Saturday, October 7, 2017

Utopia in Uttarakhand!!

We are on our annual Bharat Darshan tour, this time around the Northern State of Uttarakhand. Beginning from the banks of River Ganga at Haridwar and Hrishikesh to travelling up the winding roads to Mussoorie followed by a wildlife Safari at Jim Corbett national park and now for one last run-in with the clouds on the Gagar hill ranges at Nainital!

When traveling, it's hard to strike the right balance between engaging in hectic sight seeing expedition and indulging oneself with a relaxing holiday. When you've travelled so far from home (and the package costing you a pretty penny) might as well make the most of it.. and get your money's worth... while at the same time.. it's a vacation,after all.. and you should be allowed to put your feet up and get some R & R... isn't it? 
Well.... this has been a constant tussle through out our trip. But the key is to focus on the hits rather than the misses ( which I confess ... have always had trouble doing!) as for all you know.. the main take-aways from any trip are the experiences, memories and pictures of the highs and not the lows... and with time..the so called "lows" evoke just as much nostalgia as the highs!!! 

The highlight of this trip ( at least for me) has been visiting the Queen of hills - Mussoorie, which felt like a pilgrimage of sorts for a Ruskin Bond fan like me. Though we couldn't get to meet our favourite author, we did get to catch a glimpse of the hills with its mighty deodars, pine and walnut trees growing therefrom, the doon valley view, umpteen little streams lining the meandering roads and the myriad wild flower blossoms that always seem to find a place in his stories and his writings indeed do complete justice to the beautiful landscape that was before us, (of course, only if you ignore the touristy trappings like tourist vehicles mindlessly blaring their horns, garbage lying uncollected and tin sheds and hutments that have mushroomed at every nook and corner of Mussoorie that only seeks diminish its rich natural beauty). But thanks to our visit, we can now very well  relate to " Lal Tibba", Camel Back Road", "Wynberg-Allen school"  and many such places Ruskin Bond refers to in his stories.

We also got to visit the iconic Cambridge Book Depot and leave a note for our favourite author. The Cambridge Book Depot that was established in the year...... and located at Mall Road, Mussoorie, houses amongst others, a complete collection of all of Ruskin Bond's titles and is also the place where Ruskin Bond meets his fans every Saturday .....(Alas! He was not available this Saturday)

But curiosity got the better of me, we did make a trip to get a view of "Ivy Cottage" from the outside only to find a small little house perched high up, with a breathtaking view from its windows.... So excited was I that my husband had to literally hold me back from climbing up to his narrow staircase leading to his entrance and knock at his door!!

No worries.... as I guess like any author, or an artistic/creative personality, Ruskin Bond too is wary of letting strangers ( even fans) invade into his privacy, and is best met through his writings... and with this understanding, we did a Ruskin Bond special during our journey... each of us with a Ruskin Bond in hand!!!

"Roads to Mussoorie" was my companion as we drove from Hrishikesh to Dehradun and then up to the mountain ranges leading up to Ruskin Bond's "paradise regained"! A compilation of stories old and new revolving around his surroundings, all throwing light on historical, naturalist and societal perspective of Mussoorie then and now. A must read for anyone planning on a visit to Mussoorie.

 Amongst the other titles,  our favourite family read aloud was "Tigers for dinner - Tall tales by Jim Corbett's Khansama", most appropriate as we  visited Jim Corbett National park. 
A collection of about six spine chilling stories  about the various encounters with tigers, leopards, king cobras and other dangerous creatures during the tenure of Mehmoud as Jim Corbett's Khansama..... all narrated from his perspective.. and presented in a quintessentially Ruskin Bond style.  As Mehmoud dishes out his famous Kofta curry to lamb chops to quenching the summer heat with his succulent mango milkshakes, he regals little Ruskin Bond with interesting tales revolving around the jungle expeditions of the famous Jim Corbett and party, adding his own spice and masala to them! Packed with adventure, suspense and subtle humour, and aptly illustrated by Sunaina Coelho, reading this book almost makes up for not sighting any tigers during your jungle Safari!!!:-)))

1 comment:

  1. Well written Divya. Ruskin Bond must read this .Our family is a fan of Ruskin Bond! The little one also says Ruskin Bond when she sees the picture of him!