McLeodganj – Escaping Commercial Onslaught, One Brick at a Time


There have been many songs written on life’s acceptable patterns. In ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ for instance, Pink Floyd describe a mental barrier against the world. If the band would visit McLeodganj, the members would see how their words come to life in the sweeping and mostly untamed Himalayan peaks. For McLeod – as it is popularly known – is one of very few bastions still trying to fight off commercialization – one brick at a time.

In a country almost exploding at the seams, it is a common sight to see masses painting the canvas of most hill stations – or at least the well-known and easily accessible ones. What were once broad, green shoulders of the mighty Himalayas are fast being put in a cast of grisly and grotesque structures of mortar. With no serious check in place, hill stations aren’t relaxing getaways anymore – they are elevated epicenters of urbanization and all the maladies that emerge as a consequence. It is in this mindless, malady-ridden conquest though, McLeod is holding onto its raw serenity by a thread.

What makes Mcleod Magical?

Photo of McLeodganj – Escaping Commercial Onslaught, One Brick at a Time 1/4 by Shubhodeep ChakravartyFor the uninitiated, McLeodganj is a tiny hill town, nestled just above Dharamshala in Himachal. Also known as Little Lhasa, McLeod is the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

Political status aside, this hill station blends mountainous charm with spiritual tranquility to weave a memorable fantasy. From Dalai Lama’s temple at one end to the Triund Hill for campers at the other, McLeod’s magic lies in its simplicity. Travelers who have been here can vouch for the soothing effect it has on all and with the outside world still some distance away, it makes for a delightful home away from home.

Making Most of Mcleod

Expecting a party? Clubbing on mind? Steer clear!

Photo of McLeodganj – Escaping Commercial Onslaught, One Brick at a Time 2/4 by Shubhodeep ChakravartyWith that established, it’s important to clarify that there is a plethora of things to do here. McLeod may not be the chirpy capital of youthful extravagance but it is also not really the retirement destination of the greying – although they too would feel quite welcome!

A typical day can begin with a lazy breakfast at one of the several cafes. The stunningly scrumptious food in almost all of the joints here are only outdone by the astonishing array of choices and fractional costs. Even if the slightest pinch of exaggeration is accommodated for, the money spent on a meal in a popular Delhi restaurant can last you for breakfast, lunch and dinner in McLeodganj. Unless of course, the fresh air turns gluttony into a habit. From Nicks and Jimmys to Tibetan Kitchen and Woeser Bakery – there’s enough to keep you gorging from dawn to dusk and beyond. And the cuisine? The breakfast itself if mostly of three kinds at most places – English, American and Italian.

Photo of McLeodganj – Escaping Commercial Onslaught, One Brick at a Time 3/4 by Shubhodeep ChakravartyIf a bulging belly throws up guilt pangs, there’s much to do to pull it right back in. The walk to Bhagsu waterfall, for instance, is an absolute delight. While auto rickshaws ply on the 2-kilometer road, sitting in a machine on a lush green road would be an utter waste. The walk – alone, in a pair or as a gang – can be a joy courtesy the tall trees lining the path. The green hues all across freshen the eyes as much as it revitalizes the mind. As for Bhagsu itself, the waterfall is a sight – assuming it is the right time of the year. If dry, the Maggi at the hill-top café will surely be a god-sent after and before the long walk from and to McLeod.

Then, there’s the paradise for the nonchalant trekker. The trek to Triund may not be the most daunting but the view from here sure is. The period between April and November is considered the best for the 9km walk although the monsoon season can make it a bit harder than it actually is. In any case, the effort is every bit as ecstatic as the place itself. Located at 2,842 meters above sea level, Triund offers a breath-stopping view of the Dhauladhar range and the Kangra valley. Cut off from the ills of modern world, one may even seek help of local guides to camp here overnight.

A plethora of other adventure sports are also available here with the Dharamshala Adventure Club organising paragliding, rock climbing and rappelling - enough to light up a 3 to 4 day trip.

Fantastic Finale, Fulfilled Fantasies

Photo of McLeodganj – Escaping Commercial Onslaught, One Brick at a Time 4/4 by Shubhodeep ChakravartyMcleodganj is definitely a sanctuary that leaves a good after taste in every sense of the word. It has a bit for everyone - nothing in excess, just enough to keep the magic alive. There's adventure sports and then there's the spirituality. There are long walking trails and then there are delightful gastronomical extravaganzas. There's the warm sun, the cool breeze, the fresh leaves and the mostly untouched expanse of mountains and valley. Yes, there may be a few ungainly sights of urbanisation raring its head but McLeodganj is still trying its best to escape commercial onslaught - one brick at a time. Visit it till its purity lasts.