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The Ghost of Lady Orme

It was towards the end of the 19th century when the town of Mussoorie had already been titled by the British Military and civil officers as the Queen of the hills. Performances by the Military bands used to ignite the passion of the evenings of Mussoorie. Famous personalities thronged the evening parties and ball dances that also lured the princes and Nawabs of the Indian States. The small and cozy town of Mussoorie soon became venue for one of most happening dos. Sighting it as a vital need, Mr. C.D. Lincoln acquired the Maddock’s Mussoorie School and came up with the Savoy hotel. The Savoy hotel was opened in 1902 and was the largest hotel in terms of area among the hill stations in India. The Savoy hosted many rich and famous people of that time which fueled the gossips about spouse swapping and sneaking through into other’s rooms. As the famous traveler Lowell Thomas wrote in 1926, “There is a hotel (Savoy) in Mussoorie where they ring a bell just before dawn so that the pious may say their prayer and the impious get back to their own beds”.

One night, amidst all that chaos, a certain Lady Garnet Orme was found dead under mysterious circumstances. It was found that she was given strychnine (a poison) in her medicine. Author Agatha Christie’s first ever novel “The mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)” was based on that very incident where the victim was the practitioner of occult. The case was quite a sensation at that time. Rudyard Kipling asked his friend Conan Doyle to use the case as a new adventure for Sherlock Holmes. Later, Lady Orme’s doctor was also found dead of strychnine but not at the Savoy. The Halls and corridors of the Savoy are said to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Garnet Orme. Her presence can be felt, to the believer, in the night on the roads around the Savoy when the breeze whirls through the tall Deodars and brings the fragrance of a Lady in her finery, her whispers can be heard when the breeze has just stopped blowing giving space to a deep silence and her touch can be felt when lightening bursts suddenly in the dark stormy nights. Her company can be felt when dry leaves are crushed under the feet, as if she is walking along and want to begin an Affair in her own distinctive Style.