Enjoying a hot cuppa in the hills at Landour Bakehouse
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 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 eat in the area on a weekend getaway. The previous post in this series was dedicated to places to stay and what to do, which you can read by clicking here.
WHERE TO EAT:
1. Landour Bakehouse:
Step in to this adorable bakery for a little slice of Europe. My personal favourite items include the carrot cake and chocolate ganache cake. The cold coffee is creamily delicious too!
From L-R: Red Velvet, Carrot Cake and Chocolate Ganache pastries
This is the in-house restaurant at Rokeby Manor hotel and serves a tasty Italian/ European menu in a welcoming setting.
The Stray Dog:
Managed by the Rokeby Manor hotel, this isolated pub and restaurant is a 5-10 minute walk from the main hotel. A well-stocked bar, saloon style games and activities, atmosphere inspired by the Swiss Alps, and regular events, make this a happening spot in an otherwise sleepy hill-town. At the moment this facility is only available for guests of the Rokeby Manor hotel.
Literally translating to four shops, this market is most popular with locals and students studying in nearby schools. Each patron favors one of the four shop-cafes, but they all serve equally delicious food. One must try the pakoras, cheese maggi, waffles and honey-ginger-lemon tea. If you’re curious, my favourite of the four is Anil Cafe.
From top left: Cheese Maggi, Aloo Paratha, Mixed Veg Pakoras, Cold Coffee at Anil Cafe
This relatively new addition to Chaar Dukaan market is cosy and inviting. Its balcony offers lovely views of the hillside, and the indoor section has many board games to enjoy. The pastas are particularly tasty.
Klick Café at Laal Tibba:
As tourists flock to see the gorgeous views from this viewing-point, a lively trade prospers in the area. Klick Café is one of two proper restaurants. A makeshift balloon-shooting range and other fair-type entertainment is also available in the vicinity. One must try the freshly made, delicious tandoori momos.
From L-R: Non-Veg Tandoori Momos and Non-Veg Steamed Momos with Masala Tea
This is the best place to try authentic and tasty Tibetan food in this area. The Dumplings, Khao Suey and Noodle Soup are especially impressive.
As we move further down towards Mussoorie, this café is much closer to the main town than Landour but offers great food and will willingly arrange for a taxi back up.
If you’re like many Delhiites who miss their North Indian ghar ka khana (home-cooked food), this place in main Mussoorie delivers delicious food. The butter chicken and daal makhani are very good, but the naans and rotis lose a bit of their luster in the journey up!
From L-R: Naan, Daal Makhani, Butter Chicken from My Shop, Mussoorie, delivered home
This wraps up my definitive guide to Landour, Mussoorie. Though most of these places can be covered in 48 hours, I’d recommend a longer vacation to really savor the beauty of this hill station. Don’t forget to read the first part in this series to know where to stay and what to do (Click here).
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 (click here to read).
A view of Montpellier Estate- my family’s Victorian home in Landour, Mussoorie
WHERE TO STAY:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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!
I brought in 2019 at home with my husband while my son slept. It was perhaps the most uneventful New Year’s Eve celebration I’ve had, but it was wonderful. On January 1st, we whizzed off to Goa for a family holiday, where I recuperated from a spinal injury I got at the end of 2018. The lovely family-focused beginning to 2019 heralded a lovely year overall, and I’d like to look back and take stock of this year’s achievements and setbacks. This will help me, and you in turn if you’re inspired, to plan for 2020!
Started the year in Goa on a family vacation
My health concerns were uppermost in my mind at the beginning of 2019. Acute pain in my back led to a debilitating, radiating pain in my right arm. An MRI disclosed that four spinal discs were protruding and pressing on a nerve. In order to avoid surgery, I explored my options by visiting a nerve specialist, a physiotherapist, and a chiropractor but all of them prescribed long-term, expensive methods of treatment. A friend of mine recommended acupuncture with Dr. Khan of Nizamuddin, and I decided to test it, just for a lark.
Six weeks into daily acupuncture sessions, at 1/10th the cost of chiropractic and ½ the cost of physiotherapy sessions, my pain had disappeared completely! I can’t praise this ancient Chinese practice enough.
Would you like me to dedicate a full blog post to my experience with acupuncture? Let me know in the comments below.
Though my back was much better, I was wary of working out. A long break of 7 months without exercise or a balanced diet, led to sudden weight gain. Finally, Neeraj David, my trainer from 10 years ago, contacted me on Facebook saying he had worked with spinal injury patients in the past, and knew what to do. I began working out at Craft Fitness Gym in July 2019. Though I have lost only a few of my targeted kilos, I am much stronger and fitter than I was this time last year.
The weight gain had resulted in hormonal acne too, which I battled successfully by eating healthy and working out.
