Perched on a hilltop in Mussoorie, a century old heritage property (now a luxurious hotel) is soaked in rich history. Once you arrive here, you are likely to be smitten by the grandeur of this place. Be it the Shah of Iran, or the Afghan rulers, Pt. Nehru and his family, the royal family of the British empire, Nobel Laureates and the list goes on, ‘The Savoy’ has served them all.
But a particular instance (an unsolved mystery) that occurred here in the past, continues to echo even today.
About ‘The Savoy’ – Mussoorie
Savoy was built as a luxurious hotel in the year 1902 by a barrister from Lucknow named Cecil D Lincoln. The property’s architecture is English – Gothic and it houses 75 rooms, spread over 11 acres of land. A major earthquake in 1906 caused much damage to the hotel and it was then closed for a year+. The hotel is currently owned and run by ITC hotels which took over the property in 2009.
‘The Savoy’ , since its humble beginnings, has seen visits by crème-de-la-crème of the society. It was the most sought-after place for the British civil and military officers. A careful examination of the photo gallery in the hotel lobby and other common areas reveal that this was the place of celebration | music | dance for the who’s who of the society. It has lived up to its class since then. His Holiness “The Dalai Lama” on being exiled to India in 1959, stayed in Mussoorie for a year (before he shifted to McLeod Ganj) and every Thursday at ‘The Savoy’ – he used to give public audiences.
An incidence in the past and connection with Agatha Christie’s novel – ‘The mysterious affairs at styles’
In the summer of 1911, a British spiritualist, Lady Frances Garnett Orme, visited Mussoorie and stayed at Savoy. She was known to engage with the spirits through crystal gazing and table-rapping. One fine day, she was found dead. Investigations went on for a while, people were questioned, the doctor who conducted her autopsy was also later found dead, however, the case could never be solved.
It is believed that Rudyard Kipling, a successful writer of that time, sent the facts of the case to his friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the hopes that he brings in his known sleuth (‘Sherlock Homes’) to build an interesting thriller novel on this narrative. However, this never happened and eventually the case file landed with Agatha Christie, who used the facts to write her first detective novel ‘The mysterious affairs at styles’ published in 1920.
Over 110 years have gone-by, but this story (and many more) continues to stay around. Some people go to the extent of recalling how they encountered a silhouette of a lady on their last stay at the property while others would tell you about strange noises they have heard late at night in the corridors.
Ask this from any hotel staff – and they would sound completely oblivious to these narratives. “Spiced up stories” is what they would say. The real ghosts are those people who after a drink or two , slip out of the bar without paying off the bills.
As I trudge back after a short visit to the property, I encounter 2 tall deodar trees , with lights exposing the magnificence of the branches.
There was something subduing about the deodars as they stood in solitary splendor. The 2 deodar trees are over 300 years old, perhaps older than Mussoorie town itself (the 1st building ‘Mullingar’ was built at Landour in 1825). They have surely withstood the vagaries of time.
‘The Savoy’ is situated at the library chowk (one of the 2 ends of Mall Road in Mussoorie). It is right above the library building, but the entrance to the hotel is from Charliville Road (about 100 metres ahead from the Chowk). Map – Click here for directions to ‘The Savoy’
Nice piece. Next time will explore the property though surely not at late hours, else your story would reverberate in my mind.
LikeLiked by 1 person
LikeLiked by 1 person