Dehradun and journey back to Delhi
To find out best places to eat in Dehradun, there was no one better to call then Neha. She was raised here and even though had been living in NCR for over a decade now, still knew some of the best places in Dehradun.
The first place she recommended was Lakshmi Restaurant in Paltan Bazaar, where she used to go for a dosa, ever since she was a child. Other places she recommended were also nearby.
However, the bad news was, Dehradun ISBT was quite a bit far from the main town and the Clock Tower, where the main shopping district and the eateries she was recommending, were located.
So after our phone call got over, it was time to search for an auto. Google Map was showing half an hour travel time between ISBT and Clock Tower, so the Rs. 180 quoted by the first autorickshaw driver seemed stiff and even though he came down to Rs. 140, I still went towards the main road.
After checking with multiple autorickshaw drivers, I finally managed to get one for Rs. 120 and hopped on.
He rode back to a square few kilometers away from ISBT, where the bus had taken a left for the bus stand. Had I chosen to get off at that point like most people, I would have saved quite a bit of time and money in the commute.
So I made a mental note to get off at that square, in case I visit Dehradun in future.
Since there was construction taking place for flyovers, there was congestion on the road and for the first time in years, my nose was actually burning from vehicle pollution!
Delhi is definitely quite polluted, but it seems it is a different sort of pollution than what I was experiencing in Dehradun. It was similar to what I used to feel in Delhi when CNG buses weren’t introduced.
For a moment, I was regretting, not heading back to Delhi after eating at the mall next to the bus depot.
Soon as we reached the Gandhi Road, it gave me a feel of an old city and even though there was still plenty of traffic on the road, pollution was a lot less (or I got used to it.)
Autorickshaw driver dropped me off just before the clock tower and it was time to look for Paltan Bazaar, where Lakshmi Restaurant was located.
It was on the cordoned-off road and even though a few vehicles were plying, the road was completely full of shoppers, mostly ladies out for shopping on what seemed like the Karol Bagh of Dehradun!
I wasn’t really interested in buying anything, though a person on the streets selling 5 lemons for Rs. 10 did seem like a good bargain when compared to Delhi's rate. But after having second thoughts about those lemons getting crushed in my bag, I decided to drop the idea.
After walking for a bit, I came across the Lakshmi Restaurant, which as per its board, was established in 1944!
It was a small and busy restaurant, not unlike any other South Indian food restaurant you would come across in any of the major cities in North India.
You sat wherever you found an empty chair, even if a family was occupying rest of the chairs at that table. So I too grabbed a chair between a couple and couple of girls and ordered a masala dosa.
It was served in a matter of minutes and even though sambar was delicious and spicy, dosa was just about alright. Stuffing though was a little bland and cold at places.
After I finished off a much needed good lunch, it was time to head to my next pitstop. I paid Rs. 70 for the dosa at the counter and asked him for directions to the Sunrise Bakers.
Turns out, it was in a small street, not far from here and after thanking the helpful man manning the cash counter, I headed back towards the clock tower and then took a diversion to a small street, where the Sunrise Bakers was located.
They had been recommended by multiple friends and supposedly made great cake rusk and other bakery products. Since I was supposed to have my desert elsewhere, I decided to buy cake rusks from them. Sadly though, they have way too much stuff in their shop and not everything is on display. So unless you’re a local who knows what to order or have something particular in mind, it is difficult to find things you want to buy.
I knew what I wanted, so I bought half kg cake rusk from them for home. Turned out, they were closer to normal rusks in their texture and even though tasted like cake rusks, they just weren’t that good.
Next stop was the Bengali Sweets Shop, Neha has lavished praises about this place numerous time. So I thought about getting a few packed for mom and sis, but not before tasting them and deciding, whether or not they were worth it.
Turns out, Neha was right! These rasgulas were absolutely delicious. No artificial flavors or sacrificing the texture and flavor in order to make them seem extra spongy (like in case of Haldiram etc.)
So after a couple of them, I got 6 packed for home. And came out of the shop, a happy customer.
The sweet shop is right on the square and is the newly opened outlet and their real shop is down the street and that is where all the sweets come from, for this outlet. I didn’t walk to their main shop, but I liked this shop a lot. A quiet atmosphere and a friendly and calm soul behind the counter.
It was now little over 3 pm and I was thinking of taking the evening bus since I was in no mood to arrive in Delhi at midnight.
So I fired up the Google Maps and searched for Café Coffee Day. It was amazing how well everything was mapped on Google Maps and I could confidently move around due to it. Though at Darshan Lal Chowk, I did get a little bit confused and took the Gandhi Road again, before realizing my mistake and coming back and taking the right road to the CCD.
