Day-1 It has been seven long years since we both have had a vacation together, without kid, without parents, without friends or without an extended family. It looks like all the wait, all the longing to go like old days, was finally being graced. My parents and my kid were going to Bangalore for a week and since it was a long weekend from 1st to 3rd January 2016, we goaded the idea of exploring Mussoorie on these days.
So, finally the D-day had come. Time on the clock read 04.00 hrs. Since we wanted to beat highway traffic and wished to reach Mussoorie latest by lunch so as to utilize half day, we got up. It was cold. Didn’t want to touch water but had no choice. Finally after a lot of laziness, we were ready. Time read 4.50 am. Finally, just before leaving home, we crosschecked our items again against check list. Loaded all items in my WagonR, buckled the seat belt, mapped the GPS and it was time to go. Time read 05.00 am.
Misty morning, beautiful Delhi roads, slow music, best company and no traffic… what else one wants while driving? But by the time we reached Mohan Nagar, fog started getting dense and just after crossing ghaziabad, it was a zero visibility situation. Time read 6.15 am. The speedometer came down from 80 kmph to 10 kmph within 2 km distance. Having not much choice, I started following a swift dzire which was driving relatively slow, though faster than me. We reached Modinagar around 7.10 am. Fog was still dense, and the dzire ditched us and went into by lanes of Modinagar. I was looking for another vehicle whom I can use as a pilot and it was when I saw this Fortuner, it was being driven fast but with all its lights functioning, I thought its better to follow this, than stress myself amidst dense fog. Quickly, we zipped past Meerut and on Muzaffarnagar toll way. Time read 08.00 am when we took Meerut bypass. We had thought of taking a break at Khatauli McDonalds but couldn’t notice it in fog. I always believe fog and highway coupled together is more intoxicating than booze and smoke, and driving in this weather with almost zero visibility…absolutely loved it.
Google map showed us that taking Deoband route would make us reach Mussoorie faster by around 45 mins and we blindly followed the technology. The moment we got down from Toll road to state highway, fog got dense and visibility reduced from ‘almost zero’ to ‘completely zero’. Sooner we realized the Toll road was better and we could ‘see’ there. Defied google and took a kejri turn, back to the toll road and go via Roorkee. Saw an accident where a honda city crashed into the back side of same Fortuner we were following. This was a shocking sight which refocused me back to driving safely and slowly.
Time read 9.30 am. I could see a streak of sun light peeping out of the clouds. Driving cautiously. soon, we entered Roorkee. I wanted to cross it before the shops open and we get further late. We realized that we are feeling hungry and driving since 5am continuously. Fortunately, there was a decent looking road side Dhaba on the side of the road. We pulled over to have a bio break and breakfast. Time read 10.30 am.
After filling our tummies with hot parathas and tea, we decided to hit the road and not stop till we reach Mussoorie. Reached Dehradun by 12.00 noon, not very late I guess. Mussoorie is just an hour away… I can smell the fresh mountain air…just an hour more, said my heart. Ohh..not yet, the final driving test was pending. There was an hour long jam on Dehradun – Mussoorie highway. Time read 13.00 hrs. Why is everyone heading towards Mussoorie on 1st Jan? Finally after an hour of crawling through the traffic, we reached our abode for next two days – The Perfect Hideout. Time read 14.00 hrs.
It took us around 9 hrs of driving to reach Mussoorie from Gurgaon amidst heavy fog and traffic. Still I shudder to think that had we left around 7am, we might have reached in the evening.
We didn’t had the luxury to relax in the hotel, so just after catching our breath and a quick face wash, we left hotel to explore Mussoorie. Parked our car at one of the pay n park slots, we strolled down the mall road enjoying like tourists, window shopping at every opportunity. Soon, we inquired about Gun Hill and decided to give rope way a skip. The road to the top of gun hill was a cemented one, though the climb was steep. While walking uphill, I realized that I am aging faster than I thought I would. A 15 mins distance was finally covered in 30 mins and 10 more mins were wasted to catch our fading breath. Gunhill was a skippable attraction with all views obstructed by vendors. Finally, we decided to walk downhill. Time read 16.30 hrs.
Tripadvisor reviewers suggested a walk down the camel back road. The road looked narrow and deserted but we decided to walk for a while on this 2 km road and return if views did not entice us. And, oh my god, what a road we took… sunset looked amazing with a rainbow of colors appearing on the canvas of sky. Camera snaps can’t do justice to the view sky had that time…amazingly perfect. All our fatigue vanished looking at the view and we decided to explore all 2-3 km on foot. Finally, the serpentine road dropped us back on Mall road after lots of twists and turn. Fully enjoyed the long walk. And when we left, the time read 18.00 hrs.
Finally, it was time to go back to hotel and call it a day. We reached hotel by 19.15 hrs, ordered dinner and slept peacefully.
