Lansdowne (aka Lansdown) is a tiny hill station of the lesser explored Pauri district, Uttarakhand. Located on the Kotdwar – Pauri road at a height of 1,780 m, Lansdowne is an enchanting place to visit. Lansdowne has once extremely popular with the British, but, today it truly is one of the quietest and unspoiled hill stations of India. If you ever look at paintings from yesteryears of hill stations, with lots of forest surrounding the quaint hill station – Lansdowne is just that! Located far away from the maddening crowd of the cities, Lansdowne is an ideal retreat for a relaxing, quiet holiday.
Lansdowne has been subbed for many a thing – a honeymoon holiday, a weekend getaway, a hot destination, a Christmas and new year vacation – you need to visit to understand the charm of this hamlet!
Let's quickly dive into the details:
Lansdowne got its name from the Lord Lansdowne, who was the Viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894. However, originally the place was known as Kaludanda after Kalu (Black) and Danda (hills) in Garhwali. The area saw significant development as it was used by the British as the Recruits Training center of the Garhwal Rifles. Even currently, the place is the command office for the Garhwal Rifles division of the Indian Army.
It is situated at an altitude of 1,706 m above sea level surrounded with thick oak and blue pine forests in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand state.
Why visit Lansdowne
The architecture of Lansdowne is stunning. The buildings and church of Lansdowne built during British Raj. Also, Lansdowne is an ideal location for eco-tourism as it is well preserved by the Government of Uttarakhand as well as the Garhwal Rifles.
If you’re a history buff – there is a road situated between Jaiharikhal and Lansdowne, knowns as the Cool Road, where Indians were not allowed during the British times. For the movement of Indians, a parallel road situated below this road was used. This makes for a not-so-gentle reminder of our colonial past – where our own country was not fully available to us!
Apart from the history lessons, the pristine surroundings and the stunning weather definitely lends itself to meditation & connecting with your true inner self. If the stillness is not for you (though I highly recommend it!) – a bunch of recreational activities from trekking to birdwatching and boating are all at your disposal.
The views are stunning, especially the sunsets! Also, there are a bunch of religious places around the region that are worth exploring!
Weather in Lansdowne
Pleasant and clear in the winter months of October to February, and Sunny for the summer months – Lansdowne is the definition of a hill-station vacation weather. The monsoon season of course faces a lot of rains – but the greenery around you makes up for the slight inconveniences. Maximum temperatures in the month of June can reach high 30’s, and winters can experience subzero temperatures on a few days in January.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit will be the April – May months, as well as the post- monsoon season of August end- November. However, even the winters are not that harsh and you can experience some laid back fun in those months as well with the greenery in full bloom. However, do note that while it does snow here – it is not frequent and should not be counted on as much as in places such as Nainital & Mussoorie.
How to reach Lansdowne
Very well connected by road (NH119), Lansdowne makes for a perfect weekend getaway from Delhi The distance between Delhi & Lansdowne is 248 Kms and can be covered by Rail, Air and Road.
Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun is the nearest Airport, situated 148 KMs away. The airport is well served by flights from most major airports of the country. From here, you may take a cab to reach Lansdowne.
The nearest railway station to Lansdowne is Kotdwar, situated at a distance of 44 kms and at an elevation of only 370 m. Since Lansdowne is almost 1,300 m higher than Kotdwara, the drive from Kotdwara to Lansdowne is quite steep and scenic. You’ll easily find taxis and buses towards Lansdowne.
The most convenient way to get to Lansdowne is to cover the distance by road. Lansdowne is well connected by NH-119 and buses to Kotdwar and Dugadda are easily available from ISBT, Kashmiri Gate. Buses and taxies to Lansdowne are available frequently from these locations as well.
Lansdowne is 83 km from Pauri and about 250 km from Delhi. The drive through Blue Pine trees on hills near Lansdowne is a wonderful experience. However, you will experience a lot of foot traffic as well as traffic jams during the Kanwar Yatra.
The best Route from Delhi is via Meerut (70 KMs), Bijnore, Najibabad, Kotdwar and on to Lansdowne. The route will save you 50 KMs of journey and the road quality is decent all the way to Kotdwar.
The Garhwal Rifles have painted a huge signboard with directions on rocks at the right-hand turn from the NH-119 that leads to Lansdowne.
