“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury
Let’s go back to those fairy tales where you have one castle atop a lovely hill with blossoms of flowers and pretty birds entertaining you with their melodious chirps, where the deer spring around and clouds give you company…Mmm! Sigh!
Dreamy? Well I have experienced this dreamy feeling at Lansdowne recently.
Lansdowne is a small cantonment town in the Garhwal Himalayas. It is approximately 280 kms from Delhi (8 hours journey from Delhi). Nearest railway station is Kotdwar. Lansdowne is 40 kms from Kotdwar on the Pauri road.
Lansdowne- love at first sight
On the evening of 23rd December 2016, a friend of mine told me about her visit to Lansdowne. After hearing her experience, I too became curious to know more about the town as the description which she gave tucked up like super glue on my mind. I went back home, picked up my laptop and the next thing I was doing was looking up for more details of Lansdowne on google. Within 10 minutes I decided that yes..!! This is the only place where I am going to spend my Christmas Eve this year.
The very next minute I was busy packing up my luggage for my last solo trip of the year 2016. And off my wanderlust took me back to the hills. I took a bus from Anand Vihar I.S.B.T. to Kotdwar. Around 7 A.M. I reached Kotdwar. Lansdowne is only 40 km from Kotdwar. Finally the plains transformed into hills!! This was the first of many ‘wow’ moments during my Lansdowne visit. You feel like standing at a threshold where you see plains on your back and the hills next to you! Awful… I felt as if I embarked upon the roller-coaster from Kotdwar to Lansdowne in a marshal.
Garhwali Himalayan View
As you start ascending from Kotdwar the landscape changes dramatically. The Garhwal Himalyas began to give the glimpses of their majesty. Road is exceptionally good, owinng to the presence of ‘The Garhwal Regiment’. While I was about 10 kms from Lansdowne, the Garhwal Himalayan Hills started unfolding their magic and mysticism. All of a sudden I found myself engulfed by clouds and visibility was hardly 5 meters!! Looking down the valley filled with clouds I felt as if I am standing at the door of eternity.
Amidst the clouds and the valley
There was nothing beyond this point except white and grey thick volume of clouds. I could have never imagined that such a place existed so close to Delhi. By the time I reached my destined resort, the clouds had receded into some unknown oblivion and the visual spectacle of the hills and valleys was restored.
‘Welcome to Lansdowne’ said a board on the way to my resort.
After reaching the resort, I sat down with a cup of coffee in the balcony ; finding myself in the midst of clouds and the valley again transformed into the door of eternity. Soon the clouds receded. The clouds were playing hide and seek with the hills and the valley. Nature was demonstrating its jubilation. After finishing up with my coffee, I decided to fresh up first before leaving again to explore this wonderful place. While I was getting ready I reminisced beautiful lyrics of a Sufi Song-‘Aj din chadeya tere rang verga’. I realized how fast paced my life has become in last few months that I have no time to take a pause and absorb the beauty and serenity of nature. The terraces of houses nestled in the valley were reflecting sun rays which created illumination of gold. And off I started my journey into the hills.
Enroute Tarakeshwar Mahadev
The first left turn on Lansdowne-Kotdwar Road leads to Tarakeshwar Mandir (A very famous temple dedicated to Lord Shiva). While moving towards it you can see a thin line of the holy river ‘Ganga’ flowing at the bed of the valley. After taking some pictures and absorbing the serenity of the place I resumed my journey again. Suddenly there appeared a wild fox on the road. It was baffled to see me as a curious onlooker and after following me for a while it vanished somewhere into the deep forests. Finally after descending admist dense forest of Deodars I was standing at the gate of Tarakeshwar. The impregnable canopies of Deodars do not permit any sun rays to touch the ground, even though it was a bright sunny day.
A unique divine serenity surrounds this place. Such an elegant expression of divinity rendered me numb and expressionless. Beyond doubt this is an adobe of the ‘Lord Shiva’. Visiting Tarakeshwar is a life time opportunity for rendezvous with the divinity expressed as nature. This was a spiritual experience of highest order and it would be a travesty to try to explain it in words.
I met a Garhwali woman on the way back towards the main road she opened a new window to understand the life of the people of this place. She talked a lot about her village, fields, crops, livestock, relatives, issue of migration, her spiritual guru, etc. This was an entirely different perspective on life for us urban people. No wonder this region produces the bravest soldiers and hardworking people.
Serenic view of the Garhwal Mountains
Well after exploring Tarakeshwar, I went ahead and explored many more interesting places in Lansdowne like Tip N Top, Darwan Singh Regimental Museum, St. John’s Church, Kanvashram and so on.
And the day was finally coming to an end and I had to return back to Delhi again. Before boarding the bus back to Delhi I became nostalgic, turned around once again to this blissful land and whispered a silent prayer while looking towards the blissful hills that….
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
At last I boarded the bus running back to Delhi with a heavy heart that was filled with happiness and sadness at the same time. Lansdowne is a lovely hill station close to Delhi lovely for a one day trip to refresh your mind. So if you are living in Delhi or somewhere nearby and twiddling your thumbs about what you could do this weekend, then load your car or board a bus and drive straight to Lansdowne.
Himangini is an English teacher by profession. Her passions include writing, travelling and social work.