12 Top Things to Do in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand

View south from Mussoorie in evening light on foothills of Garwhal Himalaya, Uttarakhand

Tony Waltham / robertharding / Getty Images

Mussoorie, located in Uttarakhand, is one of India's most popular hill stations, established by British colonizers to escape the summer heat. The first house to be built there was that of Lieutenant Frederick Young of the East India Company in 1823, who used it when shooting game. Not long after, Sir Henry Bohle started India's first brewery in 1830. Indian royalty arrived later, with many maharajas constructing grand summer retreats there—some are now heritage hotels.

Mussoorie is set on a ridge about two hours north of Dehradun, where the nearest airport is located. Its easy accessibility from Delhi brings a chaotic convergence of tourists during the May to July peak season, causing traffic jams and delays—it's probably best to avoid visiting then. Here's how to make the most of your time in this fascinating corner of the country.

01 of 12

Get Your Fill of Adventure Sports

River rafting in Uttarakhand, India

Uttarakhand Tourism

Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, India

Adrenaline junkies, rejoice! It turns out the Mussoorie area of Uttarakhand is one of the best places in the country for adventure sports so you can try your hand at bungee jumping, mountain biking, trekking, paragliding, skiing, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing.

Those wanting to take on river rafting are in for a treat, with major whitewater rivers like the Ganga, Tons, Kali, Kosi, Yamuna, and Alaknanda nearby. Rafting season happens from September to June, so plan your trip accordingly if this is a one of the main reasons you're planning to visit this part of the country.

02 of 12

Commune With the Animals at Benog Wildlife Sanctuary

An owl at Benog Wildlife Sanctuary

Bibaswan Sarkar / Getty Images

F287+33Q, Mussorie Range, Uttarakhand 248179, India

Located just a 25-minute drive from Mussoorie, Benog Wildlife Sanctuary is a wonderful place to get back to nature during your trip to India, especially for birding enthusiasts, who can spot red billed blue magpies and white capped water redstarts, among other birds. Keep an eye out for other woodland critters like owls, mountain quail, deer, and leopards.

03 of 12

Ride the Cable Car to Gun Hill

Cable Car passing through mountains, Gun Hill, Mussoorie

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Mall Rd, Jhula Ghar, The Mall Road, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179, India

Get a bird's-eye view of Mussoorie and the Doon Valley by taking the red cable car up to Gun Hill from Mall Road. It's known as The Ropeway to Gun Hill, which, at 6,800 feet above sea level, is the second highest peak in the area. It also gets its name from the cannon that the British fired everyday at noon to help people know the time.

Unfortunately, the commercialization at the top of the hill is a disappointment to some. Expect to find a hodgepodge of food stalls, souvenir shops, amusement rides, and local costumes to dress up and be photographed in. 

The cable car runs from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in summer, but starts and finishes earlier during the rest of the year. The journey time is only about five minutes, one way. Both the ticket office and boarding point are at Jhula Ghar, located about midway along Mall Road. Tickets cost 125 rupees per person and are in very high demand during peak season.

04 of 12

Stroll Along Mall Road

Mussoorie Library

Christine Pemberton / Getty Images

F357+VMM, Library Rd, Library Bazar, The Mall Road, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179, India
Phone +91 95572 84310

Like other hill stations in India, Mussoorie also has a Mall Road that runs through the heart of town. This lengthy pedestrian-only boulevard, which visitors gravitate to, starts at Library Bazaar and ends at Kulri Bazaar, featuring a carnival-like atmosphere in summer when it's chock full of people, shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

One of the main attractions is the Jawahar Aquarium. Those interested in Mussoorie's old time charm will find historic Mussoorie Library to be a noteworthy building—unfortunately, you can't go inside though, as it's only open to library members. Bookish types should have a drink at the renowned Writer's Bar at WelcomHotel The Savoy, located just behind the library.

