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Mussoorie…The queen of the hills

Area: 64.25 sq. km.

Altitude: 2005.5 meters above sea level

Population: 29,319 approx. (according to 2001 census)

STD code: 0135

Summer - Maximum- 23.0 C - 10.0 C
Winter - Maximum- 10.0 C - 1.0 C
Rain – 180 cm [mid-June-September]
Snow – January-February

Air - The nearest airport is Jolly grant from where Mussoorieis 58 km.
Rail - The nearest railway station is Dehradun from where Mussoorieis 34 km.

Distance from Delhi: 280 km NH 58.

It is only magical to reach the ridge of Mussoorie, after just a few hours’ drive through the warm and humid plains of Ganga-Yamuna doab, and suddenly embracing scented cool breeze and the sight of the great Himalayas.

When the British conquered the beautiful valley of Dehradun after defeating the fierce Gurkhas at Khalanga during 1814, they couldn’t resist the temptation of adventure of exploring the mystery called Mansuri whose virgin forests lured the hovering clouds in the summer only to embrace her with a thick veil of mist drenching her all over during prolonged monsoon and the autumn sun unveiled her kissing the fragrant wet lengths with golden warmth as she stretched and recline after satisfying shower. The equally eager matured flakes of heavy snow would not lag behind to show its unconditional affection.

The tranquil vicinity of Mussoorie was once a dense forest comprising of oak, rhododendron and deodartrees where the people of nearby Bhattaand Kyarkulivillages basked under sun and grazed their cattle. The cattle’s favoriteMansoor shrub (cororiananepalensis) grew in abundance here hence the villagers named the ridge as Mansuri after the Masoor shrub. There were about seven flat lands on which cattle of the villagers grazed and their sheds existed and a narrow Surkanda-Bhadraaj pilgrimage route dissected the ridge. The same track, which is said to be once overflowed by six natural springs, was later broadened as the present Mall Road. The Bhatta and Kyarkuli villages still exist as gateways on the Dehradun-Mussoorie highway.

It was during the early1820s that the adventurous Captain Frederick Young of the Sirmoor Battalionventured out on a horse from Rajpur into the Mansuri ridge. As the region was rich in exotic flora and fauna, Captain Youngalong with Sir F.J. Shore, then Joint Magistrate of Dehradun, built a shooting box around the Camel’s Back Roadarea in the year 1823. Later, Captain Youngmade the first residence in Mansuriwhich he named Mullingaarafter his county in Ireland. The pleasing climate of the ridge, which bear a resemblance very much to that of Irish and Scottish highlands, was chosen as best for a healthy sojourn and subsequently, the Landour Sanitariumwas established. Talks about the newly found hill resort soon got spread to the farthest and many more Brits, that included officers of the East India Company, renowned writers, artists and entrepreneurs followed suit resulting into the formation of Landourand Mussoorietownships. Eventually,Mansuriof the local pahaari people became a haven for pleasure and gaiety with the Queen of the Hills as its new identity.

The fun and galore that enthralled the days and nights of Mussoorieconsequently lured the princes and the nawabs of the Indian states who left no stone unturned to acquire striking locations where they got built their impressive chateaus and bungalows which still exists in and around the town. The Mussoorie ridge stretches majestically east-westwards overlooked by the Greater Himalayas in the north and cradled by the vast Doon Valley in the south and thus forming a buffer zone between the ultra-modern life of the plains and the tribal belt of Jaunpur-Jaunsaar. Gradually, the Hillman from the villages of neighboring Garhwal, business community from the plains and the Bhotia and Gorkhali people began immigrating in pursuit of commercial opportunities. After the Chinese occupation of Tibet in the year 1959 a number of Tibetans got settled in the Happy Valleyarea turning Mussoorie into a harmonious culmination of a unique social setup. However, the very essence of the Queen of the Hills is loaded with the romance and charm of the colonial times which still beckons through its tranquility.