Tuesday, February 9, 2016

11 years till we found the Mountains! (Travelogue)

11 years of togetherness out of which 3 we have spent as married couple is good enough time to accept the fact that while we did meet online we connected thanks to a lot of hot messages exchanged in the imaginary environment of the mountains. And it took us 11 years to find the mountains!
(I take the omens thing by Paulo Coelho a little too seriously!)
In any case this is a travelogue about our trip to the queen of the mountains, Mussoorie. The trip was planned thanks to our friends, who got married in Rishikesh and had their reception at the Grooms' village in Tehri, Gharwal ( a remote village 20kms before Chamba). So we decided to extend the trip to the hills!!
And here is 'our' experience along with some tips.

Day 1:

The View from our hotel in Rishikesh
We started for Rishikesh late afternoon from Gurgaon. The thing is that the highway to Rishikesh is via Ghaziabad and Meerut and to cross that stretch takes ages, because NH 24 is a busy busy highway! So it took us about 3 hours to reach the highway that looked like a highway. [Tip: If you have the time, then please start early in the morning. Late night the highway at the border is choked with trucks]. We stopped at Modinagar for the famous shikanjwi and had dinner around 9 ish at a forgettable Dhaba about 80 kms before Rishikesh. We entered Haridwar at around 10.30 and because of the Ardh Kumbh the whole place was lit up like it was Diwali. That was the one treat we got because of the lateness of the hour. We continued towards our destination which was a hotel/ resort by the name of Divine Ganga Cottages. The place is awesome and is located by the Ganges, you wake up some awesome views! BUT DO NOT FOLLOW GOOGLE MAPS TO GET TO THIS PLACE! It is in absolute interiors and the approach road is super scarily narrow. Since it was the dead of the night we did not encounter any traffic or one way restrictions but got into a minor scuffle thanks to Google Maps! We finally checked in around 12:15 am, and the staff was totally awesome about that. We faced absolutely no trouble at all. The bed was comfortable and the room was neat and clean. The bathroom was clean and had the basic utilities.

Day 2:

We woke up to a beautiful and clear morning, crisp sunshine and some chill in the air. The owners (and their family was there!!) and they talked to us and made sure that we were well taken care of. We had breakfast at the resort. Omelettes, puri bhaji, lemon honey tea and black coffee. All of it was delicious and very satisfactory. Especially since we had it on the terrace with a view of absolute bliss. Post breakfast it was time for us to get ready and go. I needed the iron and the wife of the owner was delighted to share hers with me. The check out was super smooth. And then we joined our friends at a banquet hall in Rishikesh for the wedding. ( I would not have otherwise mentioned the wedding but I need to tell you all about a certain incident that took place there!) the bride's shawl got flicked in like 5 mins we turned our heads and the Bride's sister traced the culprits and got the thing returned.
We left around 6.30 p.m. in our car to drive to Tehri Gharwal, our friends village, and boy, was that an experience or what! [Please note that tourist cars and buses are usually not allowed to ply on the roads from Rishikesh towards the hills after sunset]. While most of the stretch was the hill drive with intact roads, the last 2 kms were severely intense wherein the road to the village was mostly a dirt/pebbled/ broken road [true blue safari/off roading experience]. We parked the car, and then were escorted by our friend's family towards the houses/settlements, which was an uphill climb of about half a kilometer [try doing that in heels.. and tell me how it was]. The small compund outside our friend's house was decked up and awaiting the arrival of the newlyweds. Husband and I were also treated like royalty and after an exhausting bout of pooja, and mooh dekhai, we finally got some breather. Husband went off where all the men were drinking and offered them his ice burst ciggrattes which became an instant hit. I was tackling the ladies and trying keep them from asking prying questions to the bride. We had some good village cooked food, served to us with love. We danced till the wee hours of the morning on local gharwali songs and slept in the room along with the bride, and the groom's cousin. The whole village had opened their houses to the guests that had come for the wedding and no one really knew where the other was sleeping!

Day 3:
The Tehri Dam

The view from the village, which was a top a mountain was awesome and we woke up to our hosts wanting to give us bed tea and bed breakfast. Eventually we got ready, saw the couple perform some more poojas [also saw the phenomenon of the God possessing a man and a Goddess possessing a woman] and had puri and chole as brunch and left the village with lots of blessings and driving tips! We left at around 1.30 p.m. drove for about an hour and reached Chamba, where we had lunch at Gautam Residency and started our ride to the Tehri Dam [Highest Dam]. We again followed the Google Maps and reached the side protected by the CISF, and were of course not allowed inside. We stood there admiring the water, the mountains and the beautiful landscape that lay before us. 

