Lansdowne is one of the hidden gems of Indian tourism. Not a lot of people know about this hill station which, even today, is not commercialized or over-crowded like other mountainous locations.
Not much information is available over the internet for things to do in Lansdowne. And that is the reason I was really excited about a road trip to Lansdowne from the word go.
We love traveling – mountains, nature, and stillness entice us beyond measures. And to top it, an unexplored destination, has its own mysterious aura surrounding it.
Such road trips are always heartening as they give us a chance to talk and talk a lot. It’s perhaps one of our most favorite ways of travel as nothing is better than the idea of getting stuck in the car, hitting the road, and traveling on our own whim.
Lansdowne is essentially a cantonment town – main base of the Garhwali Rifles. And that is the main reason for Lansdowne being so well-maintained, despite being rather remote. The township also carries traces of the colonial legacy with many buildings and churches dating back to that era. In fact, the town is named after Lord Lansdowne who served as the Viceroy of India from 1888-94.
Today, it has become a cozy little place where the few city folk who know of it, come for a weekend getaway. Since it is easily accessible via road from cities such as Delhi, a lot of road-trips are culminating at Lansdowne.
By Air: Those flying to Lansdowne should land at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun from where Lansdowne is about 152km away. Taxis can be hired easily from Jolly Airport to Lansdowne.
By Rail: Lansdowne is roughly 42kms away from Kotdwar Railway Station. Also, Kotdwar is well-linked to major cities of India by rail network. You can hire a taxi from railway station to reach Lansdowne.
By Road: Lansdowne is pretty well connected to Meerut, Delhi, Kotdwar, and significant Uttarakhand regions by road. From Delhi (250kms), it is a good 6-hour drive. You need to follow this route to reach Lansdowne from Delhi:
Here’s an overview of the route we followed to reach Lansdowne.
Road condition from Delhi to Lansdowne is pretty good but the flow can get a little rough from Meerut (as it is a two-lane highway). It is best to start as early as 5AM in the morning if you wish to reach Lansdowne in time and avoid unnecessary hassle on the road.
There are thick patches of sugarcane trees on the farms along the entire stretch between Bijnor and Najibabad, but once you cross this stretch, the landscape takes a dramatic change. Till Kotdwar, you can expect dense green forests dotting both sides of the highway. There’s rarely any sign of human activity on the route. Forget about toilets!
After Kotdwar, the scenery is just beautiful, as you can see the roads touching the foothills of Himalayas. It gets just lovely with the oak and pine trees bordering the entire stretch, giving vision of a postcard-perfect village immersed in old-world charm. Make sure you tank up your vehicle at Kotdwar as there’s not even a single petrol pump in Lansdowne.
There are a lot of accommodation options available for tourists in Lansdowne, even though it is a very tiny hill station. You can rest assured about a great stay at the Lansdowne hotel or resorts.
Initially, we had thought about booking Blue Pine Resort in Lansdowne for our stay, but someone suggested Lans Castle Hotel, which we finally went on to book.
Lans Castle hotel is a boutique hotel strategically set in the most scenic setting in Lansdowne. I had an instant liking for this hotel as soon as we parked our car in the parking area. It looked nice from the outside with an extremely relaxing ambience that made for an entrancing stay. What I really liked about the whole place was the setting that cuts you from the maddening ruckus of city life.
Lans Castle hotel is located on the Deriyakhal Slopes offering a spectacular view of the valley from 1600 meters of altitude. Even Blue Pine Resort was about 5 minutes from there.
We had already booked Valley View room with balcony as the private terrace ones were already reserved. Oh! And I must tell you whether you opt for the private terrace ones or the ones with balconies; the view from there is ‘STUNNING’. I loved every moment of being there and didn’t, for a moment, move from my private little corner.
We had our breakfast and dinner included in the hotel package, which we also strongly advise to all those planning a visit to Lansdowne. That is because there are no shops or restaurants around the Lansdowne hotel, though the market is about 15 minutes from there, where you can find one or two decent restaurants for dining.
Indian food was really nice at the hotel, but I definitely wasn’t a fan of their Chinese.
Lans Castle hotel has a gorgeous terrace, namely ‘The Himalaya Terrace’ where we spent a lot of time, enjoying the incredible Himalayan views, cloaked in mist.
To our delight, there were many activities we could indulge in for free, and that included access to TT table, carom board, and soccer table. They have a gym too with basic machines and equipment. Overall, the property has been well-maintained and it made our entire experience, way more pleasant.
As it is a bit overpriced (5000INR/75USD a night), those on budget-constraint can also consider booking budget hotel in Lansdowne like GMVN regulated tourist bungalows.
Lansdowne is prominently known for its magnificent setting and lesser commercialization – two factors that draw tourists towards this beauty. This hill station offers glimpse of well-maintained British heritage bungalows and peaceful Himalayan ranges.
There are a limited number of tourist attractions in Lansdowne so those with a mindset to explore, make merry, and dance the night away should stay away from this hill station. It is intended for those in search of some alone time in quietness, far away from city life.
Even though we were quite tired after the journey, we still had the evening for us. Rather than heading out to explore all nearby attractions, we just decided to trek to the lil mountain next to our hotel.
Our experience was just refreshing as the chilly air, uphill clouds, and street slopes, as we ascended up, were nothing short of breathtaking.
The whirling roads taking us uphill were whimsical and at the same time refreshing. The hide and seek of sunrays and clouds was magical. And the best part of all, the area was neat and clean.
We came back, spent some time on the Himalayan Terrace of our Lansdowne hotel, had dinner, and slept.
Next morning, we woke up, had our breakfast and got all set to explore the local attractions.
There’s the Bhulla Taal, St Mary’s and St John’s Church, the Garwhal Rifles Regimental War Memorial, and the Tip-in-Top point.
From the Tip-in-Top point, one can feast their eyes to the glorious vistas of the mountains.
It was an amazing vantage point for photography, perfect for capturing the zig-zag patterned roads from such height. Even the St. Mary’s Church was just a kilometer away from there.
We also went on to explore the marketplace, which had a few decent eateries flanking both sides of not so glamorous streets. There are no commercial establishments which is probably because of the strict cantonment rules.
Though there are not many things to do in Lansdowne, but it definitely makes for a weekend getaway due to absence of touristy activities in the area, thus assuring an ecstatic experience.
All thick patches of oak and pine trees along the hill station ensure that the air is fresh. You’ll definitely yearn to go back to Lansdowne once you are back to the normal day-to-day routine.
The most ideal time for you to plan a holiday in Lansdowne is during the months of March to June. In summers, the temperature is always in between 15 degree Celsius and 30 degree Celsius, which is perfect for the getaway.
You should totally avoid a visit to the hill station during monsoons, as the weather gets too cold and snowfall is common. With that, the chances of a landslide also increase.
Consider visiting Lansdowne to experience the serenity and virgin greenery of a lonely hill station!
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