Ever booked a hotel (unknowingly) which is not accessible by cars or any motorable modes of transport???? I did....
Imagine this...You boasted for more than 2 months about booking a wonderful stay and all your friends get excited to visit this place. With 5 heavy bags in the carrier, you drive in an SUV for around 4 hours non-stop, on curvy mountain roads, with lots of hairpin bends, eagerly waiting to reach your hotel as soon as possible and suddenly your driver says that the car cannot go till the hotel....!!!!!! Shocked???? So was I......
So here goes the story.......
On day 4 of our trip, we started out from Dalhousie after a quick breakfast and got on the road to McLeodganj via Dharamsala. The distance is only about 120kms but it takes 4hours to reach owing to never ending curvy path. The path, however, is very scenic with lush greenery all around and glimpses of snow clad mountains in the distance. It was reported to be the coldest April ever in Dharamsala; all the more reasons for us to get excited.
Just before entering Dharamsala, our driver checked the location of hotel on Google Maps and coolly declared that the car won't go till the hotel!!! We all were confused for a second and felt that we heard something wrong. We reconfirmed with the driver and he said that the hotel is situated in Dharamkot which is on the crest of a hill above McLeodganj :O
I called up the hotel for exact location and even they informed that SUVs cannot reach till the hotel..!!!!!! This was the most horrific moment of the trip for me. I started feeling that I have done a huge mistake by booking this hotel. I tried to recollect all the reviews I read about this place and none of them said that the location is not accessible by cars. I remembered people mentioning that there is no proper road till the hotel which I assumed that it must simply be non developed part of the village and we would have a bumpy ride for about 1km from the hotel.
To add further, the driver said that he would drop us at McLeodganj (~5kms from Dharamkot) since it is difficult for him to return back down if he comes with us till Dharamkot. Somehow, we convinced him to take us till whatever maximum point he can and then we will see what to do.
Our driver took us till the last point of Dharamkot where an SUV can go and inquired the locals about reaching the hotel. According to them, we had to take a hatchback or an auto till a Shiv temple located at 2kms and from there, we would have to go walking till our hotel.
We unloaded our bags (around 10 bags, including our hand luggages!) and hired 2 hatchbacks to take us till the Shiv temple for a whooping price of Rs.150 each. The car took us through deserted, narrow curvy roads and stopped at a junction where it could not go any further. All the way i was regretting the decision of choosing this hotel and putting my friends through all this. We got down and waited for our hotel folks to meet us at the Shiv temple.
Two lanky guys came to receive us, they lifted one bag each on their heads and started walking. I shouted at them that why do they have to carry it on their heads, the bags had wheels and they can be dragged. But ignoring me, they kept walking and we started to follow them with our other bags. Not more than 100mts, we realised why they were carrying it on their heads. Boys in our group also had to become porters for a day and carry bags on their head!!! No road at all... Jus rocky path, taking us around the mountain.
There were many other buildings and hotels there but our hotel was nowhere to be seen. After about 700mts we got a glimpse of our hotel perched far away on top of a hill. At this point, too many thoughts kept running in my mind. There are no restaurants around; for next 3 days, we would have to take this route for getting into the city; we cannot roam after sunset, etc.
Trekking slowly, we reached the hotel and dropped our bags at the reception. We checked in and went up to our rooms. On entering, the view that greeted us just compensated multifolds for all the troubles we took to reach here. Beautiful valley of pine and deodhar trees till eyes could see, no honking sound of any vehicle, birds chirping away and cool breeze brushing our faces. This was a moment of bliss!! My guilt of putting my friends through the unplanned trek vanished completely. They were enjoying every bit of the place. Our rooms had wonderful views of the valley ahead and also of the mountains in the back. The hotel had a common room with beautiful paintings and colourful seatings. It also had a games area with loads of board games. The best part was that apart from us only couple of more people were staying at the hotel, so we had the entire place to ourselves !!!
Oh I din't mention the name of hotel yet (pun intended !) , its Shalom Backpackers.
There are many such hotels and backpacker hostels in the vicinity. Whichever you choose, what you will get is immense peace. We just wanted to spend the rest of the day at hotel and did not wish to go anywhere else and that is exactly what we did. In company of good friends, a bowl of hot maggi and Uno for entertainment, it was the best day so far in the trip.
The hotel staff set up a bonfire for us in the evening, the sky was clear and full of bright shining stars and the temperature started dropping as we entered the night. There was even a storm accompanied with rain at around 3am in the morning which eventually subsided by sunrise.
If you are planning a trip to McLeodganj, then choose a place to stay in Dharamkot, trust me you will enjoy every moment and would not wish to go back.
Stay tuned to know more about our adventures at Dharamsala.
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