Though it was a little hidden away, thankfully it had a board outside.
Inside though, it was a fairly large and beautiful CCD and I was planning to spend rest of my time here.
The habit of spending hours at CCD and Starbucks in Delhi was going to come to my rescue now. And even though network signals were a bit weak here and I had to keep juggling between Vodafone and BSNL, I managed to not only book the 10 pm AC bus, which was scheduled to arrive in Delhi at 5 am, I also managed to get some work done and downloaded Animal Farm by George Orwell on Kindle, so that I could read it to pass time.
Of course, CCD is never a dull place to be in. This one wasn’t different either. Apart from the usual couple or two, there was a business meeting taking place.
There were also a couple of girls coaching a guy for interview and couple of other job aspirants, who were waiting for the interviewer to arrive.
When the interviewer did arrive, more than an hour late, she proceeded to sit on the sofa behind my table and even though I was busy reading the novel and had no intention of eavesdropping, I did get to hear the interviews.
And it was a teenager doing his graduation through correspondence while working as a sales executive, who stood out amongst others.
With great fluency in English and near perfect neutral accent, he was more confident and professional than the lady who had come to take the interview (in her thirties I guess) and answered all her questions wonderfully.
So I was really surprised when all of them had left and she called her office in Gurgaon (or was it Delhi?) told her colleague on the other side that none of them were good. I guess you just can’t please some people.
Sadly for her though and more so for the CCD staff, when she tried to pay for the coffee with her credit card, the first transaction failed and yet, her card got charged.
For the next half an hour, an argument took place between her and the staff. They couldn’t let her leave without paying the bill and she wasn’t convinced that the money would back for the failed transaction. Good thing for her, she wasn’t a man and not in Jaipur CCD, otherwise, she would have been slapped and charged with a case of molestation
I was enjoying my time here and although the toilet was dirty, I thought about waiting here till 8 pm, before taking an auto to the bus station.
Sadly though, they didn’t have many options for food. So I decided to pack my things and walk back to the clock tower.
Once there, I took the Rajpur Road (New Bazar) and started looking for a place to have dinner.
Just Café caught my attention from the outside, so I decided to head inside.
The menu looked good, so I went up to the first floor, where their seating area was located and was charmed by the interiors. There were black and white photographs of automobiles on the wall, mostly vintage, but a few modern ones as well and it looked beautiful!
Pasta Cocktail Sauce, made with tomatoes and creamy white sauce caught my attention and I decided to order that along with sweet lemonade. While the lemonade was light on sugar and lemon, yet very refreshing.
The Pasta on the other hand with a cocktail sauce of tomato and the creamy white sauce was just perfect! Well cooked and with plenty of creaminess and just the right amount of the tomato flavor to ensure, neither flavors overpowered the other and yet, the fusion tasted really good!
After a delicious yet fulfilling dinner for just Rs. 165, I decided to take the auto to ISBT Dehradun.
Once again after a bit of bargaining, the autorickshaw driver agree to take me there for Rs. 120 (which I now knew was a lot for the distance of just 7-8 km). The day Ola and Uber come here, Dehradun locals and tourists alike will breathe a sigh of relief!
I managed to reach the ISBT around 8 pm and had enough time to do a complete recce of the place, before sitting on a bench in front of the Volvos lined up for Delhi.
I had decided to save Rs. 268 by opting for AC bus instead of a Volvo and for Rs. 546 (plus Rs. 20 online booking charge), I was to travel back to Delhi.
ISBT Dehradun could rival ISBT Kashmere Gate in terms of cleanliness and was a lot better than the old bus stand of Haldwani with numerous Volvos and AC buses lined up for various parts of North India.
I spent rest of my time there reading Animal Farm when finally my bus came around 10 pm.
After about 15 minutes, we were out on the road, heading for Delhi. There was no fog tonight and in the AC bus, I was sheltered from the cold winds as well.
So I managed to finish reading Animal Farm and even caught up on some sleep before the bus halted at Bikanervala before Muzaffarnagar.
Since I had a heavy dinner, I opted to have sweet lassi and after staying awake for a while, completed rest of my journey sleeping, only to wake up at Kashmere Gate a little after 4 am.
Once I got off from the bus, I booked an Uber and headed back home, after a 39 hour wandering through UP and Uttarakhand with plenty of sweet memories and a few sweets in hand.
Total expenditure for the entire trip, including food and transportation came out to be around Rs. 2,400 with cake rusks and rasgulla from Dehradun for the family.
All the photographs in this travelogue have been taken using Honor 6x Mobile Phone.