So you find yourself in the bustling little township called Mcleodganj and that could be for many reasons; maybe you're passing through to go to Dharamkot, maybe you're going to shimla from there, trying to do a quick analysis on which overcrowded place is likely to crumble it's mountain to a heap first, or maybe the summer heat hammered you enough to seek solace in a colder version of Delhi, or Mumbai or even Kolkata, or maybe you want to seek a glimpse of the Dalai Lama.
Whatever your reason to be in McLeodganj this summer, here's a checklist to ensure that you come back having ticked off everything that should be done if you find yourself there.
1. Buy socks.
There are endless tables and charpoys of just socks lined on either side of the main street and at prices that will compel you to buy a pair for everyone you know, including that neighbour whom you've wished dead a couple of times.
2. Buy trinkets.
If the charpoys don't have socks, then it's got to be earrings and pendants and an occasional hand of Hamsa designed as a keychain waiting to catch your eye. Prices vary but almost everything can be bought for as cheap as 250/- depending on how cool your bargaining skills are. You must take a few of these home, if for nothing else then as a mark of respect to the shopaholic in you.
3. Visit Tsuglag Khang better known as the Dalai Lama's temple.
It's the one good thing that comes out of visiting Mcleodganj, the peace and tranquility that floats over you as soon as you walk through the temple gates is enough to keep you going without killing someone for all of your life.
Catching a glimpse of the Dalai Lama is the kind of bonus that makes life feel like you just jumped up a few notches higher on the karma scale.
4. Eat at Tibet Kitchen.
You cannot go all the way to McLeodganj and not sample Bhutanese food for all that it's worth. There's the unusual kewa datse (potatoes, beans and chilli in cheese sauce) which is usually had with steamed rice and Shapta, which is roasted lamb with onions and capsicum. You could savour those dishes and spend the next few hours wondering whether you loved it or hated it but there certainly is no middle path here.
5. Visit Moonpeak cafe & restaurant.
While Moonpeak cafe is the oldest in McLeoganj and this demands you pay homage, it's the restaurant next door where you must order the Himachali Thali to savour the real food of the region. At 200/- you'll be buying yourself an experience for the palate that you will never forget.
6. Take out cash from an ATM machine.
There are three major ATM machines on the McLeodganj main street, rather far apart from each other and even if you don't need the money, you must withdraw some cash because the most amount of fun is to be had waiting in que, which is unarguably the thing you'd have to do if you do decide to pull out some money.
From honeymooning couples newly in love to irate aunties from Punjab, there will be a whole smorgasbord of people to look at and observe. This is probably the best window to humanity with front row seats you will ever get.