Lansdowne Stories and Tips

A Trek Down to Bhim Pakora

Bhim Pakora Photo, Lansdowne, India

Bhim is the name of a prodigiously strong hero from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharat. A pakora is a vegetable fritter, usually a slice of potato or onion (or spinach, aubergine, cauliflower – whatever) dipped in batter and deep fried. Bhim Pakora, interestingly enough, has nothing to do with either Bhim or a pakora. It is a fairly impressive rock formation that consists of a flattish boulder (which looks a bit like a petrified spaceship) balanced precariously atop another boulder. The boulder on top can, according to folklore, be made to rock by simply giving it a push – but it won’t fall off. Where Bhim fits into the picture, I’m not sure – maybe there’s an obscure legend somewhere about him balancing the rock on the boulder below.

We decided to walk down to Bhim Pakora for want of anything better to do. We’d already seen all the main sights, so instead of lazing around, we asked the receptionist at Fairydale for directions and set off.

The receptionist told us that this would be a `trek’, but we later realised that we could have driven down to Bhim Pakora. Although it’s narrow (and unsurfaced, so terribly bumpy) the 3 kilometre trail to Bhim Pakora is a road that intersects the main Gandhi Park-Bhulla Taal road. The receptionist pointed out a shortcut (a steep and rather slippery trail down the mountain), that brought us onto the Bhim Pakora road about 2.5 kilometres short of the famous rock.

The road to Bhim Pakora is quintessential Lansdowne: quiet, scenic and (for the most part) along a fairly unpopulated stretch that lies below the main town. All along the mountainside are woods of blue pine and oak, and wherever there’s a break in the woods, you can see out into the distance – towards misty mountains and more woods. Lovely!

Ten minutes into our walk, we started to discover the advantages of walking rather than driving: the birds of Lansdowne began appearing. In a pine sapling, a brilliant scarlet minivet, deep red and black, skipped about from one branch to another. Higher up, in the upper branches of the taller pines, a trio of yellow-billed blue magpies swooped down, their tails trailing long and blue behind them. On the same tree, a small and nondescript Himalayan tree creeper crept, mouse-like, along the trunk, searching assiduously for grubs and insects in the bark. More common were the white-cheeked bulbuls that squabbled noisily in just about every thicket; and the glossy blue-black whistling thrushes, hopping along the mountain streams.

Midway through, just when we’d begun to get used to solitude, we ran into a pair of young cowherds up the mountain. One was sitting on a rock and keeping an eye on a scattered herd of somnolent cows with brass bells round their necks. The other boy was gathering twigs for firewood and singing an old Hindi film song. A few hundred metres on, and we came upon a farmhouse on the mountain, with dogs nosing around and a man feeding piglets – all on the road.

By the time we got to Bhim Pakora, we were feeling a tad tired – more so because we’d realised that the trek back to Fairydale would take at least an hour and a half, and would be uphill almost all the way. However, we’d walked a fair deal to come this far, so we were determined to admire Bhim Pakora. The rock itself proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It is interesting, but doesn’t look unique; I saw at least four similar formations – flattish boulder atop a standing boulder – at different points along the route. But of course, it’s possible that the unique thing about Bhim Pakora is that it doesn’t topple over; do the others? (which can’t be the case, unless somebody dutifully jiggled all of them and then replaced all the boulders that did topple over!)

What makes Bhim Pakora even more of a disappointment is the fact that some moron – obviously from the nearby Jungle Resort – has painted `Bhim Pakora Jungle Resort 300 m’ right across the rock. Ugh.

We sat around at Bhim Pakora for about ten minutes. I spent my time gushing over the wildflowers around. Tarun flipped through my bird book and tried to identify all of the species we’d seen in Lansdowne. Eventually, with the sun moving determinedly up into the sky and getting uncomfortably hot, we decided it was time to head back.

By the time we got back to Fairydale, we were tired and thirsty; I’d scraped my palms making my way down from Bhim Pakora; and our shoes were white with dust. What’s more, Bhim Pakora had been a letdown. But we’d seen some lovely woods, a lot of birds, and even what looked – from a distance – like a fox. Definitely, by our thinking, a rewarding jaunt!

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