Mcleod Ganj: A Weekend Getaway from Delhi

7th Nov 2013
Photo of Mcleod Ganj: A Weekend Getaway from Delhi 1/4 by Mitali Chakraborty
Dalai Lama Temple
Photo of Mcleod Ganj: A Weekend Getaway from Delhi 2/4 by Mitali Chakraborty
Nick's Kitchen
Photo of Mcleod Ganj: A Weekend Getaway from Delhi 3/4 by Mitali Chakraborty
Church Of St. John in the Wilderness
Photo of Mcleod Ganj: A Weekend Getaway from Delhi 4/4 by Mitali Chakraborty
Dal Lake, Mcleod Ganj

For a summer trip to be undertaken with my college friends I was without any doubt looking for a “cool” destination for a weekend getaway. Mcleod Ganj fit the bill perfectly. This chic suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh touch left me enamored. I was particularly awed by the remnants of British colonial period. A number of residential buildings, restaurants, budget hotels, and antique and curio shops, together with famous Tibetan institutions have lent importance to McLeod Ganj. This tourist spot has gained prominence in the previous half decade due to the multitude of celebrities that it attracts. Seeing this tourist spot mentioned as a favorite weekend spot for many celebrities such as Richard Gere is what propelled my friends and me to give it a try.  The Tibetan culture, the markets that run kilometers along the hillside, the varied authentic cuisine and the active nightlife is what will be bringing us back here again.

By road it takes approximately 17 hours to reach Mcleod Ganj from Delhi. I along with my friends started our trip through a road journey. We put up at a friend's place, which in turn saved us much of accommodation and food expenses. 

Want a taste of spookiness with old British architecture and a date with dead celebrities? Well you can head off to this church. Just off the main road into McLeod, this brooding church (dating from 1852 is one of the few remaining traces of McLeod's days as a British hill station. It’s open on Sunday mornings for a weekly 10 a.m. service. The huge cemetery contains the graves of many victims of the 1905 earthquake, as well as the tomb of the Earl of Elgin, 23rd Viceroy of India.
Photo of Church Of St. John in the Wilderness, Dharamsala, India by Mitali Chakraborty
Dal Lake is small lake located around three km from McLeod Ganj, next one of the Tibetan Children's Villages schools. This site holds an annual fair in August or September, and is also a common site for short treks from the town. There is a small spring and an old temple near the lake.
Photo of Dal Lake, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mitali Chakraborty
Mcleod Ganj is known for its innumerable urbane and chic cafes serving authentic cuisines. Nick’s Italian kitchen is one of them. But what makes it special is the lip smacking Italian cuisine at a very affordable price with prices starting from 50rs only. At Kunga Guesthouse, Nick’s has been serving up tasty vegetarian pizzas, lasagne and gnocchi for years. This café is Hollywood celebrity Richard Gere’s favourite abode due to its coffee and delicious lemon cheesecake. One can eat inside or out on the sunny terrace which makes the ambience even more relaxing.
Photo of Nick's Kitchen, Mcleod Ganj by Mitali Chakraborty
The Dharamshala International Film Festival (DIFF) debuted in McLeod Ganj during the first four days of November 2012, showcasing recent Indian and world cinema, including fiction, documentaries and shorts. Panel discussions and master classes with filmmakers from India and abroad also takes place here.
Photo of Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Trail to Triund Hill from Main Square, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mitali Chakraborty
The town is the locus of Tibetan culture, architecture and food. Hence, an exploration into this ambience is a must. Tsuglagkhang or Tsuglag Khang, the Dalai Lama's temple, enhances this culture. It is one of the most important Buddhist sites in the town. It has statues of Shakyamuni, Avalokiteśvara, and a statue of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). Many people come here to study Tibetan Buddhism, culture, crafts, etc. Tibetan handicrafts, thangkas, Tibetan carpets, garments and other souvenirs are also available in the numerous shops along the alleys just outside the temple.
Photo of Tsuglagkhang Complex, Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India by Mitali Chakraborty