Dehra Dun's Mussorie Bus Stand is in a delapidated condition
Even as the Government spends crores of rupees on renovating and upgrading the Dehra Dun Railway Station to provide better amenities to tourists, just 100 meters away from the Station is the crumbling tin roofed structure of the “Mussorie Bus Stand” which is anything but tourist friendly.
“It was built in the early 50’s “recollects Devki Nandan Pandey, noted historian of Dehra Dun “and since then it has never been renovated. The tin roof looks as if it will come down any day, the walls are dirty and the whole atmosphere it seems is designed to put off tourists, rather than welcome them.”
For starters, there are simply no signs in the Railway Station giving directions to the bus station. Tourists, it seems, are supposed to know, innately, its location. Unless some buses are parked there, for a stranger, it is almost impossible to realize that the tinned roofed structure is a bus stop. The only sign proclaiming “Dehra Dun Hill Depot” is in Hindi, which may not mean much to Non-Hindi speaking tourists and foreigners. “In contrast, the signs on the Mussorie Taxi Stand, which is located strategically before the bus stand are prominently written in English. The information board at the bus stand is also entirely in Hindi as are the announcements on the PA System. The whole system seems designed to push passengers to the private taxi stand” says Devki Nandan ruefully.
Four uncomfortable iron rod benches, three ancient creaky fans and thousands of flies speak volumes of official apathy for passenger comfort. The shaded area under the tinned roof is used as scooter parking by staff, leaving passengers to wait under shadow of a nearby tree. Unbelievably, there is absolutely no provision for drinking water in the entire station, even a tap to wash hands is not there. There is only a urinal for passengers and that too without any water. The attendant for the ladies toilet gets water for users in a bucket from a nearby hotel. If you need to use a toilet, rush to the Railway Station, seems to be the mantra of the place.
Says Dr Poonam Maithani, a longtime resident of Doon “The first impression a tourist gets on reaching Doon is bad. Dozens of touts descend on everyone coming out of the Station, foreigners are literally mobbed. Finding your way to the Mussorie Bus Station can be really stressful, especially if you do not know Hindi. If we want to promote tourism, we must have the infrastructure. The Mussorie Bus Stand should be a clean beautiful building, where one feels at ease and can relax and wait for the bus. There should be a tourist information bureau, foreign currency exchange, medicine counter and also facility for booking a hotel room in Mussorie. If the government has no money, let the Mussorie Hoteliers Association revamp the entire building and maintain it and give them a counter for booking in return. Being able to book before reaching Mussorie will give tourists a peace of mind and save them from the touts who harass the tourists the moment the bus reaches Mussorie.”
Surprisingly, the last bus to Mussorie leaves at 8.00 pm, leaving those tourists who arrive by Jan Shatabdi from Delhi, at 9.10pm in a lurch. “Tourists who reach by Jan Shatabdi are forced either to take a taxi or spend a night in Dehra Dun, thereby increasing their expenses and wasting their time. If the authorities were really concerned about visitors, the last Mussorie Bus would have left after Jan Shatabdi arrived, even if it got delayed the bus would have waited for it” Poonam says.
In the tourism industry, the most important step in winning over hearts of visitors is a warm welcome. The welcome tourists get on reaching the bus stand is almost like saying “Please don’t come again, you are not welcome”. Did someone say “Athiti Devo Bhava”?
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