I took an evening bus from Majnu ka Tila to McLeodganj on the 18th of January. Buses also stop at Dharamshala, however, having heard of it as any other hill city, I wasn't inclined to make a stop there.
I reached the bus stop at McLeodganj early morning by 6:30 am on the 19th and asked one of the porters to guide me towards a hotel. As you can tell, it was an unplanned trip.
One of them offered me a card of a lodge and asked me if I would like to walk up or take a taxi. I chose to walk after him. The 10-12 minute walk was beautiful with very dim light and the little town was very much asleep with only a dog or two roaming about.
The lodge was a cozy little space and thankfully had warm blankets and a geyser in the tiny washroom. I fell asleep almost immediately and woke up when the sun was shining bright in the sky.
On waking up, I got ready and left the room, the outdoors was warmer because of the sun for now and I started walking around the place, the main market road with cute little cafes and reached a point where one road lead to the main Buddhist temple and another was a jungle road, as I kept walking further away from the main road where the car parking was.
I explored the jungle a little but was scared of venturing too deep because I was alone, nor was I aware of the kind of animals that inhabited it. On top of that, a thorny plant got the better of my left hand which started to itch and ache really bad. Ignoring the same, I walked back to the read that went further to the temple. On my way down that road, I saw plenty of locals making the climb back up, rotating the cylinders that have mantras inside of them which the Buddhists chant while praying. The view along the road was scenic. I saw the temple from outside, being an atheist, I started walking back up the road and was raging with hunger by that point.
In the city, I stopped at a Punjabi restaurant and ate to my heart's content.
After lunch, I walked down the Bhagsu temple Road, chanced upon a second bookstore and bought War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. (I have a ritual, I buy a book from every city I visit.)
I never reached the temple (atheist) but chatted up a few more people, made friends with fellow lone travellers and also scored some hash from a hookah and bong selling shop. I was going up to Dharamkot the next day and was sure would want to carry the hash around.
Walking back to my lodge, I was called into a little place that served Tibetan food for tea by a retired army official who sat with his friend. They spoke to me heartily about Tibet, the Dalai Lama, the youth, India and the army. I sat there, sipping hot, sweet tea, talking to them for over an hour and then was chided a little when I said I'd like to pay for the tea, they were almost offended. It was a heart warming end to a warm day with a chilly night in store so I turned in early and fell asleep on time.