Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Long Ride In the Mountains - Mussoorie, Dhanaulti, Chamba, Rishikesh

On an adventurous day we took off from Dehradun and set off into the hills with no real plan in mind. We had packed some stuff for an overnight stay just in case. After a moment's thought we decided to head up the hills towards Mussoorie and onwards towards the well known hill station Dhanaulti about which much was written. It was a perfect day for the ride and we quickly drove up the hills and reached Mussoorie in an hour's time. It was a beautiful drive and one that you can never get tired of for its natural beauty, tall pine and deodar trees and lovely views of the valley.
Snow capped Himalayan mountain ranges from Dhanaulti

We drove through Mussoorie and headed out on the road to Dhanaulti which lies about 30 kms from Mussoorie. The drive was incredibly beautiful with blue skies, terrace fields, school children walking back home in those altitudes where the air is as pristine as the good Lord must have made it and the hills as lush as ever. The road wound its way presenting one breathtaking view after another, the odd 'brins' tree with the ripe red flowers on it until we reached what must be a perfect spot to get some pics of the snow capped Himalayan ranges. It was a much better sight of the range than it was at Chakrata. The add on scenery was equally beautiful with the odd hut, fields, tall trees. We stopped for quite a while there drinking in the sight of the range and then drove on in. Apparently they shoot many movies here.
Long, lovely winding roads along the way

A while after the spot comes the actual village of Dhanaulti which has some lovely resorts that invite you to stay over and enjoy the pleasures that the nature offers. Very tempting. However we drove on and reached Chamba where we found an excellent little restaurant that had a view of the valley at the back from where we had planned to go down to the Tehri dam. A small meal of some really think parathas and we were off going downhill in a dizzying ride.
Terrace fields of Chamba in the background

But the entire valley is full of trees, huts, fields, plum trees or some such tree with its pink leaves and flowers. The ride continued for a good one hour until we could see the spot where the two rivers Bhagirathi  and the other river meet at a spot where the erstwhile Tehri village was and form a huge reservoir. To one side is the large Tehri dam one of the biggest in Asia and the entire reservoir, the rivers, the dam, the amount of water is an awesome sight. A few minutes at the spot and we drove back up the hills, back to Chamba and decided to head towards Rishikesh.
The road to Tehri winding down on the mountain in the background
After Chamba, this was about 5 in the evening, the road and the scenery was breathtaking in this route. The roads were wide and well maintained by the Border Roads Organisation. Many places we saw this incredible sight of youngsters playing cricket across the narrow road - their only playground, some 2200 metres high in the mountains. How they manage not to knock the balls down the valley is something I cannot understand but they play with tremendous enthusiasm, patience (waiting for the traffic) and considerable skill. We actually stopped at a lovely dhaba en route where several youngsters were playing rather high quality cricket. And as we wound our way up and up into the mountains and then down and down, we were fortunate to see a lovely sunset over the mountains a few kilometers from Rishikesh.
On the Lakshman jhula

At Rishikesh I chose to go to Lakshman Jhula instead of the town and we spent a wonderful half and hour there breathing in the serene air, the sacred vibrations of this place. There were many foreigners of course, all seemingly taken in by the mystic nature of this religion, this place and they all seemed serious students of yoga, the scriptures and even the rituals. I walked along the jhula and walked back, sat for a while and realised that I needed to come back here and spend some more time, breathing and imbibing the rhythm of this fantastic place. I drank a hot, well made filter coffee in a small joint, picked up some chants on a CD, and then we headed back to Dehradun, some 40 odd kilometres along a path notorious for elephants crossing across the highway. In fact we were diverted off one road because there were elephants on the highway. And so we ended a long, tiring and a well spent day.

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