Uttarakhand: Trip Planning

I had JW Marriott Mussoorie on my wish list since it opened in October 2014. Eventually, in 2017, I managed to plan a trip to Uttarakhand. It was a three-day long Republic day weekend, Kapil took one day off from work and we planned a 3 nights/4 days holiday to Uttarakhand covering Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie. Honestly, I wanted at least 4 nights for this trip but it was not possible due to Kapil’s work schedule. I added a night in Rishikesh to see the infamous Ganga Aarti and its surrounding places. Except for mom, none of us is religious. None of us were interested in Yoga either, our main aim for this trip was to see the beauty of the place.

Panoramic view of Mussoorie -  Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie

Brief Itinerary for 3 nights/4 days

Day 1 – Fly from Mumbai to Dehradun and drive to Rishikesh, see the Ganga Aarti at Haridwar and stay overnight in Rishikesh.
Day 2 – See Rishikesh, Dehradun and Mussoorie all in a day and stay in Mussoorie at JW Marriott.
Day 3 – Chill at JW Marriott, Mussoorie
Day 4 – See whatever is remaining in Mussoorie, drive to Dehradun airport and fly back to Mumbai.

Map

Here is the map of the route we followed on our road trip in Uttarakhand covering Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie.

Map of Uttarakhand road trip covering  Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie

Map of our road trip!

Flights

There was only one direct flight from Mumbai to Dehradun and vice versa via Jet Airways. Most of the flights reach around 12 pm or 1 pm, be it direct or via Delhi. For the outbound leg, I saw the direct flight available for 9500 JP (Jet Airways) miles per person and immediately booked it. For the return leg, the direct flight was in the afternoon. Instead, we booked an evening flight from Dehradun to Mumbai via Delhi to get half a day more for sightseeing.

So our flights were:

Mumbai to Dehradun direct on Jet Airways
Dehradun to Mumbai via Delhi on Spice Jet

Weather

We visited Uttarakhand in January. Rishikesh was pleasant with temperatures ranging from 10 to 20 degrees Celsius and Mussoorie, a hill station was pleasant with temperatures ranging from 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Mussoorie was chilly only during evening and nights. One jacket each was enough for us. Five days prior to our visit, it snowed in Lal Tibba which is quite rare in Mussoorie.

I’ll say except monsoon periods of June to September, anytime is a good time to visit Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie.

Snow at Lal Tibba

Remains of the snow at Lal Tibba!

Cab Booking

I’m always sceptical about selecting a company for the cab booking as I’ve faced way too many problems in the past. I always ask a lot of questions to the companies mainly about keeping the A/C on throughout the journey. This is a trend in India where the drivers do not want to keep the A/C on in the hills, claiming that it damages the car but I think it’s just a way of saving money. I dropped an email to as many companies as I found on Google and Trip Advisor. Only one of the companies agreed to keep the A/C on although the time, so I booked with them for our Uttarakhand trip covering Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie.

Company – Shreya Taxi Services
Email – info@shreyataxiservices.com
Cost – Rs. 3500 per day including tolls and parking (similar to what others offered without the A/C)

Cab Booking for the first two days

I hired the cab only for the first two days as we didn’t require it on the 3rd day. For the last day, he said the driver is not allowed to pick us up in Mussoorie due to a taxi union issue. By booking the cab separately for the first two days and the last day, we saved some money. If I had booked a cab at our disposal for all the four days, it was Rs. 3500 costlier.

I had asked for a Tata Innova which the company could not provide at the last-minute since the previous booking got extended. The company offered us a Tata Aria instead which was inferior as compared to Innova but didn’t make any major difference. The driver was good, took us to all the places we wanted to go to, no pressure on any shopping or eating at his preferred places as drivers earn commission there. However, he denied to take us to Lal Tibba stating that our big car wouldn’t climb the narrow roads.

Cab Booking for the last day

For the last day, we wanted to visit Kempty Falls, Company Gardens and Lal Tibba, and in the end, get dropped at the airport for our 6 pm flight.

Our hotel staff at Marriott quoted Rs. 10,000 for a Tata Innova for this one day and another company quoted Rs. 8500 for the same. I felt the other company increased their prices because we said we were staying at Marriott.

The driver we had for the first two days was willing to pick us up from Mussoorie on the last day contrary to the cab company who denied it stating that there was a taxi union issue. We told the driver we would hire him again only if he agrees to take us to Lal Tibba. Since he would get our business, he agreed within minutes. But he wanted Rs. 4000 for the day which we agreed to as we really had no other choice. In the end, he also charged us Rs. 300 extra for the toll and parking.

