The-Barot Hangover faded away too fast and in 10 days post-vacation number 1, I was badly in the need of vacation number 2. This one had to be different and it was mandatory. All the examination blues and graduation hues were pushing me towards another vacation. Barot was about family so number 2 had to be about friends.
Before we could begin this crazy journey, we had to face a few obstacles. ( Actually, one major obstacle)….
Monso0n – the maniac driving India crazy. ( Everyone who plans to travel during late June to early July has to face this)
So keeping safety and monsoon in mind, our darts finally hit Mcleodganj on the map of Himachal and thus, began a mad monsoon vacation.
DAY 1: July 5, 2013
To reach Mcleodganj, we ( A group of 5 ) took the early morning bus from Chandigarh. 04:30 AM and we were all packed in this crowded HRTC bus..Yes HRTC..!!!! The beginning was as pretty as i thought it would be. 7 hours ride to Dharamshala was bumpy and sleepy..both!! The weather was pleasant..so the heat wasn’t the issue at all. At 11 AM, We reached Dharamshala. Mcleodganj is 9 kms away from Dharamshala. The bus from Chandigarh dropped us here and then another half an hour local bus ride from this lower town took us to Mcleodganj. 11:30 AM and then finally, the destination!!
First look of the beautiful town and I was all..speechless and breathless ( the altitude and the walking). Mcleo ( That’s what everyone calls it ) was just magnificent. It is also known as the upper Dharamshala. This aesthetically set up town houses the Tibetan community. In this place you can see a beautiful amalgam of India and Tibet. Every other person who walks by has a Rosary ( Buddhist praying beads ) in their hand. The entire atmosphere is chirpy, fun-filled and peaceful at the same time. The 7 hours and bus ride was like a time machine that took us to a different world.
On reaching Mcleo, the next issue was to find a good budget hotel and settle in.
Once you start moving into the bazaar you will find several hotels and guest houses. Finding a place to stay is no problem at all.
After having a look at a few hotels we found our perfect place near the Tsuglagkhang i.e the Dalai Lama’s temple.
We spent the first day at Mcleo lazing around and staying packed in our rooms, We were just so tired from the day’s travel and hotel-hunting. the Also we were in the need of conserving our energies for the next 5 days.
DAY 2: July 6, 2013
Tired from the previous day’s exertion, we woke up a little late. As the curtains rose, this is what Mcleo morning greeted us with.
10:30 AM and there Mcleodganj was all draped in fog and clouds. It was cold. We just couldn’t let the blankets go. After getting ready for the day and stopping for a brunch at a local Tibetan restaurant, Drumsticks. We decided to take short walk and explore the nature. Little did we know, that the more we walked..the more we would want to walk. We took the westward turn from the Mcleo main square which put us on the way to Dal Lake ( Not Kashmir- Dal Lake).
We decided to take a 3 km walk-trek-walk to this lake. These were the most beautiful 3 km of Mcleodganj. The scenic beauty was just spell-binding. Had we not decided to take this walk, we would have missed a lot of things.
Let the pictures do the talking for me..!!
We reached our destination, the lake, which is beautifully situated and is surrounded by the Himalayan Cedar trees ( Deodars). The Dal Lake is considered sacred. A fest is held here every September and the devotees here take a holy dip.
The lake has suffered human atrocities and was subjected to pollution. It is however a magnificent piece of nature.
The day at the lake was fun-filled. We walked our way down to Mcleo again. To reach our hotel we had to rush past the Bazaar. So exploring it was going to be an everyday task.
The night went by playing cards, chatting and eating. I must say, the food you get here is just lovely. Food and accommodation is just no problem at all.
DAY 3: July 7, 2013
Walking can really drain all your energy and thus it took us an 8-hour sleep to replenish our walking souls. The third day and the plan was to visit the Bhagsunag temple and the waterfall.
Making our way through the busy market we headed towards the temple. The temple was at a distance of another 3.5 km from the square and again we decided to walk. Walking was a choice, various modes of transportation were available.
The view to the north of Mcleo was even more beautiful. You could see the Dharamsala Stadium and the two hill-stations from a particular point.
One reaching Bhagsu, we took the left turn and after walking a kilometer we realized that we were heading in the wrong direction. Here we saw a number of cafe and more foreigners than localities. This way was actually the source point to those who trekked upto Triund. We had no plans to trek to Triund as the weather was not favorable. The best to do at this point of time was to return to the small town of Bhagsu.
Another 600 meter walk from the market brought us to the Bhagsunag temple. This temple is an ancient Hindu temple. Lord Shiva and the God of Snake, Bhagsu Nag are the deitys worshiped here. There is a fresh spring attached to a pool in the temple premises, where a lot of devotees take a dip. The temple amidst the small market and the huge hills is just a wonderful worshiping place. At a walk of another 1.5 km is the Bhagsunag waterfall. This was were we headed to after making our offerings at the temple. A small cemented path took us to the way that reaches to the falls and as soon as we got to this way…it is all just magical. The hills suddenly touch the sky all doled up by the mist.
The Bhagsu fall is the one of the most spectacular waterfall in India. We reached here around 5:30 PM and there was this little chill in the air. The water was cold..icy cold..!!
