The name Mussoorie is often attributed to a derivation of 'mansoor', a shrub which is indigenous to the area. The town is in fact often referred to as 'Mansoori' by locals.
It was due to the conquest of the Garhwal and the Dehra in 1803 by the Gurkhas, under Umer Singh Thapa that, indirectly, Mussoorie came into being. It was natural after that, that at some point of time the interest of British security would have clashed with the expansionist policies of the Gurkhas. The inevitable war, broke out on November 1, 1814, and Dehradun was evacuated of the Gurkhas by 1815 and was annexed to the district of Saharanpur by the British by 1819.
On the present site of the town of Mussoorie, before the British came, there were only shepherds whose animals grazed on the 'Mansur' shrub which gives the town its name. The first house erected on the ridge of Mussoorie was a small hut built on the Camel's back as a shooting box by Mr. Shore, the then Joint Magistrate and superintendent of revenues of the Doon, and Captain Young of the Sirmur Rifles in 1823. Soon Captain Young built his large residence called 'Mullingar' as his residence as the Commandant of Landour. The splendid climate and the good sport obtainable gradually attracted other Europeans. As the Doon and the hills to the north became better known in 1827, the Government established a convalescent depot for European soldiers at Landour. The town grew rapidly and, a hundred years on, it had grown into a major settlement of the home - sick British, away from the heat and dust of the plains. Social life had also become hectic. There were balls and parties in Landour cantonment and Polo, fetes and Riding in happy valley where the Charleville Hotel stood.
During British Rule Mussoorie was a convalescent centre for soldiers and was established at Landour, the two towns soon merged. Many substantial homes appeared, precariously situated on the mountainside, some belonging to Maharajas and others belonging to more humble residents. By 1842 the town consisted of 42 houses, a hotel and five barracks. The clientele for the new resort came from far and wide and it was soon dubbed ‘Queen of the Hill Stations’ due to its spectacular and varied mountain scenery.
Mussoorie, as a hill station, was established only as back as in 1823, it has quite an intriguing past
Mussoorie was never an official summer capital unlike Shimla - a hill station in the state of Himachal pradesh which was the summer capital of the British Indian government-and even unlike Nainital -the summer capital of the united provinces government in British India. Mussoorie always remained unofficial - for the affairs of the heart. It has always been a gossipy place - with an air of informality and a tradition of romance - The Honeymoon capital of India.
Towards the latter half of the 19th century, Mussoorie had became a favoured hill station for Indians as well as the British. Sir George Everest, after whom Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world, is named, lived in Mussoorie from 1832-60. In 1880, the ex-Amir of Afghanistan, Yakub Khan, was put under house arrest in Bellevue Estate in Mussoorie. In 1884, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught spent summer in this hill station. In the early 1880s, McKinnon’s brewery in Mussoorie fermented wine that was also exported to England.
Trave vacations on Mussoorie will show you diverse colors of beautiful nature. Even today, Mussoorie has a distinct colonial aura around it, with a thriving club life reminiscent of the days of the Raj. The famous author, Ruskin Bond, lives in Mussoorie. Limestone was quarried in the hills of Mussoorie till 1995, when the Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, banned mining in the area. Mussoorie’s local deity is Bhadraj, and an annual fair is held in his honour.
An idyllic stroll through any of the meandering mountain roads of the town, on a clear and sunny day will bring you to some of the well known and not so well known spots - each with its own tales to tell - Landour Bazaar, Chaar dukaan, Lal tibba, Gun hill, the Camel Back cemetery, the Mussoorie Library, and of course the hotel Savoy Hotel - an historical edifice in itself. You may be able to recognise any or all of the old houses and estates or you may meet a descendant of some of the families of Mussoorie.
Apart from its own quiet charm, Mussoorie also boasts of spectacular views of the Himalayas. Northwards, the mountains rise, form layer after layer to the horizon, where the Eternal Snows often seem close enough to touch. Himalaya is, literally the Abode of Snow. From west to east, seer the might snow-white peaks of Bandarpoonch, Srikantha, the Gangotri group and the Chaukhamba.
The weather is generally bright and clear - except during the three months ( June to August) of Monsoons.Then mists envelope the mountain slopes and paints the sky a faint mauve. The woods around - of pine, cedar, birch, oak, rhododendron and deodar - glow green. There usually is a bright Christmas and the breathtaking view of the snowclad Mussoorie gives it the name - the Queen among hill stations.
The main promenade in Mussoorie is called, as in other hill stations, the Mall. In Mussoorie, the Mall stretches from Picture Palace at its eastern end to the Public Library (shortened to 'Library') at its western end. During the British Raj, signs on the Mall expressly stated: "Indians and Dogs Not Allowed"; racist signs of this type were commonplace in hill stations, which were founded 'by and for' the British. Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, deliberately broke this rule every day whenever he was in Mussoorie, and would pay the fine. The Nehru family, including Nehru's daughter Indira (later Indira Gandhi) were frequent visitors to Mussoorie in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and stayed at the Savoy Hotel. They also spent much time in nearby Dehradun, where Nehru's sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit ultimately settled full-time.
In April 1959, after fleeing Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Dalai Lama established the Tibetan Government in Exile in Mussoorie. The Government of Tibet in exile eventually moved to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh. The first Tibetan school was established in Mussoorie in 1960. Tibetans settled mainly in Happy Valley in Mussoorie. Today, some 5,000 Tibetans live in Mussoorie.
Mussoorie Electric & Water Supply Whole of the Mussooorie town used to derive its electrical energy for lightning and power purposes from the Generating Station, situated at Galogi, which also supplied power to Rajpur and Dehradun. Water for driving the generators was taken from Bhatta & Kiarkuli streams. The water-works used to be electrically operated from the two pumping stations namely the Murray pump and the Bhilaru pump, which are still functioning..