The clouds moved in by late afternoon. I looked out of the window, wondering how to spend the rest of the day: go out for a walk or laze around. Undecided, I strolled out of the room. A draft of crisp, cool wind greeted me. I trudged to the lawn, sidestepping the wildflowers. The other guests at the hotel were soaking in the atmosphere, sipping tea, reading books or chatting. The resident dog was curled up cozily under a chair. Everything was picture-perfect but soon enough the alarm clock played spoilsport. Time to get ready for office. Outside, Delhi was sizzling at 44 degrees Celsius.
We crossed Meerut, Najibababad and Bijnore and plenty of mango orchards during the seven-hour drive. Sadly, there weren’t any decent eateries on the route. The only decent one was ‘Monty Millions’, the MTV-equivalent of the typical ‘Sher-e-Punjab’ dhabas. We reached Lansdowne around lunchtime, ravenous and tired. The temperature was around 26 degrees. And, this 18-degree drop and the fresh mountain air was enough to reinvigorate us. Lansdowne is situated at an altitude of 6,000 m above sea level and is surrounded by oak and blue pine forests.
Before I go gaga over this 6.09 sq-km cantonment town in Uttarakhand, here’s a slice of history: The town was named after Sir Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, 6th Earl of Kerry and Viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894. Today, the Garhwal Rifles has its command office here. And, thanks to the regiment, Lansdowne is clean, green and orderly. There aren’t many hotels around because of the stringent construction rules and therefore it is best to book in advance.
We opted for a 1914 property, a colonial bungalow-turned-hotel called Fairydale, a pretty estate with an old world charm. The rooms were clean, spacious and comfortable. The food was fairly good. The best part of the hotel was its service: warm and homely.
There’s nothing much to do in Lansdowne, in the conventional sense that is. There are no malls, great eateries or things you generally associate with a thriving tourist destination. There is no pressure to do that dreadful touristy thing called ‘sightseeing’. Instead, there are numerous forest trails, two old churches and dilapidated British bungalows. The best way to enjoy Lansdowne is to walk and simply walk. Carry some food, water, a book and a raincoat and you are ready for a day out. And, we did just that. The winding roads are lined with Raj-era bungalows, now hidden behind a wall of bougainvillea.
On day one, we took one of the numerous forest paths, chatting all the way to Tiffin Top from where you can see the sprawling valley and the Greater Himalayas. On our way back we saw the St John’s Church, which was converted into an Army museum. The church, we are told, will be handed over to the local parish and religious services are due to start very soon. The second church, St Mary’s, is much bigger and is used for religious services. The Army museum at the heart of this fauji town is a delight even if you are not interested in military history. The well-maintained museum showcases the rich history of the regiment, its efforts during the World War I in France and the numerous awards including the two Victoria Crosses it won.
Coming back from a trip is always the most difficult part. And, this time it was no different. But the weather took us by surprise. Clouds enveloped the town, threatening to rain any moment; the wind was blowing wildly, making all kinds of sound. Just when everything looked so beautiful and enchanting, a very ‘responsible’ friend called from Delhi: “Hi! You guys coming back today? It’s touching 45 degrees here”.
Beautiful post. Even in this winter, I sweated thinking about the hot summer and relief you might have felt after reaching Landsdowne.
We went to Lansdowne few years back, I think it was 2002, not too sure. And one big thing which I remember is that we took this real long walk to see the cemetery. There of three of us with one being a gifted story-teller :) so he kept us busy. While on route we almost reached this eerie sounding barren area, with fear stalking, we carried fwd and finally reached cemetery, which was worth it.
While doing all of that, we passed through the town and it was really great fun being there.
Thanks, Manish! Visit and enjoy Lansdowne! It is much better than the post:-)
Hi Kumkum. You have described the place very enticingly. I visited Lansdowne a very long time ago. Our dad was posted in Kotdwar…1989 I think. This was my first hillstation and all those faded pictures in my mind were dusted by your article. My most vivid memory of the place is of the army officers mess where I saw the hunt prizes hanging on the walls and my first pools table. Cold, narrow and misty roads…I walked and simply walked down the memory lane.
Lovely post and a great holiday ..Ive not travelled extensively in the north and I hope 2008 will take me there – making my to do list :)
Thanks. Yes, we did manage to sneak in and visit the Army mess. Has an old world charm.
Backpakker: Thanks, yes u must visit Lansdowne. An amazing place.
The road in the pic is tempting enough for me to ignore the mind numbing and bone chilling cold… I guess its time to ease the itch on the throttle palm again… Lansdowne… here I come…
Great, briefed abut the place very well , what i feel is that this place is for those who just wants to relax and relax. Will surely visit this place.
