ILBERT MANOR

MUSSOORIE

USP: Far from the madding crowd

I didn't know there was more to Courtenay Ilbert than the controversial Bill he gave his name to — the bill that led to the formation of the Indian National Congress. Today, Ilbert has come out of the history books as I unwind at his summer house in Mussoorie. Nestled in lush green surroundings, the manor changed hands many times before Devika Pasricha, a young entrepreneur, decided to restore it to its past glory.

It's called a boutique hotel, but to me it is a painstakingly preserved heritage, a window to our colonial past. Just a stone's throw awayfrom the Mall, it is untouched by the hustle bustle and the commercial trappings of the hill station. It gives you the prized silence of Landour (a part of Mussoorie) without taking you away from the hot spot. Late in the evening when the crowd leaves Mussoorie, you can walk up to the heart of the hill station and take in the atmosphere.

Step into the hotel, and discover that each of the 14 rooms is named after a personality associated with Mussoorie. The corridors are full of photographs from photographer Ganesh Saili's collection. Every room has a picture and a short write-up of the person it is dedicated to. And, it's not just the popular ones such as Jim Corbett that make the cut here; one can also relax in William Willcocks — the engineer who tamed the Nile with the Aswan Dam.

I am put up in Rudyard Kipling. Through the glass wall, I catch a glimpse of a woodpecker perched atop a cedar, as the sun plays hide and seek with the verdant hills in the background. A few minutes later, rain starts playing its raga on the roof.

I head to the library at the Manor, and spot Susan Isaacs' Any Place I Hang My Hat.

Well, I suggest this one!

How to get there

The nearest airport, Jolly Grant, is 60 km away.

The nearest railway station, Dehradun, is 36 km away.

By road, Mussoorie is well connected to Delhi (around 260 kms) via Dehradun on National and State Highways.

Things to do

Take a walk around Lal Tibba.

Trek or bicycle down the manor. Rejuvenate at the spa.

Check out the hidden trekking and cycling routes.

Try your hand at photography — photo ops are plenty!

Try bun-omelette at Char Dukan.

Shop for jams and jellies at Sister's Bazaar.

Tariff

(For two nights and three days meant for two adults and a child below five years. No child age restriction in suite. The rates are inclusive of five per cent luxury tax and are valid till July 31, 2011.)

Imperial Room: Rs.13,500 (American plan)

Colonial suite: Rs.18,500 (American plan)

For three nights and four days:

Imperial room: Rs.17,500 (A.P)

Colonial suite: Rs.22,500 (A.P)

(For details, look up www.ilbertmanor.com)

(The writer was at Ilbert Manor at the invitation of the hotel.)