The Foothills of the Himalayas and Beyond
Days 37-38: Jess is a Wanderer left the chaos of Delhi and headed north to the foothills of India's Himalayan mountain range - Dehradun.
We left our hotel in the hope of being able to catch a bus from Delhi's Kashmiri Gate bus station. It was a piece of cake - you can absolutely turn up to the bus station and book a ticket to just about anywhere in the country. We ended up on our way to Dehradun for 800RS (£12 ish) each. Bargain.
Seven hours later it had been a hellish (but mostly uneventful) trip of beep, beep, beep and bump, bump, bump, but we had arrived - shaken and not stirred. A tuk-tuk took us to Pacific Mall where our Airbnb was located near. In lavish style, we had dinner in a fancy hotel restaurant. With no access to wifi, we didn't want to chance eating at a dodgy place so opted for some high-end hotel in the hope of surviving to tell the tale. And we did!
Our Airbnb hostess is a lovely lady who's fascinated in learning new recipes from ye olde England... yet she's asking the two people on this planet who never cook. We have so little to offer her that we headed out and spent the day walking over 20km to Robber's Cave and Tapkeshwa Temple (via some military base and a 10km diversion)... I'll get to that.
This is a shallow, fast-flowing river which leads into a cave and ultimately a canyon. Whilst it's a fantastic sight to see, and nature is truly impressive with its rock carving ability, it was absolutely overrun with tourists. Costing merely 25RS to enter (less than 50p), it was heaving that we had a paddle in the gorge and then left pretty swiftly. There were lots of water fights going on in the canyon and us princesses, well, we didn't want to get caught up in any of those shenanigans.
The rest of our walk wound through small villages, leafy-foresty areas, over bridges and down country lanes. We enjoyed taking in the sights and smells of the surroundings and it was a welcome change from Delhi's smoggy air. After coming to a guarded military base and being denied access (obviously) we walked back along the 5km route we'd just come and took a different path.
Arriving at Tapkeshwa Temple was an interesting experience. My first ever Hindu temple! First things first, shoes off. Someone tried to fleece us by charging us for storing our shoes but our Egyptian training kicked in and we opted to carry our own shoes. For free. 1-0 to us!
The temple complex is situated on the banks of a river and is decorated with large religious icons and statues. It's a colourful place and renovations are going on so it does appear a bit dowdy at the moment. I'm sure it will be wonderful once it's finished. We paid 50RS (about 80p) for a basket of offerings for the deities. These were carried (with some difficulty) as we crawled through the tiny space but we made it and presented them accordingly.
The pièce de resistance at this sight is definitely the cave. Entering from the outside it doesn't look too impressive until you round the corner and practically have to crawl through to get to the main worshipping place. It was an incredible rock formation that would absolutely send the shivers up the spine of some claustrophobic people.
On the way back, we walked down a mountain in the dark - it wasn't planned, it just sort of happened. Amidst the hurling buses, crazy motorcyclists and monkeys on the side of the road, it wasn't our best ever decision. Nonetheless, we made it back down in one piece (just about, there was an incident with a glass bottle almost colliding with my head) when a family pulled over and said they'd gone past us, turned around and that we should get in the car and they'd drive us home. What a lovely family. Also, the mum works at a special needs school so (as teachers), guess what we're doing tomorrow!
Stay tuned for more...