Mussoorie is a hill station in the north-east of India, not too far from Delhi and sits in the foothills of the Himalayas. Nearby Rishikesh is nestled beside the Ganges River.
The river is considered holy, and the Rishikesh is renowned as a center for studying yoga and meditation. Temples and ashrams (centers for spiritual studies) line the eastern bank around Swarg Ashram, a traffic-free, alcohol-free and vegetarian enclave upstream.
Mussoorie is where people from nearby Dehradun get frustrated because everyone from Delhi comes on the weekend and they cause traffic jams, and Rishikesh is close to Mussoorie and Dehradun and known for white water rafting. And if you sit on the right side of the aircraft on landing in Dehradun you get a view of the Himalayan foothills.
My experience was the latter – visiting friends from Dehradun and going white water rafting in Rishikesh.
Here’s the itinerary:
Day 1 Fly to Dehradun, and drive to Mussoori in the evening to catch the sunset in the hills.
Day 2 Get up before sunset and drive back to hills to catch the sun rise as you eat breakfast and watch the view over the valley. Try the bread omelette or the momos, with coffee.
Relax in the afternoon then back into Mussoorie in the evening. Walk along The Mall and try the tandoori chai.
Day 3: Get up at a leisurely morning time, drive to Rishikesh and go rafting on the Ganges in the afternoon. There are a lot of rafting expedition companies, and some are safer than others. Read the reviews before you choose. It is likely that at least some if not all the people on the raft will tip in, and the guides need to be able to rescue you. And look for overloading of the rafts as well.
We had the opportunity to jump in, to practise the upside down roll in the kayak, to float through the rapids and to jump of a cliff (high rock). All in the glacial waters of the Ganges as it comes from the mountains.
In the evening, camp at one of the camping grounds near the river. These are semi ‘glamping’. Semi permanent tents with electricity, bathrooms and a restaurant / swimming pool.
Day 4: return to Mumbai.
But hey, there’s a LOT more to know and to do in the area around Dehradun.
Fact 1: The state changed its name in 2000, causing a lot of bitterness because of the amount of stationery that had to be changed. Uttarakhand was formerly known as Uttaranchal.
Fact 2: It borders Tibet the north; Nepal to the east; the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the west and north-west.
Fact 3: It is the home to Afghanistan’s cricket team.
Fact 4: Forest Research Institute – visit the 450 hectares of trees and Colonial and Greco-Roman architecture.
Fact 5: Game of Thrones weaponry – Tucked away in Dehradun is Windlass Steelcrafts, a factory which provides a crucial component of the stunning battle scenes which feature in the films – the swords! Jon Snow’s sword ‘Long Claw’, Arya Stark’s ‘Needle’ and many others have been made at this factory along with Jon’s suit of armour, Eddard Stark’s ensemble and more. (Ref: thenewsminute.com)
Fact 6: Temples and Ashrams – Swarg Ashram is the biggest of a number of ashrams and temples in Rishikesh. The source of the Ganges River, which is considered sacred to many people is only 300km up river. Which is very close considering the river winds its way across India and exits partly downriver from Kolkata into the Bay of Bengal, any mainly through Bangladesh.
Uttarakhand shares a border with Tibet and Nepal, and there are many Bhuddist temples and monasteries in the areas as well.
Disputed fact: According to the locals, Dehradun has the best momo’s in India. I’d say top five, with the best coming from Cherrapunjee in the North East. Momo’s being Chinese-style dumplings, and a must-try experience in the north east and the north west of India.
Its definitely a cool place to hang out.
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