Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Two and Half Hours in Mussoorie

Statutory Warning – This is a blog regarding my experiences for the time I was there in Mussoorie and mostly contains the review of food served at a famous oriental eatery called ‘Kalsang’. This blog is not about the tips about what to do, where to eat, what to see in 2.5 hours in Mussoorie. Oh yes, this is the right time…turn back…and read some useful stuff. What follows is a story of how a dream to spend a whole day (yes that’s when the daylight is prominent) went awry and was shrunk to 2.5 hrs (thankfully, in the daylight!)

So the Google Maps say that the distance from Haridwar to Mussoorie is merely 80.7 km and can be covered comfortably in 1 hour 49 minutes. For me, what matters is the distance, you can’t calculate time (on the contrary time calculates you!) Did somebody say….. time= distance/average speed? So stationed at Haridwar in the second week of April of 2012, I was contemplating about doing a day trip to Mussoorie. Since there are regular bus services from Haridwar to Deharadun and from Dehardun to Mussoorie, I was expecting myself to reach Mussoorie in 3 hours (base case scenario).

I don’t remember what went wrong…but I started late. I was waiting outside Shanti Kunj in the outskirts of Haridwar towards Rajaji National Park. So things start turning hostile when you mess up with them. I started late and now, I was waiting for the bus to arrive for more than half an hour. Finally, I got the bus at around 11.15 am and reached ISBT Deharadun at 12.45 am. There I was enlightened about the buses for Mussoorie departing from the bus stand at Railway Station, hain? So I hurriedly caught a 6 seater auto to reach the Deharadun Railway station (It was already 1.15 pm! L)

Thankfully, as I reached the bus stand, a bus to Mussoorie was ready (read as it was standing there with the signboard ‘Deharadun to Mussoorie’). I got the tickets and took my seat. I didn’t see a kitty crossing my road but still there was more than a half an hour delay (or right time?) to start the bus. But the only thing which was comforting me was the distance- mere 30 km. It was about 2 pm and somebody sitting behind my seat roared while having conversation with a fellow passenger “No doubt! We will not reach Mussoorie before 3.30 pm!” What??? 1.5 hrs to cover 30 km distance? I was almost in tears. I was hungry!

Finally, the driver of the bus arrived. I don’t remember how he looked but he was almost an angel who had transformed from a Satan I was cursing few minutes ago. After covering few kilometers briskly on the plain and well maintained roads of Deharadun, I had started doubting the ‘backseater’s’ claim.  But as our bus started ascending on the hilly road, I knew that the claim was right. However, the air turned cooler and as we kept on elevating the vistas were turning more beautiful. (Na na…not breathtaking..for that you have to be face to face with The Himalayas and that I experienced next day itself at Deoria Taal near Ukhimath!) So our bus came to halt at Mussoorie bus stand at 3.30 pm. My base case scenario had gone for a complete toss.

Look at the number of cars (visitors) even on a weekday  in Mussoorie and also, the Anand Bhojanalay near Bus Stand

Relieved, I finally CLIMBED to the Mall Road. Every other hill station in North India has a Mall Road, the busiest street and probably, the most avoidable during peak seasons (Actually I give you a good advice – AVOID POPULAR HILL STATONS DURING PEAK SEASONS!!!) Mussoorie though is referred as the queen of the hill stations. Thankfully, it was not a peak season and very few rumblings were happening on the mall road. A wedding celebration was going on in a nearby cultural hall. I couldn’t make it which wedding it was! It sounded like Nepali wedding with the song being sung there. It was about 4 PM and I had nothing since morning. L I earlier thought of visiting Chic Chocolates on Mall Road but skipped it and proceeded for Kalsang at the far end of the Mall Road (I had to hire a rickshaw puller as I was too tired to walk all the way!)