My goal for 2020 is to lose some weight, with a focus on being strong, fit and toned- which will help my overall health concerns too.
Though blogging is my main focus, I also work as a lawyer.
Of every category listed here, my blog saw the most phenomenal growth this year. At the beginning of 2019, I had published over 150 blog posts. My content was appreciated but my reach was minimal. After connecting with other bloggers from the Indian blogging community, I learnt the importance of marketing one’s posts.
I began by participating in Prerna and Vartika’s Valentine’s Day Blog Train, which I won. From there I took part in many blog hops, trains and challenges and surprisingly wonmost of them. This gave me immense confidence in my writing skills, and made me engage meaningfully with other bloggers.
Though I love this book with my heart and soul, I later realised that I rushed into publishing it. An important lesson from this experience was that things must happen in the right manner and at the right time.
In September 2019, I participated in my first #MyFriendAlexa campaign, which taught me the significance of regular posting and engagement.
By implementing these practices, I was able to increase my online rankings and get a significant following on my blog. This led to sponsored content, allowing me to earn money from my blog.
It wasn’t all rosy though- I faced cyber stalking by a deranged follower, and dealt with it strictly.
In 2020, I’m hoping to take my blog to the next level. I would love for my content to reach maximum number of people, and I would love to write for other platforms too. However, my primary agenda is to publish my first novel.
Anchoring an event for the 1947 Partition Archive
Since 2016, my legal career had taken a backseat. However, in 2019, I was elevated to the Senior Panel of lawyers that represent the Government of India at the Delhi High Court. I was assigned a few cases, which ensured that I don’t lose my legal practice.
Further, I began legal work from home, such as drafting contracts, drawing up documents and offering legal opinions.
I’m unsure where 2020 will take me, but I have a strong feeling that my legal career is going to pick up again!
A new feather in my cap was added this year, as I was invited to MC a few events. I love being on stage, and hosting events is always fun. Though 2019 was just a beginning, I’m hoping 2020 will see my name grow in this sphere.
Glimpses from my travels in 2019. From L-R: Elephant safari in Kaziranga National Park, Assam; farm staycation at our family friends home in Bilaspur, UP; at the heritage property Clarke’s Hotel in Shimla; with my friends at the Jaipur Lit Fest
To say that I love travelling would be a gross understatement. I thrive on travel and if it was up to me, I would constantly be on the move! As pointed out earlier, we began 2019 in Goa and will end 2019 there too. Additionally,
– A staycation for my friend’s bachelorette at Andaz Hotel, Aerocity
– Re-visited Goa for a wedding and Landour towards the end of the year to chill.
Here’s hoping 2020 brings even more opportunities for travel and leisure!
When I started blogging, my reading habit took a backseat. This year, however, I picked it up again. I began 2019 with a Goodreads goal of completing 25 books in the year, and to my immense pleasure I have surpassed that by reading 36 books and counting!
This was only because I received many books to reviewon my blog. Though I am honest to a fault, and sometimes harsh with my reviews, I am glad that people like and trust my reviews. That’s the only reason I feel publishers send books to me, despite the low ratings I may give their publications.
I hope to read much more in 2020 and of course, I will keep reviewing too!
As for other hobbies, I watched a few amazing TV shows but the best one by far was “Dark” on Netflix. I’m eagerly waiting for its 3rd and final season in 2020.
Scenes from 2019. At a family wedding; partying with Badshah at Dragonfly Club on my friends bachelorette party
PERSONAL (FAMILY/ FRIENDS):
I intentionally saved the most important category for last. There were some big life changes for members of my family that affected me too.
-My son began proper schooling, which led to major life changes. Not only do I wake early every day, but I also volunteer my time as a parent for various school activities 2-3 times a week.
-My brother appeared in a hit TV show, “Made in Heaven” on Amazon Prime.
-A couple of my close friends and family members got married
– I met and partied with my favourite Bollywood singer Badshah, one lucky night at Dragonfly Club
-I made new friends with the parents of my son’s schoolmates
-I enjoyed some fun times with my old friends
These may not seem like big, noteworthy achievements but I’ve come to realise that it is the little things that count.
An overall assessment of 2019 shows me that it was a positive year of personal and professional growth. There were a few setbacks, but I chose not to let them overshadow the good stuff. Here’s hoping 2020 is better in every way- I’m manifesting positivity in the hope that it translates to success!!
How was your year? I would love to read your personal 2019 year recaps- do tag me if you end up writing them 🙂
**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.
School vacations have ended, but the activity that you should encourage your children to continue from vacation time, is reading. As part of Puffin Books #puffinreadinglist, I reviewed several books for children. Today, I will give you quick mini reviews on the recently released books by Indian authors for children of ages 7 and up.
Follow me on Instagram @theladylawyer to get real time reviews on other books.
