Tehri Garhwal is one of the western most district of the Uttarakhand State, located on the outer ranges of the mid Himalayas which comprise low line peaks rising contiguously with the planes of the northern India. The district lies between the parallels of 30.3` and 30.53` north latitude and 77.56` and 79.04` east longitude. Uttarkashi from the north, Rudraprayag from the east, Puri Garhwal from the south and Dehra Dun from the west are bounding the districts. On the western front Yamuna river separates it from Jaunsar Pragana of the Dehra Dun district while Bhagirathi rising from the north of the Gangotri in the district Uttarkashi touches the district near village Nagun. Total area of the district is 4421 sq. kms (Census 1991) . The district headquarter is located at New Tehri Town since 1.4.1989, Earlier Narendranagar was the district headquarter.
Lying on the southern slopes of outer Himalayas, Tehri Garhwal is on of the sacred hilly districts of Uttarakhand State. Before the creation of universe, Lord Brahma is said to have meditated on this sacred land. Muni-ki-Reti and Tapovan of the district are the places of penance for the ancient Rishis. Its hilly terrain and lack of easy communications have helped it to preserve its culture almost intact. Tehri and Garhwal are the two words combined for naming the district as Tehri Garhwal. While the prefix Tehri is the corrupted form of the word `Trihari` which signifies a place that washes away all the three types of sins, namely sins born out of thought (Mansa), word (Vacha) and deed (Karmana), the other part `Garh` means country fort. In fact during olden days possession of number of forts was considered as a significant measuring rod of the prosperity and power of their rulers. Prior to 888, the whole of the Garhwal region was divided into small `garhs` ruled by separate independent kings known as Rana, Rai or Thakur. It is said that the prince Kanakpal who hailed from Malwa visited Badrinath ji (presently in Chamoli district) where he met the then mightiest king Bhanu Pratap. King Bhanu Pratap was impressed with the prince and got his only daughter married to him and also handed over his kingdom. Gradually Kanakpal and his descendents extended their empire by conquering all the garhs. Thus up to 1803 i.e. for 915 years the whole of the Garhwal region remained under their control.
During 1794-95 Garhwal was under the grip of severe famine and again in 1883, the country was terribly shaken by an earthquake. Gorkhas had by then started invading this territory and heralded their influence over the region. The people of the region being already affected by natural calamities were in the deplorable condition and therefore could not resist Gorkhas invasion. On the other hand, Gorkhas whose several attempts for capturing the fort Langoor Garhi had earlier failed, were now in powerful position. In 1803, therefore, they again invaded Garhwal region when King Pradumn Shah was the ruler. King Pradumn Shah was killed in the battle in Dehra Dun but his only son (Sudarshan Shah was minor at that time) was cleverly saved by the trusted courtiers. With the victory of Gorkhas in this battle their dominion was established in Garhwal region. Later on their kingdom extended up to Kangara and they ruled over this region continuously for 12 years before they were thrown away from Kangara by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. On the other hand Sudarshan Shah could manage help from East India Company and got his kingdom freed from Gorkha rulers. The East India Company merged Kumaon, Dehra Dun and east Garhwal in the British Empire and the west Garhwal was given to Sudarshan Shah which was then known as Tehri Riyasat..
King Sudarshan Shah established his capital at Tehri town and afterwards his successors Pratap Shah, Kirti Shah and Narendra Shah established their capital at Pratap Nagar, Kirti Nagar and Narendra Nagar respectively. Their dynasty ruled over this region from 1815 to 1949. During the Quit India Movement people of this region actively participated for the independence of the country. Ultimately when the country was declared independent in 1947, the inhabitants of Tehri Riyasat started their movement for getting themselves freed from the clutches of Maharaja. Due to the movement the situation became out of his control and was difficult for him to rule over the region. Consequently the 60th king of Pawar Vansh Manvendra Shah accepted the sovereignty of Indian Government. Thus in 1949 Tehri Riyasat was merged in Uttar Pradesh and was given the status of a new district. Being a scattered region it posed numerous problems for expediting development. Resultantly on 24th February 1960 the U.P. Government separated its’ one tehsil which was given status of a separate district named as Uttarkashi
Tehri dam: Tehri dam is the main dam of the Tehri Hydel Project, a major power project located near Tehri in the state of Uttarakhand in India. Towering 855 feet, the main dam at Tehri is 5th tallest dam in the world. The dam’s projected capabilities include an power generation capacity of 2400 MW, stabilize irrigation to an area of 6,000 km² and add another area of 2,700 km², and a supply of 270 million gallons of drinking water to industrialized cities in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
The dam project was approved in 1972 and construction was started in 1978. The Tehri Hydel Development Corporation (THDC) was constituted in 1989 to supervise the construction of the dam. The main dam of the project is built near the old Tehri town that lies at the confluence of the rivers Bhagirathi, (one of the major tributary of the river Ganga) and Bhilangana.
