Lansdowne, the name itself somehow makes me imagine a quaint little place full of serenity and calmness.
Well!!! After a lot of deliberations, I finally had the privilege to visit this small hill station situated in the Kotdwara district of Uttarakhand in April ’12 (Overdue Post). Lansdowne was founded and named after then Viceroy of India, Lord Lansdowne and was developed by the British, catering for the Recruits Training center of the Garhwal Rifles.
Lansdowne is well connected with Roads but is peaceful in its own way. The natural beauty of the Hill Station is untouched and not exploited (… and I really hope it remains the way it is). It is approx 280 Kms from Delhi – 40 kms from Kotdwara. After having read so much about the tranquillity and beauty of the place, I could wait no more to visit Lansdowne over a weekend. Hence, I planned this weekend trip with my dear husband to get rejuvenated and leave behind the mad rush of Delhi (not for long though…)
Excited as I always am, I could not sleep the entire night thinking about the trip. I woke up at 4:30 as my alarm went off and we were ready to leave by 5:30… I decided not to have breakfast as we intended to have it on our way – One of the reasons I love Road Trips :D
The roads had no traffic and it was really easy for us to reach Kotdwara by 9:30. In between we just took a 20 min break for some butter toast and tea. Once at Kotdwara, we thought we shall now enjoy the drive at a leisurely pace as we had 1.5 hrs for the check in. We refilled fuel as I knew that there is no way we can find a petrol pump in Lansdowne. The road leading towards Lansdowne was amazing and we stopped numerous times on our way just to sit at the roadside – overlooking the trees, the fields and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. Nothing can be more relaxing than this view and that too when you have cool breeze blowing on your face. A couple of clicks and we were ready to embark on our journey again. Here are some pictures for you all:
On the way towards Lansdowne from Kotdwar:
We had already booked our resort since Lansdowne offers very less number of resorts, most of them being full over the weekend as people throng from nearby places such as Delhi/ NCR, Chandigarh. As soon as we reached the Cantonment area there was a toll we had to pay. Our resort was 3 kms before Lansdowne – Blue Pine Resort. As soon as we checked into our rooms we decided to move out to explore the quaint little place but on second thoughts decided to take a quick nap post lunch and then go (I was sleep deprived as I barely slept at night due to the excitement!!!) After a sumptuous lunch (that was included in our package), I slept so that I can explore Lansdowne on foot as much as possible… That’s what I had heard of – A hill station is best explored on Foot
We woke up and started our drive first towards Bhulla Lake. We parked our car there and decided that we will walk till the lake and nearby places. The Lake is an artificial one with an option of Boating. One can also have some snacks at a small cafe before reaching the lake or simply enjoy the swings in the park. There were cute lil ducks as well in and around the lake. Kids were the most excited to come here.
After a ride on a boat, we thought of walking around and see what the place has to offer. The place is surrounded by forests and one can just enjoy a lazy walk here. Here are some of the pictures:
Next we decided to go to Tip n Top. It is basically a view point where one can see into the valley and the Himalayan snow capped ranges. We spoke to the locals and they mentioned that we can drive there and park our car post which one needs to walk down a few meters to the point. The weather was extremely nice with soft winds blowing (feels so good when you are driving and no AC needed!)… I was inhaling fresh, unadulterated oxygen … my lungs would not have felt better before
We parked our car close to the GMVN Parking area. Instead of walking towards Tip n Top we started to walk to the hotel. I could see a small cafeteria just outside the hotel and wanted to check if they had something to offer (I was desperate to have tea). All of sudden it started to drizzle increasing the need for Tea. We ordered some maggi and tea and sat outside where they had put up some chairs and table for the visitors. Thank god it stopped drizzling. After a hot cup of tea it was time for us to walk towards Tip n Top. It was chilling out there but the view was simply awesome. We clicked a few pictures and enjoyed the beauty from the point. Luckily, there was not much crowd and we simply sat there for some time. The silence was broken by a crowd of young kids which was when we decided to head back to the hotel. On our way back we also stopped by St. Mary’s Church. What architecture! It takes you to the British era. After spending a couple of minutes here we decided to go back to our hotel.
