You get to know a lot about a place by understanding the people who live there. Take Landour, the tiny hamlet above Mussoorie, known for being the home of India’s most loved author Ruskin Bond.
For most, this quaint mountain village is a lovely escape from the hustle of everyday city life. A serene environment, Landour promises fresh air, tranquillity, and a chance to lay back and immerse into the inimitable mountain vibe.
For others, it’s merely a tourist stop. A “been there done that” scenario which includes a drive to the famous Chardukhan, followed by a drive to Laal Tibba viewing point, and finally a drive to one of Landour’s eateries.
With all this driving around, the joy of being in Landour is lost. It’s a destination where you go to walk and discover those hidden trails that everyone seems to want to find, or at least ask about in numerous Facebook posts. For it is also while walking that you realise that Landour has quite a sarcastic sense of humour, which is clearly a reflection of the people who call it their home.
Now, the locals are welcoming, but there are signs all over, literally, that tell us that they’re finding this somewhat sudden influx of tourism to be challenging. Most residentials have boards on their gates stating that the houses are private properties, and “trespassers will be prosecuted”. There’s always a story behind a signboard, they say, and when an entire village has these boards, it makes you wonder.
As for the circular loop that forms the main walking track in Landour, you’ll find stencilled signs after every few steps asking, nay telling, people not to litter. And yet, there’s garbage and broken bottles all around.
Environmental issues aside, Landour is a book heavy destination. It holds tight to the notion that books are essential. That’s why there’s always an overflowing bookcase in sight, no matter where you are in Landour, be it a restaurant or a homestay.
So, here’s a collection of a few signs I came across while walking in Landour. And I urge you to do the same. Walk! If you find yourself in this fabulous part of the world, get out of your air-conditioned cars, and walk!
On a completely different note, I am curious if the residents of Landour have monkeys working with them because how they manage to get these signs posted half way up the trees is quite intriguing.