“Once in a year, go to some place you have Never Been before.” - Dalai Lama
If this is the case, then why not your town, Sir?
Welcome to the Marooned Town of India, Dharamshala
That’s just one of the reasons behind Dharamshala being in my wish list. Though there were a few more, like the temptation to see the snow this season, the collective sound of ringing bells, rolling prayer wheels, chirping birds and the scenic beauty of snow clad mountains.
Thanks to the extended weekend, this long due mesmerizing trip was possible. I reached Dharamshala, on January 2016; as the end of winters is the right time to experience the sheer beauty of this place. Today Internet/Travel sites are flooded with hell lot of stories about Dharamshala. As a result, this place has turned into a highly commercialized destination. This has not surpassed the beauty, peace, charm and the fairy tale town like aura of Dharamshala & McLeodgunj. Thousands of tourists get attracted each year towards these two bustling beauties.
Nestled in the laps of Dhauladhar Mountains and Kangra valley circuit, Dharamshala has small Shops, little cafés, panoramic view of snow-capped mountains and beautiful valleys, making it the favorite weekend gateway for Delhities. This place is one not less than a trekker’s paradise. Late January, this time of the year I was in Delhi and where began my journey from Delhi with an unreserved ticket. Soon after train started, I realized my first mistake with no place to sit properly, crowded train and dipping mercury. I had no idea what was in store for me!! Even after repetitive requests to TTE, I failed to manage a seat. I remember this journey (Delhi --> Pathankot) as one of the worst journey done by train so far!! Patrolled by police personnel, passengers with wait listed tickets were strolling coaches to adjust themselves somewhere. And Me! Nudged to awake and sit with discomfort. I adjusted my bag and joined the group of fellow travelers who were also in the same situation as me. In spite of unfavorable the situation, I still enjoyed as the whole night chatting with few army personnel’s who were going to join their duty, and co passengers. The night passed by with a chit chat on a general issues, recent Pathankot attack, and many current issues happening around. (Just a humor, An army personnel asked me where I am going? and when I replied Pathankot, - He laughed and said how come people from both sides (India and Pakistan) are interested in visiting Pathankot) Another beauty of travelling by trains is no matter whether you have a reserved or an unreserved ticket, there is always a company around. In my sense the Indian railways should be rightly called as ‘The Mobile Social Adda’.
I reached Pathankot at early morning around 4:30, clueless where to head and how to get out of the station. Guided by army personnel about how to get out of the station for a bus stand. All to add my misery, I took a shortcut advised which was horrible. Imagine you have to walk on the rail tracks with full murkiness in 1 degree Celsius. Bewildered about surroundings and with thoughts, shivering I walked through the rail tracks following few people and within few minutes I was out of the station.
I felt bit composed after reaching bus stop as nearby small shops were getting ready for their day. Awaiting my bus, I enjoyed the chilly winter morning tea with dense fog around. A feeling that I can’t give words to it!! Around 5 am, my onward 3 hours road journey to Dharamshala town started. I must admit the fact that travelling solo is little boring, yet the best way to turn yourself into an independent traveler. Gleeful thoughts of Mcleod gunj and Triund trek, I tried to take a nap as in last few hours this was the first time I was lucky enough to manage a cushion!
One can see the snowcapped mountains before reaching the Dharamshala and it was like they are welcoming you to their city. I reached Dharamshala around 8 Am. and from there Mcleod gunj was another 30 minutes. with tag line “Naam Namak Nishan”. bravest Gorkha regiments guards the entire area and Triund was my destination,