Chapter Two: Birth of a Hill Station

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It was due to the conquest of Garhwal by the Gurkhas that, indirectly, Mussoorie came into being. About 225 years ago, in 1765 or therabout, the progenitors of the redoubtable Gurkha warriors who now form so distinguished a section of the Indian Army had, under the leadership of Prithi Narain, begun to make themselves felt as a formidable power. They first subdued Kathmandu and Bhatgaon in Nepal proper; and, after Prithi Narain's death, under his widow and brother as regents for his infant son, they extended their conquests westward into Kumaon.

From Kumaon, the Gurkhas carried their invasion into Garhwal. Srinagar, then the capital of Parduman Sah, the Raja of Garhwal, was attacked in February 1803. The Raja retreated and made a futile stand at Barahat (Uttarkashi), but was driven southwards, first into the Dun, and then to Saharanpur. Here he raised a couple of lakhs of rupees by pawning all his property, his throne, and even the sacred jewels and plate of the Badrinath temple. With these funds he got together a new

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army, retunred to the Dun, and attacked the invaders who, under Umar Singh Thapa, had occupied Dehra; but he was defeated and killed.

J.B. Fraser, author of Himalayan Mountains, mentions that the priests of Paligarh, a sacred glen not far from Jomnotri, prophesied the misfortunes of Raja Parduman Sah, the rise of Gurkha power and its eventual subjugation by the British. In fact, British forces reached the steep south faces of the Siwalik range just as the Gurkha wave surged up the northern slopes. Colonel Burn marched into Saharanpur about the same time as Umar Singh Thapa occupied Dehra, in October 1803.

The immediate cause of the war between the Gurkhas and the British was the destruction of a police station in a disputed portion of British frontier territory and the barbarous murder of the daroga in charge after a gallant defense in which 18 of his constables were killed and six wounded. Another police station was raided shortly afterwards. The season being unfavourable for undertaking punitive operations, the Governor General sent a letter of remonstrance to the Raja of Nepal. The reply was unsatisfactory, even insolent, and war was formally declared on 1 November 1814, although operations had begun before that. The Gurkhas, as might be expected, proved formidable foes, and although they had a mere handful of fighting men in the Dun, they gave the British no end of trouble, and their defence known as Kalinga, was as stubborn and heroic as any such deed that history records. It took three separate assaults by British troops before the Gurkhas were compelled by continuous and well-sustained bombardment to evacuate the Kalinga Fort. In number about 70 survivors only, they cut their way through the besiegers' lines on the night of 30 November.

The gallant Gurkhas afterwards repulsed another British assault under Major Baldock against Jauntgarh, a mountain fort in Jaunsar into which they had thrown themselves. After repulsing this attack Balbhaddar Singh, commander of the Gurkhas, crossed the Jamuna and held Jaitak in Sirmur territory against all British efforts, till the evacuation of all Gurkha strongholds

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between the Kali and the Sutlej, by treaty, on 15 May 1815. And now the Dun proper, as we know it, may be considered to have come into existence. It was formally annexed to the district of Saharanpur by a Resolution of Government dated 17 November 1815.

Above sent 29 April 1996

[Birth of a Hill Station continued ++ Page 19 -]

Some five years afterwards, in 1822, the Hon. Mr. Shore was appointed Joint Magistrate and Superintendent of the Revenues of the Dun; but sometime before that it appears that a force of Military Police, called the Sirmur Battalion, had been raised and equipped from amongst the Sirmurias and the remnants of the Gurkhas left in the Dun, under the command of Captain Young (Captain "Jung" to the Gurkhas) of the 68th N.I. This battalion was afterwards well-known as the Sirmur Rifles, or the 2nd Prince of Wales' Own Gurkhas, whose headquarters continue to be the cantonments west of Dehra Dun.

It is natural to suppose that officers locate the hills and eventually climb them here and there in search of sport and recreation. The first house erected on the hills north of Dehra was a small hut built on the Camel's Back as a shooting-box by Mr. Shore and Captain Young in 1823. Another small house was built shortly afterwards, somewhere on the Kulri hill. This is said to be Zephyr Cottage, close to Zephyr Hall, now in ruins. Mullingar, built by Captain Young as his residence as Commandant of Landour, and White Park Forest, later known as Annfield (burnt down during riots in 1947), are probably the first houses built which are recognizable the present day. White, Park and Forest were the names of three men who chummed at the house. The splendid climate and the good sport obtainable gradually attracted other Europeans as the dun and the hills to the north became better known; in 1827, the government established a convalescent depot for European soldiers at Landour.

By this time there were several houses in Mussoorie; the Park was built by Colonel Wyshe in 1827; Phoenix Lodge in 1829; and about this time Captain Kirke, and one or two others whose names are amongst the first in the old householder's register, commenced building. As it is recorded that a merchant named Lawrence came up in 1829 with a stock of miscellaneous

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goods for sale, building a hut for himself and his wares on the Camel's Back, there must have been something of a European consumer population by that time.

