Landour Unplugged

Through the window pane, between the curling orchid spaces twinning all the way up along the bark of the gigantic deodar, I could see the Sun enchanting the first lights of the day over the green mountains that lay in front of me. 

 

There was an aura of the chilled morning breeze and the first daylight cast a spell all around. The birds were chirping. The crickets had stopped their whining whistles. There was peace and a heavenly tranquility on our first morning at Landour. 

The first rays of Sunlight: The advent of morning at Landour

Good Morning Landour

We had travelled all the way from Delhi to Mussourie via Dehradun and then lodged at Hotel Oak Bush, Landour. The views from our room and balcony were spectacular. The entire town of Landour was waking up and it looked amazing. I could see one or two vehicles curling down lazily down the distant serpentine track on the mountain side lying opposite to us.

The distant mountains from our Hotel balcony

My attention was suddenly drawn towards the Landour Clock Tower the moment it loudly rang 6 am. Initially I thought it might have been the church bell gong! But I was immediately corrected by my son who had silently crept out of the comfort of the warm blankets.

The Landour Clock Tower View from our hotel

Landour Town View

Reaching Landour

We had a quick breakfast with toast, scrambled egg and coffee.  It was time to explore the town. Before I go into that story, let me remind you all that the last evening we had travelled all the way from Delhi. The Dehradun Shatabdi from New Delhi was short terminated due to technical difficulties at Haridwar. We had a palatable traditional Bengali thali lunch at the famous Dada Boudi Hotel and took a cab for Mussourie from one of our known travel agents at Haridwar. It’s unfortunate that even in the days of Ola-Uber many travel agents keep on hiking travel charges just to spin in more cash.

Route from Royal Orchid Fort Resort to Picture Palace Crossing and further ahead to Landour Clock Tower (Courtesy: Google Maps, 2021)

The journey from Haridwar to Dehradun and then to Mussourie was exceptional. While approaching Mussourie, as the in-bound traffic (through Ram Krishan Marg) is restricted at Gandhi Chowk near Mussourie library, we had to take the left road near the Royal Orchid Fort Resort leading us up towards the Picture Palace Cinema where we took the right bound road towards Landour Clock Tower. It was easy to find our hotel from Landour Clock Tower.

Exploring Landour Bazaar

We had booked a cab to explore the outskirts of Landour and it was only 8 am in the morning. This gave us an opportunity to explore the Landour Bazaar. A narrow walkaway from our hotel led us to the intersection of three roads below the Landour Clock Tower. One headed southward towards the Picture Palace, Kulri. The other joined the Clock Tower More from south-east – the villages below our hotel and the other led us northward into the Landour Bazaar and upper Landour.

Landour Clock Tower

The Landour clock tower is a special place of attraction in Landour Bazaar. It was laid in the year 1938-1939 during the British era by Ugrasen Verma3, a local contractor. Earlier it was preceded by a Police Chowki from the year 1892 for guarding the residential and cantonment areas of the town. The present version of the tower informally marking the border between Mussourie and Landour had been reinstated after some unfortunate incidents in 2010.

Road from Kulri joining Landour Clock Tower

Yet it rekindles an aura of the bygone era which many of the old mansions at Landour Bazaar proudly hold high even today. Today’s Mussourie and Landour would hardly have been one of the loveliest Hill stations of the Garwal Himalayas, unless Colonel Frederick Young from Ireland wouldn’t have explored these hills during one of his hunting expeditions1 as early as those in 1814. At that time, like Mussourie – the entire Landour was deeply forested with ridges, brooks and beautiful waterfalls. The town’s name might have been inspired from Llanddowror3, a village in South Western Wales, United Kingdom. However many people are of the opinion that Landour might have had got its name from the princely state of Landuara, located near Roorkee. By 1827, with the British Colony being fully operational in the hills, Col. Young emphasized on starting the Landour post office2. The Landour Bazaar bloomed downhill into a busy commercial market. Over the years ever since its inception, Landour had hardly experienced the mass hysteria, popularity and development like that of its sister town Mussourie.

Landour Bazaar in the bygone time

Today’s Landour Bazaar is a cocktail of the fading past and the modern India. You will find many shops like the Vinod Kumar Arts & handicraft shop rekindling memories of the past with rare collection of period furniture, paintings, art pieces and handicrafts. The Mussourie Heritage Centre on the other hand would bring to you fine collectables, picture post cards and mementos for your personal collection.

The art & handicrafts shop, Landour Bazaar

Mussourie Heritage Centre, Landour Bazaar

There are a number of small cafeteria and humble dining outlets in this area for tourists and travelers. Moving ahead further North the Landour Bazaar opens up into a traditional Indian Market like look with common Kirana, hardware, electronics, chemist, shoe & garments shops. A few metres ahead on the left side of this road you will find the office of the Survey of India – an important landmark in Landour. The main road at Landour Bazaar is cramped with traffic these days with long ques of tourist vehicles on their journey towards Lal Tibba.

