You think of hill stations in North India, and undoubtedly one of the first names that pop in your mind is Mussoorie, isn’t it? Mussoorie offers spectacular scenery of hills, weather, clouds, and appealing stays combined as an experience that floods hearts with memories and alluring views. Unquestionably, sometimes referred to as the Queen of Hills and rightly so with its magnificent view of the Himalayan Range of Garwal Hills. Touted as an ideal spot for vacationers and honeymooners, this hill station has retained its charm over the years. Originally a favourite amongst British officials in the pre-independence era, the place has a distinctive colonial influence in its architecture and planning.
The tranquillity of this hamlet is not just the favourite choice of the tourists from the nearby states like Delhi and Punjab, but from all across India travellers love to travel by and again, far enough to witness the charm of Mussoorie, because, once you fall in love with Mussoorie, there is no falling out of it. The very air you breathe on this hill station envelops the minds of its visitors and enthral their souls.
If you plan to visit Mussoorie for the first time, there is a lot to know and understand about this place. Though small, it has lots of places to visit, see, feel and experience in and around the hill city. Let us start with details as basic as the place and its history.
Mussoorie is one of the most beloved places to visit in the state of Uttrakhand. Many people make sure they visit here every year to blow off the steam from the hustle & bustle of their own cities and the pressure of daily life. It is also the perfect and best spot for Delhiites for weekend getaways.
Mussoorie is a hill station about 35 kms away from the state capital of Dehradun in Uttrakhand. The city of Dehradun is situated in a valley and is also known as ‘Doon Valley. The road drive from the valley to the rising hill is most appealing. If you are lucky, you will find clusters of fluffy, white clouds gliding your way onto the road and hillsides. The light rush of the cool wind and tiny droplets from the clouds is enough to refresh you from the journey you just made from the hot cities.
It is the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan range where Mussoorie, the Queen of the Hills, dwells. It is situated at an average altitude of 2,005 metres (6,578 ft). It is found in the middle of the Himalayan snow ranges in the Northeast and the Doon Valley and Shiwalik range in the South. Mussoorie covers the area of Landour, Jharipani and Barlowganj to make what we call ‘Greater Mussoorie’.
For book lovers, there is a special highlight in this place. The world-famous fiction writer Ruskin Bond resides in Landour, near Mussoorie. It is known that he visits the Cambridge Book Depot on Mall road every Saturday. You might find him and meet the man if you are lucky.
The lush green hills, cool breeze, occasional rains and surprising clouds make Mussoorie what it is, the perfect weather hill station to visit all year round. There is so much to this little hill town that one cannot know and see everything in one trip.
The name Mussoorie is attributed to its old name, ‘Mansuri’, derived from the name of a shrub, Mansur, which is native to this place. A lot of people still call the place Mansuri though.
Most people love to visit Mussoorie and go sightseeing, without knowing that it’s not just the visual beauty you should witness here, but the golden history that makes it what it is today. The fascinating story behind this nearly 200 years old little hamlet is known to very few people.
The credit for identifying the beauty of Mussoorie can be given to Lt. Young, an Irish British Army Officer. He visited the hills of Mussoorie for a peculiar game only known in these hills. Then Mussoorie was merely a green hill, not the town it is today. He was so mesmerised by the beauty that in 1823 he, along with F J Shore, the resident Superintendent of Revenues at Dehradun, decided to build a hunting lodge right here on the hills (Now that area is known as Camel’s Back Road). This lodge could be called the first establishment in the area.
Later in 1827, the East India Company’s government established a recovery depot for British soldiers at Landour, owing to the fact that the geography, weather and surrounding were quite similar to their real homes. Lt Young also erected his bungalow in Landour and named it Mullinger, after the name of his village in Ireland.
Slowly the popularity of Mussoorie spread, and Britishers visiting India started staying here along with the creme de la creme of Indian society. This became the unofficial summer capital of the senior British officers.
