Landour, in Mussoorie, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, is one of the best walks you could ever treat yourself to. The walk that starts at Mussoorie's famous (and newly rebuilt) clock tower, must end at the famed house of well-known actor Victor Banerjee.
The Landour walk after the Clock Tower goes through a local market, then takes a steep climb to Mullingar (which is the first building to have been constructed in Mussorie by Captain Young), goes past the famous Dolma cafe, writer Ruskin Bond’s home and then a few pretty cottages. Then you meet a short steep climb along deodar trees to end up at the Char Dukan. Once there, rest a while, and indulge in some momo and cinnamon waffles. Having done that now is the time to get up and start looking for Victor Banerjee’s house. Victor is a very well-known actor who has acted in many films including Shatranj Ke Khiladi (1977), Kalyug (1981), A Passage to India (1984) and Jogger’s Park (2003) among many others.
The Char Dukan sits at the starting point of the Lal Tibba chakkar or the loop. It is a circular road around the Lal Tibba hill with Victor Banerjee’s house located at the farthest end. Named as ‘Parsonage’, it is one of the most quaint-looking and romantic houses you will ever come across. It is located on the slope of the hill, surrounded by a forest, with picket fences leading your eyes to it. What you see is a relatively small building with ornamental carving and a pleasant garden around it. The occasional mist, the forest all around, and the rustling mountain breeze only add to the pleasant effect it has on you. Also, the fact that it is located at the farthest end of the Landoour and that too after a steep climb makes the experience even more rewarding.
Victor Banerjee himself narrated an anecdote in one of his interviews about the house. He mentioned how once he found a letter written by a couple who had spent a considerable amount of time standing in front of the house and admiring it. They had left a letter addressed to Victor where they had laid bare their heartfelt appreciation for the house.
Ruskin Bond, in one of his writings also narrates an incident related to Victor’s house. This is how the story goes. Ruskin once spent an evening at Victor’s house. By the time he thought about returning to his home (located in the lower Landour), it had gotten very late and Landour was immersed in complete darkness and mist. When Ruskin was about to leave, Victor dared him to pass through the cemetery that is located just about 200 meters from Victor’s home. Ruskin took up the challenge. He got out and walked straight through the cemetery, feeling a bit worried but still acting brave. When he was in the middle of the cemetery, he heard someone calling out his name from amongst one of the graves. Ruskin stopped in his tracks. But then he found the voice a bit suspicious. Gathering his wits he gave a closer inspection and found victor crouching behind a gravestone and laughing. As it turned out, Victor after throwing the challenge at Ruskin had taken a shortcut from his home to reach the cemetery before Ruskin, intending to scare him.
Once you have seen Victor’s house you come back passing the above-mentioned British-era Christian Cemetery, Kellog Memorial Church, and the beautiful Saint Paul’s Church along the way before ending back at Char Dukan. I have taken this walk more than a couple of times. You can also do that, and maybe you can do one better. You could actually try your luck and meet up with Victor and pass through the cemetery(if you consider yourself brave). That would be your own Mussoorie story to tell.