CHAOS AT KEOLADEO BY PRIYA FONSECA, ILLUSTRATED BY ZAINAB TAMBA:
Three children accompany their wildlife conservationist uncle to Keoladeo National Park (Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary) to look for the elusive Siberian Crane. The book recounts the fun adventures they have there.
This is a good book to instil a love of nature, birds and birding in little ones. It is well-written and easy to read. The pictures, photographs and interesting textual detailing make the book especially attractive for young minds.
It is a nature book, a children’s book and a mystery novel rolled in one- very Ruskin Bond meets ‘The Secret Seven’!
The beginning of the book is packed with information on bird names and general knowledge of nature and wildlife conservation. I feel this gets a tad boring for children, who may feel like abandoning the book before the fun mystery-solving begins in the second half. If that happens, encourage your children to keep reading because it is certainly worth getting to the end!
Aside from the small suggestions enumerated above, I highly recommend this book. It’s absolutely wonderful and will appeal to all adventurous and intelligent young minds!
THE PUFFIN BOOK OF HOLIDAY STORIES: AN ANTHOLOGY WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY RUSKIN BOND
Vacations are undoubtedly the best part of childhood and school life. This anthology of 14 stories celebrates the joy of vacation- the two months that include family travel, spending time with friends, reading books, and enjoying delicious food without a care in the world!
I read this sweet book while on vacation with my family to Landour. The location and experience enhanced the joy of reading these lovely stories. Each story reminded me that I fell in love with reading books because they provided an escape to different worlds.
With carefully chosen themes, relatable characters, and oodles of creativity, this book will appeal to everyone. The stories teach good lessons and celebrate the joys of life in a thoroughly enjoyable manner.
My favourite stories are:
“A Ruined Holiday” by Paro Anand which talks about the wonderful relationship shared by children and their grandmothers.
“Swallowed by a Snake” by Jane De Suza which is hilariously creative.
“Crazy Uncle Ken” by Ruskin Bond which is an ode to a past era.
“The Holiday Friend” by Shabnam Minwalla which explores the beauty of childhood friendships.
“A Summer Diary” by Nandini Nayar which talks about the unique bond shared by siblings.
“Baldy Rani and the Big Red Door” by Himanjali Sankar which touches on taboo topics in a very sensitive and relatable manner.
This book is an absolute gem! I highly recommend it for children of ages 7 and up, and I feel that people of all ages will enjoy it.
MUEZZA AND BABY JAAN BY ANITA NAIR, ILLUSTRATED BY HARSHAD MARATHE:
Prophet Mohammad’s cat, Muezza, is lost in the desert, where he meets Baby Jaan, a djinn that takes the form of a white camel. As they wait to be rescued together, the wise cat narrates stories and teachings from the Quran to the young and inquisitive djinn.
Anita Nair has chosen a wonderful subject for a children’s book. As she rightly says, most people that aren’t believers of Islam, are unaware of the teachings of this ancient and revered religion. Relating the wise tenets of Islam through stories, is the ideal way to impart knowledge while also retaining the interest of the reader.
She picks many anecdotes about animals, which will certainly appeal to all children. The reader learns the importance of mercy, peace, respect and humility, among other fine qualities.
Her book is well-written and also subtly lays emphasis on the art of storytelling as well as teaching good vocabulary.
The two protagonists, the cat and the djinn/camel, make a lovely pair. I enjoyed their chemistry, light-hearted banter and beautiful friendship far more than the Quranic stories. I hope to see them again in future books!
However, I found the narrative style slightly annoying. The Quranic stories are fluidly incorporated in the protagonists’ storyline, which breaks the flow and lets the mind drift. I found myself losing interest on a few occasions. This may have been different, had a “Vikram-Betaal” style of storytelling been established, where the protagonists make an appearance only at the beginning and end of a chapter. The illustrations are nice but I feel they don’t add to the book, and could have been done away with entirely.
Despite the slightly disconnected narrative, the book was interesting and thought-provoking. It is a wonderful way to introduce your children to a world they may know nothing about. I certainly didn’t know most of these Quranic stories, and I am glad to have read them now. The book is aimed at children above the age of 7, but people of all ages will enjoy it.
COMING ROUND THE MOUNTAIN: IN THE YEAR OF INDEPENDENCE BY RUSKIN BOND:
I have written a full review of this book on my blog which can be read here. However, leaving a snippet of my thoughts in this post.
“Coming Round the Mountain: In the Year of Independence” is targeted at young children and pre-teens, but having devoured it in a single sitting myself, I feel that people of all ages will thoroughly enjoy it.
The book made me smile, cry and feel thoroughly nostalgic, and I’m sure it will appeal to you and your children too. Please pick this gem of a book up at the earliest- you will not regret it!
