Hidden Secrets of Mcleodganj


Bhagsu Waterfall: More than you can see

Yes, it's one of the most crowded tourist spots but don't give up on it just yet. If you are lucky, you will be able to see another view of the waterfalls. Depending on the season you are visiting (avoid monsoons), there is a path leading down to the waterfall. There used to be a small restaurant there but I believe it doesn't exist any more. Walk down to the waterfall and when you reach the small pool of water, sit down for a moment and take in the sweet sound of water. A little ahead of the waterfall, navigate your way through the scattered rocks to reach the further end of the water pool (be careful since the rocks tend to get extremely slippery).

The view of the mountain ranges from there is going to stay with you for a long time to come.

Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S
Photo of Naddi, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Kirat S

So much has been said about the small town of Mcleodganj. From gushing about its myriad cafes to reveling in the warmth of the locals - travellers have made this small hamlet famous world over. People from various nationalities visit this sleepy town in the hope of a new adventure, in search of peace, in pursuit of cultural belonging and to just chill.

I first visited this town 6 years back and last visited it this January and several times in between. As many times as I visit Mcleodganj, I find something new to love about it. Yes, it's crowded, yes, there is Honey Singh playing at the clubs and yes, everyone from Haryana and Delhi mostly goes there - but beyond all this chaos, there truly is a place to discover.

I convinced myself to write this article to bring Mcleodganj back in the eyes of ardent travellers because don't rule it out just yet - there is still lots to discover.

A village changed my mind

There is another Mahadev temple in Dharamshala that boasts of such stunning views of Dhauladar ranges, you'll be in awe. Once at the temple, walk towards the back and you'll be greeted by a small stream and a few fishermen trying their luck and skill. The area is not very well known and hardly any tourists bother to come to this side.

Tip: Go till the last point before Karohta but remember to carry eatables lest hunger pangs force you to turn back.

Visit every restaurant you haven't heard of

Most restaurants in Mcleodganj and around are listed on popular travel websites but the moment you come across a restaurant you haven't heard/read the name of - enter! Without another thought. Most cafes in Mcleodganj serve surprisingly fresh food, including baked goodies. I once devoured a banana cake in 20 minutes - it was hot out of the over and it was all for me. There are tons of lesser known cafes and as much as I'd like to mention their name, I'd be defeating the purpose.

Restaurants in Dharamkot are very well known for their omelettes and Italian dishes. You may be surprised to hear loud, Bollywood music streaming out of these cafes but you can request them to play music of your choice and can also plug in your own device. Most cafes also have a perfect reading spot or a variety of board games, live music performances by the locals, poetry reading sessions and storytelling nights. It really is a lovely experience, made better with honey, ginger lemon tea.

Other surprises

We have all heard of the numerous galleries, monasteries and temples in Dharamshala. Beyond the popular ones, there exist a myriad places you can ignore. From the surreal Nechung Monastery to the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, the experience is memorable to say the least. Fiercely preserving and protecting a culture is a group of people who accept you with open arms and hope the same from you. The inspiring dances at the performing arts institute and the variety of visual arts will change any views you had about travelling to touristy Dharamshala. If you happen to catch a concert here or even artists practicing their art - you are in luck!

Find your own secret place

Some of you may hate me for this, but please don't take this one lightly. Mcleodganj is more than crowded lanes, loud restaurants and a hilly Delhi. If you are a true traveller, look around and find your own secret place in Mcleodganj (I know I found mine). The best way to explore this hilly town is by foot. Forget cabs and autos; set out to discover hidden monasteries, small galleries and untold, protected secrets. If you befriend a local, you are in luck because they'll take you places you didn't know existed and will take you on an unimaginable gastronomical journey.

So keep aside all your apprehensions, forget all the discouragement and explore Mcleodganj like you'd explore any other town - like a true traveller.

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My recent visit to Mcleodganj could have been a disappointment had it not been for the beautiful, colourful Naddi Village. Now, lots of people are going to advise you to visit all the touristy spots including Dharamkot, Triund and Dharamshala monastery and the Church of St. John. While all this should be a part of your itinerary, what should also be included are a day at Naddi Village, a walk till the beginning of the Triund Trek and should time permit, a day trip to Bir and Billing (even if you don't want to paraglide).

Many people will discourage you from visiting Mcleodganj but if you have managed to evade all suggestions, you may as well discover a completely new town. Begin with Naddi Village. There are two options to reach here, you could either walk from Dharamkot (1 hour, 30 minutes) or you could take a quick cab. Once you reach Naddi, you maybe disheartened with the horde of people sitting around sipping chai and tch-tching at the boring village "yahan toh kuch ni hai, ghaas hi ghaas hai". And that my friend is your cue to disappear from their sight.

Naddi is marked by a number of small houses and a single restaurant that will satiate all your hunger cravings. Just below the restaurant, there are crooked stone steps going down to the meadows - since it's a little inconvenient for the 'travellers' to explore, hardly anyone ventures beyond the restaurant boundary. But you should. As you make your way down to the hill, you will be met with colours you never thought existed and silence that will surprise you.

If you are in the mood to spend the whole day at Naddi, take a small basket with your choice of grub and enjoy a traditional picnic. Yes, I said picnic. Avoid take alcohol to Naddi (simply because you won't feel the need to drink).

Naddi is filled with scenic walking trails and if you are a photographer, it's going to be a blessing in disguise. Against the backdrop of snow peaked mountains and the playful sun, it really is more perfect than a postcard (no exaggeration).