I think its an amazing thing to get lost sometimes. Only to find yourself back.
I have read numerous books on travel, seen Travel XP n fox traveler talk so much about this funda that i was gung-ho about our stay in my last vacation to La Villa Bethany in Landour.
Due to the limitation of just one week off from work and attending a wedding on the first three days, i and my husband were sure we wanted to chillax at a quiet place. We looked up a lot over the internet and my favorite destination closest was Rishikesh. On googling Rishikesh we found out it was closer to Mussoorie and Dehradun. Hence on weeks of search, climatic conditions and Tripadvisor advisory we finalized our vacation. We had read such great and worthy reviews on Tripadvisor for La Villa Bethany and less on the place that we knew it would be worth it.
We booked our stay after a few email exchanges and a phone call with the owner Sunita Kudle. We were surprised they did not ask for any deposit amount. Also they were keen to know our preferences for food and stay. We took the Dehradun Janshatabdi train from Delhi to Dehradun. the journey was quite comfortable and was covered in five and a half hours. Sunita had sent a local cab from Landour to pick us up.
The ride from Dehradun to Landour was nothing but a giant swing/ wheel one. Ups and downs and U-bends and steep curves and steep uphill drives. The sudden bright lights on the hills looked like shining stars. The town down looked like glistening water. At night, the lights of Dehradun in the valley below twinkle, mirroring the stars in the sky.
Landour is a cantonment town at an altitude of 7,000ft. Though only 1,000ft above Mussoorie, and just 5km away by road, it is still untouched by Mussoorie’s tourist hullabaloo, probably because there is nothing to “do” here, as people insisted on telling us when they heard we were going to Landour.
Once home oops at the La Villa Bethany we were greeted by the Inn workers who helped us with our luggage and with the sharp downhill walk to our surprise. I was unsure at that very moment until i met Sunita who welcomed us with a hot cuppa Ginger Lemon Honey tea. She sat with us and spoke to us about the place and few house rules. It was late and we wanted to crash on our beds. We were showed our way upstairs to our cozy little room before which we passed a lovely conservatory, a living room with a hot-place and amazing trail facts.
Our room had all the basics in its place and the warmest Yak wool quilt was a blessing in such a cold surrounding.
We woke up late due to the travel a day before and of course due to the beautiful view outside our room. The light was just perfect to have that kinda sleep you yearned for when work becomes annoying. My husband was wide awake and exploring the place already. We walked downstairs for the breakfast but to our amazement we could not stop ourselves from staring down it the beautiful valley view La Villa Bethany gave us. It was serene and calm. Just out of this world experience. Sunita came out and told us about the view and how the ever famous schools of Mussorrie owned each a mountain. It was fascination to be honest. We were told the Villa mostly had students who studied at the Landour Language School right across and hence we always had a student conversing with us in Hindi.
Since I was down due to cold, she asked us to see the Landour Community Hospital which was a downhill exciting walk from our cottage. We were given instructions how not to touch few plants which can cause itching and how to avoid dogs of houses that you will pass by.
After our visit to the adorably cute hospital we went to Mall Road to have our fill. We ate at the dhaba kind looking Green The Veg some parathas. From here in the mist clad roads and tiny town feel we walked our way to the Cambridge book shop frequented by the author Ruskin Bond. We flipped some already signed books of his and bought one. My husband was ecstatic to pick one, you could make it out from his face 🙂
From here we strolled through the Cable car junction and to the cycle rickshaw stand. We booked one to take us to the Botanical Garden or better known as Company Garden. This was also suggested to us by our lovely Inn Keeper Sunita. On our way many a times it drizzled and most of the time the sun was hidden behind some dark skies making the weather cold and gloomy yet strikingly beautiful. Most people residing in these areas were seen walking and I did not see a single over weight person here. Even the schools main entrance was far from the place where there was the vehicle stand. Everyone here has no option than to walk. Than to just simple surrender to nature and bask in its glory.
The Company Gardens to our surprise was a pretty place, very well maintained and had a spectacular view of the mountain. There was a small fountain and a lake to boat. It was quiet and peaceful.
Shopping at Mall Road was fun. With tonnes of branded store around the place we were lucky to find an organic store called “Himjoli”. Picked up some organic soaps and organic brown rice. Rest everything was passable. On our way back we came across this joint called “Chick Chocolate” with lots of chocolate-included stuff. We tried the hot chocolate and Nutella waffle. But what win our hearts more was the ambiance and the way the place was done up. Kudos to the owners who brought Ala-LEOPOLD feel to this place which was glistening with foreign tourists and students alike.
The sundown at Mussoorie is usually 5.30 pm and hence by 7 pm we rushed back home in a tiny Maruti Alto that took the steep climbs into its stride as easily as a SUV would. These drivers are superb. Every time i got off the cars i have thanked them enough to be bringing us home ALIVE..LOL 😉
Next day we woke up much late due to the tiredness of the day before’s walk. Your calves kinds give-in once you hit the sacks. We decided to laze around. Had a late breakfast and took a stroll to Sister’s Bazaar. Fascinating enough, the who’s who had villas and bungalows on this route. So was this Tabor Cottage and Rokeby Manor (a British stone bungalow, that has been converted into a hotel and café) that stood silent the testimony of the fabulous place it was. We bought peanut butter and marmalade at Sisters Bazaar, where the nurses’ dormitory still stands. From here we walked past the Kellogg Church to the Char Dukan. At Char Dukan we ate at Anil’s cafe some scrumptious food and started the walk again towards Lal Tibba.We soaked in the at Lal Tibba, the highest point on this hill. On our way in the forest, we listened to the wind whoosh through the deodars and the birds chirp. No wonder Sachin Tendulkar bought an abode of his here.
The deodar trees line both sides of this path in Landour. As my husband and I walk up the hill from Mussoorie , the strip of grey tarmac around the hill narrows. It’s like climbing a slide from the bottom up, only this is a few hundred feet in height. I huff and puff. My calves scream. The slopes of the hill we’re on are full of deodars. The paths burrow through a forest of deodars, pine, oak, maple. The air is crisp, cool, and pine-scented. Elusive sunbirds hop about, and the silence is punctuated by bird calls I don’t recognize. The silent valley fills me with a deep sense of longing. I will the thrush to sing, but silence fills the air around me.