A Weekend Reterat- Landsowne,Uttrakhand
A trip to the quiet hill station, great summer weekend retreat from Delhi.
Lansdowne is a quiet hill station, its a cantonment town nestled up amidst the Pine and Oak tree forests of Uttarakhand. About 250 kms approximately from Noida, the small cantonment, was a peaceful getaway from the regular hustle and bustle of a crowded city life.
After 7 hours, a few bad roads, lots of hair pin bends and 30 kilometers of sinister looking jungles, we finally reached our destination, to only find it as creepy as the dark, silent night. It was already 8 when we reached the top, but the night was so dark and quiet that every place looked as spooky as the dense jungle beyond. The fireflies glowing in the dark, along with the tiny flickering lights of the hotels and residential quarters at a distance, did very little to assure us.
After spending half an hour, in the buzzing market area, in search of hotel, we finally were glad to stick to our first choice, ‘The Blue Pine Resort’. The hotel was far from the market place, but looked decent in every way. The lights were relatively brighter in here and also the fleet of cars suggested that it was a well preferred spot for spending the night. I must say that we weren’t disappointed with our accommodation.
Our room looked upon a huge balcony, which in turn looked upon the vast mountains of the Lansdowne. Although the night hardly allowed us much to guess about the landscape, but the morning filled us in awe.
The hair pin roads looked scary from the balcony and so did the fleet of cars, which were parked along the treacherous edge of the road. After an elaborate breakfast and some handy travel tips from our porter, we launched ahead.
Our first trip was to the ‘Tiffin top’, the most celebrated spot of the Lansdowne is. Although people say that it is the highest peak point, but I beg to differ. I found that the road to Tiffin top also went beyond, suggesting that there might be a place farther than the spot. Anyway, after parking our car and paying the fee of Rs.10, we climbed up a small cemented flight of stairs, to reach to the small perched well fenced top, known as the Tiffin top. The spot definitely presents the panoramic view of the mountainous hill side of the town. I was amazed to find some cute looking tree houses, perched along the edge of the Tiffin top as well.
Soon after the Tiffin top, it was time for some church visit. Although there are 2 popular churches, called St. Mary’s and St. John’s, we visited the former only. The church was a small one, with a seating capacity of not more than 30 people. When we arrived, we found a small documentary movie being played for a handful of tourists. It was all about the martyrs and the founding of Garhwal Rifles, which has its command office and headquarters in Lansdowne. After some movie watching, we left for ‘Bhulla taal’, which is a lake.
A few more hair pin bends and we finally reached the spot, which had a huge water body, surrounded by a beautiful park. It was the Bhulla taal. Although the lake was small, but it was kept well maintained and there were manual self-peddling boats for a quick ride. The flora and fauna also seemed to be well kept in here. Especially the cute looking guinea pigs and rabbits, that seemed to have a gala time in their cage, eating and sleeping, oblivious to the human cacophony.
With a quick bite from the adjoining canteen, we decided to head to the Regimental museum, which stocks the history and some major collections of the Garhwal Rifles. The museum was small, but it was well kept, with elaborate details of wars, history of the cantonment town and soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the country.
There is something called ‘Tarakeshwar mandir’, but unfortunately we ran out of time to cover it. For people, who are staying for more than a day and love the idea of visiting temples, this place is a must visit. Located about 33 kms, in the opposite direction of Lansdowne, is the Tarakeshwar temple. Rishi Kanva ashram is another landmark which is around 14 kms from the cantonments town, which too we missed. This ashram is believed to the spot or the birth place of King Bharat, son of Shakuntala and King Dushyant.
I personally liked the place for being so pristine, clean and above all for the simple lifestyle of the people. Although majority of the population seems to be from the defence background, there are the local people as well, who are honest, simple, generous and always ready to help, without expecting any monetary gains from the tourists.
I enjoyed our 1 day stay at Lansdowne and wish to embark on the journey again sometime soon.