WEATHER NAD BEST TIME TO VISIT
Mussoorie’s weather can be defined as a typical subtropical highland climate. The weather is certainly pleasant throughout the year. But the winter gets a bit chilly, so Mussoorie can be the best spot for you if you like to witness hill station winters.
Like all hill stations, the best time to visit Mussoorie is in the summer, from April to June. The temperatures fluctuate between 10 degrees C to 30 degrees C. The summers may sometimes have warm days, but once the clouds set in, you might need to pull down those sleeves with a sudden dip in temperature. The nights are definitely much cooler. You will never need an AC room or even a need to switch on the fans. The days can be dry then, but the upcoming monsoons compensate for all the dryness.
A lot of people love hill rains. The temperature goes down considerably, but it also becomes a little unsafe for travelling due to slippery roads and landslides. During monsoon, Mussoorie gets a high level of rain. The air gets extremely moist and humid. Visiting in monsoons may not be a wise decision, as you will be hotel-bound and will hardly be able to go out because of the rains. Once the monsoon subsides, it gets dry but a lot cooler. The period from September to November is also considered an excellent time to visit Mussoorie. With a much cooler temperature, you can also view the mist-enveloped Himalayas, which is another level of natural beauty.
The winters are freezing and may receive ample heavy rainfall, much more frequently than other seasons (not a monsoon, of course). The temperature drops into minus figures and gets really chilly. You can also experience some snowfall in the months of December, January and February. This has significantly reduced due to global warming and other natural threats. Visiting in winter may not be recommended in the books, but if you love snowfalls and can endure low temperatures, Mussoorie can be magnificent in winter, too.
HOW TO REACH MUSSOORIE
Mussoorie is well connected and can be reached via all major transport available in the country. You can also drive yourself as the hill drive is only about 35 kms from the nearest city of Dehradun.
If you love the journey as much as you love the destination, then we suggest you take a road trip from Delhi. If coming from other parts of the country, reach Delhi via a flight or a train. Then book a cab or self-driven car and enjoy the scenic beauty along the way. When coming from Delhi, you must take NH58 to Roorkee via Meerut and Muzzafarnagar and NH72-A till Dehradun. The distance is about 312 kms and takes roughly six to seven hours to reach, depending on halts and breaks.
One can also take private AC buses from Delhi and Dehradun to reach Mussoorie comfortably.
The nearest railway station to Mussoorie is Dehradun Railway Station, which comes under Northern Railways. It is a train stoppage for many superfast trains coming from popular cities like Amritsar, Varanasi, Haridwar, Lucknow, Delhi, Mumbai, Howrah, Rishikesh and such.
Alternatively, you can take a train to Delhi and interchange to reach Dehradun. Further to reach Mussoorie you can take a private cab or a bus.
The fastest way to reach Mussoorie is by flight, especially if you are not coming from the nearby states. The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun at a distance of 54 kms from Mussoorie. There are direct flight options available from Delhi as well as Mumbai.
Mussoorie is one of the hill stations loaded with tourists all year round. The long weekends are especially flooded with people from nearby cities. All the attractions are pretty much famous and touched. But there’s a list of attractions that should never be missed if you are going to Mussoorie. These are like a checklist you need to tick off from your list.
The Mall Road
This one is the crown of Mussourie. There are so many reasons for it, starting with the Camel’s Back Road, where the first ever building was erected by Lt Young, the main market for shopaholics, number of amazing cafes, restaurants and eating joints. As a bonus comes the beautiful view you can witness from many locations on the mall road, especially when the clouds descend and makes the landscape more dreamy.
Yet another popular place to visit when in Mussoorie is Kempty Falls. It is a picnic site brought up by a British officer for hosting parties and get-togethers. To date, families love to visit the spot to enjoy the spectacular view of a waterfall that falls at the height of 1,364 metres and a pool at the foot where you can take a dip and splash. The place also has a little stall where you can eat the hot favourite Maggi and more and sip tea and coffee after a cold bath in Kempty Falls.
