Hike to Dhaulinag Temple
Our stay in Vijaypur, Uttarakhand, was quite an eventful experience to say the least of it. It was spiked with allergy bites, back breaking falls (which still makes it difficult for me to remain seated for long), a swim in the boisterous mountain rivers, overturning of Kayaks and many more. On the whole it was exhilarating, exasperating and ecstatic. Though difficult to believe, but it was stupendously stress relieving. Trust me!!!
It however started with the much awaited hike to the Dhaulinag temple located at a distance of 1 km from our place of stay in Vijaypur. For those who are still unaware of where or what I am talking about, look up your Google for more inputs. Also make sure you start packing your bags because no sooner you are finished reading this, you are going to make a beeline for the first train to Kathgodam.
Located at a distance of 25 kilometres from Bageshwar,Uttarakhand, Vijaypur is a small sleepy hamlet just about waking up to the onslaughts of tourism. On our first night there, we were informed casually about the Dhaulinag temple located at about a kilometer away from where we were. Blessed by around 33 crores of (known) Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu Pantheon, the land of India has a temple or a Hindu place of worship snuggled in almost every corner of its vast geography. Dhaulinag refers to the snake avatar or mortal form of Lord Vishnu. Dhauli means ‘Dhawal’ or white and is the white snake form in which Lord Vishnu appeared on earth. The temple, built in Northern styles, is one of the oldest and most popular temples in the area dedicated to the serpent god. What excited us more was that visiting the temple meant taking a beautiful hike amidst verdant forests of Pine and Rhododendron surrounded on all sides by the majestic Himalayas.
Geared and all set we started out. The gates of the temple were on the main road and painted a pretty picture. The yellow and red pillars enfolded within its embrace the shining temple bell to announce our arrival to the Serpent God far above. When you look up from the gate, you will hardly see anything to indicate that you have approached the temple precincts. It is then that you realise the challenge you have set for yourself.
Trudging up the steep mountain paths is an experience by itself. The gnarled roots of the surrounding trees have spread themselves on the rocky surface cradling mud in their spiny fingers. Over the years these have been used as steps by the faithful who have braved the terrain. Unflinchingly they have scaled the heights and still do for faith has given them new wings to their feet. Sometimes on the way you will gasp for breath and rest your tired self on the stones placed where the trees have missed a step. These are the moments when the beauty of the surrounding nature will keep you gasping for more. You will be seduced by nature to keep on moving until she wrings out the last inch of breath from you and keep you floating altogether on a different high.
We approached the temple only to behold another story unfolding before us. It presented a vibrant canvas of colours picturesquely complimenting the surrounding vista. The striking collage of yellow, blue and red walls stood out uniquely in the midst of the varying shades of green surrounding it. Despite its height the Dhaulinag is supposed to be very popular among devotees specially during Navratri.
On our way back a whole new drama was waiting for us. We climbed back the jungle route refusing to take the metaled roads. A young and energetic chameleon popped out from its hole to check up on us for a while. We tiptoed down the mountain slopes strewn with dried pine needles. To avoid any unpleasant accidents (pine leaves can be dangerously slippery) we tread softly but surely on the path.
At several places we witnessed the twisted trunks of trees torn and shattered by nature’s fury as it wrung out the very life from its roots. Charred logs with soot glistening on its trunks lay strewn across our paths reminding us of the immense damage incurred owing to the recent forest fires that raged through the lands.
By the time, the sun reached mid sky, we had completed our walk. As we left the forest behind and entered civilization, a voice within our hearts screamed out loud and clear “Give me More!!!”