This divine hill station is sure to enchant you and gift you ample of refreshing memories that will make you come back for more.
Far from the maddening crowd, midst the lush greenery lies the abundant serenity. Have you ever thought of being in a place where you find silence in culture, unbound beauty in surroundings like gushing water, chirping birds, misty weather, clouds beneath and a mystique aura? If yes, this is the place for you.
McLeod Ganj, a community of Dharamshala in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India is a wow place to visit. It’s a hill station that can be well described as a poet’s best poetry, a sculptor’s favorite piece of work or for a traveloholic (travel enthusiasts) like me; it’s simply the heaven on earth. There’s something about this place which urges you to stay. Some strange divinity with enchanting beauty, blended with surreal silence makes you nostalgic. You must break free and let the splendor engulf you.
The mornings of this place are magnificent and the evenings give them a tough competition by being equally captivating. The sky seems to have draped an opaque sheet, partially made of fog and partially of clouds. At some places you would be bluffed to believe that you are on top of the clouds. The abundant greenery will be a soothing balm to your tired nerves.
Though McLeod Ganj may outshine the city life that’s more contemporary, the sobriety of this place has enough to offer. The petite colorful handicraft shops and stalls along each step will raise an urge to shop till you drop just like you would do in any city mall. There’s lot of stuff for girls who have fascination for jewelry, handbags, shawls or stoles made of pure sheep wool and lots more–so much so that you’ll be scandalized to see. For guys too there’s plenty! If you are fond of fragrances, McLeod Ganj is the place. You get variety of aromatic candles, oils, and incense sticks. Silver and gemstones or semi-precious stones seem to be the USP for the villagers. And the best part is that they are crafted beautifully and each piece you hold is different from the rest. Then you can also look for prayer flags, Tibetan artifacts, bronze statues, thangkas, small prayer wheels, cham-dance–masks which look quite interesting.
The amazing food joints and coffee shops will make you forget the Mocha of the world. Imagine yourself sitting in a coffee shop that offers the Tibetan delicacies ranging from the popular Thupka to Momos for those who would want to try some local food, while all sorts of Italian, Chinese, Japanese and mouth smacking Indian dishes too. The restaurant has an antique touch with hanging lamp shades throwing some dim yellow light, and the restaurant is constructed out of wood. The big windows on all the sides give you a sneak peek of the mountains and pitter-patter of rain drops; a perfect backdrop for romancing. How do you feel? If just a shot of imagination can make you glee, think of having a real life experience.
Apart from this, McLeod Ganj offers some must see destinations for tourists like us. Bhagsunag temple and the waterfall is one of the mesmerizing spots. To ascend to the waterfall you pass through the temple. Known to be the first Himalayan trek, Bhagsunag waterfall is exceptionally superb if you are visiting at the right time. Try to carry as less belongings as possible because the route to the waterfall is somewhat unruly. If you get a chance to dip in deep waters then you will feel the chills and shivers in your body as the water is freezing cold. The gigantic grey rocks add to the beauty of this place and leave you in awe for a while. The place also offers some strategically placed cafes and the popular one seemed to be the ‘Shiva Café’, the last stop. For the liquor lovers, this place is truly a heaven as alcohol is available under these hatched roof shops.
The Dalai Lama Temple is aesthetically constructed. The architecture is in such a manner that just the right amount of sunlight is permitted to enter the temple. The place is glorified with chants and sermons recited by Lamas as part of rituals.
While tourists hire a taxi to visit Naddi, one of the highest points of Dharamshala, we chose to trek all the way. You can try it out as it wasn’t exhaustive at all. We enjoyed the path with each footstep and clicked some amazing flicks to cherish for the lifetime. The scenic beauty along the way was magnanimous. From the main McLeod Ganj town to Dal Lake, a beautiful artificially constructed one, we covered a distance of 4 km, wasn’t cumbersome at all. We were not the odd ones out; there were other foreigners too who preferred trekking over taxi. Dal Lake is surrounded by humongous conifers and one side of it has good arrangement of benches at some intervals. You can sit for hours and let the beauty of silence seep within.
Then there’s Triund known best for trekking, is one of the finest spots to capture the panoramic beauty. It is suggested to hire a guide for this place as way to Triund is midst forests and there’s always a risk of wild animals especially bears. These guides take with them their faithful dogs, which help keeping away these animals. Not too sure, if that’s true as we were not lucky enough to visit this place because of the rains.
If you are looking for some more peace and somberness, you must make a visit to Norbulingka Institue, further down the McLeod Ganj towards main Dharmshala. This institute primarily depicts the Tibetan culture through excellent works of art. The greenery, the pond, the flowers; colorful flags and the dazzling prayer bells in bronze, seem to have a story to tell you. The gentle breeze would kiss your cheeks silently, whispering something harmoniously.
Further down the McLeod Ganj towards main Dharmshala, lies the Dharmshala cricket stadium, one of the highest cricket stadiums and main tourist attraction. Watching sportsmen play with Himalayan ranges at the backdrop was an overwhelming experience and an experience for the lifetime.
So, do not waste time and plan your next trip to the holy land of McLeod Ganj. Capture the breathtaking views and enjoy to the fullest. Take a break and leave behind the chaotic city life to revive yourself.
Distance from New Delhi: 480 km (Approx.)
Travel Time: 10-12 hrs (Approx.)
Best time to visit: Anytime between April to December. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit.
Hotels and stay: The hotels in McLeod Ganj are dearth cheap if you are not visiting during the peak season. The good reasonable ones would range somewhere between 800 INR – 1000 INR while they can go up to 8000 INR per night.
Suggestions: Carry some woolens, an umbrella or a raincoat depending on the season of visit. If travelling by road, be prepared for the bumpy ride as there are horrific patches of road with endless potholes.
Photo Credit: Google