This was my second visit to Landour after 5 years. It also happened to be the third attempt to travel with school friends though in the end it was just two of us who could make it. This time during peak tourist season which I always avoid. Well, there is always a first.
We decided to go by the Dehradun Shatabdi train in order to avoid the mad rush and jams on road. Our cab was there on time and we were really happy to finally reach our destination late in the afternoon. A little note on the Dehradun Shatabdi; the breakfast did not meet the quality standard, the AC would stop working whenever the train stopped and the train would always start with a startling jolt.
One can feel the climate shift happening in the hills too. Not to forget the crowd, the cars and the commercialization contributing to the rise in temperature and environment damage. I dread the near future when air-conditioners will become common.
Landour, with a couple of steep climbs here and there, is a place that should be explored on foot . This time the trip was about enjoying the cafés of this small cantonment area and appreciating nature through slow travel. Look out for the Himalayan flora & fauna – birds & butterflies on your walks.
We stayed at the pristine white Ivy Bank surrounded by tall Deodar trees and plenty of English Ivy vines. In fact, a wonderfully nurtured vine over a wall had become L’s prop for daily photo session. For all the Ruskin Bond fans, this place is super close to his home!
Day 0 After checking in and freshening up we went to a Restro & Café called Paprika. It is close to Ivy Bank and a nice place to watch the sunset over the hills. We dined at Ivy Bank that night.
Day 1 was all about exploring Landour on foot. We had breakfast at Anil’s Café in Char Dukaan and started our Landour walk. I would keep stopping in between if I saw a bird or butterfly. L was my muse and she happily posed at various iconic structures and otherwise too. We thought of taking a coffee break at Landour Bakehouse but decided against it for two reasons; it was hot and the place was crowded. Instead, we indulged our sweet tooth there and carried on with our walk.
We were looking for Café Ivy which was earlier just next to Char Dukaan but has shifted from there. Though we were helped with the direction, all failed to mention that it’s in the premises of the newly renovated Devdar Woods. We two happily stood under Devdar and discussed it and then moved on. There was no sign of Café Ivy anywhere. Later we were told where it was.
Now I was in no mood to go back …. we had been on foot for nearly 5+ hours and I am not much of a sun person. L wanted to cover as many, if not all, cafes and I had to ensure that. So it was decided we would have lunch here the next day.
On our way back we stopped at Char Dukaan for some light eat/cool drink. Our dinner was at Doma’s Inn.
Day 2 We went to Landour Bazaar to check the antique shops & pick up some gifts for our friends and self. Here I will suggest to visit this place early (around 9.30 am), just when the market opens, to avoid the traffic and crowd. It’s a very narrow lane and as the day passes the jam & crowd can be trying. Our first stop was a lovely Dutch inspired Café Lotte’s in Mullingar.
Thereafter, we looked around the antique shop where only a few overpriced pieces piqued my interest. So we walked out empty handed.
Landour is also famous for customized handmade leather shoes. L played the game of should I-should I not for a while and finally ordered a couple of them which they said would be couriered to her. A word of caution here; It’s a month now and she is yet to receive them even after following up!
We quickly wound up and left for Café Ivy at the Devdar Woods. We spent quite a bit of time here. The location of this cottage is awesome. If you want tranquility & nature …… you can look it up for staying. We spent sometime sitting on the cemented dividers at the edge of the road, overlooking the inviting and chirpy woods . Our lungs got a fill of fresh air, the gentle sounds of nature healed the very core of our being. The serenity felt divine. The intangible & priceless joys of living in the moment and slow travel are such. Hygge! We had lunch at the café and decided to walk back to Ivy.
On the way back we stopped at Char Dukaan for some fluid refueling and thought of checking Lal Tibba. The walk to this place is lovely. Though the 500 mtrs distance seemed never ending. This place is famous for viewing the mountain range through a telescope on a clear day, which it was not. The café there has smartly monopolized this viewpoint. If you only want to see the range you will be charged Rs 50 per person; this is waived off if you have food there. The summer heat had started taking a toll on me and I felt drained out. So, L went through the last stretch as she had it on her list. I spent time looking at the woods at the bend. She was back in a jiffy and we slowly walked back to Ivy.
Once back she went down to Mussoorie Mall Road to check some other antique shops & Llama Café. I stayed back to rest, and good I did. Slowly I started packing as we had to leave the next day and then my world turned upside down. The world=stomach. I had an acute case of food poisoning ….. I must have vomited 7 times, felt cold and had a reeling head.
My only prayer was that there should be no fever and no sign of this incident the next day. My mom monitored the medical aspect while my friend and hubs sent me healing energies. I finally slept somewhere past midnight. Mom had warned to keep away from juices and it’s likes as infections were on the rise. The entire gyaan was passed on to my hubs who was going on an official trip around the same time; I happily forgot it in my case. The highly probable culprit ….. watermelon juice.
Day 3 I woke up watchful and felt that things were in control though sensitive. I decided to keep it easy as we had a long journey ahead. We spent a good time sitting outside. While L studied for her upcoming certification exam, I chased the birds and butterflies.
