We are towards the end of September, yet no signs of the monsoons receding. In-fact the last few days saw a heightened spell of rain activity especially in the remote hilly regions of Uttarakhand.
I got a window of opportunity, when on a given day, the clouds seemed to make some way for the blue sky, letting the golden rays from the sun touch our mortals and lighten up the mother earth. Continuous showers had refreshed everything and everyone and the silhouette of the Mussoorie hills was now distinctly visible from across Dehra (Dehradun).
The magnanimity of this scenery captivated me to the extent that I instantly decided to canter-off to Mussoorie. Post work, I headed to the bus station (situated next to Dehradun Railway station). Usually, the bus station is crowded with residents and tourists making a beeline for the ticket, however, this time I found the counter empty and soon I was comfortably seated in an Uttarakhand Roadways bus. The journey until Mussoorie takes roughly 1.5 hours post factoring in the time for navigating through the growing Dehra’s traffic. The bus fare is Rs. 80/- pp. As we left the city noise, snaking our way up-hill, the views started to get breath-taking as the bus thrusted forward with every puff of the smoke.
Below, Dehra was getting shrouded under the blanket of growing mist. Everything seemed so fresh and with every inhale, I could literally feel the rush of cool air getting into my nasal passages. Just as the sun was getting drowned in a sea of dark clouds, our bus arrived at the library end of Mussoorie.
The age-old Mussoorie library looked magical in the twilight. The shimmering lights faraway in the doon valley further added to the milieu. I marched from the library end to the picture-palace end and then an up-hill walk towards the Landour bazaar, halting at a hotel next to the Landour Clock tower, whose bell, at the turn of every hour, sent off a sweet melodious tone through the damp air and across to the far hills.
It was heavily pouring the next morning and I had to wait a while for its intensity to subside. And when it mellowed down, I was already on my way to the Landour cantt area. Early morning walks have their own advantage and especially so in touristy towns as you get to witness their beauty in its pristine form. After a 3 km up-hill walk, I found myself at the famous Char Dukan area. It was quiet and empty, only disturbed by the sound of the soft breeze and the falling leaves. I got my time to soak-in the experience and then I treated myself with a cup of Lemon Ginger tea.
It was now time to scramble down the mountain, all the way down to Dehradun from here. A down-hill walk of approx. 15 kilometres.
1st Leg – Char Dukan to Landour Clock Tower | 3.2 kms
This is a steep walk that passes through the Landour market and numerous houses along the Landour-Mussoorie road. In the initial stretches, you get to witness the entire landscape of the Mussoorie hills and Barlowganj town below. On a cloudy day like this, the photos captured on the camera lens look so refreshing.
If we go back into the history, it was in Landour where the first settlement was built (around 1825) and then the whole area expanded rampantly, owing to the perfect climate it offered.
2nd leg – Landour Clock Tower to Barlowganj | 2.2 kms
We take the carriageway (the one on the left) from the Clock Tower junction and continue to tread along the narrow lane. Further ahead, the road skirts the boundary of the famous boarding school in Mussoorie (Wynberg Allen School, built in the year 1888). We continue our walk , eventually hitting the Tehri by-pass road. We cross-over this road and take the lane towards Barlowganj.
From here until we hit the Barlowganj town, it’s a fairly steep descent. To my mind, this is the only challenging stretch on the entire trail. As you arrive at Barlowganj, the white, tall, and massive, concrete structure of the Jaypee Hotel greets you. Jaypee Residency Manor was the 1st luxury hotel in Mussoorie/around and was opened for public in the year 1995.
2 quick pointers
- Running short on time / or wish to do a short hike – Dehradun to Barlowganj stretch can also be considered
- For the full stretch from Mussoorie to Dehradun , Barlowganj is a good pit-stop and one can relax a bit here before moving ahead
3rd leg – Barlowganj to Jharipani | 2.2 kms
This walk is alongside the main Barlowganj-Dehradun motorable road, but the views of the valley down below are mesmerizing. Kamal Cottages, a cluster of individual bungalows is clearly visible as you walk further. It earlier used to be a palace of a Nepalese King.
Jharipani is a quaint little town and from here we take a detour for Dehradun and this stretch is the most interesting part of this entire trail from Mussoorie.
4th leg – Jharipani to Shehenshahi Ashram (forested area) | 4.8 kms
This entire stretch is through the dense forests. The entire doon valley is visible from here, falling on your right side. The heavy climbing mist will continue to play mischief with you but the whole atmosphere is so intriguing that somehow you will feel refreshed and energetic to keep going further.
If you get lucky, the way I did on the recent hike, say hello to the barking deer (also known as Kakad).
The concrete structures now become more visible through the naked eye and eventually we arrive at one end of the Rajpur village. There’s a Kali temple there which marks the end of this hike.
A little ahead are 2 interesting shacks (quite famous in Dehradun) ,Shreya Tea Shop and Haathi Tea Shop. I have covered them in my other posts. I usually end my hike with a cup of Lemon Ginger Honey tea at one of these shops.
5th leg – Shehenshahi Ashram to Rajpur (Mussoorie Diversion) | 2.1 kms
While you can take a motor transport from the ashram, I decided to walk further and through the Rajpur village until the Mussoorie Diversion (next to Shahid Manoj Rana Gate). If you wish to take a public transport (bus or shared auto), you will have to cover this stretch too.
The bus takes about 20 minutes to the Clock Tower (fare is Rs. 20/- pp). and this is where I end my journey.
Concluding the post
It’s an easy trail and doable for anyone. This trail has been used since ages by people plying between Rajpur and Mussoorie. Many writers have documented this trail including Mr. Ruskin Bond. One can attempt this trail throughout the year however each season unleashes a different aura.
Hope you enjoyed reading the post!! I will cover this trail again during the winter season when Landour would be enveloped in snow instead of the mist 😊