Sit down, relax and let the Magic begin: Mussoorie’s Winterline

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Pic Courtesy: Angad Bakshi

Come winter. Mussoorie’s famous winterline is out in all its glory. At this time of the year – a song rings clear in my ears as my father hums the tune of a song his alma-mater schoolgirls belted out around a crackling bonfire:

 Ev’ry night when the winter line is forming

I can hear lonely Allen boys a-calling

Down the pine trees I wanna go exploring

When we sing that Wynberg Allen lullaby.

                                                        (1930)

Rewind.  Present day, as another wintry evening descends upon the town, no matter where I am or whichever way I turn, someone is facing the setting sun, braving the cold, with a smart phone in hand ready to entrap the winterline forever. Better still would be a selfie with the famed winterline as it is sure to get you instant ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ on your social media platform!

Pic Courtesy: Tulika Singhroy

Why do Mussoorie residents go on endlessly about the Winterline?’ Often we are asked, explains renowned author-photographer Ganesh Saili, “All over the world, at the end of the day, the sun ends its journey behind a fixed geographical feature, such as a mound, a hillock, or even the sea but in Mussoorie, it’s completely different. It sets behind this aerial line.”

So, what all goes into making that perfect winterline? The hill-station’s sudden rise from the plains to six thousand feet – over Doon valley. Plus temperature inversion creates inverse air-currents from which nothing escapes. Trapping smog, smoke, dust, moisture and anything in between, into a single straight-line in the sky.   As the sun begins to end it journey, it sets behind an aerial line, forming the perfect winter-line.

Folklore has it that Venus, the Roman Goddess wore a magical embroidered belt called the Girdle of Venus. Made of gold filigree crafted by her husband, the not-so-handsome Smith-God Vulcan, who in awe of his wife’s beauty, hand-carved her this befitting gift.  Today the girdle or belt or as some would call it the kamaar-bandh is  called the winter-line.

The only other place on earth where this phenomenon takes place happens to be in the Southern Hemisphere in Cape Town.

Hotels in the town encash the phenomena. They have that ‘perfect spot’ in their hotel from where the guest can get an uninterrupted view of this breath-taking marvel.  Hues of pink, yellow,  orange, blue and mauve light up the horizon, with the silhouette of the hills, trees, buildings highlighting the winter line even further.

If you wish to witness the horizon step across the sky, come to Mussoorie. Be sure you get here before dusk and better still if you can make it around the Winter Solstice, the 22nd of December – the shortest day in the calendar. Head in any direction once you arrive in town. You will surely see the winter-line, as it rises and illuminates the winter sky. No two evenings are alike in winter, here.

If you miss it, by any chance, despair not. It shall be back again, next winter, to spin a magic and have us hooked for life.