Even though I grew up in Delhi, having my ancestral place in Dehradun meant I made numerous visits to Mussoorie. Why? Because Mussoorie is a hill station that overlooks Dehradun and looks fascinating. That brings us to an intriguing question which by the way, bothered me during many of my Mussoorie visits. Why Camel Back Road is called so? Where is the Camel in the Camel Back Road? My recent visit provided a visual answer to my decades-long search.
The very name Camel Back Road has a ring to it. At least kids with fertile imaginations would find it so. Also, Mussorie, the little hill station that it is, has essentially two main sections for tourists to explore. One, the famed Mall road, and two, the Camel Back Road. The Mall is purely for shopping, eating and admiring the lights of Dehradun down below. It is always brimming with tourists. The Camel Back Raod, on the other hand, has a totally different feel to it.
Geographically speaking, Camel Back Raod, is located at the back of the Mall, with a small hill, called Gun Hill, in between. The Camel Back Road starts from the Mall only (from the Picture Palace side), then goes around Gun Hill in a curvaceous path, and ends up back at the Mall (near the Library end). So, where Mall provides a view towards Dehradun down below, the Camel Back road looks into the mountain ranges behind Mussoorie. But the starkest difference the Camel Back Road has from Mall Road is the peace and quiet that prevails here. There are no showrooms or shops here, but only a few hotels (some new and some heritage ones). It is a perfect place to have a stroll, with friends, family or alone.
And I have taken numerous such strolls, with family and alone too. Now we come to the whole point of this piece of article. During all these walks I often wondered why this road is called Camel Back Raod. I looked around for anything that looked like the shape of a camel. The mountain peaks, the rock formation, and the shape of trees. I checked everything for the shape of a camel’s back. There were a few shapes that resembled a camel’s back, but nothing very convincing caught my attention.
One day on the internet, I came across an image of a rock formation, that looked exactly like a camel sitting down. The caption read, “camel seen from Camel Back Road, Mussoorie.” It felt like a hoax. As the rock formation looked unbelievably camel-like. And I, for one, had never seen it. Well, following this the next few times I ventured into Camel Back Road my eyes were looking for that perfect camel rock formation. But without any success.
During my last visit in 2022, my luck and opinion changed. I was taking a morning walk on Camel Back Road with a camera loaded with a 2000mm zoom. I intended to find and capture that elusive camel with my camera. Initially, my search felt to be going in the familiar direction which ended in failure akin to my numerous past searches.
Then I saw a few words scribbled on the side of the mountain along the road. “Camel back viewpoint.” I looked around in search of the camel. It is then my eyes caught a rock formation far above. I immediately trained my camera lens in that direction, and lo and behold, a perfect camel made of the natural rock formation was right there.
I took several quick pics in glee. Looked at the images repeatedly. A great feeling of achievement engulfed me. Then I made a triumphant return to my hotel room. I went back to the Camel Back road the very next day and looked for the camel for reassurance. And it was very much there, still. It looked well settled and in no hurry to move.