Solo trip to Uttarakhand
I was completely stressed out with my work in the office. So one fine day, I just decided to go ahead book my solo trip to Uttarakhand including a visit to Dehradun, Rishikesh and Mussorie. I booked my flight tickets to and from Dehradun on MakeMyTrip app and booked my stay with Club Mahindra in Mussoorie. For one and a half months I just had the flight tickets and stay booked and I was not sure what to do about it.
I didn’t have any itinerary about what to do in Uttarakhand. I was not even sure I was going to go ahead with this solo trip. Au contraire, I was losing all the confidence to actually do it.
Then the new year dawned and I saw my birthday fast approaching. All the travel resolutions made in the past came back to haunt me. A solo trip to Uttarakhand was one of them.
It was time stop making resolutions and start actually living them.
So, I thought ‘sab booked hai, yeh solo trip hi kyun na kar le‘. I checked with my in-laws, my daughters, and my husband and I was pleasantly surprised by their support! That was the sign my heart was looking for.
That’s when I finally decided to go on this Solo Trip to Uttarakhand.
Also, read 7 reasons why I decided to go on a solo trip
Planning the Solo Trip to Uttarakhand
After that, I rushed to plan the travel to Uttarakhand. I decided to start my solo trip in Rishikesh, then Mussorie, and ending with a day in Dehradun. It sounded like a plan.
I planned to travel light with probably more weight on the books I carry (apart from the books I buy from the airport, which I do literally every time). My rule is to carry the luggage which I can pick up on my own without anyone’s help. So that’s what I did!
Being the winter season, the weather was going to be pretty cold. Hence, I decided to stock on warm clothes. Also, there were few hikes and walks in my itinerary, hence I decided to carry good hiking shoes.
Refer How to pack efficiently as a part of our Ultimate Guide to Travel Planning series.
5-day itinerary of Solo Trip to Uttarkhand
Here is a summary of the 5-day itinerary of my solo trip to Uttarakhand –
1] Day 1 Rishikesh
2] Day 2 Mussorie city sightseeing – Lal Tibba and Chaar Dukaan
3] Day 3 Surkhanda Devi Mandir in Dhanaulti
4] Day 4 Lakhamandal near Chakrata
5] Day 5 Dehradun sightseeing
Solo Trip to Uttarakhand
Finally, the day came when I had to leave for the trip. My younger daughter started crying and I could barely console her. As I left in the cab for the airport, I realized I had forgotten my wallet at home. It was close to home, so my husband came to give it to me and I burst into tears. Somehow leaving everyone behind and taking that step seemed very selfish at that point. But my husband pushed and I finally left for the solo journey.
Day 1 morning at Rishikesh
I reached Dehradun early morning and we immediately left for Rishikesh. It was hardly a 30 minutes drive. The views around the roads were green sparkling with morning dew and early sunlight. It felt serene and I felt calm from within!
History of Rishikesh
After killing Ravana, Ram and his brothers came here to meditate and absolve themselves of any sins. Hence the region is also known as Tapobhoomi. Ram Jhula and Laxman Jhula are engineering miracles of the pre-independence era. And the old Rudraksha tree is the delight of all pilgrims and Sadhus. You also get to buy a Rudraksha mala here. People generally use it for meditation.
Rishikesh is a well-known city amongst Indians due to Laxman Jhula and Ram Jhula, the temples, and Ganga aarti. However, it especially came into the limelight for foreigners when the Beatles came to visit the place 45 years ago.
Things to see in Rishikesh
I hired a guide for a short visit around Rishikesh. He took me to important places in and around Gangatat. The morning was just breaking in Rishikesh and there was mystical fog all around spreading a serene vibe. It was not even halfway through the morning and the monkeys were raising havoc amongst the residents and small shop keepers of Rishikesh.
There was a Lord Shiva statue that was washed away by floods in 2013 after almost 100 years. The statue was rebuilt and now in a beautiful structure on the banks of Ganga. I spent a few minutes on Gangatat.
Parmarth Ashram is a center for Yoga and meditation training. The pilgrims travel here from all over the world to study Indian culture and mainly yoga. They get rooms at extremely cheap rates.
But the main attraction is the Rudraksha tree which is ages old. Apart from this, I walked around to visit Laxman Jhula and the old Neelkanth Mahadev temple.
Day 2 Mussoorie sightseeing
After Rishikesh’s visit and sumptuous lunch of paratha and maggie, I headed to Mussoorie. My driver was very talkative and I got to listen to many local tales of hotels and tourists visiting. It was a fun 2-hour drive.
Apart from the fact that it gets its name from the Masoor, it is also home to the Indian author Ruskin Bond. The place features in many of his novels. The author visits the local bookshop ‘Cambridge book depot’ every Saturday from 3.30 pm to 4.30 pm to sign autographs for the visitors. Do contact the bookshop if you are in the area.
After that I checked into Club Mahindra and rested.
