Top 19 recommendations in Mussoorie -A Travelers' guide to the Queen of Hills
Mussoorie is a famous hill station in Uttarakhand, India that offers a mesmerizing view of the Himalayan range in the North, and the Shivalik range in the South. It is known as the Queen of the Hills and is the home town of Ruskin Bond. Mussorie, in itself, is a great place to visit and is a promising stop for those visiting Gangotri range or Uttarkashi, ahead. Here we have curated, in brief detail, a blog about the best places in Mussoorie to add up to your experience. Enjoy!
How to reach Mussoorie:
>>To reach Mussoorie by air, you can take a flight to The Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun and hire a cab, a shared taxi or even take a bus to Mussoorie.
>>The distance between the airport and Mussoorie is 58 km.
>>To reach Mussoorie by train, you can take a train to Dehradun railway station and then take a cab (1000/- INR) or a shared taxi (around 300/- INR/person) to the hill station which is about 38 km from the railway station. Trains to Dehradun are numerous and run from almost all major cities of India like Delhi, Indore, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jammu, Amritsar, etc. The most economical way is to take the bus from the railway station that charge about 50/- INR and drops you at Mussoorie in about 1 and a half hour.
>>Road trip from Delhi to Mussoorie (recommended). It is 287 km from Delhi and takes about 6-7 hours to reach. If you are a Delhiite and are looking for a weekend getaway, this is the best option for you. The road offers a mesmerizing view of the mountains and valleys and you wouldn't have to hire cabs or taxis to visit places in and around Mussorie if you have your own vehicle.
Best places to visit in/near Mussoorie:
This hill station is rich in experiences, listing about 30+ spots to visit. But it all depends on how long you plan to stay and what your interests are. We are listing them here categorically so that you can choose them as per your stay duration and interests.
Trekking and Hiking:
1. Lal Tibba
This is the highest peak in Mussoorie rising to 2,275 meters and is situated on the top of Depot Hill in Landour, 6 km away from Mussoorie. The name translates to 'Red Hill' and is magical during the sunset and sunrise. The peak offers a panorama of some prominent peaks that can be observed with the help of Japanese Telescope installed at the site, like Nilkantha peak- 6,596 meters in Badrinath, Kedarnath peak-6,940 meters, Banderpoonch range rising highest to 6,316 meters.
First-hand review- Takes about an hour to reach with mild traffic. Visit only when the weather is very clear. In the midway, there is a little cafe, Chardukan, use washroom here because there are none on the top. You can hike up from here if you choose to because the roads become narrower. The slope is steep but the view around is worth the hike. There are two little cafes at the top for Maggi, tea, or cheese toast. The telescope might not work sometimes, so we recommend you carry or get binoculars at the top.
Entry fee- Free
Best time- A clear and cloudless day.
For photographers- sunrise and sunset.
2. Benog Wildlife Sanctuary
From the library chowk, about 6 km towards the west is Cloud's End. This is the road's dead-end and the beginning of the forest trails of Benog Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Rajaji National Park and hosts various avifauna, deer, bear, leopard, mountain quails, etc. This is a paradise for a bird watcher. In the midway, you will find some beautiful streams, an abandoned brewery, local temples, and the occasional view of Bandarpoonch and Chaukhamba peaks.
First-hand review: If you are planning to visit Benog Sanctuary, it will take a complete day to explore. So if you are passionate about bird watching, wildlife photography, and serenity, you should visit here. Also, try visiting early in the morning to see more birds. Birds, deer herd, magpie, leopards can easily be spotted if you are careful. Wear camouflaged clothes if possible to not scare the fauna away. Wear comfortable trekking shoes because the trail is 7-8 km long. Plus, there are not many signboards, and the trails are not clearly defined, so either you go in a group or hire a guide to not get lost :)
Entry fee: 150/- INR for 3 hours (Indian Nationals) / 600/- INR for Foreigners
Opening time: 7 am to 5 pm
3. Happy Valley
This place is a must-visit if you love nature, peace, and wish to get away from the crowd. Not many people know about this place. The valley culminates at the cloud's end to the right of the Library chowk. The narrow lanes then take you to a zen area full of Tibetan settlement. A walk through the IAS Academy will lead you to a conspicuous Herne Hill with a cobbled path covered with Buddhist wishing flags like a rainbow right above your head. Climb up and you will reach Shedup Choephelling Monastery. This is so peaceful to be at, watch the devotees pray, enjoying the peace and the view of snow-capped mountains
First-hand review: This place is worth your time but only if you are into serenity. Not many people come here, but only the local Tibetans to pray. The Monastery is believed to be one of the first places where Dalai Lama set his foot when he came to India and his disciples settled here, so please do not carry any alcohol or plastic or any waste that can disturb the sanctity. You can find good pictures to click under the wishing flags and snow-capped mountain shots are tremendous from the top during the golden hour.
