A lonely road fading into the sunbathing deodar trees. Clouds of smoke emanating from quaint houses. While the mountain breeze strolls through narrow lanes evoking nostalgia. Such is the old-world charm of the picturesque Landour.
This serene hamlet, situated 4km away from the hustle and bustle of Mussoorie, is often amused by the vagaries of the weather — from clear blue skies to sudden sunshowers to a dark cloud cover with mist floating in the air. And as the sun sets, a myriad of lights dots the mountain walking trail—called the Gol Chakkar or the Infinity Loop.
Furthermore, the short white lines on the road beam in anticipation to guide travellers to Lal Tibba. While flickering lampposts around Sisters Bazaar add some semblance of colour to the sombre setting, rhythmic sounds by distant crickets entice passersby returning to their resting place. More often than not, the eddies of wind intrude into the calm surroundings, roaring through the open windows of the Light Of Landour courtyard cottages and pounding on the doors of the Char Dukan eateries.
No wonder, Landour’s scenic views echo through time — upholding the saying, “If Mussoorie is (the) queen of hills, then Landour must be the fairer princess…”
Let’s explore the places in Landour—to lie down in surrender and behold the mesmerising sights.
The British built the cantonment area in the shape of a lazy eight curve or like the symbol of infinity — and Landour happens to be in the centre. So they say, no matter where you go, you can’t escape Landour — and the Infinity Loop serves as a testament to it.
At first blush, the 3km circuit seems like an ordinary walk. But as you begin to straggle, silhouettes of colonial architecture transform into St. Paul’s Church, Char Dukan, Lal Tibba, actor Victor Banerjee’s humble abode—Parsonage, Christian Cemetery, Kellogg Memorial Church, and Language School.
Being the first stop of the Infinity Walk, the clamour around the area intensifies as day breaks. It is famously known as Char Dukan — as there were originally 4 shops, but now there are 5. These old-fashioned eateries appear to be jostling for space yet bound together by age-old heritage. Besides, Landour is provincially described as 4 dukan aur 24 makan (4 shops and 24 houses).
Sooner than later, exotic dishes start getting rustled up at the Tip Top Tea Shop. The captivating aroma, after escaping the magic pan, is usually on the prowl for visitors. And the earlycomers are lured into one of the oldest shops here — which is credited with inventing the Indian avatar of a foreign breakfast staple. Served in many varieties, pancakes have become a delicacy around here. “As the name suggests, one gets tip-top pancakes here. We have been serving different palates since 1910,” chuckles Vipin Prakash, owner of the Tip Top Tea Shop. When asked about the story behind the name, he told HT, “The shop was quite popular among the women of the British soldiers. They started calling it Tip Top Tea Shop because of the quality of tea that was being served here.”
“Today, pancakes, bun & omelette, vegetable maggi, and hot honey lemon ginger tea are our bestsellers.”
As you satiate your taste buds, you couldn’t help but notice a hotel — Light Of Landour — casting a disarming glance at Char Dukan.
Light Of Landour
With European attic rooms overseeing vistas of deodar trees and gilded mountains, hotel Light Of Landour is no doubt a serene haven of peace and tranquillity. More so, its theme-based courtyard cottages can act as the muse to fuel your inspiration and let you be your best creative self. In a bid to tantalise your senses, you can read, write or play instruments without a care in the world.
Its villas offer a glimpse of the midnight’s appeal — exhibiting a surreal kaleidoscope of colourful lights. Moreover, at Light Of Landour, one can’t get enough of the culinary delights of Landour. On special request, the chef can arrange pahadi cuisine comprising mandve ke atte ki roti, pahadi saag, gahat ki dal and jhangore ki kheer.
When in Landour, eat as the locals eat!
Tourists flock to Lal Tibba to experience the first ray of light as it pierces the dense fog to reach the surface of the dormant mountains. The chirping of birds, playful grunts and hoots of monkeys fill the stagnant air. People are often lost in reverie until they hear vehicles chasing and honking their way through the narrow lanes. There’s a Lal Tibba Binocular Cafe which charges ₹50 per head — and you can view Himalayan mountain peaks through the telescope.
From the early 1900s, all the eclectic residents of Landour, including military doctors, nursing sisters, British and American missionaries, Language School students, and Woodstock parents and staff met at Community Centre book clubs and exchanged their international recipes and high-altitude baking tips with each other simply in passing conversations — states a declaration hanging at the entrance of the cafe. These recipes have been published as the Landour Cookbook — which serves as an inspiration for many of Landour Bakehouse’s desserts and puddings. Its croissants and coffee walnut cake are to die for!
“One can sip on a traditional steaming pot of tea and ponder about the history of this quaint little town, while enjoying the views overlooking the majestic snow peaks of the great Himalayan range through the whispering pines that stand still,” it adds.
Prakash Stores in Sisters Bazaar
As you enter, you can see a grandfatherly personality threading his way across the shop to taste the freshly baked batch of croissants. “Yeh bilkul sahi bana hai (This is baked to perfection),” says Mr Anil Prakash, proprietor Prakash Stores.
Your trip to Landour won’t be complete if you haven’t visited Prakash Stores in Sisters Bazaar. They have been serving fruit jams, chutneys, peanut butter and cheese since 1928. “Apart from jams, our family was the first to start making cheese in India. I went abroad to learn the art of cheesemaking,” Mr Anil Prakash tells HT. “Almost all the restaurants in Landour, and even the Woodstock canteen vendor buy our products.”
How to get to Landour
~Bus/Volvo/train from Delhi to Dehradun.
~From the local bus stand in Dehradun, you can take a bus or a cab till Mussoorie (Picture Palace).
~Cab is the only way to get to Landour, which is a steep 3/4-km climb from Mussoorie (Picture Palace).