Who could have imagined such a beautiful and inviting cafe on the busiest roads of Lucknow, with just a small signboard, a sufficient parking space and making absolutely no noise about it?
Located on the main Faizabad Road in Indira Nagar, Lucknow @caferepertwahr is a casual dining cafe in a dreamy setup. It’s hardly at a distance of 1.5 km from the famous Bhootnath market. The place offers a lovely ambience, cuisines ranging from North Indian, Chinese, Continental, Italian and Seafood and has a huge collection of books you can spend your time reading over a cup of coffee. The food and services are good. It’s a charming place with lots of refreshing greenery, contemporary and sustainable interiors and liveliness.
My never-ending love for pretty cafes always urge me to find one wherever I go. Sharing this as part of #AppyTalesInLucknow series, since a lot of queries poured in ever since I visited this place on Friday.
I was elated to find the queries coming to me from the people residing in Lucknow itself. So guys do check it out and make the most of it. Although the cafe takes full safety measures like sanitisation, temperature check, social distancing yet do not forget to play your part responsibly. Wear a mask, keep sanitizing and maintain social distancing in public places. It’s high time, please be responsible! 🌸
On the brink of the mountain, ahead of the famous Mall Road in Mussoorie, lie an exceptionally beauteous and magical small hill station, Landour
Landour by now might be known to many. It was my first visit and I was spellbound to see the beauty of this quaint town in the cantonment area adjacent to Mussoorie in Uttarakhand. In a short trip of four days to Mussoorie, I visited Landour twice. Rather trekked to Landour from the bright and colourful Doma’s Inn. What looked like a walkable distance of just 3 km left me panting for almost 15-20 minutes, when I reached the famous Char Dukan in Landour. Hold on, if you are not aware of these names. In this blog, I’ll take you one by one to all the significant places In Landour.
Mussoorie and Landour, the twin towns, are popular hill stations from the times of the British era. Collectively these two were called “Queen of Hills”, however, the former gained more popularity among tourists and later remained calm and quiet nestled silently among the hilltop. Landour is around 984 ft above Mussoorie, located in the Western Himalaya, in the Mussoorie Range and is partly Tibet-facing. Known for its colonial architecture and picturesque sights, Landour for me is a dreamy and magical destination having abundant peace and lush views. You can bucket list this place if you love mountains and enjoy offbeat places, far from the hustle and bustle of commercial and touristy destinations. You are sure to fall in love with this place. No wonder, it’s a home to many creative minds like the authors Ruskin Bond, Allan Sealy and film personalities Tom Alter, Vishal Bharadwaj to name a few.
This was my second visit to Mussoorie after a gap of almost a decade. My first visit to Mussoorie was 2 days and 1 night stay with colleagues over a weekend as an escape from the monotonous work. Ever since I never thought of visiting Mussoorie as I always felt it is overly crowded and commercialized. Of course, all beautiful tourist destinations deserve attention. I am however more of an offbeat traveller who loves untouched quaint places. So, this time, while I stayed in Mussoorie, I gave a piece of my heart to this beautiful town, Landour.
Of the four days I stayed in Mussoorie, my good two days were spent in Landour. And, next time onwards I am only going to stay in Landour. A word of caution: In this blog, I am going to share every bit of my experience to make you fall in love with this place.
Travelling from Delhi to Landour
Approximately 290 km from Delhi, Landour is well-connected by rails and roads and can be reached by train, bus or private car. If you are travelling by public transport, you will have to hire another taxi from Dehradun. A private taxi would cost you around INR 1500. Shared Taxis are also available. You also have an option of hiring a bike on rent in Mussoorie, which costs you anywhere between INR 800-1500 for nine hours depending on your preference of bike.
I travelled from Delhi to Mussoorie via Dehradun by bus. Booked my onward UPSRTC bus ticket through Red Bus App and return through UTC (Uttarakhand Transport Corporation). On each side, the ticket cost me approx. INR 700.
If you wish to travel by air, the nearest airport to Landour is Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun.
Into the Calm in Landour
I become a happy kid when I find places that have got plenty of natural beauty, silence the heart desires and air as light as feather. Little did I know Landour is such a majestic escapade. Almost 5-6 km of steep hike or drive from the Mall Road in Mussoorie, Landour offers an exquisite charm. It’s almost an hour walk but a tough one. You can also hire a cab from Mall Road and they charge you INR 200-300.
