The R1 goes to Lansdowne!

Text and Photos: Bobby Roy/

They say “when you got to do something, you got to do it…” or something like this, I don’t know. What I DO know is the fact that some day or the other, one is bound to get lucky. You see, travelling has always been in my blood since time immemorial. Somehow or the other, I find time to travel to places that are either seldom explored or if I fall in love with a particular destination, I generally keep going back there time and again, till the time I get to know the names of the local people to the street dogs!

Lansdowne is just the sort of place with which I have absolutely fallen in love with. But, this time it was a little different. This time I was neither travelling in a car, nor was I travelling in a train/bus. Rather, I was on something that, I am sure, have been the object of desire of many a souls in this planet – a full blown 1000cc Superbike and not just ANY superbike mind you, I am talking about the phenomenal bike that has a cult following all over the world – the Yamaha YZF R1! Was I crazy to do so? Was I crazy in taking a track-bike, touring? Perhaps, I am crazy, may be I am not. Do I care? Not one bit, sir because the sheer joy of riding such a machine takes away all other feelings off of you and the only emotion you are left of with is that of sure joy. Like that famous advert says about a particular automobile being related to “Joy”. Although, I have done quite a number of trips on these big bikes (like on an earlier occassion I took an R1 to Shimla, and then a CBR 1000RR Fireblade from Mumbai to Delhi, with Bunny Punia, Editor,; what I realized is that these bikes not only demand your whole-hearted concentration, but one needs to be physically fit to ride such long distances, simply given the fact that the ergonomics of these machines DEMAND that you be absolutely fit and fine before you even think of taking such a ride.

Apart from being physically fit, what a Superbike also demands (and cent percent at that) is your total and undying concentration on the road ahead, because one small mistake can turn into a fatal one, when you have so much of power under you. It is not just about the 4-cylinders or the 180 horses waiting to be unleashed; it is more about the sort of restraint that you show. It is more to do with the sort of patience level that one has while riding such a machine that matters. After all, it is very easy to just zoom off into the horizon. Anyone can do that; what everyone CANNOT do is show some restraint. There will be people all around the road who would be looking at you, trying to take your attention away from the actual task at hand (riding the Superbike). They are not at fault either, because, after all they do not get to see such amazing pieces of machinery being ridden everyday, you see! It is rather YOU who need to show restraint, who needs to patient and handle every situation with utter care.

To tell you frankly, I have lost the number of times I have visited the place, but I think this was the 15th time I did! Yes, fifteenth time, indeed (that was NOT a typo)! This is a place which holds a special place inside my heart, this is sure. Amazingly though, as much as I am familiar with the place, I keep discovering new things and new “trails” within this small cantonment that keeps me glued to this beautiful, almost heavinly place. You won’t even know when you actually reached Lansdowne. It’s such a quaint, little hill-station situated just off the Kotdwara- Pauri road in the Pauri-Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. It is but a stone’s throw away from Delhi. The route is very simple really; you get out of Delhi during the wee hours, and take the Delhi – Meerut – Bijnaur – Najibabad – Kotdwara – Dugadda route to finally reach Lansdowne after 250 odd kilometres of riding or driving, depending on what you prefer. I prefer riding any-day as compared to driving, and hence, this travelogue happened in the first place!

This place is situated amidst lovely surroundings – tall oaks and blue pines rise like spires off the mountain-side. The forests are lovely, dark and deep, just ideal for those long walks and wonderful moments. There are some amazing spots in Lansdowne from where one can witness a breath-taking sunset and sunrise (especially spots like Snow View and Tip’n’Top). A number of treks into the hill-side can be taken 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. Accomodation options are not many, really. There are a couple of hotels, a GMVN Tourist Rest House (TRH), and a couple of resorts which are really good considering there is not much option to stay in Lansdowne in the first place. Please be informed that it’s always a good idea to book your accommodation beforehand.

If you do visit Lansdowne some-time, don’t forget to pay a visit to the following places:

Tip ‘n’ Top and Snow-View Point: Offers a startling view of the snow-clad mountain peaks of Chaukhamba and Trishul. Tip ‘n’ Top is locally called Tiffin Top, ad is located on the ridge, close to St. Mary’s Church.

St. Mary’s & St.John’s: While St.Mary’s is an Anglican Church that has been partially turned into a reading room, St.John’s Church is a Roman Catholic Church. Both the churches are at Tip ‘n’ Top. St. Mary’s is a must visit for its beautiful stained glass-windows and quaint aura, or merely to sit, relax and just gaze in the view.

Bhulla Lake: This very small, shallow lake has been developed with the twin aim of attracting tourists and harvesting rain-water. 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 the Corbett National Park. Of the roughly 2000 species that come to India every year, about 600 visit Lansdowne, just when the summer tourist start to pour in the beautiful city. 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. Suit yourself!

Kotdwara (45kms.): 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 our country is named Bharat Varsh.

This has been an absolute dream come true. I don’t think many of us can boast of riding a Superbike, forget touring on a Superbike. A few handful people do it on a regular basis. They have the means and the machine to do it, but for someone like me, who doesn’t own one yet, it obviously was the opportunity of a lifetime! It makes you learn a lot of things, you see. You learn to follow traffic rules, you learn to put restraint on that right wrist of yours, but more than anything else, what you learn is how to respect other vehicles on the road; atleast that’s how it’s with me.

Lansdowne is one of the most beautiful places to start your journey upwards towards the higher terrains of Uttarakhand. It has been my favourite destination for quite some time now and I keep visiting this place time and again just to relive all the old memories and to simply get away from the maddening urban crowd. If you are looking for a soothing place, a place that is sure to rejuvinate your senses and it is not far from Delhi, then Lansdowne is the place for you. Go there, enjoy, relax under nature’s immensely beautiful vistas. And I am sure you would forget everything else.


  • Rahul Arora  On May 19, 2011 at 8:16 PM

    Nice jot down Bobby. R1 surely is an able companion!! Keep up with the instinct..



  • ajayananth  On December 2, 2011 at 2:04 PM

    SBKs teach you to respect them and the other motorists. Is it Ken da’s R1 ?


  • Dia  On July 4, 2012 at 11:46 AM

    Thanks for the information.During the year, which is the best time to visit Lansdowne ? What would be the experience if we visit on coming weekend ?


    • vulpineshooter  On July 4, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      Hi Dia,

      THanks for writing in to me, and I am glad you like my article. Well, next week Lansdowne should be very pleasant. Lansdowne remains pleasant 12 months a year, and I am sure you’d enjoy the lovely weather and beautiful views of the place. Please do let me know after your visit, as to how you liked the place. šŸ™‚ I shall be waiting. Take care, and happy holidays. šŸ™‚


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