The Story started in early hours of the famous pilgrimage town of Rishikesh situated on the banks of the non polluted Ganges. One wild Boar wandering rather aimlessly from the nearby Raja Ji National Park sneaked into the Jal Sansthan building of the town. The Pump Station here provided the water supply to the whole city and was critical for the urban life. With a wild boar sitting pretty there, the staff was in no mood to go nearby and run the pumps etc. The info on the wild boar was broken first to forest department who is supposed to know the most about them. Our knowledge about wild boar is limited to the famous story of wild boar and the tiger narrated by Jim Corbett during the school time. The early morning risers in the holy city soon got to know about the non functional water pumping due to a wild boar and few of them gathered outside the pump as well. The boar seeing the crowds and listening the noises had started behaving restlessly and was trying to come out of by now closed door. The walls of the campus too were not strong enough though for this snouted restless animal.
The news of a wild boar soon reached the Valmikis of the Basti also who traditionally have been dealing with domesticated pigs. Though there is no comparison between pigs and a wild boar the community has the skill to chase down the pigs and celebrate with the high fat meat feast often. The Indian entrepreneurial skill combined with old age barter system practiced in India led to an offer by the Valmikis that they would do the free service to catch the boar in lieu of freedom to consume the prey itself. The offer though practical went against all the norms of the forest department and the Ranger as a true subordinate tried to rope in the higher officers who wanted to get rid of the boar but without their name or consent being quoted or dragged in this risky barter. The safer option was now kicked in by inviting the professional shooters of the nearby Raja Ji national park who could use tranquilizer gunshots to sedate the animal and then shift the boar into Jungle. The professionals reached there in next 2 hours riding a jeep and loaded with paraphernalia. They looked as if they meant the business. After doing a recce of the situation and doing some rounds they started with their task amidst public roar. The 6 shots that followed afterwards led to an entirely new situation. The shots though in majority hit the boar could not sedate him enough and in fact spoiled the mood of the wily boar further. The real reason of this was that the sedatives like medicines of many hospitals were all expired and could not therefore leave an impact. The boar started to push its snout aka thoothan with more ferocity and started to damage the fragile as the economy wall of the jal sansthan. There was now a risk of this boar escaping the premises and entering the civil area of the town and creating a scene truly much to the embarrassment of the forest department. The situation was getting out of hand virtually.
The proud Valmikis watching this drama standing aside were requested upon to do something without the barter condition. The Valmikis now sensing the situation decided to do the community service at the charge of Rs 2500 only but all in cash. No bill or voucher attached. The department was red faced enough to bargain or wait and said therefore yes. They gave clearance to catch him alive at the best and dead at worst. The Valmikis amidst the cheer of the crowd accepted the challenge.
They got few blankets and few pieces of chords from the town and climbed over a a 10 feet Varandah wall overlooking the trapped boar. Nobody knew what was going to happen till all of sudden one of the team member using a blanket as a flying magic carpet fell upon the boar with a loud sound. The other team members followed soon with sound of thud…thud… The public and the department watched with a baited breath and with folded hands in the prayers. The sound had aroused more curiosity than was before with public reaching for all vantage points to be the eye witness of this encounter. The team landing on the ground was on the job immediately and just tied down the feet of the boars with Japanese clock work precision and in less than a minute had overpowered the boar !!! The experience counts !! It was neatly tied up with chords and now the blanket too was retrieved. The boar was lying down on the ground with all legs and its snout neatly tied. Everybody out there clapped and heaved a sigh a relief including the department. The boar with its now bleeding snout and tied up legs was packed of in the rickety jeep which fled towards the Raja ji National Park to release the catch as quickly as possible. The worst fear was the park authorities declaring like doctors that the patient aka boar was brought dead !! But the wily boar was after all a boar right in the tradition of Corbett’s favourite. As soon as first few chords were released it freed easily from the clutches of the department and jumped like a deer into the jungle. It disappeared soon. Everybody heaved a sigh of relief !!!! The department though poorer by rs 2500 was a happy lot as the mission got accomplished. The people of Rishikesh too were relived at the prospect of ultra subsidized water running in their taps again. The jal sansthan too was relieved a lot as the weaknesses of the commissioned walls were just about to be exposed rather piggishly before the wily Valmikis saved the day for them !
