[Following Trip write up by Abhishek Bhawsar]
In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines…
I shivered where the cold winds blow…
Lansdowne Trip 16th June – 18th June 2006
Lansdowne is a pine covered retreat far from the maddening crowd of Delhi. The nearest railway station is Kotdwara, 41 Kms by road. We set off for our journey at 10:15 PM on Friday night 16th June from the Old Delhi Station by Mussorrie Express. The excitement of the journey kept us awake, and of course there was a lot to talk as well.
There were three of us. One by one, all of us dozed off as the train got split and joined and split and joined… finally arriving the destination at 6 in the morning. We woke up at
5:30 to lush green jungle around us – train cutting through the rain washed trees. Spotted few spotted deer. Reaching Kotdwar, we quickly boarded a Jeep to Lansdowne. 41 kms were covered in 1 1/2 hours of spiraling through the mountain roads.
In Lansdowne, we went to Mayoor Hotel. What we were seeking was peace and nature, not luxury or proximity to the market. So Mayoor was off the list. Then we walked 1Km up the hills to the GMVN resort. Being a sarkari resort, it was booked by the babus… It sounded like By the babus, From the babus, For the babus. Well… We then went up 1Km to the Fairydale Resort. That was full too, being the only okish resort in the area. The owner directed us to Anand Retreat, a secluded resort saying that only one room is available. And sent off two aunties, who came after us, to the same resort. They had a Jeep, we were barefooted.
Anand Retreat was surrounded by nothing but pines pines and pines. It was a beautiful morning for that hill top, the sun dancing behind the clouds (or was it the clouds dancing over the sun?), it had rained overnight, adding to the tranquil the resort boasted of. The aunties had arrived before us, and had got the only room available. Rest were either occupied or to booked. Fighting, yelling and begging, in that order got us their reception with two beds. No toilet attached. Further begging got us one booked room to complete our daily chores. We had a bath and slept to cover up for our back log of sleep. And of
course, before sleeping, filled ourselves with good, heavy breakfast, done in shadow of the pines.
In the evening we took a tour for local site seeing, in the same jeep in which we had come up from Kotdwara. We went to a small, sick blockage of water, called a lake by the locals, we visited a beautiful Church, reminding me of Kipling’s times. And then to a typical Tiffin Top, characteristic of the hill stations in north India.
Coming back, we had tea as the sun slid down the hills, sitting on a slope, looking at nothing but the wilderness… Peace crept in.
In the night, took booze by the side of bonfire, and talked and talked. Watched the stars, another add on to the mesmerizing effect the place has on the mind. And meteors… in bounty.
Retiring to the cottage was difficult, given the desire to stay out, and given the tarantulas and bugs under our bed sheets. I slept sound, as my buddies chatted till wee hours in the morning. The next morning was amazing, in the sense, that we realized that we don’t have anything to do, anywhere to go, any responsibilities to complete. Passed the hours chatting and relaxing. The peace that was, can never be attained in the place where we live/ work… Its all about the place. And for that matter, any place, secluded as this one was.
We wanted to set off on our way back, but we realized we don’t have any conveyance to get out of this place. Talking to all the cars over there was futile. Then we asked a family, who were locals and had come to visit temples. They offered us lift till Lansdowne. On our way back, we visited two temples. Both were in contrast to each other, one being the oldest and another being the latest addition, big and marbled, and yes, prosperous. We were offered to be dropped till Dugadda, and were told that from there, Kotdwar is only 15kms. We found this a good offer, and we were soon to realize it was not. The seats were the back seats of the Jeep and we were giddy, pukish all the time.
Dugadda was yet another typical town, with youth on the only chowk, roaming aimless… Lots of Jeeps parked, none of them willing to go to Kotdwar. We were all this while cursing those who gave us lift till this place. And lift? Is it a lift when people generously offer to drop you, talk politely and in the end ask for Rs. 125? Half hour, full of tension of how to get out of this place and catch our train at 2200 from Kotdwar, passed by, not even a single vehicle coming our way. Finally we took a lift from a drunk man being chauffeured by a driver. The dark roads and black hills against the blue skylines were enough to prove us wrong – that we could have covered these 15 kms by foot.
In Kotdwar, we came to know that the train on our way back to Delhi would stop for 3 hours at a station. We bought AC seats for ourselves for that duration. And talked again. Reached Delhi 8 in the morning, 19th June. All fresh, peaceful.
Logistics (per person):
Delhi to Kotdwar – Time = 7.5 hrs, cost = 140.
Kotdwar to Lansdowne – Time = 1.5 Hr. cost = 40
Cottage in Resort, including food, cost = 400
Site seeing = 100
Trip back to Kotdwar = 90
Kotdwar to Delhi – Time = 10 hrs. cost = 190 (includes AC stay)
Total Cost, includes other expenses = 1200.
DISCLAIMER ::: The trip mentioned herein was purely a non LetsGo05 trip. Any resemblence is purely co-incidental and unintentional. The time and costsmentioned may vary from person to person. The objective of this mail was to bring out the possibility of enjoying a weekend trip on the motto of the words “Lets Go!”. The tickets were booked one day prior to departure, no planning and meets went into making of this trip. Also this mail serves as an FYI to things like – AC while coming back should be preferred.