Hotel Bella Heights was the best stay option available in McLeodganj. Ours was a four-day stay at the Bella Heights...from December 15-18, 2014. I had booked this hotel based on the reviews I had read on Trip Advisor. It was a peaceful experience staying here. There were just -I guess - two or three rooms occupied as it is not a peak season. The entire hotel - including the cafe & the restaurant - felt empty. However, the staff served us well. The service is slow (you will experience this everywhere in Mcleod) but people are sweet as well as professional. Entire staff - from the gate to the cafe, room service, restaurant - is good. I have no complaints about the hotel. Food was average but I feel its due to a very less number of guests staying at the property at this time of the year. We arrived at the hotel at around 3:30 pm. It was raining. The staff immediately attended to our needs. They have the reversible air-conditioning system installed & set the temperature to 30 degrees & also brought in one blower as the room was big. The room was warm enough in an hour & my 5-year old could run & play inside without any problem. Geyser in the bathroom worked very well. We ordered a Club Sandwich, French Fries & Hot Chocolate & it wasn't prepared well, tasted really bad that we couldn't finish. We had our dinner at the restaurant....ordered Daal Makhani, Butter Roti, Vegetable Pulao. And this time the food tasted good. Eating breakfast on the terrace - while enjoying sun & watching snow-clad peaks - was a pleasant experience. A 10-minute walk to the the main Temple Road & another 10 minutes to Jogiwara Road from the Temple Road. Everyday - while going out - we asked the person at the reception to get the room cleaned. And they did the job really well. Rooms have electric kettles so you can enjoy your tea/coffee while reading a book or watching TV. Free Wi-fi in all rooms. It is a clean place to stay, you need to pay little more to book a Super Deluxe or a Premium Room. Staff is sweet yet professional & very helpful. Just go with an open mind, you wont regret your decision to stay here. I wont hesitate to recommend this place to people. Room Tips for the Visitors: * Premium Rooms (Ours was 301 on the 3rd floor) are great with the big windows & nice valley/mountain view.
We visited this place on December 17, 2014 based on the reviews on Trip Advisor & must say that it didnt disappoint us. It is a wonderful place to sit, eat & relax whether you are alone or with a group/family. They offer free wi-fi & have a huge collction of books too. So, visitors can read, surf, sit quietly or chat...whatever they want to. No one would bother you to place an order. The best part is you can share a table with a stranger....a common practice in Mcleod & I really loved it. The owners (two young boys) seemed sweet & friendly. You must try their Hot Chocolate & Ginger..Lemon..Honey.
This place is right opposite Dalai Lama's temple so you cant miss it. A nice place with big windows so you can view the street as you sip your coffee. Nobody bothers you to place an order so just sit & relax there. And this is a practice in all of Mcleod restaurants - something I love the most. The girl who took the order was very sweet & help me choose a dish I was confused about. There were two kinds of Thukpas (gyathuk & thenthuk). She patiently explained to me the difference between the two & suggested me to have Gyathuk. And it was delicious (I am not a raw noodle lover so separated the noodle from the veggies & soup). I always love the natural flavor of the vegetables & this soup had that taste. I would highly recommend this restaurant to everyone. Their Vegetable Chowmein, Vegetable Momos & Fresh Orange Juice were also great.
A very warm & comfortable place to relax in the heart of Mcleodganj. We visited this place on December 17, 2014.......just spent 15 minutes in this place. It was 4:50 pm but they were serving just the lunch - regular daal, chapati, rice etc. & nothing else. We couldn't order any sandwiches or any other snacks which was a great let down. Even though the interiors were cozy & peaceful and we wanted to spend time there eating, talking & looking out the window but the place failed to meet our expectations due to not being able to provide any snacks at even 4:50 pm which is not a lunch time. So I cant write anything about the food or the service. Yes, my 5-year old wanted to have mango ice-cream. We ordered one for her and it didnt taste good. It felt sugary with no flavor of mango.
I visited this temple on December 18, 2014. It was a very short visit - hardly 20 minutes or little less as I had the flight to catch. There was some preparations going on for some event- I guess as people were raising large tents. I am a photographer so wanted to be there for the prayers and capture those special moments when people offer their devotion to Buddha! I myself wanted to meditate here! I missed it all. I plan to visit McLeod in a couple years. That time I will spend time here & do what I really wanted to do. Go visit this place, people. This is a serious place to experience peace & devotion & not where you go have fun. Please respect the environment & you will love it.
This lake is situated at a very beautiful location, surrounded by countless Deodar (Devadar or the Divinee tree in Sanskrit) trees. It is majestic & offers peace & joy if you are open to receiving it. I have read all sorts of reviews it. Many people say it's a dirty lake, a mud-puddle & so on but my view is different. This lake's has greenish water & yes, it sometimes looks brown too but that doesn't make it a mud-puddle. It has a Shiva temple nearby, hence, considered a sacred spot. There is a famous festival celebrated here to offer love & devotion to Lord Shiva in the month of September every year. A lot of tourists visit this place at that time to be a part of the festival. There is a school called the "Tibetan Children's Village" a few meters away. It was started by H.H. Dalai Lama 54 years ago in order to provide care for the many children who had been orphaned or separated from their families during the arduous escape from their homeland back in 1950s. It is not a picnic spot so dont go if you have small children or adults who travel just for fun. A must visit place for those who want to have a deeper insight into how the school has been helping children, what is its mission & how wonderfully they have done so much for them. You can also talk with the head there in case you wish to volunteer. I wish I could have more time to spend there & visit each class. Mine was a very short visit but next time (2-3 years) I am going to spend good 3-4 hours there & be a part of the children and do a photo essay on the school.