*This is not a sponsored post, however it contains affiliate links. When you buy a book using my link, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would be very grateful if you helped support my blog by using my link to buy books.
***Copyright in content and pictures belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.
Enjoying a hot cup of coffee at the Indian Coffee House, Shimla
Though summer vacations are coming to an end, a holiday destination that is popular year-round, is Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. This beautiful town was the summer capital of the British Empire when they governed India, and retains some of the colonial charm of that bygone era, till date. Many would have visited or read about Shimla earlier, so today I will tell you how to make the most of Shimla’s historic ‘British Raj’ allure, on your next visit.
STAY AT THE OBEROI CLARKES HOTEL
This grand heritage hotel is a boutique property dating back to 1898. Its location at the tip of the Mall Roadand its old-world atmosphere enhance its appeal.
If you don’t mind splurging on some British–era hospitality, check out the Oberoi Cecil Hotel, located slightly outside of main Shimla town.
Mall Road is the shopping street and hub of this town. It is a pedestrianised area and gets very crowded during tourist season. However, this hill-side market place with fantastic views of the valley, has an unbeatable charm.
This local club, located between the Mall and Ridge roads, was built in 1887. Its Gothic façadestands till today. Entry to the club is only for members and their guests, but it’s curlicued gates are a nice place to take a selfie.
The Gaiety Heritage Cultural Complex, however, is open to public and houses a museum, art gallery and the Victorian theatre where many great actors have performed in the past.
Scandal Point, Shimla
OBSERVE HUMANITY PASS YOU BY AT SCANDAL POINT
Scandal point marks the place where the Mall Road meets the Ridge. According to a romantic legend, the Maharaja of Patiala eloped with the Viceroy’s daughter, at this particular point. It’s a lovely place to take in Shimla’s vibrant life.
ENJOY A HOT CUPPA WITH SOME TRADITIONAL FARE AT INDIAN COFFEE HOUSE
This iconic coffee house opened in the 1950s, when Pandit Nehru sought to provide employment to workers from local communities. The Indian Coffee House on Shimla’s Mall Road is one of the only coffee houses to survive to this day and do well.
The delicious coffee, uniformed waiters, and 1960s atmosphere makes up for the dingy interiors.
The Shimla Book Fair
PERUSE ANTIQUARIAN BOOKS AT MARIA BROTHERS SHOP IN MALL ROAD
This shop on Mall Road is mecca for those that enjoy perusing old leather-bound books. Shimla has always had a prominent reading culture. In fact, when I visited last month, I enjoyed a stop at their local book fair too.
VISIT ONE OF THE OLDEST AND GRANDEST BOARDING SCHOOLS OF INDIA- BISHOP COTTON SCHOOL
There are many boarding schools of note in Shimla, but the Bishop Cotton School is one of the oldest in Asia, dating back to 1859. It definitely merits a visit for its beautiful architecture, unbeatable legacy and rich historical past.
GORGE ON SOME DELICIOUS MITHAI
Walk down the Lower Bazaar on Mall Road and enjoy some lip-smackingly delicious Mithai at Shimla’s oldest Halwai shop, Mehru’s or Mehar Chand, as it is now known. The shop was established in 1902 and has been famous ever since, for good reason. Don’t miss the milk cake and laddoossold here!
A traditional soft-serve ice cream or softie
BRAVE THE COLD AND ENJOY A TRADITIONAL SOFTIE ICE-CREAM
If you prefer ice-cream to traditional mithai, then Shimla Mall roadis the best place to enjoy an old-school softie. The soft-serve ice-cream, or softie, was all the rage in the 1940s! Enjoying a softie in Shimla’s rains makes one feel thoroughly nostalgic.
Ridge road in Shimla
TAKE A HORSE-RIDE THROUGH THE RIDGE ROAD
Enjoy a horse-ride on the wide flat road known as the Ridge and feel transported back in time.
Christ Church on Ridge road, Shimla
VISIT THE BEAUTIFUL CHRIST CHURCH
Located on the Ridge, this beautiful church is the second oldest in India, dating back to 1859. It is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture and definitely merits a visit.
While this is my list of places to visit in Shimla that have a colonial charm, Shimla also has many modern delights to offer. These include the cable-car/ gondola ride up to the Jakhu temple, the Johnnie’s Wax Museum, the Municipal park with many rides for children, a number of cafes and bars and even a local brewery.
What is your favourite part of Shimla? Tell me in the comments below!
*This is not a sponsored post, however it contains an affiliate link. When you book a stay through my link at any hotel in Shimla, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I would be very grateful if you helped support my blog by using my link to book.
***Copyright in content and pictures (unless otherwise specified) belongs to nooranandchawla and cannot be republished or repurposed without permission from the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.