If you live in a big city and want a quick break from daily slog of life, going to Lansdowne could be a good option. Lansdowne is a small, not yet popular, offbeat, hill station in Uttarakhand. I visited Lansdowne over a weekend in the month of October. In Lansdowne, all I wanted to do is to sit in an armchair, enjoy the hills and Himalayas and read a good book. Here is my experience and tips for those who want to visit Lansdowne and surrounding areas like Gumkhal and Tarkeshwar Mahadev.
Lansdowne is a small town in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. It was founded by the British Viceroy of India Lord Lansdowne in 1887. The total area of Lansdowne is 6.09 km2 and its current population is less than 20,000 people. Lansdowne is situated at a height of 1700 meters from the sea level.
Lansdowne is the home of Garhwal Rifles as this Indian Army regiment is headquartered here since 4 November 1887. The town bears the stamp of Army discipline and efficiency. Garhwal Rifles has made efforts to keep Lansdowne, its home, very clean and the ecology of the area is well-preserved.
Lansdowne is well connected to New Delhi. From Delhi, the best way to reach Lansdowne is by train. Train takes you from Delhi to Kotdwar and from there you can take a taxi to Lansdowne.
There are two trains from Delhi to Kotdwar:
- Mussoorrie Express: It departs from Delhi’s Sarai Rohilla station at 9:30 PM and reaches at Kotdwar 5:55 AM. Don’t get confused as there is another Mussoorrie Express (number 14041) which goes to Dehradun.
- Garhwal Express: This train leaves Old Delhi Junction station at 7:20 AM and arrives in Kotdwar at 14:20 PM.
I would suggest that you take Mussoorrie Express as it offers over-night journey; you can sleep comfotably and wake up in Kotdwar. Reaching Kotdwar early in the morning will also give you the whole day to enjoy Lansdowne. Mussoorrie Express is an ideal option for those who want to go to Lansdowne just for a weekend (and therefore don’t have much time). Total distance between Delhi and Kotdwar is 230 kilometers and the cost of a third class AC ticket in Mussoorrie Express is about Rs. 500.
The second best option to reach Lansdowne is to use your own car. From Delhi, Kotdwar is about 220 kilometers and then add another 40 kilometers from Kotdwar to Lansdowne. From Delhi you should take the road to Ghaziabad -> Meerut -> Khatauli -> Bijnaur -> Najibabad -> Kotdwar -> Lansdowne.
The third best option is to reach Lansdowne is to go by the bus. Both Uttarakhand Roadways and UP Roadways ply buses between Delhi and Kotdwar. Buses depart from Delhi’s Kashmere Gate ISBT. Frequency of these buses is about 60 minutes. Bus ticket from Delhi to Kotdwar costs about Rs. 200 and the journey takes about 6 hours.
I would recommend that you take the last possible bus from Delhi. The last bus leaves Delhi at around 11pm and it will bring you to Kotdwar at around 5:00am. It would be better than taking a bus from Delhi at 9pm and reaching Kotdwar in dead of the night at 3am!
Right outside Kotdwar railway station and bus stop, you will find taxis that can take you to Lansdowne and other places further. These taxis are white colored Mahindra MaXX jeeps which can accommodate 10-12 people. It is a good idea to get into a shared taxi. You’ll have to sit with about 10 people but it would costs only about Rs. 70 from Kotdwar to Lansdowne. If you prefer to hire a taxi all for yourself, they will ask you to pay as much as Rs. 1000.
Sitting is a shared taxi is not at all a bad experience. Folks are nice, you also don’t feel suffocated or crushed. On the contrary, you can actually talk to the local fellow travelers and take tips from them about the area.
If you reach Kotdwar while it is still dark, you may get inside a tea shop and enjoy a cup of tea with some snacks as the sun rises. Once it is all lit up with sunlight, you can hop into a taxi.
There are also buses from Kotdwar to Lansdowne but the ticket price is almost same as what you pay in a shared taxi. The choice is yours!
You will not get much of hill experience from Delhi to Kotdwar. The real ascent into the hills start after Kotdwar. Journey from Kotdwar to Lansdowne is very beautiful. You will be going through jungles of Blue Pine trees. Views of hills, trees, mist, stepped fields, clouds and far away Himalayas definitely warrant that this journey should be taken when the sun is up.
Please note that in the hills road turns every few meters. This can make some people feel dizzy and nauseating. In such a case you should try to keep your head as still as possible. Keep something in mouth (like a chewing gum) and try to engage in conversation with others to distract yourself from that spinning head feeling. Don’t worry at all, you will be all fine upon reaching your destination!
The forth best option to reach Lansdowne is by air. The nearest airport, Dehradun’s Jolly Grant, is about 180 kilometers away. You will anyway have to travel 180 kilometers by rail or road. The nearest international airport is New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI).
If you ask me, there is nothing significant to see in Lansdowne. It’s a place with scenic beauty, just to relax and feel the pristine air quality and breath-taking views.
Nevertheless, let me tell you what else is there in Lansdowne that might please the tourist in you!
Bhulla Tal or Bhulla Lake
According to me, this is by far the best place in Lansdowne. Bhulla Tal is a small lake made and maintained by the Garhwal Rifles. The entry ticket is Rs. 10 per person and it remains closed on Wednesdays for cleaning. You can also enjoy boating in the lake; for which there are extra charges. Bhulla lake is just about one kilometer from the Lansdowne city center (Gandhi Park).
Tip in Top View Point and Snow View Point
Both these are view points from where you get a good view of hills and the Himalayas. Going to these places could turn out to be disappointing if the weather is foggy or misty. In such conditions you will not get to see the snow capped Himalayan peaks. But if the weather is clear, the views from these points are really nice.
