Our visit to Mussoorie, a very well known hill resort, was sparked by two things – one, a dire need to escape Delhi’s scorching heat and two, to break from the humdrum of everyday life. We had purchased ‘Outlook Traveller Getaways – 52 Weekend Breaks from Delhi’ before coming to Delhi and figured it was a good time to put it to use.
Stage 1 of planning: Book your train / bus tickets
We booked train 12205 from NDLS to Dehradun Railway Station. The train departs Delhi at 2350 hrs and arrives in Dehradun at 0540 hrs. Our return journey was booked onboard 12018 which departs Dehradun at 1700 hrs and arrives in NDLS at 2245hrs. A win-win situation guaranteeing a good night’s sleep on Sunday night.
Once you alight at Dehradun railway station, you can either board a bus or hire a cab (full/shared) to suit your needs. Mr.D and Me decided to board the bus from the Dehradun bus station located right across the Railway station. Mind you, The cabbies will charge you a hefty sum for short 1 hour long journey and is better taken when you are in a group. The bus journey changed my perception of the locals, who are very organized and well behaved.
Stage 2: Book Accommodation in Mussoorie
Just like all beings, I started with Tripadvisor reviews, filtering AirBnB’s for homestays till I chanced upon Doma’s Inn, a small hotel with mixed reviews but lo behold, sharing a boundary with home of Padma Bhushan and Padma Sri awardee and Author, Mr. Ruskin Bond.
Ruskin, Naam to suna hi hoga?
Really. Bad. Joke. Sorry Rahul.
This sealed our fate on where to stay. I called up the hotel directly, transferred 40% of the booking amount in their account and we had ourselves a deluxe room at Doma’s Inn; An Inn inspired by the Bhotia tribal monastery.
Stage 3: Reach Landour in Mussoorie and zone out!
We reached Mussoorie Picture Palace Bus station by 8am and walked to Doma’s Inn. This is a walk I recommend if you want to experience the beauty of Mussoorie; The roads were empty, the shops were closed and we only crossed paths with few uniformed kids on their way to school. It took us about 30 minutes of slow walk through winding steep roads to reach Doma’s Inn.
Now if you have a sharp eye, you will immediately observe all the off-beat items laid out all across the inn.
Breakfast was at Char Dukaan, literally! 10 minutes of walk from Doma’s Inn leads you to Char Dukaan, a lane with 4 small cafes. We chose to eat out breakfast at Anil Cafe whose tiny but efficiently run cafe shot to fame when ‘the Master Blaster’ Sachin Tendulkar himself tweeted about eating breakfas here. Lo Behold, change of fortune for Mr. Anil.
A hot bowl of Cheese Maggie and a plate of chilli omelette and the quintessential ginger-lemon tea later Mr. D and me set of on a 3 hour walking tour of Landour. During the walk you will come across the most charming houses on one side and thick forest on the other. The kind of walk that sees you day dreaming about settling in a charming and quaint place like Landour.
A lot of walking and a whole lot of hunger pangs made the already divine Landour Bakery seem even more inviting. Now this is the kind of cafe one can sit and write a book in. One side of the bakery wall is made up entirely of glass from floor to ceiling and overlooks oak, pine, and deodar trees. A donut and coffee later we dragged ourselves out of the bakery and continued to walk.
Post a heavy and delicious lunch at Doma’s Inn and a quick nap, we decided to go to the main town. And regretted it. It was more crowded than CST, one of the busiest railway stations in the world. With no patience to deal with the human species, we took an about turn and found ourselves in front of ‘Little Lama Cafe’. The call of the caffeine was strong post the nap and the Little Lama Cafe provided a lovely respite from the crowd and caffeine craving. Note – make sure to get a table outside of the main seating area, facing the hills. You can Thank me later.
Day 2 – We took a cab from Picture Palace to go to the other end of Mussoorie, Library bus stand. It took us 45minutes to cover a few kilometres because of the traffic jam. We decided to avoid the typical touristy places like Kempty falls and the likes of it and head straight to Happy Valley. Happy Valley was Dalai Lama’s first residence in India after he fled Tibet and the place is guaranteed to make you smile. It is a settlement of about 5000 tibetans and because it was a sunday, there were kids everywhere. We saw kids playing football, girls oiling each others hair, 4-5 of them sitting in a row while some diligently helped their mothers clean the home windows with newspapers.
We walked and walked, and trust me, there is loads to see if you can walk – their living quarters, hostel, home, basketball ground all surrounded by a lush green valley dotted with colourful prayer flags swaying gently with the wind. We bought some Laping (Super spicy street food) from a elderly lady, sat on the steps and relished both the snack and our surroundings.
Because we had let go of our cab, we walked leisurely for about an hour till the bus stop and took the bus to Dehradun railway station. A short and pleasant ride in the Shatabdi got us back home, to Delhi.
Well, we didn’t do half the things on the typical tourist’s checklist and what a wonderful decision. We all have a style of travelling and I prefer meeting new people, observing the culture and enjoying nature instead of checking of things to do.
Memories of long walk on that cold yet cloudy morning combined with the occasional drizzle and echoes of bird’s chirping never fail to bring a smile to my place. And a feeling of content.