Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand is a sprawling city in the lap of the Himalayas, that’d allure any traveler with the charisma and the charm of the impeccably picturesque Garhwal Himalayas. Located at around 35kms from Dehradun, Mussourie is paradise spread over a vast carpet of greenery coupled with a rich variety of flora and fauna offering breathtaking views of the snow capped mountains and a town buzzing with activity marks a perfect destination for a memorable holiday.
Ok! time to cut short the pleasantries and get down to journal part. Infact I did not visit both these places at a stretch, as there was a gap of about 4 days between my trips to Dehradun and Mussoorie. This journey was a part of my solo expedition to Uttarakhand which commenced on 1st of June (about 10 days before the floods that destroyed this beautiful state).
The Plan was to have no Plans!!
It all began on a Saturday night in Lucknow bus stand, where I caught a volvo (That I booked the previous day) to Haridwar. Expensive, but comfortable, the bus was late by 3 hours by the time it reached Haridwar and so I extended my ticket to Dehradun on an impulse. In Dehradun, I made the 1st mistake of relying on auto drivers to get me a room, as I did not see the Rs.100 dorms available on top of the ISBT, till I went to the stand again. A Rs.500 mistake, but I got a single room with a TV!! The sight seeing started off with the iconic clock tower in Dehradun.
There I was standing in the heart of the city, with no clue as to where to go. I had taken note of a few tourist places around Dehradun and I set out in a quest to find them. Thanks to Haan who gave me a lift and Kuldeep, who walked with me for over a kilometer, I boarded a bus to the “Robbers Cave” (But locals call it Guchu Pani and since I didn’t know this name, it gave me a hard time) . Being Sunday, this place was bustling with tourists, who came to explore the beauty of this natural ravine. The water was only ankle deep and I trekked for over a kilometer wading through the brook bordered by narrow caves, climbing over the slippery rocks and finally, I reached the place where the cave ended. But since I had no idea that I had to walk through water, I didn’t bring my slippers and hence I had to leave my shoe and walk bare foot. Not a comfortable prospect as the stream was covered in pebbles and not so smooth rocks, but then, pain was a part of this adventure.
After a few hours there, I caught a bus from Parade stand to Sahasradhara. Even after arriving there, I did not understand what is it that I was looking for. I just took a stroll around the place and found that the entire stream was divided into numerous swimming pools, and it reminded me off an amusement park. One could hire swimming clothes and floats and take a jump. I walked about 500m all the way up till the very 1st pool. The whole place is speckled with small but beautiful waterfalls. There was also a natural spring on the hill nearby, and rather than flowing in a small channel, they where kinda showering in and around a cave. Since I had some expensive not waterproof gadgets with me, I decided not to try my luck going into these caves. There are plenty of hotels and kiosks all around this place and I must say, even though I liked the concept of turning a river into multilevel swimming pools, the increasing number of tourists where hurting this fragile ecosystem.
By 9.30, I was back in my room and I had a bus to catch at 4.30 am to Kedarnath/ Badrinath (I still hadn’t decided where to go). But I’ll leave that part of the adventure to another post. I reached back in Dehradun, by dusk on 6th June. Though I initially thought about returning to Lucknow that night, the lack of tickets forced me to stay for 1 more day. This time, I took a Rs.300 double room offered by the ISBT (I didn’t find the dorm so safe). I also got an opportunity to meet Vaisakh, a school classmate of mine who worked in Dehradun. After a good night sleep on the 1st floor room of the bus stand, here I am in Mussoorie, the next morning.
Mussoorie was not a part of my initial tour plan. But then again, remember what I said in the beginning about the no-plan-thingy? Now, I’d like to offer a disclaimer : Since I visited Mussoorie after returning from Kedarnath and Badrinath (which by the way are some of the most beautiful and stunning places I’ve ever seen), I did not find Mussoorie very appealing. May be I should have visited it before I left to Kedarnath and Badrinath and it’d definitely have changed my views on the “Queen of Hills”.
Like most colonial Hill stations, Mussoorie too boasts a Mall Road and that was my first destination. I walked all the way to the end, enjoying the scenery censored with buildings, electric posts, cables and what not. I then took a rope way to Gun Hill, which offered a good view as well. The whole place was littered with shops and game corners. Retracing my path around the Mall road, I reached the Christ Church, the oldest church in Himalayas. It was about time that I visited a church. After a talk with the pastor, he opened the church for me, and I admired the stained glass windows and best of all, a huge pipe organ which unfortunately wasn’t in a working condition.
Now comes the best part. I booked a Government tourism bus ticket to Kempti falls and the bus was scheduled to depart at 12.45. Since I had 2 hours left, I decided to visit Company Bagh. Since the rickshaw guys didnot go down on the rates, I decided to walk. A big blunder! I walked and walked and walked. After walking for about 30 minutes, I saw the most heart wrenching sign – Company Bagh 3kms!! Should I or should I not? I’m not gonna quit and I’m going to walk. Finally, at 11.45 I was there, phew!! The garden was small and had pretty flowers and it took me about 30 minutes to enjoy them all. 30 minutes to go before my bus. I bargained with a rickshaw walla and took a ride to the bus stop which was about 5 kms away. I reached the stand and hey presto, there came the GMVN tourist bus.
The half an hour ride ride to Kempty took me downhill and the road offered a splendid view of the valley. Kempty falls was a stunningly beautiful and frigging huge mutilevel waterfall, which is converted into swimming pools. So typical of Uttarakhand Tourism (GMVN)!! I would say, its worth visiting Mussoorie for just this waterfall. The ethereal waterfall, gamboling over the golden rocks is a mesmerizing sight. I walked up and up and up for over 400m to the last point I could go without getting my shoe wet. After about 100m, there was not a single soul in sight and I spent nearly half an hour relaxing on a in the middle of the brook imbibing the grandeur of nature. After walking down to main road, I went down hill negotiating about 500 steps. The whole place was astir with hundreds of shops and tourists. In a whole, the place reminded me of a natural water theme park. The whole place was well developed and the traffic was horrible. My return bus was late by 45 minutes, so much for me running up 500 steps in 15 mins.
Back in town at 5 pm, I decided to head back to Dehradun before it was too late as I had a bus to Volvo scheduled at 8 pm. I had had enough of close calls for a day. I stood all the way for my 1.5 hour journey back to Dehradun and guess what, the conductor never gave me a ticket (I did ask him twice, okay). At 8 pm, I settled down on the “Royal Cruiser” volvo of uttarakhand tourism and officially concluded my Uttarakhand trip.
But this post, is just the beginning. The true adventure is yet to come. Kedarnath and Badrinath!! About a week after my visit there, these unbelievable beautiful and pristine landscape was ravaged by flash floods.
Up next : Kedarnath