Saturday 18 June 2011

India: Everest’s House

After a few days in Dehra Dun, I took the opportunity at the weekend to visit George Everest’s house located in the foothills of the Himalayas to the west of Mussoorie, a former colonial hill station. The derelict house was once the home of the Surveyor General of India in the 1830s when he completed William Lambton’s trigonometric survey of India from the south of the country to the big pointy thing at the end in Nepal which (perhaps unfairly) bears his name.

Everest House - MussoorieThe road from Dehra Dun contained the usual assortment of cows, monkeys, cannabis plants, urinating men and reckless overtaking manoeuvres on blind bends. Having lived in Oman, this style of driving seems almost acceptable providing one understands the rules that if you run out of space, you either drive off the side of the road or force the oncoming vehicle to break aggressively allowing sufficient space for you to squeeze in between the overtaken lorry and the approaching car. Heavy rain and misty car windows added to the excitement.

Narrow roads in Mussoorie slowed progress to a crawl – at one point we reached an impasse where a truck became wedged between a parked car and an impatient driver whose wife stared out of the back window with understandable concern for car’s rear panel. Arm waving, pointing and shouting soon resolved the problem.

Heading west from Mussoorie, the surfaced road continued until we reached a neatly painted sign post which directed us downhill to a muddy track. The little Suzuki sewing machine car did well without grip until common sense dictated it was no longer safe to continue in the torrential rain. We could see the house through the trees in the distance across the valley. Thick cloud hid what should have been views of the Doon Valley on one side and snow-topped Himalayan peaks on the other. We were soaked and so was the camera. There was no point in staying. With much disappointed we were forced to return to Mussoorie.

The roads in the town were crammed with people congregating around temples and monkeys congregating around congregating people. Cows, naughty monkeys, a sleeping man on the road and more urinating men provided the entertainment on the road back to Dehra Dun.

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