‘For writing and sleeping, I'll have to be near a window. It keeps you in touch with the world even if you are not a great traveller or a very social person. You need a window on the world. And, the more you see from it, the better', says one of India's most celebrated authors, in an interview on his 86th birthday on 19th May. As I was reading these lines, I realized that how looking through the window is like a ray of hope and a gush of minty cool happiness, in these days of quarantine.
It is a common phenomenon to be introduced to Ruskin Bond's books as a child and then as we grow we tend to develop a special bond with Mr Bond. The same thing has happened to me too. Some of his writings have become my way of life. So looking through the window at the blue sky, catching a glimpse of a kingfisher or two playful kittens rolling over the neighbour's terrace always gave me that little joy. On his 82nd birthday, ‘A Book of Simple Living' was published. I was intrigued by Mussoorie through Ruskin Sir's vivid writings but this book finally made me pack my bags for Ruskin Bond's Mussoorie, the place where he stays. Today, as I share my experience, I will also tell you about the best places to visit in Mussoorie.
The Mall Road
The Mall Road is the heart of Mussoorie, a 7000 feet high hill town in the state of Uttarakhand in India. The mall road is bustling with life; small cafes, little shops selling street food, woollens, souvenirs and handicrafts. At the same time, it offers a dazzling view of the Garhwal Himalaya with a wide vista of snow-capped peaks. The major attraction for me at the Mall Road was the popular ‘Cambridge Book Depot' where Ruskin Sir meets visitors every Saturday from 3.30 pm to 5 pm. I was lucky enough to get my copy of ‘A Book of Simple Living' signed by him. I had rehearsed in my mind about the meeting so many times before, however; in awe of the moment, all I could do is thank him for all his work and wished that he would come up with many more. This hermit-like simple living author has awards and accolades of the highest order in India-The Sahitya Academy Award, Padmashree and Padmabhushan.
Camel's Back Road
Connected to the crowded Mall Road is the peaceful Camel's Back Road. The natural cluster of rocks at the end of the 3km road appears like a camel's hump. The slope adjacent to the road is a colonial cemetery. The essence of this road is the surrounding hills and the green woods. I could spot birds like a magpie and a few parakeets. They are celebrated in Ruskin Bond's world.
Ruskin Sir stays at Ivy Cottage in Landour, upper Mussoorie, free from the hustle and bustle of the main city. Definitely, Landour was on my list and it is one of the best places to visit in Mussoorie. Walking through the tranquil tree-canopied hilly roads, filled with the smell of conifers and junipers; I realized why some fifty or more years ago, Ruskin Bond, born to English parents, chose Mussoorie as his home for life. Landour still has the old world charm with some imperial bungalows. When you are at Landour do not miss ‘Chardukan' (four shops), St. Paul's Church and Laal Tibba. Chardukan is famous for apricot preserves and honey-roasted almonds or any other chutney or preserves and the Laal Tibba viewpoint is one of the best places to visit in Mussoorie for the panoramic view of the glistening white Himalayan peaks and the tall pine and conifer woods.
Gun Hill Point
Take a ropeway (gondola) ride from the mall road to the Gun Hill Point which provides a 360 degrees view of the city and the Himalayan peaks.
Company Garden, a popular picnic spot is amongst the best places to visit in Mussoorie. It is a beautiful garden full of trees and flowers with a small amusement park.
Last but not the least, a drive of 20kms from the Mall road can take you to a divine waterfall which tops the chart of best places to visit in Mussoorie. It is the Kempty Falls. You can take a ropeway to the foot of the falls. Taking a shower at the waterfalls can be real fun.
Eateries in Mussoorie
Among the best places to visit in Mussoorie, some of the eateries are worth mentioning for their mouth-watering preparations. Kalsang makes drool-worthy Tibetan and Chinese dishes; Chic Chocolate is famous for any chocolate items like shakes or pastries; Lovely Omelette Centre has been serving delicious and varieties of omelettes since 1918; Tavern is known for its old-world charm; Casa Mia Bakery is a cool café and bakery ideal for chilling and Prakash Stores for their homemade delicious cheese. Ruskin Bond fans like me must visit Nostradamus, Writers' Bar, the Savoy, not only to feel lost in the luxury of Imperial era but also because it was frequented by Ruskin Sir, one of India's most loved authors.
If you are planning to visit Mussoorie, any time of the year is good. The summers are pleasant, the rains are beautiful and the winters are snow lovers' paradise. So don't think much and add this lovely place in your bucket list.
A versatile writer and travel freak, discovering the world in her own casual way. Loves to immerse into the core of Mother Nature and extract her inherent beauty.