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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jaipur - Mussoorie Trip

We did this trip to Jaipur, Rajasthan and Mussoorie, Uttarakand, in about 5 days and 5 nights. It was peak south-east monsoon time, and we could travel only at that time due to our son's only vacation slot we had. And in the Uttarakkand state of Dehradun and Mussoorie, it would rain very heavily during monsoons, and landslides and water overflow difficulties are not unusual. So, all through the planning period and until we finished the trip, we were very apprehensive about how the whole trip would pan out. Adding anxiety to all that, just a day prior to our travel, we saw in the news about Dehradun and Mussoorie that there was continuous heavy rain for 2-3 days, resulting in flooding and havoc in low lying areas. But luckily it was not bad when we visited, and we had a very nice trip overall!

We flew from Bangalore to Jaipur on 12July Wednesday evening, and returned back from Mussoorie to Bangalore on the following Monday night, 17July.
  • We flew into Jaipur on Wednesday late evening, and checked-in to the hotel. 
  • Delhi is ~270 KM from Jaipur, on a slight north-eastern direction. We flew from Jaipur to Delhi on Friday evening. 
  • Dehradun is ~300 KM from Delhi, again on a slight north-eastern direction. We took the Friday night train from Delhi to Dehradun, so we avoided losing time on travel during a day, and so we got more time on Jaipur side and on Mussoorie side. 
  • From Dehradun to Mussoorie is a ~35 KM road travel, we did on Saturday morning. 
  • While coming back, we again took a road travel on Monday forenoon from Mussoorie to Dehradun airport, a distance of ~60 KM; as the airport is located over 25 KM away from Dehradun city. 
  • We flew out from Dehradun around noon, and transited in Delhi to reach Bangalore in the night.

Look for our itinerary outline with more information later below.

Scroll down to read more on our Jaipur and Mussoorie experience and pictures.


It was south-west monsoon time in July. Northern India had already been receiving good rains. So we were wary of rains affecting our trip. But on the days we went, Jaipur was warm to hot, with max day temperatures touching 35 degrees Celsius.

We stayed at Umaid Bhavan in Jaipur, a modern heritage hotel. With extensive artistic interior decor inside the rooms and all over the common areas, the hotel is a royal stay at a reasonable budget, and it is located in the heart of the city. Built with a traditional Rajasthani style ambience, it is said to have been converted into a hotel over 25 years back, from an old house property. It just has 3 floors with a small footprint on the ground. But if anyone who is interested goes through, to observe in detail, each and every piece of work and artifacts that is present in this entire hotel, including photos / pictures, traditional art, carvings, statues, wall decor, flooring, side railing slabs, antique furniture and articles of decoration, and so on, it might even take more than a day! With a nice restaurant on their top floor terrace, and they also had folk song and dance performances at dinner time, along with very good food, overall it was an impressive stay.

For going around the city, day long tours for sightseeing can be done by a cab that the hotel can arrange. Short visits to select spots can be managed easily by Uber service as well.

We drove through Ajmeri Gate and then the old Jaipur area, also referred as Pink City, towards Amer Fort. Most buildings in the Pink City area were undergoing re-painting work. The old parts of the city, especially some 4-way road junctions on the MI Road (Mirza Ismail Road), reminded us of some old parts of Mysore.

En route, we spotted just one lone camel coming in front of us from Amer Fort. Amer Fort is the highlight of all the places we visited in Jaipur. A great fort, lavishly done with marble work. One needs to spend a full day to look through in depth and admire all the intricate details this fort possesses. A big downer is all the pouncing tourist guide people wanting to serve us, who come behind us claiming that without them we will never understand the full details of the fort. And it does appear to be true as the fort is huge with a lot of compartments, corridors and layers. Our cab driver had pre-warned about this touting trouble. In general we like to be on our own, so, with a lot of difficulty until we took the steep climb all the way up to the entrance, and got inside with the entry ticket, we somehow escaped from all of them.

Amer Fort is a great palace with a lot of wonderful architectural details to observe in detail. Inside Amer Fort also quite a few re-painting / restoration work was going on.

Jal Mahal was in a badly maintained surrounding. The fort is in the middle of a lake. But we can only see it from a distance, on the bound, and a quick road side stop over is enough. The place was strewn with trash and filth. We just made a 5 min. stop.

After having lunch, we went to the City Palace in the old Jaipur area.The City Palace was nice, with a lot of Mahals to go around. Great artistic structures, with painted and carved constructions. Here also quite a few re-painting / renovation work was going on.

