They say that old habits die hard. Times change, circumstances change but these inner cravings don’t budge. It is that time of the year again when the heart aches for a vacation. It has been years since summer vacations ceased to exist in my life but come June and the heart automatically longs for a trip to the grandparent’s house, cousins, sleeping on the roof (under the stars), ghost stories and mangoes. Life was beautiful back then. But today, we just have to make-do with whatever little that can be managed within the bounds of corporate chains to extract some beautiful moments from a life entangled with chavannis and atthannis.
Last weekend, I broke free, if only for a while. The charm of the Himalayas engulfed me and off I went for a little escapade. The trip was a little different from the ones I usually take with family or friends. This time two strong, independent, working women took a few days off and spent quality time in the hills of Mussoorie and Landour which reminded us of the long lost summer vacations; the only difference being that this time, I pampered mum instead of the other way round. It was a well planned and thought of vacation, and everything turned out just perfect.
It all began with a train journey to Dehradun. I tried hard but just couldn’t remember the last time when the two of us were together on a train. It would have been during those last summer vacations only, when we used to hop on a train to visit the grandparents every year. It seemed ages ago and I felt even more happy that I planned this trip.
We reached Dehradun next morning and took a cab to Mussoorie. The driver was a localite and he kept us engaged in conversations about the Himalayas. He knew his ways around the mountains pretty well and predicted a huge traffic jam ahead. I was out of NCR, and couldn’t believe that traffic jams followed me to the mountains. But, he wasn’t wrong and we were stuck. I didn’t mind because the slow moving traffic gave me ample chances to hop off and click pictures. It was beautiful.
We reached a couple of hours later and the chaos all around made me feel at home. Even though we were a little tired now, but the sight of a library as old as the one which stared at us was enough to forget the tiredness. Established in 1843, this masterpiece of a library had a charming old world feel to it. There was a market too but both of us bookworms were more interested in spending some time inside the great old library. It was a delight as we allowed the books to take us to a bygone era.
Since we wanted to spend some more time in the library, we decided to come back before leaving the town. Next, we headed towards Kempty Falls. It was not everything I had imagined it to be. Kempty Falls is a perfect example of how man encroaches on nature. Once upon a time beautiful, Kempty Falls have been reduced to a commercial pool. It hurt. I was adamant on not being a part of this massive scale destruction of mother nature and didn’t set foot in those waters artificially re-created into pools for the benefits of tourism.
So, instead of heading towards the pool, we took the road (or whatever was remaining of it) less-traveled and started our little trek towards the top. A little walk later, we found what we came seeking for. A pure, unadulterated stream of ice-water flowing down, cutting the rocks and making melodies was too good to be true after the destruction we had just witnessed. But, thankfully it was for real.
We spent a considerable time there, listening to the melodious waterfall and each lost in our own thoughts. But soon,it was time to head back. Next on our list was the famous Company Gardens. I had little hopes from this place but it turned out to be beautiful. The photographer in me was particularly happy. Even though the flowers we spotted there were anything but exotic, but isn’t it difficult to just spot flowers these days? Not a bunch but ones still adorning the plants. Suddenly, I was missing my backyard, back home where we used to grow so many of them.
A walk through the gardens reminded me of a bygone era when all of these plants adorned my backyard. I was transported to another land. But the present has its own ways of bringing you back and I got a call from our cabbie to remind me of the same. It was time to head to the hotel for some rest and lunch.
Our hotel was situated at the Mall which was a very strategic location. We were very close to the hub of all activity. A fulfilling lunch and a power-nap later, we decided to explore the much talked about Mall Road as well as the little known Camel’s Back Road. The Mall was crowded, like we expected. There were shops selling everything touristy. But, we were not in for shopping. Instead, we were looking for those amazing little cafes that adorn our hill stations. We soon found one, and the best part of our evening was spent indulging our taste-buds. There was a vintage charm about the Cafe By The Way, tucked into a corner of a busy street.
Next, we walked towards the Camel’s Back Road. This was one of the most amazing walks ever. Beautiful views stared at us from the valley and we were mesmerized. Words were not required, even our silence was beautiful.
A little bit of gyaan that caught my attention. If only, we followed this, we would be a happier country.
The sun was about to set and we returned to the Mall Road to bid it goodbye. The clouds made it impossible to view the sunset, but the ever-changing colors of the sky were no less pretty.
The Mall Road is an ecosystem in itself and we decided not to disturb its harmony by buying a few things. A couple of pashmina (or so they called it) shawls and a wooden picture frame came back with us from Mussoorie. While we were walking back towards our hotel, something caught my attention. Yes, they were serving milk in kulhads, with a happy grin on their faces.
Soon, it was time to retire for the night as we had an early morning trip to Landour lined up. Only women can understand the bliss that room service is to them. A steaming hot dinner later, we went out for a short walk in the gardens. The mountain-air was now cold and just about right to take my breath away.
The next day began with a stop-over at St Paul’s Church and Char-Dukan . We had our breakfast at one of the cafes and kick-started the day. These mother-daughter moments both of us would remember forever. The talks, the mesmerizing views and just plain freedom of being able to do whatever the hell we pleased was highlight of the trip.
Well, I had a couple of agendas in mind when I planned this trip. First was, to take mum on a holiday. And second was to visit one of my favourite authors, Ruskin Bond who resides in the hills of Landour. It was not difficult to search his humble abode. The locals knew him pretty well and told some amazing tales about him. I was a little disappointed when I found he wasn’t in town that day.But then just being at the place where he weaves golden tales of the mountains was a thought comforting enough. So, I clicked a picture of his home, where he lives with his foster family, to remember this moment.
After spending considerable amount of time chit-chatting with the locals, we headed towards Lal Tibba where another mesmerizing view awaited us. I handed over the camera to someone, to click a picture of the both of us, because I don’t really believe in selfies. The result had me converted though…
It was time to head back to concrete jungles now but our hearts wanted to stay a little longer. We were back to Mussoorie and spent some time at the Library before heading downhill.
On the train to Delhi the next day, I silently promised myself that I am going to do many more of these mother-daughter adventures. They sure are a solace to the soul.
This entry has been shortlisted for Holidify’s Travelogue Writing Contest in association with Linger. The content and pictures may not be used without prior permission of the author.
Submitted by: Akanksha Dureja
The original post can be found here.