Kalsang is a very famous oriental (read Tibetan) eatery in Mussoorie and has got a tremendous patronage. The dekko oozes all oriental stuff. The red lanterns, crimson interiors as well as exteriors and the staff dressed in red mandarin suits assure that you are entering a genuine oriental eatery. As soon as I settled on the table, I was presented with a menu card with quite an elaborate menu. I actually had not thought about ordering specific stuff but was intrigued by my earlier day’s visit to Clement Town in Deharadun where most of the Tibetan restaurants serving Thukpa and Momos.

After flipping through the Chinese menu, I came across Tibetan menu. Well, for me, any day Tibet wins over China in any aspect. I had been to Namgyal Monastery in McLeodganj (HP) and have watched ‘Seven Years In Tibet’.  A wide smile on my face as both thukpa and momos were available. I ordered (as usual) veg versions of both these dishes and told the waiter that I would order main course after a while. He gave me a smile and told me that my order would be sufficient to fill the guts. Trust me, I am a foodie with serious appetite but this bowled me over. But I didn’t stop there. Let me elaborate!

Thukpa is a thick noddle soup along with lot of veggies (and yes meat too in the original format..happy?) If you ask me to nominate the soup I would like to have any day, there is no competition to Thukpa. Amazingly delicious, kindles almost all your taste buds on the tongue, the aromatic waft makes all the gastric juices ooze at the same time, the portion is very filling and a person with average appetite may even struggle to finish the bowl. Thukpa took my breathe (and my hunger) away!
God Bless You, Tibet! What an awesome Thukpa is this!

However, I couldn’t do any injustice to the momos which were served while I was enjoying Thukpa. Momos are the packets made of fine flour enclosing finely chopped veggies (for me) and meat (again in the original format!) and are steamed to perfection. Served with a tantalizingly pungent red dip/chutney, it tastes like jackpot. I mean your eyes roll to appreciate the taste. Nine momos served with finely chopped cabbage disappeared one by one from my plate. The waiter might have started regretting about suggesting to limit my order. He He! J

Veg Momos with delicious dip!

How a lunch could be complete without a dessert? Honestly, I don’t remember the name but I certainly remember the taste! J A huge block of vanilla ice cream supported at four corners by four extremely delectable banana fritters (banana pakoras) with white sesame on the outer layer of the fritters. Enough it was! I took out my pen and wrote a wonderful thanking note on it! Hopefully you’ll find it on the table just near the kitchen!  

The unusual dessert made of vanilla ice cream, bananas and white sesame! Yummilicious!

Now, it was 4.45 pm. I decided to walk the entire stretch of Mall Road to digest the heavy stuff. The air was crisp and cool. The Mall Road literally looked deserted. I sat on one of the bench alongside the road inhaling the beauty of the valley and the distant hills. It was time. I had to catch the bus to Deharadun at 6 pm. Luckily this bus left on time. J

Though the start of the day had been messy and almost squeezed my patience out of me, I was happy that I got to spend at least 2.5 hours in Mussoorie (and I got to eat the best Tibetan dishes I had till date J). Life loves you. Don’t worry! Even if the start is frustrating, you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest things you couldn’t have imagined. My belief in this became stronger after spending 2.5 hours in Mussoorie! 


  1. Good One Amit.
    Come down to Thane sometime and we will try some veg dishes. :-)

    1. Thanks Sir. It'll indeed be a pleasure to share some delicious stuff with you. Please let me know the venue and time. Will reach! :-)

  2. Again,a superb post....I too had tremendously enjoyed the Tibetan delicacies at Kalsang in 2007. If you had a tough time reaching Mussoorie,I suffered from a horrible travel sickness on the downward ascent to Doon. Nevertheless, Kalsang beckons again!

    1. Hi Lakshmi, thanks a lot for your wonderful words. Seems like you've spent a good couple of hours reading my posts. And I am very happy to meet you, a fellow traveller and food lover. Let me know if we can connect on twitter on any other platform. Would love to share more experiences. :) Take care and keep travelling and tasting great food! Amit

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