Must See in Mussoorie
A heritage trail around the queen of hills.
By Neha Kirpal

Like everyone else, you must have probably been to Mussoorie a number of times. Whether it was for school trips, family vacations or the odd weekend getaway—we’ve all had our share of fun in the ‘queen of hills’.

So if you’re wondering whether there’s anything else to do here beyond the hustle-bustle of the Mall Road, the yummy delights at Chaar Dukaan and peaceful walks along Landour and Lal Tibba, then read on!

This time, I discovered a facet of this pretty hill station which I had overlooked all these years. I decided to explore Mussoorie’s quaint heritage—its fascinating antique stores.

There are three main antique shops in Mussoorie:

_           My first stop was the antiquarian shop, Sabri Bought & Sold in Landour Cantonment. A small little shop, it has a huge collection of old prints, books, compasses, clocks, tea sets, flasks and other curiosities. You could spend hours just looking at everything and discussing their stories from their owner, Mr Mohd Ayub Masnsoori. The details require time, and it’s certainly not a spot for a tourist who is in a hurry.

_           Next up was the Mussoorie Heritage Centre (MHC), a private enterprise located at Parade Point House near the Clock Tower. Housed within a historical 180-year-old building, it opened in November 2013 with the objective to showcase and preserve the heritage of Mussoorie. The MHC archives the first map of the region that was compiled by the Survey of India in 1814, right up till 1959 when the Dalai Lama built his first colony here. The centre showcases the culture and tradition of the Himalayas through paintings on canvas, sculpture, frescoes, murals and scrap art. It also has a collection of local heritage artefacts—musical instruments, clothes, jewellery, and vessels. In this way, the MHC works towards promoting and developing indigenous art in the region by providing local craftsmen a sales platform.

The centre also conducts heritage walks from time to time to educate student groups about Mussoorie’s history, as well as bird-watching tours to promote appreciation for its rich flora and fauna. Further, the MHC also organises talks on environmental issues for schools to create awareness about waste management in the area.

_           An adjoining landmark, Vinod’s Art & Antiquities, is more than a

50-year-old enterprise. Housed in a heritage building, it displays reprints of rare maps and colonial British Indian art, European artefacts, traditional and contemporary Indian art, and new antique replicas.                       Another interesting place I explored on this trip was the Landour Language School (LLC). Located about 2 kms above Landour Bazaar, the LLC runs courses in Hindi, Urdu, Garhwali, Punjabi and Sanskrit. One of India’s leading schools for teaching conversational Hindi at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels, the school charges an enrollment fee of `500, and course books cost an additional `2,000. Classes for groups cost `285 per hour, and `460 per hour for individuals. Foreigners (mostly on a shoe-string budget) come from all over the world to take up these courses, staying in little homestays around Landour for months.