Unexplored, unspoiled, amazing greeneries and a deep silence in the nature..These words describe Lansdowne very well. This city is a beautiful and popular hill station at a height of 1706 mtrs on a hillock near Kotdwara in Uttarakhand. Lansdowne got its name from Lord Lansdowne, who was the then Viceroy of India during the period of 1888 – 1894. Presently, Lansdowne has the command office of the Garhwal Rifles division of the Indian Army.
Lansdowne has very limited number of tourist attractions i.e. a small lake, a view point, two churches, a temple and a museum. We reached Lansdowne around 4 PM. Major attractions like Bhulla Lake, Tip-n-Top(a.k.a.Tiffin Top), St.Mary’s Church and Mata Santoshi Devi Temple, all are on a single route of 4 kms. So, we went to trek this route in the evening and decided to visit the museum in the next morning.
We reached at Bhulla Lake, which is about 1.5 kms away from the city center Gandhi Chowk, and it turned out a big disappointment for us. This much hyped attraction of Lansdowne is not so good, even worse than the boat ride offered at old Fort in Delhi.There is also a park for kids adjoining the lake with some rides and a restaurant. Although Bhulla Tal is not anything near to our idea of a lake, still it is a good sight surrounded by pine trees.
From there, we trekked about 2 kms to reach Tip-n-Top. The trek route is surrounded by lushing greeneries of thick oak woods and blue Pine forests and since very few people were there, it was a pleasant experience of walking in the midst of silence. We passed through the St.Mary’s Church, which is now turned in to a library. Every Morning at 8.00 AM, there is an Audio-Visual Presentation on the history of Lansdowne. Entry Fee: INR 10/- per person.
Tip-n-Top offers some great views of surrounding hills near Lansdowne. There are two tree-houses made by GMVN to enjoy the views.
After that, with a group of local kids, we reached to the Santoshi Mata Temple, which is further 1 km away. You have to climb some 100 steps to reach there. The temple is very small, but has great place in the heart of a local people. The surrounding view of mountains from the temple was amazing.Very strong wind was blowing there. We saw some jungle fire also from the temple, my first experience of seeing a big jungle fire.
It was a complete dark by then and we started our descent to the hotel. The whole path is cemented upto the temple, so it was not a problem. We enjoyed that lonely moment of walking at Lansdowne and I realized the beauty of Lansdowne. It is not so popular on tourist circuit, so untouched by the weird tourists, hence less crowded. On the narrow path in the pine forests of Lansdowne, you can spend number of days even weeks without being disturbed by outside world and that is the beauty offered by Lansdowne.Just do nothing in Lansdowne, expect nothing from Lansdowne and you will be the happiest soul holidaying there.
Next morning, we took heavy lunch before exploring rest of the Lansdowne. Paranthas were very tasty and the size was also very big compare to the price. We started at 9.30 AM and this time decided to explore on the bike. So Shailendra took his Bullet and we both went to the St.John’s Church. The Church door was closed, but the caretaker opened it on the request.
From there, we moved towards the museum. Just before the museum gate, there is a branch of State Bank of India. Adjacent to the bank, there is a viewpoint maintained by SBI. This viewpoint offered the great view of the mountains and valley from the Lansdowne town.We took some photos there and reached to the museum.
Darwan Singh Museum is the only thing the army has open for the tourists. This Museum is inaugurated at Lansdowne in 1983 to display the rare collection of Garhwal Rifles. This museum is named after Darwan Singh Negi, who was among the earliest Indian recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.The Museum has a fine collection of Armour on display and this may be the reason for children below 10 years of age are not allowed to enter. Photography is also not allowed inside the museum. Outside the museum, there is a very beautiful flower garden. You can find at least 10-12 number of Rose varieties there.Entry fee to the museum is Rs 35 per person and timings are between 9.00 AM till noon and 3.00 PM to 6 PM.
Adjacent to the museum, there is a memorial, where general public is not allowed to go. In front of the museum, there is a big ground, Known as Parade Ground of Garhwal Regiment. Nobody is allowed to go there.The parade ground and war memorial are impressive.
This ends our exploration of Lansdowne and we retuned back to out hotel. After taking a glass of Lassi with Masala Dosa, we started our returned journey to Delhi at 11.30 AM. Till Kotdwara, we stopped many times to take a lot of pictures. From there , we headed back to Delhi and without any significant events, we reached Delhi by 10.00 PM.
How to Reach Lansdowne:
By Air: The nearest Airport is Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is 140 kms away. The nearest International Airport is New Delhi, which is 260 kms away. Lansdowne is well connected to Dehradun and Delhi by a good motorable road. Taxis are easily available from both the places, but it is advoisable to get the taxi from Delhi itself, because there is no point to go to Dehradun by a 30 minutes flight and catch a taxi for 140 kms journey. It will be the wastage of your time as well as money. Road from Delhi to Lansdowne is in excellent condition and you can easily cover this distance in 5 hours by a taxi.
By Train: The nearest train station is Kotdwara, which is 45 kms away from Lansdowne.Two Express trains run between Delhi and Kotdwara. The details of the train are:
1. Mussoorrie Express (Departure: Delhi Sarai Rohilla 21:30 PM, Arrival: Kotdwara 05:55 AM)
2. Garhwal Express ((Departure: Delhi 7:20 AM, Arrival: Kotdwara 14:20 PM)
You can book your ticket upto 90 days in advance at www.irctc.co.in
Kotdwara railway station is just adjacent to the main road going to Lansdowne. From there you can easily get a hired taxi (INR 400/-) or shared jeep (Fare INR 40/- per person) to Lansdowne.
By Road: The road condition from Delhi to Lansdowne is excellent. Last 35 kms of the road from Kotdwara to Landowne passes through a hilly terrain and required skilled driving on the hills. State Transport Buses to Kotdwara are easily available at frequent intervals from Maharana Pratap ISBT in Delhi. This is the most convenient method to reach Kotdwara in a cheap way. From there, you can easily get a shared jeep to Lansdowne,but avoid reaching Kotdwara late in the night. You may not be able to get a transport between Kotdwara and Lansdowne after 8.00 PM, so in this case,it is better to stay in Kotdwara.
Where to Stay:
There are some nice hotels and resorts available in Lansdowne.The most preferred one is the state-run Tourist Rest House of GMVN, which is reasonably priced and location is also good. The other state run hotel, GMVN Tip N Top, is also a good option. Both can be booked online. You can also find other budget as well as high-end overpriced resorts in the immediate vicinity of Lansdowne.