Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time

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Landour is all about Char Dukaan & Chaubish Makaan. It is a cantonment town with vintage cottages whose architecture dates back to the British Raj—and perched at an altitude of 7500 feet, about 1000 feet above Mussoorie. Landour is regarded as the ‘Tiara’ of the Queen of Hills Mussoorie. Though situated close to Mussoorie’s busy town, Landour surprisingly remains offbeat, peaceful, unexplored and untouched. And such places are always at my Mom’s fingertips.

Interestingly we had just returned from a trip, and in the next four days, we were driving to Landour to enjoy the monsoons. Whoever heard this called me crazy, but who cares? I just wanted to walk in the rain. I have listened to Landour only in the writings of Ruskin Bond, and now I waited to feel the magic of Landour sweeping over me. The drive from Gurgaon to Landour is 7hrs 30 min, 330 Km approx, hence we started sharp 6 am. We took only one halt for breakfast, rest we just drove our way.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time

The weather started to change as we reached Mussorie. The mist came as a cocoon to the springtime wands and buds. As we drove, I looked up at the cloudy day; the light with its soft grey filter had the repose of a lullaby. The brindled silver-blue sky looked beautiful, a welcome change of pace to a sense of inner calm. Watching the clouds, I realised we were barely 3.5 kilometres away from reaching Landour. I called Sunita, the owner of La Villa Bethany- a country home, to inform our arrival.

Talking about La Villa Bethany- it is an old English Cottage nestled in an acre of the wooded area of Landour. Owned and run by the Kudle Family, the place recreates the magic of the Colonial Era. Home Stay provides guests with a blissful experience of the good old days in its architecture, decor, colours, traditions, cuisine, service and lifestyle. Upon reaching, we were warmly welcomed by Sunita and Amarjeet and a cup of lemon honey tea.

La Villa Bethany

The rain poured in as soon as we settled in the beautiful Portico. We were just in time and got saved from being caught in a heavy shower. Sunita is an incredible storyteller; hence, she took us on a verbal tour of Landour. Well, Landour got its name from Llanddowror, a village in Carmarthenshire in southwest Wales. It is believed to be familiar to give nostalgic Welsh, English, Scottish, or Irish names to one’s home, reflecting one’s ethnicity. That’s Interesting!

Landour was initially built for and by the British Indian Army. In 1827 when a sanatorium was built in Landour, the town was a convalescent station for the military. The sanatorium was the former Soldiers’ Furlough Home- a holiday home for British, Irish soldiers and JCOs in Indian regiments who did not have the means to return to Europe regularly. Hence Landour is a Cantonment. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Misty Walks

However, the original sanatorium is now the Institute of Technology Management (“ITM”) of the DRDO. Even a complete British Military Hospital (BMH) was opened by the early 20th century. They had medical staff that specialised in tropical diseases Treatment. However, the hospital closed soon after Independence. Apart from the hospital, in 1825, the first permanent building in all of Mussoorie-Landour was also built in Landour. It was made by Captain Frederick Young, the “discoverer” of Mussoorie. 

Black & White of Landour

Initially, there was a legal distinction between Mussoorie and Landour until 1860. After the historical events of 1857, cantonments were properly surveyed and formalised. Conservation was also a key goal, as the Act clearly states that all trees’ titles remain with the army. Therefore there has been no logging in Landour in over a century. After 1924, all non-military and non-governmental buildings were unlawful. 

Old bungalows

Therefore, only a few ‘modern’ homes can be seen in Landour, though renovations and reconstruction of pre-existing houses are permitted. Appreciations to the 1924 Act, Landour Cantonment – where we can still get lost in the mists of the Himalayas, draped in the scarlet red colour of rhododendrons & thick deodars. I was utterly lost in the conversation and did not realise another guest was joining in.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
The clouds on earth

It was almost 3 pm, & the rain had stopped too. I decided to take a tour of the place & then head out for a walk. La Villa Bethany has six tastefully designed rooms, common areas and gardens, which are a tribute to the founders of Mussoorie & Landour. Be it the Capt. Young’s Dining Room, Mackinnon’s Study, Pahari Wilsonâ Cabin or the Royale Gardens have been beautifully recreated and sustained.