This dam has been the object of intense protests from environmental groups and the people of this region. The issue of relocation of more than 1 lakh people of the area has resulted in protracted legal battles and has delayed the project. Besides this, environmental concerns regarding the location of large dams in the fragile ecosystem of the Himalayan foothills, there are also concerns regarding the dam’s safety.
New Tehri: New Tehri is the district headquater of Tehri Garhwal. It is situated at an elevation between 1550 to 1950 mts. Above sea level. A modern and well planned town, only 11 Kms. From Chamba & 24 Kms. From Old Tehri, it overlooks a massive artificial lake and a Dam. This places is become great attraction for tourists.
Narendra Nagar: 14 kms. away from Muni-ki-Reti at an altitude of 1,129 m lies this capital of the former king of Garhwal.Until a few years ago it was the headquarter of the District Tehri Garhwal, but now the New Tehri Town is the headquarter. Here, the palace of the Tehri Raja, is situated amidst a forest. Situated on the main Rishikesh-Gangotri-Yamunotri route, Narendra Nagar offers a fine view of the Ganga and the beautiful Doon Valley. The sun set view from here is particularly attractive. Hotels and the P.W.D. Inspection House offer accommodation.
Chamba: 60 km. from Mussoorie and 48 kms. from Narendra Nagar on the road to Gangotri. Chamba is a township lying high at an altitude of 1676 m, offering a splendid view of the snow-capped Himalayas and the serene Bhagirathi valley. Chamba happens to be a focal point, being located at the junction of roads leading from Mussoorie, Rishikesh, Tehri and New Tehri. The Chamba- Mussoorie fruit belt is also famous for its delicious apples.
Dhanaulti: Dhanaulti, located amidst thick, virgin forests of Deodar, Rhododendron and Oak, has an atmosphere of perfect peace & tranquility. The long wooded slopes, relaxed outdoors, cool crossing breeze, warm and hospitable inhabitants, lovely weather and fabulous view of snow covered mountain makes it an ideal retreat for a relaxed holiday. Situated on the Mussoorie-Chamba route, Dhanaulti is 24 km from Mussoorie and 29 Km from Chamba.
Kunjapuri: Kunjapuri is the name given to a peak having an altitude of about 1,676 m. It lies in Lat. 30`11` N. and Long. 78`20` E., about 93 km. from Devaprayag and 7 km. from Narendra Nagar. It commands a beautiful view of the snow-ranges of the Himalayas and of the valley of the Bhagirathi. It contains an old temple dedicated to the goddess Kunjapuri Devi which is visited by a number of people every year. Nearby, in Agarakhal, there is a dak bungalow situated in picturesque surroundings and mantnained by the public works department. Kunjapuri is said to be one of the sidddhapeeths established in the region by Jagadguru Shankaracharya and legend has it that the upper-half of the body of Sati, wife of Siva, fell here when Siva was carrying it to Kailash after Sati had flung herself in the yajna fires when some derogatory remarks were made about her husband by her father Daksha.
Buda Kedar Temple: This temple is situated at the confluence of the Bal Ganga and Dharam Ganga rivers, at a motorable distance of 59 km from Tehri. It is believed that Duryodhan offered tarpana here. According to legends, it is at this temple that the Pandavas encountered Rishi Balkhily at Bhrigu Parvat when they were on the lookout for Shiva after the Kurukshetra battle. The Rishi directed them to the site of the confluence to meet an old man meditating there. But when the Pandava got there, the old man vanished and instead, a shivling appeared there. Rishi Balkhily instructed the Pandavas to embrace the Shivling in order to free themselves from their sins. Their impressions are stamped on this Shivling – the biggest Shivling in northen India.
Dev Prayag: Situated at the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi, the town of Devaprayag lies at an altitude of 472 m. on the metalled road running from Rishikesh to Badrinath and about 87 km. from Narendra Nagar. Near the town there are two suspension bridges, one each on the Bhagirathi and the Alaknanda. The metalled road to Badrinath crosses the former by a third bridge. The town is the headquarters of the tehsil of the same name and is one of the five sacred prayags (confluences) of the Alaknanda. Tradition has it that the town is named after Deosharma, a sage, who led a life of penance here and succeeded in having a glimpse of God. The great temple of Raghunathji is claimed to have been erected some ten thousand years ago and is built of massive uncemented stones. It stands upon a terrace in the upper part of the town and consists of an irregular pyramid capped by a white cupola with a golden ball and spire. Religious ablutions take place at 2 basins excavated in the rock at the junction of the holy streams – on the Bhagirathi known as the Brahm Kund and the other on the Alaknanda called the Vasisht Kund. The temple, along with the other Buildings of the town, was shattered by an earthquake in 1803 but the damage was subsequently repaired through the munificence of Daulat Rao Sindhia. The temple is visited by a large number of pilgrims every year. The town is the seat of the pandas of the Badrinath Dham and possesses a post and telegraph office, a public call office, a police out-post, a dak bungalow of the public works department and a hospital. Besides the temple of Raghunathji, there are in the town Baital Kund, Brahm Kund, Surya Kund and Vasisht Kund; the Indradyumna Tirth, Pushyamal Tirth, Varah Tirth ; Pushpavatika ; Baitalshila and Varahishila ; the shrines of Bhairava, Bhushandi, Durga and Vishveshvara ; and a temple dedicated to Bharata. A bath at Baithalshila is claimed to cure leprosy. Nearby is the Dasharathachal Peak, containing a rock, known as Dashrathshila, on which Raja Dasharath is said to have led a life of penance. A small stream, the shanta running down from the Dasharathachal, is named after Shanta, the daughter of Raja Dasharath and is considered to be sacred.
