Widely known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’, put Mussoorie on your bucket list for this summer
Words: Provati Dutta
Summer has started and a small vacation to the hills is a necessity to beat the heat. Although several hill stations surround Delhi, I love Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. Widely known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’, Mussoorie is one of the most popular hill stations in North India. It has also been a much-favourite honeymoon destination for newly-weds. While Mussoorie is served by an airport in Dehradun, I chose to take the road as the drive was less than 300 km from Delhi. Road trips have always excited me as they make the holiday more adventurous. Moreover, while on vacation, I like to go at my own pace without the stress of strict departure times.
I started my journey from Delhi at around 5:30 am and reached my destination in seven hours. The most memorable part of the journey was the drive from Dehradun to Mussoorie. This stretch of about 35 km, has lovely winding roads surrounded by green mountains and the fresh mountain air set the mood for my trip.
Arriving at my destination
When I reached my destination, I headed straight to the famous Mall Road, home of Mussoorie’s hustle and bustle and a beehive of activity. My hotel, Welcome Heritage Kasmanda Palace, was located right at the Mall Road. Before WH Kasmanda Palace became the summer retreat of the Kasmanda royal family, this Anglo-French style mansion built in 1836, was a sanatorium for the British Army, and later, a school. It was originally part of the Christ Church, built by Captain Rennie Tailor of the Bengal Engineers. Currently, it’s a 24-room boutique hotel located on an uphill drive close to the Mall Road and has splendid views of both Mussoorie and Doon Valley. Maintaining its old world charm, but fitted out with modern facilities, is a display of the rich history of Kasmanda royal family.
After taking some time to relax, I went out to see the Christ Church, which was just two minutes from my hotel. Believed to be the oldest church in the entire Himalayan region, the church boasts of brilliant Gothic architecture. The beautiful pre-Raphaelite stained glass windows, representing the life events of Jesus Christ, are fascinating and inspiring. Inside the church, there is a high altar that depicts the sufferings and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The impressive interiors, beautifully decorated walls and a century-old William Hill organ, will all grab your attention. Even though I visited in April, the weather was cold, and I had to go to Mall Road to quickly buy some woollens.
The next day, I woke up early to breathe the fresh mountain air. My first destination was Gun Hill, the second highest peak in Mussoorie and one of the most popular places in town. Located 400 ft above Mall Road and accessible by a cable car, Gun Hill provides a 360-degree view of Himalayan ranges namely Bunderpunch, Srikantha, Pithwara and the Gangotri group. If you are an adventurous sort, you can also go to Gun Hill by foot, but it involves a steep climb.
Situated at an elevation of 4500 ft, Kempty Falls was my next destination. Easily accessible by bus, taxi, or rent-a-bike companies (at Mall Road), it is the most famous waterfall in Uttarakhand. I rented a two-wheeler for the day for `800 and was on my way to witness the magnificent Kempty Falls. Developed by a British officer as a place to organise tea parties, today Kempty Falls area is popular among tourists for picnics and refreshing baths. The beautiful cascade of water falling to the ground from an altitude of 40 ft is mesmerising. There are two main falls in Kempty – the upper pool and the lower pool. I visited the upper pool as it was less crowded. A few shacks have also opened near the pools serving noodles, tea, soups and other snacks.
My next destination was Mussoorie Lake, placed at a scenic location about 21 km from Kempty Falls on the Dehradun-Mussoorie road. An artificial lake developed by City Board and the Mussoorie-Dehradun Developmental Authority, people come here to ride in the paddled boats and enjoy the calmness of the scene. There are a few gaming options for kids too. Around the lake, there are a few restaurants and other outdoor activities as well.
My final destination for the day was Bhatta Falls, located 2 km further away from the Mussoorie Lake on the Dehradun-Mussoorie road. The Bhatta Falls are smaller in size than the Kempty Falls but are far less crowded. The natural waterfall comes crashing from the hills above and forms various pools of water which are great for a quick dip.
As the sun was setting, I decided to go back to Mall Road and buy some souvenirs to take back home. I loved Mussoorie for its beauty and the calmness of the mountains will urge me to come back soon.