So, after weeks of planning and exploring the place online we decided to go to Mcleodganj, which is a fabulous hill town with its name associated to the Dalai Lama. We visited in the first week of July (I know its a week late).
TIP – Travel is not recommended from July-September due to rainy season
Two couples in a VW Polo left from Delhi around 7.30PM with a motive to have dinner in Murthal before hitting the highway to HP.Its a regular eatery for us, since it used to be a mere dhaba. It's recommended that you may choose a stopover to fill your stomach. It's very popular and names like Amrik Sukhdev has grown beyond limits. After crossing the Delhi border (Mind it..) we had a couple of pints (and not 650ml Khambha) to build appetite and give a little boost to our Morale to complete a journey that was going to be around 600Kms. We stopped at Murthal and stuffed our bellies with aloo paranthas. I changed to my drive gear (which is my fav floaters) and pushed the paddle around 10.15PM. Soon we were touching 120 K/Hr as the road conditions are very good on the highway. We crossed karnal around 10 PM and were approaching Chandigardh around 12.30 AM . We started the navigation by asking a Punjab police cop and he happily told us that take a right from the highway and you will see 'Lightaan (lights) on the road. That road will take you to the highway towards Dharamshala. We followed him and the lovely lady voice of Google Maps (As we started navigating on maps as well). Not a single vehicles in front or behind us in the dark night full of clouds. It was exciting. But the adventure was yet to start. On a highway section before Kharar the road was closed and cops did not allow us to go any further. There was no reason given. They advised us to take ludhiana-phagwara road for further journey. We wanted to make sure about another alternate and the lovely voice of Goole maps lady suggested that there may be an alternate. We followed.
TIP- Be ready for these kind of diversions and prepared for an alternate route.
It was close to 2.00AM when we entered Baddi (HP). The road was a good hilly one and deserted in most of stretch, Apart from a couple HP roadways buses and a few tourists like us who were re-routed. We stopped on a hill road to relive ourselves and enjoyed the moonlit beauty(no clouds here) of the hills amid 'Jhingur's (crickets insect) noise. We reached Nallagarh (the name is too scary to regular bollywood movie watchers) and proceeded back to NH21 and NH 503 later on passing Anandpur Sahib. By the time we reached 'Nangal' and crossed 'Bhakhra Nangal Dam' (Recommended that you have a look ), all the occupants of the car accept the driver were drowsing. I turned on the volume of the stero and played 'Selfie song, bajrangi' to keep myself awake and to wake them up :). We crossed 'Una' and reached 'Amb' Around 4.30AM and stopped for tea. By now I was exhausted and handed over the steering to my friend Neeraj who was well rested with his eyes open for the whole night.
The rain God was so angry on us for getting late to Kangra that he lashed out with heavy showers :). Nothing was visible 10 feet away and it was scary to drive in the hilly terrain. We again stopped at a tea shop to avoid the rain and relieved us from morning calls. Sensing the rain was adamant we left the tea shop and drove slowly to reach 'Dharamshala' around 7.20AM and eventually reaching ‘McLeod’ around 8.45AM. We called our hotel Deodar villa (which is a decently priced hotel with good view of Dharamshala valley) to confirm the location and reached there around 9.30Am., parking the car in the McLeod parking ,near Dalai lama temple and taking a shuttle to the hotel.
Places to visit - The Dalai Lama temple- St john's church-Bhagsu Waterfall- Once can also go to Triund for trekking. Dharamkot is also a nice place near McLeod.
Eatery Tip- Tibet kitchen near to main square in Mcleodganj serves good Tibet food. Ashoka restaurant in the market is also a good place to eat breakfast etc.
If you want American, continental, walk down to the road towards the Dalai Lama temple and you will get plenty of them on the left side.(Jimmy's kitchen etc.)