Temple of Nagraja: At a height of 2903 m, situated in the interior of the district, the temple of Nag Raja at Sem Mukhem is held in high esteem by the people of the area. Transport facilities are available up to Khamba Khal, a distance of 64 kms. from Tehri. One has to walk for about 7 kms. from the Khamba Khal to reach Sem. The temple is situated at the top of a hill about 5 kms. from the village Mukhem which is 2 kms. from the motor head of Khamba Khal. Accommodation is provided by the ‘Pandas’ of the village Mukhem .
The Surkanda: The Surkanda peak lying at an altitude of 2,750 m. in the western part of tehsil Tehri, and is famous for the temple of Surkanda Devi. It is about 8 km. from Dhanolti on the motor road running from Mussoorie to Chamba and is connected with Narendra Nagar which is about 61 km. and with Tehri which is about 41 km. by motor roads. To reach the temple one has to leave the Mussoorie-Chamba road at Kadu Khal and climb a steep ascent of about 1.5 km. on foot. The legend is that Sati, the wife of Siva, gave up her life in the yajna started by her father. Siva passed through this place on his way back to Kailash with the dead body of Sati whose head fell at the spot where the temple of Surkhanda Devi stands. It commands a beautiful view of Dehra Dun, Rishikesh, Chandrabadni, Pratapnagar and Chakrata. Flowers of varied kinds and colours and indigenous herbs grown in abundance here and some of the beautiful birds of the western Himalayas are also found in the neighbourhood. A local fair is held on the occasion of Ganga Dasahra in Jyaistha when hundreds of devout pilgrims visit this place.
Chandrabadni: The Chandrabadni a mountain (2,277 m. above sea-level), lying in Lat. 30* 18′ N. and Long. 78* 37′ E.,on the border of tehsil Devaprayag and Pratapnagar is well known for the temple of Chandrabadni Devi which lies at the top of the mountain about 10 km. north of Kandi Khal ( a place on the Devaprayag-Kirti Nagar metalled road), 22 km. from Devaprayag and 109 km from Narendra Nagar. It is said that when sati, the wife of siva,gave up her life in the yajna started by her father and siva was carrying her body to Kailash, her torso fell here. There are some old statues and lots of iron trishuls (tridents) outside the temple. It comands a beautiful view of the Sirkanda, Kedarnath and Badrinath peaks. The temple here is very small and contains a Shri-yantra carved out on a flat stone instead of any idol. Traditionally, a cloth canopy is tied to the ceiling over this Shri-yantra once a year and the Brahmana priest doing it has to do it blind-folded.
For those who are interested in trekking and adventure, Nagtibba offers them all the opportunities. The area is full of dense forests and natural beauty. One can have a panoramic view of the Himalayas. Thatyur is the base camp for visiting the place, it is away from Chamba-Mussoorie road for which road branches off from Suwakohli a place about 16 km from Dhanolti. From here Thatyur is 23 kms. Situated in the valley at the bank of river Algar. The trek starts from here, via Dewalsari, a place 7 kms. Whereone can stay in the forest rest house. From Dewalsari Nagtibba is 14 kms. Situated at an altitude of 3048 Meters and other glaciers is most spectacular and alluring. From here Masartal is 7 kms. The route further up goes to basukital and from there to Kedarnath.
Khatling Glacier: The trek for Khatling glacier starts from Ghuttu, a place about 62 kms. from Tehri. There is a P.W.D. Inspection house and a Tourist Rest House at ghuttu. The other important places enroute are Reeh, Gangi, Kalyani & Bhomakgufa. At Reeh & Gangi Tourist Rest Houses are available. Gangi is the last village beyond which no facilities of any kind are available and one has to make its own arrangements. The singht of the khatling glacier is most spectacular and alluring. From here Masartal is 7 kms. The route further goes up to basukital and from there to Kedarnath.