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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Visiting Lansdowne

Lansdowne – the tiffin spot
First view of Lansdowne
Lansdowne is a nondescript but picturesque little hill station nestled in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched at an altitude of 1706 meters i.e. about 5630 feet above mean sea level. Cocooned amongst the verdant pine, oak & rhododendron trees, this place is a nature lover’s delight and its salubrious environs offer a soothing touch to the frayed nerves & muscles. For persons who are in love with the fast city life, this place has very little to offer. Originally, it was known as, Kaludanda, which means Black (Kalu in local parlance) Hill (Danda in local parlance), the place was developed into a military garrison by the British during 1880’s and named as Lansdowne, in honour of the then Viceroy Lord Lansdowne. This place was the recruitment post for the Garhwal Rifles and on 5th November, 1887 the first battalion of Garhwal Rifles shifted here from Almora.
Having B'fast in the Car

Trying to beat the cold
As per my annual schedule, having visited Chakrata in January, 2011 I decided to visit Lansdowne & Khirsu this year. My main attraction & interest was to experience snowfall and Lansdowne usually has its share of snowfall every year and the views of the natural vistas are also awe-inspiring. Lansdowne is situated at a distance of 270 Kms. from Delhi and accordingly, we started early in the morning from Delhi. As usual it was intensely cold in the morning and we started from Dwarka, New Delhi at about 7.00 A.M. on 4th January, 2012. We saw the sun rising as we were crossing over the Bikhaji Cama flyover and reached Ghaziabad by NH-24 as per schedule. However, thereafter the fog conditions deteriorated considerably and at certain places the visibility was reduced to less than 10 meters. Because of the intense cold & fog we could not spot any good ‘Dhabas’ or eateries on the road, but were ready for such eventuality, as we had packed in ‘Aloo Paranthas’ (a kind of home made bread/roti with potato stuffing) in casserole, to keep them hot, along with Coffee in thermos. At around 9.30 A.M. we parked our vehicle in a roadside opening and proceeded to have our B’fast cum picnic alongside NH-58.

Going past Kotdwar

We had already crossed Modinagar before partaking B’fast and thereafter, we went past many a nondescript places, till we reached Meerut. From Meerut the road bifurcates, one going towards Hardwar and the other towards Kotdwar via Bijnor. We took a wrong turn, but were quick to rectify our mistake and save a lot of time. Having crossed Meerut Cantt., we headed towards Bijnor by NH-119 and after passing by Malwana we reached Bijnor. From Bijnor the road leads to Najbabad and thereafter enters Uttarakhand at Kotdwar. Because of its strategic location, as the entry point to the Pauri region of Uttarakhand state, Kotdwar has grown into a major commercial centre. Here from, the climb into the hills of Pauri start and we got our Petrol tank upped to full and also had our lunch at a strategically placed and decent restaurant called ‘Relish’ on the main road/highway.
View of Malini River beyond Kotdwar
Kotdwar being the entry point to the Pauri, all the road bound vehicles have to pass through this destination. Moreover, it is the last and nearest railhead on the Pauri Garhwal side. Apart from its strategic & commercial importance, there are quite a few temples located in its vicinity. Because of the foggy conditions, I had not taken out my still camera, but only shot with the help of my video camera and same has been put on ‘Youtube’ in form of a video whose details are given at the end of the blog. There is a quaint river that flows by Kotdwar, known as Malini River and as the foggy conditions had totally disappeared, I took quite a few pictures of the river valley. After having crossed Kotdwar, at a distance of about a Kilometer or so on the right hand side of the Highway, across the river lies the famous Sidhbali temple, dedicated to Lord Hanuman and perched on top of a hill. We had planned to visit the temple, accordingly we had avoided partaking any non-vegetarian food on the way, but overshot the cut and as we were already late decided not to turn back but visit the same during the return leg, but this visit was never to be, as turn of events would eventually lead us back to Delhi through a different route altogether. Further ahead is the Durga Devi temple, which is located on the banks of the Malini River and a long way down, since we were way behind schedule, we decided to skip this as well so as to cover the same during the return journey. The other pre-historic location near Kotdwar is ‘Kanvashram’ of Kanav Rishi, whose daughter Shakuntala’s life story forms part of epic ‘Abhijnana Shakuntalam’ by Kalidasa, her travails having lost her marriage ring given by King Dushyant, she was mother of Bharat, after whom India was named during ancient times. Here is the link to a well researched blog about the temples in Kotdwar - http://musafirhoonyaro.blogspot.com/2011/04/kotdwarsiddhbali-and-durga-devi-temple.html.

