“I feel drawn to little temples on lonely hilltops. With the mist swirling around them, and the wind humming in the stunted pines, they absorb some of the magic and mystery of their surroundings and transmit it to the questing pilgrim.”
― Ruskin Bond, Landour Days: A Writer’s Journal
A little temple which signals about the Witch’s Hills or Pari Tibba ahead, a row of four shops famously known as Char Dukan which fills the stomach of the locals and hostlers, a military area which gives a sneak peek into what would have been resting site of British Army once upon a time and a hub of Anglo-Indians living in the vicinity, these and more nestled in the thick alpines of lower Himalayas and sustained by a British Raj style surrounding, constitute the cantonment town of Landour. Together, with the neighboring Mussoorie, it has upheld the title of Queen of Hills, and these two hold the top spot in the list of getaway hill stations for the outlanders.
Situated in the Dehradun district, much of the town is a Cantonment since it was developed by the British Raj for its Army. Captain Frederick Young was the first person to build a permanent house in all of Mussoorie and Landour. Others followed after, like the Zephyr Lodge and the Trim Lodge. Now Mullinger Hill is inhabited by mostly Tibetans. You’ll come across their distinguishing prayer flags as you visit the area. If we were to describe the essence of this town, quaint would be the word we’ll use. It is like Mussoorie of the past, untouched with the hustle of the modern towns which overcrowd them.
Lal Tibba is one of the most sought out places in the area. A Tibba means peak. Landour boasts many such Tibbas in its surrounding since it is situated in the Mussoorie range of the lower Himalayas e.g. Lal Tibba, Pari Tibba, Nag Tibba, etc. Some prominent higher peaks which are visible from here are Swargarohini and Bandarpunch. Unlike its sister hill station, Landour has well captured and preserved the essence of alpine ecosystem with trees like Himalayan Oak, Maple, Deodar, Blue Pines and Manna Ash to name a few.
It also serves as heaven for bird watchers and a haven for many birds of the Himalayan species and migratory birds from Central Asia and Siberia, e.g. raptors. Among wild animals you can witness the presence of Barking Deers, Gorals, Sloth Bear, Civets and Himalayan weasels! There’s a definite lack of presence of commercial hotels, which are compensated rather beautifully by the various lodges and cottages which the locals have converted into guest houses, full of splendor and community dinners to bond over. All in all, Landour is the perfect hill station minus the commercial transformation, as you stay in uniquely designed cottages, take a stroll in the lonely hilly paths or visit architectural beauties in the neighborhood like the famous Church of St. Paul or the Kellog’s Memorial Church.
You can reach Landour via a bus or taxi from Dehradun. Nearest railway station is the Dehradun Railway Station (37km). Nearest airport is the Jollygrant Airport (62km). Nearest popular spot is Mussoorie (at a 300 km descent).
Oh, and did we mention, Landour is also home to Bond, Ruskin Bond … 😉