The Mystical Hamlet in the Hills: Landour, Mussoorie

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Nature, Uttarakhand | 106

 

By now, I am guessing that you would have read of my Princess tale at Rokeby Manor in Landour. If you have missed that, have a look through this link. This fairy tale stay of mine would not have been complete without the fairytale kingdom of Landour.

View of Landour - Mussoorie from Rokeby Manor
View of Landour – Mussoorie from Rokeby Manor

A small British styled town – Landour is a twin town of Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. A quiet little cantonment settlement with chirping birds, gorgeous landscapes and tiny roads is a perfect getaway for anyone who loves a bit of heritage and nature. I completely fell in love with this pretty hamlet in the hills. My own little kingdom  -where there is plenty to do and yet, time stands still. Let me introduce you to my little holiday kingdom and share with you the things to do in Landour.

Introduction to Landour

Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand
Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

When the Indian royalty embraced Mussoorie as a location for their princely summer homes, the British set up its twin town Landour for themselves. They even named this twin town based on a Welsh town – Llanddowror. Even today, Landour still has those English homes, some of them built in Tudor style. Some of them have been acquired by Rokeby Manor, while the others are occupied by the local families. There is a certain English charm that still prevails in this town – with its deodar and rhododendron landscape that frame every corner and the distant snow clad Himalayas in the background. It is not surprising therefore, to learn that this town along with Mussoorie is known as “Queen of the Hills”.

Landour is not just an idyllic setting. It has plenty to do – enough to be occupied and yet not be in a rush. Here are my suggestions of things to do in Landour.

Discover Gol Chakkar in Landour

A path along Gol Chakkar, Landour
A path along Gol Chakkar, Landour

The British set up their cantonment area in the figure of 8. The Gol Chakkar or the round path is a 3 km circuits on a hill that gives you a 360 view of Landour as a location. While on one side you can see the quaint little town, on the exact opposite side you can witness the snow-clad Himalayas.

Landour Language Center and Kelloggs Church
Landour Language Center and Kelloggs Church

At the node is a famous Landour Language Center and the Kellogg Memorial Church. This church was set up in 1903 by an American missionary. The language school was used by the British to learn Hindi. Even now, you will find the school active with a lot of students. I am given to understand that they primarily learn Hindi, English and Urdu these days. 🙂

View opposite the Cemetery along Gol Chakkar, Landour
View opposite the Cemetery along Gol Chakkar, Landour

As you walk towards Lal Tibba area from this node, you pass by a cemetery. While one is not allowed it, you can see some of the crosses and epitaphs as you walk along the Gol Chakkar. This side faces the gorgeous peaks of Himalayas and has a certain peace and calm to it. The one thought I had was that indeed the people resting there were at peace!

Walk at night along the Gol Chakkar, Landour
Walk at night along the Gol Chakkar, Landour

A walk or a jog along the Gol Chakkar anytime of the day is just as pleasant – for each time of the day gives it a different charm! Me – I made sure I managed this every single day that I was there. 🙂

Lal Tibba

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Lal Tibba means “red hill” in the local language. The point so named owing to the reddish color of the hill, especially during Sunset and Sunrise. This is considered to be one of the highest points of Landour. A small cafe has its base set up here and with a small fee of INR 20, you can access its terrace for a clear view of the Himalayas.

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A set of binoculars is set up here for a closer view of the peaks. The owner guided me through the peaks – starting with the left most being Yamnotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Lal Tibba makes a great stop when wandering along the Gol Chakkar.

Char Dukkan in Landour

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Char in Hindi means Four while Dukkan refers to shop. These 4 shops have been a part of Landour from quite sometime now. Initially they served as a British Depot while now, you will see a lot of people enjoying some omelettes, fresh sandwiches, some hot Maggi noodles and a cup of Indian Chai. The small shops boast of their celebrity visitors like Sachin Tendulkar and it is easy to see why these celebs spend some time here. You cannot find a better place than this to enjoy the chirping birds and grab a bite while soaking in the heritage of the place.

St Paul’s Church, Landour

St Paul's church, Landour
St Paul’s church, Landour

Right next to Char Dukkan, is this heritage church built in 1834. A small place that has some lovely stained glass painting adorning the insides. Since photography was not allowed within the church, I cannot share the lovely interiors. Personally, I loved the setting of the church – on a small hill with lots of green trees that allow the golden sunlight to just fall on the right places of the church. Beware of the monkeys though – they love the church as much as I did.

