Saturday, 25 June 2016

Mussoorie


The Cable Car seen from the hotel terrace


This  time as always, the first choice for our summer holidays was Massoorie. The most compelling reason was it's closeness to Delhi NCR, being barely 290 kilometres away from Gurgaon. Unfortunately for us, we chose the wrong time of the summer season for the trip to Massoorie, 20th of June. What should have taken us not more than five hours ended up taking more than ten hours. The reason was apparently the large number of vehicles heading for this  most favoured hill stations of all! It looked as if everyone from Delhi was headed to Massoorie, though I would not blame them, for so were we, and the weather is awful in Gurgaon, what with the heatwave and the excess voltage fluctuations in the electricity supply. While no doubt, the route till Roorkee was OK, it was after Roorkee that we began facing a huge traffic jam. The problem was because of the heavy traffic, and the damaged roads from Roorkee till Dehradun. In many places the road was so badly damaged by rains that their were bottlenecks wher only one lane could pass at a single time.  Anyway we did manage to reach Dehradun by 4:30 p.m. and knew by then that we would not be able to enter Mall abroad at Massoorie because entry is closed after 4:00 p.m., and our hotel, The Hotel Hill Queen  as located on the Mall. We contacted the hotel and they told us that we would have to park at one the parking areas close to Gandhi Maidan. We breathed what became later on  a premature sigh of relief! It was about five kilometres from Mussoorie that we finally got stuck in a massive traffic jam. Thereafter, reaching Massourie became a torture as the traffic began to move at a snail's pace! To make matters worse was the fact that people driving the opposite way we're making fun of all those people who were driving towards Massoorie.


Window shopping at Mall Road


We finally managed to reach Massourie at 8:00 p.m. and then drove to the triple storied 'Government Approved' parking on the road leading to Kempty fall. We somehow got the others to get off the vehicles and then proceeded to the parking. The tariff? Well,  for the night we were charged Rs. 100/- and for the next day, morning till 10.00 a.m. another Rs.200/-. In any we were not worried about the amount, my brother and I, for we were driving two vehicles, for finally we had managed to get a parking and that was what matters the most to us. The next day I managed to wake up at five in the morning and I decided to take a walk from the hotel to the parking lot to check on the vehicles and retrieve some stuff I had forgotten in my car. The walk as a pleasant one and I managed to get a few good snaps. Finally we decided that it would be better for us to retrieve the cars from the public parking and instead, park them at the hotel. It is clear that people who are caught unawares in Massourie will have to pay dearly for parking charges, entry charges, and exorbitant Joel rates. Fortunately for us we had booked fa,idly rooms at The Hotel Hill Queen  which is a good hotel by all standards because they serve you a sumptuous breakfast and an even more grand dinner. The hotel commands one of the best views of the  Dehradun Valley, an it has some of the best terraces I have ever seen in The hotel is also strategically located almost in the middle of the Mall Road, right opposite the booking office for the rope way .


Drawing crowds to a shopping carnival, my nephew decided to wear his mask too!


Finally after parking our cars at the Hotel Hill Queen we were able relax and then after having a sumptuous meal we decided to take a stroll on Mall Road, window shopping till about eleven, and then turned in to sleep. The next day I woke up at five, took a bath and then walked all the way to Gandhi Maidaan to where the cars were parked an invigorating walk, and the  I was ready for the day. The whole day was spent on window shopping, taking photographs and just chilling out, besides, we also visited the Jawahar Aquarium where there were a few aquariums containing a few exotic fish species. On the third day we decided to visit the company garden that incidentally also houses the Wax Museum. We decided to take rickshaws instead of the cars because of the congested roads. Rickshaws can be hired for Rs. 60/- till Company Garden, one way, then there is a waiting charge of Rs. 100/- and the trip back which will cost you Rs. 60/-.It being late in the summer, there were not too many flowers too see, although the water fall and the landscaping of the garden gave the kids to run around. The Wax Museum was however a bonus! You need to pay a fee of Rs. 100/- per head,to enter the Wax Museum, this is over and above the Rs.18/- per head that you have to pay to enter the Company Garden.