We skipped Jantar Mantar that is supposedly located adjoining City Palace, and though we were planning to go there, there was no signboard direction we spotted and ended up coming back to the main entrance. It was quite hot and we were exhausted.

En route in the Pink City area, we stopped at Hawa Mahal. Hawa Mahal is a great looking construction, an iconic masterpiece for Jaipur, but when you get there it ends up letting us down, as it is just a front facade that is a great work, but there is nothing else we can see or do. It is located bang in a market kind of surrounding, right on the road, and there is no big space to go in and see. So we just made a 2 min. stop over!

We lost quite a bit of time in traffic while returning; a heavy traffic jam in a market area, amidst chaos of the Metro train route construction activity that was going one.

On the second day, we visited Albert Hall Museum. Regular cameras are not allowed inside, but cellphone cameras are fine. We were told to keep the regular cameras in our handbags and can carry it inside; just that we cannot use them. Albert Hall Museum building is also a nice traditional Rajasthani palatial construction. It was also undergoing some painting / renovation work when we visited.

Rajasthali Handicrafts Emporium on the popular MI Road was a nice ground + two level shopping place where we could see a lot of traditional articles to buy.

Umaid Bhawan

Amer Fort

Jal Mahal

City Palace

Hawa Mahal

Albert Hall Museum

Rajasthali Handicraft Emporium

Please look for my Caught Special - 78 posting with some special pictures from our Jaipur trip, here.


During both onward and return directions, our transit commute during the Delhi hop was messy. More on that later below.

The transit at Dehradun while going was fine as we could step into a prepaid cab (our good old, Ambassador car!), from the railway station parking lot itself, who dropped us at the Library Chowk end taxi stand at Mussoorie. And while coming back from Mussoorie, it was a longer journey by cab, as we have to drive past Dehradun city to reach the Dehradun airport (a very tiny airport, crunched for space).

When we got into Mussorie's Library Chowk end taxi stand beyond which cabs are not allowed, there were two further hops before we could get into our hotel, the Kasmanda Palace hotel, which is located up on a steep little mound that is not easy to climb by walk, especially while carrying our luggage. So we first took the help of an old porter to get our luggage and climb from the taxi stand to the Mall Road through the staircase short-cut, and then, the hotel sent their shuttle cab service to pick us up for the final leg of the steep road.

Kasmanda Palace is a very old, British, heritage building of the 19th century. A very well maintained hotel with just a few rooms and with old style interiors, furniture, flooring, historic photos displayed, etc. gave a nice ambience of traditional style stay. The room had marks of a couple of fireplaces, high ceilings with wooden reapers / rafts, wooden flooring, old style ceramic tile embedded design in tables and chairs, and nice arched passages. The windows in the room we stayed opened on to the their tiny garden area with some distant view of the hill slopes and valley. With a nice restaurant, sprawling backyard garden, and seating on open terraces with valley view of the distant Dehradun city and the nearby busy Mall Road shops and crowd, overall made it an impressive stay at Kasmanda Palace.

The weather was very pleasant and cool in Mussoorie during our stay. Though, there was one long spell of rain in the forenoon and another one late in the night. Luckily that forenoon rain stopped before we actually ventured out for the day's outing that afternoon. Other than the rain, the mornings, days and evenings were completely foggy, giving a great touch to our hill station visit, while in the room, as well as during some of our Mall Road walk and during our Landour Hill visit. However, at times, when the fog cleared and when we could see the distant valley views and mountain ranges clearly, we did feel that we were missing out on those nice views from a hill station perspective. But, we did get such clear views - just for an hour, a couple of times - once early morning and once late in the night - during our 2+ days of visit!

On the Mall Road, we got on to a tricycle rickshaw to travel through a short distance to drop us close to the Tibetian market, which we walked through to reach the Cambridge Book Depot around 3 PM to meet with Mr Ruskin Bond, the popular book author. The shop owner brings him there almost every Saturday, if the weather is good. Luckily during our visit on that Saturday also he came, and we could buy one of his books from the shop and got his autograph as well.

Generally Mall Road itself was very crowded owing to week-end. And we skipped going to places like Kempty falls, Gun Hill view point on cable car, etc. as they were also likely to be crowded and were not appearing great when we saw internet pictures and videos.

On the second day, we visited the Christ Church that is located adjoining our hotel. Historically, long back in the 1830s, the hotel was part of the Christ Church complex itself. The Christ Church has a beautiful Gothic architecture with wonderful interiors and windows with impressive colored art pieces.

