By Riya Rana:
When I was younger, sometimes I would climb up to the roof of my home. I would say goodnight to the twinkling stars- above me and in front of me, in the far off distance. Those twinkling stars were nothing but lights, coming from streets, buildings, cars, in Mussoorie, the queen of hills. It seemed as if the mountains were covered in Christmas lights at night and by a white beard during the day. I was living in Dehradun (a valley). Even though I had never been to Mussoorie its beauty nevertheless mesmerised me.
When I visited Mussoorie I knew I was right. At an altitude of 2000 metres, with a wide range of flora and fauna, Mussoorie attracts hundred of tourists each year. It is a hill station situated in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan Range. Weather is cool all year round and the summers are a great respite, needing light woollens. Adventure freaks could visit Mussoorie in the months of March to June, for trekking, camping, rock climbing and other sports. For those wishing to see snow and relish in the fog, January and February are most favourable. A nearby hill station (24 kms) Dhanaulti, is the perfect destination in case you miss snowfall in Mussoorie, since it’s mountain peaks are snow-capped perpetually during winter.
There are no train stations or airports here but the nearest ones are in Dehradun. The most common way to reach Mussoorie is through Dehradun (35 kms) via road. Private cars, cabs, buses can be booked. However during unfavourable weather, the roads might get blocked, leading to long lines of traffic. Most of the hotels are located in the heart of the city and are famous for being hospitable. Being cost friendly, this place has it all- budget hotels, 3 – 5 star hotels and heritage hotels.
Starting at Dehradun, with rapidly escalating heights, the green lush welcomes you. The round spiral roads may slow down your speed but not your spirit (a word of caution- Be prepared for altitude sickness). With all the scenic beauty surrounding you, it’s not hard to get lost in thoughts. En route you would come across beautiful bungalows, a Sai temple, the Pareshwarnath temple (with beautiful shivlings) and a few monasteries. Pollution is minimal and you can’t stop yourself from letting your head out the window- just to feel the pure air, so absent in cities. For people wanting to get a high, travelling on a two wheeler is a must. Truly the journey is more beautiful than the destination.
Mussoorie has several interesting tourist places such as the Mall, extending from Cloud’s End to Rockville. It is one of the most crowded places -lined up with benches and lamp posts which give us a glimpse of the British colonial era. As you stroll along the Mall Road you can’t help but notice the graceful sweep of the Doon Valley. The walk is around 2 km but one hardly feels it as one’s eyes are busy soaking up the lively market. The sun kissed hills, fleecy clouds, cultivated terrains- all add to the charm. Many clothing items can be purchased here at a bargained price. Various shops, hotels, restaurants throng this area and the popular attractions include video game parlours, skating rinks, horse carriage rides and the 100-year old Methodist Church.
A visit to Kempty falls is incomplete without bathing under its cool gushing waters. It is located 18 km away from Mussoorie and plunges from a height of 40 feet. It has beautiful rocky enclosures formed naturally by the water. Along with Kempty falls, Jharipana and Bhatta falls are perfect destinations for a picnic.
Using a ropeway ride you can reach Gun hill, which offers a bird’s eye view of the Himalayan Range. Gun Hill is the 2nd highest peak in Mussoorie. The story behind its name is that before Independence, everyday at 12 pm someone would fire a gun, placed atop a mountain, so that people would know the correct time. The telescopes placed here give you a closer look at the mountain ranges.
Camel’s back point derives its name from a large rock placed there, shaped like a camel’s hump. This road starts at Kurli Bazaar and terminates at the Library Bazaar. This 3 km stretch is surrounded by deodar trees and is perfect for horse riding with the sun setting amidst the Himalayan Mountains in the backdrop.
Other places noteworthy of mention are Cloud end, Lal Tibba, Mussoorie Lake, Jwalaji Temple and Happy Valley. For people interested in hiking, Flag hill and Witches hill are interesting options- both showcase the rich flora and fauna. If you are an ardent reader, you can visit Ruskin Bond, much-loved author of novels such as Room on The Roof, The Blue Umbrella, and Vagrants in the Valley.
Whether old or young, Mussoorie is an enjoyable place for all. It is a small heaven with old world charm. This place is a perfect peaceful place for getting a break from our mundane and fast paced lives.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”– St. Augustine.