A Quick Recap of Day One
Four girls on a Lansdowne weekend getaway road drive. They reach the quiet cantonment town of Lansdowne and settle themselves at a resort, followed by exploring the touristy places on foot.
Day Two Begins with Tarkeshwar Temple Visit
Day two of Lansdowne weekend getaway trip began with visit to the Tarkeshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is about fifty kilometres from Lansdowne and we were advised to hire a car for the trip. It is a long drive and is best left in the hands of an expert hill driver. Besides, this gave the four of us the pleasure of enjoying the drive. After the initial excitement the monotony set in, followed by simple anxiousness to reach our destination. Any sign of a village and we would sit up straight hoping we had reached. And when we drove past we would slump again…
When we arrived all four of us jumped out of the car. We just wanted to walk, run, dance- basically move our legs after sitting in the car for so long. What stopped us in our attempts to get rid of the cramps were two signs-one on a shop and one by the temple board, you would be paid for littering!!!
Tarkeshwar temple is located in the middle of a jungle. To reach the temple you have to walk a small distance of paved way surrounded by lush green dense foliage. In the silence that surrounds you, you can hear the insect’s calling, the rustle of the leave and smell the earth along with some cow/donkey dung. I spotted both creatures so I am blaming them equally.
Travel Tip: It would be best to look down, step, stop, then look up at the surrounding and repeat. This technique is also helpful because the path is narrow, steep and slippery.
The temple itself is very small and extremely clean. You are welcomed by a line of bells, with most devotees trying to ring as many as possible to announce their approach to the lord.
One creature of the lord however, found it is best to just sleep of the din that was being created.
The other creatures of the lord jump from one branch to the other.
Travel Tip: It is a good idea to keep a look out for the monkeys while visiting the temple.
While at the temple we found a family cooking their picnic meal over an open fire and a bunch of boys swing on a fallen tree truck. This was a different kind of ‘darshan’ for sure.
The visit to the temple done we realised we all needed a toilet break. Walking down we had mistaken the office cum boarding house of the maath as the main temple. We returned to them and on enquiry we were told that we could use their washroom. Thus, the box marked ‘dingy, dark, cramped, post a sentry outside washroom experience of road trips’ was ticked. But to be fair it was clean with a functioning flush. Yay!
Just as we were leaving we were offered some warm halwa. Pure ghee halwa on a cool afternoon to tired hungry travellers, the lord does take care of those who come to him.
Search for a Bakery
Back from the temple we had a big lunch. Something in the air of the hills, it makes you want to eat a lot. Neha was feeling a bit under the weather, so we all decided to take a break for a while. Sonia and I took this opportunity to take a walk.
On my insistence we decided that we would walk to the market and pick up some bakery products. My experience and travel lore tells that most hill towns have good bakery stores. My inquiry at the reception of the resort yielded me a perplexed look from the receptionist. This should have been my warning. Armed with directions to the market, Sonia and I set off only to decide we would be adventurous and disregard the direction to follow random paths. Our argument, where will we get lost in this town?
We were very excited to reach the market only to realise they had nothing local on offer. Who wants to buy key chains and plastic dolls! The interesting thing we spotted while I munched on a bhutta was a super sized torai. Anyway, the big aim was the bakery. I thought it was a good idea to buy some local bakery products for our trip back the next day. We arrived at the bakery to be greeted by empty shelves, containers and racks. The shop had nothing! The shop keeper further confirmed what was plain for all to see, ‘he had nothing and didn’t know when his next supply would come.’ Completely dejected and disappointed we came back.
Bhulla Lake and Exchange of Glances with Cadets
To cheer up a little we walked to Bhulla Lake. It is a small artificial lake created and maintained by the Garhwal regiment. A token fee is charged for entry with boating costing extra.The surrounding gardens house a small herbal nursery and an enclosure that houses rabbits and guinea pigs. The animals seem to be well looked after and when we paid a visit there were enjoying a spot of sun bathing. None of us were particularly interested in boating but we did seem to grab the attention of some of the cadets who were enjoying their evening off. Unfortunately for them, our attention was on the few geese and ducks that were creating a ruckus on banks.
With the setting sun shimmering over the lake waters, we had the perfect ending to our two days in Lansdowne. Back at the resort we sat out in the twilight, discussing the trip. All of agreed that it had to be repeated.
Rain and Hill driving – A Bad idea
Packed and ready for the morning drive back we went off to sleep. We were woken up by the thunder and fury of the rains. It had been raining, or rather pouring for some time now. We were worried. Hill driving needs concentration and hill driving with pouring rain is another issue altogether. Once again we had the same plan, packed brunch and drive all the way without stops. But the big question was when?
The resort employees were helpful in advising us to take the longer route down from Lansdowne to reach Kotdwar. They felt it had less chance of a road block due to either boulders falling or trees. Packed and set we were like racers set on the mark. As soon as the rain let off a little we rushed, but not before I ‘stole’ a few plants from Lansdowne. (I am happy to report of the three plants I ‘stole’ two are growing beautifully, one…well…let’s just say, not that beautifully).
Driving back from Lansdowne to Delhi
Our drive down was as memorable as our drive up. Once again we had the clouds for company and the rain. Due to the heavy rains we spotted a few small and big natural waterfalls for us to enjoy, with one to dip our feet in as well.
The hills gave a heavenly welcome and joyous send off.
And this was our Lansdowne weekend getaway madness. Signing off!!!
Meet our Guest Blogger, Dr. Stuti Banerjee
Travels part time
Photographer in her free time
Did a Phd by crying most of the time