Till that time, I haven’t had any experience of hill driving even when I wanted to, having my first long car journey memories from Nainital 2011 with sister-in-law family. I had to choose that which place would be safer to drive on hills and would be within roughly 300 km radius from Delhi/ NCR. I zeroed in for Dehradun – Mussoorie, not because of any blogs or recommendations but only because of the fact that I had an office branch in Dehradun. The initial plan was to drive up to Dehradun, till where it was supposed to be driving in plains and then to decide from there for Mussoorie, if was doable.
But all of that was a plan, what if I face any trouble en-route? I got that covered with two of the friends who got along with me (though none of them knew how to drive but even then its better to have helping hands in case you need one). The date chosen was around our wedding anniversary which was January 26 and the period when we traveled was January 25-27, 2014.
When you make a plan for any trip, especially when its first of its kind then its hard to wait for the moment and same was for me. After counting of days, finally the day had come and learned from earlier mistakes, this time, I took a fine sleep before rising up early. I along with wife and kiddo, who was just one and half years old left the house in Faridabad by 0430 hrs though waiting for other two participants made us a little back on the schedule but I guess we were ready to move out of Delhi by some 0530 hrs or so.
Early morning helps you to cut through from the city traffic but looks like it wasn’t enough with that particular route with so many trucks in the way, but still we managed to reach till Muffarnagar by 0745 hrs and first stop was Vaishali Vaishno Punjabi Dhaba. That would be a distance of some 130 kms in roughly 2 hrs & 15 mins, which must be called an achievement considering the kind of foggy weather, I was to face in the way. We must have spent roughly 15-20 mins there for tea etc and then drove ahead.
While planning for the route, we had no idea about the Saharanpur road conditions and more worse was leaving the highway for a while, anyway, next 40 kms or so were on kind of worse unending roads. You can imagine the roads with the fact that I was not driving straight literally even for a second and there was no road at all but just potholes filled with mud and water. We all were literally praying that when this road would come to an end cursing the local SP MLA.
The ordeal finally ended by some 0945 hrs or so and then it was a better route to drive on. Little jam before Dehradun at tunnel and then we reached to our destination by some 1230 hrs. It was sure hell of late than I would have imagined. I also happened to see some of the hilly roads in between though not much. I called my local office guy over phone and he arranged a BSNL guest house for me to stay in Dehradun though he kept on insisting us to go up to Mussorie and take up an already booked NTPC guest house there as that would have been best option. Scared of driving on hills in one go, I refused that option then (always regretted that later on).
A little settling in the guest house, taking food etc and then we were on to driving yet again. The target was Robber’s cave which people call Gupchup Pani as well and glad that I chose that as our target because the route to there was a kind of big lesson for the one who never drove on hills or extremely narrow slopes.
The route to Robber’s cave is Kind Of Narrow Street. I stopped my vehicle outside and actually asked people if the road is drivable up to there. I was assured that vehicles go up to there but when I started driving down, then it was scary for sure. The road could have accommodated only one vehicle mostly and the slope was kind of steep. The car was going down and down and here I was thinking that how I would drive uphill again. We reached to the place by 1355 hrs around.
What a place it was. Literally transparent water touching your feet with its coldness, the stones in middle and also the setting in which many shops were offering you Maggie, tea etc while sitting in the water literally. Trust me it was so much fun there and we were in no mood of leaving the place any early, if it wasn’t the unknown territory & scary road ahead for me. We stayed there till some 1530 hrs and then drove back. Contrary to my fears, it wasn’t a hard drive uphill and this actually became the first lesson for me which boosted my morale to drive on hills.
The next short target was Shashtradhara though later on we realized that we would have better have spent some time at Robber’s cave instead. Not to say, Shahstradhara was some bad place. Ropeways, Sulphur lake, mystique stones.. it was all there which one can have endless fun with. Yet we were to be on schedule. The experience of hilly ride was done and this was time to cut through narrow route traffic of city that was Dehradun. We managed to reach back Guest house by some 1900 hrs or so and then it was almost eventless. Dinner and sleep with keeping Mussorie in mind…..
Drive to Mussorie: The real taste of hill drive for me
In morning, we were informed that we would require leaving Guest house as senior BSNL officers were coming for stay. I was planned for leaving to Mussorie but earlier plans were to leave luggage etc at Dehradun and to come back from Mussorie by evening. But now everything was different and there was no choice but to drove on hills to take on my fears. I called my office guy to confirm if Mussorie bookings which he was talking about still on or not. He gladly confirmed that that was still on and we were prepared for driving to Mussorie next morning.