Still booking the driver directly was a big saving as compared to booking a car through Marriott.

On the last day, the driver still tried his best to avoid taking us to Lal Tibba by making all sorts of excuses but seeing our aggression, he eventually took us.

Tip – Before booking a driver, make sure he agrees to take you to Lal Tibba  

Accommodation

Rishikesh Hotel – EllBee Ganga View

Booking – EllBee Ganga View

As we were staying in Rishikesh for only a night, I was looking for a standard hotel room with a nice room and bathroom, preferably a room with a view of the Ganga that was not too far from the main town. I searched quite a few hotels and decided to go with EllBee Ganga View Hotel as it fit my criteria.

I searched all websites for a good deal. Goibibo.com was offering the best deal. The room cost around Rs. 4000 for a Premier Room with a view of the Ganga whereas the price for the same was in the range of Rs. 8000 on other websites including the hotel’s website. It was an amazing deal and I booked it immediately. I must mention, that it required the use of some Gocash which was lying in my account. I don’t value Gocash much as it’s very unpredictable. At times, I’ve even seen that prices are more when the Gocash is applied as according to the Gocash used, the convenience charge is altered. Even for this booking, I got two rooms at two different prices as seen in the pictures below.

Goibibo Booking of one room

Screenshot of the first room booking for a total of Rs 3636

Goibibo Booking of second room

Screenshot of the second room booking for a total of Rs 4787

Review of Hotel – EllBee Ganga View

We arrived at 2 pm and check – in was smooth and fast. Within minutes I had the keys to my room. The room and bathroom had all the amenities like any 4-star hotel would have. The room had a king size bed and a huge window with a nice but obstructed view of the Ganga. The hotel’s restaurant is on the top floor and has a good view of the Ganga flowing just across the road. We had lunch there and the food was tasty. Above the restaurant, there is a 360-degree viewing platform with unobstructed views. Honestly, I was shocked to get such a room at this price. What more could I ask for in this price?

Nightmare at Ellbee Ganga View Hotel

But the nightmare started after we got back from the Ganga Aarti. The room was very hot in spite of the chilly weather outside. After waiting a while for the A/C to cool the room, we complained to the staff and they advised us to switch off the A/C or put it on fan mode. They said then this will cool within 15 minutes since they had put it on the heater mode and couldn’t change it. We put it on the fan as otherwise there was no ventilation in the room. It was still pretty hot and somehow we slept.

At 2 am, we were woken up by the heat in the room. It was like sleeping in an oven! Outside the room, it was pleasant, I felt like sleeping in the hallway. To top it all, there was no way to open the window. Eventually, we gave up and complained again at 2 am. The hotel staff came to our room said that they can’t put the A/C on cool as some guests had requested for it to be on the heater. Instead of that, he offered us a fan which he got fast and connected it. It was very weird doing all this at 2 am but we had no choice. After all this, we got some hours of sleep. This hotel had everything that we wanted, but in winter their A/C is a huge problem which even some reviews on Trip Advisor stated.

Other Hotels in Rishikesh

Another hotel I had considered was Aloha on the Ganges and really wished all night that I’d chosen it. My brother had been to Rishikesh before on his company’s off-site visit, he stayed at Raga on the Ganges. It’s a little away from the main town but has amazing views of the Ganga. The biggest drawback of this hotel is that it’s an 8-storey building with NO LIFT!

Room of Ellbee Ganga view

Our room at EllBee Ganga View Hotel

Ellbee Ganga view

Sitting space with a huge window in our Premier Room

View from the restaurant at Ellbee Ganga View

A view of the Ganga from the restaurant

360 degree viewing platform at Ellbee Ganga view

The 360-degree view from the top floor of our hotel!

Mussoorie Hotel – JW Marriott, Mussoorie

For Mussoorie, I did not consider any other hotel as the plan was to spend the weekend at JW Marriott, Mussoorie. Check out my detailed explanation of what I all did to get a great deal and my detailed review about our stay, things we did and restaurants we dined at.

Planning a trip to Uttarakhand covering Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie?

Check out all the other posts in Uttarakhand series:
Our Detailed Itinerary and Trip Report
How I managed to buy points and book JW Marriott Mussoorie at a massive discount
JW Marriott Mussoorie Hotel Review

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or free trip – We have paid for all our Holiday expenses but I spend a lot of time researching for the best deals and at times do get a discount as I run a travel business as well. However, this post contains some (not all) affiliate links. Any purchase made through the links will help support this blog at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

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