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Next to the queen of hills - Mussorie via the route of Dehradun which was a no go zone for kids as it

hosts the Doon School, A childhood fear literally in front of me in childhood, lol!

The queen in all its glory - a hill station developed by the British but what a stunning location they
picked, just like the sweet Mahabaleshwar! Evergreen Oaks, Surrounding the birds, the Tibetian
Culture, raindrops hanging on the leaves. As you go up and up the hill, on the rope and the fog
arrives, it wraps everyone on itself until sundown where all our great relatives, the stars come and
watch the whole hill in all its glory and the oaks leading to the Dehradun in the valley.

We stayed in a hotel, Jaypee which had a bowling alley in the hotel but we don't enjoy hotel life as
other, anyways it's all paid services! So, Directly going for the sunset stroll to Tibetian market, where
I took the hat I'm still using. The mystery is how did Tibetian market set up there in Mussorie, was it
the British or as it was on the Silk route - a mystery unsolved!


The Tibetan market in Mussoorie, makes a child wonder, how it happened? Tibetans living in the
middle of India – How & Why? On the next trip in 2010, I once more encountered Tibetans in
Dharamsala and there I spent a long time diving deep down in history and its something I could’ve
never imagined. The past can be seen all over Dharamsala.

It all started during the British time as Mussoorie always remained unofficial - for the affairs of the
heart. It has always been a gossipy place - with an air of informality and a tradition of romance - The
Honeymoon capital of India. The British had developed it into a beautiful hill station. In 1959, a
revolt erupted in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of Tibet which was under the
People’s Republic of China since the seven-point agreement in 1951. The revolt, also known as the
1959 Tibetan uprising encountered a large number of casualties and oppression by the People’s
Liberation army.

During the revolt, the Dalai Lama of Tibet fled to India, where he still lives as a refugee. Dalai Lamas
are important monks of the Gelug school, the newest school of Tibetan Buddhism. From the time of
the 5th Dalai Lama to 1959, the central government of Tibet, the Ganden Phodrang, invested the
position of Dalai Lama with temporal duties. The fleeing led to the people following him so, on his
way to India, he stopped for some time in Mussoorie in the happy valley and then moved to
Dharamsala. Before moving to Dharamsala, the first Tibetan school was established in Mussoorie in
1960, and some of the Tibetans were already entangled with the local culture and decided to stay.
By now, more than 5000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie, and more than 100,000 Tibetans live in
Dharamsala with an inflow of about 1000 each year. Tibetan culture is so noble, you get to know
only when the experience is first hand. The way the travel the mountains, their embroidery, how
they make customised friendship bands for you, and how they treat you!

So the trip was of Summer 2010, Delhi to Delhi with Vishal kaka and family, our best travel
companion. The first time I watched the snow, near the Kangda valley. I missed the chance to watch
a snowfall as it snowed overnight and all roads to the mountain outside valley were closed for some
hours. The snow brightens up the sun, and the valley becomes as beautiful as the centre of a daisy.
The mountains couldn’t be conquered so we went to a Buddhist Monastery! Then hit the rains and
the plans again got cancelled but, “Jo hota hai, ache ke liye hi hota hai”. We came back to the hotel
and banged our bodies straight to the recreational room, where I first played what is known as
Foosball. Imagine, 4 kids, playing foosball and all for the first time in their lives – it’s total chaos.
Something happened that night, after the rains,
The treetop beauty turned into a nightmare.
The silent hotel felt so lonely,
As the humming of a lullaby swept the ear.

There’s a ghost in the halls of this place,

That’s what I felt, and last night
The stairs creaked, the lights flickered,
And the room smelled faintly of jasmine.

And I woke up to an empty bed with the sun-

Beam streaming in, with no song in my head.
No beat in my heart, I dressed with a
Hopeful eye, with the smell of jasmine on my shirt.

We left Kangra, two days early – straight to Khajjiyar, landing directly around the apple orchards,
praying to a seventy feet high Lord Shiva idol, that we are still alive. The road trip felt so relieving
that one cannot express it in words.

Next to Dalhousie – the Summer capital of British Rule and we were there in summer. It didn’t even
feel like summer there, the place is so cool! To the way to Dalhousie were those 100 feet high
conical trees which bore fruits that we took on the road for home decoration. That was May 12, my
dad’s birthday, probably the best celebrated birthday of his life. In a hotel in Dalhousie, with his best
friends, Vishal-Nikita, family and mom even arranged a cake! If that’s not enough, that night there
was a musical night hosted in the hotel itself like a silver coating (varakh) on Kaju Katri.

The excellent weather just got killed as we descended down to Amritsar, directly to 40 degrees. But
Amritsar, it is worth all the sweating and pain. The feeling of Patriotism, the fantastic food, it is all
worth it. I went to Amritsar again as a part of Explorer’s Fellowship in the year 2019 so, the old
memories are kind of a blur. The Wagha Border – sitting near the road, me and Harsh getting to run
with the flag, getting to hold a real Assault Rifle of commando – So heavy, felt like an anvil to us.
Getting to eat Parathas, seeing the India – Pakistan train. The Jallianwala Bagh, where I spent a long
time revisiting the pages of history. It's me, I sometimes get too invested in history that someone has
to pull me out, I just get teleported and develop a strong feeling for the place.

Jallianwala Bagh yeh dekho, Yahan chali thhi goliyan

Yeh mat puchho kisne kheli yahan khoon ki holian
Ek taraf thee bandook dandan ek taraf thi tolian
Marne waale bol rahe thhe, Inqalaab ki boliyan
Yahaan lagaa dii bahano ne bhii baaji apani jaan kii
Is mittie se tilak karo ye dharti ha balidhan ki

Then, the calmest place in the whole of Punjab, The Golden Temple. The Sikhs have a sad story of
partition that their two holiest sites of worships were separated by the border. Still, Golden Temple
is considered the centre of Sikhism in the world, the beautiful lake that carries the image of the
temple just mesmerises. I wasn’t able to see the temple in the night as it is so apparent – I was
sleeping. But, the second visit to the Golden Temple was all about observing the night view as it
stood with all its Glitter and Glory, in the middle of the city.
Amritsar is a place about which one can write thousands of words and the heart wouldn’t be
satisfied, be it the cheers of Wagha Border or the beauty of the city. But, due to time constraints, am
writing only this much in the journal.