Perhaps best known for the institutions the British left behind – the huge Forest Research Institute Museum, the Indian Military Academy, the Wildlife Institute of India and the Survey of India. In this article I have highlighted some destination and places that one should visit.
Ram Rai Darbar :
his unique mausoleum is made of white marble, and the four smaller tombs in the garden courtyard are those of Ram Rai’s four wives. Ram Rai, the errant son of the seventh Sikh guru, Har Rai, was excommunicated by his father. He formed his own Udasi sect, which still runs schools and hospitals. When Ram Rai died in 1687, Mughal emperor Aurang- zeb ordered the building of the mausoleum. A free communal lunch of dhal, rice and chapatis is offered to anyone who wants it, although a donation is appreciated.
In a scenic setting on the banks of the Tons Nadi River, you’ll find an unusual and popular Shiva shrine inside a small, dripping cave, which is the site of the annual Shivaratri festival. Turn left at the bottom of the steps for the main shrine. Cross the bridge over the river to visit another one, where you have to squeeze through a nar- row cave to see an image of Mata Vaishno Devi. The temple is about 5km north of the centre. Take a rickshaw for ₹300 roundtrip.
Perched on a ridge 2km high, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ vies with Nainital as Uttara- khand’s favourite holiday destination. When the mist clears, views of the green Doon Val- ley and the distant white-capped Himalayan peaks are superb, and in the hot months the cooler temperatures and fresh mountain air make a welcome break from the plains be- low. Although Mussoorie’s main bazaars can at first seem like a tacky holiday camp for families and honeymooners, there are plenty of walks in the area, interesting Raj-era buildings, and an upbeat atmosphere. Established by the British in 1823, Mus- soorie became hugely popular with the Raj set. The ghosts of that era linger on in the architecture of the churches, libraries, hotels and summer palaces. The town is swamped with visitors between May and July, but at other times many of the 300 hotels have va- cancies and their prices drop dramatically. Central Mussoorie consists of two de- veloped areas: Gandhi Chowk (also called Library Bazaar) at the western end, and the livelier Kulri Bazaar and Picture Palace at the eastern end, linked by the (almost) traffic-free 2km Mall. Beyond Kulri Bazaar a narrow road leads 5km to the settlement of Landour.
Sight seeing near Mussoorie:
Propitiously located at the point where the Ganges emerges from the Himalaya, Harid- war (also called Hardwar) is Uttarakhand’s holiest Hindu city, and pilgrims arrive here in droves to bathe in the often fast-flowing Ganges. The sheer numbers of people gathering around Har-ki-Pairi Ghat give Haridwar a chaotic but reverent feel – as in Varanasi, it’s easy to get caught up in the spiritual clamour here. Within the religious heirarchy of India, Haridwar is much more significant than Rishikesh, an hour further north, and every evening the river comes alive with flickering flames as floating offer- ings are released onto the Ganges. Dotted around the city are impressive tem- ples, both ancient and modern, dharamsalas (pilgrims’ guesthouses) and ashrams, some of which are the size of small villages. Haridwar is busy during the yatra (pilgrimage) season from May to October, and is the site of the annual Magh Mela religious festival. Haridwar’s main street is Railway Rd, be- coming Upper Rd, and runs parallel to the Ganges canal (the river proper runs further to the east). Generally only cycle-rickshaws are allowed between Laltarao Bridge and Bhimgoda Jhula (Bhimgoda Bridge), so ve- hicles travel around the opposite bank of the river. The alleyways of Bara Bazaar run south of Har-ki-Pairi Ghat.