Landour Unplugged (From our YouTube Channel)

Lal Tibba Tour

The Lal Tibba Tour is one of the most cherished outings for tourists visiting Mussourie and Landour. If you are not travelling by you own car it is advisable to book a cab from Mussourie Taxi-Car Owners Association located near Picture Palace. Our cab was delayed by more than two hours as it was stranded in a huge traffic jam on the Kempty Falls road. We were able to start at around 12.15 in the noon and Singh Ji our driver suggested us to have lunch on the way.

That’s Landour for you all

Lunch at Domas Inn, Landour

If you like Chinese and Tibetian delicacies, it’s best to have lunch at Domas Inn, Landour. The restaurant is located very near to Landour Bazaar. Singh Ji dropped us at Domas Inn and said that he would pick us up in another hour. In the meantime, he said that he would take shower and have lunch at his home which was also located nearby. We ordered steamed chicken and cheese momos as starters followed by Chicken noodles and a bowl full of chicken sizzlers. The food served to us was pure delight.

Lunch at Domas Inn, Landour

Domas Inn, Landour

The view of the Landour Bazaar from Domas Inn was a pure delight. The entire valley looked like a fairy tale village.

Landour Bazaar View from Domas Inn

The television and All India Radio towers on Lal Tibba were clearly visible in the North-East direction from this location. This area is also known as the cantonment zone which is largely covered by the Institute of Technology management (ITM) – a DRDO organization. Probably this is the strong reason why Landour over the years had not commercialized like Mussourie and is still the best green place in the entire chain of “Queen of the Hills”.

The Television Tower Landour

The sky around us was absolutely cloudless. The depth of the blue sky, the soothing breeze truly cast a magical spell which could hardly be ignored. Our trance was suddenly broken by the honk of an approaching vehicle. It was Singh Ji with the car.

The amazing valley view from Domas Inn

Landour: Mountains Calling

Lal Tibba atlast

Whose woods these are I think I know,

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow

…… Robert Frost

Lal Tibba: The Dark Woods

The dark woods around us during our climb towards Lal Tibba, sparked out the famous verses of Robert Frost – the ones I had read during my school days. Although I didn’t have anyone known living in the villages around these woods, but Mother Nature was at her best here for sure. The murmur of the woods, the chimes of the crickets, the cool breeze, green woods, the clear sky and the distant snow-capped mountains whispered a melody in my ears beyond my imagination.

The Mountains beyond the dark woods

We crossed the Char Dukan and drove towards the Lal Tibba scenic point, which was the highest point in Mussourie and Landour. The hill is popularly also known as the Depot Hill. The name of the spot Lal Tibba might have been drawn from ‘Lal’ meaning red and ‘tibba’ a colloquial word used to mean hill or peak to signify the oldest and the highest point in Mussourie & Landour. The upper crest of Lal Tibba is inaccessible to visitors and tourists as this is strictly part of the cantonment area of Landour.

Behold the Mountains

The scenic spot at Lal Tibba where we were standing had an amazing view of the snow-capped Himalayan ranges. We were fortunate to have a cloudless sky and the mighty Himalayan ranges were right in front of us with their heavenly grandeur. To the left of this spot a small two storied café provided refreshments and snacks for on-coming tourists and visitors.

The Cafe at Lal Tibba

A paved road pierced the deep woods to somewhere else which we could not immediately figure out which Singh Ji later told us that this was the circular road (Circular Loop) which would lead us towards the Landour  Bakehouse, Kellogg Memorial Church and back to the Char Dukan rendezvous point.

The Circular Loop (Courtesy: Google Map, 2021)

Shape of the Woods

We walked a few yards into the woods and the aura was really thrilling. The shrieks of the crickets were getting on our nerves, the canopy of the deodar trees were getting darker and darker. There was a peculiar smell around from some unknown wild flowers. Wild ferns, thick cover of rock moss, twiners and creepers carpeted the entire ground leading upwards towards the hill top.

Into the Woods

It was getting cold as we walked further ahead. It was somewhere around here where Singh Ji picked us and we drove ahead. The road repeatedly reminded me of the way to Khajiyyar from Dalhousie. It was the same aura. Almost the same jungle view around!!

Landour Bakehouse

After a few minutes of drive and crossing a turn we zoomed into Landour Bakehouse. There was already a huge crowd over there. Having a lunch an hour and half ago we didn’t feel any urge to have a taste of the delicacies. We packed three cheese and garlic croissants for our evening snacks.

Landour Bakehouse

Long Queue in front of Landour Bakehouse

However a sit and eat endeavor was definitely on cards during our tour next day morning to meet a very special and important person at Landour of whom we are all proud as Indians – the story of which I might be sharing with you all in another fine day. The area is commonly known as Sister’s Bazaar. The Bakery ever since its inception in 2013 had become a huge crowd puller for tourists in Landour with century old recipes from the British cuisine. The interior of the outlet presented a feel of the bygone colonial aura. The one-liners in the form of tiny bill boards were of immediate attention for the visitors.

Shops in and around Sister’s Bazaar

Landour Village View Point

We were now driving towards Char Dukan point and decided to have a pause at a spot which Singh Ji told would give us a panoramic view of the Landour Village lying on the opposite hill side. The sight was truly amazing. There was this perpetual pervasive tranquility in the village which I had seen from our hotel balcony early in the morning.

