You won’t even know when you actually reached Lansdowne. It’s such a quanit, little hill-station situated just off the Kotdwara-Pauri road in the Pauri-Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. It is but a stone’s throw away from Delhi. You can either take the Delhi – Kotdwara express, which leaves at 9:15pm at night and leaves you at the Kotdwara station at close to 5:30 in the morning, from where there are several tourist cabs/ taxis which you can hop onto and reach Lansdowne in a little more than 2 hours or so, at max.
However, for those who like to travel by road, there is the Delhi – Meerut – Bijnaur – Najibabad – Kotdwara – Duggada Lansdowne road which is equally interesting, albeit a little boring, at times.
Lansdowne is set amidst lovely surroundings – tall oaks and blue pines rise like spires off the mountainside. The forests are lovely, dark and deep, just ideal for those long walks and picnics. There are amazing mountain views of the Western Himalayas from a number of vantage pints like Snow View and Tiffin Top. A number of treks into the hillside are launched from Lansdowne, which is a popular base camp. The nature treks range from simple hiking trails of a few hours or one day’s duration, to tougher climbs lasting a couple of days. Garhwal Tourism will organize these treks for you.
However, accomodation options are not many, really. There are a couple of hotels, and a GMVN (Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam) Tourist Rest House (TRH) which is really good
considering it’s a Government Guest House. You can visit it’s website online HERE and book your accomodation easily, so as to avoid last minute hassles.
If you do visit Lansdowne some-time, don’t forget to pay a visit to the following places:
Tiffin-Top & Snow-view point, offer a startling view of the snow-clad peaks of Chaukhamba and Trishul. Tiffin Top is locally called Tip and Top, located on the ridge close to St. Mary’s Church. The way to Snow View Point is from above the State Bank of India branch. The sunset view from here, is especially remarkable.
St Mary’s and St John’s : While St. Mary’s is an Anglican Church that has been partially turned into a reading room, St. John’s is a Roman Catholic Church. Both the churches are at Tiffin-Top.St Mary’s is a must-visit for its beautiful stained glass windows and quaint aura, or merely to read the papers.
Darwan Singh Sangrahalaya: The War Museum is the only thing the army has open for the tourists. A motivational hall displaying the rare collection of Garhwal Rifles was inaugurated at Lansdowne in 1983. This museum is name after Darban Singh Negi. Entry fee: Rs 10. Timings: 9 am-noon, 3-6 pm
Officers’ Mess Museum: Visitors are not welcome here without permission but you can try your luck still. The Mess Museum gives you a unique opportunity to go back to the aura of 19th century. The beautiful building and its immaculate preservation, right down to the oldest book in the library, gives a chance for the present to see the past.
Bhim Pakora: When the Pandavas were in agyaatvaas, the legend goes; Bhim picked up a small (for him) rock and placed it atop another small (for him) rock here, on the outskirts of Lansdowne. Climb the rock at the bottom and lightly push the one at the top. It moves, the huge thing, it moves! You may tip it and feel good about it, but try as you might, it will not topple down the slope. Location: Dhura Road, ahead of the Kaleshwar Mandir
Tarkeshwar Mahadev: It is an ancient temple dedicated to lord Shiva situated at an altitude of 2092 m, surrounded by thick Cedar trees. Located on the Lansdowne-Deriakhal road, 38 kms from Lansdowne, is among one of the ancient ‘Siddhpeethas’. The highlight of this place is that even at an altitude of 2092 m, there are water pools.
Hawaghar: Trek to Hawagarh passes through Khyber Pass along the road to Jaiharikhal. The walk is very refreshing with the view of snow covered peaks of the Himalayas.
Boating at Bhulla Lake: This very small, shallow lake has been developed with the twin aims of attracting tourists and harvesting rainwater. While you
spend time boating in the lake, remember that this lake has revived some of the dead natural springs in the town. And bhulla is Garhwali for little brother, a minor example of the warmth the people of the place exude.
Bird watching : Lansdowne is visited by many migratory birds due to its proximity to the Sonanadi Division of Corbett National Park. Of the roughly 2,000 species that come to India every year, about 600 visit Lansdowne, just when the summer tourist does. Keep a bird encyclopedia handy to study them like you were Lord Lansdowne, or just ask them to take your love to that special person across the globe.
There are many places that you can visit once, in Lansdowne.
Tarkeshwar Mahadev (12 km): It is an ancient temple dedicated to lord Shiva situated at an altitude of 2092 m, surrounded by thick Cedar trees. Located on the Lansdowne-Deriakhal road, 38 kms from Lansdowne, is among one of the ancient ‘Siddhpeethas’. The highlight of this place is that even at an altitude of 2092 m, there are water pools.
Kotdwar: (45 kms.) : It’s a gateway to the hills and one of the rail terminus for Garhwal. The nearby places of interest include ancient Karnva-Ashram (14 kms.), where Shakuntala gave birth to prince Bharat, after whose name the country is called Bharat Varsh, Sidhbali Temple (3 kms.) and Charaik Hills (20 kms).
Jwalpadevi Temple (47 km): Situated on the left bank of River Nawalika the road to Pauri, Jwalpa Devi Temple is very famous especially among the boon seekers. Legend has it that a demon king’s daughter Sachi wanted to marry the Lord of Heaven, Indra, who was not inclined to tie the nuptial knot. The besotted lady then prayed to her favourite deity, Jwalpa Devi. Moved by her prayers, the deity appeared before her and granted her wish. Since then, it’s believed that a wish made here is often granted.
Lansdowne is one of the most beautiful places to start your journey upwards towards the higher terrains of Uttarakhand.It has been my favouritedestination for quite some time now (for more than 2 years, if I remember correctly), and I keep visiting this place time and again to relive all the old memories.