Weekends bring in the need to escape the everyday life of Delhi. The locational advantage of Delhi makes it ideal to just sit in your car and take off without the hassles of train or flight bookings. Bored with the usual destinations, wanting time off from cities and people, a quick weekend birding trip seemed the best bet.

Who knew it would be a discovery of a hidden gem. Just beyond Dehradun, in the valley, our friend suggested this nice quiet retreat. Next thing I knew, we were in the car early morning, driving off. With lovely music and air-conditioning which made the cloudy skies look even more appealing, we left the concrete jungle behind.

An easy drive and a few hours later we entered busy Dehradun. Leaving it behind just as quickly for an ‘away-from-the-hustle-bustle-of-the-city’ bird watching trip, we continued along the meandering hilly road towards Mussourie.

The most entertaining bit about Indian road trips for me, are the small dhabas along the way. What used to be simple home-style, hole-in-the-wall kind of establishments are still the same but, with the huge MNC sponsored billboards and fancy names.

The one that stole my heart had to be the ‘Highway Robbers Of The Heart’. ‘Anil Eco-Friendly’ came a close second, followed by the very amusing ‘Handi’ with a logo lettering designed to fire up the imagination and extinguish any mundane-ness of the trip. Handi restaurant was also the landmark given to get off the highway.

We drove past tiny villages, huge trees laden with red and yellow coloured litchees, the river Toun and few other bungalows. A few kilometres off the main highway is where it was….Walterre-on-Touns, a loving home converted into a boutique lodge. Ideal for birdwatchers, it is a labour of love of a renowned birdwatching aficionado.

Beautiful flowerbeds led you down to reveal more fragrant flowers spilling their colour over well-kept green lawns. The warm entrance invited the tired feet to sit and soak in the peaceful ambience. The old world charm of the living cum dining room took you back a couple of decades as your eyes took in the lovely collection of pictures on the wall and paper weights near the fireplace.

Freshly re-decorated all the rooms had a distinct character. Ours seemed to have a Krishna themed one, with cool peacock feather hued feel. It matched perfectly with the natural blue skies and greenery outside.

Not a moment elapsed where you couldn’t hear the birds chirping outside. You couldn’t help making the lovely terrace outside, the place to spend most of your time there. We sipped fresh lemonade as the birds chirped, butterflies fluttered, clouds rolled by and time flew.

Then we were treated to one of the most scrumptious home cooked meals I’ve had on a trip. Needing to burn off the calories, we took a delightful walk around the trails nearby. We were so lucky to sight a White Crested laughingthrush making our trip even more worthwhile especially for my bird crazy friend, who couldn’t stop taking pictures as proof and possibly envy inculcators.

Walking among the trees, sitting by the calm river this trip gave us the time and environment to get back in touch with ourselves. Creativity flowed, peace reigned, all seemed well with the world……wish we could stay there forever.