Landour Village View

A Lovely View of the Landour Village

Kellogg Memorial Church

The circular loop led us to the next destination which was none other than the Kellogg Memorial Church. The Church was built in the memory of Rev. Samuel H Kellogg3 (he is famous for the book “A Grammar of the Hindi Language” published in 1875) in the year 1903 with Presbyterian Mission Board and local support. We were mesmerized by the typical gothic architecture and the beautifully shaded glass windows. The church resembles the typical small town Mid-West churches in the USA. The Church is also famous for the Landour Language School where the British used to learn Hindi during their rule in India.

Kellogg Memorial Church Landour

St. Paul’s Church Landour

We reached St. Paul’s Church and Char Dukan after driving another 400m through the circular loop. St Paul’s Church3 is one of the oldest churches in region being built in 1839 and consecrated in the year 1840. During the British rule the Church was meant for the British residents and maintained by the cantonment. The famous Indian actor Tom Alter got married in this Church in the year 1977. Strategically the Church had immense political significance during the British rule. One can still see a number of old barracks, mansions located in the Eastern periphery of the church which were probably used by the British military in the bygone days.

St. Paul’s Church Landour

Char Dukan

Char Dukan or the Four Shops is one of the most favorite hangouts for tourists in Landour. These four tea and snacks shops have delightful menus which have attracted tourists and visitors. Today’s Landour can’t be thought without Char Dukan in it. It has become the very part and parcel and aura of Landour.  

The Char Dukan

Anil’s Café’ and ‘Tip Top Tea Shop’ are the two most popular shops at Char Dukan which offer tasty paranthas, sandwiches, burgers, four season pizza, French fries, cheesy bun omelets, cheese toasts, apple cinnamon waffles, Masala Maggi in Wai Wai style, wide variety of chocolates, ginger lemon honey Tea to name a few.

View of the Char Dukan Post Office

Char Dukan and St. Paul’s Church is immortalized by the memory of Jim Corbett’s parents Christopher and Mary Corbett who got married on 13th October 1859. Apart from the café – Char Dukan has a post office (whose inception goes to 1827 by Col. Young) and a cyber café which had immensely helped the local residents to be in touch with the rest of the world.

Epilogue

It was going to be 4 pm when we were on our way back to our hotel. The evening was shaping nicely. The day was memorable and so was our first outing at Landour.

The evening was shaping nicely

We were seated in the large cemented courtyard of our hotel and enjoying the picturesque view of Landour with hot coffee and the cheese garlic croissants we picked up from Landour Bakehouse. The Landour Clock House gonged 5 o’clock in the evening.

The advent of the evening at Landour

Singh Ji called and said that he would be ready for our next morning trip to visit the very special person by 9 am. We had a plan to have dinner at a reputed restaurant at the Mall Road and decided to freshen up before it was time for us to leave. Evening was in full glory at Landour. The town lights were on like a dazzling jewel. The Doon valley view from the other side of our hotel had a new dimension. A million lights from Dehradun sparkled like twinkling stars.

The Doon Valley View from our hotel at Landour


How to Reach Landour

FlightDehradun is connected with rest of India via the Jolly Grant Airport (Dehradun Airport)
Indian RailwaysDelhi to Dehradun (Best train: Dehradun Shatabdi Express, Janshatabdi Express) Kolkata to Dehradun (Doon Express, Upasana Express) Mumbai (Panvel) to Dehradun (Dehradun Express) Chennai to Dehradun (Madurai Superfast Express)
Dehradun to MussourieUttrakhand Govt. Buses; Cab Services from Jolly Grant Airport/Dehradun Railway Station

Best Time to Visit 

April to May, October to May, People loving winters may also visit during December-January (depending upon condition of roads & weather)

Where to Stay

Type of HotelHotel NameLocality
BudgetOak Bush, Urvashi Palace, Valley Vista Oak Road, Hotel City Castle, Hotel Himalayan ClubNear Landour Clock Tower

References

  1. Jenkins, L.H.Y., (1923). General Frederick Young,: First commandant of Sirmur battalion (Second Gurka rifles) the life-story of one of the old brigade in India : 1786-1874, … of Ireland and India in the ‘fifties. E.P. Dutton & Co (January 1, 1923).
  2. Bodycot, F., (1907). Guide to Mussoorie with notes on adjacent districts and routes into the interior, Mussoorie. Mafasilite Printing Works.
  3. Miedema, V., Miedema, S.S., (2017). Mussoorie and Landour – Footprints of the Past. Rupa Publishers.


4 thoughts on “Landour Unplugged

  1. Very nicely written. Wonderful description about the place with eye catching pictures. Very useful guide for interested one. Love it.💚💚💚

    Like

    1. Thanks Dr. Barnali for your inspiring views. Hope we would be able to come up with better presentation and stories in our forthcoming travelnamas. We would appreciate if you could kindly share this post with your friends and relatives so that we could reach out to a larger audience. Best wishes for the Festive Season. God Bless

      Like

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