Carpeted by all sorts of forests and plantation like the deodars, cedars, Himalayan oak, Pine, Firs, Maples and alike, Landour offers captivating views of the Garhwal Himalaya. This silent abode rests right in the lap of nature and gives an attractive view of Mussoorie and Doon valley. You can easily drive through the top of Landour and park your car at the parking lot in Chaar Dukan. Hardly at a distance of 900 meters you have the Lal Tibba and Landour Bakehouse. However, the real thrill of this place is in exploring by foot. I would only recommend this if you are a habitual walker and trekker. These views come at a steep hike and you must be fit enough to walk and explore around else you still have the option of driving through or hiring a taxi. I visited this place in April and wonder how exotic the place would be around winters, with those misty deodars and pearl-like dews resting on the needle-like leaves of the pine trees; must be a miracle to witness.
What to Explore in Landour?
Other than the scenic beauty which is plentiful, there are some well-known places, you can spot and would not be disappointed. Here’s a list of places from my two-day visit to Landour:
Ivy Cottage—Mr. Bond’s Favourite Spot: No, not James Bond, our very own and favourite author whom we all have grown-up reading and some of us like me still do, Ruskin Bond. He is an Indian author of British origin. He wrote many stories here and the place gives the perfect essence of the description in his books—the deodars, the window. A perfect place for an author to reside. He is one of the oldest residents of Landour. You can imagine how exceptionally peaceful this town must be back then. His choice to spend his life in a place like this is a perfect example of his love and passion for writing.
Chaar Dukan: You read this name before at the beginning of this blog. This place is considered to be the coolest hangout place in the whole of twin towns; Mussoorie and Landour. These are the four oldest shops adjacent to each other known for their Nutella Pancakes, Cinnamon Waffles and Banana Shakes. The shops here have books by Ruskin Bond, who’s a frequent visitor to this place. I had read so much about this place that I wanted to visit and have a picture here. Although the trekking up to this place was killing my excitement on few occasions it was worth all the effort. You would always find these shops full of tourists and locals who wish to hang out. There are now six shops, however, the first shop i.e., Anil’s Café is the oldest and most in-demand.
Sisters Bazaar: An area close to Chaar Dukan has some known shops and cafes like:
Landour Bakehouse—a bakery cum café that gives the essence of colonial times and carries old charm, blends with the conspicuous theme of the town. To maintain the 1980s appeal, they have kept away from Wi-Fi.
Anil Prakash Store—I am extremely fond of fresh fruit jams and syrups straight from the hills and never miss a chance to grab some whenever I visit mountains. This time I had to visit Prakash Store, known for its delicious jams and jellies, right next to Landour Bakehouse. This is again one of the oldest shops in and around Landour, established in 1928. Apart from jams and jellies, they have a variety of stuff like mint dips, peanut butter, etc. and they prepare it from fresh locally grown produce. Also, they let you taste the variety of stuff they have to make your selection mindful and easy.
Prakash Handicraft Shop—If you are fond of everything local then you must visit this shop for Garhwali handicrafts and other locally made artefacts.
St. Paul’s Church: Right next to Chaar Dukan, aesthetically sits this colonial-era church. It is believed to be one of the most historic churches in Mussoorie. It stands beautifully at the centre of a large area surrounded by Deodars. The church is beautifully painted in cream yellow and contrasts perfectly with the green surroundings. Its simple yet magnificent architecture draws the eyeballs of every single person who’s visiting for the first time.
Kellogg’s Church: This church displays Gothic architecture and is magnificently done. It has beautiful stained-glass windows which add to its beauty. Hardly half a kilometre away from Char Dukan, this church calls for a visit for its appealing beauty.
Landour Language School: Behind the Kellogg’s Church is the historic Language School from the time of Britishers. During their ruling period in India, Britishers used to learn Hindi in this school. The Landour Language School is still functional and teaches Indian languages like Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Punjabi and Garhwali. Students from across the world come to learn here.
Rokeby Manor: An upbeat restaurant serving gourmet Indian and Continental food. This establishment was built in 1840. The Rokeby Manor also has a cluster of cottages beautifully done. With red brick walls and wooden flooring, the cottages give an earthy yet classy appeal. It stands to be the most expensive and exclusive stay in Landour.
