Lansdowne is a small hill-station in Pauri-Garhwal District of the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.
Described by some as the gates to the heavenly abode that is the Himalayas, Lansdowne is also one of the most unusual hill stations in India.
Far from the crowded, overdeveloped and noisy places that most of the popular hill stations of the north have become, Lansdowne has retained its quiet and serenity thanks to the presence of the local Army Cantonment Board which manages and regulates the development in the town.
The town is named after Lord Lansdowne the then Viceroy of India who visited the place in 1884. The town has two churches made in the pre independence era although only one St. James is functional. The town also has a major Hindu Temple.
The town is located at an average altitude of 1700 metres above the sea level and has cold winters, cool summers and wet and foggy rainy season. It experiences snowfall during winter months.
From the snow view point on a clear day one can view great Himalayan peaks like Chaukhamba etc. The town has several Pre Independence era bunglows, some of them in good shape. The connectivity is good as the roads maintained by the army. The hill station itself is administered by the cantonment board of the Indian army therefore is cleaner, much less commercialized and in good shape although your mobile phones/wireless net may not work unless BSNL.
Best time to visit is throughout the year although May/June may be a bit crowded and rooms difficult to find.
What others say about Lansdowne:-
Outlook Traveller magazine – “Glorious as heaven itself must be, I have always thought the gates of heaven must be its crowning glory. That at least is true of Lansdowne, as you reach Kotdwar and find the sky measured out in grey and blue.”
Business Standard Motoring magazine – “Lansdowne is one of the quietest hill stations in India, quiet and so well hidden that you only realize you’re there when you turn past the gates of the elegant Gadhwal Rifles Cantonment.”
HolidayIQ.com – “You won’t find much of popular tourism here and it is as if the town intends to preserve its local charm and sanctity.”
Lansdowne is around 240 Kms from Delhi and is the nearest hill station from Delhi (in any direction). National Highway 58 runs from Delhi to Meerut and then National Highway 119 takes all the way to Lansdowne and will take you from Delhi to Lansdowne in about 6 hours.
Kotdwar is the nearest railway station and is 40 kms/an hour drive uphill. Buses and taxis are available at the Kotdwar railway station, a shared taxi charges INR 45. Having your own vehicle will enable you to easily visit nearby towns and temples.
Most of Lansdowne is within walkable distance from the town center. Once you have seen places within Lansdowne, drive out to nearby towns such as Jai Hari Khal, Satpuli, Pauri and Srinagar. A short distance off the main road from jai Hari Khal is a temple of Bhairon Dev on the top of a hill. The trek to the temple is not very long or tiring but offers a spectacular view of the valley below.
Though it is a nice place, however there is nothing much to buy as a souvenir. You can spend some time in the Lansdowne market or at the Alaknanda market. While in Alaknanda market do pay a visit to the shoe store and leather bags store - may double as souvenir ! Don't forget to try out mithais (sweets/desserts) called 'Chocolate' (not the usual chocolates that you buy in general stores!)) and "Baal Mithai" that are popular to this region and available at local sweet shops.
Various small restaurants offer decent selection of snacks, lunch and dinner and most of them are located around Gandhi Chowk (Town centre)
All the restaurants serve your regular tea and coffee but do not expect to splurge in lavish cocktails or high end spirits!