Landour near Mussoorie is a perfect scenic destination for a short getaway in North India

Weekend in Landour – And Why I Can’t Wait To Go Back

View of mountains and fir trees from Lal Tibba Landour

The scenic view from Lal Tibba in Landour

 

Sun-dappled paths lined with fir trees; endless green vistas ending in a horizon of snow-capped mountains; cottages with English and Irish names; birdsong that you can actually hear, all through the day. When I close my eyes and remember Landour, these are the first memories that come to me. I spent a long weekend in Landour in the spring and came back completely head over heels in love—  blown away by the beauty of the tiny cantonment hill station, and the relative quiet I was able to find there.

Since then, I have wanted to write about my Landour trip and the wide variety of things to do in Landour, but somehow, I found it hard to describe my experience in words that would really do the place some justice. I know I must go back. I even find myself hoping that the locals won’t let the usual commercial developments reach Landour, and it will remain how it is now—  a quaint, gentle and quiet little escape in the hills above Mussoorie. 

My days here were largely spent strolling along tree-shaded paths and enjoying the pleasant Landour weather, sitting with a book for hours, watching spectacular sunrises and sunsets, having endless cups of tea and feasting on one amazing meal after another. 

Sun setting behind the mountains of Mussoorie

If you haven’t been to or heard of Landour yet, some basic information first.This tiny hill town in Uttarakhand is so close to Mussoorie that I’ve even heard people speak of the two in the same breath—  as Landour Mussoorie. You can get from one to the other in a 20-minute drive unless you get caught in one of the weekend traffic jams. Landour was established by the British Army as a cantonment town on land leased from the local ruler and named after a Welsh village called Llanddowror. Walking around, one can still see the “British look” in many of the cottages and buildings here. 

The difference between the two “twin-towns” Mussoorie and Landour is stark. Mussoorie is the established and commercialized hill station, with a vast array of hotels and other tourism-related infrastructure. There are scores of local tour operators and cab vendors offering Mussoorie sightseeing and excursion trips around town. Landour, on the other hand, has just a handful of hotels and homestays so far, and a couple of cafes apart from the Char Dukaan set.  Once the day-trippers leave in the evening, the silence is all-enveloping. This relative isolation is of course what made me choose Landour for my trip.

Now my Landour trip was about getting some downtime, but for those who like to have a more active holiday, Landour does have a lot of options. Here are some interesting ideas for things to do and places to visit in Landour over two days or so.

Things to do in Landour

Walk the Chukkar

This is the one walk that you really must not miss when in Landour. If you think of the Landour roads as a Figure of Eight or an Infinity sign, then the Chukkar covers half the loop of this sign. The trail, once an old bridle path, will take you past the Kellogg Memorial Church (established in 1903) and the local Language School where the British used to learn Indian languages and today one can sign up to learn Hindi and Urdu. You will also get some great views of the snow-capped peaks as you walk along, largely alone and unbothered by anybody.

I also passed an old abandoned cemetery where I could see headstones from the 19th century; unfortunately, entry was not allowed, but perhaps it’s only fair to let the dead have their peace! Halfway through the walk, one comes to the spot called Lal Tibba, which is quite popular among day-trippers as a place to visit in Landour from Mussoorie. From this spot on a clear day, you can look across nearly 200km to the peaks of Bandarpunch, Nanda Devi and more. Lal Tibba is named so because of the reddish tinge that the mountain takes on at times, particularly at sunrise and sunset. 

View of distant mountains seen from a walking trail in Landour

The view from a spot on the Chukkar in Landour

 

Explore Jabarkhet Nature Reserve

The first privately established nature reserve forest in Uttarakhand, Jabarkhet Nature  Reserve is a great place for anyone who enjoys hiking in nature and has an interest in wildlife. The reserve has a variety of trails of different lengths and intensity levels, so you can choose the one that suits you best. You can either go hiking by yourself with a map of the trail that comes as a part of the entry ticket, or opt for a guided tour with an expert, though this needs to be arranged in advance.

The Reserve has over 100 species of birds and hundreds of types of flowers which you will see depending on the season of your visit. Chances of seeing a large animal are low, but you can access their pictures on the hidden cameras set up at strategic spots along the way. Since they don’t accept walk-ins, the best way to arrange a visit is to get your hotel to make the call for you. Remember to carry your own water, and leave no trash behind! 

Learn more about their activities and conservation efforts here

Chill Out at Landour’s iconic Char Dukaan

The “hangout spot” for folks visiting Landour and looking for some quick eats, this extremely popular spot is exactly what the name implies —  a set of “char dukaan” i.e. four shops that will offer you delicious treats like pancakes, pakoras, parathas, shakes, varieties of Maggi, and a host of other fast food options. I was here at least once every day, sometimes more, and my favourite here was the amazing honey ginger lemon tea at Anil’s Cafe. I say this after having tried said beverage at four other places in Landour! The bun-omelette here was also quite spectacular. Spending time at Char Dukaan, trying out various dishes on the menus, is definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Landour. Sachin Tendulkar thinks so too, he even tweeted a picture of himself having tea here a few years ago! 

A shot of the exterior of Anil's Cafe at Char Dukaan in Landour

Anil’s Cafe in Landour’s Char Dukaan has served celebrities… and non-celebs like me 🙂

 

Visit George Everest’s house

The former British Surveyor General of India is best remembered for having measured the height of Mount Everest, which is now named after him. His former home stands in ruins at the edge of a cliff, at a very scenic spot called Hathipaon. Located about 6km from Landour, this one will involve driving or hiring a cab, but the views of the valley from the top would be well worth the effort. 

