Haven in the Hills


DSC_0139

On a chance weekend break from work, my friend and I decided to pack our bags and head out of Delhi. With just two days at our disposal we could not venture far, plus we wanted to avoid the conventional tourist places. This left us with very few options and finally we decided to head to the mountains of Lansdowne in Uttaranchal. Situated around 250km from Delhi, Lansdowne lies in the Pauri Garhwal district. The easiest way to get to there is to take a bus to Kotdwar, from where jeeps run up to Lansdowne. The drive uphill is quite breathtaking especially if you’re travelling in the wee hours of dawn and hence it is advisable to get the front seats in the jeep.  The jeep drops you off at the main town square which is tiny and quaint. The architecture has an ethereal and old world charm to it.

After a quick breakfast at one of the small eateries we headed off to the nearby jheel (lake) called Bhulla Taal. There is perhaps nothing as reinvigorating as a walk in the mountains early morning when there is a slight nip in the air. The placid waters of the lake are lined with a well maintained garden.

DSC_0037 View of the Bhulla Taal

We next headed off to the famous Tip in Top point from where according to locals one can see the Indo China border. It is apparently named Tip in Top after a British General who fell off from his horse there. Finding the way up to it can be quite an adventure in itself. Without a guide, we were at the mercy of the passer bys. Trekking through the mountains was a lot of fun though we did get lost and took a long time to get back on the main road and that perhaps is the best way of discovering any place. On our way we chanced upon a cliff which offered a stunning view of the valley below. The luscious greens and the most vivid shade of blue in the sky was pure visual ecstasy. Another discovery we made was a small Santoshi Mata Mandir perched up on a small hill. There are more than fifty steps leading up to it and apart from the karma you will also be blessed with another spectacular view.

DSC_0135 Lansdowne from the Tip in Top point

Lansdowne weather is known to be highly unpredictable and prone to quick and sudden changes. The rains especially are notorious.

After many more diversions we did find our way to the right place and only then did we realize how totally worth it, our trek had been. The Tip in Top is just a small viewing point hardly big enough to hold 15 people. Mist hung all around and it swirled out slowly unraveling the town and that is definitely one of the most breathtaking scenes ever.  Distant mountain peaks enveloped in mist surrounded the town like sentinels. Nature in its full glory is extremely captivating and it is easy to fall into a heady stupor when you can just stand and stare. When finally the reverie breaks it is time to move on.

Walking down the road is as delightful as the vista keeps expanding. The road leads to the Saint Mary’s Church of the British era. It runs a film on the Garhwal regiment on request. A little further down the winding road stands the Saint John’s Church which is open only during Mass timings.

Other places of interest are the Garhwal Rifles Museum and the Cantonment area. There is nothing really to do there, making it the perfect place for a relaxing weekend away from the dust and grime of the city. It is quite a blessing that unlike many hill towns it is not swarming with tourists. Idyllic, pristine and tranquil is Lansdowne for you!

DSC_0023 The main town square

Getting there: Kotdwar is the connecting town so take a bus or train till there. Jeeps run to and fro till Lansdowne from 5 in the morning till around 6 in the evening.

Accomodation: For budget accommodation take a pick from one of the two Guest Houses in the main town square. For a higher budget you can choose cottages near the Tip in Top point or stay at the new resort which is a little away from the town.

Best time to visit: According to locals between September to October Lansdowne is at its best.

-Niha Masih

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~ by Niha on September 25, 2009.

3 Responses to “Haven in the Hills”

  1. Very well written. The photos are good too – though I wish there was more variety.. looking forward to more travel writing. How about a piece on the MP trip?

  2. Thank u! I realised what u mean about there not being variety but i was just so caught up with the clouds that i did not realise it. I shall keep it in mind for next time. for the MP trip i think i would prefer to do the handloom story instead of a travel piece but i’d have a better idea only when i get back.

  3. Gud Photos Niha 🙂 Will wait for more !!

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