After several long sessions of planning that span through weeks together with loads of indecisiveness and unending research, finally seeing my partners in crime back-packed with their travel stuff and excited to finally give their travel aspirations some physical form and actually set out for that dream journey that we all had been waiting for anxiously with all our physical and emotional senses. Each member of our five bosom buddies seemed fully prepared to finally say adieu to hustle and bustle of Noida. The only problem now left with us and which seemed to be herculean job at that time was to single out the destination we are actually setting out for. Buy now you must have got some idea about the height of entropy and disorder within our group. Although we had our tickets booked for Dehradun but some of us were still not sure whether that was a viable option based on the weather reports we had been constantly tracing since last couple of days. So we cancelled the tickets and begin to research about other options available for the ultimate travel destination that could finally provide some relief to our fun thirsty, peace craving, computer addicted restless souls that has been synchronously revolving between morning snaps and five fifteens almost since times immemorial and salvage our ever diminishing and deteriorating souls from corporate slavery and put a temporary pause to our corporate rat race. After another long dedicated session of research, rebuttal and online exploration we singled out Lansdown( an artificial paryatak sithal as they called it) to be the final winner.
Before setting out for the journey let me take an opportunity to introduce my gang. Our group consisted of 5 restless, nerdy, computer addicted corporate junkies(Software Engineers to be precise) who are all fortunately in telepathic sync with each other brought together by sheer luck attempting to set out to say adieu to our habitual corporate jungle (albeit temporarily) and spending some time in laps of mother nature in order to rejuvenate and trout out our social and interpersonal skills that has been tarnished by super busy and tiring corporate culture we are dwelling in, by letting the aura of virgin nature to tickle pink our hidden Homosepian characters that has been scorned behind at the cost of winning the corporate rat race.
Starting with our drama Queen Deeksha, who happens to be the chief treasurer of the group. Characterized by intriguing smile, shiny eyes and loquacious behavior, overall she can be regarded as a perfect little arrangement of atoms. Then comes Deepika the amiable, chubby, extra-sweetened chocolate shake incarnated into a living creature with tantalizing rabbit smile that makes being funny almost official. Apart from this self proclaimed diva duo our group comprises of three musketeers. Abhishek the gymming freak who chases Pokémons more than what other guys of our age are usually found chasing..haha, Vivek, a typical happy go lucky Delhi guy with wicked sense of humor that he is usually found spelling magic with, and finally me, Amir an Omnivert, first of its kind, breaker of stereotype, cursed with sarcasm, King of brother-zoned, protector of the realm of animals, even nerds call me a nerd and for some I am whatever they need me to be…haha.
Getting back on track we booked a cab and headed straight to Kashmiri Gate bus stand. After having a cup of tea we boarded the bus for Hardwar. The bus was almost empty apart from our group there were hardly 2 to 3 passengers onboard. Although we all had a long tiring day in office we still managed to have some fun chit chat and teasing-each-other session before the blanket of blackness came over all of us and we had to surrender to the state of oblivious sleep.
Next morning we boarded the bus from Hardiwar to Kothdwar and on reaching Kothdwar we hired an SUV for Lansdown. The journey via hilly terrains from Kothdwar to Lansdown reminded me of a famous quote from a famous Phil anthropologist and explorer Edmund Hillary,
Despite all I have seen and experienced, I still get the same simple thrill out of glimpsing a tiny patch of snow in a high mountain gully and feel the same urge to climb towards it. Edmund Hillary
While we were drifting towards peaks of hills via curved hilly gullies tunneled by lush green woods on both sides amalgamated with an amazing background music by flowing streams and birds I could sense a carousel of past experiences, emotions and nostalgia being played at the back of my mind that ranged from being as funny to set me bursting into laughter to plaintive enough to make my eyes wet. At that very moment I wished to have been alone to vent out all my mixed emotions but somehow I managed to overpower my sentiments and emotions, as I didn’t want to look stupid for laughing and crying seemingly without any reason.
On reaching Lansdown we were welcomed by crystal clear rains and cold breezes. Everywhere we looked seemed damn clean and the people seemed calm and at ease. We started searching for hotel first and then continue with our exploration. We booked a hotel near the Lansdown market. It was a set of two boltholes in converted townhouses. Each has stunning, opulent decor throughout and is exactly the kind of place you’ll want to stay if you fancy getting lost in your own secret adventure. Soon after getting into the room we started to line-up for having a shower in an attempt to salvate us from the loads of grease and dust that had been piled up on us during the long road trip we have had from Noida. After taking the shower we had some snacks and tea.
After filling our bellies we set out to explore the Lansdown. Although initially weather was clear but as we move further it started with a mild shower and on moving further up the hill rains got decidedly angrier and we had to take refuge under the Soffit of a nearby building. Still our clothes were drenched to the extent that I along with Deepika and Vivek had to return back to our hotel room in order to change our drenched clothes and get into our waterproof jackets to get ready to face the rains head-on.
A little bit further from our hotel I notice a crossroad leading to the uphill. We decide to follow the road, making some quick decisions when we reach a few forks in the road. We end up at a beautiful little park covered with trees on all sides. We had a halt for some rest and first official photos session in order to cherish those beautiful moments later in our life.
