Mountain paths flanked by lofty Deodars, quaint churches, colonial bungalows and charming bazaars, beautiful boulevards and spectacular views – Mussoorie is all about pleasing sights and peaceful leisure. But underneath its picturesque beauty and old world charms are hidden numerous tales of sinister entities that come to life once darkness descends on the hills. When in Mussoorie, here’re a few places you should perhaps avoid after sunset, unless you are looking for an unearthly encounter.
LAMBI DEHAR MINES
Purportedly one of the most haunted places in the country, the now abandoned Lambi Dehar mines have witness mysterious deaths, murders, fatal accidents and inhuman suffering of miners forced to work under insufferable conditions. Reports of disembodied cries and groans, unexplained phenomena, spectres and apparitions galore, the locals refuse to venture close to the mines, especially post sunset. The most chilling legend associated with the mines is that of the witch of Lambi Dehar. Allegedly responsible for numerous unexplained deaths and disappearances in the area, her blood-curdling shrieks can still be heard piercing through the deathly silence of night.
Mullingar, Mussoorie’s oldest building built circa 1825, is still haunted by the spirit of the man who built it. The flamboyant Raj-era mansion was constructed by an Irishman, Captain Young, the commander of the first Sirmoor Battalion of the British Indian Army. Captain Young went back to Ireland upon retiring from his services, but it seems like he never really left, at least not his spirit. According to local lore, on moon drenched nights, a phantom rider is seen roaming the large compound of the Mullingar mansion. It’s believed that it is none but Captain Young revisiting the place he once called home.
PARI TIBBA (HILL OF THE FAIRIES)
If you are a Ruskin Bond fan you have probably heard about the infamous Pari Tibba, a densely wooded hill south of Mussoorie’s legendary Woodstock School, allegedly a paranormal hotspot. Incidentally, Pari Tibba is unusually prone to lightning strikes, and locals attribute this uncanny anomaly to supernatural forces. Numerous burnt, warped carcasses of lightning-struck trees, strewn around the hunched hill, are the only witnesses to Pari Tibba’s mysterious secrets.
There are numerous legends attached to this hill, including those surrounding the resident fairies of the hill. The hill is also said to be haunted by the anguished souls of two star-crossed lovers who died in these woods, struck by lightning. Their charred bodies were recovered days later, but their distraught spirits continue to wander in these woods. Not the ideal place to loiter around after dark, eh?
The Savoy is by far the most famous haunted location in Mussoorie and guards many a sinister secrets within its century-old walls. And down its old corridors lurks the phantom of Lady Garnet Orme, a British spiritualist known to dabble in the occult, who was murdered in the hotel in 1911, poisoned with the deadly strychnine.
The mystery became all the more puzzling when, a few years later, her doctor too was found dead, poisoned with strychnine. The case remained unsolved and that perhaps explains the haunting. Lady Orme is said to wander through the hotel looking for her murderer, albeit in vain. Guests at the hotel have reported disembodied whispers, doors opening and closing on their own, and even face-to-face encounters with Lady Orme’s apparition only to see it vanish into thin air.
Sister’s Bazaar, a charming albeit secluded, forested area is popular for its beautiful walking trail, stunning views and a haunted house. The crumbling skeleton of a long-forsaken colonial bungalow in the locality has earned quite the reputation as the haunt for ghostly beings. Popular with ghost hunters, trekkers and even picnic parties, the hike up the narrow path, flanked by lofty Deodar trees, to the Haunted House, is worth your while if only for the spectacular views of the surrounding hills it offers.
The author’s views are her own and do not reflect those of Lonely Planet India.
The article was first published in August 2015, and has been updated since.