Lansdowne, Delhi Weekend Getaways (Part II)

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With temperatures crossing 45 degrees C, Delhi summers can be unbelievably uncomfortable. Luckily, the hills aren’t too far away. Lansdowne is one of the closest hill stations that you can run away to after a busy week at work. It is a tiny and incredibly charming cantonment town 250 km away from Delhi, in the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand. It is the abode of the “veer” (brave) Garhwal Rifles regiment of the Indian Army.

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Getting There:

I wrote about our frustrating, yet oddly satisfying drive to Lansdowne (you can read about it here https://shivanikhandekar.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/driving-to-lansdowne/). Just remember that the road isn’t too bad once you’ve crossed the horrid traffic in Ghaziabad (leaving early in the morning should sort that problem out), the restaurant Monty Millions on Meerapur Bypass is a good place to eat butter chicken and dal makhani and; its good to have someone who knows how to drive in the hills after crossing Kotdwara (there are many hairpin bends). The views between Kotdwara and Lansdowne are quite fantastic. Also, watch out for suicidal ducks who might fly into the windscreen.

Where to Stay:

There are many places which have nice rooms for reasonable prices (Rs. 2000 for a double room per night). You can make reservations about 3 days prior to your visit at the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam Guest houses (there are 2 in Lansdowne). Our trip was very impromptu, however, so we hadn’t made any reservations. The five of us stayed in a cottage in Blue Pine Hotel for Rupees 5000 a night. It was quite nice and had a lovely view of the mountains. We also had a hammock right outside the cottage!

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Sights:

1. Rathi’s Hut: This is a gazebo somewhere between Lansdowne and Blue Pine Resort with some of the most amazing views to be seen in Lansdowne. It would fit right into one of those “yoga with a view” videos if they were filmed in Garhwal. Trails to Rathi’s hut are marked clearly on the road.

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2. Bhulla Taal: This is a small lake where you can hire a paddle boat and have stupid boating competitions.

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3. St. Mary’s Church: A lovely church on the way to the “Tip n Top” view point. Constructed in 1895 by Lieutenant Hume of the Royal Engineers, it was restored and is now being maintained by the Garhwal Rifles Regiment. It houses some memorabilia from the regions past and is a lovely place to visit. However, it is open only for limited periods of time in the mornings and evenings.

8:30 am to 12:30 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm in the summer and; 9 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm in the winter.

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4. Tip n Top View Point: It has an excellent view of the surrounding Shivalik mountains. One of the GMVN guest houses is at Tip n Top point.

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5. The War Memorial and the Regimental Museum: These are within the Lansdowne Cantonment area. The war memorial is at the Parade Ground of the Garhwal Rifles Centre.

Food: 

We didn’t really find any local food specialities and ended up eating all our meals in Tipsy’s Cafe in Lansdowne market. I would particularly recommend the parathas, coffee and the fresh lime juice here.

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