I had a wonderful time in the tranquil atmosphere of Dhanaulti in the Indian Himalayas and finally, it was time for me to move ahead to my next destination-Mussorrie. I boarded a local jeep packed with passengers on every inch of seat and after a journey of around 1 hour amid the beautiful mountains, I arrived at Tehri bus stand in Landour which is also part of this famous hill station and hometown of equally famous writer Ruskin Bond.
The town was in complete contrast to my last destination. The streets were bunged with overcrowded tourist populations, the small shops occupied every possible inch it could occupy, there were hotels with their giant boards each claiming to give an unobtrusive view of the hills. I reached Mussorrie in evening and at that time literally there was not even space to walk on the roads. I had visited Mussorrie long time back and I searched for the hotel I checked in last time. I found it at last but in the search I rambled across the whole town, almost every street of the town as it was on the other corner of the town near the Dehradun bus stand.
Seeing such a bustling herds of human species on the tiny hill station and hearing their incessant infiltrating noise, I really missed Dhanaulti at that moment. The extreme tourism in the hill station have made it similar to metros which I aimed to escape during my journey. I relieved my shoulders of the baggage with which I walked almost few kilometres in search of the hotel and hit the streets immediately but feeling free and light. The large groups of people had occupied the roads and remaining were occupied by the hawkers selling momos and other delectable street foods. Although it appeared to be a metro city in the evening but there was huge difference in expressions of the people. Contrary to metro evenings, people looked refreshed, they laughed, enjoyed the street food, sat on the benches facing the mountains, couple held each other hands, children ran over the mall road with their innocent smiles- there was cheerfulness on each face on the mall road and I guess the “Queen of Hills” had casted a magical spell of happiness all over the place.
While looking out for room, I had smelled the clutching nostalgic aroma of pizzas emanating from Dominos. Every time the transparent glass doors opened, the distinctive smell of the seasoned mozzarella melting over the base would sneak out and entice more customers and I was no exception. I decided to feast my taste buds with their renowned garlic bread. However, soon all my excitement suffered a setback when I saw the garlic bread as it was half of what we get in plane areas. Even though the half sized garlic bread was an unforeseen setback to my taste buds but still they took no time to gulp it. I strolled for some more time on the streets and later withdrew myself into the cosiness, comfort and silence of my room for the evening.
The next morning I woke up at leisure with no hurry to cover all the tourist spots of the town. The morning was bit nip and surprisingly mute compared to the evening. I marched down the cemented path to the mall road for a brisk morning walk. The roads were clear, shops were still closed, the infiltrating clamouring of the last evening was absent and the so called “tourist” still seemed to enjoy the warmth of their hotel rooms. I could only sight locals running for their daily chores. Now it appeared quiet and serene to fit into the definition of a true “hill station”. Now it reflected why it is crowned as the “Queen of Hills”, why British loved it, what keeps Ruskin Bond going even at this age and what drags the masses every weekend
Since the “tourist” were still at bay from the streets, now I had the luxury of stretching my arms and legs on dull and discolored bench tucked along the mall road facing the valley. In the evening all these benches are occupied and one has greedily wait and keep an eye on others to rise before they can grab them like Spartans. The view of the valley and minuscule dots of habitation amidst the dense robe of forest over the mountains ran an awe feeling in my heart.
With some frozen feelings, beautiful landscapes and moments in my heart at the pale green bench, I sauntered further on the mall road which was encouraged by the unadulterated freshness of the morning breeze. A few meter ahead, I saw two portrait artist from Chandigarh unfolding their inclined wooden easel on the road side and sharpening their tools. They hung few samples of their skills on the easel and patiently waited for their customers. In the meantime, I went to them and casually started chatting and as the conversation sparked I slowly and gradually grabbed the nearby stool meant for their customers. Both the artists were friendly and narrated many amusing tales of how people bargained with them. As I was not in any hurry like the other tourists, I spent over an hour gossiping with them till their first customer of the day arrived. I had part with the stool but I stood beside them to watch their skills in action.
Their hands moved like a trained robot over the white sheet and within 15 minutes the exact Xerox copy of live species in front of them was created. Even the minute wrinkles on the face were detailed out. The crowd had begun to pour in mostly- just watching their finger’s dance on sheet.
While they were still busy in their work, I bid them goodbye. I strolled for some more time, the shops and the tourists both had started to roll out. The sun was up and it commenced to douse me with its heat. At this point, a sense of satisfaction and contentment transpired through me and I realized that this hill station bestowed me with what I came looking for- and before it evaporates in the heat of sun, I decided to leave with smile on my face which I think its way of thanking everyone for visiting this place.