A one hour, curving drive through the Shivalik Hills takes us to the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie. Mussoorie is a hill station that has been built and developed during the Colonial times and was originally meant as a summer retreat for the British. Thus we see many Colonial influences in the layout of this hill station and the architecture of the buildings etc. A large portion of Mussoorie is dominated by the main promenade, the Mall Road, and many old mansions as well as reputed Catholic schools such as St. George’s are to be found here.
Situated at a height of 6,580 feet, Mussoorie is one of the lowest and thus most accessible hill stations in Uttrakhand. It is well connected by road, which includes taxi and bus services, and the closest railway station and airport are the ones in Dehradun. The best time to visit Mussoorie is during the months of March to June and September to November.
1. Kempty Falls
Kempty Falls is the breathtaking artificial waterfall that is located at a short distance of 13 km from the Mussoorie main road. It cuts through the high mountains on each sides and is divided into five separate streams slightly further down, where it falls down a height of 40 feet. A famous tourist attraction, it is worth a visit during the off season time, when one can enjoy the flowing water in peace.
2. Sir George Everest’s House
The Survey of India, which maps and surveys the details of the nation, is located in Dehradun. However, it was originally intended to be in Mussoorie, where the position, clear skies, height and accessibility make it the ideal location to observe the surrounding lands. As such, it is befitting that Sir George Everest, credited with measuring the height of Mount Everest, lived and worked from here.
His mansion, located a short distance away from the Library on the West End of the Mall road, used to be a grand structure but now lies in ruins. However, many still visit this area to pay homage to its late owner and to enjoy the view from the area. On the one side of the hill, one can see a panoramic view of Doon Valley and, on the other, that of the Aglar River valley and the snowbound Himalayan ranges.
Adjacent to Mussoorie, Landour is a cantonment town that also has been built during the British era. Although most well known for being the seat of the highly prestigious Woodstock School, Landour is also a recreational destination beloved by locals and tourists alike. With cool weather all year round, peaceful walks hrough the coniferous trees and spectacular sunsets to be had, close to an elevated Church, Landour is slowly gaining popularity as a tourist destination.
Perhaps the most famous location of Landour is Chaar Dukan. Located next to the Church, this is a series of small tea and snack shops which are very well known for not only having the regular snacks and coffee but also specialising in dishes such as pancakes, which are not only delicious but taste even better when had in the cold air of their garden seating.
4. Rokeby Manor
Also located in Landour, the Rokeby Manor was built in 1840 and has maintained its Colonial grace ever since. It has an interesting history of being passed from hand to hand, and these tales have found its way into many of our beloved stories such as Rudyard Kipling, Ruskin Bond etc.
What is most special about this resort is the layout and architecture. There are cosy libraries with fireplaces, large windows through which one can enjoy the spectacular view while sipping coffee and sprawling gardens surrounding the majestic structure. Everything is clean with tastefully done interiors and is very well maintained. This manor is the perfect getaway into the past.
5. Mall Road
The main market of Mussoorie, and occupying a majority of the space, the Mall road is a long bustling, winding and with many turns and forks. Cars are advised not to be taken in and one can instead rent a cycle rickshaw or even a horse, if they are unwilling to walk. The Mall road stretches from the Library on the West end to the Picture Palace on the East. There are stores of antiques, bookstores, cheap clothing and jewellery along with tea shops, cafes, restaurants and even a couple of museums. A charming road, this indeed is a shoppers’ paradise.
6. Jharipani Falls
Located a short distance from Mussoorie main road, Jharipani is not only a quiet, offbeat location, but also reprieve for trekkers who take the trekking route from Dehradun to Mussoorie. The falls themselves have to be visited on foot. However, they are one of the few untouched natural beauties of this area, and definitely worth visiting, especially during monsoons.
7. Cloud End
Built in 1838, this is a hotel that has its uniqueness in the dense deodar forests that surround it. Well preserved in the Colonial style, with airy rooms, pleasant views and the highest quality of luxury services to be had, this hotel has become a well-known honeymoon destination. One can go trekking and hiking from various paths here, and it is also easily accessible from all major tourist locations. Interestingly, this happens to be one of the first buildings ever to be made in Mussoorie.
8. Lal Tibba
The highest point in Mussoorie, Lal Tibba is a treat for all the senses. Although a long drive into the hills, it all becomes worth the while once one is present amongst the clouds, breathing in fresh air and gazing at the green mountains around, while sipping coffee at the local rooftop teashops. A telescope is also provided for those interested to look around at the surroundings more clearly.
Some say that Mussoorie is now becoming a little overcrowded and dirty. However, it is only when you explore every inch of the place and understands how and when it was built, that you really appreciate this scenic hill station.