Developed by the Britishers as a training center for Garhwal Rifles, Lansdowne despite being connected with civilization through different modes of transport is still untouched by the heat of commercialization.
“Get up guys! We are about to reach.”
A very different morning, it was.
Not too often, you wake up at your boss’s call to see around you the guys you work with looking disheveled and just-out-of-the-bed and the make-up-deprived girls.
No, I hadn’t had a nightmare!
In fact, it was a beautiful morning which signaled the beginning of 48 hours of sheer ecstasy, enjoyment and eternal peace. We were in the train, the hills were just rolling into view and we were nearing Kotdwar.
The train halted with a supersonic sound, ending our 10-hour journey from Delhi to Kotdwar. Within 15-minutes we were inside the comfort of our pre-arranged cabs, set to sail towards our destination Lansdowne.
Developed by the British as a training center for Garhwal Rifles, Lansdowne despite being connected with civilization through different modes of transport, is still untouched by the heat of commercialization.
The cabs wheeled through the winding mountain roads and soon we were climbing up the slopes, round and round and round. We drove past the towering pines spanning across the terrains, the conscious cattle, the smiling, hospitable humans, the simple makeshift shelters and rustling rivulets. After a two-hour journey, we reached our abode for the trip – the Fairydale Resort.
Situated at a distance of around 3 km from the main market of Lansdowne, Fairydale Resort sits pretty in the lap of nature, amidst green pines and boulders of varying sizes strewn across the crests and troughs of land.
From the courtyard of the resort, we could see a dilapidated hut with a crumbled pine piercing it from the center. Suddenly this pine-hut became the attraction of our in-house photographers who came with the cameras blazing at the poor edifice, trespassing its privacy. I wondered if it would disappear the very next morning.
Incidentally, the pine-hut built around a massive fallen pine trunk had a tiny tea stall snuggled inside. Somehow, no one ventured to try a cup there, but the tea shop grab our notice as an epitome of most innovative entrepreneurship under odds.
At first sight, there was nothing special about the resort except a date, 1912, shining brightly over the entrance gate as if proudly announcing ‘being aged doesn’t always mean old’.
The resort was clean, comfortable and calm inside. After all, how often do you get such a lodging of historical significance? The most special thing about place was the ambience – the soothing silence, serenity stretching across the horizons, divinity dwelling in the surroundings, hospitality that heals and amidst all these the simplicity of the abode.
Though every inch of this place is worth walking, every view of void is worth feeling; the major attractions of Lansdowne include The War Memorial, Santoshi Mata Temple, Tarkeshwar Mahadev temple, Bhulla Taal, St. Mary’s Church, Tiffin Top, and Bhim Pakora.
Our excursion began with a visit to St. Mary’s Church but we had to be content with posing for the camera in front of the huge locked church door, as the church had shut its doors for the morning by then. We promised the church that we would return and headed towards our next destination Tiffin Top.
Tiffin Top is a small platform built at the edge of the hill, from where you can gaze at the valleys stretching down to the foothill covered with dense pine forests. From Tiffin Top, you can see the clouds face to face, at hardly a few meters from your reach. Why is it called Tiffin Top, one wonders because the last thing you can think of there is to have tiffin… the view is enough food for the soul.
Close to Tiffin Top, there was an ancient church built by British. When we entered the church, a documentary film based on the history and significance of Garhwal Rifles was running on a big screen.
We spent some time in the lap of nature, captured some stills, paid homage in a small temple built on the cliff and then headed towards the main market of Lansdowne to pacify the rats playing rugby inside our stomachs out of hunger.
After satisfying our hunger with a good meal, we decided to visit Bhulla Taal, situated around 4 km from the main market.
Bhulla Taal is a serene place named after a small man-made taal meaning pond. We enjoyed a great boating session in the company of snow-white swans that seemed to show off their diving and swimming skills.
After a cup of coffee and some snacks we walked down 1 km to Fairydale, soaking in the intoxicating setting sun, the chirping of the birds returning home and the carefree pines that won’t have to shadow the earth’s surface from blazing sun for the day anymore.
By the time we reached the hotel, the sunlight had dissolved into the sea of darkness. We had our bonfire ready by 7:00 pm. After some shakes and jigs, we had a wonderful dinner. Some chit chat later we were back at comfort of our rooms by 9:00 pm.
A beautiful day was about to become history but it would give way for a new day which was going to be equally beautiful as we would be witnessing and feeling the absolute divinity.
March 18, 2013
Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple
We began our journey to Tarkeshwar Mahedev Temple which is located around 50 km from Lansdown, at 10:00 am. Our cabs hit a dead end at around 12 where the access of vehicles ends.
We descended downhill with the deep seemingly bottomless trench on our right and a towering hill on the left. With every step downwards, the foothills came closer and hill rose higher and finally we hit the ground zero, the abode of Tarkeshwar Mahadev who would have once walked the woods and have blessed everything — the creatures, humans, and flora and fauna.
The temple was quaint, quiet and immersed in peaceful, green surroundings. The only sounds to be heard were the chirping of the birds, the rustling of leaves and cackle of our team members who kept looking for the ideal view to pose for Facebook profile pictures! If you want to experience oneness with Nature, there can’t be a more perfect place than this.
As you enter the temple premises, the little path had countless bells strung on both sides. There were two little temples in a stone paved compound, nestling deep down in the bosom of the valley. It was in one word…ethereal!
After paying our homage to Mahadev, but not feeling like coming back from this amazing place, we heavy-footedly returned to the place where our cabs were waiting for us. This was the last destination of our tour and we left it with a feeling of “if-only-we-could-stay-here-longer”. We would board our return train at around 10 pm.
Everything is pious, peaceful and pure in Lansdowne. Wherever you go, whatever you visit, you will be greeted by the virginity of nature that will take you into a world of eternal happiness.
You can hear the chirping of birds at dawn; see the sunrays flashing the bottom of clear-watered rivulets at noon; marvel at the return flight of birds to their nest at dusk; and enjoy the echo of crickets chirping at night.
Though our trip ended at Tarkeshwar but we earned for ourselves a treasure trove full of memories at Lansdowne which is still in our mind like dew drops.
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