This temple is surrounded by trees, houses & mountains - a beautiful place. You need to cross the market to reach this place. The temple has a beautiful history associated with it. The pool outside the temple looks beautiful. I visited here on December 16, 2014 around 11 am and a Buddhist monk was bathing in it. I was impressed with the energy he had - a true monk. There was little bit of snow all around from the last night's fall. You can find a small shop in the premises where you can have tea & snacks. There is a paid toilet at the back which is very dirty & you need to climb down a lot of stairs with big steps. Parts of the main waterfall that go two floors below are not in good condition & need attention. But the area is beautiful.
We visited this cafe on December 16, 2014. It was around 10:30 in the morning. Maybe thats the reason it didnt permeate the right kind of atmosphere....dim lights, music & so on. Things that I didnt like were: * Bad food - in terms of preparation & taste. (Sandwich was sweet in taste & was overheated, hence burnt. Aloo parantha was very thick & some parts didnt have the potatoes at all - only flour. Mango shake & tea were ok). * The service - like all other restaurants in Mclo - was very slow. But I guess its a common thing in all of Mclo. * They have a loose concrete floor & plastic furniture, hence, cant keep the chairs stable. And it becomes even more difficult when you are with kids. * The ambience was very average.....felt like 'just another' roadside dhaba. The music was good. And it provides a good view of the mountains around. I would not want to visit this cafe again.
I had visited this place on December 16, 2014. I normally make a list of places (searching on Tripadvisor) I need to visit while going to a particular city and that’s how I came to know about the Norbulingka Institute. I so loved it & visit to this place has deepened my love for the place even more. This place was a dream project of Kelsang Yeshi - Minister of the Department of Religion and Culture and his wife Kim Yeshi. This great work started 1988 (inaugurated in 1995 by HH Dalai Lama) in order to preserve the Tibetan heritage & culture for the generations to come. A place for artists to practice their crafts, where people could come & see the artists and work, know about the Tibetan culture and learn the art too. This place offers rooms to stay. Built in a traditional old Tibetan architectural style, this place has so much to offer - peace, calmness, spirituality, love, beauty, knowledge & much more that words can’t describe. However, one needs to be open to receive what this place offers. One has to have a love & appreciation for nature, arts & cultures, without that this place can’t be loved, enjoyed, admired & understood. The gardens are designed in Japanese style & look truly beautiful. The sounds of birds send immense joy to one's heart. They have lovely water streams designed aesthetically. One can spend hours here without getting bored. This institute now has workshops that include Thangka painting, sculpture making, Thangka applique, woodcarving, applique, wood painting, tailoring, weaving, and screen printing. They also added a college to contribute to the progress of Tibetan scholastics. The center also provided employment to Tibetan refugees – who lost their homes. Not only this, Norbulingka also provides Daycare & Kindergarten facilities to all staff – free of cost. There is so much to know, so much to learn & so much to understand. We need to pay 20 rupees at the entrance. The fee goes toward the maintenance of the place. And a free guided tour can be requested at the entrance. You may choose to visit explore the place by yourself – which I did. The temple is beautiful. The centerpiece of the temple is a 14ft gilded statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, the largest of its kind outside Tibet, lovingly crafted by Norbulingka artists from hand-hammered copper sheets. The Losel Doll Museum is amazing – it has the world's largest collection of Losel Dolls – over 150 dolls, all dressed in traditional Tibetan costumes. These beautiful collectors' items are hand-crafted by monks of the Drepung Loseling monastery. The Losel Doll project was started in 1983 as a way of preserving the tradition of Tibetan costumes, while making innovative use of the artistic heritage for which many monks were known in Tibet. There is an entry fee of 5 rupees here. The shop here offers Thankga paintings, hand-crafted furniture, clothes & much more. But I found it expensive so didn’t buy anything. Thangka painting have intricate detailing, hence, deserve the price….sadly I couldn’t afford it. The café Hummingbird – a nice place to relax, sit by the small stream & amidst greenery – but every food item is tasteless. So it’s not wise to eat there at all. I loved how dogs surround you and keep following you. The best part of the trip. All dogs are loving & friendly but these mountain dogs are even friendlier & warmer. Never wanted to leave them :( In case you wish to book a workshop in order to learn the art/craft deeply, you can contact the center in advance. It offers customized workshops. And at the end of the workshop, you will have a beautiful piece to take home with you, that you yourself created. Isn’t that wonderful!! Kids, raised in artistic environment, would too enjoy being here. My 5 year old girl loved our 5-hour visit here. She asked me thousand of questions, inquired about every workshop, spend long time observing how artists did things. She remembers the details to this day. I'm glad she showed interest & understood things about a new totally new culture. We really want to visit this place again in 2-3 years. Norbulingka is open 9am to 5:30pm everyday (shop, café, doll museum, temple & guesthouse). The workshops & offices are closed on Sundays & second Saturday of each month. So, I hope this post helps you plan your trip in a better way! :)
Visited December 17, 2014. Situated at an elevation 4780 feet, it offers a clear view of majestic Dhauladhar Range in the background. It is one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world, perhaps among the top 2 or 3. I could have never imagined a Cricket stadium to look like this. It's a piece of art - very very beautiful. I have never liked Cricket all my life and I still don't. But visiting this stadium and sitting here made me feel like I was sitting on a temple ground. What peace it emanated!! I actually don't have words to describe the beauty of this wonderful place. One must visit once to truly experience what the place has to offer. And for me a non-Cricket day/season was the best time as the place felt calm and serene - like a place where one can actually meditate.