View of a verdant valley near Lansdowne

Having gone past Kotdwar, we headed into the hills in steady upward gradient and the 40 Kms. distance from Kotdwar to Lansdowne was covered in about 1½ hours and we reached the Garhwal Vikas Mandal Ltd. run Guest House at around 4.00 P.M. We got into the room and as the sun was on its way towards sunset, it was getting nippy and I accordingly ordered for a room heater (at extra cost) and some fresh Pakoras & Coffee to refresh our tired bodies. Having refreshed ourselves, we again went out to explore Lansdowne. The famed Bhulla Tal is located very close to the Guest house, at walking distance and we headed in that direction. It is a small man made facility with some joy rounds for kids & boating facility for the lovelorn, with a sprinkling of ducks waddling by and a small eatery in the vicinity. After frolicking around for some time we headed back to the Guest house, but found that none of our mobile phones were working and thus, we decided to head to the market to make STD call back to Delhi to intimate about our arrival at Lansdowne.
Bhulla tal in Lansdowne

St. Jhon's Church in Lansdowne
Thereafter, having done so we headed for the famed ‘Tip n’ top’, it was earlier referred to as the ‘Tiffin top’, but same appears to be a misnomer, as the viewing point is a rocky outcrop jutting out of the hill top and accordingly ‘tip in top’ is more appropriate. The views are mesmerizing from this spot, despite the fact that the Himalayan peaks could not be viewed due to dense cloud cover, yet the views were resplendent and I quickly captured them for posterity. Having imbued the nature’s gift to the hilt, we started moving back towards the Guest House, but were abruptly stopped by the enthralling sunset views, which I again captured in my camera. Thereafter, we stopped by the St. Mary’s Church and St. John’s Church, which are also as old & quaint as Lansdowne itself. As the evening set in and cold winds started blowing in the valley, we scuttled back to the Guest House and into the soothing confines of room. Due to intense cold, dinner is served early and we had to partake the same by 8.15 P.M. and tucked ourselves into the beds early.
View from Tip N' top


The tree house of GMVN at Tip N' Top

Sunrise over Lansdowne

View of Sunset from Lansdowne



St. Mary's Church in Lansdowne
I got up early next morning and went outside to witness the pristine sunrise and was awestruck by the beauty and being armed with my camera immediately set up capturing the same. As the day progressed, we decided to explore ‘Bhim Pakora’ a rock formation, wherein moving of any of the three huge boulders, rocks them in motion but they do not tumble down in the valley below. But as we gradually descended through the market, we stopped at our first destination i.e. Kaleswhar Mahadev temple. This temple is said to be about 5000 years old and Sage Kalun used to medidate here and the Shivling was inside a natural cave. Even today there are samadhis of other Rishis along the side of the temple. The present temple structure came up in 1901 and a ‘Dharamshala’ run by the Garhwal Regiment is maintained next to the temple precincts. As we started our descent further, we found the road to be more difficult and with kids in tow, we felt that the return journey would be very cumbersome & tiresome for them and thus, dropped the idea of going till Bhim Pakora. In case one is interested in reading about it and seeing the photograph, may click on the link - http://www.40kmph.com/bhim-pakora-the-rock-at-lansdowne-easily-moved-by-ones-finger/. We sat and relaxed in the warm sun, deciding to start early for Khirsu the next day.
Kaleshwar Mahadev temple in Lansdowne

May like to view a video of the trip to Lansdowne -


© S Roy Biswas - all rights reserved.

3 comments:

  1. Your post and pictures have perfectly described the experience of travelling to Lansdowne, founded and named after then Viceroy of India.Thanks for sharing it. Lansdowne is one of the quietest hill stations of India and is popular since Britishers came to India. There are many places to visit in Lansdowne and the salubrious weather and pristine environment of Lansdowne leaves an immortal impact on the tourists. Its a perfect vacation spot.

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  2. lansdowne is a serene place bt not enjoyable wid family...hope to visit again there since ur pics hv inspired me. i had faced some Problem to search some Resorts in lansdowne

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  3. Tree House resort are the only natural weekend destinations set on lively trees. You will feel as if you are resting in the lap of nature. These are such mesmerizing and ideal destination for any nature lover that they love to explore on.

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