The year 2014 been a very eventful year for me on more than one notes, be it personal or professional or anything else. Apart from other things, this was the year when I started loving Hill drives from being hesitant about them till now. It was just January 25, 2014 when I drove on hills for the first time ever and after back to back drives to Manali and Nainital, I decided to end the year with an almost unplanned but longest trip to Mussoorie itself.
The clock had completed full circle considering the fact that I had visited Mussoorie already and yet was choosing the same destination before even one year. Last time, I almost missed snow as snowfall happened 3 days before I reached there and then I had no guts to drive toward Dhanaulti and even this time, first snowfall of season had happened on December 15, 2014 and there were very little signs of next snowfall even during last week of year. There wasn’t much incentive for travelling back to same destination once visited apart from the fact that it was low rush period and also in last trip, I hardly seen anything else apart from Kempty falls and Robber’s cave.
Last time, I had two of my friends with me along with my family for safer side in case anything goes wrong, this time, there was no such compulsion considering the fact that I travelled to hills three times within 8-9 months and was confident now to handle things on own. The final companion list boiled down to Wife, Kiddo and Brother in law at the end and we left the apartment at Faridabad by 0435 hrs.
The fog conditions were much better than the last time and that was the reason that we managed to cross Muzaffarnagar and reached around 165km before taking the first break at 0730 hrs at a place called Ram Rasoi. Roughly 15-20mins rest there for tea etc and we were back on track again in attempt to reach Mussoorie as early as possible. This time, we were hell bent to avoid Deoband to Saharanpur route as it was hell last time, so we took the detour from Roorkee and the road was largely fine via that route.
By 0930 hrs, we reached to Dehradun border (few kms away from Subhash Nagar) when we spotted this monkey while changing dippers of baby and till then car had completed roughly 250 kms means we were averaging around 50km/hrs. Good enough considering the random traffic, road conditions and early morning route.
Next 50 kms though were on slower side considering the hill route and Dehradun city traffic even though it wasn’t much due to Sunday early morning. We took around 1.5 hrs to reach the Maggie point before Mussoorie at around 11AM. It was time to rest and enjoy the scenic beauty now. It was the same shop where we stopped in last trip as well though binoculars etc weren’t installed last time. We spent roughly half an hour at the place, enjoying tea and homemade omelets etc.
Like the last time, this time we didn’t needed to search for guest house address etc so we didn’t needed to stop anywhere else except one place somewhere where we might have filled diesel in car. It was some 1145 hrs when we reached the guest house. This time, rather than front, we were allotted a balcony side room which we didn’t even had any idea about last time otherwise would have chosen the same. Anyway, the great trip had begun.
We didn’t waste much time at guest house and decided to move towards tested destination on day one Kempty Falls considering the fact that there was no chance to see any snowfall on Dhanaulti today and we had many days in hand.
We might have just moved 1-2 kms away from Mussoorie Mall road when we spotted the snow peaks visible from the route and stopped instantly by a side to enjoy the view as the last experience told us never to leave any view for the later time as snow peaks might disappear anytime depending on fog and clouds etc.
We stayed there for at least 15 mins and took many of the snaps keeping snow peaks at the background. Might have stayed a little more but it was already 1245 hrs and we wanted to reach Kempty Falls in mid noon so could dare to jump in water. But….
Last time, the way to Kempty fall looked narrow to me but till this time around, I had become used to of hill roads, also there was no construction in the way like last time, so didn’t felt any trouble.
We reached there but jumping into falls was another story as the temperature of water might have been max 4-5 Degree Celsius. But when we came till here then it would have been injustice if we wouldn’t have jumped into it.
Some posing for camera and then we drove back to Guest house, after all, we drove to Kempty fall instantly without taking any rest, so it was better to take some rest. We left Kempty falls somewhere around 1500hrs and would have reached back to Guest house by 1600hrs.
Luckily the weather gods been favoring us with nice sunshine and hence the view of valley from balcony. Rest of an hour and we were fresh again to walk towards Mussoorie Mall road.
The evening view of Dehradun Valley from Mussoorie Mall Road, which I failed to capture last time due to absence of capable, was available to me this time again and I was ready with Nikon P600. Results are available above. Aren’t they stunning?
While walking on Mussoorie Mall Road, I spotted this Jawahar Aquarium and first thing which came into my mind, even when British left our country, the mindset of owning everything as ruler remained with Gandhi dynasty which resulted in naming everything wherever they went. Indira Library, Jawahar Aquarium, this road, that road etc.
Entry ticket price was 25/-, which was kind of worth due to kind of ambience. The place was well maintained and sure a must visit if you have kids with you. They charge you additional 30/- for camera but also warn you for not using flash if taking photo.
The night view of the valley was equally cool. We had our dinner at Moti Mahal and then headed back to Guest house. The night was cold enough though we came prepared for it and had our personal heater and electric jug etc with us, which came handy. Also would like to mention about the special kind of “Rajai’s” at hills, which were very light in weight and in first impression didn’t felt like would be enough for such cold but as the time passed by, they proven this hot that we were almost sweating even when temperature outside would have been 2 degree around.
