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Queen of Hills

As an adventure loving person and having a passion for driving, have covered most of India on wheels. Where ever motorable roads are there my enthusiasm has reached before me...
Since long had a desire to visit Queen of hills "Mussorie ". As soon as I got opportunity I along with my family planned Dussehra weekend.

I took route from New Delhi to Mussorie via Paonta Sahib gurudwara in H.P.

Ponata Sahib Gurudwara is situated on the bank of Yamuna....there Sikh Guru had composed many of the hymns which are included in Shabd Sahib. Had Darshan, Kadah Prasad and the Lungar. Last I visited there was about 22 years back while participating in Himalayan Carr Rally. The town has definitely grown big and Gurudwara too is now surrounded by many shops.
Further pressed on to Mussoorie via Dak Pathhar, Dehradun. Reached Mussoorie by 3.30 PM. The place where we stayed is on top of the town at about 7400 ft whereas the Mussoorie town is at 6000 ft. The climb is sudden and single road, and to top it all its not one way traffic. The roads are nice and clean and cemented. But it takes all your driving skills to execute all the turns, and stop and pick up again. Though i have driven in many parts of India including highest pass and all kind of terrain, i accept that till now this was the most demanding.
The town is spread over big area and the name given to it' the Queen of Hills or Pahadon Ki Rani' is worth its beauty. This is the only hill station. I have seen where one place can be approached from multiple routes. Some easy, some difficult, some extremely difficult, some motor-able some kutccha tracks. The town is established in early eighteenth century and has the Cantonment in the highest area, the Mall road as customary to the Cantt towns, which caters as a big shopping area and then the streets. The famous IAS training academy is located about 5 kms from Mall road towards Kemptee fall.
The guest house was in Cantonment area, which was occupied by British till 1947. They had a Military Hospital there. A small Bazar which used to cater for the needs of the nursing staff is called The Sister's Bazar. This Bazar has only two shops. But one of the shop is stuffed so nicely, that you name it and you get it. The family run shop also sells some home made stuff, like variety of sauces and chutneys, peanut butter, cakes, cheeses etc. Cinnamon Bun is also a delicacy the family makes but it was not available on the day of our visit. At the entry of the Sister's Bazar one road winds up to your left towards the Radio Station, Mussoorie which now also broadcasts FM. The military hospital is now taken over by DRDO and they have a training institute.
A few yards down, on the way to Sister's Bazar at a tri-junction is a church and language school, run by the missionaries. There foreigners come and learn Hindi, i.e. the local languange, as it is required to communicate with people to spread the religion.
On the other side, down towards the Mall road, about 300 Mts away is another church and 4 shops and an SBI counter. The place is aptly named as Char Dukan. The shops offer you some snacks, coffee and tea etc. they also have internet facility and STD PCO. Its a good romantic place to sit and sip hot coffee or soup.
Next morning first we went to Dhanoulti about 32 Kms from Mussoorie. There are two man made eco-parks. One can visit them on payment of nominal fee of Rs 10/- per adult and Rs.5/- per child. There are sitting places created at various locations. There are swings and slides beside view points with sit outs. At the entrance there are some Tea stalls that are glad to serve you inside the park, so order some coffee and get inside park. Relax at view point; if you are lucky enough, and the visibility is good, you will have an opportunity to have a look at various Himalayan peaks.

Further, 5 Kms is a famous temple. Surkanda Devi temple is located at about 10,000 ft as people tell you. But it doesn't look like that. However, the climb is steep. It takes about 45 min to climb at normal pace. Mules are also available at Rs. 300/- who take you up (only one way because of gradient. Also the owners quote only for one way and they refuse to bring you down).
After the temple we came back to Mall road. Had lunch and some hot Gulab Jamuns as weather had started to deteriorate. After some strolling and photo clicking, as we started towards our cars, it started raining hails. We moved to Kemptee fall about 17 kms from Mall road. It is out of the world and has been developed nicely by making pools at every step, so that people can enjoy the fall without any mishaps. There is ropeway for going down. It is a small ropeway and charges Rs. 75/- per head. We enjoyed the fall (though not under it, because it was little cold after the rains) and had Bhutta. Then came back to the guest house by about 6.30 PM.
It was planned that next day before starting for Delhi, me and kids will go for a trek, early morning, which we did. We got up early and started at 6.30 AM as planned. First we took a steep downhill road to midway to Mall road, where there is nice Restaurant named Doma’s. The idea was not to visit the restaurant, but it is a land mark, where the normal Motor-able road and the other i.e. the steep narrow walk-able road to cantt meet, and its a land mark not because of the restaurant but next door is the door where the famous writer Mr Ruskin Bond stays. A non-descriptive house without any name plate. We had to ask three passers by who did not know. One family was like us only (outsider), another local acknowledged that its around but did not know the exact location and another did not come out from the car he was starting and could not guide us exactly as its very non descriptive. Finally a school girl took us there and showed the stairs leading to the writer’s house and also told us that the open window is where Mr Bond stays.
Then we climbed back to 4 Dukan through some normal road and some rock climbing kind of route. The terrain is difficult and the rocks are not hard and can break by the load. At rock climbing part it became scary, the kids climbed but for me with the back problem and camera in hand, at one place i felt that i should not have taken that route. After reaching 4 Dukan we took another route which surrounds the peak where we were staying and from the easterly direction via a point named Lal Tibba reaches the church junction just below our guest house. Apparently Lal Tibba gets its name from the small hillock jutting outside and there is a hut. The mud colour is red. There is a telescope put up by some entrepreneur on top of a Machan to facilitate viewing Himalayan peaks. Enroute back to the church, there is christian graveyard, ( the Muslim graveyard is enroute to the town from Dehradun) guarded by a ferocious dog.
While returning to Delhi we followed a different route Dehradun- Chutmalpur-Purquazi-Muzzffarnagar-Modinagar-Gaziabad. Somebody suggested this is the shortest route. The route may be shorter by 15-20 kms but is longer in time, because of road condition, pot holes etc. We reached Delhi in almost 9.30 hrs after an irritating journey. Whereas in this much time we had reached Mussoorie in less than this time via Paonta Sahib covering almost 70 kms extra.

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Abhijeet Sarmandal

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Maharashtra ,  INDIA

I am an engineer from MANIT, Bhopal.

 Happily married, having two kids and lots of friends. I am what I am, is because of people around me. My indulgence include driving, cooking, music and exploring new places. I believe in humanity and thoroughly convinced that all religions are same.

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