Tale of Old Tehri

In its present state, it is hard to imagine that Tehri Garhwal, one of the prominent districts of Uttarakhand was once a princely state.It is a place where many battles were fought and many alliances formed and broken. One of the reasons owing to which this district has shrunk is size is due to the formation of Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi districts. However, the principal reason that Tehri Garhwal will become even smaller with the submerging of several villages, is the ambitious Tehri Dam project.

Amassing more than fifty years from the concept stage to the construction of the dam in its present state, the Tehri Dam is intended to generate large amounts of power as well provide drinking and irrigation water to a few states including Delhi. This comes however at the expense of submerging several villages in and around the dam. It is believed that the Old Tehri will be submerged in the waters of the river Bhagirathi. It is therefore that people from far and wide have been coming in large numbers to have a glimpse of this once prosperous town.

For the future though, this presents an opportunity that could not have been possible but for the construction of the dam. The Tehri Dam will open up the tourism sector in the state like never before. There are concrete plans to develop the area around the dam as a water recreation park. The overflow of the reservoir water will be used to create an artificial lake. The area around the dam itself is to be developed and beautified to attract the tourists visiting the state. It is proposed to introduce boating and other means of recreation.

This is being done keeping in mind the pilgrims who would be visiting the holy shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath along with Gangotri and Yamunotri. The Tehri Dam almost makes for a transit halt for the pilgrims of these holy places. It therefore provides the visiting tourists with an option of either halting at this venue or progressing further by stopping over for a night.

This will thus put the otherwise tranquil Tehri Garhwal on the tourist map of the pilgrims, holiday goers and those who merely want to have a glimpse of the picturesque dam and the vibrant surroundings.

This however is still in the planning stage and the actual development of this ambitious project will take place only after the construction of the dam and the power generators. Therefore, there is a lot of ground that has to be covered before Tehri is seen on the tourism map.

The town that was developed to accommodate the affected along with those associated with the dam illustrates total lack of planning. If this is remonstrated at the tourist spot of Tehri Dam, then the place is going to be abandoned by everyone who is visiting the place.

Instead of permitting the construction of several buildings and hotels, thereby eroding the place of its natural beauty, this actually can be made to work as an advantage. It is incumbent on the authorities to restore the lost forestland and thus beautify the place. The development of the Tehri Dam area as a tourist destination may be feasible overnight, but can be made possible in a few years with good planning.