Lansdowne - A perfect weekend destination ride from Delhi
Lansdowne is one of the quietest hill stations of India and is popular since Britishers came to India. Lansdowne is unlike other hill stations as it is well connected with motorable roads but remote in its own way. It is situated at an altitude of 1,700mts above sea level surrounded with thick oak and blue pine forests in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand state.
The ride to Lansdowne is describable as one of the better ones from Delhi. Especially on a weekend. You will leave Delhi early morning and cross Meerut on the NH 119 before the traffic picks up. There on the road to Bijnor - Najibabad - Kotdwar is perfect and has minimal traffic right up to our destination. Not to mention the twistys that you will encounter from Kotdwar onwards.
Day 1: Delhi - Lansdowne. 260 kms
Rakesh and myself departed by 6 am and were well on our way past the soon to awaken outskirts of Delhi, which can only be described as the armpit of our capital city. The minute you get into Uttar Pardesh i.e. Ghaziabad you cant help but question how can so many people be on the road at the same time. Do they live on the road? Hmm. So its prudent to leave early no matter how close the destination. We reached the Meerut bypass by 7:30 am and stopped for breakfast at Cheetal Grand (Khatauli) for a quick breakfast of their famous cheese and chicken omelets.
We could have carried on but I have been stopping at Cheetal for their cheese omelets since 1976. For me it was mandatory. And as usual the owner refused to hand me the bill. I guess he has seen me since I was 9 years old. (Breakfast can also be had at Haldiram and McDonalds further down the expressway, or at Monty's Millions which is on the road to Bijnor)
By 4 Pm we decided to take a walk to the Lansdowne bazaar. A nice short trek which takes you through richly wooded areas that leads on to the cantonment and on to Tip n Top (a GMVN run picnic spot / resort) where we stopped for some chai and maggie, before leading you to the main bazaar area which I expected to be as per the norms of chaotic Indian hill stations, a mess. But it was not as bad as it seemed. I have seen worse. We walked into a local restaurant to sample its rather forgetful offerings, followed by a paan, and into a taxi cab to get us to our hotel asap.
After breakfast we headed towards Bijnor, Najibabad and finally into Kotdwar. Once past Kotdwar three important things happen. Firstly, the traffic begins to thin. Secondly, the the road begins to smoothen out and throw its twistys at you. Thirdly, the climate changes as you begin climbing.
We rode into Lansdowne Cantonment well in time for lunch. After which we turned in for a short nap. This is an important part of the ritual of riding. You gotta nap when you arrive at your destination. This way you will be refreshed for the evening ahead of you.
Day 2: Lansdowne - Tarkeshwar. 100 kms
Refreshed the next morning we mounted up and rode across what I describe as one the most interesting roads I have ridden in a while.
The road to Tarkeshwar all 45 kms of it is mirror smooth, narrow and boy does it twist. Its an endless chicane that will test your skills and your concentration to its maximum. Out of one apex and into another. Repeat for the next hour. Mistakes can be costly as the valley falls steeply away with non existent side rails.
So we kept a steady pace stopping for photo ops and rehydrating our selves. Even though it was the end of May in the hills the sun was strong enough to sap you.
The ride back to Lansdowne is as interesting as getting in as those twistys keep you begging for more. But beware - as with any Indian road, the next surprise is always around the corner.
The Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple is one of the more tranquil temples I have visited. The 500 meter walk to the temple descends into a small valley that is lined with chir pines. And therein nestled within the massive trees was a tiny temple resplendent with bells not only within but around as well. After a quick prayer and oblation we walked out ringing each of those bells that lined the exit. Never enjoyed ringing a temple bell as much as I did then.
Lunch can only be had at a small village a few kilometers from the temple. A dhaba that will give you local fare but only if you make it well within lunch time. Or if you miss lunch then you can make do with the ubiquitous chai and rusk to line your stomach till you get back.
We got back to town well before sundown but not before tanking up. But there was no pump to be found. Lansdowne does not have a petrol pump! Of all the darn things. So we were guided to a narrow street within the bazaar where we bought gas @ Rs 80/- per liter. It didn't seem so bad as prices had already touched Rs 70/- that weekend.
Having had our supper at the GMVN guest house which consisted of delicious home cooked fare we rode back to our hotel and settled in early.
Day 3: Lansdowne - Delhi. 260 kms
After a quick breakfast we were on the road by 9 am. We could have left early but we had resigned to our fate of getting into the plains by the afternoon. If you have ridden in north India on a June afternoon then I do not need to describe to you what the experience is like. But let me try. If you were to ride your Harley into a paint shop oven and just sit there with your engine idling for 4 hours you might get an idea of what hot is. We had to ride below 100 kmph as the blast from the engine was singeing our calves. We stopped every half hour for water, electrolytes, Jain Shikanji, Lemonde and what have you. All told we made it back home safe and sound, but drenched to our - you know what.
Untill next time.
Untill next time.
The ride to Lansdowne - told in moving pictures..
Rakesh Kapoor our first client, writes about his experience in his inimitable way: Excerpt from our FB page
- The legend goes as follows-Scene 1 We meet at Urban Cafe Sharad Sharma tells me he is organising a ride I say I am game.
- Rakesh Kapoor Scene-2 A week before the ride no one joining Sharad Sharma decides to wait a few more days.
1 June at 11:15
- Rakesh Kapoor Scene-3 2 days before the ride I have doubts about the ride happening Sharad Sharma tells me the ride will happen even if he has to go alone.
1 June at 11:17 ·
- Rakesh Kapoor Scene- 4 A day before the ride Sharad asks me to go get a Scala I drive from Noida to MG Road cursing him( Actually the best advice)
1 June at 11:18 ·
- Rakesh Kapoor Scene-5 Night before the ride finally only two of us left so we decide to go anyway making some changes like dropping the escort vehicle.
1 June at 11:21 ·
- Rakesh Kapoor Scene-6 Wake up call at 4.30 we meet at 5.30 and the rest you all can see for yourself. What you dont see is a thorough gentleman with a love for riding. Nothing else matters, guides me throughout the ride over the Scala, gives some very useful tips on riding, being the Rockstar clicks my pictures all the way and in the end of this ride to remember for life sits at Cheetal and splits the expenses half keeping no profit for Travel Torque what so ever now what do I say about a guy like that...................... Thanks brother I know just saying Thanks is not enough.