Mussoorie is called The Queen of Hills with good reason. I’ve never visited too many hill stations in North India, so I was really keen on this trip. There is an immediate and striking difference from the moment you enter the ghat road section. The hills are bigger, the roads narrower, the ‘pahadi’ culture more prominent and everything around you looks simply majestic.
We took a flight from Hyderabad to Dehradun via Delhi. A cab from Dehradun to Mussoorie cost us about Rs.800. Taxis here are all government approved, hence no bargaining over the price. You talk to any taxi driver and they all quote the same standard price for various places. So at least you are not left worrying about getting cheated.
As overrated as it seemed, we had to stop for the quintessential bowl of Maggi on the way. Hills and Maggi always go together right, so how could we not! We enjoyed some good old piping hot Maggi along with the cool mountain breeze.
Most hill stations in North India have one single main road called Mall Road that goes through the centre of the town. As luck would have it, the entire road was jammed when we reached. What was supposed to be an hour and a half drive, turned out to be more than three hours. We spent a good two hours stuck on the narrow road, with no way to go forward or backward. It took us about two hours to travel the last stretch of 3km to reach out resort. Naturally we were tired and hungry by the time we reached.
The next day was my birthday and our initial plan was to spend the evening/night celebrating into the wee hours of morning. But given how tired we were, I barely managed to keep my eyes open until midnight (thanks to Kalyan forcing me and shaming me for wanting to sleep before midnight like an oldie), and then I promptly fell asleep!
We woke up bright and early the next morning, had a lovely breakfast in our room overlooking the gorgeous mountains and valley, and headed out for the day!
Day 1 First Stop – Kempty Falls
The first stop of the day was at Kempty Falls. I was not at all keen on this given how commercialised it was and how crowded it was going to be, but we decided to try it out since we had nothing else planned for the day. After seeing the place, it just made me sad to see what it had become. Leave it to human beings to completely destroy a beautiful natural waterfall and turn it into a joke of a swimming pool. Plastic everywhere. Lots and lots of plastic. A crowd of people acting like they’d never seen a waterbody in their entire life.
Traveller’s Tip: Ask your driver to drop you at the top and climb your way down to Kempty falls. Further down is Kempty Lake where there is parking. And you can ask your car/driver to wait for you there. There are A LOT of steps so it’s easier to climb down to the falls, than to climb up from Kempty lake.
Kempty Lake too, is nothing more than a little manmade pond with boating and other activities. Almost every tourist attraction that you go to in Mussoorie has activities like zip lining. They seem to look safe, but I didn’t have the nerve to test that!
Day 1 Second Stop – Walk around the mountains
The ghat roads offer plenty of scenic spots to stop and admire the view. Forget those typical ‘view points’, and just stop at places along the way to get good pictures and avoid tourists. This was an impromptu stop that we made and it gave us the most spectacular views of the mountains.
Day 1 Third Stop – The perfect Lunch spot
For lunch we decided to just go wherever our driver recommended. He took us to a little restaurant on the road side, which was right in the middle of a cloud cover. Honestly, we could have sat there all day munching on piping hot phulkas and curry. The view as usual was playing hide and seek with the clouds, but it was one of the most peaceful and beautiful places for lunch. I couldn’t have asked for a better spot for having a birthday lunch. Lunch ended with a hot cup of chai, and we started off to the next place on our agenda.
Day 1 Fourth Stop – Shedup Choephilling Buddhist temple
Buddhist temples always seem to exude a calm and serene vibe and they are some of my favourite places to visit. We spent a good half an hour here walking around, looking at the architecture and admiring the view. We didn’t go inside but if you are looking a for a place to just sit and do some reading or if you just prefer to sit in silence and enjoy the quiet, there are benches all around and it’s the perfect place for that. You just need to be careful of the monkeys all around and make sure you don’t leave your phone or bag lying around for them to grab and run!
Once we were back in the room, I realised I had miserably failed at staying awake or celebrating my birthday properly the previous night. So right away, we ordered a yummy chocolate brownie and ice-cream for a midnight cake cutting session.
The older I get, the more sense it seems to make to celebrate your birthday in bed eating cake. Wisdom is a wonderful thing.
Day 2 First Stop – Bhatta Falls
The second day in Mussoorie, we wanted to go visit the much less crowded Bhatta falls. Luckily it didn’t disappoint at all! The water was freezing cold so we didn’t do anything more than just dipping our feet in it. I could see that even this place was slowly being commercialised, but it was still good at certain points. It’s strange how something as simple as, water falling down from a height, can hold your attention and leave you mesmerised in it’s beauty. It’s a pretty short climb up to the highest point and there are short cuts here as well which the locals know better.
Day 2 Second Stop – Sisters Bazaar
Sisters Bazaar had to be (both) our favourite stop of the day! It is quite, calm, peaceful, with a killer view (obvious by now), and has a country side charm to it. You can walk along the cobbled streets, have a chat with the locals, click a few pictures of the most charming little houses and gardens, and finally take a break at Landour Bakehouse. If the place had to be described it one word, I would say it’s so COZY. Wooden floorboards that creak a little when you walk, tables set into quaint little corners, and a mouth watering delicious menu of freshly baked breads, cakes and cupcakes makes this place a must visit. I also found it super expensive, like who would pay more than 100 bucks for a tiny cupcake???
But I still feel that the view of those pine trees and the place itself, is worth a visit! It also has a section of books by Mussoorie writers which you can buy.
Day 2 Third Stop – Lal Tibba
The next stop was Lal Tibba which was the highest view point in Mussoorie. I think we could have given this place a miss, since all we were seeing were the same spectacular views for free everywhere. It’s just a little two-floored building with a cafe downstairs. Since nothing was visible anyway (cloud cover again), there was nothing to do there. I felt this was a complete waste of time, but we still did spend some time there just for the heck of it!
Day 2 Fourth Stop – Cafe Ivy at Char Dukaan
By now we were super hungry so we headed to Cafe Ivy in CharDukaan. This was the only ‘urban’ cafe that we came across and liked, here in Landour. The rest of the evening was spent eating delicious pizzas and drinking coffee and just enjoying the view in general.
On our last day, we woke up late and made our way back to Dehradun Airport, but of course we had to stop for one last Maggi. One last Chai. And one last view of the majestic mountains!
If you want more check out the entire travel video here!
Hotel: Sterling Holidays, Dancing Leaves Mussoorie
Entire trip budget: 50k
Hyderabad -> Delhi -> Dehradun -> Mussoorie
Mussoorie -> Dehradun -> Bangalore -> Hyderabad