Let the rest of the country flock to the popular hill station of Mussoorie. We suggest you opt for a quieter, less well known alternative to truly experience the beauty of The Garhwal Himalayas.

Believe it or not, the idyllic cantonment town of Landour, located 5 kms up the hill from Mussoorie, is actually named after Llanddowror, a village in Carmarthenshire, South-West Wales. Established by the British in the early 19th century, a military sanatorium was created for wounded soldiers of the British Indian Army, following the Anglo-Gurkha wars of the 1820s.

Landour, unlike largely deforested Mussoorie is carpeted mostly by old-growth forests of Deodar Cedar, Himalayan Oak, multiple varieties of Pine, Fir, Maple and Rhododendron trees. Being a cantonment town, strict laws help preserve it’s unique beauty. Most of the settlements, largely built in stone and wood, date back to the 19th or early 20th century. The paths are cobbled and heavily wooded, which only adds to the charm. All over this sleepy hamlet you’ll find a gentle mist that fills the crisp mountain air, passing through the colonial and gothic architecture.

The Quaint Streets Of Landour

From Lal Tibba – the highest point on the Landour ridge, one can get a panoramic view of the gorgeous snow-capped Garhwal Himalayas. Some of the most prominent peaks in the area can be viewed from here, such as, Nanda Devi, Swargarohini, Bandarpoonch and the four-peak massif Chaukhamba. On a clear day, even Yamnotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Satopanth make themselves visible. Make sure to take a stroll down to Lal Tibba at dawn to enjoy a ‘garam chai’ while taking in the mesmeric view.

The Landour ridge is the highest part of the whole Mussoorie-Landour agglomeration.  It provides a special vantage point to witness a rare phenomenon – The Winter Line, which occurs generally around the winter months of mid-October to January. At sunset, when the sun is at a particular angle, it refracts light behind a false horizon, causing the western skyline to burst into life with vivid shades of orange, mauve and red, blending in with the dark-blue backdrop. It is said that this magical occurrence is witnessed in only two places in the world, one being Landour and the other being Switzerland. A natural wonder to behold!

Speaking of winter, Landour is also one of the best places in India to experience snow. Being almost 1000 feet above Mussoorie, aided by the fact that Landour is partly Tibet facing, it receives almost twice the amount of snowfall than its more prestigious neighbour.

The Winter Line as seen from Landour (left); Frosted Chukkar Road (right)

Despite not being a commercial travel destination, Landour still has a lot to offer the offbeat traveller looking for some peace and relaxation. Commercial hotels are replaced by old English cottages converted into boutique B&Bs and homestays.

Enter La Villa Bethany, owned and run by the enigmatic – Sunita & Amarjeet Kudle. With a cumulative experience of 30 years in the hospitality industry, they have worked with some of the finest hotel chains in India.

Four years ago, they finally decided that it was time to follow their dream and open their own establishment. The 6 tastefully designed rooms, common areas and gardens of La Villa Bethany are a tribute to the founders of Landour. The interiors have been crafted with care and a personal touch, using beautiful elements of wood and stone work, which add a rustic feel to the place.

La Villa Bethany in winter

Sunita & Amarjeet Kudle

One fact that makes this place special, is the use of solar power and rain water harvesting. La Villa Bethany is truly based on the philosophy of sustainable tourism.

All of the staff at La Villa Bethany is local youth from the mountains, who come from very humble backgrounds. Yet, their manners and service are second to none. LVB encourages and promotes local artisanal products such as jams, peanut butters, cheese, footwear, woollen scarves etc. as well as the artisans who handcraft them.

A visit to this villa, is a journey into a different world. One where bliss and solitude always surround you.