Mussoorie – Queen of the hills

It was not as if it was a new territory for me or the road less traveled. If I tell you, how many times I have been here, you would probably come to know how old I am, so I’d rather refrain. Lets just say, it was here that I had spent my summer vacations every year. Mussoorie was like a second home for me and my family. Just got back from there a few days ago and am already having withdrawal symptoms. Yes the place is addictive! No matter how many times one goes there, every time feels like the first time. That’s the kind of allure this truly gifted place holds.


Towering high mountains, snow-clad pristine peaks, breath-taking landscapes, lush green valleys and resorts, enchanting flower filled meadows, misty woods, fast flowing water-falls, incredibly simple, warm and affectionate local populace, rich arts and crafts and culture, that’s the Queen of Hills, Mussoorie for you.

Mussorie is undeniably blessed with some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere. Because of such magical showcase of Nature’s grandeur and majestic panoramic beauty, mussoorie earned the title “Queen of the Hills “ during the British Rule when Captain Young discovered this hidden treasure while trying to escape plague like heat and dusty plains of north India. In 1927, the first building was constructed over there as a summer stopover. Since then, the flow of visitors mainly from Europe began to pour in and were soon joined in by Indian Maharajas who constructed marvelous palaces on the hills.

Set at a height of over 2000 meters above the sea level in the state of Uttranchal, even today the place has this whole bygone era charm to it and retains its mysticism. Even though a lot of construction has come up in the vicinity over the years and it’s a lot more crowded now, Mussoorie still manages to be one of the best hill station getaways in north India.

Ideal Time to Visit: The peak tourist season is April to July.
If you want to avoid the crowds, visit during September- November. Don’t forget to carry woolens, rain protection and walking shoes.

Ideal for: This land of fascination and mystery with its rich age-old culture kindles deep interest amongst all age groups of people. Young and old feel equally rejuvenated in the natures lap. Tucked away in the hills, love and passion is sure to blossom. There’s something so romantic about the place, which makes it a perfect getaway for honeymoon couples.

How to Reach: 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 railway station for Mussoorie is Dehradun. There are regular buses and private taxis ply between Dehradun and mussoorie on a regular basis. For local transportation in and around Mussoorie ,hand pulled rickshaws, taxis and cars are readily available.

Accommodation: There is no dearth of fancy hotels, resorts, motels of star and non-star category in every nook and corner of the hill station, but best is to book the hotel rooms in advance during peak times.

Cuisine: The local food is more functional and less fancy. Meat is an important constituent of the diet, along with plenty of locally fermented liquor so as to ward off the winter chills. Local, course grains such as mandua and barley are more commonly used as opposed to wheat and rice because the former variety keeps them full and content for longer period of time. Also, the use of tomato is minimal and food is essentially cooked in mustard oil or pure ghee. Singal, Gahat ki Dal, aloo ke gutke, rus, Jhangora ki Kheer,bal mithai, kesar halwa are most popular dishes and desserts of the local cuisine here.

Besides the local hilly food, Mussoorie, being a major tourist attraction, has a number of multi-cuisine restaurants. This place is best known for sumptuous biryani made from fine basmati rice grown in the vicinity. What makes the food more tasty is the sincere hospitality of the people over here. Tibetan cuisine, mughlai cuisine and other north Indian dishes are also very popular.

Local Populace and lifestyle: I have observed that people here are rather simple, real, warm, affectionate, helpful, pure and unadulterated and I have often wondered if it is because of the serene blissful place they reside in. The bulk of the population is rural and lives in tiny villages scattered over the surrounding hills and their main occupation is agriculture.

People are always on their feet and lead an active busy life. Extreme weather conditions and steep angular terrain often makes it tough for the people, but it never shows on their face. I guess they are immune and know to enjoy life despite shortcomings. They have a carefree social life.

Home and shelter: Houses are usually simple in architecture and hut-shaped. They are built of cut rocks roofed with heavy beams strong enough to stand the winter snows.

Arts and Crafts: Woolens here are relatively better in quality. Knitting is a common practice in every household and ladies even sell knitted woolen socks, caps, gloves, booties etc.

Shawls, stoles, cardigans etc made from pure pashmina wool with authentic Pahari or Kashmiri embroidery are among the best buys. They are considered priceless possessions in whole of India and no bride’s trousseau is complete without at least a couple of them. And if you buy one for your mother-in-law as well, that would surely earn you some brownie points.

Markets: The Mall Road of Mussoorie offers several hand crafted items of metal ware, wood work, antiques, hand-carved walking sticks, cane baskets, embroidered wall hangings, dry pine-cones, hill jewelery, garments, knickknacks and curios and other souvenirs. If you are lucky enough, you could even get some good bargains here.

There is so much more that Mussoorie offers that neither one trip nor one blog can do justice to the grandeur of this lovely hill station. Whenever I get back from Mussoorie, there is a feeling of void and an irresistible urge to go back there and get blissfully lost amidst the clouds and lush green valleys forever.

Fact File
Location: North India
State: Uttranchal/Uttarakhand.
Famous As: Queen of hill stations.
Altitude: 2005.5 meters
Area: 65 sq km
Main Languages: Hindi, English , Garhwali

Climate
Summer: April to June
Monsoon: July- September
Winter: October-February
Spring: March

Temperature (summer) 31.2°C (max); 7.2°C (min)
Temperature (winter) 7.2°C (max); 1.1°C (min)

Clothing
Summer: Light Woollens
Winter: Lot of layers, Outwear coats/jackets, heavy woollens

Mussoorie pictures

Author: Richa Arora

Comments

  1. ali asgar lakdawala says:

    Its really beautiful queen of hills would like to visit mussorie

  2. jennifer whiteman says:

    Recently found a letter written by my father, then aged 6, dated 1927. Addressed from Biddulph Summer Home, Mussourie. Think it was a school or used for school holidays. Was it a boarding school? Any information would be welcome…..please!

    Thanks

    Jenny

  3. Richa Arora says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Established in 1876 by Michael Biddulph, that was a boarding school for children of military personnel. There is also a book published by the same name.

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