Day-2 was going to be more hectic one as we planned to visit Dhanaulti and Kanatal with a stopover at Suranda Devi Temple. So, after breakfast, we got the tank full and hit the road again. Time read 08.30 hrs. The route to Dhanaulti was beautiful with barren mountains without a shrub, a blue sky above and winding roads beneath. On the way, we stopped on a roadside maggie joint. The hoarding at the stall said “welcome back Maggie”. Maggie is a craze in our country…all I could think was “meri pahar waali maggie story”… anyway, with both tank and tummy full, there wasnt any excuse to stop on the way other than staring at the mountains, watching the mist float gently from one peak to the other, revealing streaks of sunlight caressing the contours of the hills… enjoying the weather, finally we reached Dhanaulti at 10.00 am. Our first stop was Suranda Devi temple which was located on the highest peak of nearby hill. The only thought which flashed my mind was ‘I can’t climb it on foot’… and when my wife also gave up without trying, I was elated. Finally, we rented two horses and it took them 30 mins to drop us at the temple. The view from the top of the temple was stunning. Being a sunny day, we could see white mighty Himalayas at a distance. The other side had an equally mesmerizing view of the valley. We clicked around 80 photos there and believe me, all were amazing. The only thing which obstructed the otherwise perfect picture was us posing for the photo.By the time we fully absorbed the view and satiated the photographer within us, the time read 12.00 noon. How much I wished that there was a slide which took us back to the parking. Running down this hill was an equally uphill task. Took us about 40 mins to reach parking from hill top. When we left Dhanaulti, time read 13.00 hrs.
Our next stop was Camping site at Kanatal. Well, this place nothing much other than good camps overlooking beautiful backdrop. Still, the drive was scenic and worth it. By the time, we left Kanatal, it was 14.30 hrs. Finally, while crossing Dhanaulti, we saw Eco Park and decided to stop for 10-15 mins. Its a nice well maintained park with some adventure activities for kids. One side of the park overlooks a beautiful valley but having seen view from Suranda Devi temple, this view didn’t enchant us much.
By the time we left the park, it was already 16.30 hrs. We had planned go head directly to hotel and rest however, upon reaching the turn to Lal Tibba, we decided to cover this point as well.
The road was narrow and a lot of vehicles were going uphill…we had no choice but to follow the queue. Bumper to bumper jam on an uphill road…here my skills as a driver were tested as we had a Maruti swift following us closely. In order to avoid the back roll hit to the car, I had to press the accelerator hard and use the hand brakes regularly… just a friendly word of advice, please maintain sufficient distance when following on an uphill road. By the time we reached Lal Tibba it was around 17.30 hrs and the sun was setting peacefully in the arms of mountains. It is heavenly feeling to enjoy the sunset sipping hot cup of coffee enjoying the splendors of nature. The sun finally slept peacefully and we decided to return to hotel via Landour market…. though we didnt buy or eat anything, still variety of dresses, aroma from various restaurants are a big temptation. Reached hotel at 19.00 hrs and called it a day.
The circuitous route…
Day 3 – As the clock buzzed 05.30 hrs, we got up to drive back home. Not that we were bored with the place or with each other’s company that we wanted to head home at the earliest, but we had few plans of our own. We wanted to take blessing at Paonta Sahib gurudwara while returning, but instead of taking the regular mussoori-dehradun-paonta sahib route, we debated the route and then decided to take mussoorie – kempty falls – Kalsi – Dakpathar – vikasnagar – herbertpur – Paona Sahib route and then drive back to Gurgaon via yamunanagar – Kurukshetra – Karnal – Panipat – Delhi. With more than 400 km of driving and a few stop over, we decided to cut the sleep short and hit the road. The hotel could not give us breakfast this early, but fortunately we had two buns, which we consumed over tea. Fortunately, there was a tea – coffee maker in the room. By the time, we got ready and packed our stuff, clock read 07.00 hrs. The drive to Kempty falls was through Mussoorie city, but being early morning, there was no traffic and we reached the falls by 07.45am. In winters, I believe its best to reach kempty falls early morning as not a soul can be seen at this unearthly hour. We could not even get one pic clicked together, which has both of us standing with falls in the backdrop. Still, I’d recommend going there early to beat the rush. There are many restaurants in the nearby vicinity serving excellent parathas…and who can resist the temptation of hot parathas with tea amidst morning mist, chilly weather and a lovely view of the waterfall.
By the time, we started driving from there it was 9.00 am. The scenery was spectacular and the winding roads made driving a lot of fun. The view of Yamuna pul on the way, was amazing with river water gushing through rocky terrain beneath the bridge. We stopped over for sometime to absorb the scenery in our memory. Pictures can’t do justice to the splendid view of the valley. Running late, we couldn’t afford to lose more time. By the time we reached Paonta sahib, it was 12.00 noon. Quickly we took blessings at gurudwara, had fabulous lunch at langar and by 13.00 hrs, rushed towards Yamunanagar.
The road to Yamunanagar had a nice Tarmac though its a single road. From there, we joined NH-1 at Kurukshetra. Clock showed 15.00 hrs when we reached there. From there on, the drive was smooth and we reach home by 19.00 hrs. On the way, we did think about stopping at Karna Lake for tea but avoided it as we wanted to reach home on time. Three days just passed off in a jiffy but we had lots of fun and found the much needed ‘us’ time.;’
Overall, the trip was fun and we drove more than 1000 km in total. My WagonR tolerated me and adjusted well to my low gear driving on hills and occasional rapid acceleration. For me, the drive was therapeutic. Such short yet fine breaks are so much important to rejuvenate, relax and then reluctantly come back to the grind of mundane office life. Doing a job at office is the collateral we pay for such breaks in the lap of nature.