We decided to go to Mcleodganj last year on Holi. It s a small town in Kangra district in HP. Its primarily famous coz its the residence of Dalai Lama. We drove down to Mcleod, the road is really good except for 2-3 bad patches.
Since it was a long weekend, most of the hotels were sold out. So, we decided to give a shot to a B&B. I came across 2-3 properties on tripadvisor under Norbulingka. Its an institute which has been started with the mission to preserve Tibetan art & culture. I came across a few properties under the name like Norling House, Chonor House, Serkong House, etc. We were lucky to get accommodation at Serkong House. And the experience was amazing! The property is at a walking distance from the city's main parking lot and is situated right in the middle of the main square/ bazaar. However, the moment you enter the reception, you don't get to hear any of the noise from the bazaar. We took rooms with valley view and the moment we opened our balcony door, we were welcomed by the spectacular view of the Kangra valley. It was the latest property launched and was very well kept and neat and clean. The decor shouts Tibet :) which has been done in bright reds and blues. The staff at Serkong House is the most hospitable one I have ever come across. The rooms are cleaned everyday without any reminders. The property has a small in house restaurant where you can enjoy some Tibetan specialties. They have a decent terrace area as well where you can enjoy your breakfast in the morning sun or have a romantic dinner. At serkong house, you wake up to the chirping of birds. The staff goes an extra mile to help you and is very warm.
On the first day after breakfast, we took a walk in the bazaar and went to see the main temple. On the way to the temple, we were amazed to see a small south Indian joint in the market. We had breakfast there, its the first south Indian joint in Mcleod and the owner of the shop himself cooks for you. If rest of the joints are packed, do checkout this place for a quick bite. On our way back, we stopped by at a small coffee shop by the name Coffee Talk. They serve some amazing cakes and apple beer is a must try. We had lunch at one of the local Tibetan joints. You may buy trinkets from the bazaar like incense, key rings, show pieces, for me the best buy was a hand knitted snood for 300 rupees. For dinner we went to McLio restaurant, though its been a recommended place almost everywhere, the service was painfully slow and the food wasn't great.
The next day, we had planned to go for the Triund trek. You may book a local taxi which would drop you at the last point which cuts the trek by a little distance and would cost you Rs. 400 one way. Do carry water and some eatables since its all pretty costly up the hill. Also, do carry a walking stick for the trek and a light raincoat/ windcheater in case its expected to rain. Triund is a ridge that overlooks the Dhauladhars. Its a one day trek 10 km (one way) and under 6 km (one way) from Dharamkot. The trail is rocky. It starts as a gentle ascend from Magic View cafe. After the cafe, the ascent is steeper, especially the final 1 km stretch. The final stretch is known as 22-curves, because of the 22 switchbacks that one has to walk through to get to Triund. And the moment you reach the top, you go speechless. It is the point where you become one with the nature. You can see snow clad mountains (Dhauladhars) right in front of you. The view is breathtaking. We stayed at the top for about an hour soaking in the scenery. One may also camp overnight. There are only 2-3 small shops/ dhabas at the top and a Govt. rest house. Maggie would cost you around 70 bucks, costliest ever, however it is worth it after the trek. These shops didn't seem to provide lunch, so one would have to manage with maggie or eggs. And a cup of tea if lucky.
Trekking isn't just the most beautiful way of travelling, but its also a life lesson that you must gift yourself someday !!