|Mussoorie, the Queen of Hills|
For me, Mussoorie is the land of Rudyard Kipling and Ruskin Bond, who with their innumerable stories have weaved an air of magic and adventure around this beautiful British-era hill station. Thanks to these authors, I was already fascinated with this heritage hill town without having seen it and now visiting it was one of my travel dreams come true.
We visited Mussoorie during the Christmas break of 2020. Being in the middle of a pandemic, we chose to stay at JW Marriot which we thought would be a better choice given the sanitization and safety procedures it followed. However, our resort was a good 25-30 minute drive from the hub of the town but that did not bother us much as we had hired a personal car and a driver for the entire duration of the trip.
This popular hill station still retains much of its colonial charm even in 2020. Landour near Lal Tibba, where Ruskin Bond still resides, is one such place where one can still find age-old villas and churches lending a touch of romanticism to this lovely hill town. The town offers many lovely walks through the woods with stunning views of the Garhwal Himalayas, not to mention the Garhwali culture and hospitality which we were treated to.
1) We got a RT-PCR test done before embarking on our journey. The resort too demanded a negative test report before checking us in. The airport officials on arrival, however, did not ask for any proof of the test.
2) Most of the hotels, inns and resorts, including the Savoy are located in and around Mall Road. All the good eateries and cafes too are concentrated in the area. So you can imagine the traffic chaos and crowds in that part of the town. With the narrow roads, absence of parking spots and hordes of tourists, it is recommended to not drive yourself but to rent a cab with a driver if you are planning to park at the Mall Road.
|High tea at our picturesque resort. Will recommend JW especially in times of Covid...|
Camel's Back Road (Time taken to explore the place: Approx 2 hours)
One such highly recommended walk is the Camel's Back Road. The picturesque road is just behind the busy Mall Road. (Yes, I just realized there is a Mall Road in almost every North Indian hill station and crowded they all are!)
This 3-km walk is less frequented by the tourists and offers magnificent views of the valleys and dales that Mussoorie is. It starts at the Library Chowk and ends near Picture Palace, a gaming zone in Mussoorie. The name of the road is derived from a contour on the surrounding hill that resembles a camel's hump. I tried too hard to find the connection ;) but eventually gave up!
The road goes behind the busy Mall Road and suddenly leads us to an altogether different world totally devoid of any commercialization but just the beautiful hills around us and their tranquility.
Take a look at some pics below:
|Mall Road - The board directing one to Camel's back road|
|The graveyard of some old English army folks along the road|
Kempty Falls (Time taken: Around 1 hour)
Another nice location to visit in Mussoorie is Kempty falls. It was quite close to where we were put up and hence we reached there before 9 am and could beat the crowd. A short stair of steps, surrounded by small shops, tea stalls, and eateries. led us to the fall below. The fall is a pretty sight from a height but unfortunately, the shops negate a lot of its natural splendor at its base. Anyways, our trip to the falls was a quick one as we did not indulge in any major shopping. However, if one were to even start window shopping, I think it would be an altogether different fun experience :)
|Kempty falls - Tier 1|
|Kempty falls at the base|
|The walk on Lal Tibba. It was really chilly (4 degrees) and my mask did seem to offer protection against the biting cold! :)|
Soon enough we reached a crossroad and took a left to reach an old villa with people crowding outside it. Piqued, we went closer and found out that we had reached the iconic Landour BakeHouse, one of the most famous bakeries in town; and the crowds were of the eager customers who were thronging the 18th-century villa to get an entry inside it.
|The Buddha Statue atop Dalai Hill|
|Buddhist Stupa enroute Dalai Hills|