Gun Hill Point
The second highest point in Mussoorie, Gun Hill is located 400 ft above Mall Road, and is very popular amongst nature lovers and photographers. A gun was installed at the top during the pre-independence era which was fired at midday to enable people to adjust the time, hence, the name. Given that a ropeway trolley takes you to this high point, you can witness Mussoorie’s beauty, nearby area, and majestic Himalayan ranges like Bunderpunch, Pithwara, Srikantha, Gangotri group and such, Gun Hill has become one of the most preferred tourist attraction here. To reach here, there’s a queue to get the tickets and then take a ride up. Up there looks like a fair with several stalls to shop and eat from.
Soham Heritage Art Centre
If you are an art lover or good at appreciating cultures, you should visit Soham Heritage Art Centre. It’s a place that beautifully exhibits the culture and tradition of the hill tribes through paintings, sculptures, frescoes, murals and scrap art. You can also see jewellery, tools, household items and wildlife of the Himalayas on display. This place is located amid the Oak and Deodar forest on Dhanaulti Road, about 3 kms from Gandhi Chowk.
Mussoorie Lake is an artificially made lake and has recently been added to the attractions list. It is a beautiful, serene lake perfect for family and couples’ picnics. Even the passers-by enjoy taking a halt here. You can bring your food or relish the local food stall menu. You can play games, click pictures and enjoy quality time with family and friends. It is located at Dhobi Ghat, a distance of 6 kms before you reach Mussoorie town.
Yet another fall in Mussoorie that gets many visits from tourists is Jharipani, located on Mussoorie-Jharipani Road, 9 kms away from Mussoorie. Here you can enjoy the scenic view of the Shivalik Range. The flora is enchanting with species of wildflowers, creepers and shrubs near the waterfall. On the other side of Jharipani is the view of the Doon Valley and steep farming fields.
If you have visited Mussoorie for the good weather and natural beauty, then visiting a company garden is a must. The garden is adorned with a wide variety of flowers, lush greenery, beautiful fountains, and water bodies. The kids can enjoy the rides, and grown-ups can soak into the garden’s beauty while boating in a small artificial lake. The garden also has small shops and a nursery where you can buy souvenirs and gifts for yourself and others. Merely 3 kms from Mall Road, this garden was planned by Dr H Fackner. Now it is maintained by the Garden Welfare Association of Mussoorie and is also called Municipal Garden.
Attached to Mussoorie is Landour, which used to be the main hub of British officers in the pre-independence era. Here you will find the much-proclaimed Lal Tibba on Sister’s Bazar Road, one of the highest viewpoints in Mussoorie. It is 6 km from the town and perched at an altitude of 2,275 metres. If you are lucky you will find a clear sky and will be able to catch glimpse of Bandarpunch, Kedarnath and Badrinath. This high point has a telescope installed through which you can get a clear image of the ranges. You can also enjoy the heavenly colours of sunset, where the sky turns red and justifies the spot’s name as Lal Tibba, meaning Red Hill.
This temple is dedicated to Jwala Devi, the incarnation of Goddess Durga. It is situated on top of Benog Hill. The way to reach this temple is to cover a trek of about 2 km from Cloud’s End (another tourist attraction of Mussoorie). The temple may be small but is ancient and regarded as one of the very prestigious temples. After the darshan, you can spend time soaking yourself in the enchanting beauty of the surroundings.
If you are an adventurous explorer, then Robber’s Cave or Gucchupani is the place to be when you visit Mussoorie. The best part is that it is less explored and a hidden spot, so you can plan a trip with your fun-loving group or go as couples for some alone time to this astounding spot. This place is not precisely in Mussoorie but on the way from Dehradun. It is located near Anarwala village at 8 kms from Dehradun city centre. The cave is about 600 metres long and consists of a narrow gorge between two rocks where the cold water from the springs keeps flowing. You need to walk through the water to explore the waterfalls inside. History says this was a hideout place for robbers and their lootings during the British Raj in the 1800s, hence, the name.
