A medley of sensations
Set on a horseshoe-shaped ridge 6,600 feet above sea level in the Garhwal foothills of the Himalayas in Uttaranchal, the delightful town of Mussoorie is a medley of sensations. It’s where exuberant tourists rub shoulders with adventurous trekkers headed for the Himalayas and pious pilgrims on their way to the holy sites of Gangotri and Jamnotri.
You’ll find houses across town with the curious prefix of Glen — these once belonged to British folk from Scotland who identified the Himalayan meadows with their glens (long, deep, U-shaped valley typically with a watercourse running through it) back home! Names like Connaught Castle, Grey Castle and Castle Hill remind us of the British love for the cooler climes of the hills and their yearning for home.
Mullingar House, the oldest building in Mussoorie, was the home of an Irishman called Captain Young from Mullingar, who commanded the first Gurkha battalion here. According to popular lore, the ghost of Captain Young visits his home on moonlit nights.
Lal Tibba, the highest peak in Mussoorie at 7,510 feet, is a restricted area because of the presence of the Indian Military there. Lower down, in Mussoorie town, you can find the schools and settlements of Tibetans who fled after the Chinese took over their homeland.
Mussoorie offers a variety of options for visitors. Entertainment arcades like mini Appu Ghar and the skating rink at Kulri Bazaar are perfect for families and kids. For nature lovers, there’s the Benog Wildlife Sanctuary, and bargaining in the Himalayan and Tibetan curio shops is a shopper’s delight. The more adventurous will enjoy trekking and horse-riding through the forest-rock terrain.
It’s a brilliant mosaic encased within the awesome beauty of the Himalayas.
Did you know?
- The name Mussoorie is apparently derived from ‘mansoor’ which is a native shrub. That is probably why the local people refer to the town as ‘Mansoori’.
- In April 1959, after fleeing the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama first established the Tibetan government in exile in Mussoorie, before moving his headquarters to Dharamsala. By 1960, the first Tibetan school was established, and today around 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie.
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