Mussoorie, the Queen of Hill Stations

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Travel Features >> Mussoorie, the Queen of Hill Stations

Mussoorie, the Queen of Hill Stations

April 16, 2011

Mussoorie earned the sobriquet ‘Queen of hill station’ during the British Raj when the English gentry needed to escape from the dusty plains of north India. Set at a height of over 2000mts above sea level, even today that nickname holds good, as Mussoorie still retains its charm, notwithstanding the construction that has come up in the vicinity and the crowded mall in summer. Mussoorie still manages to be one of the best hill station getaways in northern India.

Things to do
There is plenty to do in Mussoorie – spend your time sampling the variety of cuisines and crafts on offer in the stores, set off on a horse-ride or just admire the scenic vistas from strategically placed benches all along this hill-station.

“Going to the Mall’ as in other hill-stations established by the British in India is the standard thing to do in Mussoorie. The Mall, Mussoorie’s main promenade is vehicle-free during the peak tourist season and is filled with scores of visitors, young and old, families with kids in tow or couples on their honeymoon.

On the west side of the Mall in Mussoorie is the Library and to the east, is Kulri Bazaar with souvenir shops, video game arcades and India’s largest indoor skating rink. Beyond Kulri is Landour, Mussoorie’s atmospheric old cantonment area with a few stores selling Raj memorabilia, silver jewellery and books. Get a feel of Tibetan life in Mussoorie in the Happy Valley, 3 km west of the Library, with its Tchechencholing gompa overlooking the Doon valley, a school and some shops selling Tibetan handicraft items. Quite a popular honeymoon destination, Mussoorie has plenty to offer to couples for even in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, honeymoon couples can build their cache of special memories.

No trip to Mussoorie is complete without a visit to Gun Hill, a curious flat-topped hill, the second highest peak of Mussoorie, so named because in colonial times, a gun placed on the summit used to fire at mid-day for locals to adjust their watches. Gun Hill can be reached on foot or on a pony by a bridle path from the Mall. Alternatively a 400 metre ropeway takes you up to the hilltop on a scintillating journey with great views. From the hilltop you get to see some of the more prominent peaks including Banderpunch, Srikanth, Pithwara and the Gangotri group.

For more scenic vistas, walk along the Camel’s Back road, named after a nearby rock formation, a 3-km road encircling the base of Gun Hill, particularly to view the breathtaking Himalayan sunset. View remnants of the Raj era architecture - Clouds End, the English chateau built in 1838 and one of the first buildings to come up in Mussoorie, 8 km from the Library; Childer’s Lodge, the highest point in the area, 5 km from the Tourist Office; the house where Sir George Everest, the first Surveyor General of India lived and worked, 8 km from the centre of town.

Trekkers will have plenty to trails to explore. From Mussoorie, short treks lead up to higher points with exalting views of mountain peaks towering well over 6,000 metres – to Nagtibba past Thatyur and Devalsari, (both with basic accommodation). Between Devalsari and Nagtibba, camps need to be set up. The trek back to Mussoorie is via Panthwari, Nainbagh and Kempty Falls. A 15 km trek from Mussoorie through Park Toll, Clouds End and Dudhli leads to the temple of Bhadraj with excellent views of the Doon valley, the Chakrata range and the Jaunsar Bawar region of the Garhwal Himalayas.

More difficult treks into the Har-ki-Dun valley also begin at Mussoorie. Literally, Valley of the Lord, this remote trail may be completed in three days, and is usually done from mid-April till mid-November. While accommodation is available lower down, in the higher reaches tents must be pitched for overnight halts.

Further Afield
Kempty Falls, 15 km is a must-do for tourists coming to Mussoorie. Other sites include Jharipani Falls, (8 km), Bhatta Falls (7 km) on the Mussoorie – Dehradun road and Mossey Falls (7 km) past Barlowganj. The recently developed Mussoorie Lake, 6 km down the Mussoorie-Dehradun road, has boating facilities. Visit the nearby ancient shrines - Nag Devta Temple (6 km) and the Jwalaji Temple on top of the Benog Hill.

25 km from Mussoorie down the road to Tehri is the tourist resort of Dhanaulti. Surrounded by fragrant pine and deodar forests, this secluded resort is the ideal retreat from the hustle-bustle of Mussoorie.

Fact File
Getting to Mussoorie
Mussoorie is 34 kms from Dehradun, which is 250 km from Delhi (5 hours by road). The best way to get here is by car from Dehradun (30 to 45 minutes). The nearest rail station for Mussoorie is at Dehradun. There are regular buses and shared taxis from Dehradun, coming in to the Library Bus Stand.

Best time to visit Mussoorie
The peak tourist season is in summer from May till July. The tourist rush is also at this time so Mussoorie tends to get overcrowded. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit during October- November. Bring woolens, rain protection and walking shoes.

Accommodation in Mussoorie
Mussoorie has a wide range of accommodation, mostly along the Mall. Budget, standard class, and deluxe hotels abound. Rates fluctuate between peak tourist season and off-seasons. Some of the good hotels are the Fortune Grace hotel near Library Bazaar which has a good location and the Park Plaza Sylverton which is located at the other end of the mall on the Picture palace side. If you want to be away from the Mall area, then try the Avalon Resort on Gun Hill and if luxury is what you are looking for then the deluxe Jaypee hotel would be a good choice.

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