Sister’s Bazaar in Landour

Sisters' Bazaar, Landour
Sisters’ Bazaar, Landour

Sister’s Bazaar is a small little road along the Gol Chakkar with a few shops – the Landour Bakehouse, the famed Anil Prakash stores and a handicraft mart. It was called so as it was frequented by the nurses who stayed in the sanatorium in Landour. Interestingly, it is quite popular even with the tourists from Mussoorie – who walk up or drive here just for the Landour bakehouse and peanut butter.

Inside Landour Bakehouse
Inside Landour Bakehouse

The Landour bakehouse is a lovely cafe that you can sit around and compose a few lines in. A waft of fresh bake scents greet you as you push through the door and adding further food lust is the sight of those yummy baked delights in the bakery. Remember to spot this antique van right opposite the bakery. When I queried who had put it there, no one seemed to know. It has been around for some time now is what I am told.

Spot this opposite Landour Bakehouse
Spot this opposite Landour Bakehouse
Peanut butter and Jams at Anil Prakash stores, Landour
Peanut butter and Jams at Anil Prakash stores, Landour

Right next to it is the famed peanut butter store – Prakash stores. This store is a heritage one and is the reason behind the fact that “Landour is the peanut butter capital of India”. What is interesting about this fact is that Peanut butter is not native to India. It was introduced by the British and when they left Landour, they left behind the peanut butter making equipment. Mr. Anil Prakash and family bought some of these and from then on, peanut butter became a specialty of this town. Watch out for their home made jams – another specialty of the Prakash stores – something that you can carry back home

George Everest’s abode

House of Sir George Everest, Hathipaon. Mussoorie
House of Sir George Everest, Hathipaon. Mussoorie

Sir George Everest – the famed surveyor who was responsible for measuring Mount Everest had his abode set up close to Landour in Hathipaon. Around an hour’s drive from Landour, you can visit the house of this famous surveyor. Though the house is in shambles, it was quite a location. High up on a peak, it overlooks the gorgeous valleys of Mussoorie. What is left of the house can only be seen from the outside – rooms with fireplace, a large hall and empty kitchens. The rest of it seems to have fallen.

House of Sir George Everest, Hathipaon. Mussoorie
House of Sir George Everest, Hathipaon. Mussoorie

No care has been taken to restore it. It was easy for me to see how pleasant it would have been back then but for now, it has nothing except for the lovely view of the valley from the outside. A trip that is worth just for the scenic view but no longer for the heritage monument.

View of the Valleys from the house of Sir George Everest, Mussoorie
View of the Valleys from the house of Sir George Everest, Mussoorie

Happy Valley, Mussoorie

Shedup Choephelling monastery, Happy Valley, Mussoorie
Shedup Choephelling monastery, Happy Valley, Mussoorie

The first ever settlement of the Tibetans in India is right here in Mussoorie. Just a 30 – 45 mins ride from Landour, you can visit this really Happy place to see the first school and the Shedup Choephelling monastery. It is said that when the 15th Dalai Lama crossed over to India with his followers in the 1950s, he set up the Happy valley. It was after that the settlement moved to Dharmashala. Like most monasteries, this one too is a vibrant picture of calm overlooking the gorgeous valleys enclosed by the hills of Mussoorie. While visiting here, don’t miss out on the old polo grounds behind the school.

The Tibetan school in Happy Valley, Mussoorie
The Tibetan school in Happy Valley, Mussoorie

The Corn Village of Sainji

A house in the Corn Village of Sainji, Mussoorie
A house in the Corn Village of Sainji, Mussoorie

Now this is truly a unique experience. Close to the Kempty falls in Mussoorie lies this small little village with around 15 – 20 houses. The Sainji village is popularly known as the Corn village and is filled with warm people welcoming you into their abode. The village survives on corn cultivation but what makes it unique and scenic is that through the year, they have corns stringed together, adorning their homes. These are not really for aesthetic purposes but for drying, so that they can reuse their seeds for next year. I visited them just after their harvest season and though their farms were bare, their abodes were filled with color. A separate note on my visit can be accessed here 🙂

Trekking through Jabarkhet Reserves

Jabarkhet Nature Reserves, Landour
Jabarkhet Nature Reserves, Landour

Around 15 minutes away from Landour Cantonment lies a nature reserve that promises you sighting of Leopards, bears, gorals and porcupines. Sadly the day I went for a trek, I missed them all. However, I did see enough captures of them visiting the previous evening  – thanks to the motion cameras that are placed within the park. I did however, spot a gorgeous woodpecker as well as a few other winged beasts.

