Destination Dhanaulti

DHANAULTI: Far From the Madding Crowd*

When the sweltering heat of Delhi became too much for me to bear, I decided to take a week off and go to a hill station for a vacation. I was joined by 3 friends who agreed to shelve their work for a while and accompany me for an impromptu holiday. We pored over many guide books to find a hill station that would not be too crowded in the peak tourist season. This was a task as all the listings showed full bookings for the next two months. Then I came across Dhanaulti- a little heard about place which is at a distance of 25 km from Mussorie. Without wasting much time we decided that this was the place we were going to and packed our bags in a rush. We took the Shatabdi Express from Delhi to Dehradun and took a taxi till Mussorie. It was a nightmare trying to get a decent room for our overnight stay and we ended putting up in a shabby lodge. Next day, after a sumptuous breakfast we started for Dhanaulti in a hired taxi.

Serenity and Calmness

After a bumpy ride on the winding hills and 2 hours of admiring the beautiful landscape we found ourselves in the little town surrounded by lush green forests of Oak, Deodar and Rhododendron. We were at once swept off our feet by the tranquility and peace the place offered. No tourists with maps, just a bunch of native Garwhali people who went about their work, not used to visitors amidst them. Tired after our journey and the nocturnal ordeal in Mussorie we headed for the Garwhal Mandal Tourist Bungalow, an Uttrakhand Government initiative to boost the tourism industry of the state. The room had a breathtaking view of the snow capped mountains in the distance. I have never felt as peaceful with my surroundings as I did now, sitting in my room and looking at the beauty framed in the window panes. All our fatigue vanished after a cup of tea and we decided to go for a trek in the ECO Park, a major attraction. It is a patch of protected forest of tall Deodar trees. As we made our way around the winding path it was a becalming experience and even during the day time it was breezy and cool. After we finally exhausted ourselves it was time to go back for lunch.

Other Places of Interest

We spent the evening lazing around the room in the bungalow and decided to explore a bit more the next day. We drove on to a place 8 km from Dhanaulti,Surkanda Devi. It is the temple of the most prominent deity of the Garwhal region and has great religious significance as devotees flock this place throughout the year. The local guide tells us that the goddess is Sati, wife of lord Shiva, on whose demise the God performed the Tandava Nritya. We stayed in the temple for a while and paid our obeisance to the deity and then moved on for the rest of our itinerary. Next, we headed for Kanatal, another 7 kms from the temple. It is increasingly gaining popularity with the tourist and we encountered a few families on weekend getaways. It is a quiet place with unmatched beauty of the surrounding hills and forests. There are also some set ups by the Himalayan weavers selling exquisite handmade shawls and scarves made of natural dyes and wool. Since the trip hadn’t been an expensive one, we decided to give in to the temptation and splurge here. Happy with our shopping from a place literally in the middle of nowhere we headed back for our room.

The Good bye

It was hard to bid farewell to Dhanaulti but after two days of perfect calmness and soothing silence we were to go back to Mussorie and back home. While going downhill we bought lots of fruits as this belt is famous for its apples and peaches. The ride back to mussorie took less time and thankfully we found a good hotel this time. After an evening on the mall road which was bursting with honeymooners and people on holiday we decided to stay in our room for dinner. We started back for Dehradun to catch our train back to Delhi. As we settled in our seats we were conscious of the wondrous experience we had and hoped that we would come back again and again…

In a nutshell

Dhanaulti is a picturesque hill station located at a height of 2286mts above sea level. It is perfect for a quiet getaway to escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. Though there are not many accommodations in Dhanaulti the Rest Houses, Hotels and Bungalow ensure that travelers are not faced with any inconveniences. It is also known for its annual music festivals which attract major bands from across the country. Most people visit Dhanaulti in summers to beat the heat in the plains. In winters however there is snowfall which makes it a beautiful Christmas picture postcard. One needs to carry light winter clothes in summers also because the temperature ranges from 31c to 6c. In winters it remains between 6c to 1c and thus it is advisable to carry heavy woolens.

How to Get There

The closest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun at a distance of 80kms the nearest railway station is also Dehradun. It is easy to get a taxi from Dehradun to Dhanaulti but most tourist take a halt at the more popular destination Mussorie. It is at a distance of about 25 Kms from Mussorie and 350 kms from New Delhi. It is well connected by roads to other cities in Uttranchal.

*The Line has been borrowed from Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘The Deserted Village’

Purva Bhatnagar

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