We Indians can’t resist the festival of lights ‘Diwali’ for it brings incessant joy and enthusiasm. Although, I was joyous and enthusiastic more about the morning after Diwali in 2017, because I was taking a road trip to the Mountains. I am well known in my circle for breaking rules. What is the point of sticking to clichés? Clichés make you boring and mechanical. Post Diwali, I went to Mussoorie with my best friend for a weekend and while I was in the bustling Mall Road at the famous Cambridge Book Depot, where Ruskin Bond comes every Saturday. I bought a Tourist guide with map of Uttarakhand. Unfortunately, Sir Ruskin Bond did not come last Saturday and I started blaming my luck.
While flipping pages of the guide, I observed that the contents were segregated in two parts of Uttarakhand. The Garhwal and Kumaon region. Mussoorie lies in the Garhwal region. I hurriedly turned the pages till I found the Mussorie section. The title was “Mussoorie: A Romantic Town” Here you do what Mussoorie encourages you to do to your heart’s content. The town has unavoidable romance in the air. Now, let me tell you my version. I have been to Mussoorie plenty of times, to be precise, as an infant, as a teenager and now in my late twenty’s. It is everything but romantic. The mall road was filled with people, some dining gluttonously in crowded cafes and restaurants, some bargaining relentlessly with the local shopkeepers and some preposterously showing off their gaudy attires. I mean, why anyone would wear heels and shiny shirts on a mountain terrain is beyond my comprehension. All you need are simple warm clothes to protect you from the cold and a pair of shoes that have a good grip.
It was our first road trip together, my friend Karan seemed more excited than me because it was he who drove mostly. In a two way trip he must have driven 550 out of 600 kilometers, he just did not want the steering wheel to be touched by me, he was pumped up as Lewis Hamilton driving in the Himalayas.
We stayed in Barlow Ganj, which was about 15 minutes away (drivable distance) from the mall road, Mussoorie.
Barlow Ganj is a quiet place, and ideal to lead a reclusive life. Albeit, it consists of five star hotels such as Jaypee Residency Manor, Tulip Inn Green & Breeze and The Claridges Nabha Residence. It also has options for budget travellers like us, a big thanks to Ritesh Agarwal for starting OYO ROOMS. It helps the local economy and boosts the tourism in the hills.
The hotel staff were funny and sweet or probably naive. I asked one of them- what are some visitor attraction places nearby? And he instantly replied “I will give you a list” He got the list in which about 20 places were mentioned each with its distance, and I was satiated, it didn’t look like a lot on the paper, but just to make sure I asked him if the distance mentioned were from starting point of the hotel and with a poker face he said- No sir, you would have to reach Picture Palace Bus Stand, which is about 2 kilometers from here. With less time in hands it is better not to get argumentative and I hate ruining my travel plans. So, on Saturday Morning we hiked up to the Mall Road from Barlow Ganj. A distance of 4 to 4.5 kilometers. From Jharipani road we took the route to the famous Victorian Wynberg Allen School and it was all incline. The trail was beautiful and narrow and we could smell the Oak, Spruce, Fir and Rhododendron trees. There are only two kinds of smell I fancy, the smell of the books and the smell of trees in the mountains. The day was bright and warm so it got us all sweaty, I particularly hate the sun but Vitamin D is essential for the growth and stability of our bones and keeps us going forward to hike and trek further.
There were fascinating private estates owned by people and we were envious of their happiness.
Lucky are those, who are born in the mountains!
We took a selfie, reached the Mall road, ate delicious lunch and played 3 games of pool. There are number of Video and table gaming centers in the Mall Road and it has a youthful atmosphere.
While going downhill the sun was bidding everyone adieu, it was so bewitching that the langurs sat on the branches of a tree and seemed hypnotized. The Golden Hour of Travel Photography; a period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. God bless my best friend for carrying his DSLR camera. It was suddenly cold, there was no honking and our trip had suddenly changed into quietude, we couldn’t move at all from viewing the town covered in pale tint of orange.
Honeymoon, young couples or secret affairs, think of anything romantic but I would strongly say Mussoorie is a town you go with your friends, you either navigate or get navigated and go for a long walk with a profound conversation. So for us it turned out to be a BROMANTIC town.