Drive to Mussorie started a little late and we were on roads by some 0800 hrs or so and at what people call Maggie point by some 0920 hrs. It was definitely a scenic view from there and till now, the fear about hills was gone from inside and I started enjoying the drive. We reached to NTPC Guest house by some 1000 hrs, which was exactly at the point where 6000 ft board was installed. The place was literally dream. I mean nothing about the facilities etc, but the location, scenery and space was kind of perfect for us. These Govt guys always get the best of locations.
In the way, we had seen glimpses of snow scattered around the roads. Not that kind of white snow but the kind which get collected as garbage after clearing the roads. By the shops and Guest house keeper, we got to know that it was snowing here till January 24, 2014 and there was no power since last 4-5 days making it hard to manage water etc even. But all better now… Better for us? I was confused between missing snow and finding safer to drive roads with very little snow here and there.
We had occasional fun with small snow around the roads as we still weren’t planning to drive up to Dhanaulti (which was still expected to have snow) due to safety concerns. After a sound lunch, the next target in mind was the Kempty Falls about which I heard a lot even since before.
Even though I was confident about Hill drives now, the drive to Kempty fall was yet to open some of the strings of mine. Narrow route, occasional constructions, both way vehicles and some mad drives enroute, it was all part of lesson to me before making it to Kempty falls finally. Actually we drove a little 2kms ahead of the place to realize it later and then making a tough turn on those narrow roads.
Till the moment, we remained at Kempty falls, we all were tempted to jump into the water. Such clean transparent water with clear white waterfalls and on top of that very safe arrangements that no one might get washed away in stream. Still due to crowd and cold of the water, we skipped the part of actually jumping into it. We took customary Maggie etc, bought a wall clock as souvenir and then it was time to drive back by 1420 hrs or so.
The drive back to Mussorie felt much more scenic than the drive to Kempty fall. One of the reason was, we had enough of time in our hands to enjoy the beauty on the roads and in hills. Structures suddenly going down and up as we drove up or down, the clear blue sky and hills behind them. It was all what one would have wanted to draw a painting sort of. We again met some snow around while returning back which was kind of surprise as it didn’t snow since last two days and yet some snow was remaining despite of the fact that temperature wasn’t much of lower side. We were back to base by some 1800 hrs anyway and then it was time to visit the mall road in the dark.
Some random walking over the roads and then an early dinner to fill us up after a tiring day as we had to plan for the return on the next morning….
The return journey: Meeting with a new friend & bypassing Saharanpur route
After a sound sleep, I woke up early in pleasant Mussorie weather and walked out to have a view of divine sunrise on hills. A must watch whenever you visit any hills. Sleeping till late is kind of crime over hills.
We started driving down by some 0745 hrs or so and driving down was much easier than drive uphills for sure. We must have driven at speed of 40-50 hrs even on those steep curves that we managed to reach Dehradun by 0845 hrs. While being in contact with Office guy continuously, we failed to meet the man behind all the arrangements, I thought to ping one more guy whom I knew from twitter and who was happened to travel between Delhi/ NCR to Dehradun (his own bungalow) quite frequent.
Man! What house he had… One might only dream of such things. Kitchen garden, personal swimming pool and well decorated insides. We were served Pudina Paranthas made of own garden leaves. It was some grand first time welcome for the guys who met for the first time in real. It made us much away from the schedule but not that we mind it much.
We left the place by some 1130 hrs or so and then it was a long journey ahead. I was hell bent to avoid the Saharanpur patch at any cost even if that meant to drive 100 kms extra. I drove through Roorkee, drove from Ganga Kanal and whatever ways Google maps kept on telling me, no matter narrow or large, highways or not and thanks god, finally that patch was skipped.
Not that the journey was over… We were still to face under construction Muzffarnagar and around National Highways, which were literally in tatters except last 150 kms or so. The speed never went above 60kmps before we come over toll roads and then evening traffic etc made us to reach Delhi by 1800 hrs or so. We dropped the two friends on the border and then drove to Faridabad.
Man! It’s always depressing to reach Delhi and then cut through traffic for next one hour or more to reach Faridabad. Reaching Delhi makes you think that journey is almost over while next coming hours tells that much part yet to be traveled. Kind of last mile rush… but finally we reached back home by 1920 hrs and the smile on ours faces despite of being tired was signifying that we have finished our first hill ride successfully without any trouble and would be ready to take on bigger battles from here….