This was the end of day one and we had already seen as much as we seen in last trip. We had three more days in our hand and the day next was to start with new destinations.
Mussoorie Trip: Day two
Nothing better on hills than having a strategic location for evening and morning views unhindered and the particular Govt guest house, we were staying was blessed about it. Actually that’s the case with almost all hill properties of Govt, may be because they been there since early.
It was post 0610 hrs only when the first sunray might have appeared from behind of those hills and then till 0710hrs, the sky kept on changing colors each new minute. Not really sure if the pictures could do justice with kind of experience it was with the chilling coldness in air.
After morning views, it was the time to head towards Dhanaulti. Even though we knew that there would be no snow there, as of now, but it was better to check out the route once and there was no guarantee of snow in coming days either.
There are two ways to Dhanaulti, one goes via Mussoorie Mall Road and one goes from Dehradun–Mussoorie Road 2kms down from Mussoorie Mall Road at a turn from Petrol pump (not sure if there are more ways). We chosen the less crowded second route obviously. Though the route was very narrow in start, it improved later on and after half way, the views of snow peaks, which greeted us, was worth all the efforts.
Some more drive and we reached to a spot which might be the commercial play spot of Dhanaulti. Trekking, skiing and other snow sports been available there, waiting for one crucial thing, snowfall. Snow happens to be the lifeline of the hill people at such places.
It was 1100 hrs when we reached to Dhanaulti 0km. It was a small place with a max 3-4 shops and one hotel. I guess only the play point was famous place with kind of views it offers. We ate Aaloo Paranthas from a shop there and also took the phone number of the shop owner there so that may inquire about snow situation from him over phone in coming days.
The hotel was sure an interesting place. On the rooftop of the same, there was a way to small hill, where they had farming of Cauliflowers and from the top of the hill, you could easily see two sides of Mussoorie: One side, where there are snow peaks and one side where there is valley and long line of dry mountains. These two side of Mussoorie continue everywhere.
Anyway, there wasn’t much to do at Dhanaulti in current conditions so we drove back and would have reached Guest house by some 1PM or so. The route back was kind of one way and diverted us from the earlier route. We passed through very narrow roads, homes & digged roads then somehow got diverted to Mussoorie Mall road side, but managed to get back on main route. It was around 1400 hrs when we decided to move towards ropeway and Gun hills.
Honestly speaking, the ropeway of Mussoorie doesn’t excite you much in comparison to that of Nainital likes. May be because our guest house itself already had spectacular views of valley and the view from Ropeway was nothing new to us.
Gun Hills must be a happening place in season or when there is snowfall in Mussoorie, but during off seasons, it was kind of dull place though with good views and many a shops offering various things.
There were some animal idols and one of the shopkeeper was taking Rs 10 for taking unlimited snaps along with them in name of maintenance charges. I would say fair enough. Kiddo had lots of fun with them.
The view of the valley from there was hinting enough about the urbanization in Mussoorie. Didn’t spent much time at Gun Hills and then we were back to mall road.
Did you spotted that green rooftop? That was our guest house, exactly in front of 6000 ft sign. Looks fabulous, isn’t it?
Back at Guest House, we were greeted by a number of monkeys and one of them actually managed to get inside our room to grab a new packet of breads. For the kiddo that was part of fun and we thanked God that he didn’t took anything valuable. Anyway, we also learned our lesson to keep the doors closed.
Going by the pictures, I hope you can guess that we had managed to reach back in perfect time to enjoy the colorful evening of the valley and it was the time to call it a day. We weren’t sure that what to do on the day next. We planned that if there would be snow then we would be walking towards Dhanaulti and if not then I would be heading back to Office Branch at Dehradun and also Robber’s cave for rest of the day.
Mussoorie trip: Day Three
Thing about hills is, when you get tired of roaming around and watching man made places then just sit back and notice the sunrise and sunset at hills. Somehow magically they manage to give an entirely new picture everyday different from the last day. Anyway.. it was lazy day with no major destination in mind, so we took our time in getting ready, asked the Dhanaulti shopkeeper if any sign of snow there and after negative reply, we headed to Dehradun.
But before going all the way to Dehradun, we decided to check out one more destination around, Bhatta Falls, which was popping up in Google Now on my phone again and again. It wasn’t a much off route destination as the way to Bhatta Falls get cut from the main Mussoorie – Dehradun Highway only, but man what a high slope it is. You must be going kind of 1000fts down in that 2km drive downwards. Even though its now a perfectly made concrete road now, I would not suggest to drive down but leaving your vehicle on side of highway at tea shops etc.
