Nestled cosily on a ridge and overlooking the Doon valley, Mussoorie, once hailed as Queen of the hills during the British rule still emanates glimpses of the colonial era. Though the tourist inflow has grown multi-folds over the years, especially during the summers, Mussoorie still holds a charm with its unending vistas, valleys, hills and the salubrious climate.
With a day to explore, I decided to visit a couple of places outside the town before hitting the popular mall road trail. Sainji village more popularly referred to as corn village lies away from the town of Mussoorie. The serpentine roads with views of the brown hills and the deep valleys kept me engaged as I took in the fresh mountain air. The vehicle took a detour to go down to Sainji village, which at first glimpse seemed like one of those secluded villages on the mountain slopes which I had spotted on the way. A big welcome board next to the local school greets people to this village where numerous corns are hung outside each home. Though this practice is done to dry the corns, it doubles up as a home decor for an outsider like me. Imagine hundreds of corns outside your home as a decoration, similar to the stars and balls hung during Christmas. Looks absolutely quirky and attractive at the same time. This small village of 35- 40 families have gained some amount of attention from tourists due to this, though their intent was never that. Though they sell the corn outside, this is not their only means of living. While the men go out for work, women work on these dried corns. Women chatted and kids played around as I walked through this beautiful corn village. Contemplating whether to chat or not, I gave half smiles while capturing their attractive homes.
En-route Sainji village, the cascading Kempty falls showed up from a distance. A popular place of interest in Mussoorie, Kempty falls looked like water flowing amidst an array of multi coloured structures from a distance. A perfect example of what excessive commercialization can do to a place. With more resorts and hotels under progress in the already cramped hill, this falls is definitely not a beautiful sight.
It was a refresher to be at Happy valley, a delightful place known for its Tibetan settlement. An apt name with chirpy school children and smiling monks strolling around. Mussoorie was home to the present Dalai Lama when he fled from Tibet as a refugee. It was later that he moved to Dharamshala. Happy Valley has ever since had a significant Tibetan settlement with a Buddhist temple, schools and homes. Shedup Choephelling temple with its colourful walls and interiors is a major attraction here. With panoramic views of valleys, fluttering prayer flags and a serene ambiance, the place is definitely a happy one.
The mall road is probably the biggest attraction and also the most crowded place of interest in Mussoorie. After a scrumptious lunch at Clock Tower Cafe, walked down to Kulri bazaar, which is one end of the mall road. Mall road is basically a long stretch lined with bazaars, numerous shops, hawkers, restaurants and churches along with beautiful vistas of the Doon valley. The winding and intermittently steep mall road ends at the popular Library bazaar, which gets its name from the 19th century Mussoorie library located here. While I liked the Kulri bazaar for its curio shops, Library bazaar was too crowded for my taste. A cable car ride takes you further up to gun hill, which offers more vistas. Despite the crowd what I loved about the mall road are the charming old cycle rickshaws, quaint lamp posts and beautiful benches which are a throwback to the colonial era.
The day ended with a captivating view of Mussoorie's famed winter line from Library bazaar. If you would like to stay away from the crowds, Landour which is soaked in serenity and colonial charm is a short drive up from Mussoorie.
Mussoorie to Sainji village- 19 Kms
Mussoorie to Kempty falls- 14 Kms
Dehradun- 35 KMS
New Delhi- 290 KMS
Food and Accommodation:
Mall road has a wide range of restaurants and food stalls. Chick Chocolate known for its variety of chocolates and Lovely Omelette Centre on mall road are well recommended. Being a popular tourist destination, Mussoorie offers a wide range of stay options.