THINGS TO DO
Mussoorie is not all about just natural habitat and good weather. If you are an active traveller, you can go for fun activities in Mussoorie with your friends, families, groups, or solo. You can book for activities like trekking and hiking because Mussoorie is full of enchanting places to see and experience. For a clear Himalayan view and vast stretches of flora, try paragliding at Bhatta Falls and Mussoorie Lake. For the tough and daredevil tourists, rock climbing and rafting is recommended at Buranskhanda. To enjoy the hilly wildlife, you can book a safari at Benog Wildlife Sanctuary and get an experience never to be forgotten.
It will be better to get a travel agency or activity operators to book your activities. The same can be done by locally visiting them or online booking. Some hotels and stays also arrange the same for the guests.
Other than the physical activities like above, you should not miss two more things in Mussoorie: shopping and eating. The Mall Road is a shopper’s paradise full of local products that you can buy for yourself or as a souvenir.
When it comes to food, Mussoorie has a lot to offer with its pahadi cuisine. You will be lucky to find a local friend and try the local dishes. There are many popular famed restaurants that you should definitely try for their specialities. Lovely Omelette Centre, Urban Turban, Chick Chocolate at The Mall Road, Little Llama at Picture Palace, Emily’s, Cafe Ivy, Doma’s Inn, A Prakash & Co., and Landour Bakehouse at Landour, Neelam’s at Kurli Bazaar are a few popular outlets one must visit.
You should also try out other local restaurants for local cuisine and food items that are native to the Mussoorie Hills, like-
- Aalu ke Gutke, boiled Pahari all roasted in dry spices
- Phaanu, a lentil dish that originated in Garhwal but travelled and loved in Mussoorie
- Bhang ki Chutney, yes, cannabis chutney which is served as a side dish
- Kali or Kappa, a type of spinach curry
- Chains, a mix of various dals made with local spices
- Garhwal ka Fannah, scrumptious black gram dal
We recommend that you do not miss the street vendors with kebabs, momos, chaats and omelettes; after all, there is nothing better than a cool Mussoorie breeze flowing across your face and a handful of hot food.
Mussoorie is a very popular and one of the most commercialised hill stations of North India. Therefore, it is full of accommodation options; there is one for all. As per your choice and need, you can choose from low-budget hotels, luxury hotels like Jaypee Residency Manor Hotel, B&Bs, resorts, heritage hotels, government accommodations and such.
If you want to enjoy the local crowd and main town you can opt for a hotel on Mall Road, Library Chowk or Camel Back Road. For people who like secluded locations, peace and serenity, go for lesser crowded sites like Hathi Pao, Landour and further away from the main town.
To make your Mussoorie visit memorable and comforting, where you can get comfort like home and beautiful views, go for Jaypee Residency Manor Hotel in Mussoorie by Jaypee Hotels & Resorts. It is an ideal destination for travellers looking for a deluxe property with a luxury feel. This Mussoorie hotel is located on a hilltop sprawling over 9 acres of lush green area, offering a panoramic view of the natural beauty and the hills of Mussoorie. Modern conveniences and amenities are provided within the hotel to ensure a pleasant stay for guests.
Dining is taken care of in-house as the hotel offers some of the finest cuisines in Mussoorie, made with the choicest ingredients. The hotel has attractive weekend offers that travellers can avail of when they book directly from the hotel website.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
Although Mussoorie is easily accessible and easy to reach, a hill station with not a very high elevation, it is better to be prepared and know certain points before you plan your visit here.
- Remember you are visiting a hill station, you need to carry some warm clothes for colder nights, even if travelling in the summer.
- Do carry an umbrella, because you can’t trust the Mussoorie clouds.
- Pre-booking hotels is a must because Mussoorie is constantly flooded with tourists; you do not want to waste a day looking for accommodations.
- It is better to arrange a local cab than take your car to travel to different locations. It will help you save time looking for parking spaces and enjoy the way.
- There are a lot of ATMs in Mussorie, and most shops accept Paytm and cards, so you can keep your wallet light.
- Most tourist attractions have small stalls and shops that sell food items. But you can carry light snacks if you are travelling with kids.