Recently I drove to one of the revered and remotely located temples in Uttarakhand – Danda Nagraja. It has an important place in the hearts of local population of Garhwal. The temple is located at a steep hill, approximately 90 km from Kotdwara. The road trip to Danda Nagraja temple was full of adventure.
Half of the fun in visiting Danda Nagraja Temple was on driving the serpentine road, where every blind turn was a challenge and every oncoming vehicle made me nervous. Thankfully majority of drivers in the hills respect the road and their fellow brethren behind the wheel.
Till a few years ago, the only way to reach Danda Nagraja Temple was to trek for approximately 10 km from the nearest road head. Today, however, there is a narrow serpentine road that connects the temple with rest of the state.
Legend has it that Lord Krishna came here in the form of snake and stayed here thereafter. Locals believe the deity protects the area and full-fills wishes of devotees. There are hundreds of bells hanging in the temple complex and each bell represents a fulfilled wish.
Danda Nagraja Temple holds special place in the hearts of Garhwalis. I have seen people, who have settled in metro cities like Delhi making special arrangements to visit Danda Nagraja Temple. It is nothing but the bond of love and devotion between the deity and devotee.
Bheli (a circular jaggery) is placed as Prasad (offering) at the feet of Danda Nagraja. There are a handful of shops from where one can purchase Prasad. I was relieved to see that it is still a few years away from commercialization and has retained its sanctity.
Danda Nagraja Temple is well maintained and it is at a vantage point from where you can have 360 degree views of the hills and villages around. Byas Chatti and the Nayyar river can also be seen. The otherwise quite temple comes alive during Danda Nagraja Festival or Kauthig, which is celebrated in April.
The road to Danda Nagraja Temple from Satpuli is narrow but in good condition. The only advice I have for people taking their cars; please don’t be adventurous, respect the road. Take the message: ‘Be gentle on my curves,’ seriously. It is good for you and your car.
Danda Nagraja Temple can be reached from Kotdwara, Rishikesh and Pauri. I took the Delhi-Kotdwara-Satpuli-Bangat-Baaryun-Chopra-Baherakhal-route to Danda Nagraja. Just after Bangat, you may stop at the Sangura Devi Temple. The approximate distance from Delhi to Danda Nagraja temple is 350 km.
Once you reach Satpuli take the left turn from Satpuli bus stand towards Bangat and follow the road signs. On the way drive past Sangura Devi Temple at Bilkhet and Maroda. Once you cross Chopra, which will be some 15 km from Satpuli, drive straight for five kilometers and keep an eye for a road heading up the hills from the main road. Since the road is narrow with some bad patches in between, it could take you close to two and a half hours to cover the distance of 45 odd kilometers.
Tank up at Kotdwara as the quality of fuel further up is little shaky. If you forget to tank up at Kotdwara, your next and probably the only option is at Satpuli. It is also the last town on your way to Danda Nagraja where you could find a mechanic and get your tyre pressure checked.