Trip to Mussoorie (Part 1)

Here i am writing about my short family trip to Mussoorie, which we went in the mid of June this year. I’ll be writing about the road trip – my stay at the Nand Residency Hotel – the walk on Camel’s Back Rd. – and the memoriable trek to Lal Tibba – watching a nearly gorgeous sunset which was sabotaged by black clouds. Normally clouds add more drama to the scene but not when they’re dark n black.

Slow-moving traffic – couldn’t hamper our “all happy & cheerful” mood !

Let us start with the road trip. We’re out on the road by 6 am – late by an hour – yet we’re all happy and cheerful in our hired Traveller …. clicked lots of photos n shared them on social media – actually it wouldn’t be wrong to call ourselves an Insta & FB family – so we always take great priority on taking lots of great photos. Even the slow-moving traffic at that time of the morning didn’t hamper our happy mood. We had in fact planned to make ‘Travel Videos’ for YouTube, but there was a little surprise waiting for us just after crossing Muzaffarnagar.

My mom busy sharing her pictures … she is a good photographer too !

In the meantime, we stopped at the ‘Cheetal Grand’ for some yummy food – like most people traveling on that road do. Had Idli – Masala Dosa – Samber, but it wasn’t that good. In fact Dosa masala was way too salty – the coconut chutney was rubbish and Samber was just – eatable !! Whereas I’m not a fussy eater at all.

Excited to have some yummy food …
Not so tasty Masala Dosa …
Lovely fish pond at the Cheetal Grand !

After finishing it somehow, we got on the road again … but soon we had to stop again. At first, we thought the driver was getting the UP road tax formality done – but soon we got to know that we were stopped by the ‘Bank People’ [they’re the people who retrieve due payment on behalf of the bank – by hook or by crook]. The installment for the Traveller (we were traveling) had not been paid on time and a large amount was still unpaid. They won’t let the vehicle go … all they could do for us was book another vehicle from Muzaffarnagar or we could wait till another vehicle was send for us from Delhi.

At the start of our journey – Clicking photo with the
unfortunate ‘Traveller’ while still at home.

What had happened was – the man from whom we normally hire cabs (for long-distance) is a reliable man, but he didn’t have a Traveller … so he asked his known person to rent his Traveller to us. The reliable man didn’t know about the other person’s dark bank background. So to cut a very long story short – we had to wait for nearly 5 hrs. by the roadside. The bank person was kind enough to let us wait in the A/C Traveller (Thank God) – otherwise, in that scorching hot weather, we would have become roasted chicken … sorry we’re a vegan family – so we can’t be chicken but roasted Beans n Nuts – Ha Ha Ha !!

Finally around 2pm – Innova arrived from Delhi. We hurriedly transferred our luggage and ourselves in the new vehicle. Once again we’re on the road and moving – (I personally liked the Innova over the Traveller).

Now by that time, we were sure – we won’t be able to reach Mussoorie before sunset. Yet very soon we all became comfortable n the happy mood was restored again. Once again, we began to enjoy the road journey – the sugarcane field – the canopy created by the roadside trees over the road – the eye-blinding dusty road – and so on. [Actually, we took a different route after Muzaffarnagar – not the usual NH 58 – the road was smaller yet scenic and reached Roorkee without crossing Purquazi].

Soon after crossing Roorkee – the vegetation changed to tall trees on both sides of the road – giving it a jungle-like feeling. Then it changed to curvy n bending road winding up the hills. Excited to reach the higher mountains -not that we have not been to the mountains before and yet we felt a thrill. Very soon we’re stuck in a long traffic jam in progress of some road construction work.

Experimenting with photography skill while stuck in a traffc jam !
p.c. @amrit.ray

Slowly but steadily we reached Dehradun town which is situated in the Doon valley. Surprisingly the roads were straight and not winding – at some distance mountains were visible. Soon we’re bending left n right on those curvy roads that lead to higher mountains. The road conditions were not bad neither good. My brother was sceptical about its safety. At many places, those big boulders which are supposed to act as safety guards were missing. We were driving slowly and safely but there are others who seem to be always in a hurry (God knows where for) might end up with fatal misfortunes.

The slow-moving traffic before reaching Dehradun …

My misfortune, I mean incident like the one I heard in the news while staying at the hotel in Mussoorie – a car fell into a gorge near Kempty Fall in Mussoorie -killing 4 people including a 4yrs old child. What a terrible disaster ! Later i came to know through social media that around that time of the month (9 – 12 June) Mussoorie – Shimla – Nainital roads were facing severe traffic jams. As cities in the plains were affected by the heatwave … people started to flock to the nearby hill station.

Okay back to my story. We must have reached about halfway up the mountain – when my niece started having stomachaches. She is a pretty happy little kid – but all of a sudden felt uneasy and crying badly. We tried hard to calm her down n eventually, she somehow fell asleep [Thank God] – we felt a little relieved.

Our hotel was on Camel’s Back rd. so we had to reach the ‘Picture palace’ point. We parked the car at the parking place – [ it’s safe there, one has to pay for the parking]. We got a coolie to carry our luggage up to the hotel. We too walked our way to the hotel – hence finally reached Nand Residency Hotel.

View from the balcony – few house on the opposite side of the road.
Those lovely red tinned house.

There are two important & unique things to mention here.

First : [For private car owners i.e. white plated vehicle] If your hotel has parking -well n good – park your car there … but most hotels don’t. Also after a certain time [after 4 pm – till 10 pm], certain roads are closed for vehicles. Also, the roads are narrow with pretty sharp bends here n there – so it is wise to park the car in paid parking n roam around the town on foot – be it shopping & eating on Mall Rd. or walking n enjoying the nature on Camel’s Back Road. The parking here is expensive but a better option.