***There are a few small tea shops near the waterfall. So maggi+ tea+ waterfall = Relaxing moments.***
We couldn’t stay here for more than half an hour as the sun was about to leave our sight.
This time our walking spirits were drained and so we took a short and bumpy auto-ride to Mcleo from Bhagsu. After enjoying dinner at a nice café, we headed back to our rooms.
DAY 4: July 8, 2013
After all the Mcleo exploration, we planned to visit the Dalai Lama’s temple, the Dharamshala stadium and a church nearby on the fourth day.
The temple was at a walking distance from our hotel. Cameras and mobile phones are not allowed in the temple premises. Every person was physically frisked at the entrance to keep up a high-level secure atmosphere.
The temple was just beautiful. There were a few gardens and worshiping areas on the ground floor. The main temple area is on the first floor. You may witness a number of monks here, praying and doing their daily chores. The temple also has a hostel for monks attached to it.
The main temple hall was peaceful. There were several interesting paintings and cravings on the walls. A holy silence filled the temple. Visiting the temple felt amazing. It gave us this self-cleansing feel.
Next we headed to the stadium,
So to reach Dharamshala we took a cab from the Mcleo bus stand. The cab dropped us near the Dharamshala bus stand in 20 minutes. From here, to reach the stadium we took a short bus ride. Walking a few meters from the main road, brought us here.
The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association has made it a point to keep the stadium clean. The very entrance of the stadium gives you an adrenaline rush. For the cricket-lovers, a stadium smack in the middle of the hills.. what more could one ask for!!
After having some photography sessions and subjecting our senses to the cricket’ing’ environment we took another bus ride back to Mcleo.
2 kms before the town is the St. John’s Church. This was where we were heading to.
St. John’s church in the Wilderness is what it is known as. And this is how it looks in the evening with all the wilderness playing company.
This church is beautifully built and has a very peaceful and serene atmosphere. This is what is looks like on the inside.
To reach back to Mcleo we had to take a 2 km short walk. The hills look even more pretty during the late evening hours.
We reached the main square around 7 PM and were all set to hit our rooms. Got our dinner packed and returned to the rooms by 8:30 PM. It was one of our friend’s birthday the next day and it was going be the last day of our trip, so to make the most of it we got to our beds early..of course after a small 12:00 AM Birthday Party. 😛
DAY 5: July 9, 2013
5th and the last day, we were heading back home on 10th, so hence, it was the shopping day. Also we had very less of the waterfall the other day so we decided to pay a visit to the temple and the spring bathing area once again. The day just flew by. We spent most of the time with the reminiscences of the past 5-days. Shopping remained the main focus of this day. We had to buy unique things and few gifts for our near and dear one’s.
I must bring to your notice that during the first four days of our stay at Mcleodganj, the sun played hide and seek with ous. It was drizzling most of the time and so we were almost everyday suited up with our umbrellas.
It was on this last day that the sun shone to its fullest, it was like bidding us adieu.
After all the shopping we got back to our rooms early and packed all our luggage. We had to take the 2 PM bus to Chandigarh on July 10, 2013.
DAY 6: July 10, 2013
Checking out of the hotel, having a last meal at Mcleodganj, buying necessities for the 7-hour travel back home were the main events of the day. We waited a while at the bus stand and then at 2 PM hopped into the HPTC bus that brought us back to Chandigarh.
11:00 AM and Home Sweet Home..!!!
This entire week of my life was purely dedicated to Mcleodganj, monsoon and friendship. It is a memory that will always stay fresh with me. Everything about the hills and spending time with my crazy friends here will always stay intact. I had forgotten everything about home, Chandigarh and the heat, of course.
Mcleodganj was magical. It was an epic ‘ Graduation Trip ‘…as we say it.
Things you must know:
If you’re planning to visit Mcleodganj anytime soon, keep the following things in mind:
- Hotel and food is just no problem here. You can find premium to budget hotels here very easily.
- Avoid staying out late after 9 PM. It gets a little spooky. The bazaar shuts down by 8. ( Mcleo believes in going to bed early).
- There are various buses from Chandigarh ( and other parts of the country ) to Mcleo. Choose the one you’re comfortable with.
- Driving yourself to Mcleo is no problem at all. The roads are well-connected and there are paid as well as non-paid parking available.
- If you’re a nature lover and are in Mcleodganj to enjoy nature, avoid taking cabs or taxi to various tourist spots around the city. Trust me what you can experience by foot, you may miss while on wheels.
You will find a number of eating places in Mcleo. I am listing a few which we tried during our stay. These places did not disappoint us.
- Drumsticks ( Few meters from the main square, opposite to the Punjab National Bank )
- Palsang Cafe ( Few meters from Drumsticks)
- Jimmy’s Italian ( Lovely place for Italian food. Few meters to the left of the main square. It is on the first floor. )
- Punjab Barbeque Cafe ( Further into the main bazaar next to the Tibetan Mandala Cafe.)
- Pehlwaan’s Dhaba ( Few meters from the Dalai Lama temple. Must visit for typical Punjabi food.)
** Picture Courtesy : Arun Chauhan **