A Weekend Trip to Lansdowne: A Destination I got Enamoured of
Finally, the most awaited Friday night had arrived to take us away from the daily 9-6 grind, albeit for two days. It was 10 past 12 at night when our cab for LANSDOWNE TRIP reached Swapnil’s residence. Shikha was yawning…after all we had a hectic day at office. Nidhi, Shikha, Gaurav, Swapnil, Mahesh and I, (the youngest one), boarded the Innova car which was booked after a hell lot of planning. The talkative Swapnil sat behind me while I chose the window seat intentionally to have a glimpse of the noisy Delhi saying bye-bye to us at least for a little while…
Journey via Meerut
After almost 4 months I was out for a weekend trip and that too with some of my best colleagues cum buddies. So, excitement was at its peak. The sweltering heat and creaky noise of Delhi was slowly fading away by the time our cab took Delhi – Meerut route. The chatter did not have any limit as no CCTV was following us and even though we were seated inside the car, I felt like I was flying spreading my wings. Oh no…”We have taken a wrong route”, Mahesh said all of a sudden and we found ourselves inside an army camp. The cab didn’t have a GPS in place and the driver was not at all familiar with the route…which we didn’t know when we booked the cab, and neither did the driver thought it necessary to tell us. It was only when the driver asked “which route to take now”, we found out that we had reached a dead end. We were getting agitated by the minute, but fortunately Mahesh had GPS navigation system installed on his mobile; he opened the application and we managed to get out of trouble!! And after a few wrong turns, at last we reached NH 119.
- It is advisable to ask the car rental agencies (if you are hiring their car) to put GPS in the car.
- Make sure you have navigation applications downloaded in your phone.
The Best Route to Take
Delhi – Meerut – Bijnor – Kotdwar – Lansdowne
The distance between Delhi and Lansdowne is 268.4 km. So make sure you do not get fooled by the car rental agencies.
Morning at 5…Waking up to Mountain Views
Morning View of Mountain on the way to Lansdowne
‘Sudip…uth, tune kitna kuch miss kar diya’ (Wake up! You have missed so many things)- Nidhi’s as usual exciting tone woke me up and what I saw was something really awe-inspiring. We were some kilometres uphill of Kotdwar when it was going to be dawn. Chilly air was piercing through the half open window of the car and the sky scrapping hills were looking stunning from the back seat of the car. I told them to stop the car for a while to capture the moment in frames. Fresh air, enigmatic greenery and the feeling of cold doubled our excitement.
As soon as we started ascending, uphill clouds, mist, waterfall, pine trees and steep slopes started inviting my nature loving soul to catch them in my cam…The whirling roads were a bit whimsical for which all of us were getting mild high altitude sickness. But, the surrounding views and humidity free air was generating a refreshing feel…
In front of Garhwal House…at 7am
Garhwal Guest House
We were at a loss whether we had arrived at Lansdowne or we need to travel further. Gaurav had been to the city earlier so after seeing Garhwali Mess, he said “we have reached Lansdowne”. The route from here onwards was surprisingly neat and clean and except for dry leaves there was no sign of littering anywhere. The reason became clear to us when we saw the notice board saying NO POLYTHENE. We were inside the Army Cantonment Area and the quiet localities were conversing about the disciplined lifestyle of the city. Perhaps someone has rightly said “first impression is the last impression”.
Hotel Fairy Dale…at last
Fairy Dale Resort Lansdowne
Perhaps a comfortable stay (not necessarily luxurious) is an inseparable part of leisure outing. In Fairy Dale I got that peace what I left 2 years back in my hometown. From ambiance to hospitality everything appeared pleasingly natural and there was no sign of hassle or ostentatious beauty. Though at first we were undecided and looking for some cheaper options, but the impeccable serenity of Fairy Dale compelled us to stay back there leaving all worries aside.
Here I would like to tell those who are having budget constraints, they can try going for some budget hotels located in and around the main market area. GMVN regulated Tourist Bungalows are worth a try.
Mission Lansdowne Exploring Began…
Had bath, took a nap, and were done with the heavy breakfast served in the open air canteen of the resort. Here I must tell you that Lansdowne is more like a leisure getaway than an activity packed tourist spot. The main attractions were not very far from our resort. So, we preferred exploring them on foot.
At Bhulla Taal
Bhulla Tal Lansdowne
This is an artificial lake built by the Garhwal Rifles. An ideal pastime is to go for boating in this lake. Sparse crowd and the relaxing ambiance convince one to spend some time on the lake side shades. Neatly tailored flower gardens add to its scenic beauty. There are swings and open spaces to relax and enjoy the view. There is a small handicraft showroom by the lake where one can get some of the finest silk and cotton items. The coffee shop selling varieties of snacks is a plus point. I would suggest you to try the ‘Aalu Tikki’ which is really lip-smacking.
St. Mary’s Church
Church at Lansdowne
A Gothic Style church surrounded by Pine and Deodar forests, St. Mary’s is truly a God’s abode. Beautifully crested with two evergreen trees on both sides of the entrance, the church appears as a symbol of utmost peace and tranquillity. The church is located almost at the edge of a mountain top and the sitting space next to it offers enigmatic views of the valleys and Himalayan Mountain ranges. The interplay of pristine white cloud, dark green forest and distant human habitats appear like a canvas painted by an expert artist.
