Mountains were calling…how could we not go!
I and hubby are travel junkies and love exploring offbeat places. It was a Friday evening and hubby came home tired and exhausted; it looked like he needed a break.
Not that we need any reason to travel but it was good enough reason to escape the fast-paced metro life and renew the mind, body, and soul.
Incidentally, one of my friends discussed her trip to Lansdowne over the phone a day before. Since then I was secretly planning a trip to this pretty little hill-station. And the moment I took up this idea with hubby he was ready to leave any moment (It’s all about the timing, you know! )
We packed our bags and planned to leave early in the morning. My husband loves to drive and is at ease with his own car rather than a taxi or public transport unless it’s a non-drivable distance.
Our practice of leaving early especially for long drives always pays off. It’s blissful to drive with no traffic, no soul in sight.
Lansdowne is about 250 km from Delhi. It takes around 7 to 8 hours to reach with pitstops. Roads are smooth, however, they lack proper signage and milestones. Fortunately, Google Maps has always been a handy tool in these kinda situations.
As we approached Kotdwar, the air became fresh (it’s a luxury these days, you know) and we could see enchanting landscapes. We stopped by the roadside and enjoyed a hot cup of chai.
It was almost impossible to resist the temptation of hiking up and getting lost in the woods.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”
We resumed our journey towards Lansdowne. It’s only 40 km from Kotdwara but nearly takes one and a half hours because of arduous road and eroded curves.
It’s sensible to drive slowly up or down steep mountain roads. Plus you get to relish the beauteous vistas.
Lansdowne was absolutely inundated in mist when we reached there. It was completely a sight to behold.
We were in time for lunch. The food was good and it was a nice start to our vacation or much-needed break.
Later during the day, we decided to drive up to Tip-n-Top (highest point) to get some great views of Himalayas. On the way, we stopped by St. Mary’s Church, Bhulla Tal Lake and also saw the war museum.
Being an army base, Lansdowne is a well-maintained, harmonized and spotless town.
Lansdowne has not much to do and that’s exactly its selling point. Just take a stroll across the beautiful empty roads; look down into the valley; shout your name childishly and listen to the perplexing echo when valley wafts your name. Doing nothing here is everything!
Doing Nothing in Lansdowne
Do you also yearn to spend some time with yourself doing nothing? No rush. No sightseeing. Just travel to someplace to do nothing, to relax, to rejuvenate, to meditate, to listen to your soul, to just be.
Lansdowne is the perfect place to do nothing. Indulge in camping, nature walks, bird-watching, and capture beautiful frames.
During our time in Lansdowne, we would get up super early to enjoy the exquisite scenery. We didn’t want to miss out on any chance to fill our souls with fresh air and beautiful moments.
Ambling along the narrow curved roads was breathtaking. There was mist all over. Other-worldly! It was like clouds descent off the sky and resolve on the ground. I felt like Nefelibata (a cloud walker).
Mini-me thoroughly enjoyed toddling along the empty roads. She was unusually happy to get up so early in the morning. I and hubby looked at each other and smiled realizing that we made the right decision of coming here.
If you are thinking beyond leisurely sunrises and lazy sunsets, here’s a list of few things to do in Lansdowne.
Bhulla Taal Lake
Bhulla Taal is a small lake in Lansdowne enveloped by lush forests. You can enjoy the boat ride in the lake while capturing some beautiful pictures.
We spent some quality time strolling around the quiet lake while mini-me played around with cute rabbits hopping near the banks of the lake.
Entry Fees: INR 20 per person; Boating Charges: INR 95 per person; Opening Timings: 8 am – 8 pm; Opening Days: Closed on Wednesday
St. Mary’s Church
Located at the Tip-n-Top Viewpoint, St. Mary’s Church can be visited for its beautiful colonial architecture.
St. John’s Church
Located on the Mall Road, St. John’s Church is a beautiful and tranquil hideaway from the hustle and bustle.
This one tells a historic tale of epic Mahabharata. The legend has it that Bhim placed these rocks one over the other while they spent a night here during the exile. It is believed that no matter what, the rocks would and could never topple down the slope. The shape of the rocks matches the shape of an Indian snack, pakora and thus its name.
Tip-n-Top Viewpoint aka Tiffin Top can be easily reached by car. It’s just around 200 meters walk from the parking area. The vantage point presents a panoramic view of the snow-clad Gharwal Hills with a Himalayan range in the backdrop.
Santoshi Mata Temple
A short uphill walk from Tip-n-Top takes you to the Bonda Village. It’s here where Santoshi Mata Temple is located. Spend some time sitting in peaceful and quiet surroundings once you take blessings from the Goddess.
Another beautiful opportunity for trekkers, Hawaghar offers superb views of the snow-clad Himalayas and opens quite a few trekking expeditions.
