Walk up to smell the coffee and enjoy the preserved charm of Landour Bakehouse

This story was originally published in TravelDine India by Vernika Awal.

If there ever was a two-word description for a place that the heart would yearn for, Landour Bakehouse in the small town of Landour in Uttarakhand would not be too far from the target.

If you grew up in an English-medium convent institute in your childhood just as the ‘90s began, you’ll likely remember forever how the illustrations in childhood literature books looked like. There would be quaint winters strewn with snow, with winding, cobbled streets decorated in cheery tinsels and warm, blinking lights. Houses would line the said street, and each house would feature brown-tiled sloping roofs — with a white steaming chimney perched atop. In the centre of this town would be a community diner.

Truth be told, the beauty of such a serene, sleepy winter town will never be lost — in the modern era of breakneck speed and digitised everything. But, it is only when you visit such a place that you realise what your swanky metropolitan condominium life misses.

It is this that the inimitably poetic Landour Bakehouse personifies.

A world away from everywhere

Landour, if you aren’t already familiar with it, is about 30 minutes — or one good conversation — away from Mussoorie, North India’s absolute favourite hill station. Yet, despite the proximity that it enjoys to Mussoorie, Landour feels like a world away.

A quick search on the internet will tell you about its ease of access from Mussoorie, and the winding cobbled lanes–lined with monkey-proof dustbins that have poetic interludes written on them–that surround this sleepy little hill-town. Yet, Landour hits you like an emotion that you’re never quite ready for, especially in the modern world.

That emotion hits you in a rather quirky way, when you spot a van–a good ol’ Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine–that says, ‘LANDOUR BAKEHOUSE: We’ll start deliveries as soon as our vehicle is fixed!’

I step inside, and suddenly, I’m in a different era. It’s a mix of the warmth of the prosperous years of the 19th century, adorned with a few bells and whistles of the 21st. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee whiffs about, and I slowly notice a world where not a single person inside Landour Bakehouse is on their mobile phones.

To my left, a young couple sat with their cups of coffees and two plates of banana loaf slices, with a physical map held up between each other. I stepped further, to find multiple solo travellers sitting with their heads buried in books. A gentleman at an adjacent table, who was so far busy scribbling away in a black leather-bound parchment diary with a golden Parker, suddenly looks up–having noticed me staring at him rather awkwardly.

“Hello there,” he said with a smile.

In a split second, I forget the decade that I’m in.

Never forget your cookbook!


After a jaunty conversation, I settle down at the table farthest from the entrance. This table overlooks the snow-capped Himalayas afar, and a Deodar-adorned slope that goes downward. The sky blinks back at you–a shade of pristine blue.

In a minute, I turn to the menu–a sheet of paper with items and names of families attached to them.

You see, the Landour Bakehouse is a true community bakehouse. It isn’t actually old–the eatery was established less than 10 years ago. However, the Rokeby Manor-owned place was built in a sort-of homage to the oldest settlers of Landour.

This rather quaint community, back in the early 19th century, lived in a world without refrigeration or any such electronic comforts. So, the story goes that the community elders came together to pitch in their heirloom recipes–with exact proportions and measures, and specific instructions on how to cook at high altitudes or preserve items without the need for any technological assistance.

Thus was born the Landour Cookbook–which, in today’s reprinted edition, is penned by none other than Ruskin Bond. Could it get more poetic?

‘Pretend like it’s 1895’

The menu is a hark back to ‘90s convent days–you get Landour’s “old fashioned candy”, cakes with icing, puddings, cake slices (or loafs, if you please), muffins, cookies, crepes, sweet buns, breads, and ‘fancy’ breads. I settle for a hot chocolate, a fruit cake, and a garlic and cheese croissant.

As I waited for my requested servings to arrive, it suddenly struck me that since the time I entered the Landour Bakehouse, I had not checked my phone even once. I was suddenly full of stories that I wanted to tell, and hear, too.

Minutes later, I delve in–and Landour Bakehouse is every bit as good as the whispers around promise it to be. It’s not about aiming for Michelin stars, or theatrics that turn food into a West End afterparty. This is all soul, and the luxuriously rich hot chocolate fills you with the kind of warmth that only a quaint, quiet hill station can.

To break out of my reverie and be a critic for a moment–the food at Landour Bakehouse is absolutely sublime. The breads are soft, the coffee is better than what your favourite star-rated chains would ever serve you, and the cakes and crepes melt in your mouth. The brilliance of the shade of blue in the sky perhaps helps you along, but if this is the theatre that the modern-day food wants to serve, I’d have it every single day.

In between all of this, my eyes catch a tiny board that says, ‘We do not have wi-fi. Pretend like it’s 1895!’

What’s funny is, as I stared at this board, I forgot which year we are in.

It doesn’t matter though, does it?

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