Holidays are better planned, and getaways are better unplanned. At least that’s what I feel after my recent jaunt to Dehradun and Mussoorie over the last weekend. It was unexpected, it was unplanned, and it was unlike any of those usual holidays.
With the idea of backpacking to the lofty hills of Mussoorie, I took an overnight bus and got off at Dehradun early Saturday morning. As most of the lodging facilities in Mussoorie tend to get packed during the weekends, I headed straight to the guest house at Forest Research Institute in Dehradun, where a dear relative had successfully managed to book a V.I.P. suite for me, that too on such a short notice.
At first look, the Forest Research Institute seems more like a Roman mansion spread out over 450 hectares of verdant green land, with the immaculate architecture only adding to the scenic beauty of the campus which serves as a research institute for scientific forestry.
For those who are interested in gaining an insight on forestry, it has the following six museums which showcase various aspects of forestation:
- Pathology Museum
- Social Forestry Museum
- Silviculture Museum
- Timber Museum
- Non-Wood Forest Products Museum
- Entomology Museum
After spending a full day exploring the lush greenery and understanding the concepts of vegetation and forestation, I went for a stroll to Rajpur Road, the “upmarket” area of Dehradun which has an array of shops, showrooms and dining places, something like the Sector - 18 of Noida or South-Ex in Delhi. But that’s not exactly what I came looking for, so I trudged back to the guest house.
Early next morning, I was off to the quaint hill station of Mussoorie. The uphill drive in an age-old Ambassador was indeed nauseating, with the driver having to stop the car multiple times to attend to an ever-thirsty radiator. Once in Mussourie, I grabbed a quick bite and headed straight to Gun Hill, a hilltop that offers panoramic views of the Mall Road, the verdant valleys and the Himalayas. One can either take the ropeway or walk up the bridleway to the view point.
My next stop was Kempty Falls, a cascading waterfall which is located about 15-odd kilometers away from the hill station. Regarded as the most popular tourist attraction in Mussoorie, I was disappointed to see that heavy commercialisation and an influx of irresponsible tourists has taken a toll over the natural beauty of this scenic spot. A shower under the waterfall is a must for those who are looking to have fun.
I returned to the Mall Road in Mussoorie to shop for some local handicrafts, which seemed to be largely inspired by the Tibetan culture. The Mall Road has plenty of shops and showrooms offering everything from gift items to garments, hand-made souvenirs and antiques. Bargaining, as in most parts of India, is a norm here.
The tour concluded with a whirling downhill drive to Dehradun, followed by an overnight bus ride to Delhi, and of course, Memories Unlimited!