when i told nithya i was going to visit her in delhi before i left india, she immediately suggested a weekend in mussoorie to explore the hills and escape delhi’s sweltering heat. needless to say, i quickly agreed.
i arrived in delhi on an early thursday morning, and we set out that night on an overnight bus bound for mussoorie. the ride wasn’t great, but it got us into the foothills and into noticeably cooler temperatures, so it was well worth it.
we had some accommodation issues when we first arrived, but we eventually landed at hotel himalaya castle, which was perfect. it’s run by an amazingly sweet family, the rooms are huge and comfortable and cheap, and the views of the valley are amazing.
the best way to experience mussoorie and landour is to arrive with no agenda, which is exactly what we did. nithya had read about a few places to visit, but the main thing we wanted to do was walk and eat and drink chai and enjoy the weather and the views. we spent the better part of our 2.5 days wandering up and down the hills, poking our heads into shops, stuffing our faces with delicious parathas and pakoras, chatting with the girls who ran our favorite tea stall, and staring at the views all around us.
on our second morning in town, we ventured up into landour to see char dukan, a row of roadside stalls that feel a bit like street cafes in europe, except instead of wine they serve maggi noodles and chai; it was spectacular. from there we wandered around, stopping by ruskin bond’s rokeby manor, the landour bakehouse, and the stray dog where we enjoyed an adult beverage before making our trek back down.
our little mountain getaway was exactly what both of us needed. it gave nithya a few days away from work and the chaos of delhi, and it gave me a few days of rest and relaxation after a busy three weeks of travel. and best of all, i got to spend some one-on-one time with nithya before coming back home.
some practical information, in case you ever find your way to mussoorie:
- book your trains early to avoid having to take the bus. the shatabdi runs from delhi to dehradun, and you get regular buses from the dehradun station up to mussoorie. it’s much cheaper and more comfortable than the overnight bus.
- any bus you take will only get you part of the way into mussoorie. you’ll either need to hire a taxi – sometimes a taxing endeavor – or walk the rest of the way into the town. it’s a pretty easy walk if you’re traveling light.
- we stayed at hotel himalaya castle and absolutely loved it; we also wanted to stay at doma’s inn, but they get booked up pretty far in advance, so make sure to call ahead.
- don’t travel by car. the narrow mountain roads are not equipped for the amount of traffic they see, and you’ll spend more time in transit than actually enjoying the town. use the public transportation, and walk amongst the towns — it’s the best way to experience the place anyway, and we definitely got places faster on foot than the people stuck in traffic.
- everything is walkable, but you’ll need to be in moderately good physical shape to get around. a few of the hills are fairly steep.
- wi-fi is pretty scarce, which we both loved. mussoorie is a great place to disconnect and really take in your surroundings.
- we visited near the end of may, when days were warm but nights were pretty chilly. definitely carry a jumper and some long trousers for the evenings.
- the rooftop of the little llama cafe is a great place to enjoy a meal and a fabulous view.
- if you make it up to char dukan, my favorite stall is the tip top tea shop on the end closest to the church; the uncle who runs it is wonderful, and he customized my maggi noodles for me. cafe ivy also has great views and books to borrow.
mussoorie is an absolute gem, and i am so glad nithya suggested a visit. the entire time we were there we talked about how it would be a great place to retreat to while writing a novel, so i guess i just need to figure out what i want to write about so that i can return. 6 months of mountain air, maggi noodles, and daily trekking sounds so perfect to me right now.
have you ever been to mussoorie? what was your experience like? i can’t wait to return one day!