The air was crisp. The markets were bustling. The sky looked like a masterpieces of an artist. Locals seemed to be smiling through their eyes. Introducing Mcleodganj. After years of googling and hearing travel stories from friends and family, we finally got to the land of the Dalai Lama. Often, you feel the urge to reach your destinations in a second and jump places with a fear of not seeing all the places on your to-do list (FOMO). But, this changes when you visit Mcleodganj. A pleasant change. Away from the madness and rat-race of our routine lives, we set out to cover the maximum destinations in a limited time frame. Par, Manzil se behtar lagne yeh raaste. This surreal town is a suburb of Dharamshala in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Once we saw the Main Square in Mcleodganj, our inner chatter was replaced by calmness and tranquility. A realization emerged. The only place we were supposed to be was here, there was no rush, no to-do lists to run after. The city was filled with people. If you’ll stop for a moment, you’ll hear the music of the city; the rhythm that keeps it moving. Sounds of an occasional laughter of school kids, Buddhist hymns, young Monks giggling over a cuppa of tea… you’ll hear it all;only if you pause and listen to the sounds on streets.
Foods to Savor
The streets are dotted with a plethora of cafes and Tibetan restaurants. You are spoilt for choice. Three days seemed like an insufficient time to catch the culinary flavor of this place. The traditional Himalyan tea, streetside momos, buttertea, bhagsu cake, pancakes, waffles, continental food, Tibetan food, Maggi - our stomachs remained full but minds were not satiated.
Places to See
The town offers a fair share of activities for everyone. As you enter the Main Square, the Kalachakra temple makes a spellbinding appearance. The views of this place will enchant you forever. The temple is one of the best examples of Kalachakra-based architectural style. Buddhist monks chanting their daily prayers and tourists enthusiastically rotating the prayer wheels: this temple will make you go on a camera riot.
Among the numerous attractions that the town boasts of, the Dalai Lama Temple draws a huge amount of footfall. Located at a stone’s throw from McLeodganj bus stand, the Dalai Lama Temple is situated at the main temple road. Next to the temple is the residence of the holy Dalai Lama. If luck has it, you might get a chance to see the Dalai Lama as he gives public appearances here. Meditation remains one of the top priorities. People from all corners of the world come here to find their purpose of life. Meditation and yoga centers are plentiful.
The scenic and picturesque town of Dharamkot is a perfect place for nirvana seekers. This simple Yoga village is a mix of magic, unadulterated spiritual energy and cheerfulness all at the same time. The chirping of mountain birds, the whistling of air through deodar tree leaves in the Dhauladhar range, the distant smell of farm animals mixed with exotic herb-based cooking will invigorate your senses.
For the adventure craving souls, the town has various trekking trials, the most popular one is the Triund trek. This 9 kilometer trek will rejuvenate you and leave you craving for more.
The Bhagsunath Waterfalls is another must-see place. Lush green views make a perfect setting for the serene views these waterfalls have to offer. This two kilometer trek via the Bhagsu temple is an all time favorite of visitors.
St John in the Wilderness, an Anglican church, is another destination that demands your time. Located on the Dharamshala- Mcleodganj road, this Church remains one of the favorite shooting locations for a variety of Bollywood and regional movies. Nestled amidst deodar forests, built with a Neo- Gothic architectural style replete with Belgian stained glass windows, the church transports you to European landscapes.
The Dal Lake too finds its name in the list of places to visit. Named after the Dal Lake in Kashmir, this lake is located at the road connecting Mcleodganj and Naddi village. According to the legend, anyone who takes a dip in this lake, can get away from all the miseries of this world and will be showered with the blessing of Lord Shiva. Surrounded by Deodar forests, the lake offers stunning views and cool ambiance to the visitors.
Shopping In Mcleodganj
This place surely has a lot to offer and in the end you might want to take a part of it with you. Prayer flags, Tibetan singing bowls, Tibetan shawls, Himalayan caps will make for wonderful gifts for near and dear ones. Road side kiosks will keep tempting you to buy more.
The best way to explore the town is to walk and use public transport. The town is well catered by auto rickshaws and cabs, but a great way to explore the city is to stay local. The place continues to be thronged by visitors all round the year. But that shouldn’t deter you to visit this place. The town has a lot to offer and no matter how many photographs you see of this place, you are in for a surprise when you get there.
Photo Credits: Self