Drop by the Cambridge Book Depot at the Kulri Bazaar end of Mall Road, which is a favorite of author Ruskin Bond, who is there every Saturday between 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. to meet fans and sign autographs. Feeling hungry? The best momos in Mussoorie can be found at Momos Tibetan Kitchen, about 300 feet from the Cambridge Book Depot. Nearby, travel-themed Cafe By The Way serves snacks and superb coffee. Keep an eye out for murals depicting the region's customs on Mall Road as well. 

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05 of 12

Swim at Kempty Falls

Kempty Falls, Mussoorie.

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Mussoorie Uttrakhand mall road Mussoorie, Mall Rd, Jhula Ghar, The Mall Road, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248179, India

If you don't mind unruly crowds and unclean water, the man-made swimming pool at the bottom of Kempty Falls is the place to be in the peak summer season. Such is its popularity that it usually fills to capacity with hundreds of tourists.

Kempty Falls is located about eight miles northwest of Mussoorie. To get there, take a shared taxi from the Gandhi Chowk taxi stand near the library. Government tourism enterprise GMVN also operates buses from the Library Bus Stand and has an office next to it. Those who don't want to climb the stairs to reach the waterfall from the parking area can pay 120 rupees per person to take a cable car all the way up. Changing rooms, lockers, swimwear, and equipment hire are available at a nominal cost.

Alternatively, those who prefer unspoiled natural beauty should give Kempty Falls a miss and go to Bhatta Falls or Jharipani Falls (while they're still secluded) instead.

06 of 12

Marvel Over the Corn Village

Bundles of hanging corn.

Sandra Leidholdt / Getty Images

G23C+R6W, Sainji Link Rd, Lagwal Gaon, Uttarakhand 249186, India

Not far past Kempty Falls, Sainji Village is a remarkable offbeat attraction where the buildings are decorated with bunches of corn—the residents, who farm corn, hang it out to dry and preserve the seeds for sowing next season. You may also come across bundles of red chilies drying in the sun.

Sainji's Garhwal English Medium School was set up by a Canadian woman and her husband, who heads the village, to improve education in the area—volunteers are also accepted. Many upmarket hotels in Mussoorie and Landour, such as Rokeby Manor, also arrange trips to Sainji village to help support the locals. You can spend a day interacting with them, learning about their way of life, and sampling their delicious food, including roti made with corn flour—they love receiving visitors!

07 of 12

Visit Mussoorie's Tibetan Settlement

Shedup Choepelling Temple, Happy valley, Mussoorie

Dinodia Photo / Getty Images

F2CX+PXC, Charleville, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179, India

Happy Valley, established by the Dalai Lama after he fled Tibet in 1959 and now home to around 5,000 Tibetan refugees, is a peaceful place to escape the clamor of Mussoorie and gain insight into the Tibetan way of life. It's possible to hike up from the Library end of Mall Road in about 45 minutes, or you can simply take a taxi. 

The highlight is the small but vibrant Shedup Choepelling Buddhist Temple, also known as the Tibetan Buddhist Temple, which is surrounded by carefully maintained gardens and offers a spectacular valley view, especially at sunset. Other attractions here include the magnificent golden Buddha statue atop the hill and the Tibetan school. The student's beautiful artwork can be purchased if you're looking for a meaningful souvenir or gift to bring home.

08 of 12

Learn About Local Culture at SOHAM Heritage and Art Center

SOHAM Heritage & Art Center

SOHAM Heritage & Art Center

Soham Heritage & Art Center Rd, The Mall Road, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179, India

This informative private museum was founded in 2014 by yoga exponent Sameer Shukla and his wife Doctor Kavita Shukla, who has a doctorate in drawing and painting, to preserve the heritage of the Himalayan region. It showcases all kinds of items related to the area's people, including photographs of ancient rituals, paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, and handicrafts.

The museum is situated about a 20 minute walk southeast of the Kulri Bazaar and is open daily except Wednesday, and entry is free.

