It felt like craziness but we’d to do it!
So, March 2020. The world was locking down in a frenzy. We knew India would shut down anytime. The threat of COVID was rife but we knew we’d to make the most of a long weekend.
A last long weekend for a long time to come…
We decided to head to Landour. A place of serenity in the Himalayas. An advantage of the COVID scare was that roads, hotels & attractions, all seemed to be empty.
But the ascent from Mussoorie to Landour brought our hearts into our mouths. A narrow, uphill lane, jostling for space in Landour Bazaar, made us question our decision.
A narrow, sharp, ascending turn turned reaching our guesthouse, Ivy Bank, an adventure too. Nonetheless, as they say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
We reached Ivy Bank, checked in & got a jolt from the chill. It was raining in the middle of March. We were caught a little by surprise at how very cold it had become.
The Full Day in Landour
We knew Landour as a tiny town that could be explored while walking briskly around its tranquil magnificence. So that’s what we did! After breaking our fasts with Aloo Pyaaz Parathas & Bournvita, we began to climb towards Char Dukaan.
We’d a choice between a shorter but steeper route and a longer but gradual road. We chose the latter. This was our only full day in Landour & it was a Sunday. And yet, the town was eerily empty.
We strolled on the empty uphill street, gaping at the white hail. The sky was blue. Clouds floated along rapidly yet gracefully. The Sun shone brightly after four days of absence. Eagles soared high.
We crossed Mr. Ruskin’s Bond house & Rokeby Manor on our way. Usually, P would crib about the strenuous climb but the hail patches on the ground kept her distracted.
At Char Dukan, we were surprised to see people; we’d gotten used to the emptiness! This gets its name from the, literally, four shops adjacent to each other, next to the Saint Paul’s Church.
Tourists, or maybe youngsters from Mussoorie, ate away at the street food. Seeing the number of people hanging out at this spot, we knew it was a pretty popular place.
Anil’s Café & Tip Top Tea Shop seemed to be the more famous shops.
We chose to go to Café Ivy. The Café serves Continental & Italian food, amongst others. The Café Mocha & Hazelnut Cappuccino, with a view of the mountains, turned out to be good after that tiring climb.
Saint Paul’s Church
With our tiredness gone, we meandered to the St. Paul’s Church and checked out the stained Belgian glass used in the arty windows. Even after restorations, the carvings on the stained-glass windows looked perfect.
The heritage look has been maintained wonderfully.
We then chose to walk some more, this time taking the Chukkar. Best decision ever! This was a trail that circled the Landour ridge summits. This turned out to be the emptiest & the most beautiful part of Landour.
Our only companion was the fresh air. We walked among dense cedar, oak & pine trees. Foxy messages on signboards hung on these trees. We so wished the Chukkar never ended.
It’s become the best memory of our Landour trip.
Sunlight filtered in through openings in the forest. Now that’s a sight we can’t forget!
We eventually reached Sister’s Bazaar. The Bazaar gets its name from the sisters who worked as nurses in the British Military Hospital. It was a residential colony with old cottages and shops.
And this is where the iconic Landour Bakehouse & A Prakash are located.
Landour Bakehouse is burrowed amidst the pines on the edge of a cliff. On entering, we knew we had time travelled. Its antique portraits & wooden décor made us feel so.
A board at the entrance gives a background of the place. Landour Bakehouse whips up delicacies based on the Landour Cookbook; a book written in the 1900s. Now that’s a way to celebrate recipes through eons, with lakhs of people savouring them!
With the wooden floors creaking under our shoes, we found our way to a table & ordered for a Cappuccino, a Hot Chocolate, & an Orange Marmalade Cake, and devoured these leisurely. We were taking in calories but they were worth it!
On our way out, P picked up a copy of A Glimpse of Eternal Snows by Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth.
A. Prakash & Co
A. Prakash & Co, just down the road from the Bakehouse, has been functional since the 1920s. The popular adage goes – ‘if they don’t have it, you don’t need it!’
They started off by making peanut butter for the Britishers but now stock almost everything one can think of. However, their peanut butter & cheese continue to be incredibly famous.
We bought some Peanut Butter & some Ginger Orange Marmalade.
Kellogg Memorial Church
On our way back, we crossed the Kellogg Memorial Church & were infatuated with its fine architecture. The Memorial Church is named after Dr. Samuel Kellogg who wrote a book on Hindi Grammar for the English speakers.
We could see that the Church was quite an attraction. All tourists passing by would pose for clicks on its stone steps.
Landour Language School
Landour Language School is located inside the Memorial Church. For its students, being able to live in this stunning Himalayan hill station must be a big positive.
It was now time to descend & return to our guesthouse. We passed houses with pots hanging by the dozen. The word ‘wow’ was constantly on our lips. We were also loving the chill in the air.
All that walking had made us hungry again.
Before we went to Ivy Bank, we stopped at Doma’s Inn next door for a late lunch. Chicken Phaley, Mutton Momos & Chicken Clear Soup made for a great Tibetan meal after all the English food we had eaten.
The restaurant was cute & silent. The staff was friendly but not intrusive.
This brought our Landour day to an end. As P sat in the guesthouse garden, looking at the sky, & warding off monkeys who seemed eager to steal her book, words began to pop in her head –
Cappuccinos, hot chocolates & mochas provide succour from the chill. Bhutia puppies loiter around my feet. I clutch at my belongings when langurs & monkeys eye them greedily. But nothing can take away the smile from my face. After all, I'm home. In the Himalayas.
Departure From Landour
After checking out from Ivy Bank Guesthouse, we visited the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve before leaving for Delhi NCR. But that Nature Reserve needs a separate post. So, we will be back with that.
Have you been to Landour? What did you make of it?
Ivy Bank Guesthouse is located at the spot from where the ascent to Char Dukan begins. The guesthouse itself is quite unassuming but the scenery from its garden was fascinating.
The staff was quite accommodating too. Our room was well-furnished but quite old-fashioned. We would put this down as a budget hotel.