We spent almost two hours without talking much. I sat alone for a while without ‘dialogue’ and I was not in a mood to leave the spot, but rest of my friends were getting bored. So, we started for Tip in Top…
At Tip in Top
Tip in Top Lansdowne
WOW! What a pleasant view…that was all I uttered upon reaching there. It is nothing but an extended edge of the mountain where people sit to enjoy the quiet beauty of nature. The rugged trek from the St.Mary’s to this awe-inspiring spot is surrounded by lush greenery. The Tip – in – Top (Tiffin Top) is also known as the snow view point of Lansdowne. The view of the Himalaya as witnessed from this site is rejuvenating. Be aware that there are different poisonous trees along the trek that might cause irritation if they come into contact with your skin.
I am not sure how much distance we covered within this short span. But we were feeling tired and slightly hungry as well. But our cheerful Shikha was in a mood to go shopping. Let me tell you how she got so crazy about that. The day we left for Lansdowne, she had read a blog about the special attractions in Lansdowne. So, she found that ‘Javed Leather Boot Shop’ sells quality leather goods in Lansdowne. “Bas…ab hume kaun roke” (who stops us)…
Finding Javed Boot Shop turns into a small mission!
Javed Boot Shop at Lansdowne
Finding out Javed’s shop became a million dollar question. Though the locals told us that the shop is located in the main market but that was not the actual Javed’s shop. The actual Javed Gift Point is just opposite to the Garwaal Riffles Camp. To reach there you need to reach the Shatabdi Dwar (Centenary Gate), and passing by the Jaswant Dwar you will reach the small market type area where apart from the Javed’s Boot Shop you will see a few other shops selling quality products like brass metal items, silk, and porcelain items.
At last we found it…the Javed’s Shop
Javed Boot Shop Lansdowne
I tell you, I was at first annoyed because I couldn’t find any logic behind buying bags from that small town. But upon reaching the shop I thought would have missed something exceptional if I had not gone there. The owner was a soft spoken gentleman who told us that they manufacture their own goods. From girls’ hand bags to boys’ shoes and wallet everything made of pure leather can be found at a reasonable price. Shikha bought a hand bag and Gaurav finally ended up buying a super slim wallet.
Note: You will not find ATMs growing like mushrooms. Either you will have to draw money from the ATMs in the main market or the ones located near Javed’s store. Do not forget that the ATMs in the main market do not open before 8.15 in the morning.
We were done with the shopping. Nidhi and Swapnil were damn tired. So, after taking oath to wake up at 6 the next morning we went back to our nest.
The Tale of Food…
Sitting Near Eatery Fairydale
Let me tell you about the snacks that we had before heading for the shopping session and about our dinner.
In one word, it was ‘delicious’! At dinner we were served both veg as well as non-veg. I, Nidhi and Shikha had that lip smacking chicken. We, the non-vegies were full, so we decided to call it a day and retreated to our rooms. We all had a deep slumber under the cosy comfort of the warm blanket that night. My eyes opened only when I heard Shikha telling Nidhi “I don’t think Sudip will wake up so early for the morning walk”. “I am awake, Shikha”. So, the morning started on a funny note. Unlike the scorching heat of the sun disturbing my morning nap, here the chirping of birds, soft breeze was telling me to sleep a bit more…
Walking through the Greenery Bathed in Sparkling Dew
The sun was peeping through the Pine, Deodar and Baanj trees surrounding the resort. The hide and seek of fog and sunrays was truly amazing. Unlike the lanes of our Delhite residence the roads in front of the resort was echoing with the sound of small mountain streams gushing down and sweet chirping of wild birds was reminding me of the greatest works of Wordsworth. Serenity and cleanliness were at their best to let all the outsiders spending a lazy Sunday. Other than the main market, there was no signal of noise, no rude voice calling each other. All of us were lost in nature and I, the most talkative of the pack, was recalling a few lines from Tagore.
Cute Snoopy hugs Pluto
The Fairy Dale authority had a Labrador named Pluto and their neighbour owned one pug named Snoopy and I was immediately on the back foot, because I have never been too comfortable with dogs. But, Gaurav, the dog lover, and Nidhi, the dogs’ favourite heroine compelled me to hug both the innocent animals. I would suggest the readers to call Snoopy whenever you go for having breakfast or lunch by the eatery…
On the Way to Kotdwar
After a heavy breakfast we were set to get back to our mundane life. 11.30 is the check out time of Fairy Dale Resort. Accordingly we left the den bidding good bye to Pluto. Gaurav was still missing Snoopy to hug it once more…but Snoopy, the naughty dog made him hopeless. Saying Bye-Bye to Fairy Dale and Lansdowne I packed up my camera thinking there is nothing more to click. But by the time the high altitude route came to an end the beautiful Kho River caught our attention and on the way to Kotdwar, at last we found out a way to reach the riverbed.
The crystal clear water rolling over the rocky riverbed was making rhythmic noises. All of us were in a mood to take a bath on its chilly waters but thinking about the other associated activities we ended up having some simple fun in its waves.
Refreshing! That is how I would like to describe our Lansdowne trip…At the end of the day we were all needed to join office the next day. The same 9-6 daily grind was waiting for us, and a free bird like me who feels at home under the open sky was going to spend his days listening to some noisy humdrum of the next door uncle’s rusty noise of car parking. Instead of normal fresh air the artificial cooling system cools my room even during this mid week of September and next morning I open my eyes missing the sunrise that I witnessed in Fairy Dale, Lansdowne.