We hired a cab after a lot of haggling difficulty, and went through Landour Hills to visit the Lal Tibba. Our cab driver pointed to Ruskin Bond's residence as we passed by. The cloudy day did not give us much of scenery from the view point at Lal Tibba, but the place was calm and serene on the hills. On route, we did go through some congested apartment settlements and cars parked on the narrow road sides. And, while coming back from Landour we were stuck in a long traffic logjam with 20-30 vehicles from either sides on the curvy narrow roads, as some of the broad vehicles could not cross each other.

Kasmanda Palace

Mall Road

Christ Church

Landour, Lal Tibba

Ruskin Bond's home

Please look for my Caught Special - 79 posting with some special pictures from our Mussoorie trip, here.

Transits at New Delhi

During both onward and return directions, our transit commute during the Delhi hop was messy.

While going, we had to transfer from the T3 terminal Indira Gandhi International Airport to the New Delhi Railway Station. We took the Delhi Airport Metro Express train that runs right from T3 terminal itself and takes us right up to the New Delhi Railway Station. That was the good part of it. However, the bad part was when we reached the New Delhi station on the Delhi Airport Metro Express line, there was no proper signage to get us out of the underground Metro station to the exit to ground level, and some people misguided us as well. And when we finally got out o the Metro station to the ground level, the pedestrian walk path to get across to the New Delhi Railway Station through the Ajmeri Gate end is going through the regular road traffic chaos, that was difficult for people carrying the luggage. And, later, once we got inside the New Delhi Railway Station, there were no proper dinner restaurant options, given that we got there by about 8:30 PM and our outbound train was only at 11:50 PM. It was heavily crowded everywhere, it was still hot, and there were no good restaurants to eat, and the AC waiting hall was not having a proper regulation.

Similarly, while coming back, the Spicejet flight from Dehradun to New Delhi landed in the old domestic terminal T1C. And the transfer from terminal T1C to the new T3 international terminal was not well established and managed. There was a free shuttle bus. But the frequency was limited, and the bus did not have proper luggage racks considering that most of the terminal-to-terminal transiting passengers would carry a lot of luggage. So the bus became rushed and crowded, and we had not had our lunch yet even past 2 PM, and the weather was hot, while that bus took a long journey from T1C to T3 through the Delhi traffic.

Itinerary Outline

Here is a short itinerary of the entire trip, with a little more information, in case you are looking for.
     - Wed, Bangalore 17:20 to Jaipur 19:45, Indigo Airlines flight no. 6E-469
     - Fri, Jaipur 18:05 to Delhi 19:10, Jet Airways flight no. 9W-2624
     - Fri, Delhi 23:50 to Dehradun 5:40 (15July), Nanda Devi express train no. 12205
     - Sat, early morning Dehradun to Mussoorie, by road
     - Mon, morning Mussoorie to Dehradun, by road
     - Mon, Dehradun 13:00 to Delhi 14:05, Spicejet flight no. SG 103
     - Mon, Delhi 17:20 to Bangalore 20:05, Air Vistara flight no. UK 813

Trip Tips
  • Trip for three for 5 nights would cost about Rs 30-40k per person at normal rates, including food, economy flights, 3A train fares, and the cabs. 
  • MakeMyTrip sometimes offers deals on hotels and flights that can save you some good costs.
  • Keep checking the news and be sure there are no heavy rains en route of your journey!
  • Jaipur
    • Be careful with tourist guide touts at places like Amer Fort.
    • Rajasthali Handicraft Emporium on MI Road has a wide range. Prices may be a bit high.
  • Delhi
    • If you are hopping in Delhi for transit, be prepared for some time and energy (sweat).
  • Mussoorie
    • Pick peaceful, serene, calm spots to visit around Mussoorie; like Lal Tibba / Landour. 
    • Lunch at Uphar Veg restaurant, Mall Road was good; but not at City Point (Veg and Non-veg).
  • Dehradun
    • Airport is located far from Dehradun. Some roads towards airport were not in good shape.

Our ratings on a scale of 5, 1 being low and 5 being high.

  • Umaid Bhawan Jaipur -- 4.25/5
  • Amer Fort Jaipur -- 4/5
  • Jal Mahal Jaipur -- 2/5
  • City Palace Jaipur -- 3.5/5
  • Hawa Mahal Jaipur -- 3/5
  • Albert Hall Museum Jaipur -- 3/5
  • Rajasthali Handicraft Emporium Jaipur -- 3.5/5 
  • Kasmanda Palace Mussoorie -- 4.25/5
  • Mall Road Mussoorie -- 3/5
  • Cambridge Book Depot Mussoorie -- 3.5/5
  • Lal Tibba -- 3.5/5
  • Landour travel -- 4/5

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