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Mussoorie: The Queen of Hills

It`s that time of year again when you want to get away from the scorching heat of Delhi. This popular hill station, which was established by an Irishman called Captain Young little over 169 years ago, has changed over the last decade or so because of over ‘tourist satisfaction’.

However, it still retains some of its old glory if you are ready to look beyond the Mall Road, the Gun Hill and the Kempty Fall – the three most famous and most commercialized places here.

The hill station in Dehradun district, located at a height of more than 7,000 feet above sea level, has been immortalized by its most famous resident -- Ruskin Bond -- in his numerous books. Mussoorie is a hit with honeymooners as well as weekend revellers. No wonder it’s called ‘the honeymoon capital of North India’. However, these tourists restrict themselves to the beaten path. They do not bother to enjoy several amazing walks that Mussoorie offers. If you are one of those who like to put on their walking shoes then try its walks. Camel’s Back Road walk is one of my favourites, which provides you the view of the valley and mountains in total peace. The road starts from near Hotel Nand Residency on the Kulri Bazar side of the Mall and terminates at the Gandhi Chowk.

Another walk, much longer, is up to the Lal Tibba. Starting from near the Picture Palace cinema hall bus station this trek takes you five km to the highest point in Mussoorie. From Lal Tibba you can view some of the highest peaks of Uttaranchal (Gangotri peaks, Yamunotri peaks, Badrinath and Kedarnath) with the help of telescope stationed atop a roof. They all look so close viewed through a telescope provided you go there in the morning when sky is clear.

If you want to sample the merchandise being sold at the shops on the Mall road, taste different foods and see the hotels standing over each other, then what better then walking the two km long Mall road. If you want to get yourself photographed in local dresses then take the ropeway (gondola) to the Gun Hill, though the place looks like some crowded bazaar, it’s Ok if you want to have a panoramic view of ‘Paharon Ki Rani’ from more than 2500 metre height. This place also provides a great of view Himalayas if the weather is clear.

Another popular place is Kempty fall, some 24 km on the Yamunotri road. But this once beautiful place has lost its charm with typical tourism ills infecting it too.

If you want to indulge in some real serious trekking through among tall deodar trees then Dhanolti is the place for you. Situated on Tehri road about 24 km from Mussoorie, it has real mountain beauty. One can enjoy walks through tall deodars or can have a go at horse back riding. You can trek up to Himalaya view point from where mighty Himalayas appear so majestic.

Further ahead on the same road is historic Sarkhanda Devi temple. To reach the temple one has to negotiate the steep hike of two km from the main road. There are ponies available but it’s better to avoid using them because it’s not a very good feeling riding them on such a steep climb. The temple is situated at a peak of more than 3000 meter in height. All other places around it look so small. It is said that this temple is where Parvati’s head fell when Shiva was performing his tandav nritya (cosmic dance) with her body in his arms. So the temple has great following in this part of the hill state.

How to Reach: Mussoorie is very well connected to Delhi by road and trains. Uttaranchal Roadways runs Volvo AC buses to Dehradun from where one can either hire cabs or use state transport buses.

Where to Stay: Mussoorie has all kind of hotels suiting to every budget. Many of them are on the Mall Road itself. If you are looking for a place which is close to the Mall Road yet away from the crowds then try hotels on the Camel’ Back road.