It was already dark by the time we got back and could see only a few lights on the roads. These were the headlights of vehicles on the road and would disappear and reappear in some time intervals – of course due to the curved nature of the roads. We simply sat at our balcony and enjoyed the view. It was completely dark, silent and eerie. We decided to take a stroll on the road. As we came out of the resort and went onto the road, I had Goosebumps. A local approaching us from the other side warned us not to go too far since there could be wild animals on the move. Now that was quite scary and just 15 mins later we were back at the resort. We had dinner at the resort and decided to retire to bed so that we could wake up early and go for a long walk. For our next day we had planned to visit Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple.
PS: Our mobile connection did not seem to work there. It felt great not to receive any Calls/ Messages for those 2 days. There was a little spot from our hotel, about 2 minutes walk, which allowed connectivity and we could then make calls (a local guided us to that place seeing us struggle with our phones). You move a little here and there and you lose connectivity
We woke up the next morning at 5:30 and saw outside. It was breathtaking as there were clouds all around. I thought it’s going to rain. We put on our shoes and took to the roads. We started walking upward towards Lansdowne. The roads are perfect for a smooth walk. Sometimes there were stones’ falling from above which was quite weird and then we realized that there were monkeys around. We had to be careful lest we get bitten by them. Instead of the road we started taking the hilly terrain and that was fun. We came back to the resort at around 8 and quickly freshened up. We had a yummy breakfast at the resort and were ready to leave for Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple about 35 kms from here. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is surrounded by thick forests of Pine and Deodar trees.
The road leading to the temple was narrow and after a bumpy ride in a few places we finally reached the mandir. We parked our car and as we entered the premises I had no words to express the beauty of the place. I was so mesmerised that for a few seconds I just stood at the end of the gate and kept staring at the tall deodar trees. It was enchanting with sounds of the bells echoing that the devotees offer to Lord Shiva, which are hung in both sides of the entrance and exit of the Temple. This sacred place is wonderful if one wants to just be with nature and enjoy the calmness of the lush green forests surrounding it. Words are less to describe what the atmosphere has to offer and therefore there is also a rejuvenation centre where one can seek respite from the fast urban life. I am sure spending a few days there will definitely bring about a great change in a person. We came back from Tarkeshwar at around 2 pm and headed towards the dining area in our resort for lunch.
After a quick nap we again thought of going back to Tip n Top and also exploring the market in Lansdowne. We spent about an hour in Tip n Top and the GMVN Cafeteria, and then reached the market located at Gandhi Chowk. It is a very small market where most of the necessities are available. There are options for eating in Hotel Zayka and Mayur which is quite reasonable. There is a movie hall as well which caters to the small population of Lansdowne. We had some snacks there and then decided to go for a drive to the other side of Lansdowne. It was an awesome drive and it is commendable to see the locals keeping the environment clean and hygienic.
Finally the day came when we had to get back to Delhi. We went out for an early morning walk again. It was quite sunny although there was nice breeze so really did not feel the harsh effect of sunlight. I was just observing around myself and could not help but admire the charm of this place over and over again. Hill stations nowadays are so crowded and chaotic but Lansdowne is so different!
After having our breakfast we left but instead of going towards Kotdwara we decided to head to Lansdowne once again. We had not yet visited the Santoshi Mata Temple and St. John’s church. So we thought of visiting these two places and then finally leave for Delhi. The Temple is located ahead of Tip n Top. We parked our car on the roadside and took the stairs towards the Temple. It’s a steep climb but the view one sees is worth it!! We spent some time in that small mandir and on our drive back stopped by the church.
Alas, the getaway came to an end and we reached back Delhi after a long drive. We enjoyed each and every moment in Lansdowne and for few days, I longed going back to the place… Lansdowne is not for those who seek Adventure Sports/ Activities… One has to love what the nature has to offer – the enchanting views, humble people, chirping birds and the silence.