Woodpecker spotted in Jabarkhet Nature Reserves, Landour
Woodpecker spotted in Jabarkhet Nature Reserves, Landour

What I missed in terms of Fauna was made up by the flora. The park has some lovely trails that take you along the deodars, rhododendrons, oaks and pines. I could so imagine how it would look in April and the monsoons – the blooming season for most flora in Landour. Here and there, you can spot some lovely butterflies fluttering around. The trek also, winds around the hills to give you a sight of the Himalayas from a different angle. Totally a picturesque setting with a little hit of adrenaline.

The Lone Oak and the Himalayas beyond at Jabarkhet Nature Reserves, Landour
The Lone Oak and the Himalayas beyond at Jabarkhet Nature Reserves, Landour

Pari Tibba near Landour

A distant view of Pari Tibba and Woodstock School, Landour
A distant view of Pari Tibba and Woodstock School, Landour

This one I missed but was an fascinating read. One of the hillock here is known as a Witch’s hill. The hillock makes a great trekking trail and is a spot of mystery. The area was a popular hunting grown for the royal family of Mussoorie but is devoid of humans owing to the large number of forest fires that occur due to frequent lightening strikes. Nonetheless, in the day time, it still remains as a popular hiker’s trail. Along the way, you can spot the famous Woodstock school of Landour.

Catch the famous Winter Line of Mussoorie

The perfect Winter Line of Mussoorie, caught from my porch at Rokeby Manor
The perfect Winter Line of Mussoorie, caught from my porch at Rokeby Manor

The Winter Line is a rare phenomenon that is said to happen in only a few places – Mussoorie and Switzerland being two. The skyline is tri-colored with shades of orange, mauve and red. This happens generally around mid October to January around sunset when the sun is at a particular angle and refracts light behind a false horizon. Landour is a perfect place to catch this and I was lucky enough to witness one during my own visit.

Another view of the firs at Landour. Catch the changing colors of sky in the background
Another view of the firs at Landour. Catch the changing colors of sky in the background

Life in Landour is just perfect – scenic, quiet and busy. People here are calm, blissful and extremely polite. It is a perfect therapy for any creative block that you may face or if you just need a break from your everyday life. I know I fell in love with this hamlet in the hills and something tells me that you will too!

landour

Getting here:

  • Dehra Dun is the closest airport to Landour. There are regular flights from Delhi to Dehra Dun. You can even reach Dehra Dun by railway or road.
  • From Dehra Dun, Landour is a 2 hour drive. There are plenty of cabs available at the Railway station or Airport to take you to Landour. They charge around INR 2500 to Landour

Travel Tips:

  • Landour is best during April to June. It sees some really heavy monsoon in July – September, after which it is quite pleasant till December. The winter months does have some snowfall and it can get really cold then.
  • No matter when you go, woolens are recommended.
  • Flat walking shoes are the best for here as there is plenty of walking to be done.
  • There are a few ATMs and basic essentials in Landour. It is better to however, stock a little cash when here as the smaller local stores do not have a card machine.
  • To get to Jabarkhet Reserve, you need to book in advance. The entry fees for the same is INR 450. If you need a guide, you need to let them know in advance. Here is where you can get more information about this reserve.

P.S: A big thank you to Rokeby Manor for hosting me in Landour.

 

 

 

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106 Responses

  1. This place looks like a haven for nature lovers. I have seen the crowded roads of Mussourie but didn’t know such a peaceful villages was located nearby. I would love to visit Landour to see the winter line ( didn’t know such a thing existed till I read it here! ) and the corn village.

    • Thank you Sindhu. The Corn Village is close to Kempty falls in Mussorie . The winter line was just amazing. Landour is a gorgeous hamlet that you are likely to enjoy better than Mussoorie.

  2. Looks like a beautiful hill station to escape the daily grind ….Corn village is really interesting !!!

  3. Loved to see it again, through your lens!

  4. Wow! Such a lovely place and nicely tucked between the hills. Thank you for sharing the pictures. They are gorgeous and I wish I could see Landour some day.

  5. Soo much info on Landour in a single post. Pics look great. Have to bookmark this page.

  6. Thanks very much for this interesting post on Landour, Ami. It looks charming. I’d love to visit that Corn Village!

  7. Why do you think there’s so many monkeys at St. Paul’s church? It’s always such a shame when they won’t let you take photos inside a church. Even worse when they charge you to do like in London and Edinburgh.

