It was 4:30 in the morning; I checked whether everything was packed and in place. The traveler inside me was excited and the organizer in me was a little nervous.
I had never witnessed Delhi like this before – little life on roads with a surreal silence. It was all dark, cold and the fog accompanied us to the starting point.With all the troovelers on-board, we hit the road. Slowly the sun began to show up and the morning tonic (tea) was served to keep everyone fresh and awake. Being a bunch of strangers, it was quite necessary for us to have some ice-breaking session so that the troovelers got to know each other and gelled up with each other.
The first halt was at a dhaba for breakfast. The place had a feel of a village, with ‘khatiyas’ laying outside. While waiting for our food to be served, we all absorbed ourselves in digging puns at the spelling errors in the menu card. For instance, gravy was somehow spelt as gareeb! Yes, no kidding. And then, it became a ritual to check every menu thereafter. As the journey progressed, troovelers slipped into their reading mode. Mostly stayed glued to their novels and enjoyed watching the hilly landscape in between through the windows. I wondered if I could ever read novels so religiously.
To tell you about our destination – Landour once known as ‘queen of hills’ is a cantonment town, located in the outskirts of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. The name Landour is drawn from Llanddowror, a village in Wales. According to some records, the Britishers had a knack, an emotional one, to give English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish names to villages that they established. This little hamlet away from tourist buzz, offers subtle peace which drives author to stay here and pour their thoughts on paper. Hence, Landour was a perfect location to take the readers for a trip.
Arriving at the resort, the scenery captured us. The mountains lined up one behind the other with the sunset casting beautiful colors in the sky as if someone just painted them for this moment. We stayed in Bamboo Huts, like we all imagine in our childhood. We were so ecstatic, we started shouting our names to experience echo in the hills. Later, in the evening, we indulged in some writing sessions like 3 line story by the bonfire and got into deep conversations.
Next morning, with cold breeze and sun on top, some of us explored the adventure activities at the resort while others chose to dive into novels. In the afternoon, we went to Lal Tibba, the highest viewpoint which offers a spectacular 360 degree view of Himalayan range with mesmerizing snow caps. As we reached there, we saw mountains hid beneath green layer of trees. A binocular, though pretty old, offered a zoomed sight of the snow caps. The troovelers were engrossed in some writing sessions amidst the captivating surroundings. From there, we went to Chardukaan, which was like a 10 minutes’ walk from Lal Tibba. Deodar trees and the mountains surrounded the path. The fresh air with bright sunlight made the hike even better. I did play around with my camera capturing some moments. There was something about that path. The grey cemented walkway, one could actually sit on cemented blocks on the side and soak in the freshness. On reaching Chardukaan, the view got even better in terms of the liveliness. Chardukaan is a hub of eateries where people sat, ate delicious food, mingled, chirped, laughed and what not! There was this Ivy Café in the vicinity where we had a meeting fixed with renowned author Stephen Alter. This 60 year old man with his pleasing personality mesmerized us with captivating discussions about – how to write stories, his life experiences etc. Ivy Café’s balcony offered a majestic view of sunset behind the hills. Leaving Chardukaan area was not easy, especially when standing at the side railings I could see the whole Mussoorie glittering like stars. No camera was able enough to capture the valley that glowed like cluster of fireflies. That moment was just perfect.
After reaching the resort and resting for a bit, the troovelers were indulged in creative writing sessions. Even I participated. We had to write short stories and enact them. At this moment, I realized the little writer inside me wanted more expression in daily life.
Dinner was served in open by the bonfire. Little thoughts of heading back next morning scared everyone and we decided to reflect upon the positive things. We shared our individual experiences till now and what we gained through this trip and bid night.
Next morning was pretty relaxed. We took our time to get ready, had breakfast and bid adieu to the resort. On our way back, we stepped down at Mussoorie Mall road to roam around and of course shop a little. Heading back to Delhi was a content journey I can say.
Finally, when we reached New Delhi, it was hard to say bye to new friends! But not to forget, I got a new little thing for reading and writing on this trip. Perfect ending (or a start) So yeah, this is my story. From being the organizer of the trip to the happy trooveler, I had a peaceful blast!
By Manika Trehan