Rolling mists and a colonial hangover

Heavenly Abode
Last Updated 30 October 2010, 10:16 IST

People living in Mussoorie and those who visit the place often tell you that the best time to visit the place is in the month of December when it is bitingly cold and the air is crisp or the monsoons, when the rains might cause a few landslides but the town offers breathtaking views of the mountains.

As more people move towards Mussoorie to escape from the crowds of Dehradun, the place is surprisingly not overrun with tourists, as is the case with most hill stations. This is probably because Mussoorie offers the usual crowded tourist fare in the centre of the town, but drive down a few kilometers and you come across a town that is quaint and has a unique personality of its own.

Landour is good example of this. Located a distance of a mere four kms from Mussoorie, Landour pretty much displays its cantonment roots on the way itself. The road winds through the mountains passing through old houses and tall deodar trees.

A little distance before Landour, one can spot graveyards dating back to the colonial era. Imposing gravestones of members of the British army and their families line one side of the hills and the epitaphs give a poignant story of lives lost not just to battle, but to tropical diseases.

Landour derives its name from LLanddowror, a small town in Wales. First occupied by the British army during the early 19th century, the first permanent dwelling at Mullinagar was constructed by Colonel Frederick Young, an officer of the East India Company in 1825. A little later, it became a convalescent home for all the British troops suffering from
malaria and other diseases. The sanatorium built in 1827 now houses the Defence
establishment’s Institute of Technology Management.

What Landour retains today is most of the buildings and the roads with their unique descriptions. Each place is renowned for something. Prakash Cafe at Sister’s Bazar has heavenly plum, strawberry jams and peanut butter, reflecting the American missionary influence. Savouring some hot coffee at Char Dukan street is a must, and it is a sin to miss the pizza served at DevDar Woods, which is prepared with mushrooms and homemade cheese.

Landour despite the student influx at the Landour Language School remains quiet as places to stay in Landour are few. Mussoorie on the other hand, has its share of some good hotels. Most of the hotels are concentrated in the Mussoorie area.

The numbers are relatively few as Mussoorie has strict zoning laws and does not allow the construction of new buildings.If you are looking at a good place to stay, a little away from the main area of Mussoorie, perched appealingly on a hill, is the Jaypee Residency Manor. The hotel is charmingly designed along the lines of Swiss chalet. The place provides endless facilities if you want to pamper yourself — an indoor heated swimming pool, health club, an Ayurvedic Spa among other attractions.

Travel tips

* Places of interest: Gun Hill: One can enjoy a thrilling ropeway ride to Gun Hill, the second highest peak of Mussoorie. Kempty Falls: 15 kms from Mussoorie on the Yamunotri Road and is the biggest water fall. Dhanolti: 24 kms from Mussoorie, Dhanolti provides a breathtaking view of the valleys and the Himalayan peaks.Vinog Mountain Quail Sanctuary: This sanctuary established in 1993 covers an area of 339 hectares and is famous for the extinct bird species, the Mountain Quail which was last spotted in 1876.
Children’s Lodge: The highest peak of Mussoorie can be climbed on horse back or by foot.

(Published 30 October 2010, 10:16 IST)

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