Laal Tibba: Laal Tibba or the Red Hill as the name suggests is a reddish-brown hill mainly due to the soil. It is the highest point of Landour town giving the view of various Himalayan peaks. You will find a couple of spots with telescopes to give you a clear view of snow-clad peaks and far off villages for just INR 50 per person. You can also see all the Char Dhams from these spots and the view is best enjoyed during the sunrise or sunset.
Ruskin Bond’s House: Next to the vibrant BnB-Doma’s Inn at a steep descent from the Upper Chakkar is the house of Ruskin Bond. People who know he stays here, do not fail to enquire about his house with the hope, they might get a chance to see him or meet him.
Why is Landour Still an Offbeat Destination?
Landour being close to Mussoorie (approx. 7 km.) is still an offbeat destination. Landour falls under the cantonment area and as per the Cantonment Act of 1924 the plantation lies with the military. Thus, there cannot be any deforestation or new permanent construction. There has been no tree cutting for over a century and no permanent construction since 1924. Only the construction of temporary structures and repairs of the old structure is permitted due to which the town remains untouched from tourism or civilization.
Best Time to Visit Landour
April to June is considered to be the best months to visit Landour as the weather is pleasant and makes it easy to walk around and explore the place. If you are a traveller who prefers visiting places in the offseason then you can visit all the year round as rains add a different charm to any hill station but avoid travelling by car because the roads get slippery. Landour does not witness snow.
Fun Facts about Landour:
Landour was built by and for the British Indian Army
The first permanent building in all of Mussoorie-Landour was also built in Landour in 1825
Landour is named after a village called Llanddowror in south-west Wales
I recently visited the golden city of India, Jaisalmer for good 10 days (including my train journey) as a solo traveller. Undeniably, this is one of my fondest experiences because of umpteen reasons. This was not my first solo trip. However, after staying at home in the lockdown for almost a year, planning this trip was not easy. Rajasthan and I have some strange beautiful connection. Previously, I had visited Jodhpur as a solo traveller and this time it was Jaisalmer. There were times when travelling solo in India for a female traveller looked like a far off dream. Not anymore!
During my journey, I met a lot of interesting people who had very many questions for me. And, most of them gave the impression that I’m extremely bold to be travelling alone from Delhi. I’m aware travelling solo is not a new concept; however, by now I was sure there are still a lot of doubts and misconstrued notions about travelling solo in India. On my way back to Delhi on my train, I met another lady who worked in the IT education sector and she asked me, “What is the fun of travelling solo? My 22-year-old daughter keeps telling us she wants to travel solo.” Although I could slightly clear the air of doubt she had, I thought I would pen down my thoughts elaborately for others to refer to and understand better. This blog is precisely more about my experiences related to Jaisalmer as a city and must not be confused with travelling to any and everywhere.
Who Am I and What Gives me Confidence to Travel Solo
I think this question makes much more sense when I’m suggesting solo travelling. How you are as a person, your nature, your professional background and your age does matter when you are travelling solo. Being in my middle 30s and having worked for 15 years in the field of Journalism and Marketing, I feel I have had my own set of experiences—good and bad. I can assess a situation because of the exposure I’ve got. Corporate life teaches you a lot, right from people management, self-control to crisis management. Having had my share of troubles and combating them independently has helped me a lot to gain the kind of confidence one needs to be travelling alone. However, this does not mean people who have been at home or college may not travel solo. Everyone has their level of maturity and assessing capabilities. You know yourself the best and no one understands you better than your family. If you plan a solo trip, make plans in consensus with your loved ones and ensure to keep them informed and stay well-connected throughout your journey by any means. This also gives them further confidence in you. Do not make irrational plans and plan every minute detail possible, much ahead of your bookings.
