As a long and enduring summer descends on Delhi, everyone wants to escape the heat. Most Indian hill-stations are over-crowded and make stressful vacation spots, but the cantonment town of Landour in Mussoorie is relatively untouched and stunningly beautiful. My husband’s family has a home there as the children of the family studied at the esteemed Woodstock School in that area. We’re fortunate that we can return to this idyllic destination often, as it pleases all family members from the youngest to the oldest! This post is a round-up of where to stay and what to do in the area on a weekend getaway. The next post will be dedicated to eating joints.
A view of Montpellier Estate- my family’s Victorian home in Landour, Mussoorie
WHERE TO STAY:
- Rokeby Manor:
This hotel has been around for decades and was recently refurbished to resemble a Swiss chateau by hotelier Sanjay Narang. Apart from its wonderful setting, it offers plenty of amenities and food options. There are rooms as well as cottages available and the hotel is a short walk from the main market. I’d advise you to book well in advance as they are always booked out.
- Devdar Woods:
This old-school accommodation has recently been renovated and offers a pleasant stay on budget rates.
- Doma’s Inn:
This quaint Tibetan restaurant offers a handful of rooms to stay at. Though far from luxurious, you will enjoy a unique experience and have access to fantastic food.
- AirBnB Options:
As Landour has gained popularity in recent years, many city-dwellers, who have made their weekend homes here, have opened them out as AirBnB home-stays. You can choose from various options in different budgets.
- JW Marriott:
If you’re looking for a luxurious option and don’t mind staying slightly away from main Landour, this hotel is your best option.
A view of Mussoorie in the sunset from Montpellier Estate
THINGS TO DO:
- Explore Landour through various walks:
There are three-four main walking/trekking routes mapped out and Landour can be easily covered in these. With its stunning foliage and unbeatable views of snow-capped peaks, Landour is a pleasure to explore on foot.
- Sister’s Bazaar:
This cute market boasts only three shops- a knick knack store where one can buy gorgeous shawls and artisanal pickles; a grocery store famous around the area for providing imported goods; and an adorable bakery. Prakash’s grocery store is a must-visit for its home-made jams and nut butters.
- Chaar Dukaan:
This famous market is most popular with the students who study in the area, and has now expanded beyond its original four stores. Every patron has a preference for each of the four original stores, but Landour wouldn’t be Landour without Chaar Dukaan!
- The Church:
The imposing 19th century church is a main fixture in Landour’s landscape since the days of the British Raj. One can attend Sunday mass to really feel its glory.
- Laal Tibba:
This viewing point offers phenomenal views of the neighbouring snow-capped peaks. As often happens in such cases, many small cafes have sprung up around the viewing tower to cater to tourists.
The gorgeous view of rolling hills from Laal Tibba
- Pir ki Dargah:
This Islamic monument is an unexpected sight in a predominantly Christian hill-station, but is an interesting feature of the area. It’s located between Sister’s Bazaar and Chaar Dukaan.
- The Cemetery:
The cemetery is a symbol of the days when Landour was an important station during British rule. The belief that it is haunted only adds to its charm.
- Salon and Spa:
The proprietors of Rokeby Manor hotel run a salon and spa service which can be availed by locals as well. When I last visited in April 2018, it was shut for renovation but will hopefully be up and running soon.
The spa was closed for renovation at my last visit
Landour is roughly a half hour’s drive from the popular hill-station of Mussoorie. A day trip can be made to the bustling city which has a rich history and interesting recreational options.
- Go on a celebrity hunt:
Many writers of note, actors and other personalities have made Landour their home. Though I wouldn’t recommend bothering them personally, you could always go on a jaunt to see where they live! These include the likes of Ruskin Bond, Victor Banerjee, Stephen Alter, Vishal Bhardwaj and Manju Kapur.
Stay tuned for the second part of this guide which outlines all the places to eat!