Strolling down Mall Road

On returning, the ladies decided they wanted to check out the Tibetan Market so the did even though it was raining. That it kept raining. We decided to give Kempty Fall and Gun Hill a miss. We decided not to go to Kempty Fall because of the rush and overcrowded road, and as far as Gun Hill was concerned, well we had a clear view of the Dehradun Valley from the comfort of our hotel terrace!


A helping hand when it became too steep for the Rickshaw Wala


Ideally a visit to Massoorie would be about relaxing and window shopping for most, however, some of the places worth visiting include Yamuna bridge, Lal Tibba, Dhanaulti, and Bhatta fall, although the last one could be visited while returning to Delhi. We gave Dhanaulti, Lal Tibba and Kempty Fall a miss because we were apprehensive about not getting a parking spot if we took our vehicles out of the Hotel's parking lot, moreover, there was a risk that we would get stuck in the normal traffic jam while returning to Mussoorie. One thing is clear and that is that the road to Mussoorie needs to be widened in order to accommodate the extra traffic coming from Delhi and Ghaziabad.



The Contraption that you see in the enclosure is a Cinema Hall Film Projector

We planned our return trip to Gurgaon so that we could visit Bhatta Fall on the way and the Malsi Deer Park that is close to Dehradun. The road to Bhatta Fall turns sharply from the main highway, and from the spot from the turning, the water fall is one and a half kilometres from the highway. The road is quite steep though motor able, and of course it is a very narrow rad so drivers should be careful on turns that can be blind spots and they need to keep honking all the time. There is an unsaid rule in the mountains that the first preference on roads should be given to vehicles that are climbing. The locals mostly follow this rule but people coming from other states mostly ignore this rule and they try to force their way more so if they have a bigger vehicle.



A chance encounter with a dragon fly at the Company Garden

Bhatta Fall is a nice place to visit especially because it is relatively less crowded as compared to Kempty fall, and unlike Kempty fall, it is less commercialised! People enjoy dipping into the water, or standing below the water fall, I guess being pummelled by the mass of water falling from a great height might have a therapeutic effect!



At Bhatta Fall





After spending about half an hour st Bhatta Water fall, we decided to continue to Dehradun. On the way back to Dehradun we stopped at the Malsi Deer Park for half an hour. It is very easy to miss the entry to the deer park because of a total lack of indicative signage at  the deer park we were able to see quite a few species of birds, including deer and a leopard. The deer park is a neat and clean place although it could have been better if there had been more facilities like guides and if possible less of wire fences that often prevent you from taking clear snaps of the birds and animals.



At the Malsi Deer Park

We had started for Dehradun from Mussoorie at 10:00 a.m and were able to reach Gurgaon at 9:00 p.m., a good enough time considering that we had stopped frequently spending almost an hour each at Bhatta Water Fall, Malsi Deer Park, and the Bikano restaurant which is a few kilometres before Muzzafarnagar. There was hardly any traffic on the return journey and we stopped a lot of times, once even for a banana break. A note of caution to motorists would be that they should take the by-pass roads and not pass through major  towns on the way as roads going through the towns are often congested with local traffic. Major towns wile driving towards Mussoorie from Delhi include Ghaziabad, Meerut, Muzzafarnagar, Saharanpur, Roorkee, and then Dehradun. The toll roads that bypass Meerut and Muzzafarnagar offer a wonderful driving experience, except when the road passes close to hamlets and villages because you will come across assorted traffic including bullock carts and tractors trying to cross your path often forcing you to apply brakes. Also the adage of giving way to faster traffic on the right is hardly followed by other motorists. You cannot expect trucks to give way to you because they are slower and you are faster, because once the hog the right  lane, they will never give way. The buses too are driven like racing cars so one needs to keep a safe distance from them, moreover the drivers of the buses often seem to take offence if you show them your lights an honk for them to let you past. I guess drivers of commercial vehicles need to go for some more training! While speeding on the inviting toll roads it is better not to exceed a hundred kilometres an hour; there is a risk of a tyre burst when you hit speeds of more than a hundred kilometres an hour caused by friction between the tyres and the road surface. Driving early in the morning, preferably starting at five from Delhi will be a great advantage. Ideally driving time from Delhi to Mussoorie should not exceed five hours. The distance from Delhi to Mussoorie is less than three hundred kilometres.



A display of the various stages of Man's evolution at the deer park




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