Kudos to the efforts put in by Sunit and Amarjeet. This homestay is an ideal place to do nothing; sometimes, it’s bliss doing nothing. I checked into my room which had a balcony overlooking the majestic Doon Valley.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Doon valley

I quickly freshened up & then walked down to the Sister’s Bazaar; it’s a 10 min walk. Walking in the mist that hugged the earth, it felt like a comforting blanket that moved like serene water across the place. I wanted to go to Landour cafe, but since it was overcrowded, I decided to walk up to Devdar Woods. Devdar Woods is an imperial-era property situated in an excellent location. Interestingly, the Kudles of La Villa Bethany manages this property. The landmark of this place is more than 400 yrs of Deodar tree.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time

We walked up to the Cafe as I was hungry. And this Cafe here is managed by the legendary Cafe Ivy, a landmark name in Landour. They specialise in Pizzas; however, everything they cook and serve gives excellent taste and experience. I ordered coffee, a banana pancake & garlic bread. My Mom and I sipped coffee & enjoyed the mist dancing upon the deodars as if it were in some magical daydream.

Coffee & Cheese bread

When we returned to the homestay, it was 6 pm, & it started to drizzle. The Landour being a cantonment, is still free of commercialisation. Still a beautiful sleepy town with rustic charm that has stood the test of time. It continued to bestow peace and serenity. At the same time, I was sitting on the balcony watching the rain & enjoying my book before I headed for dinner around 8.30 pm.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Night View

The following day the rain had not stopped; Sunita confirmed there had been a cloud burst. Well, at the breakfast table, most of the people were concerned since the roads were blocked. But I was at my ease as it was my leisure day today. After a hearty breakfast, I took a shower & got ready for my exploration. It was 10 am when we started, we carried an umbrella, for safety from rain. As I looked around, the cloud forest came as another form of night, trees of every hue cloaked in white velvet. It was mesmerising. 

I reached the main road and saw Kellogg’s Church on my left. Built in 1903, the Church exhibits marvellous gothic architecture. It has magnificent stained glass windows, but the Church is locked. This Church is named after Rev. Dr Samuel H. Kellogg, who ran the Landour Language School, where the British were taught Hindi.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Kellogg Church

As I walked further, I saw the adjacent Landour language school. I walked further with a dance of fog, a twirl of mist; the dreaming cocoon rested all around. There were old cemeteries on either side of the roads. I prohibited my Mom from going as there were leeches in the monsoon. Thankfully Mom agreed. Soon, we crossed an old British cemetery. There weren’t people on the road; the peaceful walk continued until we neared the Lal Tibba.  

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Lal Tibba

Going to the observatory would be a waste, as the clouds sit upon the earth as if they decided the heavens were down here instead. So I walk on the grass, flying as high as the birds, seeing only white. Interestingly Landour was built by Britishers in the shape of 8 and is known as Gol Chakkar/Landour Loop. It starts from the Chaar Dukkan, where we were heading to. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
The loop of 8

Char Dukan is a row of four historical shops in Landour, near Sister’s Bazaar. It is nestled away from the hub of busy roads and noisy tourists. However, Landour hardly changed over the decades. Only there are now six shops at Char Dukan instead of four in the past. And a small post office was added on the first floor. Also, a cafe on the opposite side is the latest addition. Well, I took a seat in the Tip Top Shop & ordered Banana Pancake & Lemon ginger tea. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Chaar Dukan

Post delicious food, and I walk further to see St. Paul’s Church to my left. It is an Anglican Church built in 1839 and first consecrated on 1st May 1840 by Bishop Daniel Wilson of Calcutta. And in 1859, a lovely couple, Christopher and Mary Corbett, married in this Church. As I walked inside noticed something strange – all the benches had big holes on one side. I was shocked but realised their presence on every court meant they served a purpose.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
St Paul Church

Later that evening, I asked Sunita about the holes in the benches. Well, she mentioned that the mutinying soldiers used to steal the rifles left outside the Church by a British officer. When the frequency of the Act increased, they made holes in the benches big enough for the rifles to be held in place. Interesting!

