Family Trip To Mussorie: Part-1

Hello everyone!! I am just back from a family trip to Mussorie and quite obviously, I have sat down to pen my experiences with the rest of the world. My family comprises of my parents, wife and my one-year old son. For a very long time I have been wanting to take my parents to the nearby hills of Himachal or Uttaranchal (I stay in Delhi so the hills are pretty nearby you see..!!).

Because my family and I were not very keen to burn crackers and add to the pollution levels of our city this Diwali so I got an opportunity to plan this trip. After surveying various options, I finally decided to visit Mussorie since it was close to Delhi and a nice place to visit as well.

Now, I am not going to cover anything about the history, location and significance of Mussorie in my travelogue. Being one of the oldest hill stations in India, I believe even the Eskimos would have visited this place by now. It was only me who had to wait for 30 long years before getting a chance to explore this queen of the hills. Worse still, I have been in Delhi for nearly 20 years and never managed to get to Mussorie till now. What I intend to share with you all is my experience about the various aspects of our trip. Also, this time I am going to try something different and I hope you all like it.

I am going to present my travelogue in 4 parts:

Part-1: The drive to Mussorie
Part-2: Mussorie
Part-3: Our place of stay at Mussorie
Part-4: The drive back home

Part-1: The drive to Mussorie & back
Since I was traveling with two extreme age groups (read, my parents and my son) so I wanted to make sure that I get a comfortable ride. I contacted one of my acquaintances who usually helps me out for accommodation for my rides and asked him if he could arrange for a cab.

Since we were slated to begin on the day of diwali therefore, I was skeptical about getting a cab for this trip. But to my surprise my friend helped arrange for a Scorpio. Now there was one other reason because of which I was a little anxious about the completion of the trip. A few months back I planned a similar trip to Ramgarh only this time, I had my extended family (read, my in-laws) joining along. I booked our stay with Neemrana properties and also booked a cab.

Everything looked perfectly fine and it seemed we were heading for a gala time. On the day of our departure, we were all packed and waiting for the cab to arrive. And then, the penny dropped. I called the cabbie and to my utter shock, I got to know that the cab was not coming. All luck ran out when my many attempts to obtain a cab failed and we all just sat at home staring at the packed suitcases and bags wondering what’s the worst that could happen.

But that was then and now we were in a similar situation again, so obviously my anxiety knew no bounds. I got the driver’s number from the travel agent and I anxiously made a call to him the day before our departure. To my utter surprise, the driver picked the phone and confirmed that he would be reporting at my place well before the scheduled time of 0500. He sounded pretty nice and humble and also spoke English. I was impressed and feeling assured that this time things may not go wrong.

On the day of the departure, my entire family was up and ready by the designated time of 0500. The driver arrived on time and by 0530 we were all packed and seated in the cab and were on our way to Mussorie. My brother volunteered to sit at the back.

For Mussorie, one would take the normal route via Meerut, Muzzaffarnagar but our driver was special and he wanted us to not only savor the beauties of Mussorie but en route he intended to show us the barren landscapes of U.P. So instead of the regular route he started towards Sonepat, Barot, Shamli. When I asked him, he said this was a shorter route.

I did not protest because I wanted to explore this new route. As soon as we crossed Sonepat and took the diversion for Barot, there was a long traffic jam. Here’s how U.P stands out from the rest of the world. Anybody can bring a moving traffic to halt anywhere for any reason. So, a right turn that we were supposed to take was aptly stopped by two lathi-wielding cops who were stopping all 4-wheeler traffic proceeding towards that direction.

When we attempted to enquire, they did not even bother to respond. This was our first road block. Amidst the chaos, we also got to see the panache with which the UP cops wield their lathis and the damage it can do to the innocent by-standers. Now that this “shorter” route did not work out so the driver decided to take the longer route which was, no price for guessing, via Meerut. But then, how can we blame the driver for this local fiasco so we played along cursing the government and its administration that left us stranded and having no other choice but to head back.

So while we were sitting back and anticipating Meerut to show up any moment, our maverick driver sprung up another surprise. If you happen to take the main highway to Meerut from Delhi, as soon as you approach the Meerut bypass, you would notice a small bridge over a canal and there is this side road that goes along this canal.

