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Little town in Uttaranchal hills- Lansdowne

 
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Lansdowne: A Perfectly Laidback Holiday Destination

Contributing Traveller: Pallavi Khare

I and my husband found out about Lansdowne while attempting to fit in a small holiday between visiting our respective parents during our annual leave. The Google search threw up “Lansdowne,” which it said was a quaint, little hill station approx 230kms from Delhi (perfect! my parents place). The route by road is Delhi-Ghaziabad-Meerut (perfectly perfect!! My in-laws place)-Bijnor-Mawana-Kotdwar-Dugadda-Lansdowne.

We drove down a reasonably maintained highway (a word of advice though, start early in the morning) and once past Kotdwar, we were welcomed by a tranquil mountain breeze, lush green hilly terrain, and serpentine roads with a quiet little stream. Just as we reached the town we were greeted by a glorious October sunset which one can see from every turn of the road.


 

Natural bounty aside, the town has a glorious past. It was established as a British cantonment in 1887 and named in the honor of the Earl of Lansdowne, the Viceroy of India (1888-94). Presently, it is the regimental center of the Garhwal Rifles, one of the oldest regiments of the Indian army. A major area falls under the jurisdiction of the Cantt. Board, which explains the well-kept roads and beautiful parks. Probably, this has also protected this little town from the evils of commercialization.

Garhwal Regiment also runs a museum that displays its history, milestones, achievements, and awards besides a unique collection of weaponry, armor, and uniforms belonging to the British era. However, you require formal clothing to enter the museum (husband’s insight and insistence to carry a formal pair of clothes on a holiday came to our rescue).

The place has an old world charm with tin-roofed houses, colonial-styled buildings, and a small market with a cobbled street. It is far away from the clichés one associates with hill stations-bustling mall road, cable car, boarding school, bakery et al. This town more than makes up for it by offering numerous nature trails amongst majestic oak, silver fir, spruce, bamboo, and pine trees.

We stayed in the holiday home of the Garhwal Regimental Center (husband arranged it). You can stay in resorts, guest houses, and tree houses by Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam, as well as some private resorts on the outskirts of the town.

   

On our first day after reaching Lansdowne we visited the viewpoint Tip N Top (which offers the view of the Western Himalaya range in its full splendor and grandeur on a clear day), St. John’s and St. Mary’s church (the latter, 110 years old), and Bhulla Tal (a lake which is a fine example of rainwater harvesting). There are a handful of eateries but we had no complaints as they offer good and reasonably priced food (especially for me, any food is good as long as I am not toiling in the kitchen).

The next day we drove to Tarkeshwar Dham (about 40kms away), which is one of the oldest sidhpeets in India, almost 600 years old, and ‘Gaon Devda’ (village deity) for 94 villages in the Garhwal region. It is in the midst of towering and dense pine, oak and deodar trees and its serenity is simply amazing. Post-lunch we went for a trek and perched ourselves atop a hill to enjoy the superb sunset. Trekking at Lansdowne is easier than other hill stations since the ascent is not that steep. We walked beneath a sky bejeweled with stars and a cool breeze to our guestroom.

We winded up our holiday by visiting the Garhwal Regimental Museum on the third day. Thus our small holiday came to an end and both of us discovered a small bundle full of big surprises called Lansdowne. Both of us have fallen for it and count it as one of our favorite weekend retreats.

Useful Information

· Nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (100kms.)
· Nearest railway station is Kotdwar (40kms.)
· Public and private buses are available from Delhi
· Within Lansdowne every destination is within walking distance
· For excursions take private jeeps, taxis, or local buses
· Avoid going from December-February if you are not fond of cold climes
· Lansdowne is visited by migratory birds due to its proximity to the Sonandi division of the Corbett national Park

Contributing Traveller Pallavi Khare, pallavi22_gzb@yahoo.co.in

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