Mist Among The Mountains: What To See in Mussoorie
An accurate and way to describe Mussoorie would be to call it a hill station with a view of the mountains. Its generous height and the clean air flowing through it make it a relaxing destination, and a charming place to watch the hills.
From the range of sights within the town, here are our picks:
The temple complex is popular among members of the Shakti cult, who visit it with holy reverence as they believe it shall end any trouble in their life.
A range of excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India have revealed it to be a hotspot for the burial of several lingas, which are ascribed to Lord Shiva, a deity revered in Uttarakhand.
The temple is also inspiring for stories of the Mahabharata, as the neighbouring areas include certain caves and resting areas that are believed to be the location of its mythology.
Our hosts, the J W Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa can even arrange a rustic breakfast at a local home if you desire, which is stacked with papads, lentil-stuffed parathas, and some truly homely white butter that tastes light as a cloud.
J W Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa
Even as itself, the hotel is a property with many layers. The fully-equipped rooms come with a balcony that faces the Himalayas in the distance, but a quick peek downstairs and you’ll find a welcoming lawn that hosts couples, children, and larger families as they interact with each other in an informal setting each evening.
An elaborate and generously accommodating greenhouse and some farmland on lease from a neighbor next to the hotel ensure that fine, fresh produce is aplenty. This is don in a manner that involves the local Garhwali community and helps generate employment for them.
The delightful location apart, there has to be something about the hotel that allows it to maintain a 90% occupancy rate through the year. General Manager Ramandeep Marwah believes it’s to do with their strong culture of service, even for the most bizarre requests.
“A guest from Mumbai asked us to arrange for ploughing of fields for their children, who had never seen it before. An employee from the village got his cousin to the resort and we managed to curate the experience right in our farm.”
A desire to make every guest feel at home in a luxurious environment is a priority for the team, many of who are from near the hotel. “70% of our hotel staff is local and from them, about 15% are right from this area within 5 kilometres of the hotel,” says Marwah, about the community engagement plans by the management. Their next steps may even include working with an entire village.
Mall Road, Mussoorie
The most buzzing shopping and cultural district of the hill town allows you a host of activities to pick from. It’s also closed to vehicles from 4:30 to 10:30 PM, making it convenient for picturesque and leisurely strolls by a wide variety of travellers. The sights and shops here cater to a wide interest group.
To begin with, there’s the Mussoorie Christ Church. Even if remarkably delicate stained glass work and a painstaking restoration don’t excite one much, it’s a refreshing feeling to find a serene spot on Mall Road, which often has moments where the traffic can resemble that of a city.
Satisfy your inner bibliophile with a visit to Cambridge Book Store, a charming old book shop with a fondness for Ruskin Bond, who reciprocates the affection by coming to the store every Saturday, health and weather permitting of course. The store can also get your Ruskin Bond copy signed by the Padma Bhushan awardee.
Morning walks barely get more scenic and pleasantly misty than at Camel’s Back, a flat path with a length of 2-3 kilometres. You can rent cycles at the Mall Road entrance to this tranquil path, and even stop at Nirankari Bhavan for a respectably well prepared tea or coffee.
Previously known as the Company Garden for IAS Mussoorie, the Municipal Garden retains its colourful flora and fauna in a well-maintained environment. The neighbouring restaurant and wax museum make it a versatile picnic spot for groups of friends or family.
The quaint cantonment town has a distinct relationship with literature and fiction as it is home to Ruskin Bond, Allan Sealy, and film personalities like auteur Vishal Bhardwaj and actors Victor Bannerjee and Tom Alter.
Scot and Irish influences are clear in the names of houses and schools, both of which appear to be the bulk of structures in this town.
Do visit Happy Valley, India’s first Tibetan settlement overlooking the polo ground. This settlement still houses Shedup Choephelling, a monastery built on the side of a hill with prayer flags flying in the gentle breeze.
Many of the other sights here include hotels, which were grander residences in the past. Sustenance comes from A Prakash And Co, the town’s local shop that’s been in business since 1928, selling delicious peanut butter, cheese, and a fruity range of plum, apricot, and apple jams and preserves.
Char Dukan, literally translating to “four shops” caters to simpler Indian tastes. Sachin Tendulkar has eaten breakfast here, and his tweet about it is nailed to the wall as part brag, part endorsement.