It is ironical that most tourists visit this hill town in the months when they cannot come across the beautiful misty weather that gives it a dreamlike look. They either come in summer or when it snows . Monsoon is actually the most wondrous time to be here but due to schools and colleges reopening, most visitors cannot stay on.
But those who are fortunate enough to visit it in the rainy season witness the magical atmosphere. If one walks down the Mall in the monsoon there are all chances that one will bump into a cloud or be surrounded by mist. Green becomes the theme of the entire landscape and one can take in as much of the scene as one wants.
The pop corn and “Bhutta” shops do great business as locals and the few visitors seem to be gorging themselves on these goodies besides pakoras, samosas and jalebis. Endless cups of tea and coffee to wash these down must follow and so the tea shops too are also crowded.
The dark grey clouds behind and over the fresh green surroundings provide a remarkable contrast of vibrant colours, inspiring many a photographer and turning amateurs into would-be-photographers. And in case you wish to be photographed wearing colourful Garhwali and Kumaoni attire the professional photographers can be seen at their shops at Jhoolaghar and they will readily oblige you. The sprawling quality of Mussoorie gives it a definite edge over other Himalayan hill towns and is responsible for the feeling of vast, open space it gives the visitor.
While people have renovated old buildings or reconstructed them there has been little building activity in the town and this has helped it retain its traditional charm to a large extent. A large number of old European houses ,especially in landour (known as the original Mussoorie) , add to the old world look of Mussoorie. Beyond the bustling coffee cafes and videogame parlours is serene and charming landour with its distinct air of the British era. It was home to the original British inhabitants and blossomed in its isolation. It has been a summer headquarters of many Christian missions. Exotic names like Oakville, The Firs, Shamrock, Rose Bank and Dahlia Bank embellish the old colonial bungalows here. Most of the old residents have departed, but their old houses are still in use. Ruskin Bond’s famous “ Ivy Cottage”, Ganesh Saili’s “Trim lodge” and Victor Banerjee’s “Parsonage” are some of these old houses.
The many old churches, including Christ Church, Union Church, Methodist Church, St Paul’s Church and Kellogs Memorial Church lend a unique charm to the hill station There is the sprawling Happy Valley to wander about in and also one can go right up to where the clouds end. Here I am referring to the well-known resort known as Clouds End near Hathipaon.
The scenic trails of the Nag Tibba Trek, Bhatta village, Jharipani and Barlowganj areas around the town are popular among tourists looking for something different and exciting in the rains.
The large open flat near St Paul’s Church in landour has a small park, flanked by the famous ‘Char Dukan’, literally meaning four shops: Vipin’s Tiptop Teashop, Anil’s Coffee Joint, a Bank, and Surbir’s Cyber Cafe. Here, one can feast on waffles, besides the yummy bun-omelettes and vegetable cheese noodles. These taste amazing in the rains .
Among the things which many regular visitors have loved about Mussoorie and which are still flourishing are the quaint shops selling walking sticks, curios and little hand fans, corn on the cob, popcorn at every corner,” Kafal Walas “with their colourful baskets of Kafals, small red berries (like the Phalsa) which grow in Mussoorie.Though Mussoorie may not be a “hot and happening” destination there are people who are regular visitors.
All said and done, this is a time for the locals and traders to be laid back and take stock. Time perhaps for a quick visit to friends and relatives in Dehradun or somewhere in the plains. Time to rejuvenate themselves before another spate of visitors to the hill station puts them in the midst of a flurry of activity in the Puja holidays in October. .
This is Mussoorie’s time to breathe free and naturally and get rejuvenated by the rain.