Hi , was in Lansdowne recently, i.e. 8/9th Nonember,2008.
i stay in south delhi so hitting the highway is really easy. the total to-& -fro was 512 kms including here & there in Lansdowne.
the route is delhi-mohan nagar- modinagar-meerut-bijnor-najibabad-kotdwar-lansdowne.
the road conditions are fantastic . we had left at 5pm and reached around 1.30 am in the morning. we had presumed that the stretch between meerut & bignor & najibabad is a notorious patch, so we were apprehensive. after crossing meerut , we had a quick grub at “monty millions”(has a clean wash room + safe parking + nice garden). has a small Cd shop also.
the road to bijnor –najibabad, and onwards was fantastic , we keeping an average speed of 80 kmph. its very safe , we could actually see cops standing beside the road at distances (in UP ).
there is no bad patch of road throughout the journey though after bijnor, one runs into a jungle patch . there we can have animals crossing the road. (a Neelgay had come in front of our car), so drive very carefully. after Najibabad , one runs again into the jungle patch. so again drive carefully. lots of jungle caution signs , so you will know when you are in the patch.
you enter uttranchal at Kotdwar, so there are barriers of Up police & Uttranchal police there.
lansdowne is a place where one should go for at least 3 days , carry your favourite books/ music/ movie and just chill out. it is not essentially (like shimla, mussorie/ manali, etc) a tourist place witha mall road, eatries, shops, etc. its just a town in the hills. and it is approx 1400 m in height.
book your rooms before hand. there are hardly places to stay there.
at night , everything is closed . NOTHING MOVES AROUND, NO PAN , BIDI , CIGARATTES, CHAI , NOTHING !!!
any specif queries , mail me at : firstname.lastname@example.org
I live in Jaipur and plan to visit Lansdowne sometime in Jan/Feb 09. I am alright till Dhaula Kuan, can you guide me beyond that please.
Major Amit – From Dhaula Kuan, be on Ring Road, take right at Nizamuddin mode and you would find yourself on NH24. Go till Ghazipur, cross the trafficky crossing, take the flyover and then take a left at “Delhi-UP Gate” to hop on to NH58. Remain on NH58 till Meerut.
From Meerut, leave NH58 and ask for Bijnor. Its a fairly staright road from there passing Najibabad, Kotdwar and finally Lansdowne.
Last weekend, on Deshara, the venturous bikers team was very keen to get off a small break with a small weekend trip. We have gone thro the internet and finally decided to explore Lansdowne. Its only 225 kms far away from delhi so nearest hill station to Delhi.
Let me introduce the Gang members of this incredible journey. I am sure by the time you have seen the snaps of the place almost every soul would feel envy and disappointed for not joining us.
Amarjit Singh – Nautankibaaz
Mr.P – Inki tasveer mai inki Aatma jhalakti hai
Abhinav Gupta – Banda ye bindaas hai..!!
Ashwin Anand – Aabbee gaadi dekh ker nahi chala sakta kya #@!&^%()&* tere baap ki sadak hai BC..&*(_&%$#@
At 03:00 AM abhinav wakes up and rushes to Ashwins home. Around 04:00 AM both guys reached at mine place from where the journey begins. We had draw the complete map on the paper to make us 100% sure that we won’t take any wrong way or cut. To us it was just not a weekend break, it was an escape from the fast moving city life and the never ending struggle of job and family concerns, so we drove as fast as we could as if we were leaving all those forever.
The best way to explore the pristine surrounds of Lansdowne is by going for nature treks. There are a number of trails through the woods that one can take. Camping and river crossing are very popular tourist activities besides hiking expeditions, for which Lansdowne proves to be more than a comfortable base camp.
The best way by road is as follows:
Stage 1: From Delhi to Meerut 70 kms-Mawana 30 kms-Bessuna-Ramraj-Meerapur
Break: Stop at Montys Million, a restaurant out of Meerapur where one can have a break for breakfast/lunch.
Stage 2: Take the Right turn from here for Bijnor-kiratpur 16 kms-Najibabad 17 kms-Kotdwara 25 kms-Dogadda 15 Kms.
Stage 3: 2 kms out of Doggada there is a T Junc. Take the LEFT Turn on the PAURI road (the right turn goes to Lansdowne which is 23 kms from this point ). 15
1/2 kms from this turn one has to take a RIGHT Turn for Lansdowne & Oak Grove Inn at Jaiharikhal is 5.2 kms away.
Regarding staying over there, we gave the lead to Abhinav. While googling he came to know about Oak Grove Inn. Here he found all the required info and contacted to the owner Colonel Bikram Rawat. We also met with Mrs Rawat & it was very wonderful interaction.
Oak Grove Inn
Colonel Bikram Rawat
Mobile: +91-9412934858 or +91-9410948282
Address: Oak Grove Inn, Jaiharikhal, Lansdowne, Pauri Garhwal, Uttarakhand. PIN 246139