[For non-commercial cars ie. yellow plated vehicle] – they do not have any option other than park the vehicle in paid parking as non-commercial vehicles are not allowed into the main town.

Second : The ‘Coolie Union’ has a very strong hold in Mussoorie. If you think or request the hotel to send their car or staff to get your luggage to the hotel – the Union doesn’t allow that. Even the hotels bring their daily requirement stuff by these coolies only. So you have to hire a coolie to get your luggage to your hotel and back to the parking area. Of course, these coolies are super reliable and honest. On top of that, they don’t charge much. A coolie at Delhi railway station would charge three times more than what we paid the coolie there.

View from the balcony … mountains and mountains as far as the eye can see.

It was past sunset when we reached the hotel. Our rooms were on the second floor. The view from the balcony was awesome. We looked around and tried to relax and settle down. As were all tired and weary – we ordered our dinner in the room. After dinner – we sat and chat for a while – enjoyed watching other guest and people on the hotel terrace below. We didn’t stay up late that night – Oliva my niece was little irritated – so we said Good Night to each other and went to sleep.

We had planned a trip to Dhanulti – but since Oliva was feeling mountain sick (as i call it) … we cancelled that plan and decided to walk around the town itself.

Few beautiful patches of beauty and nature along the Camel’s Back Rd.

Next morning we woke up late – had a quick breakfast – then went out at around 11 o’clock. Our hotel was on Camel’s Back Rd. so stepping out of the hotel meant – we were on Camel’s Back Rd itself. The road got its name from a rocky outcrop in the shape of a camel’s hump which unfortunately we couldn’t notice … but of course what’s in a name? Had it been called by a different name, it would still have been just as beautiful.

After all, those crying and hauling about the destruction of nature – I still am enjoying what has been left by a human being … it’s the cemetery area down there.

I was told that the Camel’s Back Rd. was a quiet road with nearly no vehicles running on it. That day – there were many vehicles on the road and many were parked by the roadside – making the narrow road narrower. There were hotels and ashrams on both sides of the road. One can get the view of the valley and the mountain -but somehow they didn’t really attract me much. Enjoyed family time but couldn’t enjoy nature.

Maybe when my brother described the place to me – I somehow imagined it to be like heaven on earth – so hence so much disappointment. Last time when he went (in the same month) there were clouds floating in the valley – so obviously not his fault and neither mine (in imagining the place). I go to any hill station or place – I love to observe and absorb the tranquility and its natural flora n fauna … and seeing so much man-made stuff made me sad.

The narrow road getting narrower by the parked cars!

I felt that the place was overcrowded [I agree – June month is the peak season for tourist to visit Mussoorie] by tourist and ultimately ruining the natural beauty (which I seek the most) and creating many more serious problems like – water scarcity – parking shortage – removal & collection of garbage to name a few… leave alone other problems like : high hotel tariff rates – higher parking rates – expensive eat-outs and many more.

Another example and a major one was when we went to Lal Tibba which is the supposed to be the highest point in Mussoorie. There were two small private cafe type shops – selling overpriced juice and food items. There were sitting arrangements on those shop’s rooftops where they kept telescopes too. One is supposed to pay an extra Rs. 50/person even after purchasing eating items from them to go to the rooftop to get a good view of the mountains. That was not all -you were not allowed to go upstairs if you didn’t buy anything … seriously that was disappointing !! The tourism sector should consider doing something about it – it’s a major tourist attraction place. And what are those 2 private shops doing there in the first place? There should be something government built where everyone can sit and enjoy the highest point.

My mom …. enjoying the view – without the clouds floating in the valley – a bit disappointing!

Well let’s get back to my story: we came back to the hotel around lunchtime. It was getting pretty hot with the lovely bright sun up in the blue sky.

In the evening we went for a walk on the “Mall Road. It’s just a minute walk away from Nand Residency Hotel. Walking on Mall Rd. was more fun and enjoyable than on Camel’s Back Road even though it was crowded. Mall Road stretches from the ‘Picture Palace’ to ‘Public Library’ (ie. from east to westward) that has all sort of shops on both side of it: cafe – Indian Street food stalls – fruits shops – jewelry – handicraft and many more. My favourite shop was the ‘Cambridge Bookshop’.

Bought this one and another one called the ‘A season of Ghosts’ … love them both – in fact, love all his writings!

I had told my brother about it before coming to Mussoorie that whatever we do – wherever we may go – I want to go to that book shop. I had read that author Ruskin Bond visits this book shop on every Saturday – from 3 pm – 5:30 pm. We missed it but that’s fine. I’m not an autograph fan type person anyway. I love his books so I bought two books (not that day – went there the next day) for myself and one for Oliva.

And again my mom – busy clicking photos of the busy Mall Rd.

Enjoyed a lovely evening on busy Mall Rd. Got back to the hotel – had dinner on the open terrace with the cool relaxing breeze – and Oliva repeating in Bengali,”Oliva beru-beru jabe”. Loosely translated as – ‘Oliva wants to go for a walk’. We had to quiet her down by saying that she will go tomorrow – right now she’ll eat her food. That night after dinner we sat for a while and planned for our next day trip … ie. we’ll wake up early and see the sunrise. We all agreed and went to bed.

….. to be continue

Important Information:

Mussoorie is well connected to Delhi and major cities by road [we took the Rajnagar Ext. – Modi Nagar – Khatuali – (a little diversion before Purkaji) – Roorkee – Dehradun – Mussoorie.

The nearest airport is Jolly Grant in Dehradun – anyone interest in reaching Mussoorie faster can opt for this option too.

Indian Railways is another option for train-ride lovers … the nearest railway station is Dehradun – 34 km from Mussoorie.

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