Landour has to be, without doubt, one of the most beautiful and charming places I have been to.
With a picture postcard setting, fresh and invigorating mountain air, small and intimate size, Landour was just what I needed for a short holiday in the hills in June this year. Add to a this mix, two churches and a graveyard to explore, a scenic walking trail, friendly locals of the human, canine and feline varieties, cafes with some delicious food to get stuffed on, and Rokeby Manor as the place to stay in… Landour was just about perfect for me.
Landour is also very different from Mussoorie, which is just 5 km away, in the best possible way — very few tourists visit it and I often felt that I had Landour to myself. The only thing the two places have in common is the mist/clouds that cover everything. [PS: If you haven’t read my previous post on Mussoorie, then this is the time to do so before getting on with this one.]
Like most places, Landour is best explored on foot and that’s the way I’m going to take you around. Put on your walking shoes and lets set off on the Landour Loop or the Gol Chakkar, a walking trail that covers most of ‘sights’ 🙂
Let’s assume that you’re staying at Rokeby Manor and once you come out of the hotel gates, turn right and just start walking.
We will pass a sign that says “Pracheen (or ancient) Shiv Mandir” and points towards a steep ascending path. However tempting it is, we will not climb up as the temple is not ancient, but a new construction. Instead, we will continue walking till we come to St. Paul’s Church on the right. We’ll take a little break to see the church, which was built in 1839 to serve the British residents living at Landour. It is a small, typically Anglican, church with some beautiful stained glass windows, including one of Santa Maria.
The church visit done, we’ll come out and turn right. This will bring us to Char Dukaan, a row of cafes and shops selling odds and ends. Anil’s Cafe is something of a legend here and we can stop here for bun omelette, chocolate pancake and some tea or coffee. 🙂
After the snack break, we get back on the Gol Chakkar. It will be a leisurely walk from now on, and if we do stop it will be do admire the view or listen to birdsong or smell the flowers. If you’re interested in rocks and stones like I am, then we will stop to see some of the more interesting formations. We’ll gawk at the beautiful house of a famous actor and also stop at the Landour cemetery to see some very interesting gravestones. The photographs below is a small selection of what you will see on this portion of the Landour Loop. Click on any of the pictures to see a larger version.
As we near the end of the Landour Loop, we’ll come across the world-famous Landour Language School and the Kellogg’s Church. The Language School offers courses in Hindi and one can often come across international students conversing fluently in Hindi amongst themselves. It’s quite surreal to hear that ! The church was built in 1903 as an American Presbyterian church, but is a non-denominational church today.
The Landour Loop is almost done for if we turn right at Kellogg’s Church we’ll reach Rokeby Manor. May I suggest that we walk a little more? Let’s turn left instead and head towards Sisters Bazaar, which gets its name from a dormitory for nurses that was located here.
We can stop at the Landour Bakehouse for some refreshing honey lemon tea and coffee walnut cake, after which we can say hello to the canines and felines usually lounging around. Before heading back to Rokeby, we’ll pop into Prakash Handicrafts to say hello to its owner, Parul. You can be sure to get a lot of stories behind the stuff that Parul sells as well as hear inspirational stories of people that she has met.
There’s one last thing to see before we head back to Rokeby — a dargah of a sufi saint. It is located opposite Kellogg’s Church. When we peep through the gates of the dargah, we will see that it is built around the trunk of an old oak tree.
The Gol Chakkar takes a little over two hours and depending on one’s interests, number of stops and speed, it can take more or less time to complete. It can be done any time of the day, but is best done in the morning or evenings.
Once back at Rokeby, its time for the next meal. Yes, yes, I know that we had a meal at Anil’s Cafe and then some cake at the Landour Bakehouse. But what to do, the mountain air and the walk does leave one hungry. 🙂
PS: What did you think of the walk through Landour? Do tell.
Disclaimer: I was invited by Rokeby Manor at Landour to visit and stay with them and explore the area. This blogpost is a result of that and needless to say, the views and words are all mine. 🙂