The views and aura of jungle was so mesmerizing that we almost forgot the tourist spots we had enlisted and begin to enjoy strolling the forests. Soon the forests started getting covered by fog and that was getting more and more prominent making an absolute light blur background that was perfect for our photo sessions so we started to click photos in order to capture the moment for adding to the good old memory archive and of course to earn some extra likes and shares on social media for our social media addicted souls. On moving further towards Tip N Top we encountered a park with broken seesaw and pull up bars, this pinched our hidden fitness freaks so we couldn’t resist our urge to get that extra adrenaline rush that we get from workouts though we already had walked more than 6 km uphill. So we started a pull up competition starting from Abhishek, then Vivek, followed by Deepika then me and finally Deeksha.
On moving further along the narrow hilly paths behind the fog a medium sized building begin to emerge and by the Gothic structure of the building we realized that the building was actually the St. John’s church and the view was like a scene from some old Hollywood horror movie but it was breathtaking. Although we tried to capture the view in our cameras but the amalgamation of lush green forest view with a white gradient created by fog , breezes of cold and fresh air with sprinkles of tiny drops of rain created an epic scene that forces us to put the Lansdown somewhere at the top of must visit places list during moonsoon.
Just outside the church was a small structure with some sitting arrangement so we stayed there for some time to relish the Mountain View as it was getting covered under a huge white cover of fog that was getting denser as the rain stopped. We also had a photography session here. After moving further we finally reached Tip N Top but as the mountains were covered by thick fog so we couldn’t experience the view that the point is famous for. But as we have had a lots of fun strolling into the jungles so it hardly mattered. We further moved and stopped at a coffee shop at the top of mountain and till that time rains had already started again. So we enjoyed some Maggie, omelet and coffee in the open coffee house lobby this was of course accompanied with loads of chit chat, teasing and again an another photo session. By this time it was already dark and green grass hoppers had already started their evening customary concert that added to the charm of the forests. By the time we left for hotel the forests had covered itself under a dark blanket, it was already about 8pm and as the area in under army cantonment so the roads are well maintained that made our journey comparatively easy. Although I had expected some spooky and creepy moments while walking through the forest lanes in complete dark except for our mobile light but things didn’t get that worse and it was actually fun. Finally we reached our hotel at around 9:30 pm.
After returning to hotel we changed our rain drenched clothes and some rest mean while some of us got engaged in another self improvisation session haha. At about 10 pm we set out for dinner. As we finished our dinner it was already around 11 pm and almost all the shops had closed for the day except for some that were starting to wrap up their stuff so we couldn’t had our after dinner tea that we were used to have.
After getting back to our hotel then started the indoor activities that started with some teasing, taunting and making fun of each other then follows the 3 patti game and that lasted for about 2 to 3 hours and its based on this our group is still named as 3 patti group. This all was followed by the customary truth and dare game that ultimately turned into rapid fire question answer session, occupied another 1 to 2 hours and then finally we couldn’t resists our eyes getting closed further so we called it a day and retired to our deep dark sleep.
Next day we woke up and got ready by around 12pm as we had slept really late last night. After having lunch we headed towards Bhulla lake. It wasn't that far away so we decided to walk to the lake as strolling through the woods was way too much fun. This is a difference between tourists and travelers. Travelers enjoy and relish each part of their journey. Ups and down, good and bad moments and experiences. Even the dust piled up on your clothes during exploring new places seems no less than a batch of honor for an avid traveler. While on the other hand tourists aim for a particular tourist spot. They treat travel sort of a struggle that is compensated by the tourist place they are heading towards. Most of the people in the park included the groups of mobile-camera-using tourists, who even from a distance could be seen clumping together to take the same pictures of the designated viewpoints.
Anyways we reached the lake, got entry tickets costing 20 bucks each. It is actually a park with an artificial lake within its premises and may be due to this Lansdown is knows as artificial paryatk sithal (artificial tourist place). Places like these added contemporary touches to the natural beauties of Lansdown. On entering the lake we started with some pets that were caged at the entrance of the venue. It consists of some rabbits and pigeons. While four of us got engaged in playing with those little creatures within the cage, Vivek choose to play with those outside the cage. I am sure you must have figured out what I mean..hahaa. As this was the only place for him to rejuvenate and retreat his eyes, rest all of our journey has been within woods where you hardly find any one wandering except for some manual scavengers likes us, army men ( as it was a cantonment area ) and some locals. Mostly tourists come in their own vehicles or hired vehicles to these places. After spending some time in Bhulla lake park which includes a long photo session, sightseeing and of course a cup of tea (which is staple source of ATP for corporate nomads like us) at a café near the gate of the lake, we finally decided to proceed further as this was the last day for us in Lansdown. So aiming towards tip n top in an attempt to have a fog free view of the hills, which is the specialty of that place we continued our journey. On reaching tip n top weather got in our favor and the clear view of the mountains immersed us almost immediately into that awesome, intimate habitat. After tip n top we moved to our last destination and that was the café at top of the hill to have some rest and a cup of coffee. On reaching there we had another photo session, had some snacks and coffee. The melancholy on every ones face clearly indicated their reluctance for wrapping up this trip that soon. We had spent an amazing time together aloof from the tiring city life in the woods as close to nature as it could have been.
Finally after spending some time there we decided to trundle back and to summarize the travel we have had into few lines I can say it was a time for the bunch of misfit travelers trying to cobble together an authentic experience from the temporary drift in time and geography that guided us into quiet, reflective moments we rarely could have got otherwise.