Monday, December 31, 2012

Lansdowne – Locked In A Time Warp

Lansdowne Valley
It was a usual day in my office when I was unexpectedly asked by one of my colleagues and friend Aditya to come with him. At first I was a bit apprehensive because he was a pretty colorful guy, but I also knew he understood me well. It wasn’t in my distant imagination that he dragged me 350 km away from Delhi to some exquisite hill station that afternoon without any preparation. In next couple of hours we were three people riding on Aditya’s hatchback, traveling to Lansdowne without any winter wear except a thin jacket.

Let me start talking about Lansdowne beauty because it was the most exotic hill stations in Uttarakhand and probably the quietest I’ve ever seen till now. So quiet, so hidden that you’ll only come to its existence when you cross the graceful Garhwal Riffles Cantonment. My friend already booked a room in the resort, so when we reached in the night after a gruesome journey (thanks to Aditya’s reckless driving) we finally rested at moderately comfortable room in the resort. 

My favorite - St. Mary Church
Next morning I strolled alone for one hour or so in the picturesque town, overlooking a sprawling valley and the Greater Himalayas. Back in the British era, Lansdowne was one of the favorite hill stations of ‘Sahibs’, mostly from the Army, galloped across the ridge that overlooked this quaint valley. The town itself is named after Sir Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, 6th Earl of Kerry and Viceroy of India from 1888-1894. The roads are still lined with colonial bungalows, some are in ruins, still charming.

Things To Do & See In Lansdowne


Strolling through the Jungle
Lansdowne is quintessentially for walkers. There are no rickshaws, no autos; instead you savor the pleasure of walking tour. We had a car, so I personally missed the stroll. However, slowly winding through shaded road and stimulating environs across the gentle slopes was a pleasant experience. For a record, if you stroll in the night and you are too lucky, you might catch a solitary leopard, walking past too busy with his own agenda. 

Tiffin Top (some pronounced it Tippin Top) is the main attraction of Lansdowne. It is the place from where you see the whole valley upto Pauri and if sky is clear, you can also see distant Great Himalayan ranges. Don’t miss the old but maintained St. Mary’s Church, I personally felt it the star attraction of this town. 

Lansdowne Valley from Tiffin Top
If you have a car, bike or even manage a bicycle, you should visit Durga Devi Temple, locating on the right bank of the Khoh, 24km from Lansdowne. The temple is situated 13ft inside a cave and inside a Shivalinga, which locals believe wishes are often granted in this place. 

Where To Stay?


Catches a wild elephant in Kotdwar forest
There is no hotel as such in this town, but there are 3-4 mid –range resorts. We stayed in Fairy Dale, which has two cottages, total 6 rooms. The GMVN Tourist Rest House is also a good option, but advance booking is highly recommendable. 

Travel Facts


State: Uttarakhand
Location: Lansdowne is in Pauri Garhwal at 5,597 ft, 42KM from Kotdwar
Route from Delhi: NH58 to Meerut; state highway to Kotdwar via Bijnore and Najibabad; state roads to Lansdowne via Dugadda

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