Mussoorie the “queen of mountains” and home of famous authors like Ruskin Bond, is an old town and a very sought after tourist destination on the mountains of the Himalayas. Mussoorie is in the state of Uttra Khand 32 km off to Dehradun. I have visited Mussoorie twice in the past but never stayed overnight to explore the places where locals visit. Visiting popular places like most of the tourists do was never my thing. I enjoy staying and visiting places where locals go. This time my trip was different, now my brother is living in Mussoorie for the past 3 years, therefore I had an opportunity to stay for free and roam around on his motor bike. My bother is a senior accountant at the Woodstock School and a biker, having traveled 18,500 km in the past 2 years on his motor bike across India. Some of his travels include biking all the way to Leh Ladhak, Khardung La (the highest motorable road in the world) amongst others. So this post is basically a travel log of the places I visited and the activities I did during my one week stay at the Landour area of Mussoorie city.
Breakfast at Suvakholi: Not so popular but still worth visiting Suvakholi is a small village 10 km off Landour, Mussoorie. The village itself has not much to offer except few food joints where you can occasionally spot bikers stopping by to refresh themselves. The main catch of visiting this place especially in early mornings is that you can get a decent breakfast (mostly parathans) with very few tourists around. The view from the road while zooming on a motor bike is amazing; on a clear day, you can admire a long stretch of Himalayan range.
Lunch at Woodstock School mess: This is probably not for everyone to avail however; as I mentioned that my brother works at Woodstock School, I had an opportunity to dine with the Woodstock staff as a guest. Woodstock School was established in 1858 by American missionaries, presently it’s of international standards affiliated to a foreign board of education.
Dinner at Rokeby: Rokeby is a very old posh restaurant in Landour, Mussoorie. Having recently returned from UK and missing English pubs, Rokeby gave me few hours of bliss in an all English style pub environment. Rokeby hosts many celebrities visiting Mussoorie and is one of the favourite hangout place for people who like to dine in a posh and quite environment. By saying posh, twice before I do not imply that it is very expensive but that it is quite clean and classy. The food menu at Rokeby was quite extensive filled with many Indian and continental cuisines. To my surprise, they also serve “Fish and Chips” (I miss England so much). The dishes that I liked were grilled prawns for starters and mustard chicken for mains. For more information on the history of Rokeby and Landour please visit http://www.rokebymanor.com/about
Breakfast at Char Dukan: In the beginning, there were “Four Shops” hence the name of this place in Hindi “Char Dukan”. It’s a small corner at a cross roads in Landour army cantonment, next to St.Pauls Church. A place to visit early morning for breakfast with very few tourists around. Again, I had the typical north Indian breakfast “Parathans” with bun toast and omelettes sides. From Char Dukan you can go for a walk around a mountain. Locals call this huge circular road/path “Chakkar” in Hindi. It must be around 2 km with amazing views. Almost at the middle of this Chakkar is the highest point of Mussoorie called Lal Tibba. Further ahead you will reach to Kellogs Church, then pastor of the Church was Rev. Timothy, my brother’s then neighbour. Rest of the day I spent just walking around in the nearby area of Woodstock school and then meditating and sleeping at home.
Early morning start with not so fancy breakfast at Woodstock School mess. However, I enjoyed early morning walk in clean air without any hustle and bustle of tourists. After breakfast, I decided to get a haircut, as I wanted my brother to do a small photoshoot of myself with his brand new full frame camera. Finding a good men’s salon in a small town in India is difficult but men like me with receding hairline actually do not need much 🙂 . Therefore, I settled down with a modest but clean barbershop somewhere close to the beginning of Mall Road.
Jhari Pani Waterfall: Although after the haircut, I was looking amazing but the highlight of the day was a visit to Jhari Pani Waterfall. I would only recommend you to go there during daytime when the sun is still out and shinning bright. We went during the dusk of the evening and it was frigging scary. My brother told me the same day that locals have recently spotted a Leopard with its cubs visiting places close to human settlements and the thought of I getting attacked by a Leopard or its cubs kept me in fight or flight mode for the whole two hours we spent there. The road to the waterfall was recently constructed however, there were stretches that were destroyed by the landslides. Therefore, going all the way to the waterfall on a vehicle may not be possible. We were on a motorbike so we could reach very close to the waterfall and then walked few hundred yards on foot. After walking on foot for few hundred yards, we had to rope walk on a log of wood to go across a 6 feet wide and almost 8 feet deep ditch from the road to rocks of the waterfall area. So as you can see the threat of being killed by a Leopard or its cubs, road filled with patches of landslide rubbles and walking on a log of wood only with the support of a thin wire tied to a tree, reaching to JhariPani Waterfall was all great adventure. We stayed there for a while; I tried some long exposure shots to get the silky look of the water and then returned to Mussoorie. By the way, Jhari Pani Waterfall is around 10 km away from main Mussoorie city area and you will have to ask a local to map the exact location of the entrance of the road to the fall.
