Lansdowne – Part 2 – The town.

Further to my earlier post where i discussed way and means of getting to Lansdowne , i shall write a bit about our general experience in the town itself.

Lansdowne is essentially a cantonment and you get that vibe as soon as one drives into town. On one side its the number of army personnel , military police and vehicles, and on the other a certain level of cleanliness and order which can only be found , atleast in my experience, in cantonment towns. Add the normal qualities of a hillstation i.e weather , greenery, freindly people and you end up having a very delightful and attractive destination.

Upon driving into the town you are confronted with a round about from where one can go either straight or take a left. Going straight for 3 Kms would take you to the museum , 5 Kms would get you to tip n top. Taking a left would take you to the local market beyond which is the Hotel Fairydale and then the lake.

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Lansdowne – Part 1 – Getting there

My wife and i decided to finally take a weekend break. 2 months of hectic work timings and pressures got me to a bursting point… in addition i needed a break from technology – no computers, processors, mobiles, laptops, emails …! Lansdowne was a name which kept cropping up frequently whenever we have planned a weekend getaway over the last year or so and we decided to take this destination up finally , added advantage that its very close to Delhi – 2 nights 3 days was the length of the trip and we got back yesterday.

Getting There

People who know me know what my prime recommendation is here – yep! Driving! There are of course the usual options as well but other than driving or taking a bus the best option , from all perspectives, is talking a Train to Kotdwar which is about 45 Kms short of Lansdowne. 2 trains which run regularly are :-

Mussoorie Express – Leaves Delhi at 1015 PM and arrives at Kotdwat at 0500 AM – all days. Fare upwards of 135 INR.

Garhwal Express -Leaves at 7 AM and arrives at 1420 PM – All days. Fare upwards of 250 INR.

 

Driving time is between 5-6 hours. While going one was not too sure of the road surface and was a bit slow in general which put the total time at 6 hours. On the way back it was faster with the us being back in Delhi in about 5 hours. The trip, on a peppy enough car can be done in 4 hours or so. The toal distance is 260kms. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise. I did a lot of research especially on mapmyindia.com and they were off by about 40 kms. The driving can be broken into the following segments :-

1. Delhi to Ghaziabad to Meerut – The slowest segment. Both these places are very crowded, and traffic discipline is non – existent. Approx distance is about 80 kms. Driving time between 1.3-2 Hrs.

2. Meerut to Mawana to Bijnor – Once out of Meerut you can go up to 80-100 Kmph and cruise on that endlessly. The road is not as big as some of the other highways but has to be one of the best i have ever been on. Next to no traffic, excellent quality…one almost feels like it’s yours alone. Peppy stretch. Approx distance 60 kms. Max 1 hour. The Ganges is crossed shortly before Bijnor. Snaps at end of the post. Continue reading

Travelogue : Ramgarh – Uttaranchal

Good things come to he who waits. Keep repeating this if you find yourself headed to Ramgarh. One of the most notorious drives i have ever been on and the end result was a spectacular 3 day vacation amid one of the greenest places in India and some of the most helpful and friendly people i have ever come across. I will be posting some pictures later as well so watch this space. Currently all the pic’s have been taken from the net.

Getting There 

1. Fly to Pant Nagar which is the closest airport and from here hire a cab or go in a bus.The distance from here is 80 kms. I am not too sure about the cab fares but i am guessing it would be around 1k-1500 INR. Flights would be in the range of  1000 + Taxes per person one way. Jagson airlines is the most frequent (and i think only)  airline to this sector . They have daily flights. Availability can be checked at jagsonairline.com.

2. Train to Kathgodam which is 50 Kms before Ramgarh. Again hire a cab or a bus.

3. Drive – This is what i always do since it allows me tremendous flexibility. While the distance is only 318 Kms ( Less than Shimla) ,if anyone tells you that it will take 6-7 hours , please dont believe them. The road is pretty bad till you enter the state of Uttaranchal and the drive can take as much as 10-11 Hours. The route to follow is :-

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Delhi to Shimla by Train

I just logged in and noticed that today one of the most common search terms for people landing here was on information for trains between Delhi and Shimla. So i decided to do a small write up on it while my wife waded through something called Melrose Place , a Tv show from the early 1990’s which became quite popular and featured a story line very similar to Beverly hills 90210 , which i guess half the word has heard about!

Coming back to the subject at hand – There is no direct train to Shimla from Delhi. The journey needs to be broken up, whether one likes it or not. There are lots of trains from Delhi to Shimla , but none is more convenient than the Shatabdi. The Shatabdi leaves at around 730 AM in the morning, hit Chandigarh at 1045 or so and then Kalka at 1130. Kalka being the start of the hills. The broad gauge track ends here – 2 options from this point – Road or the Toy Train. Numerous cabs are parked outside the station at Kalka , but they are expensive , anything between 1500-2000 is normal. You can also catch a bus which would be cheap but crowded and longer, time wise.

Before i forget , the shatabdi costs around 550 per head one way in the chaircar. They serve meals on the train which are included in the fare , as well as some amount of snacks, water, juices. The important stops are Soniapt , Panipat, Karnal (halfway point) , Ambala , Chandigarh and finally Kalka.

The other option is the toy train , now please note THIS IS THE SLOWEST WAY TO GET TO SHIMLA. The toy train takes close to 6 hours to get there, It has multiple stops along the way and the average speed is slower than an truck loaded with 40 tons of apples. But its definetely an experience and a very scenic ride… as long as you have the time. The train stops at the heart of Shimla , just below the mall. Its reasonable and the last time i travelled , around 2 years ago, the ticket was around 150. The train does have compartments i.e 1st class , 2nd class etc etc, but theres not too much difference. Just be careful… The train leaves dot on time from every station, so if you are told that xyz is a 4 minute stop, it wouldbe advisable to treat it as 2. The starting point for the T-Train is the same station where ther Shatabdi finishes its journey.

What i am not aware of is the current situation with respect to it. About a month ago , due to torrential rains one of the stations along the line was wiped out – I am not aware of the exact situation now , i can find out if any of you really need the info though..but only if its very important.

Hope that helped.

I have  attached this timetable  as of the latest info i.e 21stJune 2o09. FC, SC, CC means – first class, second class and chair car.

Toy train schedule from Kalka to Shimla

Toy train schedule from Kalka to Shimla

New Delhi to Kalka on AC Chaircar (Kalka Shatabdi) is at 465 INR and First AC at 885.