We started our journey towards Landour, a quaint town bordering Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, and a few lines from author Jess C Scott’s poem, The Grey Slate, came to mind. “Sullen faces like slates of grey. What I’d seen on a walk today.” We knew that in the mountains, where we were headed, we would be far removed from the frenzied pace of a city such as Mumbai. We couldn’t wait to be in a land that still retains its old-world charm, and is home to celebrated author Ruskin Bond.
The British forces occupied Landour following the Gurkha Wars (fought between Nepal and the British East India Company) in the 1820s. So the town takes its name from Llanddowror, a small town in Wales, UK, and still has some of the oldest settlements in India. The best way to reach Landour is to take a train or flight till Dehradun, and then a cab from there to Mussoorie. Since we were travelling in the monsoon season, the poor visibility made sure that it took us even longer to reach our hotel, but the meandering route, with scenic views of the valley, made the journey memorable. Since Landour doesn’t have many lodging options, except Rokeby Manor (an exclusive cluster of colonial cottages) and a few ordinary inns, we checked into a hotel in Mussoorie. The plan was to head to Landour early morning for a day trip. The itinerary was ready, and so were we.
Lal Tibba: Lal Tibba is the highest point in Landour, and gives an unrestricted view of the Himalayan range, including the Swargarohini and Chaukhamba massifs. This was our first stop. The area has two shops-cum-cafés that offer food and drinks, and also provide binoculars for a clearer view of the hills from the terrace. The next stop was Char Dukan, but instead of taking the cab, we decided to walk the distance, enjoying the deodar trees on either side of the road and taking in the fresh air.
Kellogg Church: Our walk to Char Dukan led us to Kellogg Church, which also houses the Landour Language School. It was built in 1903, and was named after Dr Samuel H Kellogg. He ran the school, in which the British were apparently taught Hindi. The church is positioned at a unique point, providing a scenic view. Even though it is more than a 100 years old, the grey-stone building is well-maintained, and it remains a tourist attraction.
St Paul’s Church: Just next to Char Dukan stands the St Paul’s Church. This was built in 1839 by Bishop Daniel Wilson for the British troops. The yellow structure is one to check out owing to its architecture. We took a round of the establishment, which can seat 250 people. The surrounding trees and the sense of calm have a balming effect.
Char Dukan: The old cantonment parade ground in Landour had a cluster of four shops, which came to be known as Char Dukan. With waffles, noodles, momos and Maggi being served – the area is known for its variety in food. We took refuge from the rain at one of the shops, and tried their amazing hot coffee and ginger honey tea, which are a must-have. In the vicinity, you can also see Landour’s post office, which was built more than 100 years ago.
Also check out
Café Ivy: If you visit Landour, a visit to this café should be part of your itinerary. Located in the Char Dukan area, this quaint café almost stands on almost the edge of a hill. The view from the café is breathtaking, with hundreds of tall deodar trees lined below. The exhaustive menu offers everything — from Aloo Paranthas to Alfredo Pasta. Definitely try their Oreo Shake.
Doma’s Inn: This is situated close to author Ruskin Bond’s house. Rich in Tibetan motifs and with wooden flooring, Doma’s offers delicious fare. Try out their momos and thukpas. If you wish to stay in Landour, the inn has a few rooms that they give out.
Landour bazaar: The Landour bazaar leads you to Mussoorie. Shops — some are several decades old — offer a variety of things, from food items to clothes. If you are lucky, you can snag a deal on some silver jewellery. Even though the area is crowded, and, perhaps, the only place in Landour that is slightly slack when it comes to cleanliness, it does offer an insight into what the place would have been decades ago.