There are places that I write about. And then, there are places that I am in love with and wish to keep close to myself; as secrets that I do not wish to let anybody in on. A friend asked me to write about things to do in Landour, which, for sure, is one of the latter places. If only I did not have to keep my promise of writing more for this year with you, I would never have written about it. Sir Ruskin Bond made it his home and the fact goes very well in explaining why his stories of mountains are so musical; Landour is such a place.
Here is why I am in such love with this place, and you would be too!
Landour, to me, is the La La Land
A few days back, as I was watching La La Land, the musical, it gave me a heartache; that because it reminded me of Landour and the music its lanes have. I cannot tell you of the typical attractions or things to do in Landour because there is nothing to do here. If you travel to strike off places from your itinerary every day, this is not your place. Just like Goa, for me, is majorly (perhaps all) about slow life and Agonda, Landour is all about sitting under the Sun in one of its backlanes and dozing off right there. Plus, pack a picnic and you will know what I am writing about.
Landour is silence, it is a song by woods
If you travel to the mountains with crates of beer and intention of putting your music system and chunky woofers to use, Landour is not your place. At the cost of sounding snobbish, I ask anyone with those intentions to go somewhere else or stay home for the greater good. This place, at just 30 minutes from Mussoorie, is not where you get loud. This place is where you listen; listen closely and the woods will sing you a song.
Landour is desserts, from the bakehouse
Put on some good shoes and get going. Take the uphill road to the Landour Bakehouse, try to grab the window seats in the back room there and order a (or more) lemon tarts. These windows overlook the sloping pine-lined mountains, and will take you closer to your heart.
A good coffeehouse, a giant library, pine forest around and a playlist that has Neil Young and Simon & Garfunkel. That can make any trip perfect for me; what’s your ideal vacation like? Talking of Simon & Garfunkel, do listen to their Dangling Conversation, there’s no song like this one. #travel #nomadscribblings #coffee #folkgood #cafe #India #travelgram #instatravel #nature #solo #travelblog #mountains #wanderlust #design #architecture #music #instalike #iphoneonly #himgeo #thevisualyatra #travelstoke #BDteam
The bakery in itself is more of a musical classic again; they say the recipes are remains of the word-of-mouth exchange between the British residents who made it their home before India’s independence. You might find the history and tales fascinating, but I am content with good coffee, lemon tarts, brownies, the Ruskin Bond collection at the bakery and the seats by the glass window. The world outside, I would never want to return to it. This place does not see the unusually loud crowd, foreign students from the Landour Language School are the majority that comes in for a quick break here.
Landour is mountain cottages, with huskies guarding them
Second to-do thing on your agenda should be checking out the beautiful mountain houses in the lanes around; while these are not on the lines of traditional mountain houses of Uttarakhand or Himachal, they take you back to the British era. With names such as the Rose Cottage, Rokeby Manor and Ivy Cottage, they remind of a time gone by. Set on sides of colourful lanes, that might remind you of those classic Greece postcards, these houses might turn the nomad in you craving for a house; one of the cottages here even had two blue-eyed huskies guarding it. Ah!
Landour is smoked cheese and peanut butter
You might have read a lot of posts on Landour asking you to get the famous peanut butter and homemade jams from Prakash; well, do that. I liked the smoked cheese and jam, but the hype around peanut butter is just that, hype. If you still want to try, do go. Once you have eaten at the bakery and picked some stuff from Prakash’s store, go for a long walk till ITM. Cooled all the more by dense, towering pines, this is one of the more solitary stretches and you can very well sit here all day without a soul crossing you. Another reason owing to which I fell for Landour was that getting alone was not a problem here, a kilometre or two and you could get to one of its lonely spots.
Landour is winterline and sunsets, it is a hell lot of colours
Of all the things to do in Landour, swinging your legs over a cliff and watching the Sun set over the much famous winterline is a must. It is one of those famous things that are rightly famous, like Marilyn Monroe! Visible only in a Switzerland hamlet other than Landour, this natural phenomenon is almost magic. Some of the most beautiful evenings of my life have been on the trails in sunset, when I would stop to watch its glorious sunsets in all their glory. So go, get a hot cocoa cup packed for yourself, sit over a cliff and watch colours that nobody ever told you about.
Landour is masala chai and a lot of hot pakodas
If you find yourself loitering around St Paul’s Church in Landour, loiter more and go to one of the shops from the cluster that is known as Char Dukan. While you might or might not be impressed with the framed photos and autographs of celebrities hung on the walls in these shops, you will definitely be impressed with the steaming hot pakodas (fritters), bun omelettes, pancakes and the always good masala chai. You can sit here any time of the day and if watching people is your thing, this is just the right spot.
Landour is vintage, and very very British
Landour is like stepping into history, straight in one of the days of British rule in India. Its churches are a footnote of architecture, stretches of its roads are cobbled and unlike Shimla, which is marred by droves of tourists, it does not attract many. While the likes of Sir Ruskin Bond and Tom Alter have found a home here, very few venture past Mussoorie and have left the charm of Landour intact.
It is a place for lazy souls, for slow travellers, for the ones keen on a journey but not intend on arriving. Just walking is one of the best things to do in Landour and you will know the magic when its pines whistle for you and take you back to the sometimes whimsical, sometimes funny and sometimes spooky mountain stories penned by Mr Bond.
Landour Quick Info:
Where to stay in Landour? – Doma’s Inn is a cosy little homestay-like hotel; spacious rooms, affordability, great staff, an in-house restaurant and its location alongside Ruskin Bond’s house make it my preferred choice. It is the most colourful building in Landour, decked in floaters of Chinese lanterns, dragons, thangka painitings and more.
If you crave for more solitude at a premium price of course, Rokeby Manor and Tabor Cottage are wonderful options. I saw a board announcing the coming of a new homestay by Woodstock School and you might as well look into it.
Where to eat in Landour? – Cafe Ivy is the latest addition to the rather few restaurants in Landour, and is a good option. Doma’s Inn serves a few authentic Tibetan dishes in addition to typical North Indian and Chinese fare, and lavish breakfast spreads. Emily’s by Rokeby Manor is a delightful place to eat and so is the Landour Bakehouse for the lovers of desserts.
What to do in Landour? – Do nothing, that is the best part about this place. If you are still looking for a list of things to do in Landour, choose from all that I’ve mentioned above.
If you too know of a place as magical as Landour, let me know in the comments below and I will try to plan my next trip right away. As I start writing my next post on Agonda, a village in Goa, tell me what you would like to read more on my blog.