We had planned to go to Emily’s for lunch. Seeing the situation I stayed back and had simple light food prepared by Ivy’s wonderful chef; L went ahead to complete her café trail. I know I will go back to Landour again so it did not really matter to me.
Now the only worry was the creeping migraine. I had got my food packed from Ivy and was glad to avoid the train food. Once back home I was still low on energy for a few days. The influence of the scintillating & powerful Strawberry moon energies cannot be ignored.
I am neither a foodie nor much experimental with food I eat outside. I enjoy good & simple food. My friend on the other hand is an enthusiast where all this is concerned. She found food in most cafes to be the usual, nothing extraordinary or out of the world. I must add that what we see on social media are most of the time over hyped, remember this, always. Don’t be disappointed. Go ahead and indulge, experiment and come to your own conclusion. What tickles our taste bud may not be the same for you. However, most will agree that the bakery products there are good!
Sharing a little note about Ivy and other places we visited, based on my/our experience:
Ivy Bank: I found it to be a wonderful place to wake up & retire to. Well kept premises & rooms, good food, cheerful & helpful staff. I was thoroughly floored by the birds hanging right outside our room, butterflies flitting around and scrumptious food. It was amazing. Unfortunately, I was not carrying proper gears for bird photography. A couple of chirps were so cool that I could record them on mobile and I was super thrilled about this. If you are thinking of leisurely hanging out the whole day in a place you would be staying at, this will not be an ideal choice. It is a wonderful place for students (language school), people who are on workcation and folks like us who roam around the whole day and back by evening.
Ivy Bank’s in-house kitchen: Of all the places I loved the food of Ivy Bank. Fresh, finger-licking delicious and homely. It pleases the palate with a burst of flavors. L agrees too. The quality, quantity and pricing is good.
Char Dukaan: Good for parathas, omelets, pancakes & waffles, but nothing out of the world. It’s over crowded, all thanks to SM posts showing Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni & likes having breakfast here. I had cheese onion paratha which I had in my last visit too. Now, I am that boring or cautious with my food. I did take a bite of the chocolate waffle and thankfully the sweetness was perfect.
Doma’s Inn: The outside look of the place is good for photos as it’s vibrant and colorful. The interiors I feel is over done & loud making it look cramped. Coming to the food, neither of us liked it. To begin with, no one could explain what the Tibetan sauce was and we decided not to wrack our head over it. We had ordered fried rice, some chicken prep in Tibetan sauce and chicken momos. The momos were the only savior.
Landour Bakehouse: The place was crowded with a waiting crowd bracing the summer heat in the hills. While their baked items are delectable, the crowd management needs a relook. Whether you were seated or ordering a take-away you had to go to the counter to order & pay. Now, those seated should have been catered at the table itself. While for take away there could have been an in-house app to order or noted from a counter opening to the outside. It’s not a big place and this unnecessary crowding could have been dealt with in a better way. In such a scenario one cannot relax and enjoy the time here. This was unlike my experience last time. We indulged our sweet tooth and carried some back with us too.
Devdar Woods Café by Café Ivy: The location of this newly renovated place is superb. The tranquility, sans the café rush, is just what is needed. Uninterrupted view of the woods with birds flitting around is amazing. This could be a good option to explore for a pampered stay. The food is good and the café has both nicely done up indoors and nature blessed outdoor seating. We chose to sit outside surrounded by trees.
Lotte’s Café: A small quaint café in Mullingar/Landour Bazaar. We loved this place. Cozy vibes and wonderful products. We picked up gifts for friends from here Lotte’s in-house hot chocolate mix; freshly roasted & grounded artisanal ‘Landour Coffee“; home-baked cookies ; full bloom chamomile flowers tea by ‘Himalayan Haat‘. They also sell a variety of cheese from Himalayan Natural Artisan Cheese which is manufactured in Pahalgam, Kashmir by a Dutchman according to Dutch and local traditions. You must visit this café to bring back a taste of Landour & the Himalayas for yourself and as gifts for friends & family.
Paprika Restro & Café: This was a new place for me and nice in terms of location, décor and food. One can watch the sunset from here. We had coffee & light snacks here in the evening of Day 0.
Emily’s at Rokeby Manor: I skipped going here as I was recovering from the food poisoning and we had a train to catch later in the day. However L lunched there. She enjoyed the ambience and food but found it lacking liveliness in comparison to Café Ivy. A visit to Emily’s is now reserved for my next trip to Landour.
L went to Llama Café and did not have anything to say about this tiny cafe…. you can guess what it means.
We peeped into the Café de Landour where Café Ivy was earlier. This is in Char Dukaan itself. We did not eat anything here as our tummy was full. It has retained quite a bit of Café Ivy look and feel. The deck was crowded as people love sitting outside overlooking the hills & vales. I may try their food next time I am there.
Our trip came to an end. It was a wonderful break & trip even though there were a few not so pleasant instances. After all time with friends amidst nature is the best therapy ever.
PS: Most the photos posted here are clicked on mobile. The most handy camera.
You may like to read my earlier Landour experience
Watch some joyful bird watching at Ivy Bank, Landour
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The Soul Is Here For It’s Own Joy!
Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe