The best part about the city is the food. One will find it in surplus amount and at an extremely reasonable price. Besides, what more can one ask for, if every café you visit welcomes you with a wide collection of books! It's a culture that has been imbibed and embraced by the locals and spells 'il PARADISO', for the travellers!
I particularly enjoyed our dinner at Lung Ta, the Japanese restaurant, run by a Japanese family. As luck shone bright on us, we had the occasion of reveling in the candle lit ambiance. With a warm cosy ambiance and some good wholesome food, we were rest assured of feasting on an authentic Japanese meal, and all that for a song.
My curiosity about the Tibetan Butter Tea was finally sated at the Tibet Café Tibet. So firstly, yak milk and yak butter (from the female) make up for the principal ingredients of the tea. I, however, had to be satisfied with cow milk. Secondly, since the Tibetan Butter Tea, is an acquired taste, it is salty, unlike the other tea we usually consume. In my opinion, this tea will make up for a perfect comfort drink during the winters.
While leaving McLeod, one of the last memories that trailed in my mind was of a quaint small café at the corner of a street with a notice on its door that read "We serve free food to the old and the needy".
I strongly suggest everyone who wishes to visit the city to keep an open mind and try different cuisines instead of going for an out and out Indian one.
Where to Eat and Drink: My recommendations for cafés in McLeod
1. Tibetan Cuisine: Illiterati (European food available too), Drumstick and Carpe Diem
2. Japanese Cuisine: Lung Ta
3. Italian Cuisine: The Clay Oven, Jimmy's Italian Kitchen and Nick's Italian Kitchen
One place to avoid: McLlo Restaurant, located at the main square. Bad service and the waiters have the least idea about the menu.
How to reach and get around
Nearest Airport: Kangra Airport, about 25 kms away from Mc Leod Ganj.
Buses: HRTC Volvo Buses are the best option. It's always wise to book in advance via the HRTC website. Delhi: Buses leave from Kashmere Gate. Best part is that they leave dot on time and arrive before the expected time.
Also, initially the buses used to stop at Dharamsala and travellers had to hire taxis to reach McLeod. It's no longer the case now. HRTC buses take you all the way up to McLeod Bus Depot.
Taxis: Taxis in McLeod cost anything between Rs 100/- (for the shortest of distance) - Rs 2000/- (for an entire day). Heavily depends on your bargaining skills.
Taxis from Dharamsala to McLeod will cost you around Rs 200/-
Tip: Mc Leod is a small place and can be easily covered on foot. Do not hire taxis until you need to get out of the place and head for Dharamsala, Kangra or Bir Billing.
Souvenirs: Where to shop?
If you are looking to buy souvenirs, I have two shops to suggest:
1. Thankas and Gifts, Jogiwara Road (Reasonably priced. The owner of the shop, Marleen, is a beautiful, warm lady who practices Buddhism, and is an apt person who will give you all the information you need on the souvenirs you pick.)
2.The shop next to the Tibet museum (for t-shirts).
Bon Voyage, and let me know in the comments below if you have any specific questions/suggestions or need any help with making your McLeod - Dharamsala - Kangra trip happen! Good luck!