    • There were…lots of them. The guards kept chasing them down the road. 🙂 I do wish photography was allowed inside but well…I guess some places and their rules have to be respected.

  8. Mind blowing pics and the place also, loved reading it.

  9. Oh my God, I want to go to Landour NOW!! Lovely post – beautiful photos and descriptions to match!

  10. The House of Sir George seems so creepy abandoned like that! Wouldn’t go at night I’ll tell you that! Was great to go trough your pictures and experience it like I was just there!

    • Thanks Thuymi. I would not recommend it at night either, considering the bad roads and hilly terrain. Sad that it is not maintained. But it was nice nonetheless to have seen it.

  11. Wow. Beautiful pics and very informative post Amy. Sad to see the pity condition of Sir George Everest’s home. It should have been taken care of considering the owner’s historical significance. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  12. Wow Landour is such a gorgeous place. Loved the pics

  13. I love mountains!!! And your post made me fall in love with them even more.
    BTW I had never even heard of ‘Corn Village’ before this week!

    • Thanks. Corn village was there for sometime…it is just that a lot of people ignore a visit here for another location as there is not too much to do. For me, it was a great cultural experience.

  14. This looks like a lovely little place away from the hustle and bustle, thanks for the post Ami. We have been brainstorming where to head next for our winter vacations..I guess this will go into out list 🙂

    • Winter is crazy here…it starts snowing. So unless you are bundled up, I suggest keep it for summers 🙂

  15. I love mountains. This place looks so beautiful, I want go there. Will share it in Pinterest.

  16. first of all beautiful pics. I was kind of shocked to see so many Christian churches, I know you just showed 2 but that seemed like a lot for the area.
    My question is on that Reserve, there is the Leopard trail..are you telling me that you can see live leopards living in the wild strolling about near you as you walk the trail? I don’t know if that is awesome of crazy cause I don’t think I can out run a leopard but I may have to bring a slower friend with me on the trail so I can at least out run them

    • Thanks Eric. This was a British India cantonment so…the churches are natural. The leopard trail does have leopards visiting, though not during the day 🙂 However, at certain points you can sight them using binoculars.

  17. Great post,absolutely in love with the pic of the corn village,waiting for the detailed post on the same.

  18. Hillside towns are just glorious. Love that first photo that you’ve shown in this post – it truly is mind blowing!

  19. For all its other charms, those views of the Himalayas still take my breath away, and the shots with the conifers was just a lovely natural setting!

    What a place to escape to!

  20. The Views of Landour are Stunning and love the history. Thank you for the tips as well, I always say when traveling to get currency ahead of time because you can’t always find an ATM Great stuff

    • Thank you. Sometimes you do fall short, despite all your preps 🙂 Always good to have an ATM handy

  21. Very informative post. The corn village looks awesome! Hope to visit someday.

  22. The writer in me is so captivated by the views and the blissful life of such a fairytale setting! I can just imagine enjoying a coffee from the café, the views of the mountains before me. It is such a unique place, yet reminds me of somewhere I can’t quite put my finger on. I would love to visit someday!

  23. 2travellingsisters

    We had only one question which was popping in our mind as we read this post! Why travel abroad when we have such beautiful paradise in our own country! Amazing captures Ami and Landour seems to be very romantic place as well.. 🙂

    • I agree…we have our own paradise here! But sometimes going out helps you appreciate what you have better!

  24. Landour looks absolutely cosy and beautiful. Nice post.

  25. This looks as an amazing place. I loved the fact that there are such an incredible range of things to do in a “little” village such as Landour, AND the most important thing… paths to hike around (A hiking addict commenting).

    Congrats for the “things to do” selection.

  26. Landour does look straight out of a fairy tale! I can’t wait to visit one day and see it in its full glory for myself 🙂

  27. Great post! You write in detail that paints your experiences very well. You also seem to know a lot about the places you visit. Landour seems very beautiful, a hidden gem!

    • Thank you Christina. I like digging out some stuff on the places that I visit. It makes them even more interesting.

  28. Beautiful pictures! The Corn Village really caught my eye, it seems perfect for a getaway!

    Elena

  29. That is a lot of stuff to do in such a tiny little place. I love that Bakehouse. A perfect little getaway for some quiet do-nothing time.

