At the mention of Tehri or Tehri dam, what flashes in your mind first? Bhagirathi River, Uttrakhand, Tehri Dam movement, Man-made lake, Tehri Hydro Development Corporation, Highest, Biggest dam or something else! Well this post will touch upon all aspects and more. Last month I got an opportunity to see this high rock and earth-fill embankment dam. Yes, its the highest in India. Indeed, an engineering marvel it is!
Sursinghdhar is one amazing place for soul and nature connect. When I was there with hubby and friends in June, we ensured that we did not miss visiting the Tehri dam which was barely 22 kilometers away from our property at 6000 ft. Honestly, our balcony view did not let us rest. It not only showed us the Himalayan ranges and scenic beauty, we could also see a small structure of the dam and the shape of the Tehri lake from our naked eyes. Thus, on the second day, it became mandatory to go and get the closer shots. I was curious all the more because the dam’s construction had been very controversial. Its geological stability is often questioned because it is built at the Himalayan foothills and is vulnerable to earthquake. No less, to make the dam operational, 100,000 people had to leave their settlements to be shifted to a new town that’s called ‘New Tehri’ now.
From Sursingdhar to Tehri Lake and Back
We started at around 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon! We had asked the people at the Himalayan Ecolodges (property where we stayed) to arrange for a car and they did it promptly. The driver agreed to drive us to the Dam, lake, show us near about areas and bring us back for Rs 1200. For 4 of us this sounded like a fair deal.
The road was a mix of downhill and uphill ride but majorly it was downhill.
Moving around in the hills is a journey in itself. Every time you go far from the city one gets to experience nature differently. The wild shrubs, trees, dense forests, roads, valleys, streams, lakes, rivers, terraced fields, pockets of dwellings, color changing sky- everything looks fascinating and can be enjoyed closely and elaborately. The lungs feel blessed when they breathe in fresh air and the heart never fails to question us upfront- Why can’t life be slow, casual, easy and carefree?
For a while we had been moving and silently enjoying the beauty of the Shivalik Hills. But before anything took our attention away, the driver applied the brakes and directed us to get down and enjoy the view of the dam from the top. The green-blue lake looked placid and so beautiful. The dam looked like a big chunck of rock sharpened and cut at different angles. It was tough to fathom that there used to be number of people here. Yes, Tehri town and nearby villages were completely submerged to make way for the dam and its artificial lake. The remains of the land where Raja ka Mahal used to be is a standalone land body in the lake.
The view from this point was great but it was caged. To prevent someone from falling, it was all under fences. A few more people came around and we learnt from them that to see the dam from inside one has to procure special permission. We really felt we were missing an opportunity to see an inside of a dam. Initially this did not even seem like an idea but once we were here, the structure, the look and the whole setup of the highest dam of India made us want to explore it from inside. We asked the driver and others and they all said, ‘Now it was not possible’ The permission have to be sought before hand and there are proper entry timings.
Tehri dam is the highest dam in India and its counted among the biggest in Asia. 260.5 metres (855 ft) high rock and earth-fill embankment makes it an engineering marvel. Its length is 575 metres (1,886 ft), crest width 20 metres (66 ft), base width 1,128 metres (3,701 ft).
Now we were curious and couldn’t stay without going for a ride on that road around the Dam. It looked so beautiful. We requested the driver to take the car to Bhagirathipuram, the place where one gets a gorgeous view of the dam. Also one can take the car beyond the board that reads THDC in Blue and White. The condition is only one that the car will not stop anywhere. It can just go on the road above the dam and take a U to stop outside this blue board.
Nearly 5200 hectares of land was inundated to make this. In the adjacent there is Koteshwar dam too which is a part of Tehri Hydropower Complex and its purpose is to work in tandem with Tehri dam. It is there to regulate water for irrigation and produce 400 MW electricity. Tehri dam generates 2400 MW.
The closer view and a roundabout on the spanking road pleased us and next we decided to head to the other side of the lake where there were options for boating and picnicking.
The sky told us that it was close to 6 and dawn was close.
There were options of boating and lazy walking. I preferred the latter to soak in the beauty. We loved the fact that there were not many people around and the place was still un-spoiled and clean.
The land around the artificial Tehri lake kept reminding us of Old tehri.
Hopefully everyone was shifted safely to New Tehri and the losses were not huge. The dam was equally important project because it is fulfilling major needs or electricity and power and irrigation. The budget has already surpassed by 20 times. Last I read was that some 800 crores have been spent on this project. Hope all promises are met. With this thought we decided to head back to our cottage.
Next we stopped to do some road fun and catch the glimpse of the setting sun!
No doubt on the way to the cottage, we talked around the dam and its functioning. But the moment we were back, we wanted bread pakoras, maggi, chai and more. In the hills, don’t we all feel hungry so often?
Thus everything came our way and the carrom-board was back on the table. We ate and played. The four of us made the best of the remaining day!
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