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Himalayas @ LANSDOWNE

Rating :
''A serene hill station overlooking the magnificent Himalayas indeed rejuvenates the soul.''

Location : In Pauri Garhwal, about 240 kms from Delhi

Why go the distance : Lansdowne is one of the quietest and unspoiled hill stations in India with scenic beauty never seen before. So, if looking to have some cosy time away from hustle and bustle of the capital, this romantic destination is indeed suggested. A small cantonment town, Lansdowne was one of the popular hill stations where British army personnel galloped across the ridge that overlooked a sprawling valley and the Greater Himalayas. Britishers brought up this place to cater to new recruits of Garhwal Rifles and loved it so much so that they named it after Sir Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894.
The landscape changes dramatically from Kotdwar, the nearest railway station. The drive along river Khoh from the place till destination is breath-taking with roads well tarred, thanks to the cantonment. The hills keep unfolding their magic and mysticism during the drive till one reaches the destination. You know you have reached the place when you turn past the gates of Garhwal Rifles Cantonment with huge welcome hoardings.

Silver fir, spruce and the elephant’s favourite bamboo forests cover the hills in and around Lansdowne and make sure that this experience seems straight out of a picture postcard. The cloud cover particularly during monsoons adds more magic and charm to the place that one would never want to leave. The sunrise is magnificent which fill the valley with its warmth and illuminate hills with its golden rays. One can trek around nearby villages and get a feel of what life is all about in Garhwal. The divinity of the place may prompt you to spend a few more days in the next visit.

The War Memorial : The Garhwal Rifles Regimental War Memorial at Lansdowne was established on 11th November 1923 and is located at the Parade Ground. Lord Rawlinson of Trent, the then Commander in Chief of India, founded this museum.

Bhulla Tal : Bhulla means ' younger brother' in the Garhwali language and the reference is to soldiers. In the heart of Lansdwone, it’s an artificial lake dug by soldiers for tourists to enjoy boating and experience flaura and fauna. Swans floating in the placid waters gives a wonderful feeling when in this place. A small souvenir shop, a cafe, herbal plants nursery, enclosure for rabbits make it one of the most happening and buzzing attraction of the hill station.

Tiffin Top : Trek from lake to Tiffin Top for overlooking Himalayas and the lush green valley. The trek route is surrounded by lush greeneries of thick oak woods and pine forests.

St Mary's Church : Though it was built by the British community in 1896, the Garhwal Rifles has made sure the church retains its old- worldly charm. Though it is no longer a functional Church, it is very well maintained by the Garhwal Rifles. One shouldn’t miss pre-independence photographs, audio and visual display of regimental history and souvenirs on display inside.

Gandhi Chowk : It’s a marketplace located in Lansdowne

Bhim Pakora : About 2.5 kms trek from Gandhi Chowk is Bhim Pakora. It is said that Pandavas stayed here for a night during their exile period where Bhim, the most powerful of all, placed one rock on top of the other in fashion, which never dropped till date.

Tarakeshwar : About 40 kms from Lansdowne, Tarakeshwar Mahadeva Temple is a siddh peeth, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is an ancient temple and the belief is that the deity here fulfills ones wishes. After returning from any war the army personnel visit the temple and offer special prayers. Mahashivratri is celebrated annually with grandeur here.

Durga Devi temple : About 27 kms from Lansdowne, the temple is 13 feet inside a cave. Deep within is a shivling and it is believed that wishes made here are bound to be granted. Devotees throng at the temple on Shivratri every year.

Jwalpadevi Temple : This temple is interesting for its legends. In ancient Garhwal, the demon King’s daughter Sachi wanted to marry Indra, the King of heaven, who was not inclined to tie the nuptial knot with the besotted girl. Sachi prayed to her favourite deity, Jwalpadevi. Moved by the girl’s heartfelt prayers, the goddess granted her wish. Since then, garhwalis say, a wish made here is often granted.

How to reach : Rail – One can catch a train from Delhi to Kotdwar, which is the closest railway station about 40 kms in distance from Lansdowne. From there one can hire a cab, share a jeep or take a bus to this hill station. Bus services start after 5.00am from Kotdwar for Lansdowne.

Road – It’s an aprrox 6-hr drive to Kotdwar from Delhi. Then a beautiful drive up to Landowne on a well-tarred hill road.

Where to Stay : Some options -
Lansdowne Villa contact : 09310034583, 09953423776
Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Rest house : 91-135-2431793, 2431783, 2435174, 2430799
Salpine Jungle Camp : 01386 – 246155, 09412025206
Blue Pine Resort : 01386 263 088

Tip : Don't fall asleep and miss the beautiful drive from Kotdwar to Lansdowne

Source / Review By : Pramugdha Mamgain Nautiyal

An ex-ET Journo and an Assistant Professor

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