The churches of Lansdowne

Categories Travel

Almost all the hill stations have beautiful churches. Why? Same reason why all the tall mountain peaks have temples. You give the religious guys a beautiful spot, they will say wow and immediately get down to piling rocks and building a place to pray.

Anyway, few days back, we were in Lansdowne. Given the name, it would have been surprising if the place didn’t have a bunch of churches (imagine a Rudrapur without a shiv temple!). So, the churches were there – St. Mary’s Church and St. John’s Church – small, cute and quaint little structures that were not built to intimidate you into believing.

Both the churches were a steep drive up from the Bhulla Taal and the marketplace. We came across St. John’s Church first but decided to visit it on the way down. After a lot of first and second gears,  we came across a relatively open and flat area that provided a break from the almost vertical climb. There were benches to the right, on the edge of the hill, overlooking the valley and the hills beyond. There was no one around. So, if you wanted to shout out I love you’s to mother nature, you could do that quietly unabashedly.

st mary church view lansdowne

On the left was the St Mary’s Church. There is a small gate in front with a lock mechanism that I had not seen before. There is a small lawn that goes around the church, the grounds are small but well maintained. The church itself is beautiful. It was closed but we made up by circling it a few times. Built in 1896, the church is hardly medieval. It has been restored by Garhwal Rifles recently, so it was in very good condition.

st mary's church lansdowne

st mary church lansdowne

There were the mandatory stained glass windows but somehow nothing seemed out of place. I have never felt religious by visiting any places of worship, but it didn’t launch me into another monologue about futility of religious structures either. If you come when the Church is open, you can see some documentary by Garhwal Rifles but we were glad we missed it.

lansdowne church view

We sat around for a while, went on to Tip N Top which seemed like a wrong spelling of Tiffin Top of Nainital, given that the concept was same – highest point of a hill. On our way down, we stopped at the St James Church. Though built in 1936 and younger by almost half a deade, this one has a more peppered history than its counterpart a few hundred feet above.

st john's church lansdowne

st john church lansdowne

After Independence, the Church fell on hard times and was turned into a school, a stable and a godown at different times. In 1980, Indira Gandhi returned the Church to its rightful claimant and inheritor – Catholic Diocese of Bijnor. Anyhow, the church is on an elevated and larger ground. The approach to the church was decorated with broken glasses and Amul milk cartons were being used as pots in the small nursery.

walkway st john's church

churches hill stations

Thankfully, this one was open. But we were the only ones there. It made us wonder how so many structures were left unattended at Lansdowne. Being an army cantonment, people had said that this was relatively free of crimes. We were slowly starting to believe that.

lansdowne churches

As you enter the church, you will notice the bell hanging from the door frame. First I thought it was meant to call the priest or attendant, so refrained. But a temple at a church was too hard to resist and I rang it. Nothing happened, no one came, no attendant, no holy ghost – it was just a bell.

  • zahra

    thank you for the post on lansdowne. very familiar name. i hear it on the radio all the time as it’s the name of a rugby stadium in ireland. it’s interesting when you have names from a different culture in a certain place. like divan street in chicago. unfortunately, southall doesn’t have a more indian alternative. lansdowne looks like a really pretty place. liked the pictures and nice to see different places of worship and learn about them.

    • Southall in India will be named Dakshin Marg 🙂 Lansdowne is a pretty little place – the weather is nice, the few people that are there are nice. The food was not exciting but can’t complain. About the places of worship, we had a guided tour of mosques and old delhi fort a few days, more on that soon.