Nestled amongst great pines and deodars, stands the Savoy. Even a glance of its grandeur strikes a feeling of awe. Its gleaming white walls stand tall and proud, the European-esque architecture reminds us of its history. The Savoy is a place of mystique and magnificence — housing both the eerie and elegant.
The soul of merrymaking during the British Raj, the Savoy was the centrepiece of all revelry and luxury. The vision of an Irish Barrister named Cecil D. Lincoln, the lavish hotel sprawls across the peaks of Mussoorie, establishing itself as the true treasure of the hills. The past of the Savoy is rich and plenty, sprinkled with bits of spooky.
In 1911, The Savoy witnessed the perfect murder. A spiritualist named Miss Frances Garnett-Orme stayed at the hotel along with her companion, Eva Mountstephen. A 49-year-old enraptured with crystal-ball gazing, séances and table-rapping, Orme coped with her tragic past by communicating with the beyond. She lost her life in one of the most intriguing unsolved mysteries of that time. Orme was found dead in her bedroom, poisoned by a cyanide-based potion. A well-known psychic accused Eva of influencing Orme to drink the potion using dark magic. Eva was arrested but after a trial in the Allahabad High Court, she was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Motives might have included Orme’s immense wealth, but this is all conjecture after the case came to a dead-end.
This creepy incident became the talk of the town, and the inspiration of the most eminent writers of the generation. Rudyard Kipling, who often used India as a base for his stories, wrote to Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. Doyle narrated this incident to his friend Agatha Christie who decided to pursue the case. The Savoy murder became the foundation of her debut novel, The Mysterious Affairs at Styles. The darling of the hills, Ruskin Bond too touched upon this in his short story, “In A Crystal Ball– A Mussoorie Mystery”.
Even today, the Savoy is haunted by the skeletons of its paranormal past. One can glimpse a lady sitting by a bay window, hear a sudden fluttering of skirts in the abandoned corridors and witness corpses exiting locked rooms. Orme’s troubled soul still lingers in the Savoy, wandering and waiting.
Some popular quotes on the Savoy
Letter from Kipling to Doyle:
There has been a murder in India. A murder by suggestion at Mussoorie, which is one of the most curious things in its line on record. Everything that is improbable and on the face of it impossible is in this case.”
“Most visitors from the other side are melancholy spirits looking for a lost love or a lost home. They are unquiet, unhappy souls, haunting the places they once knew.” ~ Ruskin Bond
“Suddenly, I hear a shuffling behind me. Is it the ghosts of the past come to bid one last goodbye? Or, is it the wind playing in the gables…I move on from door to door, from transept to transept, from corridor to lounge, from ballroom to balcony, tracing a century here, a generation there, in pillar and arch, vault and buttress. And I will probably end where I began: at the rosewood entrance which throws its massive arch into a work-a-day world, and inside, hoards of treasure trove of memories.” ~ Ganesh Saili
– Tanvi Jain, Delhi Public School, Noida