Rambling on….

about anything under the Sun!

And finally back in Mussorie!

After 3 wonderful days in beautiful Nainital, we hopped on the bus on Tuesday morning bound for Mussorie. The agent at the hotel had warned us that it was a 10 hour drive and none of us was really looking forward to the long journey in the supposedly super-deluxe bus, but did we have a choice? The enthusiasm remained high though and the microphone in the bus (it was a tourist bus) helped – folks were putting their vocal chords to the test and we had our own version of Indian Idol getting started. The drive downhill was unpleasant to say the least (the oily puris we had for breakfast were NOT helping) and we had to stop several times to let folks get a breath of fresh air, walk around and do whatever it took to get rid of the motion sickness. We must have bought enough Hajmola to send their stock skyrocketing. Finally, we hit the plains and not only did the drive get more pleasant, the driver started making good headway towards Mussorie – the weather was starting to get very warm however, and some of us wondered if Hyderabad would have been cooler.

Four hours later, we saw a sign that said Dehradun (which is about 35 kms from Mussorie, at the foothills) was 110 kms away and we were elated. The 10-hour estimate was clearly wrong, and we’d probably make it in 7 hours…but wait, there was Hardwar, with its countless so-called devotees, lurking ahead. The roads were completely blocked and the unruly crowd (trust me, there was nothing devout about what the vast majority of them were doing) ensured that we had to take a detour. The bus changed direction towards Rishikesh and we ambled along the Upper Ganga canal and reached Rishikesh about 3 hours later – on a couple of occasions enroute, we actually crossed the river (no bridge mind you, we literally drove across the Ganga (the river is blazing fast, btw). A chai break and 2 hours later, we started climbing up towards Mussorie and the weather started to get cooler again. Sitting at the front of the bus and watching the driver negotiate the dangerous curves was a great experience in itself – finally, we reached our destination, the Avalon Resorts up in the Mussorie hills after 12 torturous hours and everyone was so ready to call it a day.

The next 3 days it just rained and rained and rained in Mussorie and the bulk of our time were spent indoors. A few brave folks ventured out in the few dry spells we had and did a little bit of trekking, sight-seeing etc but overall it was rather disappointing. I had been to Mussorie 11 years earlier with my college gang and amazingly, not much had changed in the city. A lot of the old structures, business establishments etc were still intact although the city had become much dirtier. People were spitting on the streets like there was no tomorrow – to say it was disgusting would be putting in mildly. The resort itself was good (clean rooms, good facilities, activities etc)  and the food very decent (its affiliated to Club Mahindra) but it was somewhat pricey – i think the cheapest cottages (sleeps 2) runs for 5500 plus this time of the year. And their service seemed to start out very well with the manager coming down to talk to us so that he could help us plan our activities – arrange a cricket match, organize a picnic, do some adventure sports etc. But then, reality wasn’t very far behind…and that was the last we saw of him. Of course, the rain would have prevented us from doing any of the things he mentioned but we were still shocked that he disappeared after all those promises. And it was NOT funny that his name was Arvind as well!

Mussorie did offer a lot of opportunities for us to shop though. Gun Hill, one of the highest points in town (you can take the ropeway to get there, or trek up if you are looking for a steep climb) offers some creative key chains where you can get names inscribed – these make for terrific gifts and are reasonably cheap. I think its a trademark Mussorie item because I distinctly remember seeing some of the same things on my previous trip 11 years ago. Shame on me if i I didnt get you one :> In addition, Mall Road has a bunch of cute shops with intersting stuff to sell – even if you dont buy anything, it makes for a fun evening walk.

Finally, after a nice long break we headed back home with a day’s stop at Dehradun. Those of us that were tired of the bus (and there were quite a few) decided to take the train to Delhi. Its a six-hour train ride and there are plenty of options through the day from 5am to 9:30pm (there are 2 Shatabdis and another A/C special among others). For those that need to get there quicker, Air Deccan has a midday flight out of Dehradun that’ll get you to Delhi in an hour or so. And while we are on the subject of alternate travel options, one can also get to Mussorie from Nainital by train – there is a night train from Kathgodam (which is the rail head for Naintail, about 35kms away) that gets you to Dehradun in 9 hours so that’s a good option as well.

Next destination – hoping it’ll be Kathmandu but that’s at least a few weeks away

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