Driving through the crowded twists and turns of the narrow road leading up to Rokeby Manor, I watched the scenes of Landour Bazaar go by. Pine and deodars punctuated a landscape of thatch-roofed homes and antique shops. In the street, pretty Tibetan girls sell knick-knacks in the company of troops of monkeys, while rosy-cheeked school children run down the slope. All this, against the backdrop of a lush, green valley. I stuck my nose to the car window and tried to connect every scene to my father’s stories from his days at St. George’s College, Mussoorie.
Rokeby Manor—a bungalow with Raj-era characteristics such as a slanting, red roof, brick arches, and stone walls sits on a slight hill engulfed in clouds, overlooking the Doon Valley. I discovered that the manor, built in 1840 by a Captain G.N. Cauthy, was inspired by the writings of Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott, the author of Ivanhoe. His narrative poem “Rokeby” is about the battles fought near the original Rokeby Castle in England.
I had two days to tick off my “Must-eat in Mussoorie” list: stick-jaw candy and milkshake at Chic Chocolate, pizza at the Clock Tower Café, and parathas, momos, and Maggi at Chaar Dukaan. I started early. Back at Rokeby, and two kilos heavier, I contemplated cycling up the hill. But I gave in to lethargy and instead strolled toward St. Paul’s Cathedral along a path lined with pine trees and chirping birds. Time ambles here and allows you pause and reflection.
Views of snowy peaks, day picnics and early morning walks and sunset strolls await at Rokeby. Photo: Monish John
In his recent book, Landour Days, Ruskin Bond wrote, “Landour itself is a magical world, where every month has its own flower, every walker his own style, and the countryside is filled with a beauty, all its own.” Taking inspiration from the great writer, I picked up a fallen flower and placed it in my diary.
As I entered the big oak door, I was transported to a different era: A wood panelled living room with a fireplace surrounded by plump, upholstered couches and a bookshelf with leather-bound classics. Two cloth dolls, hand stitched by local artisans, stared at me from a glass case next to an antique wooden telephone. I felt part of an old mystery novel.
The rooms at the Rokeby, have nature themed names such as The Rhododendron, Rose Suite, Acorn, and Pinecone. We were a large group so we chose to stay at the cosy, three-bedroom Log Cabin (from ₹50,000 April-July; ₹35,000 July-April; with breakfast). The estate has cute, framed quotes everywhere and a very English “Tea Garden”, which blooms with a variety of flowers.
The sun was setting and it started to get cold. As the mist faded, the valley which was a blur, just a few moments ago, became visible. A little later, we sat in the courtyard sipping tea and watched the landscape of the town below glitter. The following morning, Chintamani, the hotel’s friendly butler led us to the dining room “Emily’s”, where the most scrumptious breakfast awaited us: a spread of eggs, bacon, pancakes, freshly baked breads, and a variety of fruity jams and jelly. These weren’t even on my list—but I wasn’t about to start complaining.
Appeared in the December 2016 issue as “Rokeby Baby”. Updated in January 2017.
Rokeby Manor is located at an altitude of 7,500 ft in the Landour Cantonment area of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, located 24 km from Dehradun. Mussoorie is 269 km from Delhi, and is well connected by a state transport shuttle service (6 hrs). Dehradun is the nearest railhead 34 km away (135-2635604/96344 43666; www.rokebymanor.com).
is the former Art Director at National Geographic Traveller India. Besides being an absolute foodie, she loves exploring secret nooks of places for local arts and crafts.
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