Mumbai to Mussoorie – Mussoorie, the scenic jewel of Uttarakhand and aptly called the ‘Queen of Hills’ was the hill station we had decided to visit during one of our vacations. After covering a large part of Himachal which by the way is one of the favorite tourist haunts, we had decided to foray into Uttarakhand for our vacation sojourn.
The first place that came to my mind was Mussoorie. And my choice of the site was a good one, I was able to collect a treasure trove of memories from the trip. Also check out Himani’s detail Mussoorie travel guide from our site.
What is so special about Mussoorie?
Mussoorie lies in the state of Uttarakhand about 35 km from Dehradun. This colonial hill station which was the popular summer retreat during the British Raj has still retained its old-world charm. You can still witness the colonial impact through the old architecture of the churches or some of the hotels splattered across the area.
The place spans over a ridge in the Garhwal Himalayas and lies at a height of about 6,500 km above sea level. The highest point of the town known as ‘Lal Tibba’ stands at a height of about 7500 feet. Standing at that height, you can view the twinkling lights of the entire Doon Valley sprawled below at night time. And the scene is truly magical! There are no words to describe the sight.
Whether you want to soak in the peace and quiet of this place or relax in the appeasing calm or partake in the thrill and fun activities of the place, Mussoorie is a place that needs to be visited at least once in your lifetime.
As for me, I had zeroed on this hill station because I wanted to savor in all that it had to offer and also because it was convenient for us to proceed to Rishikesh and Haridwar which were two other sites we had decided to visit on this trip.
How do you reach Mussoorie from Mumbai?
There are two options to reach Mussoorie from Mumbai:
- By air
The fastest way to reach Mussoorie is by air. Here you have two options; you take a direct flight to Jolly Grant Airport (Dehradun) and then cab it up to Mussoorie. This drive can take about one and a half hours or less.
A cheaper option is to take a flight to Indira Gandhi International Airport and hire a cab to Mussoorie. This drive will last for about five to six hours depending upon the route taken.
- By rail
Going by rail is the cheapest mode to reach Mussoorie. You can travel up to Muzaffarnagar and then hire a cab further; the time taken is about three hours or so by cab
What is the Best Time to Visit
The period from March- June is the best time to visit as Mussoorie enjoys pleasant weather during that time. Monsoons and winters will hamper your sightseeing plans and are therefore best to be avoided.
Where to Stay
There are several hotels with varied tariff rates depending upon the amenities offered. You can book your stay at the state tourism chain of hotels or you can research on the internet and book a hotel that suits your budget and choice of amenities offered.
As for ourselves, we had pre-booked our accommodation at Hotel Honeymoon Inn. We had chosen the hotel for its location and food; the rooms offered an amazing view of the valley below and the mighty Himalayas straight ahead in the far distance. The hotel was on Mall road and for us, a family of four it was a convenient location to move about. The food variety was good and up to our liking.
What is the Local Mode of Transport
There are three options for you to move around the place. You can hire private taxis or cars for each day of sightseeing. Cycle rickshaws are available for some stretches of the town; you can avail of them if the travel distance is short. There is a 2×2 seater service also operated by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam.
Things to see and do in Mussoorie
Following are some of the tourist attractions in Mussoorie:
- Mall Road: The Mall road which stretches from one town end to the other is a bustling high street that houses everything from restaurants, antique vendors, fast food stalls, souvenir shops, libraries, hotels, and what have you. You can definitely spend some interesting time moving along this street.
- Gun Hill: The second highest peak after Lal Tibba in Mussoorie is Gun Hill which can be reached by a ropeway. The ropeway ride and the Gun Hill point both, offering an expansive view of the beautiful valley, lush green hills, and the mighty Himalayas. Breathe in the crisp fresh air after you descend from the ropeway on reaching your destination.
- Company Garden: This is a must-visit spot for viewing a wide collection of beautiful, rare Himalayan flora all at a single place. Serenity and tranquility epitomize this place which is also ideal for kids as the open space out here enables them to run about and enjoy themselves. The lush and varied vegetation, the gushing waters of the small artificial waterfall offer terrific spots for building memories on your camera. You can also satisfy your hunger pangs at the Food Court present at the site.
- Lal Tibba: Situated at a distance of about 6 km from the town, Lal Tibba is considered the highest point in Mussoorie. This is the spot from where you can observe some of the mighty Himalayan peaks such as Nilkanth, Kedarnath, and Banderpunch through powerful Japanese telescopes placed at the site.
- Benog Wildlife Sanctuary: Located at a distance of 11 km from Mussoorie, the Benog Wildlife Sanctuary is a must-visit site for wildlife lovers. The area which is a habitat to a number of endangered species such as red-billed blue magpies, mountain quail, leopards, mountain deer and several rare bird species also offers an opportunity for a refreshing trek through its pines.
- Dhanaulti: This site which is situated about 62 km from the town is still untouched by commercialization. It is known for its Eco Twin Park where kids can have the best of their time. Nature lovers can have their full fill of the scenic beauty without being rushed for time.
- Jwala Devi Temple: The temple which is located on the Benog Hills offers stunning views of the Doon Valley and river Yamuna. The deity according to locals is said to grant the wishes of the devotee and direct him on to the right path when in trouble.
- Kempty Falls and Bhatta Falls: Kempty Falls is a hotspot for all tourists and not very surprising as the place excels in scenic beauty. Another charming place is Bhatta Falls. Both the places are excellent spots for photography enthusiasts besides being great picnic spots.
- Happy Valley: Happy Valley has a lot to offer in terms of stunning views of the mighty peaks and the colorful valley, awe-inspiring Tibetan Monasteries, souvenir shops, and Tibetan eateries. Your visit to Mussoorie will never be complete without visiting this place.
In addition to the above sites, there are several more worth visiting sites such as the Soham Heritage Centre, Shedup Choepelling Temple, Cloud’s End, Library Bazaar, and more. How many you manage to cover will depend upon the time available at your end. If you are short on time then sites like Gun Hill, Mall Road, Kempty Falls, and Lal Tibba should be on the top of your list.
We too had to pick and choose the sightseeing spots as we had to travel to Rishikesh and Haridwar further on.
Journey to Rishikesh
We had pre-booked our accommodation at Rishikesh and proceeded therefrom Mussoorie in a private taxi. The drive lasted for about one and a half hours.
Rishikesh best known as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’ is a favorite haunt for tourists from all over the globe. Located on the banks of the river Ganga amidst the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh is a sought after destination for the varied adventure sports it has to offer and opportunities for meditation. Check out Piyush’s detailed Rishikesh travel guide
- Stay Options: Rishikesh has a wide array of stay options ranging from guesthouses, Dharamshala to hotels with varying tariff tags. Food fare mainly consists of vegetarian dishes.
- Things to do: There are a number of things and activities to do here. Adventure lovers can indulge in white water rafting, rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, rappelling, and bungee jumping. The religious-minded can visit the varied temples, yoga ashrams, rituals that abound in this place. Each temple, whether it may be the Raghunath Temple, the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple or the Trimbakeshwar Temple has its own story to tell.
- Must-Visit Sites: Two top spots that have to be visited if you happen to travel to Rishikesh are the Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula. These two 450 feet long suspension bridges that are architectural marvels in themselves connect the banks of the river Ganga at two different spots.
- While visiting Ram Jhula, you should remember not to miss the evening prayers held at Geeta Bhawan situated in Swarg Ashram. The unique ritual of hundreds of devotees worshipping the holy river is indeed a sight to behold! Do not forget to catch the mesmerizing sight on your camera!
Witnessing the Ganga Aarti at Haridwar
Retaining our halt at Rishikesh we proceeded to Haridwar to experience the awe-inspiring ritual of the Ganga Aarti at Har-ki-Pauri ghat in Haridwar. The experience according to me was truly an uplifting one and has to be experienced at least once in your lifetime!
How Does the Aarti take Place?
The Aarti takes place every evening at the Har-ki-Pauri ghat at Haridwar. The priests stand facing the waters of river Ganga holding lit lamps in their hands and circling them in a clockwise manner all the while chanting hymns in honor of Mother Ganga. The lamps are supposed to attain the power of Mother Ganga. On completion of the ritual, devotees get the deity’s blessings by cupping their palms over the flame and raising them to their forehead. The Aarti takes place amidst the sounds of clanging bells, burning of incense, chanting of hymns, use of flowers, and lighting of small diyas. The entire setup goes towards creating a highly sensory experience.
Can You Participate?
You can either be a bystander or be an interactive participant. In the latter option, you will be directed to a pundit who will give you his blessings and lead you to the forefront of the ghat where the diyas are circled. You may also be able to hold one of the diyas if you happen to be lucky. The continuous chanting, the scent of the incense, the curling flames, and the waters of the holy Ganga lapping at your feet, make the moment an unforgettable one.
Keep in mind that after the completion of the ritual you will have to offer money to the pundits for being allowed to participate in the ritual.
The Ganga Aarti performed at Rishikesh is a more subdued one, less noisy and minus any of the theatrics present during the Aarti at Haridwar. But, mind you the spell cast by the Ganga Aarti at Haridwar remains with you for many years to come.
Back to Rishikesh
After witnessing the Ganga Aarti at Haridwar we returned back to our hotel at Rishikesh. Luckily, our hotel room gave a fantastic view of the clear gurgling waters of river Ganga and watching the helmet-clad adventurists enthusiastically rafting over them was an entertaining sight throughout our stay there.
Back Home Mumbai
We were nearing the end of our vacation and we had our flight tickets booked for our homebound journey from Dehradun. We hired a private taxi and reached the Jolly Grant Airport in about 30 minutes or so. We were to take a halt at Delhi for a day or so to visit family and friends. On completion of a day’s stay, we took a flight back to Mumbai.
We reached home, a little exhausted by the journey but mentally refreshed and exhilarated. The beautiful memories of the cool and pleasant Mussoorie, the sighting of the mighty river Ganga for the first time at Rishikesh (this is also very awe-inspiring), and being in action at the Ganga Aarti at Haridwar will remain etched in our minds forever!