What does Travelling Solo to Jaisalmer Mean
Travelling solo to Jaisalmer from any part of the country would mean unveiling a city not just rich in its heritage but also the hospitality. Not even one person I met, right from the time I stepped in Jaisalmer, not courteous enough. I have sensed the finest culture and etiquette especially in treating guests or tourists and travellers like us. Jaisalmer has ten times increased my confidence to travel solo because of the amicable hospitality and honest guidance I received from the local people here. Travelling solo to Jaisalmer will give you ample opportunity to interact with locals and merchants and understand their lifestyle, culture and business in depth. It’s always good to learn about a specific region. That is what I did the most and learned the most from my trip. People in Jaisalmer love to interact. They are welcoming and love having heart-warming conversations. They are open to telling you about themselves, their family most humbly and honestly. You can talk to them about anything under the sun and they have good knowledge about it be it sports, politics, cinema and alike. Jaisalmer is a humble abode to many scenic spots and monuments. Travelling solo also gives you an ample opportunity to meet new people, learn, unlearn and relearn and introspect. You can be at your creative best when you are travelling to such places alone.
When is the Best Time to Travel Solo to and within Jaisalmer
Jaisalmer witnesses the extreme heat starting March until September. The best time to visit Jaisalmer is considered to be October-March. However, as per my interactions with the local people, the best months to travel are November-January. This is the time when the weather is at its best and the sun is not extremely harsh either on the skin or camera. The best time to explore this glorious city is early mornings when the forts are open and evenings when you can explore places other than forts like Gadisar Lake, Bara Bagh, Vyas Chhatri. You can cover the city in 4-6 days depending on your interest. I travelled for 10 days to have the local flavour and store as much information as I could. It helps a great deal for someone like me who is an experiential writer. Jaisalmer city is safe even after the sunset. You can watch the sunset from some best rooftop cafes and take an easy-breezy stroll exploring the alleys without being worrisome. The best thing about Jaisalmer is you do not get stares and glares from people irrespective of your persona or attire, something I find to be disgraceful in a few cities I have stayed or visited.
Where can a Solo Traveller Stay and Eat in Jaisalmer?
Jaisalmer is one of the most hospitable cities I have come across, you can comfortably stay in any of the known resorts and homestays or hotels. Jaisalmer does have homestay options and you can opt for the ones you like from AirBnB. I generally prefer homestays and resorts because the latter makes me feel I’m on some official trip and I’d rather prefer feeling at home or on a vacation. During my trip, I stayed at a few great properties Bhimkothi Boutique Homestay, Moonlight Nature Resort & Hotel and Royal Haveli. Each of them was an exceptional experience and I would be talking about them separately in my blog. You have options to eat where you stay or explore some cafes offering the best Jaisalmer city view and good food at reasonable rates. Some of the cafes that need a special mention here are Café +, Café The Kaku, The Traveller’s Cup Coffee Shop (follow me for a detailed blog on Jaisalmer must-visit cafes).
The Question Arises Why to Travel Solo
Travelling in groups is fun, travelling solo is meditative. Meditation can equally be fun for those who have experienced its beauty and strength. Travelling solo unleashes your true self. You know whatever comes; you have to tackle it alone. You learn to be doubly attentive and wise. You learn managing all by yourself, meeting and greeting new people and being at your best to experience the best of the worlds. I am not recommending solo travelling all the time, but once in a while visit places unknown all by you. Meet your inner self and explore your strengths and weaknesses. Each time you travel solo you come back more refined as a person with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. You find your daily challenges trivial when you have explored a vast place all by yourself. It allows you to love yourself more and live your life more thoughtfully and carefully by listening to your head and choosing your paths and directions. Spending even a minuscule time in solitude, when the whole world around you is moving at the usual pace, is an eternal feeling; you would know only if you travel solo.
How and Where to Start and How I started
Do not ask and do not wait for someone to answer this to you. During my trip, I received hundreds of questions, especially from women who wish to travel solo but do not have a direction. Take that first step of making up your mind and not looking back. Choose the dates, place and book your tickets. The more you think the more you will withhold yourself. I’m not an irrational traveller, but most of my travels have been successful because I plan much in advance and without thinking twice just book my tickets. There’s lot of planning that goes into researching the place and spots I want to visit, means of transportation, stay and more. The place certainly has to be carefully chosen if you are travelling alone. Research well about the place, read reviews and blogs. There’s plenty of information already, bring it to your best advantage. I can confidently say now that Jaisalmer is a good option to start with, once the weather is favourable. Start to pen down your plan more like a journal. Plan your trip day by day or even minute by minute if you are good at it. The more elaborate and well-thought plan you have, the less the hassle.