Summer is back and every opportunity to travel to the hills is a charming dream for people in lowlands. With not enough time to plan a holiday, and not enough leaves in everyone’s account, my friends and I decided on a weekend trip to Lansdowne.
Four of us left at 6:00 am on a Friday morning in a friend’s new Maruti Swift. The 250 kilometre route from Delhi - Meerut - Bijnor - Kiratpur - Najibabad - Lansdowne was as fun as it was safe. Though the stretch was largely a single road, it was quite neat and luckily for us, the traffic wasn’t heavy. After some delicious tea and paranthas on the two stoppages we made, we covered the last lap of 40 kilometres of the hills to reach Lansdowne.
Lansdowne isn’t a typical Shimla or Chandigarh for you. In other words, it is neither heavily urbanised, nor commercialised. Lansdowne is chiefly a cantonment area, once used by British to recruit and cater to the Garhwal Rifles unit. The old-world St Mary’s Church and some other buildings are fading reminders of colonial establishments in the town, which in fact gets its name from Lord Lansdowne, the then Viceroy of India.
The most spectacular feature of Lansdowne however is neither St Mary’s nor the famed Bhulla Lake that attracts almost every tourist to the town. It is the absolute calm and lazy air that envelops this town, for everyone but the army men!
We checked-in to the Blue Pine Resorts, a property on the top of a hillock. Thought costlier when compared to other hotels in the area, it’s unique owing to its location. In outskirts of the main cantonment area, the resort had but a scarcely populated town around it. The view of the Shivaliks from the rooms and terrace gave just the poise and vigour we were looking for.
We checked-in around 2:00 pm, freshened up and devoured the delicious lunch and fresh fruits at the hotel restaurant. Courtesy the view from my balcony, I was late for the lunch. After that hearty meal, it was time to take a walk in the hills.
The local market on the Mall Road was small but surprisingly well-stocked. The hospitable sellers were happy to provide us with anything we asked for. The momos were quite irresistible, though we were already high on lunch. By 7:30 pm, by which the town and marketplace close down, we were back to our hotel. The hour at the discotheque was though well spent, once we stepped out in the open area, the music and sound seemed quite out of the place.
The next morning, we were up at 5:00 am to see the rising sun. This followed by table tennis, pool and a round of badminton before a scrumptious buffet breakfast. The latter part of the morning was spent boating and capturing rabbits and ducks on the camera at the Bhulla Lake, a man-made lake. From there we drove to Tip n Top, a viewpoint from where one can see views of snow-clad Himalayas, with binoculars of course.
An erstwhile British bungalow converted in to Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam was serving food and beverages in a small log hut in its vicinity. Picture this sight in a quaint hill-town with some drizzle and breeze, and it won’t seem that mundane.
The night was spent rather peacefully strolling in the peripheral wilderness, without the slightest lighting or signal strength in our mobiles. As we left for Delhi after breakfast the next morning, there was an unexplainable energy and positivity in all of us. That, I would like to believe, was the only and best takeaway from Lansdowne.