We wrapped up the day with a house party at one of my brother’s colleagues, followed by a half an hour ride on the motorbike. Views of the house lights on a distant mountain and cool breeze were mesmerising and relaxing. Mountain life is hectic, too much walking up and down the hill, and to get anything you have to walk for a km or two.That is the reason you will never spot an obese, diabetic or people with heart conditions there. With so much of workout throughout the day, getting a good night sleep was not difficult. I use to sleep like a baby.
Half of the day went working for the conference that I was organising at my university. Actually, I worked for few minutes or couple of hours every day while I was on holidays. Some people say that there should not be any work while you are on holidays but that is also the reason they never travel because they cannot afford to ignore their work for some or the other reason. However, I believe in a balanced work and life relationship so if you plan a bit then putting few minutes or a couple of hours of work during your holidays is quite possible. It takes away the pressure that you are getting behind on the work that you were supposed to do. Moreover, for me as holidays are mostly stress free and away from usual office settings, I can spend some quality time thinking about stuff that I would not otherwise.
Sir George Everest House: Colonel Sir George Everest was a Welsh surveyor and geographer, and the Surveyor General of India from 1830 through 1843. He was so charmed by the beauty of Mussoorie that he stayed in India for good 30 years. He owned a house in Mussoorie 6 km away from library bazar. The house is mostly a ruin now filled with cow dung and the walls were painted with names of people who want to express their love for each other by spoiling historical relics. I heard that at some point that house is designated to be converted into a museum; I hope it happens soon before this heritage collapse into dust. Apart from the shabby condition of the house itself, the surrounding natural beauty is worth visiting.
— Rohit Farmer (@rohitfarmer) June 19, 2015
Pari Tibba: Pari in Hindi means Angel however; the English translation of this place is Witches Hill. It is called Witches Hill because people believe that it is haunted and therefore people could never do any construction on it. This hill because of its reputation and no construction around except two to three very small Hindu temples has a very dense vegetation with big old trees and shrubs. Again, for me it was a scary situation with the possibility of attracting a witch or bitten by an insect in the dense forest or probably being hunted by that wandering leopard family. Apart from the thrill associated with that place and spending some time with almost no one around, the top of the hill has not much to offer. People say because of the dense forest sometime one can spot interesting animals like pine martins. It is also probably an interesting place to go during full moon night on a clear day. In addition, because of the full moon I hope witches will not be there :). Mussoorie is known for beautiful views on a full moon night.
Tehri Dam: Tehri Dam is not only India’s tallest but also one of the tallest dams in the world. A controversial project that started in 1960s and finished in 2006 with extension work still going on, is a place to visit for people with a curiosity for big architecture. Tehri is around 80 km away from Mussoorie and can be reached by a private taxi hire. The journey to the dam is long with beautiful views of the passing by villages. The dam itself is inaccessible without taking permission from the district administrator. However, there is a vantage point (zero point) from where people can admire the vastness of the dam and its reservoir. Tehri and nearby area were well-populated villages that were submerged when the dam came up. During summers the water level in the reservoir subsides and the ruins of the kings places can be seen on top of a submerged mountain.
Dhanolti: Dhanolti is a beautiful Himalayan town, located amidst thick Pine, Cedar, and Rhododendron forest, excellent weather round the year and great view of snow-capped Himalayan peaks, at a distance of 25 kms on Mussoorie Chamba Road. There are a few things that you can do in Dhanolti however, if you are traveling to Tehri then I would recommend you to visit Dhanolti Eco Park on your return to spend some time in a calm and relaxed environment.
Nothing ends well without a good meal with close friends: Last but not the least I finished my a week-long holiday by having a lovely dinner with my brother and one of his best friends Sonal at the Tavern Bar and Restaurant, Mussoorie with live music and an all American mix grill 🙂
Live Music at the Tavern Bar and Restaurant