I have been looking forward to my trip to Dharamshala since October 2016,another city with a predominant Buddhist culture.Born and brought up in Odisha,I was entirely unfamiliar to concepts like stupas, thangkas, pagodas and prayer wheels.
Dharamshala is all about colourful Tibetan flags, rolling prayer wheels and the collective sound of the ringing bells and chirping birds. My first day was dedicated to exploring the Bhagsu Falls. The effect of the cold water and the snow covered lush greenery around made it a perfect site to rejuvenate myself as I enjoyed the overarching scenic beauty. Bhagsu Temple is the main attraction here. As much as Dharamshala and Mcleodganj are known for its mountainous views, the food in these parts is quasi gourmet! From pancakes to paranthas, from momos to maggi, from thupkas to tea, every café has a variety of dishes to offer, each in their own signature style. The two cafes particularly popular are the Four Seasons and Jimmy’s. Every tourist must try the famous Tibetan butter tea; an interesting sweet-salty mix.
Shopping in Dharamshala has plenty to offer. Tibetan silver jewellery, ‘Free Tibet’ t-shirts, thangkas, mini prayer wheels and colourful Tibetan flags. While the high prices may put you off initially, put your bargaining skills to the test for a better deal.
Day two saw the adventurer in me setting off on a trek to Triund. The nine kilometre trek from Mcleodganj to Triund provides a panoramic view of Kangra Valley. The trek gradually steepened and the snow covered roads narrowed as I ascended. To my respite, a small snack shop midway, provided refreshments. A soothing cup of the most delicious adrakki chai and a few biscuits later, I headed further up, making my way through a narrow, snowy route that led me up to the highest point of the hill. The view from atop was breathtaking. Locals told me that it’s also called ‘Magic View Mountain’ because of the panoramic vista it offered.
Don’t miss the chance to eye the place from atop the hills by selecting the Triund Hill trekking trip. It’s a tough but gorgeous trek for adventure seekers where you start with a panoramic view of the Bhagsu Lake, then move on to eyeing at the charming town of McLeodganj from great heights, and finally end up at the paradise-like Triund fields where you can sit, relax and eat before climbing back down.
One can also have a truly spiritual experience at the many religious sites here. The peaceful Saint John’s church, Bhagsunath, Kalachakra, Jwalamukhi Devi temples, the many monasteries, gompas and the residence of the fifteenth Dalai Lama offer you a soothing, serene experience which can hardly be found at the bigger and more famous religious hubs.
The bustling life and the natural beauty of Dharamshala never failed to amaze me and even as I set out for my journey back home, the spiritual chant of "Om Mani Padme Hum" continued ringing in my ears.I saw the sun setting,it looked wonderful and I swear, I felt infinite!