This is also a bypass but more of a substandard kind probably meant for cyclists or those who would want to torment themselves or others with incessant backaches. Our driver who started to show signs of self-destruction chose to take this route. We went over pothole after pothole subjecting our backs to some unending torture and my brother now started to wonder if he did the right thing by volunteering to sit at the back. As I goaded the driver about taking such a bad route, he calmed me down by saying that good roads were just only a few kms away.

He also said that this path would end at “Cheetal Grand” where we could stop for breakfast. Now everyone knows what a beautiful place “cheetal grand” is so somehow the anticipation of reaching cheetal took the better of our momentary discomfort. Now when I reflect upon this, I feel it was the driver’s strategy to quite us down. It worked..!!

So a few more potholes later I saw the path to glory. It was as if Moses landed on earth and with his staff he was leading the way on to the under construction expressway between Muzzaffarnagar and Manglor. The next 20-odd kilometers were like a dream. I mean, I had to rub my eyes a couple of times to reassure that this was real. I mean, 8-lane expressway in U.P. For a moment I thought we were on the road to the chief minister’s house for them to be so good.

the under-construction expressway

the under construction 4-lane expressway

Anyways, the reverie was short-lived and we bounced back to reality when the driver attempted to take a turn towards Moolchand resorts for breakfast. I looked at him and said, “I thought we were going to Cheetal” to which he nonchalantly replied, “Cheetal peeche reh gaya, ab yahan rukna hai to batao”. I was quite irate but then my obvious answer was a yes. So we stopped at Moolchand for breakfast and after a little while, we resumed our journey hoping that on our way back we would visit Cheetal.

garden at moolchand\’s, an imitation of cheetal

a squirrel at the resort

Soon we meandered through some more dreaded roads of UP before we crossed over to Uttaranchal at Roorkee. I was dearly hoping that the roads would get better however, that wasn’t the case. With no choice, we headed towards Dehradun where my brother was supposed to get down. Soon we made it to Dehradun and from here on, we were just the four of us in the cab. To make the journey comfortable for my folks, I chose to sit at the back seat with enough space in the middle row for my mom, wife and son.

The journey from Dehradun to Mussorie, all of 33 kms, was deplorable. The roads were bad and the driving did not do much to alleviate the trouble. Somehow, I got a sense that our driver did not realize that he was on a mountainous track for he was still retaining his carefree way of driving in 4-lanes. So while he negotiated the turns, I was literally bouncing at the back like a rag doll in a rollercoaster.

We somehow managed to reach Mussorie and after enquiring about the location of our hotel, we finally reached the road which led to our hotel. The hotel stood on a vantage point and therefore, the road leading to the hotel was steep with a 60 degree slopes at a couple of turns. With our revered driver on wheels, I almost had a heart attack when I saw those turns but I guess my good deeds in past came to my rescue as I safely de-boarded the cab at the hotel’s entrance.

The funny thing about this ride from Delhi was for all the discomfort that we faced, I could not help but be amused at the attitude of our driver. Throughout the entire drive, not only did we have to tolerate his driving but the driver also seemed to have a proclivity towards some very “forgettable” hindi numbers. I mean we were subjected to duplicates of certain “Govinda” numbers followed by some Kumar Sanu from Mahesh Bhatt movies. OMG. But the worst was that I could actually recall many of those numbers, the movies and the actors too. That’s when I realized my true taste.

3 Comments

  • manish khamesra says:

    Very Interesting read Vasanth.

    Well, of-course when even the Eskimos have visited Mussorie you will get first comment from someone who is still left off ;-)

    Just one comment, to make more sense of the judicious breakdown of the travelogue, don’t you think it would be good idea if you title the travelogue in the same manner (helping readers to decide from the title itself what it is all about).

    A confession with the suggestion: If I was aware that it was about drive to Mussorie, I might have skipped and hence missed this brillant narration.

  • Thanks Manish for your comments…actually, i did reach out to Nandan to know how to create a series. he forwarded me a link that looked pretty simple but i guess i made a complete mess of it…

  • Rajeev Tivari says:

    Great narration, with sprinkling of humour of helpless. I am also one of the ones who have never been to mussorie, till date. I don’t know whether this virginity will remain this summer too. Much as the drive takes the fun off due to bad roads of UP and messy traffic, there is no alternative as trains are packed and buses run on road.

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