A friend of mine invited me to join him and one another to visit on short notice a tent camping site near River Jamuna, beyond Mussoorie and Kempty falls. I was iffy about travelling outside Delhi, preferring rather not to go due to compelling work related issues.
However, relentless persistence of my friend made me agree to join them and what a revelation it turned out to be! It was a late Saturday afternoon when we started from Delhi in a Maruti wagon R running on LPG. The route to be was via Dehradun, Mussoorie.
Around 5 PM, after about two hours, we stopped enroute at Bikaner Walla to munch upon delicious vegetarian snacks.
While still at Bikaner Walla, it was decided that the next eating halt shall be a particular roadside fried chicken cart, just after Muzaffarnagar. However little before Muzaffarnagar we were diverted off the national highway due to some law and order issue there. Eventually we found ourselves back on the national highway after Muzaffarnagar wondering whether we shall have the opportunity to stop by the fried chicken cart
My friends were happy to spot the fried chicken cart and stopped by it. There we ferreted out a bit of more information about the law and order issue at Muzaffarnagar. It was the same age old story. A communal angle has been given to a routine eve teasing event. Little did we realise that this would blow into a full-fledged communal clash between Hindus and Muslims fuelled by politicians.
Saddened with the news of communal clash, we continued our journey and reached Dehradun late-night uneventfully. A quick halt at a Punjabi restaurant had us eat simple Dal and roti. Nicely tanked up, we moved on to Mussoorie.
The air was cool, the Dehradun Valley glistening like diamonds spread out and not much traffic on the climb to Mussoorie. Which meant our host drove like crazy and I had motion sickness, leading to nausea and vomiting, even after he was compelled to drive slowly.
The drive to this tent camping site on private land was via Kempty falls. Kempty falls are the famous waterfall few kilometres beyond Mussoorie. As we drove past it near midnight, it's roar was especially loud and uplifting. Made a mental note to visit it on my way back to Delhi as it was very dark for us to appreciate the scenery. The little glimpse that we had of the waterfall was not inspiring and our host rubbed it in, telling us that Kempty falls are highly overrated. He was to be proved wrong in 36 hours!
It was nearly 1 AM in the morning when we reached our destination. Tired and exhausted, I immediately plonked inside my basic tent, which had an attached bathroom, pulled up the mattress and went to a much needed sleep.
In the morning I woke up refreshed and charged up. Time to get out of the tent and check out the view. I was delightfully stunned with the misty all green vista all around. The location of this camping site was nice as from there we could have the view Valley all around and the River Jamuna. Few footsteps towards the edge of the property got our ears to hear the delicious roaring sound of the River Jamuna.
The eyes had their own feast in the sight of clouds. These clouds were continuously descending and rising giving a Munnar like feel. I am particularly fond of snowcapped mountains range view, and less than that has never been acceptable to me. But this morning I had to change my opinion while sitting comfortably and watching the juvenile clouds play with each other and with the hills. Our host happily informed us that this magic of clouds is often the case during the monsoons.
Adding to the charm was lack of any traffic and not many people, not even to spot in the distance. But, the only dog on the property was perpetually nuzzling and cuddling us. Never had seen such an affectionate dog before!
After a nice , but simple breakfast of eggs, I proposed that we saunter down the hill slope to the River Jamuna using the hiking trail. But our host ruled it out, requesting us to join him in his car to drive down to the bridge on the River Jamuna. Thus, so we went to the River Jamuna. On the drive down to the River Jamuna, we came across a spot from where we could spot the Sangam of two rivers, one muddy and one clear. The area around the Sangam was a large beach front where we toyed with the delicious possibility of pitching tents for the night. Eventually we didn't do this.
Coming from Delhi where I reside near the River Jamuna (or the sewage Jamuna), I had no idea about the grandeur of the River Jamuna. This River Jamuna is powerful. Rapidly flowing in its full majesty, the River Jamuna was a feast to my jaded eyes. Of course, we did the usual stuff of dipping our feet in the cold, refreshing waters of the river. Perched next to the bridge was a simple restaurant where we sat down to eat. What a find it proved to be!
The restaurant half hangs over the River Jamuna. Sitting at the very extreme edge of the restaurant, we could gaze down at the swiftly flowing waters of the river. Very uplifting for our souls it was. I chose to have simple aloo paratha with curd. Briefly, it was one of the scrumptiest parathas that I have ever had.The ingredients used were very fresh, apparently organic as well. Cynics can say that perhaps it was due to the beautiful surroundings that I enjoyed the aloo paratha. Whatever be the reason, they were simply yummy.
My companions opted to have fresh fish just plucked out of the River. Even three days after having consumed it, they are yet to stop talking about its delicious flavour. As I am a vegetarian, it means nothing to me. :-)
After this heady meal, we were sufficiently tanked up to go for an afternoon snooze. However, that was not to be. The restaurant owner was profuse in his praises of a waterfall just a few kilometres ahead. We bought into his recommendation and decided to visit this waterfall. The sun was behind the clouds, and it was an inviting day for a drive in the hills. How could we let it get past us! Indeed, what a beautiful spot it proved to be! The spray of the waterfall was therapeutic, the view from there enticing and we spent about an hour there discussing the possibility of how to have Internet there and make that location as our branch office. Thus totally refreshed internally, we went back to our tents for that much needed snooze.
As we crossed back the the River Jamuna Bridge, our host sensing our attraction for this location, offered to pitch tents on the banks of the River Jamuna, under the bridge, to be next to the roaring waters of the river. The idea was to get up early in the morning and leave for Delhi from there itself. But the possible challenges arising due to lack of bathroom made us opt out of it. Instead, we settled for eating our dinner at the same restaurant where we had our breakfast.
After a relaxed evening, wherein we watched the sunset with sunrays creating a backdrop of amazing myraid of hues in various shades red and oranges spread all across the sky, we left for the bridge on the River Jamuna to have dinner.
So there were we, at the hanging restaurant once again. The cooks from the tent site brought us the dinner prepared at the camp's kitchen. However, I opted out of the dinner prepared for us and instead asked for the aloo paratha once again. Once again, they were yummy. We could hardly see the River Jamuna beneath us, but it's ferocious gurgling roar was mesmerising. Adding to the magic of the evening was a crystal clear night sky, wherein we could spot the Jupiter and the Milky Way.
Diamonds spread in the sky. The presence of a handsome majestic Tibetan Bhutia dog further accentuated the atmosphere. The mood was - Just didn't want to come back to Delhi anymore!
But there we were the next morning, driving back towards Mussoorie and Dehradun. A short halt at the Kempty falls was necessary. I rushed up the stairs to their last and was suitably impressed by the huge amounts of cascading water. Certainly a site to visit even though the crass commercialisation is upsetting.
Another halt, between Mussoorie and Dehradun at a roadside tea stall to have the locally produced herbal tea proved to be refreshing and uplifting. There, the disturbing news that the communal clashes have worsened in the Muzaffarnagar district made us opt for another route to come back to Delhi.
The new route via Paonta Sahib, forest area, Karnal was better, with smoother roads. How could we pass by Paonta Sahib and not pay our respects there? Paonta Sahib is adjacent to River Jamuna, but it is a dam tamed river. Paonta Sahib is an important gurudwara for the Sikhs and a pilgrimage centre. After Paonta Sahib, few kilometres of drive through lush green forest made us snooze before we reached Karnal.
We decided to have parathas for lunch at the famed Sukhdev dhaba few kilometres after Karnal. The parathas were delicious, especially with the thick dollops of pure ghee. Happy now, we reach Delhi uneventfully, with lovely memories of the therapeutic waterfall.