The rising mercury had made the decision easier and the time was just ripe to take a short break from Delhi for the cooler climbs. We were finally going to Lansdowne, this cute hill station tucked away in the Garhwal Hills, Uttaranchal.
From Delhi to Lansdowne
Our train Garhwal Express was scheduled to depart on 10.20 p.m. We were comfortable in our seats by 10.15. To our surprise, the train started dot on time, and notwithstanding the unscheduled interim halts, we were at Kotdwar at 5.55 next morning.
It seems that the train, along with us, had also transported rains to the hills, because as we reached, it started drizzling. The ascent for Lansdowne begins from Kotdwar – a distance of another 45 km. We hired a cab. The road meandering along tall pine trees punctuated with random streams and occasional glimpse of the high peaks made us forget that we were only a few hours away from Delhi. Very soon, the drizzle changed to heavy showers and the foggy and moist air harbingered the setting for a perfect weekend getaway. Another hour and we were at the check post of this charming hill station.
Lansdowne, the center of Garhwal Rifles, is maintained by the cantonment board (read cleanliness, orderliness and efficient administration). That could be the reason why the town is not a typical tourist hill-station – it has very few hotels. We were prebooked at the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) Ltd. Tourist Lodge, The place appeared to be engulfed in a time warp – from hotel boys, to people around- nobody tried much to impress.
Things to do in Lansdowne?
The sightseeing included a visit to the Tip-in-top or Tiffin top, the summit of Lansdowne. Nearby is the St Mary’s church, apparently one of the oldest churches in India. We were over-whelmed by the colonial structure, the stained–glass windows, the old photographs of the Regiment and the flower beds outside. A trekking to the quaint Santoshi Mata Temple was result of forgetting the route to the temple and was probably the best thing to do in Lansdowne. The Temple is pristine and emitted positive and divine vibes.
The best way to navigate Lansdowne is on foot- treks – short, long – as your physiology permits. On a personal note, the trip was a revelation for us. The tipping point, of course, had to be the monsoon.