Are we defining our existence with an ideal corporate job, a cosy 2BHK flat, gizmos, technology, long hours of meetings and traffic gnash and a night that put your hopes, dreams and aspirations to sleep?
This question would intrigue me often and that’s when I take a chance to escape from the asphalt jungle to the Queen of Hills – Mussorie. Just 35 kms away from my place of residence in Dehradun, Mussorie became my habitual getaway to where I would take a relaxing but mind-boosting drive or a chilling yet ironically comforting bike ride. Be it with my friends or my family or my former beau, I travelled there so many times that I have lost count. 😛
Mussorie, like all other hill stations, has a different story to tell each season.
Summer – to beat the hustle of tourist spots, we would often take a detour to Dhanaulti 24 kms away from Mussorie, or further 15 kms ahead to Kanatal. At times, city-life frets our souls so badly that the lush green hills, the chittering birds, the serenity of the place and the view of the far-flung snow-capped mountains provide perfect rejuvenation.
The bike ride to Sir George Everest’s Park Estate House was also one of my citable trips in the early summers. My biker colleagues and I started early in the morning, to avoid the scorching heat of the sun, to the Hatipaon Hill where lies the remains of the building of Sir George Everest, the Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843.
About 6 kms away from Gandhi Chowk/ Library Bazaar, this place provides a gorgeous vista of the Aglar river valley, the Doon valley and the Himalayan range.
Those captivating views appeased our peckish souls but what about our starving belly? The answer was Rose’s Diner Restaurant at Cloud End Forest Resort , just 3 kms away from the Park Estate. We biked to the Colonial style rustic resort which has 400 acres of private wildlife estate of thick vegetation, 104 species of fauna and 44 species of flora. Built in 1838, the hotel is surrounded by benedictory pines, old oaks and tall fir trees.
Aranyani, the Hindu Goddess of Nature cited in the Rigveda, seemed to have blessed the place with abundant natural beauty. I could see my skin soaking up gentle sunshine; I could inhale the freshness of nature, hear the sleepy murmurs of the forest.
To top it all, the restaurant’s long glass windows trotted out exhilarating view of the Himalayan range to the east, the Doon valley to the south, the Winter Line to the west and the Benog Wildlife’s sanctuary sprawled to the north. While we enjoyed the view, we also loved the sumptuous hot meal, the price of which were very reasonable. I especially loved the chicken curry with the flavours of fresh whole authentic Indian spices which made me feel at home.
It is a must-visit place where one can put up for the night also as it provides beautiful suites as accommodation.
Come winters and Mussorie hills will be covered with dull grey mist. Many a times, it happened that in the winter evenings we drove out after office hours to grab a burger or roll at the Rajpur road of Dehradun and ended up relishing hot chicken momos of Kalsang at Mall Road of Mussorie. Since it is off-season, the Mall Road, the chief promenade of Mussorie, wears a desolate look where occasionally we catch a glimpse of one or two shopkeepers or bystanders warming themselves by the fire. I find it the best time to walk by the Mall Road as I can see the clouds floating down from the hills and spread over the city of Dehradun.
Take a kulhar of piping hot tea and a roasted ‘bhutta’ ( corn on the cob flavoured with lime, salt & pepper) – and you’re all set to enjoy the wintry evening of Mussorie.
The rainy season is what the tourist guides advise to avoid in Mussorie. But I redefined the rainy season in Mussorie.
As I drive my car between 25-35 km/hr and operate the wipers to clear the windshield, I can see the green colour of the hills turning into emerald; the rainwaters washing away all the dirt and dust. Dense fog and heavy rains giving us driving woes??? – What we do is park the car by the road side with the parking indicators on, recline our seats and experience the mesmerising sight of rainfall flowing down the window panes. Those were the times when I realised that all nature seems to bespeak works of God.
As the rainy season retreated and autumn crept in, we once made a thrilling full circle drive.
Dehradun – Kalsi – Mussorie – Dehradun
Adventure drivers and nature lovers would love this trip as we drove amidst the greenery, seeing river Yamuna flowing through the valley and giving us company halfway through the drive. I didn’t take any pictures during the whole drive as I felt photographs won’t be able to justify the ethereal beauty of Mother Nature.
Being a touchy traveller, I have had amusing and icky memories too – memories of trash and traffic, horde of boozehounds and honeymooners littering the Mall Road with plastic packets and bottles. Hotels have become hideous excrescence on the once-lovely hill slopes, giving serious problems of garbage-collection, water scarcity and parking shortages especially during the summer tourist season. Given its relative proximity to Delhi, Ambala and Chandigarh, the hill station becomes the summer retreat of the people. Throughout the season, Mussorie echoes with the sound of honking cars occasionally with the Hindi swear words of the party roisters. Mall Road gets filled with pot-bellied men in tight T-shirts, women carrying ‘see-I’m-holidaying’ handbags, dressed up like Christmas trees and children running and screaming to buy play-things at the shops.
The sightly Kempty Falls and the Company Garden fell prey to commercialisation, unaware of the ecological disbalance.
Though tourism is the most significant segment of Mussorie’s economy, I hope it doesn’t fail to preserve the old and pristine hill station.
Whether you’re a tourist or a traveller, here’s some of my important tips for you:
1. For winter – as the temperature goes below zero degrees, do deck yourself up in winter gears.
2. For rainy – unless you’re a pro and a patient driver, do not venture as there are chances of skidding your vehicle down the valley. Don’t drink and drive; keep your mobile phones handy to call for help if you experience road blockade. Don’t panic.
3. Respect Mother Nature and don’t litter around.
4. If you want to celebrate weekend party, go clubbing. Mussorie is not the right place for you. Don’t disturb the birds, animals and the tranquil state of nature.