The two stations of Landour and Mussoorie were at first entirely separate. The convalescent depot was on top of the Landour hill; Mussoorie showed a tendency to keep well to the west in the direction of Hathipaon and Cloud End. The Old Brewery, Bohle's Brewery, and the first school (Mackinnon's) were out west; Colonel Everest, the first Surveyor General who located himself in Mussoorie, fixed on the Park as his office and residence. Clover Lodge, Leopard Lodge, Cloud End, and the ruins of other old houses in that direction show the western tendency of Mussoorie, which was further emphasised by the reservation of sites for bazaars at Hathipaon, at Dudhili Khal and even as far west as Bhadraj, a hill crowned by a temple, overlooking the Jamuna river. Mussoorie and Landour having since joined, and eastern Mussoorie being overbuilt and overcrowded, the western tendency is reasserting itself.

Above was sent on 02 May 1996

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There was apparently no settlement of any kind in Mussoorie or Landour till some 18 years after Captain Young and Mr. Shore built the first hut on the Camel's Back. Indeed, beyond Mr. Calvert's fixing of the Revenue Sub-divisions in 1816, there appeared to have been no regular settlements and surveys in the Dun itself. The European settlers in Mussoorie took up what land they required direct from the zamindars of the villages on both slopes of the hills. The boundary line between Dehra Dun and territories with Raja Sudarshan Sah of Tehri, who was reinstated after the British had driven the Gurkhas out of the Dun, was led down as the watershed of the Mussoorie-Landour range. Hence the northern slopes of the hill down towards the Aglar valley were, strictly speaking, Tehri territory. The question of the boundary first cropped up when the government established a convalescent depot at Landour in 1827. Since the land on the northern slopes of the hill was not in British territory, compensation was accordingly determined on by way of annual rent, the government paying Rs. 70 per annum for the Landour depot and for the Civil Station, or Mussoorie proper,

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Rs. 278 per annum. These rates wereş later enhanced; but as the total area of Mussoorie and Landour was nearly 20 square miles (about half of which, roughly speaking, was Tehri territory), a rent of roughly Rs. 350 per annum was by no means excessive, about Rs. 35 per square mile!

The first business started in Mussoorie (if we exclude Mr. Lawrence's venture of general goods for sale in 1829) would appear to have been the Old Brewery which was started by Mr. Bohle from Meerut in 1830, on the site of the later Mackinnon's Brewery. In 1832, Mr. Bohle appears to have got into trouble with Colonel Young (Captain Young of Sirmu Rifles), who at this time apparently combined the offices of Superintendent of the Dun and Commandant of Landour. The difficulty seems to have been about supplying beer to soldiers who came down from Landour to the brewery with forged passes. Whether on account of the trouble with the authorities, or because he found that a hill brewery was not a paying concern, Mr. Bohle closed his brewery. Two years later, in 1834, Mr. Mackinnon came up, purchased the estate and opened the first of Mussoorie's schools, calling it the Mussoorie Seminary. Bohle also returned about the same time and reopened the Old Brewery where he continued working till 1838 when he built the place known as Bohle's Brewery. The ruins of this place are still in evidence. Bohle's Bullock Cart Train (from Rajpur to Mussoorie) was famous in its time as a goods carrier. Mr. Bohle's tomb is one of the more impressive monuments in the Camel's Back Cemetery.

Above --
Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 07:27:34 -0400
Subject: Bond's Mussoorie

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In 1835 the European population was large enough to trouble itself about its spiritual needs. A meeting was got up to arrange the erecting of a church and Mr. Mackinnon, already one of the leading men in Mussoorie owing to his energy and public spirit, proposed and selected the site; in 1836, the tower and nave of the present Christ Church were erected by Captain Rennie Tailour of the Bengal Engineers. The Mussoorie Library also owes its origins (1841) to Mr. Mackinnon; his portrait still hangs in its reference room.

St. Paul's Church was built a short time after the Mussoorie Church and consecrated by Bishop Wilson on 1 May 1840.

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Mussoorie's first bank, the north-west Bank, was started in 1836 under the management of Colonel F. Angelo, and for some time it was utilized as a Government bank, holding a floating deposit of treasury money for the convenience of government officers and their families residing in Mussoorie. This arrangement was terminated in 1842 by Mr. Vansittart, then Superintendent of the Dun; it is probably that he was well advised in so doing, as the bank stopped payment shortly afterwards. The depositors were all paid up, but the shareholders lost a good deal. In 1864 the Mussoorie Savings Bank was started by Mr. Hobson, and sometime later the Himalaya Bank was opened under the management of Mr. Moss. These two banks disappeared too, the collapse of the latter creating rather a sensation at the time. Some say Mossy Falls was named after Mr. Moss! The Alliance Bank of Simla opened a branch in Mussoorie on 21 August 1891 in very handsome premises known as Tiverton House, at the east end of the Mall. This too crashed. Mussoorie was not a healthy place for banks in the good old days!

