WORDS AISHWARYA MENON
PHOTOGRAPHS VIKRANT KHARAT
Out of Delhi (315km)
Mussoorie feels like a postcard that was fondly written to a lover, one that remained unsent and forgotten, and was found years later, between the pages of an old journal. You’ll sense the romantic undertones when you make your way on its meandering roads and take in all the sights on offer. Pine trees swaying to the tune of the wind, charming little thatched-roofed homes, mischievous troops of monkeys and rosy-cheeked school children bounding up and down the hills – the higher up you go, the easier it becomes to visualise Ruskin Bond’s tales from your childhood.
Begin your day by watching the sun rise over the snow-capped Himalayas, and top it up with a 6km walk leading to the quiet foothills of Landour. Drive to Char Dukan just in time for breakfast. Named after the four shops that have been around since the 1800s, Char Dukan offers a wide variety of omelettes, shakes, waffles and good ol’ instant noodles. Watch out for quotes hanging off trees as you drive down to Sister’s Bazaar from here – they make for fun photo-ops. Comprising a neat row of small stores, the bazaar is home to the iconic Prakash Stores, which was started in 1928 to provision the Britishers residing in and around Mussoorie. It now stocks excellent jams, marmalade and a variety of peanut butter – all of which make for great little presents to take back home. Head back into Mussoorie for a quick lunch. Stop by Kalsang’s on Mall Road for authentic Tibetan fare.
For a city so small, you’ll be surprised at how much Mussoorie has to offer. Get off the touristy trail and go hiking in the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. With over eight demarcated walking trails, the reserve has plenty to thrill nature lovers. If you’re lucky and are visiting during the right season (September to March), you may even spot a few animals.
When it comes to sundowners, there’s a venue for every kind of traveller. For city slickers, there’s Café De Tavern, one of Mussoorie’s oldest restaurants; for those who prefer some quiet downtime with the mountains in sight, the Happy Valley monastery is perfect. But, if you’re the kind who digs the occasional adrenaline rush, set out on a hike up the 2km stretch that starts right next to the entrance of the monastery. Keep going till you come across an abundance of prayer flags – you’ll know then that you’ve reached the summit. If the skies are clear, you’ll be treated to the stunning sight of rolling foothills, covered in blankets of purple and pink rhododendron blossoms. Then, when you look up, you’ll be greeted by magnificent snow-capped peaks, completing the picture-perfect postcard view. Make it there just in time for sunset and you’ll be treated to an unforgettable view. It is then that you’ll realise that, slowly and steadily, Mussoorie has carved for itself a special place in your heart that you’ll cherish forever.