[Maps of Hiking]

Witch's Hill or Pari Tibba
from Hiking in the Garhwal Himalayas (1998)
p. 40-41 (Also exerpt from Ruskin Bond)

Pari Tibba (Witch's Hill)
By Jon Derksen


Witch's hill is a good destination for anyone seeking to do a short day hike in the Mussoorie area. It is close to Landour Bazaar and located just below the Woodstock School dormitories.

To get to Witch's Hill, descend from Tehri Road by way of a steep stairway and path just below the Woodstock School Quadrangle. At the bottom of the staircase and at the top of a long ramp, is a sign indicating the Sagar Estate. Follow the ramp down until the road splits. Ridgewood basketball court and dormitory will be on your right. Take the left turn down an exceedingly steep cement road through gentle forest as far as the Dhabi Ghat (washerman s village). Just above the village looking south, you will see a clear trail winding up the side of Witch's Hill. Follow this up, passed a small abandoned mine (on your right) until you reach a low saddle. Take the path on the right zigzagging up the further of the two hills until you come out onto a flat grassy area surrounded by trees. On clear nights the view of the Doon Valley is Christmaslike, and it is a great place for picnics, or if you just want to get away from things for a few hours. On stormy nights, it's advised that you stay clear of Witch's Hill, as it seems supernaturally prone to lightning strikes, as several burnt and twisted trees on top make obvious.

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[To Page 41-]

Why Pari Tibba should be struck so often by lightning has always been something of a mystery to me. Its soil and rock seem no different from the soil or rock of any other phenomenon; or perhaps it has something to do with the fairies.

'Why do they call it the Hill of the Fairies?' I asked an old resident, a retired schoolteacher. 'Is the place haunted.'

'So they say,' he said.

'Who say?'

'Oh, people who have heard it's haunted. Some years after the site was abandoned by the settlers, two young runaway lovers took shelter for the night in one of the ruins. There was a bad storm and they were struck by lightning. Their charred bodies were found a few days later. They came from different communities and were buried far from each other, but their spirits hold tryst every night under the pine trees. You might see them if you're on Pari Tibba after sunset.'

There are no ruins on Pari Tibba, and I can only presume that the building materials were taken away for use elsewhere. And I did not stay on the hill till after sunset. Had I tried climbing downhill in the dark, I would probably have ended up as the third ghost on the mountain. The lovers might have resented my intrusion; or, who knows, they might have welcomed a change ..Even the most ardent of lovers must tire of each other.

(From Rain in the Mountains by Ruskin Bond)

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