 

Explore St. Paul’s, Landour’s Oldest Church

I don’t know what it is about me and old churches —  I find them fascinating, especially when they are located in an old British town like this one. This church from the mid-19th century stands right next to Char Dukaan and is quite beautiful inside, with a wooden beamed ceiling and stained glass windows. The interior was cool and supremely peaceful; I found myself wanting to just sit awhile and read the names on the old commemoration plaques across the walls. An interesting fact about the church —  this is where the parents of Jim Corbett were married! I’d highly recommend adding a stop at St. Paul’s Church on your list of things to do in Landour. A notice at the gate advises visitors that the church is closed on Tuesdays “and during other times when the chowkidar has official errands to run.” 

Facade of St Paul's Church in Landour

St Paul’s, the oldest church in Landour

 

Load up on goodies at Sisters Bazaar

A tiny market area further down the road towards the other end of Landour, this place was apparently named after the nurses from the army hospital who used to frequent the market. There are two places of special interest here: Landour Bakehouse and Prakash Stores. At Landour Bakehouse you can sit down with a cup of coffee or some excellent hot chocolate, and try some of their drool-worthy pastries. I recommend the carrot cake and (having forgotten what it was called) the walnut-coffee-cake thing, as well as their fresh-baked cookies.

Prakash Stores two doors down is the spot to fill your bag with jars of homemade peanut butter, jams, and spreads of all kinds (I absolutely loved the orange marmalade I brought back), and treats like banana bread that they bake in-house. I’d go back to Landour just for that peanut butter!

 

Try to catch sight of Rusty

If you are a fan of Ruskin Bond’s writing, you’ll probably already know that Landour is his home. While his actual residence is a cottage half-way between Char Dukaan and Landour Bazar, I wouldn’t recommend that you lurk around there just hoping to catch sight of him! The best chance of getting to see this Mr. Bond would be at the weekly book signing. Every Saturday, between 3.30 and 5.30 pm, Ruskin Bond visits the Cambridge Book Shop in Mussoorie to sign his books for customers. I missed this weekly event, unfortunately, but perhaps I’ll be luckier on my next visit! 

 

Go further from Landour

If you’ve worked your way through everything there is to do in Landour, why not pick one of the scenic destinations nearby for a day out? I’d recommend getting a picnic meal packed from Landour Bakehouse, and driving through the verdant hilly landscapes to fetch up at Kanatal (45km approx), or even Dhanaulti (25km approx). Spend some time admiring the beauty of nature and get back to your charming cantonment town in time for tea at Char Dukaan or a snack at Cafe Ivy, and catch the gorgeous sunset from one of the many vantage points! 

 

How to Reach Landour

By Air:

The closest airport to Landour is at Dehradun, which is a drive of about 2 hours. You can take a cab or get your hotel to arrange a paid pick-up.

By Train:

The nearest railway station is in Dehradun again, and the drive from here would take about 1.5 hours. Cabs are easily available from the station; or, take a bus which will get you as far as Mussoorie.

 

Getting Around Landour

The best way to move around Landour is on foot! If you really need wheels though, there is a taxi booking spot near Char Dukaan and of course, hotels also arrange cabs.

 

Where to Eat in Landour

To me, no trip is complete without trying out a few local eateries. Here are a few places that I liked:

Emily’s at Rokeby Manor

Great service, and superb food. The chef really knows his continental dishes well, and their desserts are sensational.

Anil’s Cafe

My favourite of the lot at Char Dukaan. I went back every single day for the ginger lemon tea, but pretty much everything was good.

Landour Bakehouse

It’s a Rokeby outlet, and I ended up revisiting just to get some of their amazing cakes for the trip back home. Enough said.

Cafe Ivy

Extremely popular with the Insta-story crowd because of its stylish decor and terrace with a view. The coffee is decent and they do a bunch of cool things like waffles and pancakes.

Clock Tower Cafe

Located down the hill in the Bazar area, this place is known for good pizzas and Chinese food.

 

When to visit Landour

The Landour weather is perfect for a summer-time visit (April-June), but that is also when prices would be at their peak. You could look at visiting in March or early April to try and snag better prices and hotel availability. Another good time to visit Landour would be October after the monsoon rains have ended. Ideally, avoid the peak winter months of December and January as you might just get snowed in! 

 

This was a solo trip to Landour, and I always felt very safe and comfortable. I would recommend this place highly to any lady traveller looking for a nice and quiet place for a short solo trip.

 

With so many things to do in Landour, two days seem a little insufficient. I would recommend planning a trip of at least three nights in Landour so that you can really explore this gem of a town. I won’t be at all surprised if, like me, you fall in love with the place and promise yourself another trip there very soon!

 

If you like quiet sleepy towns for short getaways, you might enjoy Orchha

 

 

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Landour near Mussoorie is a perfect scenic destination for a short getaway in North India

9 Comments

  1. Carol Colborn November 11, 2019
  2. Pubali October 29, 2019
    • Neha November 2, 2019
  3. Shannon - SoleSeeking October 27, 2019
    • Neha November 2, 2019
  4. Jen October 26, 2019
    • Neha November 2, 2019
  5. Sage Scott October 25, 2019
    • Neha October 27, 2019

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