Tip-in-Top point is also known as Tiffin Top! I have a suggestion related to these view points. I will write about it in the where to stay section of this article.
St. John’s Church
St. John’s church is still operational and daily prayers are held here. This church is not really accessible for wheelchair users as one has to walk to reach it.
St. Mary’s Church
St. Mary’s Church has now been converted into a small museum. Entry fee is Rs. 10 per person and there is an audio-visual presentation at 8:00am every day. Distance is one kilometer from Lansdowne city center.
About two kilometers from city center is this rock called Bhim Pakora. Two rocks have been placed on top of each other in perfect balance. One can move the top rock with an easy push but no matter how much power you apply, you won’t be able to topple the rock. It is said that Bhim, one of the Pandava brothers, had placed these rocks like this.
Garhwal Rifles Museum
This museum is named after Darwan Singh Negi, the first Victoria Cross holder from the Garhwal Rifles. The museum opens from 9am to 12pm and then from 3pm to 6pm. Entry fee is Rs. 50. This museum houses artifacts related with the history of the Garhwal Rifles. The museum is located right in the city center.
Santoshi Mata Temple
This is probably the highest point in Lansdowne. You can visit the temple and you will also get a breath-taking view of hills from here. Viewing sunrise and sunset from here is a superb experience.
That’s about it all! This is all you have in Lansdowne.
If you can trek, you should begin your trek in the city center and then walk to Bhulla Lake, then Tip-in-Top, then St. Mary’s Church and eventually reach Mata Santoshi Devi Temple. All these attractions are on the same path with is just about 4 kilometer.
Lansdowne has a number of hotels that range from budget hotels to nice three star hotels. I would recommend that you select a hotel which gives you a good view of hills and mountains. See, Lansdowne is mostly about relaxing and enjoying views. There is no point going to Tip-in-Top and Snow View points where you would stay for may be 30 minutes. Would not it be better if you get a similar view from your hotel’s balcony? Think about it!
As I often do it, during this trip, I did not stay in the main hill station area. I rather prefer to go away from the main area and stay in even more calm and peaceful place. In this case, I chose to stay in Gumkhal. Gumkhal is about 15 kilometers from Lansdowne. A shared taxi will take you there for about Rs. 25. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Gumkhal.
Any of the following hotels could be a good choice for your stay in Lansdowne.
Tip N Top Resort
This is easily the best place to stay in Lansdowne. It’s a small resort run by the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Limited (GMVN). The resort is reasonably priced. You should make your booking well in advance as Tip N Top resort remains in high demand. The resort has two tree cottages and several wooden cottages. It’s a great experience to stay in Tip N Top.
Tourist Rest House (TRH)
This is the second property maintained by GMVN. The tourist bungalow is also very popular among tourists —so you again should try to make booking as soon as possible.
They offer rooms for over Rs. 3000 per night. But it is worth it as Fairydale is among the best places to stay in Lansdowne.
Hotel Snow Cliff
Hotel Snow Cliff is located in Gumkhal, about 15 kilometers from Lansdowne. What I liked about this hotel is the view that it offers. From the terrace of the hotel, you can get the view that you’ll see from Tip-in-Top in Lansdowne. They have great food and the hotel staff is all eager to help you in any way possible. Rooms and bathrooms are very clean. Each room has its private balcony. They also organize bonfire, offer cycles on rent, arrange for trekking and camping etc. The rooms are offered for Rs. 3000 onwards but I would greatly recommend this hotel.
The other good hotels in Lansdowne are Garhwali Inn (Rs. 2500) and Forest Palace (Rs. 3000).
Budget Hotels in Lansdowne
There are several budget hotels as well but there is no recommendation from my side as I don’t have any credible information about them. These hotels could be good for singles and backpackers —but if you’re traveling with family or group of friends —it would be better to go for the above mentioned hotels as many of them offer family rooms for a reasonable price.
- Enjoy Baal Mithaai —a sweet that is covered with small white beads of sugar.
- Go to Tarkeshwar Mahadev temple, about 40 km from Lansdowne.
- Taste Buras flower juice. Buras are red color flowers whose juice is pretty tasty.
- Visit Bhairavgarhi temple. It is located on a hill top and is about 18 km from Lansdowne. Go from Lansdowne to Gumkhal and then from there the temple is about 6 km. You’ll have to trek for about 2 kilometers up the hill. About 2 km from Bhairavgarhi is located the Hanumangarhi temple.
- Visit the Jwalpa Devi temple.
- The last shared taxis from Lansdowne to Kotdwar ply at around 5pm. So, if you are planning to take one, make sure you’re back in the city center before 5pm. “Booking Taxi” —that is a taxi booked only for you, can be booked up to 7pm. They charge about Rs. 1200.
- As you will reach Kotdwar by 7pm, you will have more than two hours to kill before Mussoorrie Express arrives at the railway station. There is big market around Kotdwar railway station as well as bus stop. You can do shopping and have dinner before you catch your ride back to Delhi.
- In Lansdowne, the taxis are not regulated. They don’t have meters and charges are all decided by the drivers. They charge Rs. 100 to take you from one point to any other point in Lansdowne. But this charge is only for dropping you there at that point. If you also want to come back to city center, you’ll have to pay Rs. 200. For Rs. 600, they offer you to take to all the points of interest in Lansdowne. The whole trip takes about 4 hours. If you want to hire a taxi for the whole day, be ready to pay Rs. 1200.
So, friends this was the information I had for you on Lansdowne Trip. I hope you enjoy your trip. Please let me know your experience of vising Lansdowne and share more tips that you want to give to other readers. All the best!