In last week of March’18, I had a visitor to my office for some personal work, who invited me over to his place at Lal Tibba, Mussoorie. I, too, was looking for an opportunity to pay my obeisance to the Himalayas, so it just clicked and I embarked on a 3 days/2 nights trip. Left home at 8.45am, for Sonepat where Mr. Ashok Birla was waiting for me.
We Googled our route via arterial roads of Panipat, Shamli, Saharanpur to Dehradun. Roads were fine at most of the places, except at some stretches between Kairana and Shamli. Entered Mussoorie around 6.15 pm but the last 4 km took us almost an hour, upto Lal Tibba. Worst traffic was encountered at Landour Cantt Bazaar, where large SUVs were making our (small cars) lives miserable! Finally, we reached the guest house at Lal Tibba at 7.45pm, parked my Lal Pari (TATA Nano) next to an old fighter jet (Kiran) and slept for only 4 hours as we had planned to leave early morning for Yamunotri. However, after checking temperatures on Google, we dropped the idea and changed our final destination to Tehri Dam Lake.
Our host, Mr. Sudhakar Gupta, was kind enough to take us for a “Guided Tour” of Lal Tibba, which is an abode of the rich and famous of India. Many established journalists, world class cricketers, film stars etc have their properties here. Doordarshan also has its tower at the highest peak. Mr. Sudhakar also showed us ITM School, a great social initiative for local children. Iconic structures of this area are – Char Dukaan, Kellogg’s Memorial Church, St. Paul’s Church, St. Peter’s Catholic Church and SBI Landour Cantt.
It was already 8 am when we left for Tehri Dam Lake, following the route as per Google Maps, supported with road signs. Roads are so smooth, seemed like we were driving through some countryside in Europe. We crossed Dhanaulti, just stopping for a picture of this beautiful place, having lovely deodar and oak trees. While entering Chamba town, I tried to slow down and realised that the brake pedal went down more than expected. Tried second time, it went further down, without stopping the car. After much discussion and deliberation we managed to reach Kaka Motors at New Tehri, though I had to drive holding the hand brake. Since it was an uphill drive, it was relatively easy to reach the workshop, which is indeed a well maintained and having modern facilities in this remote area. A young mechanic managed to rectify the problem. We were surprised (rather amazed) when he asked for only Rs.100/- for the job! Thanked Mr. Vijay Panwar, owner of Kaka Motors and left for next destination.
Now, it was time to head for our final destination of the trip – Tehri Dam Lake and we were awestruck by this beautiful blue coloured man made lake! We met Mr. Jitender Negi who runs a water-sports activity business here. He took us on a VVIP boat for a ride to the far end of this lake and later I opted for an adventure activity – water scooter. I was assisted during this ride for nearly 7 minutes, taking me near the floating hotel.
After spending nearly an hour, it was time to move towards Rishikesh. By this time we were hungry as well as short on time, so we stopped at a roadside dhaba for a quick serving of Dal-Chawal (rice with lentils) and continued towards Rishikesh. After crossing Chamba, we had another jolt, due to own fault. I was taking pics of lovely surroundings, while driving and bumped in a boulder, which brought our car to a screeching halt. The left tyre got slightly bent and steering wheel veered in an awkward position. However, after considering various options, we finally decided to keep going towards Rishikesh. Initially, started rolling at 5 kms per hour but gradually increasing to 30 kmph. Since this road was being widened for “Char Dham Yatra” traffic was moving at a snail’s pace, which helped us to keep in company of vehicles for any eventuality. Finally, reached our destination – Mohan Motors,Rishikesh, (our second garage visit in the same day!) around 8.30 pm and were welcomed by Mr. Vinod Johar. He was kind enough to allow us to park our car inside their garage and also gave us lift closer to Swarg Ashram.
Our stay was arranged by a close friend at Parmarth Niketan, where we managed to check-in just before the closing hours. Had dinner, which was very basic – Roti, sabji, dal, salad, raita, pickle and rice but tasted heavenly.
Got up by 6 am and decided to go to famous Lakshman Jhoola, a suspension bridge. Took out my camera and captured pics, which caught lot of attention on my FB page, ranging from “Dress Code at Religious Tourist Places” to “Clean India Mission”. Sharing few selected pics here as well.
Mr. Vinod Johar, owner’s dad at Mohan Motors, called us over around noon and we spent nearly 1 hour there and found him a very cooperative and jovial person. He treated us like old friends and offered tea and snacks at his home, next to the workshop. We settled the bill and embarked on our return journey, now with extra caution, as we already had suffered twice!
Driving through UP is generally considered risky but we were lucky to have easily gone through Saharanpur, Shamli, Baraut and finally reached Bahalgarh Chowk of Sonepat where Mr. Ashok Birla’s son was waiting for him. There onward, it was a solo ride and I had to keep myself awake, switched on FM radio and started singing, finally reaching home by 9.30 pm.