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‘Packaging Doon’

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Another road is being opened up via the Maldevta area to Mussoorie, which is expected to relieve the Dehradun of tourist pressure. It will give arrivals at Jolly Grant Airport shorter access to the Queen of the Hills. However, as in many such initiatives in the state, it will also create some difficulties as the approach road passes through forested area often frequented by wild animals.

This is the conundrum that faces government efforts at development in the state. Better access to Mussoorie will only increase the congestion problems in that already overburdened town. The answer lies in integrating Dehradun with the Mussoorie experience. A visit to the hill town should be the icing on the cake of a total experience. In fact, tourists are often disappointed as, after great expectations, they end up just walking up and down the Mall Road! The more exotic aspects of a visit there require prior psychological priming such as, ‘Sachin Tendulkar eats Maggi here!’, or ‘This is the road down which Ruskin Bond lives!’

Mussoorie should be marketed along with the many delights that Dehradun offers. These ‘packages’ would involve being based in Doon, enjoying tours to its many institutions like the FRI, IMA, the museums of organisations like the Survey of India, Wadia Institute, et al, as also the newer attractions like the upmarket malls. They could go for adventure sports such as river rafting and hang-gliding, take the ritual dip in the Ganga, and even visit the Paonta Sahib Gurudwara. This integration would help families with children get the total experience, putting Mussoorie’s attractions in perspective. Parking sites in Doon would ensure they could go up to the hills in special buses without the attendant hassles of traffic jams, etc., or carting too much luggage.

This requires imaginative planning so that the footprint on any part of the area is light. It would also increase the earnings, instead of being limited by Mussoorie’s limited offerings. It would make that town more attractive to preferred sections of holidayers like those on honeymoon or a more evolved appreciation of the hills. This is already happening, but in an unplanned way. People who visit Dehradun for whatever reason do make the trip to Mussoorie, Haridwar and Rishikesh. It is just that it should be packaged for them in the manner they prefer, so that they do not have to waste time, energy and money when they arrive. Dehradun is a visit worthy place most times of the year; we should only learn to sell it as such.