Entry fee: Free
Opening time: 5 am to 12 pm; 4 pm to 9 pm
4. Nag Tibba
(Pro-tip: Nag Tibba can only be done when you have at least 3 extra days to spare.)
This is a very prominent, easy to moderate level trek about 65 km away from Mussorie. This trek is open for most of the year, but it is snow-laden between December to March and early April and is more beautiful during this time. The trek starts at the Pantwari Village, where you can have a meal and there are a few homestays too. The total trek distance is 10 km from the base camp Pantwari to the top where there is an archaic Shiv Temple. Nag Tibba has ample space for camping at the campsite.
First-hand review: Trek is not very beautiful in late Summer so we suggest you visit during late February or March to find snow at higher altitudes, Buransh flowers, native to the place (highly medicinal and a little sour to eat, but great snack while trekking) and baby pink apricot blossoms. The trek is about 10 km long and has 3 different routes to get to the campsite, so keep a track of the route you follow.
Note that there are no more stalls that offer food or water on the trek or at the campsite, so carry everything that you need. The campsite is huge and you can carry your own tent to pitch or hire one from Pantwari. So carry cooking accessories or some eatables for at least 3 meals and also enough water. If you run out of the water, there are two water sources, one right where the Goat Village ends and the rocky trek of Nag TIbba starts with a Forest department gate and another is a water source near the campsite, you can ask from any of the local guides.
Best time to trek: April to June; October to December
Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Trek distance: 10 km
More names worth mentioning in the trekking and hiking category are:
5. Dhanaulti (32 km from Mussoorie; Serene and less crowded)
6. George Everest's House Museum (He used this house for 11 years as his observatory and laboratory; this is located 6 km to the west of Gandhi Chowk in Mussoorie; enjoy the view of Aglar river valley from here with a little trek; opening time is 10 am to 6 pm.)
7. Kempty Waterfalls
Surrounded by the mountains, this waterfall falls from a height of 40 feet. This is situated on the Dehradun-Mussoorie road and is flooded with tourists during the season. It can be easily spotted while you are passing through or you can stay and visit the area where you can take a dip or swim or enjoy splashes of chilling water at a height of 1,380 meters.
First-hand review: The place is overcrowded all the time. The best way to enjoy the falls is to visit early in the morning when there are fewer visitors. You can enjoy the tea, corns, bread omelet, and maggie at the stalls but all of these are high priced. We recommend you not take time out to visit the falls especially, but while you are driving from Dehradun to Mussoorie take a halt and enjoy the place for a while.
Entry fee: Free
Opening time: 6 am to 6 pm
8. Jharipani Falls
6 km downhill of Mussoorie is the Jharipani Falls which people usually prefer to take walk to with food and have a little picnic with the melodious sound of falling water in the backdrop. This area hosts the most famous boarding school in Mussoorie.
First-hand review: We have included this under the Falls and Lakes category but note that this place can be reached only after a treacherous hike of 2 km. This is not supposed to be undertaken by senior citizens as it is steep and rocky. But this place is as conserved as it could be because of less frequency of visitors. The approach path can be solitary and so safety is an issue for solo travelers. But if you make sure of the health and safety, you will find it worth every effort. Also, there is no place to change your clothes. So come prepared.
Entry fee: Free
Opening time: 6 am to 6 pm
9. Mossy Falls
This is another scenic waterfall located 7 km away from Mussoorie on Bala Hisar road. This waterfall is secretly tucked in the woods and moss ladened rocks thus giving it its name.
First-hand review: This the best waterfall around the place. It's hard to reach find and thus has very little footfall. You can park the vehicle at the end of the road and then hike for about 2 km to reach this place. One could feel the humidity around as you get closer to the fall. We were the only ones when we reached here and felt that this is actually the place that we would love to visit again and again due to its serenity. The trek is easy and can be undertaken by kids too.
Entry Fee: Free
Opening time: 6 am to 6 pm
Lakes in and around Mussorie
(Honestly, we are not fans of crowded lakes so this is the only first-hand review we can provide that we avoid them. But if you are going with family and have kids along, these lakes can be a great option for a family get together)
Mussoorie hosts multiple natural and man-made lakes as great picnic spots. Find them here:
10. Mussoorie Lake- One of less crowded artificially created lakes with lip-smacking street food available around it. It has boating facilities and is a great picnic or hang out spot.
Entry fee: 15 INR
Opening time: 8 am to 7 pm
11. Lake Mist- The gushing water of Kempty falls make this lake naturally. There is a resort by its side with the same name. Boating is available.
Entry fee: 125 INR
Opening time: 10 am to 5 pm
Mussoorie offers some lip-smacking street food and has some really amazing restaurants to satiate your hunger pangs, and not just that, to experience real authentic Tibetan cuisine. Here are our recommendations, but you can explore more once you are here.
