Looking for a break from the New Delhi heat – Landour in the foothills of the Himalaya seemed the perfect place to got to for a long weekend. And it was. Cool. Quiet. Green.
A former summer residence for British military during Indian occupation, Landour has kept its character of a quiet getaway in the mountains. Around 2500 above sea level, the British Army had established a military hospital for soldiers suffering from malaria. The hospital was closed after independence, currently the Indian Defence Ministry is using it as a management institute.
Landour has several big international schools – one for Hindi and Urdu with an excellent reputation for being the best Hindi school in India. The oldest Indian international boarding school – the „Woodstock school“ – was set up in Landour by the British, managed by Americans.
Today the Landour hill station is a well known tourist resort, connected to the busy and noisy Mussoorie. Still being a military zone, construction was restricted in Landour. That’s why the main street of upper Landour has only five shops and cafés and sustained its slow pace. The village has many more flavors to it than the older British mansions turned into guesthouses or private residences for the Indian upper class.
The Tibetans influence from the North is strong: elderly ladies sit outside buddhist temples for their evening tea, colorful flags roam the streets, Tibetan food is served in the restaurants. The Dalai Lama and a refugee community from Tibet set up there temporary home in the region before finally settling in Dharamsala. The Nepalese royal family had a residence in Mussoorie, today it is a five star hotel.
Though most people in Landour live of the tourist industry, a few farmers grow their own vegetables and fruits on the extremely steep hills. They are used to the hard work and the often cold climate in winter. Their children collect berries in the forests and try to sell them to the tourists. Central heating is not common in their houses, they cuddle up around fire places and keep warm in wool jackets.
In the haze of summer heat the Himalayan mountains are only to be imagined in the distance behind the pine forests. In October, when trekking tourists flow into Landour, the views of the white peaks are spectacular.
There is very little traffic and very little honking in Landour, mostly for deliveries. A lot of Indian tourists can be seen walking around the village and the forests surrounding it. An unusual sight, if you come from the cities, where only the very poor seem to be pedestrians.
It is easy to connect with the population of Landour, they are more than ready to share and guide you around anytime. So no need to read extensively in you tourist guide book. Just get there, relax and start talking to the villagers and the people in the guesthouses and restaurants. You will find out everything, get to now the new bakery, the ecoparks and the wild life around Landour.