 15 minute trek to the top is refreshing.
The campsite itself is surrounded by Kanda village. One can also enjoy walk through village and interact with them to have a hands down experience of mountain village life. There are numerous other one to three days trek available close by. Explore them with the help of local staff and villagers.

Clouds hovering over the mighty river below in the valley.
Clouds hovering over the mighty river below in the valley.

SursingDhar facts
Getting here is easy. Located at an altitude of 1900 mt, SursingDhar is 10 km from Chamba town and 6 Km from New Tehri. While coming from Chamba, take the Tehri road. Eight Km later leave the Tehri road and take a right turn. Sursingdhar is two Km from that point. Camp houses BSNL tower in its premises.
When to go: Anytime of the year. Monsoon months can be avoided as it might be very damp and will limit your activities. Even view might not be so great.
Transportation: Getting buses to Chamba from either Rishikesh or Dehradun and onwards to Tehri is quite easy. But you will need to arrange some transportation up till Sursingdhar.

Hailstorm looks as good as a snowfall
Hailstorm looks as good as a snowfall

Where to stay and eat
Himalayan Eco Lodges & Camps, SursingDhar. It has twelve rooms. Half a dozen more are due to be completed soon. There is also ample space for camping and various group activities. Besides, camp organizes various outdoor adventure activities as well, like trekking, rock-climbing, rappelling and river rafting.
Few more upcoming resorts and camps in offing.

Towering Pine trees
Towering Pine trees

 

A History under a watery grave: A photo account of the Tehri town- http://swamiupendra.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/a-history-under-a-watery-grave/