A polluted, chaotic and sizzling at 45 degrees Delhi becomes unbearable on a weekend, more so when it is an extended weekend. Lansdowne is one weekend getaway which can give you the much needed respite. It’s scenic, calm, cool and not heavy on your pocket. It is just 233 km from Delhi and any car, big or small, can take you there. Although not the best of highways, NH58 is not too bad for a weekend drive. Road is traversable and traffic is manageable.
We decided to leave on a Friday evening and before the office rush could choke the roads we managed to leave Delhi. We were told that it is a 7 hours straight drive but the office hangover made us take a halt on Meerut bypass.
We feared that the small town Meerut may not give us a decent shelter but to our utmost surprise we found a good enough place called ‘Lal Quila’
. From the main street all we saw were some cheery bright lights and beautiful ambience. Once inside, we found a motel with rooms that were not a bad option for just a night stay. We could not have asked for more and decided to park ourselves there for the night. The rooms were decent although they could have been slightly more maintained and clean. Staff was very welcoming and hospitable and took all our fuss and tantrums in their stride. Each of our instructions was followed to its details. It was dinner time and we thought of tucking in some food. What we found was the most delightful sight- An Airplane turned multi cuisine restaurant right next to where the hotel stood. We couldn’t believe our eyes. It was exotic and innovative, a very unique idea. We
boarded the plane and inside discovered a glitzy restaurant
with some delicious food options. We wondered how in India such wonderful places go unnoticed. If it were some other country we would have been paying through our nose to experience it.Next morning we set course for Lansdowne. With the help of GPS it took us just 3 hours to reach our chosen property. It is called ‘Oak Grove’ and belongs to a retired colonel. We had read a lot about the place and felt sure of a comfortable stay.
The first look of the property was a total let down. We saw a solid concrete building right on the road. Since we did not have the choice we lifted our bags and halfheartedly entered the property. We saw some steps going down and we instinctively started downwards. As we stepped down we started feeling better and better about the property. We came down three flights and found a beautiful bungalow. Nobody was there to stop us and we kept walking till we reached a welcoming door, flowers embracing it from all sides and beautiful artifacts adorning it. A robust army man greeted us before we could introduce ourselves. After a friendly chat we were shown our rooms.
There was nothing in it that would spell luxury. There were no comfortable mattresses, no décor, no decorative lights nothing that showed any effort from their side to make it look like a hotel. A very simple room with bare essential lights, faded bed covers and basic necessities stared back at us.
It was a home stay and nothing more. I smiled at the basics. It was like spending a night at a poor cousin’s place who would welcome you with open arms and that is all he will do for you. Bathroom had no fancy fittings. Some old buckets and mugs were making a ‘middle class statement’. Some of the fittings had faucets missing but nobody from the staff felt apologetic for the missing essentials. Electricity played hide and seek so hot water for bath also became a luxury.
There was fixed menu for food which was again from poor cousin’s kitchen. No china or silver for the guests and no waiters in attendance. There was an army of servants serving us but the way food is served in a Dhaba. Food was palatable, only because it was served hot and smelt like home food.
We planned to go around the town to hunt for some scenic places in the afternoon. We found one sunset point, an apology of a lake, a church and a museum. It’s a cantonment town and all we saw was some British looking cottages and Faujis painting the walls and the bark of the trees.
So the question is, would we recommend the place or would we like to go there again? You’d be amazed to know but the answer is ‘Absolutely’. If we had our way we would love to go there every weekend. Why? Because, the view from Oak Grove is something to die for.
Orange sunset, blue moon lit night, twinkling stars, cool breeze, calming nature, unpolluted environment, friendly host, smiling faces, chirping birds and soothing sunlight. If that is not enough what is? And all of it just cost us a meager 3500 per head including everything. This is the place that brings out the romance in you and makes you a poet. You might just come back humming…”When the blue night is over my face….”