Perched on a ridge 2km high, the ‘Queen of Hill Stations’ vies with Nainital as Uttarakhand’s favourite holiday destination. When the mist clears, views of the green Doon Valley and the distant white-capped Himalayan peaks are superb, and in the hot months the cooler temperatures and fresh mountain air make a welcome break from the plains below.
Here, the ghosts of that era linger on in the architecture of the churches, libraries and of course hotels. In this excerpt from Lonely Planet’s India’s Short Escapes from Delhi we recommend the best heritage stays in Mussoorie.
Fortune The Savoy: The first hotel to be built in Mussoorie (in 1838), The Savoy was a favourite of the swish set. Scores of British officers, their wives and mistresses, and members of Indian royalty, danced the night away in its ballrooms. It was also the site of the famous murder of Lady Garnet Orme. The guest register is a record of famous names like Jawaharlal Nehru, the Dalai Lama and Pearl S Buck.
Ilbert Manor: This delightful 1840s heritage property has a private cottage at the back with stunning views of the forest below. Rooms are named after English notables who lived and worked in Mussoorie – Rudyard Kipling, General Frederick Young and Jim Corbett, to name a few. There is a reading room on the ground floor with faded photographs that recall the days of the British Raj.
Carlton Plaisance: One of Mussoorie’s best kept secrets, this 1800s building sits in the middle of an orchard. It was built by an officer of the East India Company who married an Indian princess. Filled with mementos of days gone by, and housing a museum of sorts, here truly is a page from history. Nine comfortable rooms, en suite bathrooms, Chippendale chairs, and a covered glass-fronted hallway as a dining space, all add up to a memorable stay.
Kasmanda Palace: This beautiful castle-like building is one of the oldest in Mussoorie, and was part of the Christ Church complex, built in 1836 by Captain Rennie Tailor. In 1915, it was bought by the Kasmanda family, whose descendants still live here. Today, it is run by the WelcomHeritage Group and has a modern wing. There is also a mini museum, hunting trophies and a restored hand rickshaw.
Cloud End Forest Resort: Down Hathipaon, about 10km from Mall Road and surrounded by a dense forest, Cloud End is an unpretentious resort that concentrates on adventure sports, nature walks and an authentic mountain experience. No wi-fi signal makes this a true hideaway. The main building is a heritage structure and has a large reading/dining room with mismatched comfy chairs, racks of bestsellers and historic photos of famous guests. The modern wing outside includes camp huts, sparsely furnished but with attached bathrooms. Cloud End runs at a gentle pace, but horse safaris, sky jumps and treks can all be efficiently arranged.