( The story is based on the real life narration in sep 14 to author by a forest officer who was posted there in the town at the time of incidence in 2012)
My visit to Surkunda devi temple was due since 2004. I had visited the temple in 2003 to pray the Goddess to bestow upon me the peace and relief from worldly pain. The promise to visit Maa again was therefore due from 2004 as things settled exactly as prayed. However that was easier said than done. Kabir aptly writes, ” dukh me sumiran sab kare sukh mein kare na koya, sukh me sumiran jo karen to dukh kahe ko hoya.” So the dilly dallying continued for next 10 years. It ended last week when honestly speaking I could not go to the charming Valley of Flowers. The Valley of flowers situated in Uttarakhand at the height of around 10000 feet in west Himalaya is a part of Nanda Devi National Park and is known for its unbelievable display of colorful range of flowers. Due to still under construction roads in the final patches and running short of 2 days for a decent plan, I settled for the visit to Maa Surkunda Devi Temple near popular hill station Dhanolti. So in third week of september 2014, proceeding from the state capital Dehradun along with my Jija ji , I reached the forest rest house Dhanolti in the late evening around 7 pm. The forest rest house in Dhanolti is a pre independence structure with typical hill station rest house features. The views from the rest house are amazing though on one side of it an imposing guest house of GMVN has come up and has somewhat dwarfed the beautiful but small guest house. We had the coffee at the glass house built in 1997 in the courtyard of the FRH and went ahead for an evening stroll on the road. The road in this hilly town gets deserted with the sunset as the most shopkeepers retire to their villages situated in the hills nearby. The frequent sighting of Leopard on the slopes and sometimes on the roads of Dhanolti also hastens an early shutdown of the town. We too did not go much further and decided to beat an early retreat. The food at the rest house was ready rather early. The temperatures were around 16 degree and to enjoy the great weather in true spirit we set for few drinks together and enjoyed the the devadar enthused ambience. It appeared as if the reed diffuser with the natural essence of Devdaar was placed right inside of our dining room. I retired to bed around 10 pm and went in to sleep quickly. Next morning we started early. The way to the temple was really full of fresh morning energy. This time infact in any part of the world gives you a booster dose of energy and you feel like a blessed human being brimming with positive energy. The temperatures were around 10 degree. The temple devoted to the Shakti swaroop is situated in the Kaddukhal village of Tahsil Dhanolti of district Dehradun at an altitude around 10000 feet. It is just 6 kms from the beautiful and picturesque Devdaar trees infested small town of Dhanolti. It is 24 kms from popular hill station of Mussorrie also called as the queen of hills. Situated at the height of 7500 feet the temperature here are best in summers and on lower side in winters. The snowfall occurs every year almost mandatorily. The small village of Kaddukhal is on the road to Chamba and almost 19 kms before the town of Chamba. The village serves as the base camp of the 2.5 kms track to the temple. A small bus stop cum taxi stand is on the foot steps of the temple and is also lined by few shops selling prasad for the devotees going to the temple. After purchasing the prasad at the start(its not available on the temple trek in the lean season at least), I proceeded to a 2.5 km track. The start of the trek on hills usually makes you realize in first 100 meters itself that your lungs were made only for your ascending steps in a maximum one floor house. The panting for breath which starts so soon gets unique sounds out of your nostrils as if you are a horse who has put in non stop 100 km sprint to be there. The realization of your limits actually humbles you a lot and your worship of the Goddess starts right there. It also does not help when you find locals sprinting ahead of you as a Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle racing ahead in style from a rickety hero cycle ! My panting kept on increasing for next 500 mts as after that I got a level patch i could walk as a human. Interestingly the road to the temple was rather decent as compared to what it was during my first visit in 2003. It had railings too in steep patches and few steel benches too donated by few worshipers who had got painted and full postal addresses etc as if to receive a vote of thanks from you via speed post.
The Valley View
The trek upwards also has facility of mules for those who can not expand their lungs like a Shaktiman. Interestingly the mule services is strategically placed after the first 500 meters in all religious places i have visited in India. Actually they are perfectly placed right at the places where they know that the pilgrim would surrender rather too meekly after a deep realization of their flat lungs ! To my agony the mule service in the week of pitra-piksha preceding the onset of Shardiya Navratra was not vailable in that wee hour of the morning. I had no option but to continue my journey with heavy feet and with chant of the Goddess without whose help there was no chance to ascend the hills. As I progressed the music played on the top of the hills started getting closer to me and with a lot of sweating and resultant lightening of the cloth i kept on going. Though the journey was not so long as happens in Vaishno Devi and like places there was not even a single shop on the way that could facilitate some lime water or some energizer etc for the hapless souls. I kept on trudging and finally reached the top of the hills in approx 70 minutes.
The entrance gate of the temple at village Kaddukhal
The locals, I was told don’t take more than 20 minutes to do the same. After placing my shoes in designated palaces i washed by feet and hands and reached the temple. The temple much to my pleasant surprise was renovated or you can say rebuilt actually in last few years as while earlier there stood a traditional small temple building, now there was a beautifully done temple complex on the patterns of an admixture of Hindu and Tibetan style of architecture as visible in the photographs attached. The temple was painted in yellow and red and had a carpeted area inside for the devotees with a Girbha-Griha for the traditional old idol of Maa Surkunda. On entry to all temples or religious places which are reached by after considerable efforts and pain like trekking, one feels a sense of immense emancipation. A deep breath there fills your lungs with pure bliss. You thank almighty and realize that he wanted to see whether you will take enough pains to come and meet him. You feel elated and recharged as if you were fresh like a flower and closest to the almighty. It was a bliss. I bowed before the Goddess and prayed from the deep of my heart. I thanked her for her blessings and sought her blessings for life further to come. The Pujari offered us the holy water and consecrated the prasad bought by us from the foothills. I felt blessed. Coming out of the main temple I went for breaking raw coconut and after offering to holy trident there had some coconut kernel. It was an enchanting view outside with the clouds setting on the temple and covering it almost completing. The valley too was partially covered with clouds. I took some photographs of the scenery and after enjoying breathtaking views started the return journey. The journey back was obviously less treacherous and it took almost half the time. Reaching down rather comfortably we thanked Goddess for her kindness and finally packed ourselves in the vehicle and went back to our halt at Dhanolti for our next destination. Thus ended a great journey due upon me for last 10 years. Jitendra Continue reading “The Surkunda Devi Temple near Dhanolti, Uttarakhand”