I took this amazing trip with 3 of my girl friends last year in the month of March and all four of us didn't have the faintest idea that the coming days of this trip are going to be the bestest of memories we will cherish for the rest of our lives.
We left in Malwa Express from Indore station for 24 hours of long journey till Pathankot some 1300 KM away but I do not regret not taking any flight because the sleeper class journey went smoothly playing cards and ludo and these little saving tricks allowed our trip to costs us just 5400 each, so our college-going-kids-on-a-budget-always heart were blooming.
Reached Pathankot Cantt station and just at the station there's a rail ahar restaurant where we ate a thali for 40/- From there we still needed to travel another 90 KM to reach Dharamshala. There's a taxi stand just outside of station, and they charge you around 2500 to hire a cab. Since we didn't have any interest in spending our money where it can be saved, we inquired for buses with the local pan ghumti vale bhaiya, and trust me in my experience you will never be at loss if you ask locals for suggestions and help, just keep in mind 'puchne me kya jata hai' but take your own decisions whichever best and safest for you.
So to catch the bus, we headed to a country road just a kilometer away and saw the bus coming packed with people. The ticket was 180/- and we could not complain since we got seats somehow and it was filled with so many locals speaking in Punjabi and a solo traveller from US, listening to Ed Sheeran's Divide.
I caught the first glimpes of those beautiful majestic snow clapped mountains and the first blow of chilly mountain wind hit my face, making me fall in love with mountains and everything they has to offer.
Ah!! the first day excitement of exploring a new place and on top of that the happiness of having a perfect budget hotel for stay. We did not book anything online and just after the search of mere 25 minutes, found Hotel Imperial for 800 per night, we got this good deal because it was their second property hidden on the streets of Dharamshala. And staying in Dharamshala rather than the hotels of Mcleodganj is a cheaper option.
We began explorint the pretty streets, main market, tea gardens and most importantly video called our parents infront of the beautiful Dhauladhar range visible from the town.
Since the major attraction were all located in Mcleodganj, withour further adio we caught a local bus, easily available every 30 minutes and with a minimal fare of 15/-
Reaching Mcleodganj brought a different vibe all together. We did not have a check list with us nor we have searched for must visit places, and simply out on the streets and figuring out as we go is so much fun. It made sense to visit the Kalachakra Temple first, since it's located in the main market itself.
Even though it is located just near the hustle and bustle of main market, it is a very peaceful place to offer prayers and with very less tourists inside the temple. The colorful praying wheels and the stunning design of this place is very interesting to see. On top of that you can go up to the terrace and watch snow clapped mountain peaks in beautiful sunshine.
As you walk out of the temple, and head for Dalai Lama Temple, you come across a street market where you can shop for beautiful Buddhist and Tibetan sovereigns.
The temple complex offeres a very peaceful atmosphere, surronded by mountains and greenery and the positive vibes of monks in red and yellow offering the prayers. Inside the temple, there is a beautiful statue of Buddha and people of every caste and creed are allowed to enter to offer their prayers.
This is probably the stupiest thing we did in the whole trip :D From the main market, there are two paths parting, one of them goes to Dharamkot and the other one to Bhagsu Nag. We decided to visit Bhagsu Nag and walked upto 3 KM only to find it heavely crowded and dry with not much view to offer -_- you can definitely visit it in rainy season but other than that it's not worth much.
There are auto ricksaw and cabs available to visit all of these places, but we chose to explore the place on foot and it was so much more fun this way. Next stop is to walk 3 more KM in the wilderness
The highlight of the day is the visit to St. John Church. Not only the church offers a beautiful view amist dense jungle but the way upto the church surrounded by the grand deodar trees and green all around is something you should not miss. We spend all the time left with us in the day in the wilderness of the church and nearly missed the last bus leaving for Dharamshala, so take care of the timing because at around 5 it starts to get dark and the last bus leaves around 6 PM
This next day bought the real excitement when we started our trek to Triund Top. Taxis are available from Mcleodganj upto the start of Triund Trek which will charge around 800. It was my first ever trek and proved to a very good choice. The first 7 KM were really easy. Once you get to the magic view point, and start climbing the other half, then it starts to get little steep.
And walking up that trail, made me realize so many things I was missing from my life. I feel there is something so magical about dirt roads, mountains, their majestic views, beautiful trees all around and a long trail to follow that makes life worth living.. and how I want to spend it. It was that moment on Triund Trail when I can clearly hear my heartbeat, the sound of my breaths and the soothing pain in my feet those gave me best of memories. When I completed those last steep steps of the trail, I can see the glorious Dhauladhars just infront of me and that is the memory I like to go back to evey now and then.. because that was the moment when I came face to face with what I now love profoundly.