Landour has been a favourite get-away for me for years now. Growing up in Dehradun meant that the place was a definite go-to destination when guests were over and then while training for the administrative services at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) Mussoorie I spent many Sundays walking down the winding paths of Landour. Landour is a familiar place if you are a Ruskin Bond fan. Personally having grown up on his stories of Deodars and Rhododendrons I have visited the place through his words a million times over.
Landour is a dreamy world leftover from the British Raj with its quaint cottages and colonial churches cast amidst the whispering pines and gentle mists. A short but steep narrow road leads to Landour from Mussoorie. As you drive away from the hustle and bustle of the Mall Road in Mussoorie into this quiet , serene landscape you feel you have entered a place where time stands still. Landour was built as a cantonment with a hospital where convalescent soldiers were sent to recover in the salubrious climes. It may not be a cantonment any more but the crisp air and lush green surroundings are enough to get tired bones back to health even now!
Walking is an essential activity while in Landour. Do ensure you take a pair of comfortable walking shoes while on a visit. The road that encircles this quiet little town is dotted with wild lilies and tiny daisies. Towering pines reach into the skies with the wind whispering gently through them. This April we were in time to see the early rhododendron blooms . While taking a walk you come by quaint cottages with names like Parsonage and Cosy Nook . We stopped to admire the hydrangea blooms in vibrant purple and baby pink.
The circuitous road (which is motorable as well) starts with the quiet St Paul’s Church. Framed by tall pines the church was established in the 1840s. The building is an old colonial one with beautiful arches and sun streaming in from stained glass windows. The serene quiet of the church turns into noisy chatter and laughter of school children in the famous Char Dukan just adjacent to the church. At the Tip Top restaurant you can tuck into pancakes and waffles while getting some trivia about the place from the owner. The place has delicious omelette too.
From Char Dukan we walked towards Sister’s Bazaar. The old military hospital here has given way to the Defence Ministry’s Institute of Technology Management. We passed an old cemetery ,it’s easy to see why it finds its way into so many of Ruskin Bond’s stories. Sister’s Bazaar is famous for the popular store Prakash’s. Prakash is reputed for their jams and preserves. Local folk-lore has it that Prakash has supplying peanut butter and jam to generations of the Gandhi family.
No matter how many times I visit Landour, it never ceases to enthrall me, the deep woods, the smell of the pines and the quiet whispers of the trees. Sunlight streaming in from amidst the branches, the skies a brilliant blue unlike the grey in the plains. There are stories to be told here , the place sets your creative juices in motion. It isn’t a wonder that the town has been home to Ruskin Bond, his words resonate with the beauty of the place. The mountains stand tall and beautiful , their colours come alive in the sunshine. Each time I visit , I know they know me and understand….and keep beckoning me to come back.