Located in God’s own land, Dev Bhoomi, this small hill station has many picturesque landscapes to offer. Named after a British officer, Viceroy Lansdowne, it was founded as a military garrison under the British Raj, and the Garhwali Museum traces the history of the Garhwal Rifles regiment, which still trains in the town. The small town is popularly known, by its natives, as Kaludanda (Hindi: कालूडाण्डा) after Kalu (Black) and Danda (Hill) in Garhwali. It is one of the quietest hill stations in India and is a cantonment area, the famous Garhwal Rifles of the Indian Army has its command office here.
So we started our journey from Old Delhi Railway Station and boarded the Mussoorie Express at 9:30 pm. We reached Kotdwara Station, the next morning at 7 am, famished. We rented a cab for 1000 bucks, straight to our home for 3 days, the Jungle Resort. The driver was a very jovial person and told us about the untold tales of Pauri and Lansdowne. From political personalities to the people who are now successful in various other industries, he was quite a learned soul. He informed us about the Himalayan ranges that surrounded the place. The spectacle of the sun rays descending on the snow-capped peaks, make them emit a breathtaking halo. The impeccable view of Chaukhumba peak of the Himalayan Range can be relished from Tip-n-Top. Since we were ravenous, we ceased at a roadside dhabba and relished a cup of tea and some Indian snacks. The inhabitants are quite thoughtful and benevolent. They realized that we had arrived from a long journey, and prepared some freshly fried samosas for us. The samosas were crisp, hot and spicy, just like we wanted.
With oodles of information and sleep deprived, we reached the resort and it was astonishing. It contained magnificent swimming pools, Badminton and Volley-ball courts, and a stupendous location situated in the woods, we were mesmerized. I don’t know about others but I threw my bags and raptured the plush quilts and devoured some beauty sleep. When I woke up from my slumber, I was esurient and we visited the restaurant. With impeccable picnic benches and the sun rays soothing our skin, it was a remarkable setting. We ordered a lavish lunch which included Butter chicken, Kadhai chicken, Tawa rotis and salads. The Chicken proved to be a wrong choice to go with. Honestly, choose vegetarian over anything else while you are in Lansdowne.
For the rest of the day, we roamed around in the resort and the hilly woods nearby. Climbing up and down the hill, reminiscing about our trekking skills, we enjoyed every bit of our expedition. At around 4pm, we came across a hotel staff and were informed about a sunset point close to the resort. He was a benign gentleman and took us on a small hike, which wasn’t small; we found it quite a long and tiring trudge. But, all the hardship was worth it when we reached the sunset point and came forward a marvelous 360-degree view of hills, trees and a vast clear sky which were all waiting to engulf the raging sun. The birds chirped and the sun descended peacefully into the mountains. It was serene, calm and we felt content sitting and enjoying the non-chaotic environment which was difficult to find in the monotonous and disorderly routines we have in the cities. The traipse back to the resort was indeed tiresome, but fun. The aforementioned gentleman even shared some stories with us, mentioning ghosts and leopards. He also advised us not to keep our hair lose while we roamed around at night so as to not attract any bad souls that wandered around in the dark. Well, I kept my hair-tie handy since then (Haha).
By the time we reached the resort, it was dinner time and we ordered some lip-smacking vegetarian dishes and were satisfied to the core. We had Kadhai Paneer, Dal Makhani, Dal Tadka, Tawa Rotis, Rice and salads. After a wholehearted dinner, we walked to a neighboring clearing in search of a sky full of stars. Honestly, the city life sucks. The tranquillity and the serenity are lost within our busy schedules. That night, the spellbinding sky, made me forget all the worries and relieved me of all my stress. It was temporary, but it felt right. I was transfixed. Finding Orion, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, observing other constellations and googling them for references, it was amusing. Well, our night ended on a star-ry note.
The next day was going to be a bit more hectic than the previous one. We had so many sightseeing points on our list. We were well prepared with a portable speaker, portable charger, water, some snacks and sanitizers. The first place we visited was Bhim Pakoda. We had no idea to why it was named as such, but it was astounding to see two, three rocks that were balanced in a way that one of them moves when pushed, but it doesn’t fall. So we had to climb two-three steps to get there, but unfortunately, the rock didn’t move even a bit. So, we are still perplexed whether it really does move or is it just a lame story. Getting past it, we walked all the way to Tip-n-Top to a view so splendid. You could adore the magnificence of the Himalayan range at a 1700 meters height. The snow-capped mountains that surrounded the point with an exemplary panoramic view were awe-inspiring. Every step, taken to reach this destination, now felt worthy enough. Later we roamed around and intentionally got lost in the woods, which was the best decision we ever made. Climbing hills and getting lost in the woods let us find our lost serendipity. We reached back our resort and enjoyed the warmth of the bonfire that was burning between the circle we formed. The stars filled the clear sky and the moment was flawless. Heaven descended down on Earth to this small hill station. We talked all night about ghosts and magic, about life’s philosophy and shared funny incidents that we have encountered through our journey of life.
The sun shone and it was now time to leave this wondrous place and go back to the routine that we had strayed from, for a few days and none of us wanted to. So, we decided to visit Bhulla Taal as the last stoppage of our journey. The manmade lake created in the valley was a clean and refreshing one. The park built around it was green and savored beautiful flowers. You could find Rabbits, Birds and Ducks all around enjoying their little world. The ticket (Rs.80) was inclusive of boating and you could paddle it for around 15-20 minutes. We put on our life-jackets and were eager to paddle, little did we know that our legs had already given up. We were so exhausted, but a race and the greed to take imposing selfies kept us motivated to paddle all through the 20 minutes of the boating session. Paddling around with the ducks and enjoying the soothing rays of the sun, was an extraordinary experience. It was time, that we leave so we headed towards Kotdwara to board our train at 10 pm. But we reached at 6 pm and roamed the narrow streets of Kotdwara and found an amazing outlet, Tourist Restaurant. It had amazing dishes and an amazing host. He was gracious to let us stay till 9:00 and we passed our time by eating a lot of dishes including, stuff paranthas, spring rolls, momos, chholey bhature, Rajma chawal, Gajar ka halwa and what not. And to our amazement, the dishes were delectable. So, we would definitely recommend you to visit this outlet and enjoy some lip-smacking dishes with an amazing hospitality.
Well then, as I believe, everything’s temporary, but the memories we gathered here were permanent. So, we packed our bundle of memories and headed back to our respective monotonous lives and started planning for our next voyage.