Even though completely empty, this particular fall has kept the natural looks in comparison to highly urbanized and now congested Kempty falls. it might be a perfect place for taking a college trip of 50-60 persons as there are at least 6-7 small spots where separate group of 7-8 people might have fun in water without disturbing the other group.
We even went to top of the falls and spotted some house there. Wondered who might be living there and how would be the life? That also hinted that there must be some different route to the place as well but we didn’t investigated further. The place was very lonely anyway with no one else other than us. Might be the cold and early morning the reason. It was the time to head back on route to Dehradun.
It was just 5 min drive from bottom to top in car but due to continuous upwards slope, we got stuck at one place for few mins where there was no grills on sides unfortunately and car felt slipping with full handbrake even. Anyway, I managed to drive upwards somehow in first gear throughout and finally were back on highway by 1000hrs.
Last time, we were coming from Dehradun side when we headed to Robber’s cave so that was some urban route, but this time as I knew that there is a way from Mussoorie side as well, we kept on the looking for that and after some detours, we finally managed the short route to Robber’s cave. This time the water was a little higher side in cave than last time and there was almost no crowd. After spending more than an hour, we headed to our office branch. After some office works and meeting the IT head there, we headed back to Guest house again.
Another evening and another walk to Mussoorie Mall Road and this time we managed to walk towards a snow point hotel, which was on another side of mall road and was giving a short view of snow peaks. Quite interesting real estate properties were there on that side.
It was then when we made a blunder decision of taking Rickshaw to Company Bag from Mussoorie Mall Road. He took around 360/- from us for three people round trip and waiting for an hour roughly. Considering the kind of route, the money taken by him was totally justified but as it was evening time and light was fading quickly, the visit there was pointless. The route anyway was motorble and actually on the route to Kempty falls itself. We either could have included the same trip in our schedule earlier when we went to Kempty falls or would have driven to there than taking slow rickshaws. It was very very cold that side in the evening and our hands been freezing. We decided to call it a day.
Mussoorie Trip: Day Four
Earlier we had decided, this would be the last day of our trip, but we decided to give one more day to our luck in case snowfalls might happen on Dhanaulti tonight. We had no plans in reference to the day, so we decided to give the day to manmade spots and the first destination was Company Bag, which we went to yesterday as well but couldn’t enjoy due to night time.
When we been planning that where to drive next, kiddo was enjoying with a pet cat with Guest House caretaker’s kids. I tell you, she is such a brave and curious kid.
But before reaching Company Bag, we had to stop midway for catching with superb snow peaks view due to clear sky and sunshine on snow peaks.
We spent around 30 mins there posing one by one and then we headed to Company Bag.
We parked our car outside Company Bag, which wasn’t much crowded as of now, so no idea how they manage parking etc when heavy rush. The ticket price was Rs 18/- per head.
It might not be much fun for us but for Kiddo, it was great fun to be there even if we didn’t opted for boat ride in backdrop of snow peaks. One interesting attraction was variety of flowers there and a glasshouse for them. I took many of the photos of flowers but putting all of them here would bore you, so leaving that part.
The second destination chosen for the day was Mussoorie Lake, which was a place, where we tried to reach last time as well but somehow Google gave don’t know what route, which didn’t seem motorable. Now when this time when we reached there then I only can laugh that how did we missed this place last time as it was exactly at the Mussoorie – Dehradun highway. I guess the administration should place a more prominent board and more heads on boards in the way. We did boating there for 15 mins. Per person ticket cost was Rs. 25/- and I couldn’t deny the request of kiddo who requesting for boating since Company Bag.
We left from the place at around 1430 hrs and reached back to Guest house by some 1510 hrs and then rest of the day was spent walking at Mussoorie Mall Road. We even spotted convoy of Sanchin Tendulkar entering into Mussoorie Mall Road in 5-6 SuVs but couldn’t manage to see him or take snaps.
The above was the last picture from the day taken at around 1800hrs. The day was over but our plans for next day still wasn’t certain. If there would be snow, then we would head to Dhanaulti and if not then we would be heading back to home via Haridwar route, checking that out as well. At least this was the plan…
Mussoorie Trip: Day Five
In morning, our plan to leave the place was about 0500 hrs considering the fact that sky seemed clear during night so there was no likely snowfall on December 25 either, but we happened to woke up late at around 0620 hrs. Wife was in favor of taking the same route from which came than taking route to Haridwar so that could reach to home as soon as possible. As we already woke up later, I agreed with the same plan.
Even though we didn’t see any snowfalls, but the above picture should give you an idea that how much cold was there. The windscreen of the car was little dirty so I took a glass of water and thrown on it to clean and …and it froze. Not sure if the above picture is able to show the ice on screen but I had to drive slow with the same windscreen for first few mins till heater took over.
It was almost an uneventful journey for rest part in which we faced heavy fog in Dehradun and around, while faced some traffic around Meerut and then by 1400 hrs, we reached back Faridabad at our home with lots of satisfactory memories from the longest trip of ours to hills. This is was last big trip of the year 2014.