Work, passion, interests and life

A quiet retreat

Posted on: December 4, 2014

A short vacation was long overdue. After some discussion among family members, we finally decided upon Lansdowne in the state of Uttarakhand.

Setting off early, we crossed Ghaziabad and headed towards Meerut. Lalitji, our man at the wheels, seemed reasonably aware of the routes to be taken.  He kept praising the quality of UP sweets and savouries available in Meerut , especially items like Soan Papri made of pure ghee, and lip smacking Kachoris—items that the Punjabi in him missed back home in Haryana.We were looking forward to such delicacies but when we reached Meerut around7:30 am, the revered shops were yet to get going for the day. The unflappable Lalitji,mouth watering in anticipation, waded through the bylanes of Meerut bazaars in search of those coveted sweets, and after much circling, took us to a similar joint. TheKachoris were quite filling, and Ma raved about the quality of the Kalakands.

Enroute we crossed several UP towns such as Bijnore, Jalalabad & Najibabad and finally reached Kotdwar by midday. We decided to break for lunch before climbing uphill, the landscape of Kotdwar receding in the distance. It took us a couple of hours to hit the Cantonment town of Lansdowne, which statistics claim is situated at a height of 5800 feet above sea-level. Our joy knew no bounds, for the picturesque hill views, the fresh mountain air and the towering pine trees cast its web over us. We were, it seemed in

Ghanta Ghar @ Meerut                                       Wonderland, and the sight of Fairy Dale, the Resort tucked away in the labyrinthine recess of the hills, transported us to a world well lost. The Resort dates back to 1912 and carried with it an unmistakable colonial charm.It was a property fringed with little cottages and pretty patches of green and flowering shrubs. The rooms @ FR were spacious and neat, complete with derelict fireplaces and wood engraved ceilings. There was                                                           no provision for ACs though, and our time of the visit —mid October–made that redundant.

We Bengalis have a habit of carrying our intellectual pretensions wherever we go.That, and our passion for travelling—discovering quaint places and idyllic views–gives us a great sense of self. We met our match in two Bengali families who were staying in at the resort and extolling the virtues of a Tom Cruise and Martin Scorcese film. The adda had all the makings of Kolkata’s Coffee House culture, and there we were at Fairydale, recreating a mini-Kolkata.  I remember our acquaintance with Mr. Nirmal RC, a rather interesting and well-read Bengali gentleman from Dwarka, New Delhi,who seemed like a raconteur at his best.

Mr.NRC is a consultant in a well known International Consulting firm and makes a bi-yearly trip to Fairydale with his wife and children.  He seemed enchanted with the quietness and beauty of the hill station which compels him regularly to flee from the madding crowd of the Capital and to keep his date with nature. He likened himself to Indranath, a character of a Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay novel who possessed a tremendous lust for travelling and seeing places.

The following day we got up early. Rambling around in the forest soaking in the refreshing morning air, the serene hills created an ethereal milieu…

Post breakfast, we embarked on our sight-seeing. Firstly we went to Bhulla Lake, a small lake neatly maintained by the Army folks. There is a facility of boating in the lake. However, we decided against taking the ride when we heard that the depth of the lake touched 30 feet.

BhullaLake

From Bhulla Lake, we proceeded towards St. John’s church. This is a beautiful church. The board at the entrance of the church incorporates the Hindu philosophy of Sanathan Dharmasignifying the symbiosis between the two major religions of the world.

 

St.John’s Church

Uphill at some distance from St. John is the other famous church – St. Mary’s Church.The spectacular view of the Alakananda range with its snow capped peaks from this point is truly breathtaking.

St.Mary’s Church

Finally,we reached Tip N Top, the highest peak of the town, from where one can capture a panoramic view of the hills & the settlement below…

We returned to the city centre, the hill town marketplace and cosied up for a late lunch.

The following day we enjoyed the magical morning hours, watching the hill views and the sprawling greens. My son played with Pluto, the lovable Labrador of the resort who takes to strangers like duck to water.

Tip nTop


   City Centre

The short trip had come to an end all too quickly, and as we said goodbye to everyone around us, we knew we would come back, only to recapture the romance of a world that authors like Ruskin Bond recreate in their books and novels. I had forgotten that there exists a world beyond the frenetic pace of life.Fairydale had become a metaphor for a childhood, where all is right with the world.

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