  30. I’m glad you did this post, I was so curious and wanted to see more of it! Reading more about it makes me really want to hop on a plane and explore it myself, love this share 🙂

  31. gobeyondbounds

    Am in complete awe of the lovely rustic town of Landour. Who would want to be surrounded by those scenic vistas and fresh air of the mountains all the time.The school nestled in the forest and the picture of the corn village looks fabulous.

  32. I would love to go to that area and do some photography–it just looks so diverse, and the landscape so dramatic. I suppose for a trip like this, a good part of the budget goes to transportation, no?

    • Thanks Tom. Yes, there will be a fair bit of transportation but the good news is that it is not too expensive. You can even rent a bike or a bicycle here.

  33. The capital of peanut butter? hahaha that is great! This place seems to be the perfect combination of a quiet destination and glorious landscapes… like if it were lost in time! Beautiful pictures too!

  34. This is such a beautiful place! I love being surrounded by nature and this is exactly the kind of charming destination that I could spend weeks in. 🙂

  35. Nice post about the hills. I like hills mountains & snow as well as prefer to visit hills stations that gives me deep peach. I been mussoorie just one time but I missed the chance to visit at Landour & again here. I found Landour that makes me realized. I should visit Landour with mussoorie.

  36. I want to go here so badly, I was already convinced after your post on the Manor too 😉 Beautiful spot and so different from my home of flat deserts and beaches 🙂

  37. Perfect place for nature lovers. And also an alternative spot for honeymooners who loves nature. The place is so serene, with fresh air and rich greens everywhere, such a beauty!

  38. I went to Mussoorie long back, this post brought back some memories ☺️

    It is never enough for me to go to the mountains…most of my trips are centered around them.

    I just wish the government takes care of historical sites in India! Sad seeing some gems been abondoned.

  39. Landour really looks like a town picked up straight from a fantasy book with kingdoms ruled by magic and mighty warriors 😀 I’d love to explore it and would probably start with an early visit to Lal Tibba, maybe even enjoy my morning coffee there, at the cafe you mentioned.

  40. Wow, what gorgeous scenery! Landour seems so peaceful…the markets look cool as well! I’d love to go here one day!

  41. What an awesomely detailed post Ami, how cool is it that they have a famous peanut butter store with a wide variety of jars of the delicious stuff. I pity anyone with peanut allergies! Landour looks like a great place to visit with its town scenes, mountainous landscapes and beautiful natural features.

  42. This place seems amazing! It doesn’t look like India at the first glance, and reading through your article I then understood how English have built it this way. The bakehouse you are mentioning look gorgeous…and with a lot mof yummy things!

  43. Your photos are really beautiful and show a breathtaking landscape! It looks like it is a very peaceful place.

  44. Adam, Bite of Iceland

    Sounds like quite an adventure! Stunning views and really interesting story 🙂 I would love to go there once. This year I’ve visited southern India, so the North is on my bucket list 🙂

  45. I cannot imagine MONKEYS inside! Such a fun little tidbit. I love your photos and I think my favourite would be the Kellogg Church because of the colourful blue accent colour. Quite gorgeous.

    • Monkeys within the campus not really in the church. Though they dont do anything, one can never be too careful.

  46. Wow this little town seems so charming! This isn’t what I picture when I think of India but it’s definitely on my list to visit now. The view from that little cafe of the Himalayas looks amazing!

  47. Landour gives a perfect vibe of old European town away from the hustle and bustle of the chaotic Indian cities. It would be a perfect getaway to escape the city life and spend some good time in this fairy land with breathtaking views. Your have captured this town beautifully in your pictures!

  48. This place looks like nothing else, something enchanting and yet, there’s a mix between two cultures, which I found extremely refreshing. A mix between your cultural background, Indian, I guess and then british of course, which is for me, such a tremendous sense of the exquisite sense of chic. The blue accent, the nature and the huge spaces around.. I’d love to take a trip there and enjoy those activities!

  49. Weirdly, Landour looks so familiar! Like I’ve seen it in so many bollywood films. Is it a popular filming location? The area is so pretty!

  50. Mussoorie is such a lovely place. Magical is the right word. It was so refreshing to read this post and the pictures are amazing. I think I am gonna visit this place next year for sure.

  51. Lovely post Ami! The place looks beautiful and the I would love visiting that corn village!

  52. Corn village looks very interesting. I might visit the place just for that! 🙂 Lovely post Ami, as usual.

  53. Amazing, Awesome pics 🙂

Would love to know what you think