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Lansdowne (Misty mountains, Fragrant Pines)

  The name was stuck in my head. My Fauji friends also insisted that it was the right place for an idyllic holiday. And I was also looking for a destination that wasn’t crowded .So Lansdowne it was. Leaving Delhi early helped helped us escape the crazy, rush hour traffic at meerut. crossing ignore and najibabad, we tucked into terrific aloo paranthas at Punjabi dhaba and drove through the thickly forested winding road to kotdwar, a foothill town that serve as the gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas.

Following the Kotdwar – pauri Road at a leisurely pace Whilst capturing the scenic beauty with our cameras, we almost didn’t notice the signboard that read the lansdowne’. The scent of pine engulfed us. My first view of Lansdowne was Breathtaking tall oaks and blue pines stood like sentinels on the mountain side. The forests were dark and deep, just perfect for those long leisurely walks on unknown trails. A little further, the mighty Gates of Garhwal rifles Regimental centre announced our arrival at Lansdowne.

Perched at 6000 ft, Lansdowne originally known as Kalundanda, is home to many valiant Garhwalis. In 1887,the british, on the suggestions of the district collector of pauri , and after getting approval from

The top brass Empire, established Kaludanda as a military base and renamed it after the then viceroy of India, lord Lansdowne. The Garhwal Rifles regiment set up its headquarters here in 1921 and since then has maintained and preserved the ecological of this heritage military station.

The small town square and the main market place that flanks both sides of the tiny street, has a number of eating joints. But we left these behind, to drive up a little further, past the GMVN Bungalow, to a road that led us to a fairy dale resort. True to its name, the resort – built in 1902- is set amidst fairytale

Surroundings. Khandelwalji, host and manager, had organized piping hot lunch and once that was over advised that was over, advised us on what to see and do in this quaint town.

Firstly on our hasty put together itinerary was tip in top. If you’re the kind who’s obsessed with the Himalayas – like Iam you will love this place for the spectacular views of the mountains. My camera went ‘click’click’click’ until I noticed the menacing clouds that threatened to any brust. Hurrying back to any car, we decided to visit st Mary’s church ‘barely half –a-kilometer away.

Constructed in 1896 on the upper mail, the church resonated with choirs and prayers till independence. Over the years, it fell into a state of neglect and rapid decline. It was restored to its former state of glory by the local regiment. The beauty of the church was not lost on us, as we admired the stained glass windows .from there, we moved to St John’s church located in the midst of the forest and the Garhwali Rifles Regimental war Memorial, which was unveiled by lord Rawlinson of Trent, the then commander in chief of India on armistice day, November 11, 1923.located at parade ground, it is a major attraction for the tourists.

Back in the town square for the quick tea break, santoshi Mata temple located on a hillock was our next destinations. The climb was laborious, but the view from the temple worth the effort. situated at the highest point of Lansdowne, the temple is surrounded by the oak trees and rhodendron shrubs. The tinkling of hundred of bells added to the temple’s charm. Our last stop for the day was Bhulla Taal, an artificial lake built in 2003. Bhulla meaning younger brother in Garhwali refers to the Jawans of the Regimental centre who toiled day and night to create the dam and lake. It is a popular tourist spot. Many families enjoyed the view from macchaan next to lake.

At down next day. We left for Tarkeshwar mahadev temple, some 40kms away on the lansdwowne – dehriyakhal road. No other vehicle was in sight as the car caressed the r52oad‘s edges and ate up the distance. A diversion from the main road, another six kilometers on a non – metalled stretch a short walk through pouring rain and we were standing in a setting that seemed straight out of paradise. A Temple stood in the midst of towering cedar trees .no matter how hard I tried and whatever angle you took , I couldn’t capture a single tree in one frame . after offering prayers at a shivling (believed to be buried inside the earth ), we lazed around. Since it was still a while before we get back we decided to explore the surroundings. Apparently this is where the historical battle between the British and Gorkha

Troops took place in 1814.

A fog played spoilsport ,pushing us back to the safe confines of the resort.

Tips :
  • Do not even thing of littering in the town. If cought, the army will fine you heavily. Over speeding and riding without a helmet are prohibited too.
  • Keep a lookout for the leopards while enjoying those walks especially at night .there are at least four leopards that have made the forest around Lansdowne, their home.
  • Trek in early hours to Rathi point, which provide glorious view of the rising sun. To get the best out of the trek, start from Khyber point (6Km). It takes you through meadows of wild flowers and spectacular views of mountains awash with the golden rays of the rising sun.
  • Learn about the rich cross culture of Lansdowne , a great mix of Garhwali, Kumaoni and rajasthani cultures.
What to Eat :
For a town having just a handful of restaurants, the variety on offer is quite surprising .you can sample Chinese, Mughlai and south Indian fare. But don’t miss out on tipsy Giganantic aloo paranthas, mayor chaat and steaming-hot momos. Also don’t forget to carry back some chocolate burfi for folks home from mishraji mithai shop.

Where to Stay :
There are few private hotels and lodges, in additions to Garhwali mandal vikas nigam’s tourist bungalow. A good option is fairy dale Resort.

What to Do :
Nothing just take a break enjoy the sunrise at tip- in –top a boat ride in Bhulla Taal the tek to Dehriyakhal ,a walk through lovers lane and practices those swings at army golf course.
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