On 29th December last year, I took off from Bir to McLeodganj. The closest bus stop to Bir is Baijnath and taxi is the best mode of transport. From Baijnath I took a local bus.
Taking the local transport is the best mode of travelling. Not only it is ridiculously inexpensive but safe as well. And ofcourse if you are as talkative as I am, you will have no dearth of people to talk to, I loved my co-passengers, who were probably dying for me to shut my mouth. The view was amazing and to top that they played nice old hindi songs in the bus which made the trip quite pleasurable.
McLeodganj is in Upper Dharamshala in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Because of the Tibetan population , it is also known as “Little Lhasa” or Dhasa. Situated in the Dauladhar Range, the view around this small hill station is beautiful.
I had already booked a room at 8 Auspicious which had a good view. The atmosphere at the hotel was very nice and calm. The ladies who worked there were very friendly and helpful. By the time I reached the hotel, it was already late afternoon and having traveled for almost 6 hours in local Indian bus I was really tired. So that day I just lazed around in my room enjoying the view from the balcony or most part and then took a walk around. The ladies informed that it may not be too safe for single ladies to walk alone in the streets post 9:00pm.
Sunset View from the balcony of my room
Tourism is an important industry for McLeodganj and many people come here to study Tibetan Buddhism. It is also popular for Tibetian handicrafts and paintings.
The next day of my stay I took a trip around Dharamshala. There are many monasteries in Dharamshala; Namgyal Monastry situated in the Tsuglagkhang complex is notably the most popular being the residence of The Holiness.
Among the other notable places of visit, Norbulingka Institute is worth every minute spent. This institute is the centre for learning and practicing Tibetian arts and crafts like weaving, metal crafting, wood crafting, thangka painting, and others. While taking a tour of the institute, one can visit the workshops. Being a talkative person I ended up speaking with many craftsmen, painters and weavers. Many of them are from the largest Tibetian settlement in India, Kushalnagar, in Karnataka. Some are from the other Tibetian settlements in Karnataka. They came to this institute when they were teenagers and some are now in their late 40s.
Weaving Workshop: For some reason everyone was working on red
The Losel Doll Museum in the Norbulingka Institute has dolls depicting the Cultures and livelihoods of Tibetians.
The other places I visited were:
Bhagsunath temple and Bhagsu Falls: On the way one can find many small shops selling prayer stuffs and souvenirs apart from other things. Being winters there was almost no water in the falls so I did not trek up.
A Tea estate: Just another tea estate that I had to visit as part of the tour package I tool. It is better not to take any such packages as local transports are available to all places.
Dal Lake: Nothing special.
Church of St. Johns in the wilderness: Dedicated to John the Baptist, this church was built in 1852 amidst Deodar forest.
A Sunset point: I donot remember the name of this place but it was pretty crowed. I visited much before the sunset but got a good view of the Dauladhar Range.
Next day I went to Dharamkot and trekked to Gallu Devi Temple. You can also take a cab or a auto to this point. Gallu Devi Temple is the starting point of the Triund Trek, which I didnot do. It was the 31st of December so the place was too crowded with trekkers carryng music systems, alcohols and stuffs. I had a feeling there was no way of enjoying the tranquility of Triund Hill. As I understood from the local people, it is better to void such long holidays as it way too crowded. And obviously it is better to trek with a group. Next time.
Enroute through the deodar forest:
View from Gallu Devi Temple:
In the evening I spent a quite time walking around the city, buying souvenirs. Thangka painting is worth a purchase. While there are many shops, I found a small one (close to 8 Auspicious hotel – I donot remember the name and have lost the picture I took of the shop) which was less pricey and was selling hand painted thangka paintings unlike many other shops which were selling printed one. The shop keeper is from Nepal and their family is into thangka painting. They take orders and can courier if the painting is a huge one.
The start of 2017 was blissful watching the 1st sun rise from my balcony.
I left McLeodganj on 1st Jan and plan to visit it again sometime when it is not a peak season.
Next I headed to Amritsar.