The rest did me good and I was up bright and fresh early in the morning. I left the hotel at around 8 am. I had breakfast at this lovely cafe close to Mall Road Mussoorie. Then I decided to walk to Lal Tibba point.
The walk to Lal Tibba point went via Mussoorie Mall Road and Char Dukaan in Landour. You can hire either taxis or cabs or cycle rickshaws. I chose to walk. Luckily while asking for the directions I met a sweet friend from Mumbai and we talked all the way up to Char Dukaan.
The Indian author Ruskin Bond stays in Landour.
You get to see many old and antique shops on this route. Char Dukaan (literally meaning four shops) is a similar place where the four eateries are at least 80-100 years old. It is from the time when there were only these four shops in the area. Anil’s Cafe is one of the most popular chai tapari so do not miss the tea here. But people also buy jams and marmalade to carry back home. Of course, you can also go for the burgers, fries, parathas, and Maggie.
I sat on the sturdy old wooden bench sipping a hot cup of tea watching the crowd going to and from Lal Tibba. This tea was just the perfect refreshment I needed before I started walking towards Lal Tibba.
Lal Tibba, Mussoorie
The walk through Lal Tibba is through the dense forest of deodar trees. However, you can see beautiful Himalayan peaks from this highest point in Mussoorie. Enjoy the view with a plate of pakoras and a hot cup of tea. I just sat by myself, soaking in the view for some time. Then I walked back to Mall road.
Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Happy Valley
I was totally tired with all the walking by the time I reached Mall Road. So, I decide to hire a local taxi to visit Tibetan Buddhist Temple. Happy Valley is the place where the Tibetans first lived after they fled their own country. Later they moved to Dharamshala, however, still a small community stays here in the Happy Valley.
The Buddhist temple, known by the name of Shedup Choephelling Temple, is very beautiful, serene, and calm, especially as there was no crowd at the time of visit. I offered my prayers with the help of prayer wheels in the monastery and sat for a while in its meditation hall.
Later, I came back to the hotel totally tired but happy with my day. I requested the same taxi driver to drive me to my next day’s destination.
Day 3: Surkhanda Devi temple
The taxi driver came early the next morning to take me to Surkhanda Devi Temple in Dhanaulti.
I have mentioned the story of ‘Shaktipeeth’ in my Nainital blog. Surkhanda Devi is one such Shaktipeeth. As per Hindu mythology, the head of the burning Parvati fell here and hence the name Surkhanda Devi temple.
I was looking forward to some snow and I got it as I reached the temple. The place and nearby mountains were mostly covered with snow and it was beautiful, although a bit crowded. There is a small but steep hike to reach the temple. This hike takes around 30-40 minutes depending on your fitness level and speed. I could see men and women of all ages climbing the hill. Only to shower their devotion and prayers for Goddess Parvati!
The temple is filled with red ribbons tied by the devotees while asking for a wish or just thanking the superpower! These ribbons give a pious vibe to the entire place.
The kids were busy playing in the snow. We could see a cricket match on the snow-filled rooftop.
To my surprise, I also got to see a newlywed couple who had arrived with their families to seek blessings from the Goddess Parvati. It was fun clicking a few photos of the shy pretty bride and a very happy groom!
As I started climbing down I experienced my first ever snowfall in India!!
We stopped at Dhanaulti Eco Park on our return. It had nice trails through tall pine trees and some sit-outs where you can carry a picnic basket and enjoy fun family time! As I was short on time, I left the place immediately.
Day 4: Lakhamandal
My original plan was to go up to the house of George Everest. But the driver convinced me that this Lakahmandal was a much better destination. And I was so glad that went there.
It literally means one lakh temples. Upon excavation, the explorers discovered thousands of shivalingas, hence the name. Lakahmandal dates back to the Mahabharata era and it is supposed to be the place where the Lakshagruha of Pandavas was situated.
Read here in my separate blog on ‘Lakahmandal’ about all the fun things I did there and interesting stories I learned.
Day 5: Dehradun
As the end of my trip came near, I was less interested in any additional sightseeing but was more interested in soaking in what I had already seen. So I decided to cover only a single destination in Dehradun. Hence, my visit to Dehradun before I boarded the train was a short one.
I decided to visit the Forest Research Institute since I had heard a lot about it. The place is rich with big green farms and unending rows of trees that look like they are a thousand years old! I enjoyed taking my time to view the exhibits giving details about the forest life in India. And I also enjoyed strolling through the botanical gardens surrounding the institute.
I was more than happy to end my solo trip to Uttarakhand as I had a good break and I was eager to share my experiences with my husband, kids, and friends. I would cherish these memories of my first solo travel forever!!
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Keep reading and keep traveling!
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Which taxi service did you use during your trip? I’m planning to go in December and I was wondering if you could help me with some tips?
Hey hi, so the local taxi service is really great and I had an amazing experience with the drivers too. But drop me an email on [email protected] and I will share with you a few numbers you can use.