12. Momos Tibetan Restaurant: This little restaurant is located on the Mall Road beside Chic Chocolate, with a small entrance, but a huge number of options on the menu. Popular for their momos and thukpa, their specialties are not limited. They will very charmingly explain everything about the dish you want to order. The classic red sauce that they serve is a must-try for people who love spicy food.
Taste - 5/5
Price - 800/- for two
Portion - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Waiting Time - 3/5
Service - 4/5
Veg- Veggie momos, Veg cheese Shabhalay, Veg thukpa/thenthuk
Non-veg - Mutton Shabhalay, mix meat thukpa/thethuk, Pork Aloo ping sha, Lamb Shaptak with tingmo
Directions to Momos Tibetan Restaurant
13. Kalsang: You will find this restaurant right ahead of you once you take the downhill road right from the Momos restaurant. It's painted red and has an amazing ambiance. Space is a little congested so we suggest you reach early or the waiting line will be long during the lunch and dinner peak hours. Our most favorite is lamen, the flat noodles. Also, their plating is quite tumblerish or instagrammable, especially the way they serve momos, so be ready with your camera.
Taste - 5/5
Price - 800/- for two
Portion - 4/5
Ambiance - 5/5
Waiting Time - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Veg- Veg devil momos, Veg/mushroom lamen fried, Vegetable thukpa/thenthuk
Non-veg - Mixed meat thukpa/thenthuk, Chicken/Mutton lamen fried, Devil momo chicken, Pork Shaptak
Directions to Kalsang restaurant
Some more recommendations to try:
14. Domas Inn: Next to Ruskin Bond's House, is this place with intricate decore and tasty Tibetan food. If you want to hit your Instagram with people's comments asking about the place, then go here. Vegetable Chimney soup and pork dishes are super scrumptious. Also, the bollywood-hollywood movie posters with Tibetan art on the wall will be the highlight of your visit.
15. Nostradamus Writers Bar: Located in Fortune The Savoy, at the Library Chowk, this is one of the oldest restro-bar that has been hosting some world-famous dignitaries and writers for a century. They have a good collection of books, some even signed copies of the writers. Its a reader's delight.
16. Little Llama Cafe: This is a quintessential cozy hill station cafe, this is the place. It's serene and picturesque with delectable continental fast food. The juicy pepperoni pizza and mutton burgers are a must-try. The berry shakes are amazing too.
Directions to Little Llama Cafe
There are several spots that are culturally and religiously significant and date back to a very old time with stories and history associated with them.
17. Shedup Choepelling Buddhist Temple/Dalai Hills, Happy Valley
The history tells that Dalai Lama, when took exile from Tibet, came to Mussoorie and the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru gave him this land as Dharamshala. Even though he went on to Himachal Pradesh later, this place still marks the very first settlement of Tibetan refugees in India. The monastery has a pristine environment with a huge Buddha statue and numerous wishing flags around the backyard. There is a prayer room and you can see the devotees praying continuously. You can sit and enjoy the Buddha chants and feel the serenity. The place is well maintained, clean, and welcomes all. It's like a little Tibet tucked in the mountains. It is located in the Happy Valley as you read in the blog earlier under the trekking/hiking section earlier.
18. Landour Market
This is a big lane of little shops that sell silverware, jewelry, home decor, antique pieces and so much more. This market is a delight in itself to just stroll through the shops. We spotted a shop with unique compasses and just fell in love. Also, if you are looking for windcheaters, sleeping bags, rucksacks, sweaters, shawls, etc to take along for treks or camping, your search ends here.
19. Cambridge Book Depot, Mall Road
What is so special about this book shop? Well, its a regular book shop like any other. But we are quoting this because this shop hosts Ruskin Bond, the famous Indian Author every Saturday. We could have quoted his house address right? He lives in Landour itself. But, he is 85, and do you really want to go knocking at his door to trouble him for some fan moment? Even if you know where he lives, just don't go, because he is ill most of the time. If you are a fan, schedule your visit in such a way that you meet him at this bookshop in the time that he dedicates to his fans. He will be happy to autograph your book and click a picture too.
When- Every Saturday, 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm
There is a lot to Mussoorie than what is visible, and even a month would fell short when it comes to really exploring this beautiful hill station. So we suggest, that you take your time to explore your favorite category from the above mentioned list and let us know your own experience with the place. Bon Voyage!
Best time to visit Mussoorie:
Generally, during Summer in the months of March to June is the best option, to escape from the scorching heat. During this time, the hill station has a soothing temperature of about 22-26 degrees Celsius in the day and 14-19 degrees in the night. But if you are looking for snowfall, then the best time to visit is in winter during November and December. Avoid visiting late December to February as the roads become quite inaccessible due to snowfall.
Pro-tip: Mussoorie, being very close to Delhi is flooded with tourists during Summer, so be prepared to get stuck in traffic jams and do not depend on last-minute bookings.