Things to do – Local Attractions
Lansdowne is a stunning hamlet with lots of glimpses to a bygone era of the British Raj. You can enjoy the soul-calming views of the Himalayas – especially beautiful at sunrise & sunset. Other attractions include
Tip N Top
Tip N Top must be on everyone’s list of places to see when in Lansdowne. This is one of the highest points of the town. And, it is located only 1.5 KMs from the city Centre, providing you with a stunning skyline of the beautiful Shivalik range. With the panoramic Garhwal hills as the backdrop, you will be blown away by the serenity! There are beautiful hut-houses provided by GMVN for a night stay – and I highly recommend making this a part of your expedition. When you wake up in the morning, surrounded by the beauty of nature – you will feel rejuvenated and connected with peace, I can assure you.
Literally meaning the Home of Wind – Hawaghar is the perfect touristy thing to have on your itinerary. It is a picturesque location which will offer you views of the far away snow covered Himalayas. The serene ambience coupled with some trekking options to explore nearby wilderness will leave you spellbound. There is a popular trekking route of Jaiharikhal all the way to Khyber Pass from here.
The War Memorial
Located at the Parade Ground of the Garhwal Rifles Center, this is a beautiful monument to visit. However, keep in mind that you will need to obtain prior permission from the military in order to visit. Garhwal Rifles War Memorial was established in 1923 by Lord Rawlinson of Trent (Commander in Chief, India). Ideally, you should spend an hour- two hours here exploring.
St Johns Church
The only running church in Lansdowne, St. John’s is located on the Mall road and was established in 1936. Beautiful Church interiors and a serene atmosphere makes it a must see place when in Lansdowne.
Bhulla tal is the perfect picnic spot within the Lansdowne area. Tiny, but well maintained- the lake is beautiful, particularly in the post-monsoon season where the atmosphere gets all misty and magical.
Santoshi Mata Temple, Regimental Museum (also called the Darwan Singh Sanghralaya), St. Mary’s Church, and Lover’s lane are all brilliant options worth exploring. Other excursions from the city include Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple, Bhairav Garhi Temple, Bhim Pakora.
There is an annual ‘Sharadotsava’ (Festival of Autumn) organized at this hill station during the autumn season. So, if you’re planning on visiting during that time – make sure to check out the festival and immerse yourself in local customs.
If you’re into scary things – the old cemetery in Kitchner Lines is one of the more mysterious places and some even call it one of the most haunted places in Lansdowne. Many war veterans have been laid to rest in the old cemetery and the graves date back to the mid-1850s.
Given that you’re in the hills, you should expect a lot of religion around you! The famous Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple with its special Shivalinga and a Kund (a small pond) known as Gauri Kund is situated 39 km away from Lansdowne. Pilgrims take bath in Gauri Kund before entering the temple.
There are two other famous temples, Durga Devi Temple and Jwalpa Devi, located near Lansdowne, on the Pauri-Kotdwar road, 24 km and 47 km away respectively. Durga Devi Temple is one of the oldest Siddha Pithas in India.
Places to stay in Lansdowne
Given the proximity to Delhi and the well-connectivity by road – there are plenty of accommodations of all ranges available here. One can easily find luxury hotels as well as budget guesthouses with limited amenities at Lansdowne. Additionally, government-owned guesthouses (GMVN) are also present.
Place to eat in Lansdowne
While not as popular as Mussoorie, the food options become slightly limiting. However, hotels will have in-house restaurants that serve delicious cuisines. Also, there are many roadside dhabas where you may enjoy local delicacies. Do indulge in momos when you visit! In terms of restaurants, some worth visiting include the Oaktown’s Flavor – which serves great Chinese and north Indian food. Also, Mayur as well as Tipsy are good restaurants worth exploring. Similar cuisines of Indian and Chinese – you’ll love the food. In terms of cafes, I personally recommend the Kaludanda Café, named after the original name of the town and you’ll be able to savor on some lip-smacking dosas here!
However, your trip will not be complete without visiting the Travel Café! This is a one-of-a-kind antique shop and will definitely take you back to the hippie era of the 70s. Must Visit!
Places to shop
Lansdowne does not offer a lot in terms of shopping expeditions. However, you may visit the Alaknanda Market and the Lansdowne market for some local artifacts, handicrafts and souvenirs. However, if you’re looking for extravagant shopping expeditions – you might be disappointed.
A beautiful hill station for when you need a quick-fix of nature – Lansdowne is quaint, charming and largely unexplored. While it might lack in terms of a TONNE of activities for you to partake in – it makes up for that in bounties with nature. Enjoy the temperate climate and some leisure to rejuvenate and relax! If you have any particular questions on Lansdowne and if I can help you in any ways to plan your trip – do comment below! I will be happy to point you in the right direction and make your excursion a memorable one!