A Cantonment Town During British Raj
In the time of fast construction and development, Landour has managed to remain the same as it was years ago with the absence of traffic and the minimum population.
Luscious landscapes, gabled churches, fascinating heritage structures turned into hotels, and a calm and peaceful environment is how one can sum up Landour, a small cantonment town in the district of Dehradun. During the British raj, it was a highly conspicuous place in Northern India, but over time it became one of the hidden gems in Uttarakhand. It was in that era when the town, along with Mussoorie, was called ‘Queen of the hills.’ Even though it belongs in India, Landour derived its name from Llanddowror, a village in southwest Wales.
The naming of the Landour homes
People with various nationalities used to reside in this place. And to retain their ethnicity, they used to name their homes with English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish names. While on the one hand, Scots used to give their home names like Scottsburn, Redburn, and Wolfsburn; on the other, names like Shamrock Cottage, Tipperary, and Killarney were given for the homes of Irish people. Furthermore, Kenilworth, Waverly, Ivanhoe, and Woodstock are testaments that inspiration for house names was also drawn from literary works as all of them are famous novels by Walter Scott.
It all started with the conquest of Kumaon–Garhwal by the Gurkha, which resulted in the British Indian Army to construct a military sanatorium in the hill station of Landour. Now with the place being a hub for military convalescent, this town soon turned into a cantonment. It is because of this reason why Landour still enjoys its minimum population as being a Cantonment town, constructing new structures were prohibited and revamping the old ones were only allowed. With Indians having no access Landour due to the British army, the place has a more European touch than Mussoorie.
The first house in this town was built in 1825 by Captain Frederick Young, with the name Mullingar named after his hometown in Ireland. He was also the ‘discoverer’ of the hill-station Mussoorie. Mullingar was his family home, which he used to visit during the hot summer season.
Landour was also home to many eminent personalities like Ruskin Bond, Stephen Alter, Victor Banerjee, the late Tom Alter, and many more.
What to visit
St Paul’s Church
The church is popularly known as a place where Jim’s Corbett’s parents got married. Constructed in 1840, the church is painted with pastel yellow, and the inside can accommodate up to 250 people. During the British Raj, this building served as a military hospital.
Kellogg Memorial Church
Unlike St Paul’s Church, this one doesn’t allow visitors to go past the entrance gate. But the outside architecture is worth a visit to this place to admire at its marvelous construction.
Sir George Everest’s House
Now in ruins and nestled at the extremity of a cliff lies the whitewashed house of Sir George Everest. He represented as the Surveyor General of India from 1830–43. During this period, he was involved in the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India that measured the World’s highest peaks.
British Cemetery on Camel Back Road
The Camel Back Road has derived its name from the camel-shaped rocky outcrop, and many British figures were buried under this land. It serves as the resting place of Frederick ‘Pahari’ Wilson, the British adventurer who owned Rokeby Manor for a short while and was the inspiration behind the book The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling.
A. Prakash & Co.
This store is owned by Anil Prakash, which is situated at Sister’s Bazaar. Centuries ago, nurses working for the sanatorium had their barracks near this bazaar and came her often; hence, the name of the market. His store has stocks of everything you can imagine, but they are especially known for their home-made peanut butter, cheese, and various type of jams. Some customers love their marmalade, plum jam, strawberry reserve, and bread. Many famous figures visited this place as well, like Ruskin Bond and Jawaharlal Nehru. While you savor the taste of these amazing foods, don’t forget to bring some back to your home. Ruskin Bond even complimented the store, saying, ‘If Prakash’s doesn’t have it, you probably don’t need it!’
Where to stay
The majority of the hotels in here were once the summer homes for the Maharajas. For instance, Hotel Padmini Nivas was originally the home for a queen in Gujarat, and The Nabha Palace was turned into a hotel and is now run by the Claridges. Constructed in 1836, the Kasmanda Palace is now a spectacular heritage boutique hotel. While some other options include Hazelwood and Doma’s Inn, Rokeby Manor is one of the most captivating places to stay.
Around 175-year old, this building now serves as a magnificent hotel. It was built by Captain GN Cauthy and was named after a long poem by Sir Walter Scott that talks about the battles taking place near the Rokeby Castle in England. The spectacular wooden interiors, brick arches, and Victorian fireplaces are what make this hotel so elegant and tantalizing. It also consists of a restaurant named after author Emily Eden who stayed for a short time at Mullingar, the oldest house. The range for doubles starts from Rs.9,520 including breakfast.
Where to eat
Char Dukan is one of the landmarks of Landour. It got its name after four shops were built around 1840 to serve the students of the Landour Language School. Over time, one or two more shops were established in this area but it still holds its original name- Char Dukan. Among these, the most famous is the Anil’s Café, which is around 60 years old and is acclaimed for their appetizing Ginger Lemon Honey Tea, Maggi, and bun-omelette.
Some other impressive eateries around here include Landour Bakehouse, Café Ivy, Doma’s Inn Café, and Little Llama Café.
Best time to visit
Although Landour is peaceful and relaxing all year round, the best time to visit would be in the months of April to June due to its summer season that provides warm, comfortable weather.
How to reach
By road: Landour is about 38 km away from Dehradun, but the roads are well-connected. If you are planning to come from Delhi, the Kashmere Gate ISBT leaves buses for Mussoorie daily. From Mussoorie, taxis are easily available to take you to Landour, which charges around Rs.300 one-way.
By rail: The nearest railway station to Landour lies in Dehradun, which is well-connected with the other major cities of India like Delhi and Mumbai. Grab a taxi from outside the station to directly reach Landour, which usually costs Rs. 1,300 one-way.
By air: The nearest airport is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun from where Landour is about 65 km away. However, there are taxis outside the airport for Landour and will cost you around Rs. 2,500 one-way.