Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Lure of the Himalayas- Part 1

Part 1 - Dharamshala > Mcleod Ganj

Two weary souls, eyes strained by the glare of the laptop, brains exhausted by spreadsheets and meeting reminders set out at the crack of dawn chasing the Himalayas and a week away from the madness of the corporate life, a week to recoup, recharge and rediscover the wanderlust that lay buried in their hearts.
When we landed among the snow capped Himalayas and the
air hostess announced that the outside temperature was 40 degrees, we almost booked our return back into the air conditioned comfort of our air plane. But, when we stepped out of the airport and into our cab driven by Shankar we realised that things would only go uphill from here. As we made the ascent through the Deodar shaded winding roads to our tiny guest house in Mcleod Ganj we felt the heat dropping along with our stress levels and the cool breeze blowing away any residual thoughts we may have had about those spreadsheets. One cat nap later we were refreshed and ready to explore Mcleod ganj! This little town is full of steep climbs and can prove quite the reality check on your fitness levels. The upside of this though is that by the time you reach the market square your appetite is raging, and fortunately enough you find yourself right in front of Mcllo Restaurant. Good music, excellent ambiance and delicious food made for the perfect first night in Mcleod Ganj.

The next morning I set off to explore the town as its residents awoke and my travel companion snoozed, tea shops and cafes pulled up their shutters, vendors started displaying their wares and sleepy kids were being ferried to school by their mums. I love experiencing a place as it awakens; being a silent spectator as it comes to life! And this slowly became my unwinding routine on this trip.

In terms of the sight seeing in Dharamshala and Mcleod Ganj, we did the whole route comprising of the Gallu Matha Temple (the starting point of the trek to Triund), Bhagsunag waterfall, the war memorial, the tea gardens, Dal lake, the Norbunglika Institute etc. but the only things worth the time and effort I felt were the Dalai Lama temple, the mountain view from Naddi, and the HPCA stadium of course! Spend your time instead chilling in cafes, talking, laughing and drinking in the views along with your Mocha. Mcleod ganj market is also a great place to buy silver. Have patience and look through the line of stores because some of them stock beautiful unique pieces; silver and otherwise. I also ate on this trip the best carrot cake I have EVER eaten; at Moonpeak Coffee shop and gallery near the HDFC ATM. Absolute heaven. And go early because they do run out of them!

The things about these three days that will stay with me are

1)  The people; warm and friendly and genuinely not interested in your money!! 

2) The jaw dropping views of the snow capped Dauladhar range from Naddi. Make sure you have the time to sit there and stare at them and forget the hours passing by.

3) The amazing dexterity and patience with which the cab drivers execute the crazy inclines in their Altos. In 3 days I didn't hear one horn or one abuse. We were particularly impressed with our driver Shankar, such an amazing person, it was like a group of friends driving around, singing old bollywood songs. I was actually sad to say bye when we left.

4) The quaint little town that Mcleod Ganj is with its narrow winding roads, smiling Tibetan folks and the vibrant prayer flags fluttering in the cool Himalayan breeze.

4) That spectacular Carrot Cake! Must find a way to duplicate it. :)


This here is our itinerary for a week. It may not be entirely geographically correct, but the distances are accurate! :P