Mussoorie (Garhwali/Hindi: मसूरी, Masūrī) is a city and a municipal board in the Dehradun District of the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is located about 35 km from the state capital of Dehradun and 290 km north from the national capital of New Delhi. This hill station, situated in the foothills of the Garhwal Himalayan ranges, is also known as the Queen of the Hills. The adjoining town of Landour, which includes a military cantonment, is considered part of ‘greater Mussoorie’, as are the townships of Barlowganj and Jharipani.
Being at an average altitude of 1,880 metres (6,170 ft), Mussoorie, with its green hills and varied flora and fauna, is a fascinating hill resort. Commanding snow ranges to the north-east, and glittering views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik ranges in the south, the town was once said to present a ‘fairyland’ atmosphere to tourists. The highest point is Lal Tibba with a height of over 2,290 metres (7,510 ft).
In 1832, Mussourie was the intended terminus of the Great Survey of India that began at the southern tip of India. Although unsuccessful, the Surveyor General of India wanted to have the new office of the Survey of India based in Mussoorie. A compromise was to have it in Dehradun, where it still located.
By 1901 Mussoorie’s population had grown to 6461, rising to 15,000 in the summer season. Earlier, Mussoorie was approachable by road from Saharanpur, 58 miles (93 km) away. Accessibility became easier in 1900 with the railway coming to Dehradun, thus shortening the road trip to 21 miles (34 km).
Mussoorie view from the top of the hill (can be viewable while traveling on the way towards down of the hill)
The name Mussoorie is often attributed to a derivation of ‘mansoor’, a shrub which is indigenous to the area. The town is in fact often referred to as ‘Mansoori’ by most Indians.
The main promenade in Mussoorie is called, as in other hill stations, the Mall. In Mussoorie, the Mall stretches from Picture Palace at its eastern end to the Public Library (shortened to ‘Library’) at its western end. During the British Raj, signs on the Mall expressly stated: “Indians and Dogs Not Allowed”; racist signs of this type were commonplace in hill stations, which were founded ‘by and for’ the British. Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, deliberately broke this rule every day whenever he was in Mussoorie, and would pay the fine. The Nehru family, including Nehru’s daughter Indira (later Indira Gandhi) were frequent visitors to Mussoorie in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and stayed at the Savoy Hotel. They also spent much time in nearby Dehradun, where Nehru’s sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit ultimately settled full-time.
During the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, the Central Tibetan Administration of the 14th Dalai Lama was at first established in Mussoorie before being moved to its present location in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh. The first Tibetan school was established in Mussoorie in 1960. Tibetans settled mainly in Happy Valley in Mussoorie. Today, some 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie.
Now, Mussoorie suffers from over-development of hotels and tourist lodges, given its relative proximity to Delhi, Ambala and Chandigarh, and has serious problems of garbage collection, water scarcity and parking shortages, especially during the summer tourist season. Landour, Jharipani and Barlowganj have fewer such problems.