In 1841 the settlement of Mussoorie was carried out by Mr. Wells, who demarcated and mapped out the various estates taken up by the European settlers. In 1842, after Mr. Wells' settlement, the Mussoorie Municipal Board was constituted and the records of the settlements deposited in their office. The first Secretary was Mr. MacGregor, and the office was initially a room in the 'kachehri', while the monthly meetings were held in the Library, in the Mussoorie Bank, and in various other places. It was not until 1871 that the Belleville estate was purchased by the Municipality and the existing house altered and enlarged to suit the purpose of a Municipal and Town Hall.

Above -
Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 12:31:37 -0400
Subject: Bond's Mussoorie

[Birth of a Hill Station Concluded ++ Page 22 - ] Mussoorie seems from the first to have been an eligible residence for Indian princes. The Chateau Kapurthala, the picturesque hill residence of the Maharaja of Kapurthala above the Savoy Hotel is well-known. Mussoorie was also the home of an ex-Amir of Afghanistan, who , with his family and retinue of Kabulis, resided at Bellevue on the southern spur of Vincent's Hill. As far back as 1853 Mussoorie offered shelter for a time to a distinguished Punjabi prince, Maharaja Dalip Singh, son of the

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celebrated Lion of the Punjab, Ranjit Singh. When the child prince was removed from the Punjab, he was first made over to the care of Dr. Login at Lucknow. Afterwards he was sent up to Mussoorie as he was not keeping good health in the plains, and the Castle, the house on top of Castle Hill, was selected as Dalip Singh's residence.

In 1842 a weekly newspapers called The Hills was started by Mr. Mackinnon, who was still very much the moving spirit of Mussoorie. Well-edited and well-supported, it soon made its mark and became well-known. It was decidedly radical in its views and appeared to have adopted the idea of the traditional Irishman, who was not quite sure what his politics were except that they were 'agin the Guv'ment anyhow!" However, the Government was able to survive it. The paper ran for some seven or eight years, when Mr. Mackinnon closed his school and reopened his Brewery in 1849. For some years Mussoorie was without a paper of any sort until, in 1860, Dr. Smith revived The Hills in a large form, and it continued till 1865, when it finally collapsed.

About 1870 an attempt was made to start another paper called The Mussoorie Exchange. It was chiefly on advertiser and only lived for a few months. In 1872 Mr. Coleman started the Mussoorie Season and was joined in this venture by Mr. John Northam, who, when Mr. Coleman disappeared from Mussoorie somewhat abruptly in 1874, ran the paper till the end of the season, and then started the The Himalaya Chronicle. In the winter of 1875-76 an attempt was made to run The Himalaya Chronicle throughout the year, transferring the publication to Meerut during the cold weather, but apparently this was not successful, as it was only tried for one year. After the demise of The Himalaya Chronicle there have been several other weekly papers published in Mussoorie from time to time, one of which, The Beacon, under Dr. Hawthorne, had a somewhat lurid, but brief career. A pity there are no file copies of most of these old papers, for they would provide a fascinating picture of the Mussoorie of their day.

The indefatigable Mr. Mackinnon also opened the Seminary,

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Mussoorie's first school, and the hill station rapidly developed on scholastic lines through the 19th and 20th centuries. Several minor schools were started from time to time, flourished for a while and faded away. But the real "boom" in English education took place in independent India. Today, private schools flourish as they never did before.

The Mussoorie Cart Road, generally known as Mackinnon's Road, was commenced in 1843, a joint stock company with a capital of Rs. 60,000 being floated by Mr. Mackinnon for the purpose. The road was wonderfully well graded and constructed; passing above Bhatta village, it came up by the Crown Brewery to the Library, a branch going eastward from Kincraig towards Tara Hall. The present motor road simply follows it.

Mussoorie has from its beginning had a curious attraction for surveyors. Colonel Everest, then Surveyor General of India, made his headquarters in the Park as far back as 1832, while the head office of the Great Trignometrical Survey, and the recess quarters of all sorts of survey parties, scientific, topographical and revenue, have constantly been located in Mussoorie. Many a survey officer who subsequently distinguished himself in geodetic work made his first acquaintance with a big 36-inch theodolite in the little observatory on top of Camel's Back under the paternal guidance of Mr. J. B. Hennessy, for many years in charge of the Head Quarters Office, and afterwards Superintendent of the G.T. Branch of the Department. After the amalgamation of the three separate Survey Departments, Trignometrical, Topographical and Revenue into one, the Headquarters of the Trignometrical Branch were retained in their winter quarters at Dehra Dun.

Mussoorie was first connected by telegraph with the world in general about 1865. A post office had been established with the opening of the Landour Convalescent Depot in 1827. The Head Post Office was for many years at Grand Parade, at the entrance to the Landour bazaar, but with the growing importance of Mussoorie, the opening of a branch office (now the Main Post Office) on the Kulri Hill in the centre of the shopping and business quarters was a real boon to the public.

[END Birth of a Hill Station END]

Ruskin Bond
Woodstock - 'dream' school