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Historic and luxurious hotel of Mussoorie, once run by Italian hoteliers

Historic and luxurious hotel of Mussoorie, once run by Italian hoteliers
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Article By Anuj Saxena , a senior journalist is an amid writer, traveller – explorer, nature lover and a zoophilist to the core. He holds a first hand experience of exploring the beauty of nature across more than 75 countries. 
Messrs Viglietta and Palazzi. Any idea about it’s name?  Yes I am talking about the Savoy Hotel –  the pride of Mussoorie. It is said during the British Raj, when Mussoorie was known as the pleasure capital of the RAJ. The Savoy hotel was the place either to stay ( if you could afford ) or to be seen ( if you couldn’t ).

If you are curious to know about  the first hotel in Mussoorie and guessing that Savoy was the first hotel in the town, you are mistaken. The first hotel was built in 1838, much earlier than the savoy. According to the Fanny Eden, sister of the Governor – General Lord Auckland, wrote in her journal of 17th March 1838, ” there is a large hotel just built on a hill here.

The Charles Ville hotel was built in 1861. So now we come back to the Savoy hotel. Around 1895 cecil D. Lincoln,  the Irishman, who was a barrister in Lucknow,  acquired the estate of Rev. Maddock’s Mussoorie school. He built the savoy during the next five years, after razing the school to ground. As the road up from Dehradun wasn’t ready yet, massive amount of Edwardian furniture,  grand Pianos, Billiard tables, barrels of Cider, crates of Champagne and other materials were all carried up hill by bullock cart, this also included the Oak pieces that were later joined to make it’s dinning hall floor that is renowned for its size.

The charm of the town ‘Savoy’ opened in the summer of 1902. It soon became popular amongst the British upper echelons of the RAJ, such as the civil servants and military officers who wanted to  avoid the stiff official environment of Shimla, as the summer capital.

In March 1906, the Princes of Wales (later Queen Mary) stayed here and attended a garden party on the Savoy grounds, the place is known as the Beer Garden. Soon after her departure,  the town was hit by an earthquake, and many buildings were flattened,  the hotel also experienced some damage and was closed temporarily, though it was reopened in 1907 after repairs. After two years in 1909, electricity reached here and than Savoy added more feathers in its cap.

The story of its popularity doesn’t stop here, after the First World War in 1920, the first Car came to the hill station and hotel entered it’s most popular phase, as it boasted a large imperial dinning room and the ballroom which was the talk of the town in its hey day. Maharajas and chieftains from the plains below stayed here and several maintained suites here. Wealthy princes occupied entire wings with their retinues, as did various Kings of Nepal,  Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia,  the Crown Prince of Laos and Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck. The Savoy orchestra played each night at the ballroom,  filled with couples doing fox – trot,  the latest dancing craze in those days. 

Visiting Mussoorie in 1926, the famous traveller, Lowell Thomas, wrote, ” There is a hotel – Savoy in Mussoorie , where they ring a bell just before dawn so that the pious may say their prayers and the impious get back to their own beds. “
Over the years it has been visited by several dignitaries including Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Dalai Lama etc etc.

The Savoy hotel has a lot of stories told untold…

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