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Inside of Church

I walked further; Instead of going up towards the Landour cafe, I walked towards Landour Mussorie road. We reached Mullingar, the first house to be built in Landour by the founder Frederick Young. From home ta boarding for the recuperating patients, Mullingar underwent several changes. Today, it’s a Tibetan colony with characteristic prayer flags and a whitewashed stupa. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Mullingar house converted in Tibetan colony.

We strolled down different shops and houses till we reached the clock tower- an orange structure at the centre of the road. The clock tower is the unofficial boundary between Landour and Mussourie.

The clock tower

Mussoorie Heritage Museum beyond the clock tower is the. I’d like to know how the name changed from Landour to Mussourie. The museum serves a purpose of a store where one can buy local handicrafts and souvenirs. I recommend a stroll around the store, even if you aren’t interested in purchasing anything. This place is where Parade Point was, which helps to understand why and how the British came here. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Landour Museum

Soon after, I crossed the Picture Palace, which was once a movie theatre. But now a place where you can play 5D games – no idea why one would want to do such a thing! Further ahead will be the Mall road of Mussourie, and all the peace and solitude will end. I was in no mood to enter the mall road, so we drove back to Landour’s famous Rokeby Manor.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Robkey Manor

Rokeby Manor has the Emily’s Cafe a pretty with colourful floral designs, stone passageways sealed by arches, a wooden staircase, and picture frames dripping with English humour. I was here for the famous sticky caramel pudding. A sweet spongy deliciousness exploded in our mouths with each bite I took. 

Sticky Pudding

We walked towards the Sister’s Bazar to buy cheese, jam & famous peanut butter from the Anil Prakash store. I was exhausted from the day’s exploration, so I asked my Mom would visit Landour cafe tomorrow morning before heading back to Gurgaon. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Prakash & Co

The sky was evident by the time we reached our homestay. There was a brilliant white patch at the edge of the cloud, like a turning page catching the sun. The rest was dove grey with a subtle hint of purple, just enough to announce the coming sunset. Gradually the eventide clouds were cosy in their red-orange pyjamas.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
The sunset

It was a beautiful view. I sat for long sipping my coffee & reading my book. I watched the nighttime had brought a sky of granite-grey that faded and rose from total darkness. The lights shimmer like diamonds across the doon valley. It was a mesmerising sight to be watched. My trance was broken when someone called me for dinner. Later it was an early night for me.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
A beautiful litted night

The following day my eyes welcomed the sunrise, that iris of fire so pretty in its mascara of pure light. A cast in crimson, bathed in a rosy glow; how the sun gives each dawn without even asking or earning the morning.

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time

I enjoyed my morning coffee since my vacation was about to end, took a quick bath, and got dressed. And walked towards the Landour cafe for my morning breakfast. The stay not just rejuvenated me, but there was a sense of contentment. Landour allowed me to travel back in time in solitude. Sipping my coffee, I realised simplicity is all we need to be happy. 

Landour: A quaint town to loose track of time
Landour cafe

Gathering all memories, warmth and cosiness, I drove back to Gurgaon.

How to reach 

By air :

The nearest airport to Dehradun is Jolly Grant. Landour is 67Km away from the airport. You can hire a cab to reach Landour. 

By train:

The Dehradun railway station is well connected all across the country. Upon reaching Dehradun Railway Station, one can hire a cab for Landour.

By road:

Dehradun and Mussorie are very well connected via roads. Many private & Govt buses ply at a regular interval. You can also drive to Dehradun or book a cab.


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