Having laid out only a day for Mussourie and with no prior knowledge about the queen of hills, I thought of letting the day unfold itself.
I reached Mussourie just in time for the last light of the day. Getting down at Library Chowk, I was walking past Mall Road to my hotel when I noticed a reddish pink glowing line over the Doon valley. It stretched out as far as I could see. I was intrigued by the line at first but then owing to carrying two backpacks, I set it to the side of my mind and started walking towards my hotel which was a good half an hour from the Mall Road.
Watching the winter line in Mussourie
Upon reaching the hotel, my manager, Kabir told me it has a name – winter line. Unique to Mussoorie and parts of Switzerland, the winter line(unbeknownst to me) is a famous phenomenon. It is caused by the refraction of sunlight and dust particles at a particular angle, and visible from the mountain areas. The phenomenon can be seen mid-October to January, at sunset, as the sun drops behind a false horizon.
Pro Tip to visitors: Recurring in the last week of the year(December 25 – December 30), Mussourie celebrates Winter Carnival – a grand festival focusing on promoting Garhwali culture and conserving local heritage. It was the 5th edition of Winter Carnival in 2017 and had a mix of musical and cultural performances, fun games and other enthralling activities. The entire town bears a festive look on a Himalayan backdrop, welcoming visitors for a memorable vacation.
Walk along the bustling Mall Road
The best part about Mussourie Mall road is that you will find everything in one single stretch of road. This 4km long road offers scenic views of Mussourie slopes as well as Doon valley. You will find the anything ranging from eateries to shopping. Complete with skating rink, gaming centres, and so on. With so many cute little cafes, sweet shops and street chats to fill my appetite, I was spoilt for choices. And I was amazed to experience the cafe culture in Mussourie. You can find so many new age cafes with vibrant styles right in Mall Road.
Some of my favourite cafes – Cafe De Tavern, Little Llama Cafe, Chic Chocolate, Cafe Tea Totaller.
Sipping in hot chocolate, while taking in the views of Mussourie in a pleasant weather(almost throughout the year), seems like a perfect occasion to visit these cafes. Well, at least for me.
Visit the most famous bookstore in Mussourie
I didn’t do my fair share of research before arriving in Mussourie since I had only a day to spare, so it came as a surprise when I started seeing Ruskin Bond Special drinks in cafes. Then, when I reached Cambridge Book Depot, after glancing over a gamut of Ruskin Bond books on a separate counter(even signed ones are available), I knew there was a connection. Upon asking the owner, he said that Ruskin Bond, a well-known author of children’s books, Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awardee, visits the bookstore every Saturday and does a book signing from 3.30 PM to 5.30 PM. Alas, it wasn’t a Saturday and I was despondent that I didn’t arrive in Mussourie a day prior!
“I have never been a fast walker or a conqueror of mountain peaks, but I can plod along for miles. And that’s what I’ve been doing all my life—plodding along, singing my song, telling my tales in my own unhurried way. I have lived life at my own gentle pace, and if as a result, I have failed to get to the top of the mountain (or of anything else), it doesn’t matter, the long walk has brought its own sweet rewards; buttercups and butterflies along the way”
Apart from the Ruskin Bond books, this bookstore has a variety of books of different genres including but not limited to John Lang, Victor Banerjee, Ganesh Saili, Hugh & Coleen Gantzer and Stephen Alter. It is a paradise for book lovers right in the heart of Mall Road!
FYI – Ruskin bond lives in Mussourie with his adopted family in Landour, Mussoorie.
Pro tip – If you feel Mall Road is too crowded, then walk along the Camelback road as an alternative which has far less crowd and far fewer shops.
Go on a shopping spree in Mall Road
I walked the entire stretch of Mall Road twice, one time just noting down all the shops I wanted to visit(there were so many), and the other time for shopping, both times lugging around backpacks. But Mall Road and Mussourie, in general, has a pleasant weather that I didn’t mind walking for hours. Shop for good quality wools and boots, which are readily available on Mall Road. You can also find Mussourie handicrafts, small souvenir and accessories shops, and so on. Find a variety of Fruit barfi ranging from mango, strawberry, guava, litchi, and so on in one of two the Fruit Barfi shops in Mall Road. Alternatively, you can buy it from the sweet shops as well.
Take a ropeway to Gun Hill
At 400ft above Mall Road, Gun Hill can be reached by ropeway or by foot. It is a popular location for visitors offering 360-degree views of the snow-clad Himalayan Ranges right beside Doon valley and a full view of Mussourie. Gun Hill has an underground water reservoir since British times for supply of water to the whole of Mussourie. During pre-independence days, there was gun station mounted on the top. It used to be fired at midday to enable people to adjust their watches. Hence the name Gun Hill. I had this on my list, but owing to limited time and protracted queue at the ropeway station, I wasn’t able to make it.
The best way to reach Gun Hill is through a cable car. You can get the cable car right at Mall Road.
Ropeway prices: Rs. 75 per person
Timings – 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
If you have more time on your plate, try out the usual suspects – Kempty falls, George Everest House, Mussourie lake, and Lal Tibba viewpoints.
Stay in One Earth Royal Hotel for a 360-degree view of Mussourie
Reaching the hotel was quite tricky since I had to walk the entire stretch of ups and downs of Mall road lugging around my backpacks. But once I arrived at the location and was invited by the entire Mussourie and Dehradun valley views, I knew it was worth the time and energy spent. Since I didn’t have enough time either to visit the viewpoints, staying at this boutique hotel was the perfect option to have 360-degree views all the time! Be it sunrise or winter line sunsets or brilliant night views, I could have it all just stepping out of my room.
One Earth Royale is a luxury boutique hotel renovated from a popular boarding school with delicious food and spacious rooms with a view. Since it is located on a plateau, each of the rooms sports a view, overall a 360-degree view of Mussourie.
Reaching there – From Landour Bazaar, walk the entire stretch of Mall Road till you reach Picture Palace. Call up the hotel reception from here, and they will guide you to a meeting point a bit further on the left, where they will come and pick you up.
If you are planning to reach there on your own vehicle, then you will have to take an inside route near Camel view hotel. Make use of Google Maps or call up the hotel reception for directions.
If you are staying on Mall Road or in the vicinity, you will have limited transport options. Best thing to do is to walk along Mall Road. Alternatively, hire a rickshaw cycle.
If you are heading out of the city, you will find cabs stationed at Picture Palace and Mall Road.
Jolly Grant Dehradun airport is around 60kms and two hours away from Mussourie. Sets you back by Rs. 1800 one way. It is a better option especially if you are not travelling from the North of India. In that case, you can avoid the long journey of flying to Delhi and then taking an overnight bus or train to Uttarakhand. Though all the flights have a layover in Delhi, it usually for less than an hour.
Nearest Railway Station
Dehradun Railway Station is over 34kms from Mussourie. Hire a taxi to reach Dehradun Railway station right from Mall Road.
So have you ever been to the queen of hills? Let me know your favourite locations in the comments below.
Disclaimer – This post is in collaboration with One Earth Royale Hotel, Mussourie. Needless to say, all opinions here are entirely my own.
Also, subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on another post. See you on the other side!