Of memories and legends: Hotel Cecil

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Hotel Cecil sits atop a spur with a sweeping view of ddun

Mussoorie, Eight year old Vihaan Singh, is rather excited to see the beautiful place i.e. Hotel Cecil where his great grandparents got married. That said, he is still upset and asks his father, Harshendra Kumar, “Why wasn’t I invited for their wedding?,” with childlike innocence.

The Singh family breaks into a laughter. It is this and many such fun family moments that the family collects every summer as they congregate in Mussoorie from various parts of the country and world.

Owner Devendra Prasad Narayan Singh

What better way to celebrate a 112 year old property than have three generation of owners under one roof?

The story dates back to 1924. It was a summer trip to Mussoorie when Raja Bahadur Harihar Prasad Narayan Singh of Amawan Estate, Bihar fell in love with the majestic property and bought it on the 19th of June, 1924.

Built by legendary engineer C M Gregory (who built a number of bridges in India and also the famous Aswan Dam in Egypt on the river Nile), Cecil as the property was christened, opened its doors to the public in the year 1907 as a lavish Hotel.

 

In 1924 when Raja Bahadur Harihar Prasad Narayan Singh, bought it, he added his royal touch to the Hotel.

In fact even when it came to a decision on the destination for his son Rajkumar Raghavendra Prasad Narayan Singh’s, marriage to Princess Raj Rajeshwari Devi of Jaintpur estate, way back in 1936, Cecil was thought to be the perfect spot. And why not? Situated on a spur towards the library end of town, it offered sweeping views of the Doon valley and the Majestic Himalayan Range. The wedding was attended by Royalty and British officials. Begum Akhtar and many other well known artists performed at the wedding gala.

Wooden staircase and arched entrance

Years after,the family gets together every year to build memories and renew bonds. Harshendra Kumar, Chairman, Automobile Dealers Association, Bihar, who, like most of his family is on a holiday in Mussoorie tells Newspost, “Decisions defines destiny. That stroke of genius, when my great grandfather decided to invest in Mussoorie and buy this beautiful property has resulted in many happy family memories. We are grateful to him that he has created this heritage that our children are also enjoying.”

Talking about the history of the hotel and its legendary owner, Historian Gopal Bharadwaj says, “Raja Bahadur Harihar Prasad Narayan Singh of Amawan Estate was a true lover of Mussoorie. He was often seeing riding his horse quietly on the Camel’s back road. In fact he was also very close to Pandit Nehru and Raja Bahadur Harihar Prasad Narayan Singh’s death was mourned by the nation.”