It felt like a wild goose chase; the bus to Dehradun was supposed to leave at 9 pm and I was unable to reach on time. Sometimes Indian Standard Time is a good thing, you realise when the bus driver is courteous enough to wait for you till 930 because you have pre-booked the ticket. We are jolted in our sleep when the bus reaches Dehradun at 3. It wasn’t supposed to reach before 4, as per the UPSRTC website.
Read : Soul Searching in Rishikesh
After snoozing at ISBT for the best part of two hours; we were told buses to Mussoorie & other parts of Uttarakhand leave from the Railway Station. After a comedy with the queues and the futility of schedules, I found seats on the miniscule bus. We were jolted from our slumber after reaching the last stop at Mussoorie Library. After numerous trips to Mussoorie many years ago, I had only one word on my mind – Landour.
We strolled on the empty mall road, sipping chai while stupidly gawking at the white hail posing as snow. Locals warned us to take a cab and not attempt the uphill walk to Landour with our heavy bags. So, after more than 26 months on the road, I finally gave in and we paid 350 Rupees to a genteel taxi driver who dropped us from Picture Palace to Sister’s Bazaarin Landour. The road wound through narrow paths first crossing Landour Bazaar, then Char Dukan and finally leaving behind all civilisation to reach Sister’s Bazaar.
I was loving the chills in the air as Landour ridge near Sister’s Bazaar is the highest point in Mussoorie at 2286m. The Sister’s bazaar acquired its name from the nursing sisters who lived near the British Military Hospital that was established in Landour at the beginning of the 20th century.
It was quickly understood that there was no possibility of cheap accommodation in Landour. We had left hotels and guesthouses behind in Landour Bazaar & Char Dukaan. We roamed the empty road and took in the smell of fresh air, friendly labradors were out for their morning stroll too. After some conversations with the locals, they decided to make us lucky by giving us a huge 2 bedroom cottage with a kitchen for 1000 Rupees.
There were hardly any views due to the forest fires burning across Uttarakhand but that didn’t bother us. We walked among the dense forests, a mixture of cedar, oak and pine trees with beautiful messages hanging from signboards on the trees. We were in the most beautiful part of Landour and it was so tiny that the never ending walks turned out to be the best memory of our trip.
The paths in Landour are circular and you generally end up where you start from. I was besotted by the lovely architecture at Landour Language School. The Kellogg Memorial Church was adjacent and the Sunday Mass was a lovely event. In between we passed by houses with pots hanging by the dozen. The word ‘wow’ was constantly on my lips. It was a mighty surprise to see snazzy cars, and people eat away at the street side food at Char Dukaan which turned out to be really good after we were tired wandering around St. Paul’s Church and perusing the stained Belgian glass used in the artistic windows.
The lack of views meant the two structures at Lal Tibba were devoid of tourists and the owners were asking people to go to the roof for free. Few taxis from Mussoorie do make their way to Lal Tibba ferrying tourists to check this point off a list. We were happy to scurry away from there, taking unknown paths to the entrances of various British era cottages and walking past the cemetery with ornate tombstones and epitaphs.
It was a pretty sight to see sunlight filter through the dense forests, creating beautiful patterns while the clouds played with the far away mountains. In all likelihood Delhiites filled Mussoorie’s clogged streets and bickered about the crowd, we basked in the glory knowing what Mussoorie was all about.
Landour is the crown jewel of the queen of hill stations!
Read : An expert guide to Shimla
P.S: I have safely stored the phone number of that colonial cottage to be shared with interested folks.
I shall write detailed and informative posts about my experiences. Have you been to Mussoorie too? What did you make of it?