Lansdowne, situated at an altitude of 1700 meters from sea level, is a perfect weekend gateway from Delhi and for a self drive road tripper, it refreshes your reflexes. A smooth 5 hours drive from Delhi takes you the first and the nearest hill station from Delhi in the Garhwal Region of Himalaya. Original name of this cantonment town is Kaludanda, after Kalun (Black) and Danda (Hill) in local/regional dialect. Lansdowne was planned and established by the Britishers to set up and support Recruit and Training Center of Garhwal Rifles and named after then Viceroy of India, Lord Lansdowne in 1887. Since then Lansdowne is the Capital-Base of this Gallant Regiment of Indian Army and an important chapter of Indian Military History.
The name Lansdowne has its own subtle wibes around it which has been calling me since long to visit this place. So this year’s road tripping season started with this charming town which is one of the most clean and well-kept hill station of India and this is so because Military controls the town thus making this place a perfect place for relaxation and rejuvenation of mind and soul alike.
So here, Himanshu lists down 10 reasons that make Lansdowne a perfect road trip destination from Delhi on weekend:
1. Nearest Hill Station From Delhi: Only in a five hour’s of effortless driving from Delhi transports you to Lansdowne from hush-hush of urban life to the embrace of verdant Himalayan Valley. It’s like a power trip which rejuvenates your senses in a fast track mode.
2. Awesome Roads For An Awesome road trip: After every 50 KM scene changes on this road to Lansdowne. On this road trip you pass thru Sugarcane Fields & paddy field, you meander along Sona River, then 50 KM of Hill Driving keeps you on toe and finally Oak and Pine Tree welcomes you in the High altitude fiefdom of Himalaya.
Tip#1: Start early to save yourself from the traffic jam around Meerut.
3. Highway Food: For me road trip is incomplete without a dash of dhaba food. And the road to Lansdowne also has many road side food options. On Delhi to Lansdowne part, aim for Meerpur which has an array of Food Joints, best among them is Monty Million. And while you trip down from Lansdowne to Delhi, must stop at Jain Shikanji near Modinagar which is famous for its Soda Lemonade and also offers quality north Indian food.
4. Quite & Calm Surrounding: Don’t be bound with the time machine on your wrist while exploring the town. The town is meant to get lost in the lanes and sloppy by lane with no sense of time and direction.
5. Garhwal Rifles & War Museum: Pride is the feeling that gives goosebumps in this town. Garhwal regiment has established a War Museum- Darwan Singh museum showcasing the overwhelming histry and heritage of this always-war-ready regiment. This museum is the only military establishment which is open for common people, the so-called civilian like us. Right next to this museum, there is Parade Ground of Garhwal Rifles where you can sneak peek the hardship army man put in to keep them fit and disciplined.
6. Golden Hour Photography: Every hill station of Himalayan Range offers awesome opportunity for Golden Hour Photography. Due to monsoon clouds we could not capture anything in the evening but the next day morning gave us grand opportunity for awesome shots. The best LOOKOUT point in Lansdowne is “Tip and Top” which presents best view of verdant beauty spread all around Lansdowne.
7. Old Time Churches: As Lansdowne was established by Birtishers, many colonial establishments were also erected and many among them are the fading reminder of the bygone era when British Crown was the reigning empire of the world. The Old World Churches such as St. Mary and St John amidst oaks and pine trees give you a glimpse of Birtish era. ST Mary church is now a library managed by Garhwal Rifle and also every hour an AV show is run on the screen demonstrating the history of Garhwal Rifles.
8. Picturesque Bhulla Taal: Unlike other Taals (lakes) of Himalaya, Bhulla Taal is an artificial lake created by Army by erecting a small check dam. One can spend some quite time hear soaking in the sun amidst the chirping of the birds and ducks.
Tip#2: Carry a book to Bhulla taal as its one of the quietest place to be lost in book reading.
9. Kaleshwar Mahadev Mandir: From Mall Road Bazar, when you need to take a detour to reach this 5000 year old Kaleshwar Mahadev Mandir which is believed to be the meditation place for Hindu Sages since prehistoric era. The shivlinga of this eminent temple is a swayambu Linga which means it’s a self formed and attracts devotees from hills during Mahashivratri.
Legend#1: As per legends on the day of Mahashivratri, a herder lost his cow. After lot of search when I finally could locate his cow, it was milking on its own on a stone shaped as Shivlinga. And since then people started worshipping ths Shivlinga.
Legend#2: Many other believe that The sage kalun, a followere of Shiva, did the deep meditation here 5000 years ago before the shivlinga. And the previous name of Lansdowne got its name Kaludanda after sage Kalun.
1o. Morning Time Snacking: When you travel in India, food has to be the important part of your exploration of a place. The lingering taste of the food makes the travel memories more savory and flavorful. So, whenever I visit a place, I talk to locals and take info on the local specialties. In Lansdowne, the local market on the Mall Road is a great place for morning snacking. Many shops offer piping hot Samosa and Jalebi which must be tried before you leave the town. A sweet Bal Mithai is very famous and I saw many travelers getting it packed in bulk.
Lansdowne was the favorite place of the Ruskin Bond and this vouch for the place and what it offers to so-called city dwellers seeking elusive peace during weekends.
Stay Recommendation: Oak Grove Inn run by Col Rawat (9412934858) and his wife who has earned name because of his famed hospitability. The couple takes a very good personalized care of each guest and all food is home cooked in their kitchen itself.
Tip#3: when planning for Lansdowne book hotels early as few good options are available making it tough during weekend.
Himanshu loves to blog at www.everythingcandid.com about his traveling to places, mostly self drive road trips, capturing candid photographs of everything en route and relish the food – Dhaba food or street food. Aim of his blog is to encourage people to run from the safety of home and complacency of daily life to go closer to nature and enjoy other worldly life. Himanshu can be reached at Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest