Mussoorie, the domicile of fairs and festivals, temples, British edifices and houses and at the center of it, the thriving tourism industry is a favorite tourist destination and a most sought after honeymoon point of Northern India. Nature lovers, adventure seekers and enthusiastic voyagers from every corner of the country and globe throng this hilly wonderland especially in summer. The cosmopolitan Mussoorie basks in the glory of its diverse and rich historical and cultural heritage. The city accommodates the people from different religious and cultural backgrounds and houses temples for every religion. The specialty of Mussoorie is that most of the houses of this civic are named after their ancestral owners. The local language of this region is Garhwali and other languages widely spoken here include Kumaoni, Hindi, Punjabi and English.
Being a thriving tourism hub, Mussoorie is famous for its peculiar articles such as Ladakhi Shawls, Jamawar Shawls, windcheaters, dry pinecones, sweaters, clothes, sleeping bags, Tibetan prayer wheels, wooden decorative, hand carved Oakwood walking sticks, vases, wooden carved boxes, trays, bowls, cane baskets, hand carved jewelry boxes, magazine racks, wooden show pieces, brass statues, ceramic items, statues of Hindu deities and Buddha, jewellery, candle-stands, lamps, wall hangings, porcelain figures, antique British furniture, Indian handicrafts, other gift items, etc. This hill resort is also acclaimed for its Basmati Rice, Boiled Bhutta, Chocolates, Caramel Toffees, Apricots, Plums and other such cuisines.
The most remarkable aspect of Mussoorie culture is its legions of fairs and festivals celebrated through out the year with ultimate zest and pomp. Major festivals organized at this ‘Queen of Hills’ include Uttarani or Kale Kaua, Basant Panchami, Samvastar Pareva, Phooldeli, Bikhauti, Hariyala, Gheeya Sankranti or Olgia, Autumn Festival, Summer Festival, The Bhadraj Fair, Shravan Mela, Kunjapuri Fair, Nanda Devi Mela, Hatkalika Fair, Surkhanda Devi Mela, Mata Murti Ka Mela, Tapkeshwar Fair, Lakhawar Village Fair and so on.
Uttarani or Kale Kaua is celebrated on gigantic scales on the auspicious day of Uttarayani which generally falls on 14th of January every year. This festival is simultaneously celebrated at Nainital, Rameshwar, Bageshwar, Salt Mahadev, Pancheshwar and Chitrashila (Ranibagh). At the time of Kale Kaua or Uttarani, the Dola of Chaumu is brought down to the temple at Pancheshwar.
Basant Panchami, also called ‘Samvastar Pareva’ is the festival that marks the end of winter and welcomes the season of spring in a grand manner. Celebrated in the Hindu month of Magh, which falls in the months of January or February according to the English Calendar, this is the festival of worshipping the Goddess Saraswati. People particularly wear yellow clothes or carry yellow handkerchiefs and put a yellow Tilak on this day. With this festival the popular ‘holi baithaks’ also commence.
Phooldeli, celebrated in the months of March or April is the festival depicting the communal unity and integrity of the natives of Mussoorie. On the occasion of Phooldeli Festival, young girls go about putting flowers at the thresholds of every domicile which is supposed to bring good luck for the entire year.
Bikhauti is a 10 day festival celebrated in the first Hindu month ‘Chaitra’, which falls in the month of April. On the first day of Bikhauti women plant 7 typed of grains. If these grains germinate well, it means they are going to reap a good harvest that year. On the tenth day, the yellowish green saplings that grow out of the grains are cut and put on the heads and tucked behind the ears by people. At the time of this festival brothers send gifts to their sisters which are also known as Bikhauti.
Hariyala , celebrated in the month of July or August is held in the holy memory of the wedding of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. This festival also marks the arrival of monsoon and commemorates the harvest season. Bullocks are not made to work on this day and people worship the clay statues of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh on this occasion.
Gheeya Sankranti, popularly known as ‘Olgia’ is celebrated in the month of August on the first day of Hindu month Bhado. This is the festival of exchanging gifts among the farmers and their land owners, artists and their customers and so on. This festival is celebrated in the honor of the fertility of land when harvest is in abundance. People eat ghee with chapattis at the time of Gheeya Sankranti.
Autumn Festival is the major festival of Mussoorie that is organized by the ‘Municipal Board Autumn’. This ten days festival is particularly remarkable for various events such as theatre plays, fireworks, roller skating shows, other sporting events and so on. At the time of the Autumn Festival, various dignitaries of the state including the Governor, the Chief Minister and other ministers pay a visit to Mussoorie.
Summer Festival is chiefly organized with an aim of enhancing educational knowledge as well as awareness through various cultural events. The main highlights of the Summer Festival is cultural parades, seminars, debates, drawing competitions, folk dances, game shows, magic shows and many more. These competitions are judged by celebrated scholars of respective fields. Organized by the Nagar Palika Parishad of Mussoorie, Summer Festival is a favorite event of the locals as well as the tourists and comprises a noteworthy attraction of Mussoorie.
The Bhadraj Fair is organized at the Bhadraj Temple in the 3rd week of August on the occasion of Shravan Sankranti.
Adventure In Mussoorie : Mussoorie, strategically positioned in the lap of the Himalayan Mountain Ranges is a paradise for adventure enthusiasts as it furnishes as the starting point of a number of treks, hikes, jungle trails, animal spotting and many other venturesome and thrilling activities. Lal Tibba, Nag Tibba, Benog Tibba, Park Estate, Bhadraj Forest etc are some of the trekking destinations around Mussoorie. The Himalayan Adventure Institute apart from trekking organizes various adventurous activities such as rock climbing, paragliding, river crossings, nature camps etc for the adventure seekers alighted here.