Editor’s note: Mussoorie is a hill station in the Dehradun district in Uttarakhand, situated around 290 kms north of New Delhi. It’s often called the Queen of the Hills, as it is situated in the foothills of the Garhwal-Himalayan ranges. The adjoining town of Landour, which includes a military cantonment, is considered a part of ‘greater Mussoorie’. Fellow travel blog, foodie and writer Mukta Chakravorty recently took off to the salubrious climes of Mussoorie, where she enjoyed the hospitality of the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove and Spa. In Part 1 she writes about rediscovering her love of the hills and appreciating the gracious hospitality of people who live in these parts.
It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them – Ruskin Bond, Rain in the Mountains: Notes from the Himalayas
The majesty of the mountains never fails to amaze me. I spent the initial years of my childhood in Dehradun, when it still hadn’t become a capital city. From the terrace of our home, we could see the stately mountains against the blue sky. In the evening, the lights would come on in the valley and the mountains would look as if they had been decked with hundreds of tiny incandescent lamps. It was truly a sight to behold. I had been to Mussoorie as a kid but hardly remember much of it.
When I got a chance to revisit the picturesque valley, thanks to an invite from the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Resort and Spa (JWMM), which was celebrating its first year anniversary, many of my childhood memories came back.
From Bangalore to Mussoorie is a long journey that involved two plane rides – to Delhi and Dehradun and finally a cab ride to the resort. The tastefully decorated rooms and the refreshing drink on arrival helped revive us. And as I stepped out into the patio, to soak in the view of the mountains and the scenic beauty of the valley, I could feel all my tiredness fade away.
In the evening, we got a taste of JW hospitality at Kachdi, a typical Garhwali gathering over tea and music where all the guests of the resort get a chance to mingle with each other. After umpteen cups of tea with roasted corn and other snacks, I could feel a nip in the air as the evening set in. Dinner was at ‘Wisteria Deck’, their rustic Italian trattoria, where a sumptuous spread of pastas, wood-fired pizzas, breads, cheeses and fresh dips awaited the group, along with some signature cocktails.
Over the next couple of days, I thoroughly enjoyed the specially designed ‘Walnut Trail’ (since Mussoorie is famous for its walnut trees, amongst the pines, deodars and oaks). From having breakfast by a flowing stream to bike rides along the twisting mountain roads; from visiting a rustic Garhwali village to discovering the old-world charm of the town of Landour, we were treated to spectacular experiences that made the journey a truly memorable one. And of course, so much harder to get back to bustling city life.
While Mussoorie is synonymous with the renowned author Ruskin Bond, we missed meeting the much adored but reclusive writer. However, by a happy chance, we did get to meet Mr. Ganesh Saili, another well-known author from these parts and a good friend of the author. He regaled us with stories at a book reading by a campfire.
Throughout the trip, what really impressed me is how peaceful, friendly and hospitable the people in the hills are. You would know that if you drove around the hairpin bends on the roads–cars, bikes, buses–made way for each other, unlike in the cities where people nearly run over each other to get ahead.
The hospitality we encountered at the resort was of course unparalleled, but it was equally true of the other places and people we visited during our stay. There is something about the mountains that makes you feel welcome even if you are a stranger to the parts. Maybe it’s just the magic of the place.
I am prone to agree with Bond when he says that once you have lived in the mountains, ‘you belong to them.’
The closest airports are Dehradun (38.5 miles) and New Delhi (181.4 miles).
You can also take a train to Rishikesh or Dehradun railway station.