It is indeed a wonderful feeling to be loved. When you come to a place like Landour, you realize how much nature loves us to have created this haven of bliss. Located at a height of 984 feet above Mussorie it sits atop the town just like a sparkling jewel that embellishes the Queen’s tiara. The sparkle thankfully is not due to electric lights but its own inherent sheen gathered from the surrounding serenity.
When you come to Landour the first thing that strikes you is the empty lanes. While travelling to Hill stations in India, I have been disappointed time and again in my search for solitude. However, Landour finally gifted me with this rare treasure. The cobbled lanes in Landour are laid out in absolute abandonment with nothing to keep you company but the mighty deodars on one side and the snow-capped Himalayan range on the other.
Initially built by the British Army in the Dehradun District, Landour emerged as a convalescent station when a sanatorium was built in 1827. The nurses (or sisters as they were known and continue to be known in India) used to frequent a small area to buy their daily necessities. Their shopping destination later became famous as the Sisters Bazaar and still exists in the current town precincts. The place is absolutely fascinating with its awesome view of the Nanda Devi range, Prakash’s grocery store with its mouth-watering collection of cinnamon rolls and plum jams and a quaint little handicraft store. Landour would no doubt disappoint the shopaholics with its meagre collection of souvenir shops.
Coming to Souvenirs however, the glimpse of the winter line that can be viewed at sunset is probably the best one you can get in Landour. Before you start drooling, let me clarify that the Winterline is a natural phenomenon (oops! Sorry to disappoint) that can be viewed only from two places in the world – Switzerland and our very own Mussorie /Landour. Yet another one of Nature’s unique tricks, the winterline is created by the refraction of the sun’s rays when it slips behind a false horizon. A mesmerizing gamut of colours flushes the sky with fascinating drama dazzling the eye and setting the mountain tops brilliantly ablaze. If you are travelling to Landour in the winter months, this is an experience that you should not miss.
One of Landour’s lazy trails takes you to Char Dukan. The traditional Landour square which actually comprises four shops is the busiest part of the town. It is buzzing with students from the nearby language school, tired trekkers, curious tourists and eager foodies because the place is a haven for great food at reasonable rates. While here try the bun omelets, pancakes and waffles and you are sure to skip a meal or two. You can also simply sit in a quiet corner of the quaint little shops with a hot cup of the landour special Ginger honey lemon tea and soak in the full flavor of the place. Landour compels you to feel the magic that it weaves with its crisp mountain air and sparkling sunshine.
As you take a left from Char Dukan and move up the steep incline you reach the St.Paul’s Cathedral, the wedding destination of Jim Corbett’s parents. A little further up you will find the Kellogg Memorial church which also includes the famous Landour Language School within its interiors. As you walk further down the meandering road that hugs the Kellogg Church you will cross historical relics like the Christian Cemetery, quaint cotttages like the Parsonage peeping out from behind massive rhododendron foliage till you reach the Lal Tibba. Named after the flush of red hue that washes the mountain peaks at sunrise and sunset every day, the Lal Tibba provides a fantastic view of the western Himalayan range on a clear day.
When you take a right from Kellogg Memorial Church you reach another fantastic spot in Landour, La Villa Bethany the place I stayed in and would love to go back to again. Owned and maintained by two fabulous people, the place made my stay in Landour a lot more memorable.
Finally the reason for my visit to Landour, Ruskin Bond, the man himself is an old resident of the place. We crossed by his house, Ivy Cottage a couple of times hoping to catch a glimpse of him but was sadly disappointed. However, we could feel his inspiration in every rustle of the deodars. His stories literally hung on the branches of the rhododendrons giving them a new lease of life. The tunnel we passed through when we reached Dehradun could be the same as the one in which Ranji made friends with Kishen Singh the old watchman in the short story The Tunnel . Ruskin Bond has made every square metre of Mussorie come to life through his immortal writing.
Landour therefore is not just a destination. It is an experience all by itself. An experience that needs to be slowly inhaled and the aroma be allowed to flow into every corner of yourself before you let it settle in your soul forever.