The Sunset in the Himalayas

We then turned back, and started heading towards Mussoorie. True to ourselves, we stopped at several places just to admire the view and take some pictures. We saw the most beautiful sunset ever, and also saw the snow covered peaks and the orange sunligt reflecting on them. We entered Mussoorie via the Mall Road and paid Rs. 150 for using the Mall Road as the road to go from one end to the other. The Mussoorie mall road has some serious steep roads and a lot of one ways, so be careful and ask around. After manouvering through the people on the mall road, and getting lost once (yes, Google Maps has a thing!) we reached our resort. We stayed at the "Dancing Leaves Resort", it is the resort by Sterling Holidays and it is located at a secluded spot 3 kms away from the Mall Road. We checked in at about 7.30 p.m. and decided to order in room dining. We ordered the tikka and the grills, and they were quite good. We planned for the next day and had a sound sleep in the soft bed and thick blanket.

Kempty Falls
Day 4:
We woke up really early, and were greeted with the view of the valley visible from our french window. We had been told about the Spa there, and we booked that for 5 p.m. in the evening. We ordered the breakfast in our room and left around 10.30 a.m. for Kempty Falls. We reached there at about 11.30 ish, and decided to go to the falls. I had visited the falls almost 15-18 years back, and remembered the trek to go down and come up. Luckily though, they had developed a ropeway to the falls, which Rs. 120 per person for a two way ride. We took the ropeway and reached the falls. Earlier what was wild had been tamed, and the place where the water got collected had been reinvented to facilitate shops providing lockers, change of clothes, maggie, eggs, tea and even food. We saw a couple of people jump inside the water and shriek because of the cold temprature, and decided instead to observe their antics over some maggi. We sat there for about 20 mins and then went back up via the ropeway. We then headed for the Yamuna Bridge. We went up close and personal to the river Yamuna, clicked pictures, but were disappointed as there was no place to eat lunch. We were there for another 20 mins and then drove back to Mussoorie. We parked at a designated parking spot outside the mall road and then walked on the mall road. TripAdvisor advised us to have lunch at a Tibetan Restaurant by the name of Kalsang. We ate a lunch of Soup, Thupka and Momos. It was truly awesome!! We were over fed and running out of time, and took a cycle rickshaw till the end of the Mall Road and drove back to our resort for our Spa appointment. We had a great time nourishing our tired bodies, and then had dinner in their Restaurant. The menu is the same, and because it was a very limited menu we ended up having chinese for dinner as well. Grills the night before were much better. We ended our night with a bottle of wine. [The Resort does not have a bar. We carried our bottle].

Day 5:
The Clouds and the Mountains
It was the day to go back home. We woke up to a lot of rain. Nevertheless, we had our breakfast [There was breakfast buffet, and the Puri Bhaji was amazing!] and checked out. The rain was now a drizzle. We left at around 10.30 a.m. and decided to go via the Yamuna Bridge route. It was longer by about 70 kms, but the drive along with the river was a sight to remember. We decended to Vikas Nagar, and the crucial crossing [where we could have either come via Dehradun or Saharanpur], I saw a board of Poanta Sahib [It is a religious spot for the sikhs and I could not resist] which was 15 kms from there, and we ventured from Uttrakhand to Himachal Pradesh! 

Poanta Sahib Gurudwara

After the darshan at Poanta Sahib Gurudwara, and lunch in the city, we took NH 74, and cut down our travel time quite a bit. The roads in Himachal were scenic and straight. And barring a stop at around 7 p.m. we pretty much drove straight home to Gurgaon. We reached at 9.30 p.m. but because we were well rested and did not have a stressful drive home, we were not very tired.

- Even though it is not as crowded, but travelling to the mountain in winters has a charm of its own.
- DO NOT follow the Google Maps. Ask around. The directions by the locals is most accurate.
- Food was not a high point in the trip. Unlike in Maharashtra, where there is fish and sea food and preparation styles differs a lot, the North gets limited to the Puris, and the chicken and the chinese.
- Driving in the hills is different than driving in the plains. The time taken is more, so never be in a hurry. Also, drive by keeping to your left.
- Keep water with you all the times, you may feel lack of oxigen causing headaches. Water is a great solution to that.
- If you are travelling in winters keep an umbrella and adequate warm clothes.

1 comment:

Bikram said...


reminds me of college days when we use to make so many impromptu trips .. Paonta sahib was a favourite place because of the river behind ideal for picnics and on way there was Renuka etc with lovely waterfalls ...