Being in college or job and located in Delhi gets you many options for weekend getaways. While we oscillate between Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand, our options are mostly mainstream Kasol, Manali, Dharamshala, we often miss out some towns which may be equally mainstream but their ambiance will never bore us. One such place is Dehradun, the only hot shot town of Uttrakhand which provides great deal of connectivity to the rest of the State.
I am not here to convince you why you should be visiting Dehradun (once, or again) but to tell you why I love this place.
I visited there first in March 2016 with my best friend. She has a beautiful bungalow on the main Rajpur Road which has a lovely garden which is well kept by her mother. I was totally thrilled with the idea that I am here on a trip with my friend and relaxed because of its breezy weather and peaceful garden in front of me. I could just sit there for hours and do nothing.
In the evening, she took me on a scooter ride and it was amazing how the winds get colder as you escalate on the Rajpur Road. I have witnessed different weather in close geographical proximity but this close! I honestly, didn’t expect this. Throughout the day, we roamed around, explored tiny but clean lanes of the city. We rode briefly on the road to Mussoorie as well but decided to come back since we didn’t have the official permission from her parents (such ideal kids we were). Nonetheless, we went to the famous Orchid Cafe whose interior is the best suited for travellers and readers. Old fashioned wooden infrastructure with a balcony which opens to the valley, a little stage for karaoke performances and dense trees all around. It was late evening when we stopped our scooter near the cafe, we could see young kids having fun, audience enjoying the performance, monks smiling to every person that passes by them. We walked past the dining area and entered the balcony only to find the moon shining subtly through the clouds and trees. It was a beautiful sight.
Next day, my friend gave me a ride to Forest Research Institute. Right from its entrance to the last lane in campus, you won’t feel like being in India. Colonial architecture has great influence on the main institute building, many other quarters and offices have also been designed in a similar way. Only the ones which are built lately will have usual urban design. Roads are overshadowed with grand trees, introducing cold breeze in the area and the sun shines with perfect heat to balance the chills, I think I visited there at the right time. The entire day we just walked and explored offices and classes at the building. Amused by its posh architecture designed with imported bricks and beautiful gardens, all we did was to sit and admire the effort had been put it to build something like this. If you enter from the main entrance (which usually is closed), you’ll feel like walking towards the grand palace with its own unique gardens of paradise.
For the next few days I stayed with my aunt and uncle and learnt a great deal about life and happiness. My aunt is a spiritual person and she took me to Haridwar on a spiritual journey during Ardha Kumbh (The festival which is observed months before the main Kumbh festival). It was a celebration in memorium of the Spiritual Leader – Swami Yoganand. Though, I had no knowledge of him and his teachings but I thoroughly enjoyed myself with all the old couples who had joined us. We sang and cheered in the small celebration, took bath in chilling Ganga river, ate ‘pooja ka prasad‘ and peacefully came back to Doon. It was very enlightening for me to realise how people could find happiness in things. And what we don’t understand is the fact that we don’t change our circumstances to be happy, but we choose happiness and change those circumstances.
My Aunt and Uncle, my best friend and I also drove to Mussoorie. Truth to be told, I visited Mussoorie more like a tourist than a traveller but I enjoyed how the town has withheld colonial scent in it. The street lamps, main library at the crossroad, some heritage hotels, railings, etc. still have those old school iron designs. You get a very mixed feeling when you’re there, you are almost in Himalayas but its still urban, architecture seems from British era but vibe is Indian, and the best part of it so see Doon light up in the dark like a wave of light-bugs. We went to the famous Kempty falls which was more of a disappointment so we decided to add some thrill to life by doing zip lining. On our way back, we explored the mall road, it has a sweet little market with really fancy woolen stuff and almost every shop is famous for one thing or the other. Oh! and if you happen to visit Mussoorie, make a visit to the popular bookstore – Cambridge Book Depot – where author Ruskin Bond sits and signs the books, I have been to the town thrice and could never bring myself to meet him *sob, sob* .
Very next day we drove to Dhanaulti, a spin off small town up the hills. My aunt and uncle are travel enthusiasts and have explored much of India in their favourite Mahindra Scorpio. I have observed how tricky it is to drive on mountains and my uncle does it so fine! He really has some great skills there. We were to visit a small temple – Surkanda Devi in Dhanaulti which is actually a half an hour trek to the top. I was told that one can see snow laden peaks from there but unfortunately it was cloudy for this. Anyway, I wasn’t really disappointed with the view we could see, it was just calm, and I loved the fact that temple bells and winds were the only sound to be heard. I always recommend people to visit Dhanaulti, this lesser known hillstation is so untapped and beautiful that one can just come here to relax. There is a small eco park which is equally good, the way trees have been preserved here makes it look like scenes from movies when you’re in mountains and you are shadowed by tall pine trees and the poor sun tries hard to penetrate through the dense leaves but can’t provide with the warmth. On your way back, do try some typical Bengali dishes served by Dhabas, I don’t know for some reason this place in particular has more Bengali dishes than other North Indian food.
I soon came back to Delhi. I have heard about Sahastradhar falls, Buddha Temple and many other places which are still to be explored and may be that gives me a reason to come back here again and next time I am there, I am going to see places only riding a scooter, its much fun than a car 😉