MUSSOURIE, also known as “Queen of the Hills”, is a hill station and a municipal board in the Dehradun District of Uttarakhand, once a part of Nepal under Garhwal region, and still lying in the Garhwal region, claimed to be part of Greater Nepal, it is located about 35km from the state capital of Dehradun and 290km north from the national capital —- New Delhi.
Being at an average altitude of 6,580ft, Mussourie with its green hills and varied flora and fauna is a fascinating hill resort. Commanding snow ranges to the north east and glittering views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik ranges in the south, the town was once said to present a “fairyland” atmosphere to tourists. The highest point is LAL TIBBA with a height of over 7,500ft.
In 1832, Mussourie was the intended terminus of the Great Survey of India. Although unsuccessful, the Survey General of India wanted to have the office of the Survey of India based in Mussourie. A compromise was to have it in Dehradun, where it is still located. The name Mussourie is often attributed to a derivation of “MANSOOR”, a shrub which is indigenous to the area. The town is, in fact, often referred to as MANSOORI by most Indians.
The main promenade in Mussourie, as in other hill stations, is called The Mall. In Mussourie, the Mall stretches from Picture Palace, at its eastern end to the Public Library (shortened to Library) at its western end. During the British Raj, signs on the Mall expressly stated : “Indians and dogs —- not allowed.” Racist signs of this type were commonplace in hill stations, which were founded “by and for” the British. Motilal Nehru deliberately broke this rule every day whenever he was in Mussourie, and would pay the fine. The Nehru family, including Nehr’s daughter Indira (later Indira Gandhi) were frequent visitors to Mussourie in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and stayed at the Savoy Hotel. They also spent much time in nearby Dehradun, where Nehru’s sister Vijaylakshmi Pandit ultimately settled full time.
During the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, the Central Tibetan Administration of the 14th Dalai Lama was at first established in Mussourie, before being moved to its present location in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. The first Tibetan school was established in Mussourie in 1960. Tibetans settled mainly in HAPPY VALLEY in Mussourie. Today, some 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussourie.
Now, Mussourie suffers from overdevelopment of hotels and tourist lodges, given its relative proximity to Delhi, Ambala and Chandigar, and has serious problems of garbage collection, water scarcity and parking shortages, especially during the summer tourist season.
Mussourie is conveniently connected, by road, to Delhi and major cities. It is called the GATEWAY to Yamunotri and Gangotri Shrines of North India. The nearest rail station is Dehradun. Taxis are easily available for Mussourie as are buses at regular intervals. The best time to visit is from mid-March to mid-November, though torrential rains can be an inhibiting factor in the monsoon months of July to September.
Tourism is the most significant of Mussourie economy. It has a “nature walk” known as CAMEL’S BACK ROAD. This road takes its name from a rocky outcrop in the shape of a “camel’s hump”. There is also GUN HILL, where a cannon used to sound out midday for many years. Gun Hill is accessible by the cable car on the Mall Road.
The oldest Christian Church in the Himalayas, Saint Mary’s is situated above Mall Road and is currently undergoing restoration. KEMPTY FALLS is a nice picnic spot, 1,364mts above sea level. COMPANY GARDEN is a popular tourist destination. During seasons, the Company Garden has a vast collection of flowers and plants. HAPPY VALLEY has a small Tibetan Temple (the 1st one). It was constructed in 1960 by the first Tibetan refugees. LAL TIBBA is another tourist spot. Picturesque DHANAULTI Hill Station is about 32km from Mussourie.
NAHATA ESTATE, previously known as CHILDER’S LODGE is a huge property of more than 300 acres, owned by the Harakh Chand Nahata family. It is the highest peak of Mussourie near Lal Tibba, and is situated 5km from the tourist Office and one can go there on horseback or on foot. The view of snow-clad mountains is exhilarating.
LAKE MIST is a good picnic spot with accommodation and restaurant facilities and boating is also available. With the Kempty River flowing through it, Lake Mist has many small waterfalls made by the river. MUNICIPAL GARDEN is a picnic spot and has a garden and an artificial mini lake with paddle-boating facilities. It is located at a distance of 4km by cycle-rickshaw, pony or by car and a 2km distance vi Waverly Convent School Road on foot.
MUSSOURIE LAKE is a newly-developed picnic spot built by City Board and Mussourie Development Authority. It offers a view of Doon Valley and nearby villages. BHATTA FALLS is a fall with different ponds for bathing and water amusements and is an ideal place for picnics.
SIR GEORGE EVEREST HOUSE : Park Estate is where one can find the remains of the building and laboratory of Sir George Everest, the Surveyor General of India from 1830 to 1843. It is after George Everest that the world’s highest peak, Mount Everest, is named. The place provides a view of the Doon Valley on one side and a panoramic view of the Aglar River Valley on the other. It is a scenic walk from Library Bazaar and a picnic spot.
NAGDEVTA TEMPLE is an ancient temple dedicated to the Snake God —- Lord Shiva and vehicles can go right up to the Temple. JWALAJI TEMPLE (Benog Hill) is situated at an altitude of 2,240mts and contains an ole idol of Goddess Durga. CLOUD END is an old sanctuary established in 1993 and covers an area of 339 hectares. It is famous for the PAHARI BATER (Mountain Quail).
LANDOUR COMMUNITY HOSPITAL is a small Mission Hospital that has been catering to the medical needs of the people on the hills for the last 75yrs. Here, in Mussourie you will also find St. George’s College (founded in 1853), Woodstock School (in the 1850s), Oak Grove School (founded in 1888), Wynberg Allen School (founded in 1888), the Convent of Jesus and Mary (1845). The Guru Nanak Fifth Centenary School (GNFCS) was previously known as Vincent Hill School. GNFCS purchased the land and extensive buildings and founded an international school in 1969.