Unexplored places to visit near Mussoorie
Branded as the Queen of Hills, the hill station Mussoorie is located in the foothills of the Garhwal range of Himalayas. The name Mussoorie is derived from 'mansoor', which is a shrub indigenous to the area. Most Indians still refer to the town as 'Mansoori'. Mussoorie is located 35 kilometres away from Dehradun, the capital city of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. Tens of thousands of tourists visit Mussoorie during summer to escape the continental heat and during winter to enjoy the snow.
However, Mussoorie has lost its charm over the years due to traffic snarls and over-commercialization. Because of its easy access, many people flock to this small town owing to heavy tourist traffic, increased garbage production, noisy roads, hordes of shops, deforestation, illegal construction and skyrocketed tariffs of accommodations. Having read all about Mussoorie, we started to look for some relatively unexplored places near Mussoorie. That is when we found Landour, Jabarkhet Nature Reserve and Sainji Village. Read on to know more about these unexplored places to visit near Mussoorie.
Home to famous authors like Ruskin Bond, Landour is Mussoorie's best-kept secret. It definitely is at the top of our list of unexplored places near Mussoorie though tourists might make a day visit to Lal Tibba in Landour. However, Landour is so much more than a day visit. Landour is made for people who love spending time away from the hustle-bustle of Mussoorie but still be close to Mussoorie. Landour is just 7 km north of Mussoorie and is located at an altitude of 7500 feet above sea level. This sleepy town can be visited at any time of the year owing to its pleasant climate.
Landour, which was once developed as a sanatorium, belongs to the military cantonment today. As per the Cantonment Act of 1924, no trees could be fell, and no new permanent structure could be erected in Landour. Because of these rules, Landour has not been touched by tourism and modernization yet, making it an unexplored place to visit near Mussoorie.
Everything in Landour is around the Upper Chukkar Road,, creating the number 8. The road stretches for 3.5 km and is best walked on foot. We have compiled a list of Things to do in Landour in our earlier blog post. Refer to that post to know everything about Landour and things to do in detail.
Due to the restrictions of the Cantonment Act, there are not many places to stay in Landour. However, several residents have converted their houses into homestays and rented them out to guests visiting Landour. We stay at one such unique pet-friendly boutique homestay - La Villa Bethany. La Villa Bethany has the only Hobbit hole in India - a room that they call Bags End. Do check out our review on La Villa Bethany in our earlier post.
Jabarkhet Nature Reserve
Next on our list of unexplored places near Mussoorie is Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. This is a private venture located just 8 km from Mussoorie. The nature reserve is set up to protect and conserve the ecology of the forests around Mussoorie. If you wish to discover a natural world far away from the crowded Mussoorie, then Jabarkhet Nature Reserve is the place for you.
The 100 acres of land of Jabarkhet Nature Reserve belongs to Mr. Vipul Jain. He has partnered with Ms. Sejal Worah, a lifelong conservationist, to set up Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. The reserve harbours a wide variety of flora and fauna, and to date, over 50 species of ferns, 40 species of grasses, 80 species of mushrooms and fungi, 300 species of flowering plants and 100 species of birds have been identified in the area. Numerous reptiles, amphibians and insects have also been found in reserve. While mammals are difficult to spot, the motion sensor cameras planted around the area have captured photographs of leopards, barking deer, black bears, porcupines, langurs, wild cats and wild boars.
The 2-3 hour guided walk inside the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve provides nature-based education and spreads awareness regarding the conservation of the rich biodiversity. The locals and forest officials have mapped a total of seven trails inside Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. Once you sign-up for the walk in the nature reserve, the guide provides you with a detailed map of all the trails. The seven trails are named Ridge trail, Leopard trail, Wildflower trail, Mushroom trail, Spring trail, Rhododendron trail and Rockfall trail. Two or more trails meet at most points.
Our guide helped us plan a route through which we touched upon multiple trails. We started with the Ridge trail from the entrance of the reserve. Walking along the ridge, we climbed steadily to the top of Flag Hill, where multi-coloured Tibetan flags were strung. The view of Himalayan peaks from the Flag Hill point was spectacular. A further steep uphill path lead us to the Lone Oak - a large Oak tree with log benches around it. Here, we rested for some time while soaking in the incredible views. From here, we took the Leopard trail, which gave us an experience of being deep in the forest.
The Leopard trail is full of oak and rhododendron trees. The bears in the forest feed on the acorns of the Oak trees. Trekking on this trail, we reached the saddle and further climbed to Bear Hilltop. Walking some more on the Leopard Trail, we took some steps to join the Wildflower Trail. Descending downhill, we reached The Hut, where there were a circular sit-out and a small waterhole. We spent some more time at The Hut and returned to the entrance. We came across mushrooms, wildflowers, butterflies, and other small wonders of nature during our walk!
While we did not spot a mammal during our walk, our guide showed us photographs of leopards, porcupines, langurs and wild boars captured by the motion sensor camera traps installed over the trees. Animals that we seldom see mark their presence when no humans are around often during the night.
Note: Call and arrange for a guide before reaching the Jabarkhet Nature Reserve. Our guide, Virendra Singh (Contact - 8171264710), was extremely knowledgeable and knew all the trails very well. Throughout our walk, he constantly spoke about the nature reserve, the flora, fauna and animals and the Himalayan peaks. He also answered our curious questions very patiently.
During our stay at The Brigadiers Cottage near Kempty Falls on the outskirts of Mussoorie, we got to know about Sainji village, which is also famously known as Corn Village. As we were just 5 kilometres away from Sainji, we decided to visit it. Sainji village lies in the Tehri Garhwal district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. We passed through lush green farms on our way to Sainji. As we entered, we saw a small irrigation canal running through the entire village. This we learnt was used for irrigation and for washing clothes and utensils. The walkways around the irrigation canal were properly laid.
Sainji village amazes the visitors with the hanging golden corns in the houses. The corns are hung outside the homes to let them dry, after which the seeds are separated and preserved. But more than drying, they enhance the decor of the pretty village houses. Corn is the major part of their diet, with Makke ki roti (corn flour bread) and chutney being their daily meals. The houses of Sainji village are very colourful. While most of them are made of concrete, we came across a few wooden houses with short doors made of Deodar wood. The short doors are believed to keep evil away.
The village also houses a Garhwal English Medium School headed by Lori, an English woman married to the village chief. The main occupation of the villagers in Sainji is farming. We were amazed to see how the villagers enjoy life's simple pleasures. Everyone seemed to be very close-knit, and gathering in the veranda and gossiping seemed to be their favourite past-time. Unlike urban cities where children are stuck to mobile and TV screens, the children at Sainji village played outdoor fun games. Their smiling faces and welcoming attitude say a lot about their selfless love for everyone. They even allowed us entry into their houses to click pictures. They have grown used to the visitors coming to their village.
Sainji village was extremely clean, and we did not spot any garbage lying around. The main reason for this is that Sainji is one of the few villages in India where domestic animals such as cows and buffaloes necessary for farming are not allowed in the village. Outside the village, there is a separate shed area where the livestock is kept. Apart from this, Sainji also has toilets in each house, ensuring no open defecation by humans and animals.
Sainji village is ideal for anyone seeking a rural tour, sampling authentic mountain culture and getting to know the rustic lifestyle of the people. It is a perfect example of an unexplored place to visit near Mussoorie.
We are blessed to have visited these offbeat places near Mussoorie. But we are sure there must be more. Have you been to Mussoorie and know of any other unexplored place nearby? Do let us know in the comment section below. If you liked this article, do share it on social media.
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