The overnight journey from Nainital to Mussoorie spectacularly lacked excitement of any kind, and most of us were fast asleep when the bus stopped in the middle of nowhere at 6 in the morning, a good one hour away from our scheduled arrival. Rubbing our eyes, we were greeted with the spectacle of a mountain covered in snow, with our bus wheels spinning uselessly in the drifts on the roads. After a foolhardy attempt to push it out, we were forced to grab whatever essentials we could carry and hike a few kilometres in the falling snow to our hotel.
Clutching our woolens tightly around us, we trudged uphill through the snow. The cold had us awake in no time at all, and the air was soon full of flying snowballs as we sought to entertain ourselves on the long walk. The snow fell intermittently, not strong enough to really be an inconvenience. The roads were empty, the snow making making the region look otherworldly, like some story out of a fairytale. The illusion soon disappeared though. The closer we got to the city, the uglier it became, electric cables crisscrossing haphazardly over ramshackle hotels and inns stuck to each other on both sides of the road.
It wasn’t a short walk, but we reached. We were making mental checklists. Hotel. Check. Hot shower. Check. Bed Warmers. Check. Zzz.
When we finally crawled out of bed around lunchtime, the worst of the snow had fallen and left, and the city was covered in a blanket of snow. After stuffing ourselves (paneer is everywhere in North India), we decided to check out the city.
We could count out most popular tourist destinations, since the snow meant our buses were still stuck on the way up, so there was no means of transport to get around. We had to look for places that were not more than a few kilometres away from our hotel. The Gun Hill ropeway was the popular choice, but getting there was easier said than done. The streets covered with snow were manageable, but the main roads had been trampled by hundreds of feet and the snow was packed into dense ice. Since no one had appropriate footwear, we slipped and slid our way to the point, not really enjoying ourselves despite the beautiful views and the crisp air. The view from the ropeway was worth the trouble though.
The ropeway took us to the summit of Gun Hill, with a variety of shops that sold trinkets and tea and steaming noodles. The place we chose were kind enough to light a bonfire for us, and the Maggi soon had us warmed enough for an impromptu snowball fight, which we regretted on the freezing trip back down. We slid down to the hotel after shopping for better gloves, since the woolen ones we had on weren’t really designed for rolling snowballs. The snow fight continued once we were back at our hotel, with people on terraces and verandahs around gleefully contributing a few snowballs to the chaos.
Dusk put a stop to that though, and a bit of asking around led us to this little cafe called Chick Chocolate. Dazzled by the food on offer, we ordered as much as we could, thanking the cold for our ravenous appetites. While we waited for our Baked Beans and Sausages, Pizza and Hot Chocolate, we checked out the cover art on the walls. Definitely not a place to miss on a trip to Mussoorie. We later learnt from the owner that they were closing for the winter on the next day, so it was a stroke of luck we could visit.
Back to the hotel it was after this, with more slipping and sliding going on. The highlight of the walk back was when someone lost control of their Audi in the snow and crashed it into a lamp post. Ouch.
A good night’s sleep later, we walked back to our buses. The snow was beginning to melt, so we had a slushy walk back, but richer for the experience, we left Mussoorie without wanting to change a thing.