Take an easy and short yet rewarding trek to Snow Viewpoint. The scenic trail through lush forests takes you to the viewpoint that offers breathtaking views of Trishul and Chaukhamba peaks.
Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple
Almost 38 km from Lansdowne, this 1500 years old ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The unique architecture of the temple and its natural surroundings definitely calls for a visit if you are in and around Lansdowne. The temple can be visited from 6 am to 9 pm.
Darwan Singh Sangaahalaya
This 33-year old historical defense museum showcases the life and times of Garhwal Rifles of Indian Army.
Entry Fees: INR 50 per person; Opening Timings: 9 am – 6 pm (closed for lunch from 1 pm to 3 pm) in the summer months, 8 am – 5:30 pm (closed for lunch from 12 pm to 3:30 pm) in the winter months
Note: Photography is prohibited inside the museum. Kids below the age of 10 are not allowed to enter the museum.
Kalagarh Tiger Reserve
36 km from Lansdowne, Kalagarh Tiger Reserve (Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary) is a lovely wildlife safari plus bird-watching destination. An open gypsy safari here gives a chance to spot barking deer, sambar, porcupines, elephant, chital, leopards, and big cats if you are lucky enough.
Gate Entry Fees: INR 100 (Indians)/INR 600 (foreigners); Gypsy Entry Fees: INR 250 (Indians)/INR 500 (foreigners); Gypsy Charges: INR 4000 (Indians)/INR 4500 (foreigners); Opening Timings: 6 am – 6 pm; Opening Months: 15th November – 15th June every year
55 km drive away from Lansdowne, Kanavashram is located on the banks of the Malini River. The ashram is an interesting attraction for history lovers, spiritual enthusiasts, and nature lovers.
Lansdowne has some amazing places to stay in. I’d recommend staying at places that serve good food, have indoor entertainment options, and of course offer breathtaking views.
Why? Because of being a tiny and peaceful hill-station, Lansdowne has limited activities and eat-out options. You’d spend more time relaxing in your hotel, having a good time with your friends and family while splurging on a hearty meal. Isn’t it?
Jaiharikhal, a tiny hamlet, little away from Lansdowne has a couple of budget homestays. It’s an ideal option for travelers who love rural settings.
Here are our recommendations for places to stay in Lansdowne:
Oak Grove Inn
A tiny B&B in the midst of nature, Oak Grove Inn feels like a home away from home. Isn’t it magical to find a home close to nature? It is! At least for us Delhiites.
Perfectly located, Vanvasa Resort is enveloped by a lush forest with beautiful views of hills. If you are looking for a luxury stay in the lap of nature, Vanvasa a great choice.
Blue Pine Resort
As the name explains, Blue Pine is wrapped by verdant blue pine forest. It’s located on a hill and promises the lovely views of valleys and mountains.
Kasang Regency Hill Resort
With beautiful and peaceful surroundings, amazing rooms with a view, delectable food, and indoor games, no wonder Kasang Regency Hill Resort is one of the best places to stay in Lansdowne.
Lansdowne is best traveled by car. The journey turns magical once you cross Kotdwar.
Kotdwara (around 40 km) is the nearest bus station and railway station to Lansdowne.
You can take a bus or train from Delhi to Kotdwar. The onward journey to Lansdowne can be covered by a taxi.
Book the bus tickets online at UPSRT and train tickets at IRCTC.
Mussoorie Express and Garhwal Express are the two major trains running from Delhi to Kotdwar.
Jolly Grant Airport Dehradun (152 km) is the nearest airport to Lansdowne.
What do you think of when you hear mountains? I think of Pahadon ki Maggi (mandatory-when-in-mountains-Maggi).
There are few things as good as devouring a hot plate of Maggi noodles in the chill of mountains. I perpetually dream of Chai-Maggi when I dream of mountains.
Lansdowne promises ample options where you can slurp down a hot plate of yummy Maggi with a hot cup of tea. Don’t expect to get a variety of cuisines or food. The options for restaurants or food joints are limited here.
I particularly loved the Lansdowne Trip – Travel Cafe and its cozy and bohemian character. It’s not your regular cafe. They have a tiny souvenir shop that displays the work of locals of Devikhal. Kids can have fun while reading comic books in the cafe. Make sure you don’t miss this gem on your visit to Lansdowne. P.S. Try their Maggi and Salami Sandwich.
Other restaurants in Lansdowne are Tipsy, Oaktown’s Flavor, Zayka at Gandhi Chowk and Kaludanda Cafe near Bhulla Tal.
Lansdowne is magical all through the year. The summer months (March – July) are ideal. A great time to avoid the heat of Delhi. October and November are welcomely pleasant while December, January, and February are exceptionally cold.
Avoid visiting during monsoon as landslides are quite common in Uttrakhand during the rainy season.
I would definitely recommend Lansdowne for all who wanna nourish, rejuvenate and refresh their souls.