Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Dehradun-Mussoorie Trek

Only, I cheated a little, and took the bus to Rajpur. The route then, is Rajpur-Jharipani-Barlow Ganj-Mussoorie.
Ok, now. Be warned, this is going to be a long post. When I was thinking of this trek, I could get very little information online. So here, in case any of you ever decide to do it, are all the details.
To take:
Water ,snacks (carrots and beets in my case)
I had the survey of India map (Open series, No. H44G03, available at their sales centre, and an absolute steal at Rs.50- if you have the discipline to stick to buying only the maps you need and not all the pretty maps available).
More useful than the map, I had a set of instructions written by the amazing M, who has made D’dun a far less lonesome place than it could have been.
I did NOT carry a bird book, instead opting to take detailed notes of whatever i saw. I did regret it sometimes- instant gratification of curiosity is a pleasurable thing- but i don’t think i totally missed out.
Here is how to do it.
07:15 am: I caught the bus to Mussoorie from well, the Mussoorie bus stand near the railway station. Since you only go till Rajpur, it is also possible to catch a city bus/vikram from Rajpur road/ Clock Tower. I needed to get down at the Christian Retreat, which the conductor did not know of, but promised to stop when I hollered. The centre is on your right, a little after Rajpur, when the bus starts climbing through forest. On the opposite side of the road, a little past the Retreat, is the Moravaiya High school. Right opposite the school a metalled road leads to Jharipani. Incidentally, this village is pronounced Zadipani, and not Jhareepani. I was the recipient of blank looks and then giggles when I asked some schoolboys if that was the right road to you-know-where. Go up that road, and turn left at a chai stall. From this point, by the way, there are no right turns. If you just keep going uphill and left-wards, you will be ok. This path is paved with concrete blocks. And I was here at
08:00 am: on this paved road, I walked for a few minutes past a small group of houses with a yappy Pomeranian, till I came to a pass. Now this is not one of the formidably Himalayan passes, but this is the only way to describe it. If you do this trek too, you will instantly recognise it. There are two chai stalls there, but before the chai stalls, there is a trail going- yes, that’s right- left. This is a slightly steep and loose path, overgrown by lantana, but you cannot miss it. A little after that, the road seems to fork, and I obediently turned left, but that path goes nowhere and is extremely overgrown. I stuck to the main path then, and carried on. This part of the trail is flat and open scrub- lantana and wild curry leaves being the only plants I could recognise. It gets steeper and hotter; by this time I had taken off several layers. Around this time, I started skirting the base of a hill, and this is a lovely place to see wildlife, more details about that later. I started climbing the hill now, and faced a slightly steep and slippery patch. At its top, someone has tied prayer flags to some cacti, and this marked the end of all steepness for the trial. And I was here at
08:45 am: and here I pretty much stopped looking at the time. The trail is very pretty. There are short, flat steps. The risers are of concrete and the treads of beaten earth. Here too, the shrubbery skulkers give way to woodland birds and the lantana and cacti are replaced by oak and wonderfully fragrant flowers. Go along this road then, stopping every now and then to look at the birds and sniff the flowers. Far too soon, though, the road becomes paved again, and forks. Here, choose the path that goes uphill and right, and then left again, and so reach Jharipani.
The paved path here is not tough, but hot and relentless. Bikes whizzing past me only added to my grumpiness, till I reached the little main street. This is tiny, with a few shops, one chaiwallah and the most absolutely sweet post office. Sadly, it was shut. But the next time I get there, I will buy some postcards to send home. I would have taken a snap, but was too self-conscious to do so. But picture a crumbly little house with red roofs that looks as if it has been built of cake and marzipan and you have seen it.
I had chai here (2 Rs. if you have change madam, otherwise never mind) and chatted with the chaiwallah. He saw me looking at my map, and suggested that I try google earth instead- and then was sceptical when I told him I like the look and feel of printed maps.
From here it is 3 km to Barlow Ganj, and all of it is along the metalled road. Most people only walk to Jharipani and then take a jeep/bus. But the walk is not bad-and if I ever find a trail that I can walk along rather than the road, it will be far more pleasant.
At the main chowk of Barlow Ganj (where the water tank is), I turned left and got on to another paved path that winds a little steeply upwards. This part of the walk was interesting for the buildings I passed. Lovely little cottages, concrete blocks, and a strange white building with green turrets- the path had them all. Here, the change in altitude is visible as the broadleaved forest of Jharipani is replaced by mixed oak and deodar.
After a while, i came to a city bus stop that said ‘Landour Bazaar’ and had an arrow pointing right. I took it, and it did get me to Landour, but added maybe two kilometres to my walk. From the bus stop, the mall road is within spitting distance- go there, have more chai, and then walk to Landour and Sister’s bazaar. As it was, I was a little tired after the last part of the trek and opted out of a planned coffee at Devdar woods, Sister’s bazaar. Something for next time. I am not sure of the exact time I reached Mussoorie, but I was having lunch at 12:30
But yes, then I lunched off a paratha, walked to the bus stop and was home by 2:30- in time to visit the library and the BSNL office. Not bad at all.

5 comments:

WILD said...

We did this hike in oct2008. Its not bad, lots of historic value of Raj days, before the motor road came up. Next time , pls carry a can of red spray paint and make some markings on the way for fellow hikers.

Vagabond said...

Interesting blog. I am from Dehradun and did all my schooling there but I never did this trek. I was just looking for directions and viola - Google directed me to this blog.

Next time when I am home this trek is on the cards ! Thanks for sharing.

Rajan said...

Hi, I did this walk yesterday all thanks to this excellent blog and it was brilliant!

Only two issues that I would watch out for next time.

1.I don't/didn't know this area well at all and found the start a little difficult to find, possibly because the entrance to the Christian Retreat (as far as I could tell) is ON the road opposite the Moravian Institute. Perhaps the entrance has moved.

Having found the way, it seems really easy now, but it was made a bit more difficult because after getting down at the vikram stop I proceeded straight up (Old Rajpur?), instead of bearing left and heading towards the Moravian High School. So for anyone else who may be new to the area and interested in this route, a good route can be to head up straight from the vikram stop. The road bears left at the top of the hill after another few minutes of heading straight/right you will come to the chai stop (heading up and right) that would have marked the left turn if you had taken the road opposite the Moravian Institute. (Just after a horrific new apartment block).

2. The last part of walk after Barlow Ganj was not much to write home about, basically just climbing up to the kulri bazaar along the busy main road. If you can hail a bus along here that would save a lot of unpleasant toil (a lot of construction + roadworks going on at the moment). The views on the way up are good though.

Thank you very much again for such a useful article, a very good route indeed.

Anonymous said...

can you please publish the instructions by amazing M

virendra ojha said...

Nice account on trek