Memories of a weekend trip we made to escape the scorching peak summer heat of the Indian plains. We had heard about Chakrata and also that it is not too far off from the national capitol so we made our reservations to Dehra Dun by train. It is a short overnight journey and around 7 p.m. we were at Dehra Dun Railway Station.
We took a GMVN Taxi. It is the best option as they have fixed rates, are reliable and safe and their stand is just outside the station. Also, they only charge one way fare. About 100 Kms drive via Herbertspur costed us 1100 Rs [Approximately $16].
There were hardly any roadside dhabas or eateries and as we got closer to the place even the road wore a deserted look. One can easily realize that the road is less traversed and that is why you hardly realize that you have reached Chakrata even after you have actually reached there.
Even at Chakrata, only a couple of taxis, an ATM centre and a public toilet indicated that we had reached our destination. Perched at 2200 mts height it is not in the must visit list of casual tourists. Our hotel, Snow View was half a kilometer down the road.
I should express my gratitude to Arti for making the prior reservations because it was later that I learnt that being a cantonment area, Chakrata has only one hotel. There are others too, one, that is too far off [about 1.5 Kms] and the rest very shabby ones in the market.
The hotel amidst the green forest was an ideal place for our getaway. It was still being run by the descendents of the same family that had built it in 1836. The structure resembled a heritage site with large rooms and huge lawn. Even the tariff and other charges were pretty economical the reason being that they were monitored by the Chakrata cantonment.
We all should be grateful to the Indian Army because of their presence and directives Chakrata remains untouched of the maddening developments and brazen exploitation and destruction of nature that is apparent in other parts of Lower Himalayas.
In the evening we had a stroll to the Chakrata market which was unfortunately closed. With the thick greens all around the environment was revitalizing. After return from a leisurely walk we had a relaxed dinner. Sometimes you wonder that there is hardly anything to do at Chakrata little realizing that it is this NOTHING for which we have come so far.
Next day at around 10 pm we left the hotel for the next leg of our journey. We had arranged for our cab through our hotel which is the best option as taxis are hard to find at Chakrata. In about half an hour we were at the starting point of our small trek to Tiger falls. From the main route one has to walk down a concrete path to reach the magnificent 50 Kms fall. It took us about 40 minutes to reach there and we all had a refreshing bath in the pond into which the fall ends [falls].
As expected we took time to climb back as the going was uphill. Our next destination was Mussorie. Everyone except me had visited Mussorie so one can expect me to be the most excited member in the cab. The return journey via kempty falls was quite barren. Before we crossed Yamuna river there was hardly any water source visible nor there were any eateries. Traffic increased manifolds as we moved closer to Kempty falls. We had a short break at the falls but they did not seem enchanting enough as we were still lost in the memories of the tiger falls which was far more magnificent and natural.
By evening we were at Mussorie. It was hot, crowded or one can say over crowded….. whatever, it seemed as if I had walked into a crowded city mall on a new year’s day. The rooms were expensive, understandably so, and Mussorie in the return leg of peaceful Chakrata is not advisable. Nevertheless we took Rs. 3500+ rooms in not so fancy hotel and had an evening stroll in the markets of Mussoorie.
I had heard a lot about Mussorie, but to be frank enough, I was disappointed. May be I was there at the wrong time of the year [peak tourist month of June]. My son though enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the place, the trolly ride to Gun Hill and also his short visit to an aquarium on the Mall road. The place is good for purchasing warm clothes too but do not look for some majestic sights as you might expect of a hill station. Next day we were off to catch our return train from Dehra Dun with bundle of fond and not so fond memories.