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09 of 12

Buy Natural Shawls and Scarves from Local Weavers

Himalayan Weavers

Himalayan Weavers

Kitab Ghar, The Mall Road, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248179, India

Skip the dime-a-dozen shops on Mall Road and head straight to Himalayan Weavers for exquisite hand-woven shawls and scarves, made from natural fibers such as wool, eri silk, and pashmina that are colored with natural dyes.

Himalayan Weavers was set up in 2005 by Doctor Ghayur Alam and his British wife Patricia, who relocated to the area from Delhi. Their aim was to get the area's residents to stop illegally picking medicinal plants by providing a market and income for their wool and other handmade items.

The business now supports many local weavers, too. Patricia comes up with all the designs and the wool is dyed in a room in the back of their house in Masrana village on Mussoorie-Dhanaulti Road. The house also features a showroom, where the products are displayed and sold, and you'll be able to chat with the knowledgeable owners and learn about the weaving process over a cup of tea. While the products here cost more than the ones you'll find on Mall Road (stoles start from about 800 rupees and shawls from 2,000 rupees), they're pure wool.

10 of 12

Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Mountain landscape in the Himalayan hill station of Mussoorie

Himanshu Khagta / Getty Images

Nature Reserve, Jabarkhet, Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179, India
Phone +91 81712 64710

Jabarkhet Nature Reserve was established by conservationist Sejal Worah and landowner Vipul Jain, and is the first of its kind in Uttarakhand. A 110-acre, privately-owned and operated forest reserve, it opened to the public in 2015. Walking in its woods is wonderfully rejuvenating and reinvigorating. There are eight well-marked trails, each taking a few hours to cover. You'll come across all kinds of flowers, butterflies, and even mushrooms.

The reserve is situated 2,000 feet above sea level, about a 15-minute drive from Mussoorie on Mussoorie-Dhanaulti Road. It's open daily from sunrise until sunset and the entry fee is 350 rupees per person. Guided walks costing 500 rupees per person are offered for those who are keen to know more about the reserve's flora and fauna. Offbeat, bespoke walks including overnight treks and village visits can also be arranged.

If you're feeling energetic, a two-hour scenic hike uphill from Kulri Bazaar will bring you to the highest point in the area, Lal Tibba, or Red Hill, located about 7,500 feet above sea level. There's also a cafe with an observation deck and high powered binoculars to help you enjoy the view.

West of Library Bazaar, you can hike up to surveyor Sir George Everest's House in about two hours for more outstanding views. Further along in the same direction are Cloud End and Echo Point, a private forested estate that you can enter by paying 50 rupees. Picturesque Camel's Back Road is a prominent thoroughfare that connects Library and Kulri bazaars, offering numerous viewpoints, including one across to a camel-shaped rock formation and an old British cemetery. 

11 of 12

Entertain the Kids at Company Garden

Company Garden, Mussoorie.

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F363+CJW, Mussoorie Rd, Malsi, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248009, India

This sprawling municipal garden, named after the British East India Company, is popular with families. Young kids will enjoy the pedal boats, a wax museum featuring statues of Indian and international celebrities, and assorted rides. There's also an artificial waterfall amid the flowery foliage.

The garden is located on the outskirts of Mussoorie near Happy Valley and on the way to Kempty Falls. It's open daily until sunset and the entry fee is 25 rupees per person. tickets to the wax museum cost 100 rupees per person and rides are extra.

12 of 12

Attend the Mussoorie Mountain Festival

Mussoorie Mountain Festival

Mussoorie Mountain Festival

Woodstock School, Tehri Rd, Landour, Mussoorie, Uttarakhand 248179, India
Phone +91 135 263 9170

The iconic Mussoorie Writer's Festival, founded in 2005, formally evolved into the Mussoorie Mountain Festival in 2017. While it originally concentrated on promoting Mussoorie’s literary heritage, it now has a broader scope: to be a "community celebration of Himalayan culture, natural history, and exploration."

Its big focus today is conservation. The three-day festival features talks, panel discussions, film screenings, music performances, storytelling, and photographic exhibitions.

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12 Top Things to Do in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand